Thursday, July 11, 2013
We are well into monsoon mania. The devastation it has caused to Uttarakhand is to be seen to be believed. Nature’s fury was in full flow. Thousands have died. A full account of the dead may take months to know. The flow of the water, being so forceful must have swept people away in many places with absolutely no succour coming their way. It was unprecedented. The loss of property could be very huge with townships being washed away. Surely it will take years for it to come back to what it was. It is a kind of national catastrophe, although that feeling has not yet sunk in southern parts of the country.
So far rescue efforts have been inadequate compared to the need, partly due to the continued unkind inclement weather. An IAF rescue chopper had crashed with 19 aboard, with all feared to have died. Of course, with some 50000 stranded in different areas of the upper parts of the state, there has got to be huge rescue operation. Army is reportedly been exemplary in their rescue act. However, possible deaths due to hunger and disease cannot be ruled out under the circumstances. Union Home Minister was honest in admitting lack of co-ordination among different government agencies.
A disaster Management Authority (DMA) was set up in 2007, with the Chief Minister being the head, had not met at all, to frame guidelines, according to CAG audit report. There was no plan of action in place in case of such an eventuality including an early warning system.
Reportedly, National Disaster Management Authority had warned the state government about the development of large number of hotels, housing complexes and lodges on open areas normally available for the rain water to flow. These developments have been attributed to be one of the major cause for the flood and inundation. Thus it is the human avarice, which is an all India malaise, that caused the terrible devastation in Uttarakhand.
Being a seismic zone in an eco sensitive area, Uttarakhand’s upper reaches are prone to earthquakes, landslides, flash flood besides cloud bursts. In the past it had also experienced forest fire. Hence the importance of DMA need not be over emphasized which unfortunately have remained dysfunctional. As usual we are very poor learners. Surely DMA will be activated in coming months, if not days to put in place an apparatus to quick start any process of assistance in case of disaster of the kind that Uttarakhand is experiencing. Hope, as you read it, things have improved greatly.
As usual Month-in-Perspective is in place with relevant comments. Space constraint is the normal limitation to cover all happenings of the last month.
There were at least two events of past weeks that we thought should be highlighted to whatever extent possible. The Naxal attack in Bastar, Chhattisgarh, on a political procession of mainly Congress workers and leaders, which killed 27 had to be spoken of, for the seriousness it commanded. We have taken it up under Focus. Similarly, the spot fixing imbroglio in the cricket world of India also was important enough to be highlighted for the sheer craziness of the ‘theatre of absurd’. We have taken it up in Focus. Hope readers will find these interesting. Rest of issues are as usual. Do revert with your inputs.
MAHARASHTRA: There was this news in the media some weeks ago “From Rs: 21 lakhs to Rs: 5 crores, as commission to independent directors of Reliance Inds. Ltd.”
In a society like India, inequity is the done thing. Accepted without any demure. The increase was a rise of about 24 times.
Reportedly RIL has seven independent directors, consisting of a Mumbai senior lawyer and former bureaucrats from backgrounds that can help the RIL bottom line, including some professionals.
They are all septuagenarians, since 75 years is the recommended age bar by CII. They have enjoyed the life at high levels of governmental and private sector engagements. They continue to crave for lasting comforts of life provided by the system and then speak inanities of equity on public forums, and there are enough media men and women singing praise for their utterances, they too are the ‘Champions of public causes’. Aren’t they!? Yes equity is an oft repeated word by everybody all over the place. Quite frankly, it makes no meaning at all. Look at all well known celebrities who made enough and more money, who take visible joy talking about reaching -out and equity. But how much difference they have made or vacated the public space for somebody else. Whether it is Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan or even Sachin Tendulkar, they continue to enjoy the public space, advertisement, film roles or Indian cricket team, and make millions for themselves. We have to have more models like Narayan Murthy, who retired at 60 from Infosys, or like Azim Premji, who donated massively to create good teachers to give them to society or that little known owner of Sobha Developers, Menon in Bangalore, who pledged 50% of his wealth to society. According to Dubai based Mr. Menon giving back to society is not charity but accountability.
RIL could have possibly increased the payout to these directors to Rs: 50 lakhs from 21 lakhs and with the balance Rs: 30 crores annually, could have created some social assets for the larger good. Besides what is the record of employees’ welfare of RIL? Is there food for thought?
Court ordering the retrial of film actor Salman Khan for the 2002 Hit-and-Run case is a welcome development. In a country where law is applied and executed according to the power that the accused wields- money, political or social-session judge U B Hejib need to be complimented for his commitment to the profession.
It’s a 2002 case. We are in 2013, more than 10 years have elapsed. Isn’t it a joke of our criminal justice system that an open and shut case like this should have lingered for so long without the last word being said?
How many reading public remember a similar case of one Alistar Pereira, who also lives in the vicinity of Salman Khan’s residence in Bandra in north Mumbai. He too had bags full of money. Drunk, he killed, or can we call it murdered, seven men while crushing fifteen of them sleeping on a pavement in South Mumbai. His case was finished in 15 months of the crime. He challenged the court order in High Court and then in Supreme Court. All this took less than 3 years.
Of course, it is another matter that the lower court judge made a huge joke of justice by awarding this Periera a mere 6 months in jail for killing 7 people and badly injuring the other eight. This judgement was clearly bought. But so drunk with money power, the family of this Pereira challenged this mere 6 months jail-term order in High Court which enhanced the imprisonment to 3 years. Supreme Court confirmed it after the High Court order was challenged. Of course the details of this shall make it a brilliant test case for the sheer miscarriage of justice in the annals of India’s judicial history. That is another matter.
However coming to the Salman Khan case, he has, reportedly other cases too in different courts. It is evident how authorities, mainly Mumbai police, with the blessings of likes of R R Patil, the Home Minister, have managed it so far to evade the just punishment for the accused Khan.
Hope the retrial for culpable homicide under Section 302 (II) of IPC does take place and the accused is shown his rightful place for the offence committed.
GOA: Recently while inaugurating the ‘World Management Conference’ under the auspices of Indian Instts. of Management, at Miramar near Panaji in Goa, Pallam Raju, the Union HRD minister made a significant observation which deserved a front page appearance in print media. But was lost in the middle pages. Of course the 24x7 electronic media probably had no time for it, since there was no scope for sensationalising it. HRD minister had attributed the cause for poor product delivery or poor governance to lack of capacities rather than corruption.
While admitting that corruption is there, it is a small factor, but it is the shortage of capacity of the government to deliver which is the main factor.
It is indeed an honest admission, which likes of Finance Minister Chidambaram, or the funny intellectual senior bureaucrat turned politician Mani Shankar Iyer or serious and clean, thinking minister Jairam Ramesh could not articulate.
The minister, Raju exhorted his audience, mostly practitioners & students of management, that “Instead of undertaking corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities, which merely replicate government efforts, management professionals should spend time working along with government agencies.”
This is really an issue, that government at all levels must understand and work towards. We all know that there is no lack of intention or allocation of money for the welfare of people. Most governments, however belated, have taken pro-development and pro people activities, but have failed to deliver. Take for instance MNREGS. Hundreds and thousands of crores are allocated every year but it has failed to truly impact the rural lives. Of course there have been cases of rampant corruption, but corruption could not be checked while delivering the scheme, only because the management skills & inputs were lacking. There were no proper system of checks and balance in place, which a professional management can organize. Or look at Golden Quadri Lateral Road project of NDA. It was indeed a game changer, although it came so late in the day. If there were management professionals at all levels including at the helm in NHAI offices in New Delhi, it could have made India truly shining. Hope this remark by Raju goes well beyond the rhetoric that politicians are usually known for.
Attending the same Pan IIM World Management Conference was the UN diplomat turned politician Shashi Tharoor. He first shot into media fame with his remark on travelling economy class in the air, as ‘Cattle class’. This time round he had said, delivering his key note address “Mahatma Gandhi’s Gram Rajya unrealistic in current age”.
While Tharoor had to clarify his statement to the audience at the question and answer session that followed, it was certainly not well taken by at least a section of the audience for whom any attack on Gandhian philosophy is sacrilege.
Tharoor was right and wrong at the same time. He was right in a globalised inter dependent social context. But the ideal of Mahatma stemmed from his ‘Experiment with truth’. As a concept, Grama Rajya, is an eminently possible concept, where life can be peaceful and meaningful, not necessarily the one where landing in moon may not be a priority but the objective of Gross National Happiness rather than Gross National Product shall be the driving force?
Yes, a ‘Cattle class’ man cannot understand that ‘cattles’ too have their role in a dynamic world and hence cannot understand the vision of Mahatma whose life was dedicated to not only the political emancipation of Indians but also the social emancipation of every Indian, which globalised life has greatly compromised. Tharoor’s vision is grandiose unlike Mahatma’s. A writer and thinker that he is, he needs to be less brash at least to an Indian audience.
KERALA: The WEEK magazine published from Kottayam in Kerala had published under its column called POINT BLANK, opinions of some people whom they thought are opinion makers. There were 7 men and women of ‘prominence’. Of course all have their own take, what constitute ‘prominence’. After reading the observations of all seven, we thought of giving our own take. Ascribing to Sachin Tendulkar it had quoted “I know in 2022, there is something really big happening for Indian football. I hope India qualifies for the 2022 world cup". Now we are little confused, how he suddenly started talking about football and how it will be really big, when football cannot get even 10% of money that cricket commands and gets in this country. According to us really big news is when Tendulkar retires from all forms of cricket, not just IPL, in favour of younger players, and no paper wants to speak about it. Quoting Shekar Kapoor, the film maker, it said “As kids we worshipped Jawaharlal Nehru. Now his promises are unkept. His legacy? More Indians below poverty line than the entire population of 1947”. Mr Kapoor, you are a celebrated film maker, and all know, cinema is a powerful medium, couldn’t you make a film to portray your disappointment? What you said everyone knows across India. What’s the big idea of the WEEK publishing it, which is a common knowledge.
Of course the cake is taken by the pearls of wisdom from an insignificant bollywood actress. Mallika Sherawat is hardly an actor of eminence. She is reported to have remarked, and The WEEK quotes, “India is a regressive place for women. It is a depressing place to be in”.
In polite English language she can be asked to “Please take a walk”. Country will not be poorer if she leaves India for “more interesting place”. Besides there may be thousands of Indian women of eminence who are not only proud of being Indians but are truly opinion makers, and this Sherawat is hardly anywhere near them. Yes the WEEK indeed wasted its expensive space.
UTTARPRADESH: While it is true that there are some youths who are in police custody because of their names, for suspected terror acts, states should do every effort to get them out as quickly as possible. But the concern of the U.P. government is agenda driven. Agenda to help all who need help & succour is certainly a must. But it should not be based on group dynamics.
Samajwaadi party is a perceived friend of Muslims. As a political party, they should be friend of all. However, they did promise that it would withdraw cases against those Muslim youths who had been falsely implicated in terror cases. Nothing wrong in the promise, and they should act. Acted they did, but High Court did not allow for the present. Central governments permission was not sought, was the ground of rejection. But then the permission is only a technical reason, but were they innocent, is a question court should have asked. Especially in cases of possible innocence of the accused, courts perforce should spend more time to decide to explore all avenues to establish the innocence. The job of the court should be to ensure justice rather than deliver judgment only. Court after all is the only place for a fair disposal of cases.
Despite all concerned knowing that Raghuraj Pratap Singh, alias Raja Bhaiyya, the Kunda strong man, is the kingpin in the murder of DSP Zia-Ul-Haq, CBI do not think so. Because CBI is the Premier investigation agency! Isn’t it?
Reportedly CBI has filed a charge sheet against 14 persons. This 14 persons did not include the name of Raja Bhaiyya, the kingpin in the case. This is despite the FIR filed against him by the wife of slain police officer!
Right from beginning, the administrative intervention from CM’s office was very evident. On the face of it there appears to be pressure not to proceed against the strong man for politics of Samajwaadi Party. Now, will have to wait for the possible polygraph test, the result of which is awaited. Will the CBI redeem itself?
NEW DELHI: Continuing the debate on CBI, as the Caged Bird of India?, it will be incomplete if we do not comment on the boisterous, self seeking, publicity monger Digvijay Singh, one of the general secretaries of the Congress party. As a newspaper puts it, “Right or wrong, benign or malign, not a week passes without Singh making a catchy statement”.
His last observation on the apex court was rather tongue-in-cheek and ill considered. He described the Supreme Court observation of CBI as ‘a caged parrot’ has ‘belittled the premier investigating agency’. This intervention by a politician, who is party to the caging or subversion of CBI is absolutely uncalled for. Quite rightly Arun Jaitley, a senior lawyer himself and an opposition MP has called it “Frustration of a loser”. He has even gone further to observe ‘asking judges to shut up and speak only through written orders can only come from a person unfamiliar with the functioning of court’. According to Jaitely “arguments advanced by lawyers at times converted into a debate. Questions and comments emanating from judges indicate which way the judicial mind is functioning. Lawyers have always preferred judges who speak rather than those who never disclose their mind. Oral observations nudge the agency into correction whenever it is going wrong”. According to him, observation by the highest court of the land has only strengthened CBI in its quest for independence from the executive, the true yearning of all autonomous bodies of the governments. We all know how constitutional bodies are regularly belittled by ruling politicians over the years. Hope likes of Manish Tiwari and Digvijay Singh take note of this in the larger interest of a functioning democracy.
In India, we can broadly classify people into two classes, one who want to make money by cheating all and sundry and the other, ever ready to be cheated. However there is one common factor that brings them to-gether and that is greed. The former is greedy with ever increasing greed and the later is greedy to double his money in the shortest possible time. The later is gullible and the former diabolic.
We have, all across the national spectrum, stories of ponzi schemes of all kinds floating around. So are the people in great hurry to make a fast buck as quickly as possible who have succumbed to the rosy pictures provided by these canny operators. More often than not, those who got caught in the scheme seldom get even the principal sum of their investment. Sometimes, scheme operators manage to vanish, hoodwink all, sometime they manage to flee with the help of political contacts or with help from the police, because they have enough money clout to buy their freedom, all collected from poor and not so poor people. In the end only investors have suffered.
Sometime ago there was a scheme “Own-a-Goat” meant primarily to attract Muslims, who like to own goat, with a promise to double the money in less than 3 years. Having collected enough, brothers Ismail Khan and Nazir Khan vanished from their office in Mira Road, north of Mumbai.
And comes another bizarre scheme ‘Cattles & Ghee’. HBN Diaries & Allied Ltd., reportedly collected some Rs: 745/- crores as on 31st March 2011. Since it was a public limited company doing it, SEBI came into the picture to ask questions. The scheme on paper was to mobilize deposits for purchase of cattles with the promise of more than double the money, invested, through returns linked to ghee produced by them. The scheme is similar to the ‘Own-a-Goat’ scheme, outlandish and bizarre. Why we Indians fall victim over and over again despite there being hundreds of such crazy schemes going hay wire and then found nowhere, and reducing us poorer every time?
CBI, is again back on their dubious performance. As expected the well known ADC or PA to Sonia Gandhi, Vincent George has proved that he has his contacts in right places. A mere PA to the President of Congress Party has allegedly amassed huge wealth. They allegedly include, residential and commercial properties in Posh South Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and his home state Kerala, so also agricultural land outside Delhi. His wealth includes cash of Rs. 1.5 crore in banks. Ostensibly all of his assets were bought, believe it or not, from gifts from friends abroad, a La Jayalalitha case. But CBI didn’t ask why his friends wanted to gift him when he is already wealthy and powerful. Like CBI closed the Quattrochhi file in a hurry citing no proof, V. George file too reportedly got closed for insufficient evidence. This is the CBI for you.
DICGC which is the acronym for Deposit Insurance & Credit Guarantee Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of Reserve Bank of India. It has reportedly paid around Rs: 160 crores to depositors of 13 Co-operative Banks which have failed during 2012-13.
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is the central bank of the country regulating banking operation and are responsible for fiscal measures to keep the economy on an even keel. Its operation is entirely funded by the central government and therefore any subsidiary of RBI shall also be funded by the Central Govt. All government money also means, it is public money received/collected by the public authority as revenue in the form of taxes and other dues. In other words, this Rs: 160/- crores paid by DICGC to depositors of these 13 failed Co-operative Banks is basically public money. “Whose father’s what goes!’, its public money after all. Hence no questions asked, and report only tells about the payment.
Of these13 banks, 9 from Maharashtra, 2 from Gujarat, one from Andhra and the other from Odisha. The Chairman and Board of Directors are answerable for the failure of the bank. There could be many factors, for which these banks could have gone burst, including siphoning off by MLAs, MPs and influential public figures.
There are 2 major checks, one by RBI and the other by state Co-operative Deptt., so how these banks were allowed to go belly-up! Periodic checks do indicate where the wind is blowing, but remains covered due to influence peddlers. ‘What’s your problem, its not your money, so take your salary and some more and get going’ isn’t it!
This is the bane of our financial system. Depositors were paid to the extent of only Rs: 1 lakh. Rest flew out of the window, so is the share capital of these co-op banks invested by members, many of them poor.Who will fight their case! And come to think of it, our very concerned Finance Minister has nothing to say. Yeh Mera India.
WORLD: Commenting on Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh’s visit to Japan, Chinese Daily ‘Global Times’ had expressed the official unhappiness over the growing proximity between India & Japan. It had even cautioned “India can get close to Japan at its own peril”.
It is very well known to all, that China is a regional bully trying to emerge as a super power to browbeat United States. The growing economic clout of China, has gone to its head. It is having problem with all countries in and around its neighborhood. As it is trying to show off with India, it is also doing the same with Japan. While both countries do recognize the military & economic strength of China, they have tried not to succumb to pressure tactics of China. Naturally, common adversaries tend to become friends and that’s what is happening between Japan & India. Surely China is not amused. However, what India can equally diplomatically rebut through media is the growing cosyness of Pakistan and China which is distinctly against the Indian interest. Such developments are based on the principal of “Enemy’s enemy is a friend”.
It is not the first time that official Chinese media has chided India for right or wrong. But in India, neither the official response from the govt. or media men in the 4th estate have ever referred to the growing China Pak interest in each other which is to the detriment of India, even if touted by China as otherwise. It is also a case of common foes becoming friends, which China needs to be told clearly.
So, the former strong man of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf’s life is in danger! So say the reports coming from Islamabad. Musharraf to be tried for “High Treason”, informs the print media. He had come back to Pakistan after a four years' self-imposed exile in England. He had come with load of hope for himself and bagful of ideas for Pakistan. He thought, with his personality and the dreams he had planned to sell, it would be a cake walk for him. He had only over estimated his abilities, but grossly underestimated his opponents and opposition in his chosen country.
Ever since his return, except his former friends in the army and those cronies he had kept in good humour, none were enthusiastic about him. In a country where vengeful retribution is a way of life, his chance of not being affected by the general apathy towards him was indeed remote.
Not only he couldn’t make a political run, he was stopped at the crease itself, with all his nominations rejected before the election, for which he had returned home.
To make the matters worse, his arch foe Nawaz Sharif presides over the destiny of his country. He will ask for his blood, camouflaged under law. High Treason can be punished by death. A trial for such serious offence ‘can threaten to sabotage the chance of a quite deal that Musharraf’s legal team had hoped, would allow him to win bail and quietly leave the country’ informs media.
Thus, life has taken a full circle for the former president of Pakistan, who always had the desire to hit at India at every possible chance. His current status of his fate has ensured that such a desire shall remain a dream, since current defacto head of Pakistan has expressed his desire to improve relation with India. While wishing the General all the best, hope he gets what he deserves for all his acts of omission and commission.
Obama’s new found love for Taliban has hit the expected road block. The Doha round of tripartite talk has been reduced to only two parties, U.S. and Taliban with Afghan government pulling out of the talk. It had to happen. The U.S acceptance of Taliban role was a marriage of convenience in the first place. An open country like U.S, how can it have anything to do with a radical militant Islamic outfit. Afghanis surely want to breath easy without this Taliban, despite being a Muslim country. Surely Taliban with their head clearly sunk in sand cannot allow the freedom to Afghans, especially women for pursuing even education in schools and colleges. Going to school should be the minimum privilege a civil society must give to its citizens, male or female. The mind set of Taliban was very clear, when they unfurled the Taliban flag on their new office building in Doha with the inscription on the wall “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”. No wonder, as it walked out of the proposed peace talk, the govt. of Hamid Karzai, has reportedly conveyed to the U.S in no uncertain terms that ‘the process of granting political legitimacy to the Taliban must stop’.
Objecting to the official identity flaunted by Taliban, with flag and banner, the govt. in Kabul has clearly indicated that “it is not acceptable”. Hope U.S jettisons this opportunistic alliance with Taliban for the larger good of Afghans and U.S interest in the region.
25th May, 2013, would probably go down as one of the bloodiest day in the history of Chhattisgarh. 27 persons mostly from the Congress party having their ‘Parivarthan Yaatra’ wooing tribals for the ensuing elections were butchered at point blank range. Details of how they were killed may not be relevant. But it was barbaric by any standard.
Kuldip Nayar, an eminent senior journalist tells “Liberal friends tell me – ‘understand naxals do not condemn them’. But for me the people who killed those 27 in Chhattisgarh and those two Nigerians who beheaded a British soldier some days ago in London, in full public view, are no different. They both are terrorists. One is from the Left and the other from the Right.”
What Nayar said is certainly not far from truth. Over the years, naxal movement has grown crueller and their attacks have been dastardly, bereft of any logic.
Going back to the evolution of Naxal movement which has a history of some 46 years, it is replete with bloodshed and mayhem. It was on May 24, 1967, a tribal youth was killed by the goons of the local landlords in Naxalbari village in Darjiling district of West Bengal. The youth was killed to usurp his family land despite the legal ownership of the land by the family. One violent action led to another equally bloody reaction. And for all the 46 years that followed, it has been the same story. Only difference was, the epicenter of Naxalism did not remain confined to Naxalbari only. It travelled all over India as a response to the growing divide between the ruler and the ruled, with some of the states of North East and Central India being badly affected.
Over the years thousands were killed, by Naxals with some by police and security forces. Most of the dead were from security forces and general public with many getting caught in the crossfire. It was unprecedented. Naxalism although inspired by Left political movement, it is now a mere violent struggle bereft of any ideology. Like Kuldip Nayar says, ‘as an ideology, Naxalism has lost its content and purpose’.
There have been outpouring of considered opinions and articulated thoughts since many years by intellectuals and ideologues, both to condemn and to sing paeans of this violent group, who are wedded to the culture of gun and snipers. While, naxalites have been hitting at state apparatus, such as police, security forces, and infrastructure such as railways, schools, roads, besides killing so-called informers, suspected group of civil society members who ostensibly help governments, the recent attack on the motorcade of politicians was the first major operation against the political class. This was not only daring but also diabolic. As expected there were flurry of response in the print media.
Ramachandra Guha tells “Their worship of violence is extreme. They are a grave threat to democracy and democratic values”. According to Kuldip Nayar “While they cry hoarse in the name of democracy, they kill at will and convey a mentality of dictatorship and do not in any way help the egalitarian thesis they claim to expound. Their massacres and acts of oppression suggest only terrorism.”
But then, these naxals are not just violent they are diabolic too. In an attempt to get even with Indian state these Naxals have even sympathized with Jehadi outfits of Islamic militants. Late Koteshwar Rao (or Kishenji as he was known) had even openly commented in support of the Islamic Jehadis in an interview. He had reportedly said “We feel that the Islamic upsurge should not be opposed as it is basically anti-US and anti-imperial in nature. We therefore want it to grow”. When pointed out that these terrorists caused the death of hundreds of innocents in Mumbai, this diabolic Kishenji had reportedly reacted “We do not support the way they attacked the Victoria station, where most of the victims were Muslims”. As if, had victims have been non-Muslims, it would not have mattered to Naxals. Not only this, Kishenji had even joined hands with anti-national outfits like ULFA, NSCN & PLA “because our enemy is common”. This shows their opportunistic mindset in taking on the Indian state. This clearly exposes that their concern is not genuine for the welfare of tribals or the marginalized section of our society.
Yes, over the years, Naxals had changed their gear for worse, keeping in tandem the actions of state in giving mining licenses to private industrialists without the concurrence of local elected bodies, who are close to villagers in their understanding of the issues concerning the development of villages. Private industry, in its divide and rule policy, supported by the state, encouraged militia, from among the same villagers, to protect their interest. Mahendra Karma, who was killed on 25th May, was a product of such Industry/State partnership. Salwa Judum, the vigilante group, of which Karma was the leader, promoted by the active participation of both, the state for legitimacy and industry for funding, took on the growing clout of Naxals. Due to the support of the government, which provided them guns, it went around the countryside with impunity, in search of suspected naxalites. According to Ramachandra Guha “In a series of shocking incidents, they burnt homes (sometime entire villages) raped women and looted granaries of those adivasis who refused to join them”.
Mind you, Mahendra Karma is a Congress man, and Chhattisgarh has a BJP ruled government. It is well known that in politics there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies only permanent interest. Surely there was huge stake for both the state and Karma to join hands to take on Naxalites. This combination worked well for the state. But alienated the villagers affected by the violence of both Naxals and the Salwa Judum.
While, it is true that at present, Naxal menace, as a serious problem exist mainly in Chhattisgarh, the issue has been a simmering discontent in many parts of the country. As Kuldip Nayar puts it “The Naxalites will continue to proliferate when disparities are blatant and the state oppression unrelenting.”
Like in Chhattisgarh, the governments, whether union or state have never been fair in dealing with naxal issue. Naxal menace, as it is seen to-day is indeed a very serious issue. But what about the approach of public authority in dealing with them? The ostrich like attitude of successive governments has put paid to any breakthrough in this seeming impasse. Similar is the case with naxals. So it is violence leading to more violence. Both are wrong. But somehow, despite well meaning noises by the government’s interlocutors, nothing concrete has happened that has influenced the course of events. Unfortunately, after he called it the ‘biggest internal security threat' years ago, in his 1st term, Dr Manmohan Singh has done precious little to follow up on his words with concrete action on the ground.
Of course, the state is a greater force, and if any one challenges its authority, it can comeback with greater ferocity. But Indian state has not yet tried to use its army or air force to track down these naxal groups. Should the government decide to use it, that will be the beginning of the end of naxals for sure. Naxals simply shall have no chance against Indian army. Unfortunately, those who are leading the naxal movements have failed to see the point. They didn’t come to talk to the government in Delhi when invited. So what are they upto?
Naxalism was started to help & fight for adivasis, tribals and marginalized. They have done nothing so far to help those for whose cause they are fighting. Without the state help they cannot do anything. So joining the state effort is the only way out. By their armed struggle, they have conveyed something. They need to be carried forward. But violence is simply not the way forward. Before the state is left with no choice, naxal groups have to, perforce, offer unconditional talks.
Of course despite having pushed to the wall, the state too do not have many choices except within the ambit of constitutional governance and adherence to the application of rule of law. State has to recognise that it was only due to the lopsided socio-economic policies over the decades that Naxalism remained sustained.
Hope before time runs out for both, better sense dawn on the hardcore leadership of Naxals and to the unimaginative state leadership to usher a new dawn. We have had too much of violence which truly speaking achieved almost nothing.
IPL - Indian Plundering League
For right or wrong reasons, cricket and cricketers always make news in this cricket crazy country. The high-strung gentlemen’s game has neither remained gentle nor it remained for men only. Like all human activity, cricket too is no exception to the corruption.
The recent arrest of 3 cricketers have exposed the deep routed malaise in the underbelly of India’s richest sport. Yes, where there is honey bees shall always hover around it. No other sports in India commanded the noise of money jingle, like cricket. Everybody involved with organized cricket made money and very very big money at that. Organisers, administrators, players and even ad. agencies all have reaped the riches from this Indian madness called cricket.
Realising the money potential of cricket tournaments, Lalit Modi, the original brain and the architect, designed IPL or the Indian Premier League. For the last six years this tournament has been going on. It generated lots of money to all stake holders, provided entertainment to cricket crazy Indians and so also in those countries, like West Indies, Australia, England, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, South Africa, from where the players participated in this form of cricket.
Quite frankly, this is not cricket at all, in the true sense of the game. It is a commercial venture where cricket is used as a form of entertainment, of course with the skill of players on display. According to The Hindu, “it’s a packaged dumbed down entertainment as sport with the sole aim of making money”. That puts it rather succinctly.
Since players, were getting anywhere from Rs: 25 lakhs to few crores to over a $ million with all paid for some 6 weeks tournament, it was very clear that there is real huge money. That it attracted industrial money bags like Mukesh Ambani’s family, to that of India Cement and Sahara and of course the playboy of Indian industries, Vijaya Mallya and others, it confirmed the possibility of making a killing out of this commercial angle of the game of cricket.
Since, big sharks were making big money, the smaller fries didn’t want to lag behind and tried the illegal means. Betting may not be illegal in all parts of the world but in India it is legally not allowed and hence if caught indulging in, it attracts criminal provisions of law and therefore all those involved in the betting etc are being questioned, detained or even imprisoned, depending on the scale and seriousness of the acts of commission.
Coming down on players, Jagmohan Dalmiya, a demigod of Indian cricket, a former BCCI and ICC president, has reportedly stated that “the mobile telephones of players should be impounded before they enter the dressing rooms and also ask them to furnish their bank a/cs and other telephone numbers. Also cheer leaders, after match parties and owners’ entry to the dug outs should be banned from both the IPL as well as the upcoming Champions League.
But then why blame players only? asks the high priest of the yesteryears of Indian cricket, Inderjit Singh Bindra, a former president of BCCI.
“The administrators, facing serious charges of conflict of interests, have no moral right to set standards for players and ask only them to be above board. Besides Board’s working should be totally transparent. Its balance sheet and constitution should be put on its website and there should be constant interaction with cricket loving public and accept tangible and worthwhile suggestions from them” was his considered stand.
It is not just IS Bindra who is opposed to the ways of functioning of BCCI, even C.P.Joshi, a Union Minister, so also the president of Rajasthan Cricket Association, concurs with IS Bindra. Reportedly he is very forthright in demanding procedures to cleanse the administration and that it should start at the very top, if it has to be honestly carried out.
Thus, it is very clear that the rot is at the top and it only travelled down by the natural law of finding its level.
Evil of fixing has been there in cricket since many years now. Action and acceptance by Hanse Cronje long ago is only a tip of the iceberg. What he got then must have been peanuts to what is being played with now. He died little too early, rather very unhappily, anguished at what he did. Then you have our very own, Mohd Azaruddin, Manoj Prabhakar and few others, who have been banned from taking part in any form of cricket or cricket event. Mohd. Azaruddin not only never regretted what he did, he even denied any wrong doing, he even tried to play his minority card unsuccessfully. Political parties trying to cash on communal politics rehabilitated him. But then this is India, all things happen. And media too has its own agenda, what to hype and what to let die.
Quoting the proceedings of the 8th June meeting of BCCI, IS Bindra blogs in his personal website. He hits rather hard. Accusing BCCI Joint Secretary Anurag Thakur of blatant fudging, he writes “media release issued by him does not reflect what actually transpired at the meeting and it was a command performance to cover up and perpetrate board’s illegalities and improprieties.”
Coming to IS Bindra’s charge of administrators’ conflict of interest, he was mainly targeting the incumbent BCCI president N. Srinivasan. It is very well known that, besides being president of BCCI, he also owned the Chennai Super King (CSK), a franchisee taking part in the IPL tournament.
Also known is the fact that MS Dhoni, the Indian captain is the captain of CSK. Having MSD with CSK, commanded better premium at the market place. Besides when there was a furore for the replacement of MSD as Indian captain for poor performance with the bat, he took upon himself to defend MSD. CSK has been a money spinner. According to accounts manager of CSK, last year it made Rs 150 crores, and at 20% higher, this year the revenue for CSK reportedly crossed Rs: 180 crores.
Thus, that IPL is truly a Plundering League is without doubt. However by hindsight, it has to be accepted that, it has its positive spin offs. For six weeks a great many people are productively employed with good or very good pay cheques. In its own way, it has its multiplier effect. So also, it provides opportunity for so many talented cricketers, which no other form of cricket can. Some 200 players take part in the tournament. Hence, while IPL should be continued, its public image needs surgical intervention. First and foremost, as IS Bindra says, its entire operation should be uploaded on its website for public consumption without any vested interest or secrecy. Cheer leaders may be banned or pruned. Late night general parties should be severely restricted. This is the place where unwanted schemers come in to enjoy and then to encash their contacts. Should this happen the acronym IPL will truly mean Indian Premier League!
Do see your doctor when not well; never before!
Prof. B. M. Hegde,
“The best six doctors anywhere
And no one can deny it
Are sunshine, water, rest, and air
Exercise and diet.
These six will gladly you attend
If only you are willing
Your mind they'll ease
Your will they'll mend
And charge you not a shilling.”
Wayne Fields, What the River Knows, 1990
Each one of us should have a family doctor who eventually becomes our friend, philosopher and guide. When one is feeling off colour, however trivial the symptom might be, one MUST consult her/his family doctor to discuss the problem with the doctor to be an intelligent partner in themanagement, should the need arise. Most of the time your good doctor will pat you on the back and boost your immune system by his two kind words which will be therapeutic. After all human body is immaterial-mental and spiritual. Matter is energy and energy is matter and so the mind and the body are but the same. A good doctor’s kind words will be very powerful medicine.
Should you have routine check-up when healthy as is advertised?
An emphatic NO is the answer, unless you are a heavy drunkard or heavy smoker. Barring the latter two, no adult at any age needs check-up when healthy. New born babies need a good check-up to detect correctable birth defects like holes in the heart etc. School children must have check-up before being sent to heavy sport to avoid sudden deaths in sports field. Marginally demented old-elderly need check-up as they usually fail to recognise mild symptoms.
In fact, routine check-up might throw up so much false positives that no one who goes for a check-up comes back without getting afraid of some future catastrophe being prophesied. We do not know what is normal in the human body; we only know the averages for any group which we mistakenly interpret as normal levels! Writing in the BMJ (1991; 303: 1565) a noted physicist, William Firth of the Strathclyde University in Glasgow, shows how “doctors have been predicting the unpredictable future of their patients!” In quantum mechanics there is no future which is yet to be born. Check-up leaves no well person in society is the opinion of Professor Nortin Hadler in his celebrated book: The last well person.
“Advertising is to create new demands, giving rise to artificial wants.
It is not that supply rises to meet demand, rather producers lead consumers to demand more(Dependency Effect)”writes John Kenneth Galbraith in his book,Affluent Society. Do not, therefore, go by advertisement.
How to choose a good family doctor?
It is not an easy job. Canadian Medical Association did a survey many years ago and the following factors came up on top. Family doctor must be a good listener, must be one who does not belittle his/her peers behind their back, a kind and considerate human being, one who has time for you when you make an appointment, interested in your welfare, keen on treating the whole person and not just the organ or part of the body, knows your family background, your worries, fears, beliefs, fads, and obsessions, must be parsimonious in prescribing drugs, and more than all these, s/he must be a good human being: his qualifications are irrelevant here as long as he has a good basic medical degree. After you choose onesuch, have full faith in her/him. Faith in the doctor heals by the Placebo Factor. (Science Translational Medicine 16th February 2011). Please note this old saying:
“GOOD doctor is one who knows how to prescribe medicines,
BETTER doctor is one, who knows when to prescribe medicines,
BEST doctor is one who knows when not to prescribe medicines.”
Be an informed patient:
There is an old saying that “half knowledge is dangerous.” It was Mark Twain who wrote: “Do not read health books, you might die of a misprint.” How true? Please do not read about diseases from the internet and try to confuse your doctor with your scholarship. Even if you are a doctor allow your family physician to do his job to the best of his abilities.
Symptoms denote need for external help to fight the disease:
Any symptom, however trivial, must not be ignored. That does not mean that there is a pill for every ill. That simply means that you need to discuss the symptom with your doctor who knows what to do. Extensive research has shown the futility of treating any deviation from the “so called” normal in the absence of a symptom. Even trying to lower elevated blood pressure or sugar in the asymptomatic stage has been shown to be futile. In the asymptomatic stage the body’s defences try and set things right. In the unlikely event of their failure ONLY symptoms come up.
Do not talk about your illness to others:
Never try and share yours troubles with others like colleagues, friends, neighbours and the like. 80% could not care less; the other 20% are probably happy about it. Do not take lay advice for consuming medicines. Do not rely on over the counter medicines and TV advertisements that look very attractive. Do not borrow medicines from any near and dear ones in the house. Do not go to quacks. Talk to your family doctor only. Reward your family physician for his time and concern adequately. Do not belittle your family doctor compared to specialists. The former is more useful even according to the recent 14 industrialised country study which clearly showed that Japan, with 90% family physicians stands head and shoulders above the rest of the 13 in health indices and longevity. USA was the last but one with 90% specialists!
Your family doctor is your best bet in times of need. May the family doctor come back again to make us all healthy.
“The power of love to change bodies is legendary, built into folklore, common sense, and everyday experience. Love moves the flesh, it pushes matter around.... Throughout history, "tender loving care" has uniformly been recognized as a valuable element in healing.” ~Larry Dossey
INDIAN IN COWBOY COUNTRY
THE FINAL EXAM
Satish sat across from Kutty, whose face, with its luminous white teeth, began to brighten as he continued to expostulate about what was wrong with the education system in India, particularly at IIT. He ranted about how the IIT system had a top-class student selection process and a terrific curriculum, but his teachers had been misguided dictators who rewarded students for regurgitating what was taught and said in a class but crucified original thought.
Satish disagreed about the quality of professors, but rather than debating, he listened intently. When Kutty’s intensity began to wane, he egged and prodded him on with a question rather than a contradiction, which would have veered the monologue to a dialogue. He wanted to get Kutty’s mind away from his recent thought of hurling himself off the terrace. He also wanted Kutty to keep talking until Johnny, the senior “mess servant” and a Keralite like Kutty, could make a quick cup of tea to refresh them.
IITians, especially Kutty, were prone to talk endlessly as long as they could sip at a continuous supply of chai.
He continued about how his life had been wasted because of “my stupid scholarship.” After graduation he intended to go back to Mavelikara, “go back to my roots, wear a comfortable lungi and a kurta, and contemplate on my navel.”
Just as Satish sensed the confident, verging on arrogant, Kutty emerging, Johnny came to the table and asked if all was well. Before he could reply, Kutty grinned broadly and apologetically and told him in Malayalam, “Johnny, we just wanted some of your best, fresh morning tea. We have to stay awake till our exams are over.”
A puzzled Johnny, barely awake, rubbed his eyes and looked at Satish, who said, “I am sorry to wake you up, Johnny, but we need a whole jug of tea, urgently.” When Kutty excused himself, and went to the nearby restroom, Satish hurriedly went to Johnny in the kitchen, swore him to secrecy, and told him that Kutty was about to kill himself. He asked Johnny to keep the tea flowing and to interrupt them occasionally to make sure that all was well.
Johnny first brought out two cups and a jug of tea and served them. As they sipped their fresh tea, Johnny returned to the kitchen and come back with two plates of freshly made scrambled eggs, generous with tomatoes and onions, accompanied by hot, crisp unburned toast-not the limp, soggy toast that was served during regular breakfast hours.
Johnny then went back to the kitchen and brought back two tall glasses of milk, saying, “You need milk for strength during your last exam.” With that, he went to a remote end of the large hall and sat down, watching over the soon to-be-graduates as they gorged down their last decent breakfast on this campus.
When they had finished eating, Johnny quickly cleared the table, hoping that the early birds, who were beginning to file into the mess hall, did not expect to be served breakfast, too. They would have to wait for regular breakfast hours. Satish realized Johnny’s predicament, and suggested to his friend that they take a walk around the campus one last time. Kutty agreed.
A hidden cuckoo loudly proclaimed that morning had broken. The air was sultry and still. Silently the two friends stepped out of the hostel. They pushed the latched but unlocked, front gate open and walked up the eucalyptus-lined road to the campus’ main building.
They passed the Gymkhana with its adjoining track, soccer, and hockey fields, and volleyball and basketball courts – venues of intense inter-hostel and inter-IIT rivalries. They recalled how Kutty, in his passionate desire to upset a close rival during a crucial tennis match, had mooned him, with stunning results. As they regaled in their sports exploits, the two proceeded uphill and stopped. The road was blocked by a small herd of cattle.
“Ah! The original residents of our campus,” Kutty said “I am going to miss them, especially accidentally stepping into their bullshit!”
“These are wild cows,” Kutty continued. “They were here before the campus was built. Remember the time we tried to get rid of them, calling them a danger to students?”
Kutty recalled the time when they had received a call from the estate office saying that the local municipal corporation was going to help catch the campus cows, and transport and release them more than fifty miles away. The office needed student volunteers, over a weekend, to help round up the cows. They were among the dozen volunteers who participated in the cattle roundup.
It was the hardest and the most dangerous work they had done in their lives. Assisting the experienced municipal cow catchers, avoiding swatting tails and sharp horn tips, they prodded, pushed, and cajoled about thirty calves and cows first, and then some very uncooperative bulls, up metal inclines and into trucks. After ten exhausting hours of being cowboys, the worn-out students grew very emotional as they waved good-bye to the captive cows.
After the bovine witnesses to their cumulative lives on the campus had been banished for several days, the Indian cowboys could not erase the mournful moos and sad eyes from their memories. One late Sunday morning, they awoke to an excited shout, “The cows are back! The cows are back!” It had taken the herd and its homing instincts two weeks to find its way back home.
That early morning Satish and Kutty were unafraid, as they approached the squatted herd and pattered some cows affectionately and reverentially. The cows, in response, mooed to them softly.
Kutty said, “They are saying goodbye,” as he picked up his pace to catch Satish, who was already heading for the convocation hall.
Satish asked Kutty to sit on a raised concrete culvert near the “convo”. He then sat next to him and asked, “Tell me, were you really going to throw yourself off the building?”
“I was thinking about it,” Kutty replied, “But I don’t have the guts to end my life.”
“You were bawling your head off, Kutty, you know you are a bloody manic-depressive, don’t you? You need to see a doctor!”Satish said.
“Thank you, Dr Satish, for that diagnosis. Next patient, please,” intoned Kutty in mockery as he jumped off the culvert and began walking down the road.
Satish followed him and said, “Listen. From now on, you are on your own. You will not have us around to help you with your mood swings.”
“I know and that’s what worries me. Do you really think that I am nervous about the last exam? It’s a piece of cake! I am really concerned about what happens after the exam.
“This place has been my home, my paradise for five years, and I am going to lose it tomorrow. You people have been my family, my brother, my protectors, and we are going to be thrown out tomorrow. This is the end.”
Satish calmed his anxious, dramatic friend and shared with him that he, too was concerned about life after IIT. He was not certain if he would stay in India or go to America. His parents wanted him to go abroad, but his guide, Professor Arjun, was insisting that he should take a job in India.
The mercurial Kutty had not applied for any job, and had received no job offers. He could not afford the application fees to apply to American universities; hence, he was not going to America either.
“What are you going to do after tomorrow?” asked a concerned Satish.
“Not really nothing. I have a few ideas that I have been thinking about for all these years. I want to go home to Mavelikara, sit down, write a few papers, and submit them to a few journals.”
“Technical papers?” asked an amused Satish. Kutty hated writing anything, especially technical papers.
“Yes, technical papers, I wanted to write so many but I did not have the time because of the stupid assignments, exams, and tests. Now that I am free from this place, I will sit on a beach, sip coconut water, scratch my belly, listen to the waves, and write.”
“And who is going to support you while you write?”
“I have many rich uncles. All I have to do is convince one to support me and tell him that I will dedicate my papers to him. Maybe one of them has a large ego and a larger wallet, and will give me some money for my bidis, paper, pens, food, lungi and Kurta while I live in my mother’s home. It’s going to be simple living, high thinking for one year. Get all this rubbish out of my head and start a new life, both physically and mentally, and then go forth and conquer the world.”
“I need a break, Satish,” Kutty said, as if apologizing. “These five years were hard on me, and I am tired. Not one thing went my way except my academics, and that was such a waste. I could have learned what they taught me here by reading textbooks in Mavelikara.”
Kutty was the brightest person that Satish had met, even by IIT standards. His constant bitching about the low standards on the campus always irritated him, but he kept quiet.
to be contd...
Milk adulteration- caught in action
Mumbai : The Versova police, busted a milk-adulteration racket and arrested six persons. The police seized 700 litres of adulterated milk, said an official. The Versova police said they raided a room at Bharat Nagar at Four Bungalows in Andheri West, following a tip-off. The police said the accused were caught red-handed while mixing water in branded milk packets.
The police said that the accused were retailers and would sell the plastic milk packets of various brands after buying them in bulk. Their modus operandi, the police said, was to make very tiny holes in the plastic milk packets that are not visible to the naked eye. They would inject out the milk and inject water in thereafter. They would then seal the hole neatly with a candle. The police said that a few local residents had complained to them about the adulterated milk, following which the accused were arrested.
Rs. 53000 crores worth projects stalled on minor issues
New Delhi: The Highways Ministry has said it hopes that soon there may not be any need for compulsory environment nod for mining minor minerals like sand and soil for road projects which has stalled 53 projects worth over 53,000 crore. "Leases of minor minerals, including their renewal for an area of less than 5 hectares, can be granted by states only at present after getting Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) clearance. We are taking steps to address it soon so that no environment nod is required," Road Transport and Highways Secretary Vijay Chibber told PTI.
"Now only three issues are left to be resolved including the need for doing away with the mandatory environment nod, which will further boost the sector," he said. According to the National Highways Builders Federation, 53 highway projects worth over Rs 53,000 crore are struck for more than a year after the Supreme Court in February 2012 brought minor minerals, including their renewal for an area of less than 5 hectares, under the ambit of MOEF clearances.
Buses better nourished than kids
Bhayandar: Every time you take a municipal transport bus in Mira Bhayandar, 15 paise of the ticket fare is set aside as surcharge for a dedicated fund to help feed malnourished children in the state, however in a shocking revelation, the money is being diverted to maintain the transport utility by the private operator for the past couple of years.
The anomaly came to fore after the Regional Transport Office (RTO), Thane, impounded four buses of the Mira Bhayandar Municipal Transport (MBMT), undertaking for non-payment of child nutrition surcharge (CNS). Apart from the CNS, the MBMT has been charging 3.5 per cent amount as commuter tax on each ticket.
As per government directives, the transport utility is supposed to collect both levies-CNS and commuter tax and deposit it in the bank account of the transport commissioner, every month. However, both the levies stand pending since 2010, prompting the RTO to take punitive action.
The Ulhasnagar-based, Kestrel Infrastructure, which is operating the bus services on a PPP scheme, pays a royalty of Rs 1 per kilometre to the MBMT. “It is true that we have stopped paying nutrition tax (still collected from commuters), to the government since 2010. With no hike in fares, we were left with no other option and helpless as the transport body was incurring losses.” said Kestrel-in-charge, Shivaji Shrishkar.
Many transport authorities in Thane district have been demanding for exemption, however, the matter remains pending with the State government.When contacted, Assistant Civic Chief, Deepak Sawant, said, “The private operator is liable for making the CNS payments. Even as efforts to seek exemption was on, we have already taken an undertaking from the private operator who has agreed to clear the dues if the demand of a rollback is rejected.
Introduced in 1997, the CNS allows the government to keep 10 to 15 paise of the ticket fare from each commuter in major cities in Maharashtra to generate funds to tackle malnutrition in the state.
Church &Chinese coffins
Thiruvananthapuram: A Kerala church has asked its followers not to use Chinese made coffins, saying they are not environment friendly. “Swarga Petti” (heavenly box) has been found to be an unfriendly product by the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar due to delay in decaying in the soil. Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan, the supreme head of the church, in an article in the latest issue of Sabha Tharaka, its official mouthpiece, has asked people to use environment-friendly products.
Thiruvananthapuram : Having failed to stop unauthorised sale of oral contraceptive pills in the tribal hamlets in Idukki district of Kerala, the health authorities have recommended a total ban on sale of the birth control pills that were being misused widely by tribal women to delay or avoid menstruation.
The women have been resorting to the unhealthy practice to avoid quarantine during menstrual cycle. The custom being followed by the tribals insists that menstruating women should stay away from their family homes during the period of menstruation.
They are usually put in quarantine homes called Valapuras during this period. The stay there lasts three to seven days every month depending upon the menstruation. The women have been trying to avoid this as the quarantine homes lack basic facilities that women need.
They found the pills that were promoted by the government for birth control ideal as they could delay or avoid menstruation. The government had banned unauthorised sale of these contraceptive in the tribal hamlets after it was found that continued use of the pills had led to several disorders, including infertility.
Indian FBI does it with private taxis!
New Delhi : If Mumbai were struck with yet another 26/11 type of terror attack, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) set up on the lines of the American FBI agency does not have its own cars, what to say of bullet-proof vehicles, in the metropolis to rush and get cracking.
The Finance Ministry cited austerity measures felt necessary to meet the resource crunch for refusing release of funds to the agency to buy vehicles for its three regional offices set up in Mumbai, Kochi and Lucknow last year.
The NIA chief disclosed this to a parliamentary standing committee on home ministry while listing the major handicaps with which his agency has to function. The committee report tabled in Parliament a day earlier says the officers in these regional offices have been asked to hire private taxis to rush to the terror spots. The NIA chief said this handicaps effective functioning of the staff.
The agency was established in Delhi in 2009 as a sequel to the Pakistani terrorists” attack on Mumbai in November 2008 and since then it has expanded to have regional offices in five cities, first in Hyderabad and Guwahati and then in the three other cities where no office cars are provided till todate. It is also because of the austerity diktat of the finance ministry that the NIA had to put off its decision to open three more regional offices in Kolkata, Bhopal and Patna.
The standing committee blasted the government for not providing even basic facilities for functioning to the agency and expect quick results from it. No surprise, the NIA has failed to achieve any major success in the last four years in 44 terror cases transferred to it for investigation.The committee report also expressed concern that almost 40 per cent of the posts sanctioned to the NIA are still lying vacant. There is no direct recruitment for the senior posts as the officers are to come on deputation from various central and state agencies and yet only 475 officers have joined the agency as against the sanctioned strength of 657.
Disabled friendly govt action
Bhopal: Database of 8 lakh 10 thousand disabled persons has been complied under Sparsh Abhiyan in the state so far. Of this, government jobs have been provided to 1,006 disabled persons. As many as 14 thousand 595 disabled persons have been identified for self-employment while 3735 disabled persons have been employed by private institutions and industries.
Urination-US Marine to be tried
Washington: A US Marine officer will be court martialed for his alleged role in the scandal sparked by a video that showed soldiers urinating on the dead bodies of three Afghans, the Marine Corps said, reports AFP.
In a statement, the Corps said Captain James Clement “will be tried for dereliction of duty and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentlemen for failing to stop the misconduct of junior Marines.”
He is accused of failing to prevent men under his command of desecrating the bodies of three Afghans, in a case that dates back to July 27, 2011, during an operation against the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, reports AP. The video of the soldiers, laughing as they posed over the bodies, went viral months later, sparking outrage around the world. A few days later, a 21-year-old Afghan soldier opened fire on some French soldiers who were training Afghan troops, later saying it was in retaliation for the desecration. Five French soldiers were killed and 15 wounded. All five of the Marines belong to an elite unit of snipers. One, Staff Sergeant Joseph Chamblin, was jailed for 30 days, fined and demoted after pleading guilty to participating in the video. Others involved in the case have faced administrative sanctions.
Hindi in Australian curriculum
Melbourne: A vast untapped pool of skilled Indian migrants should be used to teach Hindi in Australian schools and universities, according to a report.
The report by Melbourne-based think tank Australia India Institute (AII) argues for the inclusion of Hindi in Australia’s school curriculum, saying it should be an essential part of the Commonwealth’s Asia policy.
Authored by well known Australian journalist Hamish McDonald, the report says Hindi was included as one of the four priority languages in the government’s Asia White Paper last year, along with Chinese, Japanese and Indonesian.
“The prospect is for Hindi language teaching to grow organically out of existing programs, with an emphasis on quality rather than a quick rush for larger numbers,” McDonald wrote.
“At school level, the Indian diaspora in Australia is likely to supply the initial demand for Hindi teaching and the supply of teachers as well.”
McDonald wrote the Australian-Indian community with many native speakers with a high level of education, not necessarily in education, could “with the right training” be turned into excellent teachers.
But he wrote such a plan would be contingent on enough resources being put to the case, citing the removal of Korean from teaching programs in Australia, which showed “good intent is not enough”.
The White Paper sets the ambitious target of giving all students access to one of these languages continuously throughout their schooling, presumably by the target date for general “Asia literacy” of 2025, the report said.
In bid to facilitate the introduction of Hindi language teaching in schools, the report further suggested establishing a federal-state team to design a nationally accredited course for native speakers of Hindi who wish to become qualified language teachers, perhaps through a specialised diploma of education. The team could also consider the introduction of new measures and incentives that facilitate the uptake of tuition in foreign languages in general by Australian high school students, it said.
Establishing an “Australia Bhavan [House]” in a north Indian city for Australian undergraduates to take Hindi courses and extending opportunities for Australian students to spend part of their course at Indian institutions were few other recommendations of the report.
Game changer: Green Toilets!
Mumbai: Regular toilets will be replaced by eco-friendly bio-toilets for disposing human waste at all stations of the Konkan Railway (KR).Two railway stations, Chiplun and Kankavali on the KR route, had earlier been selected for installing the country’s first green toilets to bio-degrade night soil through technology developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). “The technology, while permitting eco-friendly and quicker disposal of human waste, is also economical. Passengers and locals at both Chiplun and Kankavali have appreciated the efforts of the railways,” the official said.
Encouraged by the public response, KR has now decided to set up such toilets at all the major stations on its network. The bio-toilet uses the DRDO’s bio-digester technology, which is economical and can be implemented faster than the regular RCC (reinforced concrete cement) toilets. “The technology is 100 percent maintenance free and allows complete elimination of pathogens without requiring the night soil to be disposed through sewage line and septic tank,” the official explained. Since the need for septic tanks and sewage lines has been eliminated in this technology, the bio-toilets can be installed and ready for use within just 48 hours, compared to two months for the conventional toilets. Even the cost savings on bio-toilets are high, as much as 70 per cent, compared to regular toilets.
12 minute ad per hour on TVchannels
New Delhi : In view of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) tough stance, broadcasters have decided to reduce the air time for advertisements shown on channels to 12 minutes by October 1.
Sources told PTI that after consultations with TRAI, broadcasters decided that they would reduce the quantum of advertisements shown every hour in a phased manner till they reach the limit of not more than 12 minutes of air time every hour as prescribed by rules.
Chinese Diplomat sister caught shoplifting
New York: The sister of a senior Chinese diplomat has been caught for alleged shoplifting from a top department store here, a media report has said.
Guo Wang, 37, whose brother Bangfu Wang is a section chief in the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was busted for alleged shoplifting from the Herald Square Macy's, The New York Post reported.
Wang walked into the store, picked up several shirts and two dresses and took them to the fitting room.After a few minutes, she walked and tried to leave without paying for the items, according to court records.A store clerk, who watched the diplomat's sister walk around the store, called security and confronted the woman.
Yoga in Chinese prisons
Beijing: The popularity of Yoga seems to be growing in China and has now percolated to prisons with a women's detention centre recently introducing the ancient Indian discipline to its inmates.
A women's detention house in Wuyi county in east China's Zhejiang province has been holding regular Yoga sessions for its inmates to help them "fight stress and find serenity".
"The inmates are organised to do their favourite exercise - Yoga - every night. Their instructor Tang Junhui believes Yoga can help these women inmates to fight stress and find serenity," a photo feature carried by the state run People's Daily Online said.
Woman in US delivers in loo!
New York: Home delivery! A woman in the US has managed to do the unthinkable by delivering her daughter with her own hands alone in a bathroom. 34-year-old Erica Bovino from Southington, Connecticut, thought she had plenty of time before the baby came. But then her water bag broke and Bovino realised she was going to have to give birth on her own.
She drew herself inward and did not panic. Summoning all of the relaxation and breathing techniques she knew, she chanted and moaned and stayed calm through the pain of labour.
Somehow, she managed to do what many would find unthinkable, Bovino delivered her daughter with her own hands in the toilet while her 3-year-old son lay sleeping in a room nearby and her husband Paul Sulzicki was rushing home from his overnight shift as a police officer.
"There was no time to be scared," Bovina was quoted by Today as saying. "You get into a primal mode. If I had an ounce of fear, I wouldn't have been able to have a healthy outcome," Bovino said. Little Stella was born in the couple's bathroom early on May 6, five days before her due date. The birth was not without complications. The umbilical cord was severed during delivery and there was a lot of blood loss, Bovino said.
But Stella did not require any special treatment at the hospital where the mother and baby were taken after the birth for monitoring. "I'm blessed that everything turned out the way it did, that she was healthy and I was healthy because, who knows, any number of things could go wrong in childbirth," Bovino said.
Still, Bovino said, she hopes her unique experience will inspire pregnant women "to trust themselves and trust their bodies. For thousands of years, women birthed naturally. Now women don't trust themselves and they fear the unknown of it."
Dr Mary Rosser, an obstetrician who did not treat Bovino, credits the new mom for staying calm and focused in a situation that could have been deadly.
Rosser said the potential complications include problems with the placenta or uterus (which could be deadly for the mother), a severed umbilical cord like Bovino had (which could have been fatal for the baby), or the baby crashing to the floor.
Tiger in circus loo
Washington : A fun trip to a local circus turned into a nightmare for a US woman who came face-to-face with an escaped tiger while accompanying her three-year-old daughter to the washroom.
Jenna Krehbiel from central Kansas went to the bathroom with her daughter after finishing watching the large cat show at the Isis Shrine Circus.
As she closed the door behind her, she was shocked to see a tiger standing less than a metre away, Salina.com reported.
Krehbiel said the tiger “wasn’t the biggest one” performing, but she estimated it was more than 113 kg.
The tiger had escaped from the circus after its turn in the ring and had wandered into the bathroom. While the staff had launched a search, they were yet to check the toilet, reports PTI.
Krehbiel said she tried to stay calm and that her daughter wasn’t bothered by the presence of the creature. “It was the closest I have ever been to a tiger not in a cage. You don’t expect to go in a bathroom door, have it shut behind you and see a tiger walking towards you,” Krehbiel said.
“My daughter wanted to know if it had washed its hands. That was her only concern. I think that shows the thoughts of children and that they wouldn’t have known there was danger,” Krehbiel said.
Although the tiger was captured within minutes and returned to its enclosure, Chris Bird, manager at the Bicentennial Centre, said he is glad nobody was hurt.
“Overall, it was a scary, surreal moment. I’m glad no one was hurt or injured,” Bird said. Krehbiel said she has been asked why she didn’t scream or run. She attributed that to her training as a social worker.
“I’m always on alert, and it was easy to walk out, that’s how I am trained. Looking back, it was a scary ordeal. At the time, I was thinking I just needed to get out,” Krehbiel said.
Man bites traffic cop
Moscow: Car lovers can be willing to go to great lengths for the sake of their vehicles. A motorist in Russia bit a police officer to avoid being fined for having tinted windows. The incident took place in Cherepanovo town in Novosibirsk region. The car with pitch-black windows was spotted and signalled to stop by a traffic patrol, police said. The motorist ignored the signal to stop and instead reversed to the premises of a nearby warehouse. When the two patrolmen approached his car there, he addressed them with a string of profanities and tried to flee - biting the hand of an officer who tried to stop him. The other officer managed to subdue the man, who was also threatening to burn down the officers' houses. The 26-year-old local resident, whose name was withheld, was detained.
The fine for having excessively tinted car windows in Russia is only 500 rubles ($16), but cars can also be stripped of their license plates until the violation is corrected.
Most expensive pair of melons
Tokyo : A pair of cantaloupe melons sold at auction in Japan for 1.6 million yen ($15,730), one of the highest prices ever paid for the coveted orange-fleshed fruit.
A local fruit wholesaler snapped up the 3.7-kilogramme (8.1-pound) Yubari melons at the high-end fruit and vegetable sale, which took place on the first day of the season for the prestigious melons. It was the third-highest price ever paid for the luxury melon brand and cost the equivalent of splashing out on a small car.
In a country where a single apple can cost more than $5 and a presentation pack of 20 cherries sells for over $100, Japanese shoppers are used to paying high prices for their fruit.But the eye-watering figures paid at the Sapporo Central Wholesale Market in northern Hokkaido reflect buyers' desire for prestige.
What kind of Prime Minister does India need?
Dr. M. V. Kamath
One wonders whether L.K.Advani has read Tennyson. In one of his great and oft-quoted poems wrote the British poet: “The old order changeth, yielding place to new and God fulfils himself in many ways, lest one good custom should corrupt the world”. What Tennyson wrote in one context holds true in many others as well. The only thing permanent in life is change. And that is true of politics as well. Often the old are pushed aside as if they have become a hurdle. Their time-tested values are no longer heeded. It is painful to watch. For Advaniji to say that the party he helped successfully to build has lost its vision may be technically correct, but it wasn’t that he was deliberately sidelined. It is just that the present has overtaken the past. How true it is comes through in Rajmohan Gandhi ‘s biography of his grandfather, entitled Mohandas. In 1946 partition of India was very much in the air but Gandhi was opposed to it even when the Congress Working Committee had come to accept it as inevitable. In taking the decision the CWC had not consulted the Mahatma who was then touring villages. Writes Rajmohan: “Gandhi was not consulted…Nehru and Patel seemed to think that Gandhi was out of touch (with reality) – a view, incidentally shared by the likes of C.Rajagopalachari (Rajaji) and others. On March 1, 1946, at a prayer meeting Gandhi said: “Whatever the Congress decides will be done. Nothing will be according to what I say. My writ runs no more. No one listens to me anymore”. (Page 605). Shocking, painful words from one who shaped the Indian National Congress from 1922 onwards. If Advaniji is BJP, the Mahatma was even more so the Congress. Gandhi had his problems with his colleagues in the Congress Working Committee, even in the matter of extending support to the British at the beginning of the Second World War. Nehru, Patel, Rajaji and even Azad differed from Gandhi who had to spend an entire day trying to convince Jawaharlal of the relevance of demanding Britain to “Quit India”. Rajaji, being a stronger man quit the party to stand by his own convictions. And talking of Britain one must remember that it was Winston Spencer Churchill who inspired Britain to fight Nazi German and Fascist Italy, in the end to win the war. How does one think he has rewarded? In the general elections held following the end of the war, it was the Labour Party that came through with flying colours and not Churchill’s Conservative Party. It was one of the biggest landslides in British electoral history, giving Labour a majority for the first time. Churchill’s tremendous contribution to the war effort proved of no consequence. How come? This is where not personal greatness but situational needs come in the picture. Once the war was over, Churchill had become irrelevant. The situation demanded a different kind of leadership which Clement Attlee provided. But then time also came for socialism to prove itself to be a failure. The British elected Margaret Thatcher who gave socialism the boot. And quite rightfully. What all this proves is that individuals are only instruments – nimittamatram – of changing situations. In the nineteen twenties India needed someone like Gandhi. It got Mohandas. In the thirties the U.S needed a Franklin Delano Roosevelt and found one. In the fifties France needed a Charles de Gaulle and Germany a Konrad Adenauer. Both the countries got what they needed. Similarly in the fifties India needed a Nehru with his desire to establish a socialist pattern of economy for the country. It failed with the fate of growth slowing down to a meager 3 percent and even less, leading a shameless economist, one Prof Rajkrishna to coin the phrase: Hindu rate of growth. Nehru meant well and can’t be blamed but it took a courageous P.V. Narasimha Rao to turn to a more sustainable capitalism. We can look at other similar instances in other contexts: following Stalin’s death the Soviet Union went for a Krushchev and still later to a Gorbachev with his perestroika. When Mao Tso-tung died, Deng Xioping came to power anxious to undo many of Mao’s ghastly errors. Advaniji thinks that the BJP today is vastly different ideologically from the party that leaders like Syam Prasad Mukherjje and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya set up. Quite true, but in real life, one moves on. Situations create new kinds of leadership which elders may loathe as now Narendra Modi is loathed. But consider this: A Hindustan Times HT-Gfk survey carried out as recently as May 27 suggests that the man best suited to be the next Prime Minister is Narendra Modi. Nobody comes anywhere near him. A Headlines Today CVoter poll conducted between March and May 2013 by India Today notes that the Congress – led UPA “is set to suffer an empathic defeat if Modi is declared as BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate, losing 72 seats and 10 per cent of its vote share from 2009.” What should the BJP do: throw Modi out? To many (including a large number in his own party) Modi is not a human being: he is a fireball”. And a fireball singes. A flame does not just shine: it burns anything close to it. It is not just Advaniji who can’t accept Modi. Nor can Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha, Sushma Swaraj and many others, who may genuinely feel their political days are numbered if Modi becomes the Prime Minister. One states this on the presumption that both the Hindustan Times and India Today poll are accurately in Modi’s standing among the public. There are Modi-hatres, God bless them. Among them are Nitish Kumar and Orissa’s Chief Minister Navin Patnaik, not to mention, Mamata Banerjee, and a more determined destroyer of unity one is yet to come across. If the BJP does not get the required votes in the 2014 General elections – and there probably are politicians in many parties who would want to see Modi humbled – we may be in for a short era of India crumbling, with a new set of Deve Gowda’s adding to the confusion. Let this be clearly understood, after ten years of weak administration India deserves a tough Prime Minister who can stand up to the United States, China and Pakistan and stay assertive. One may hate Modi to one’s heart’s content but anyone who can withstand over a decade of vilification and still survive deserves to be listened. Commonsense more than mindless vilification should be our guidelines. India is going through a generational change of great consequence: Modi represents that change in ample measure. Change invites tension and fear of what the future holds. If the two polls are any indication, it is a tough Modi that the public wants to lead the country and not petty schemers like Nitish Kumar of no consequence. One thing one can be sure of: India does not need a third front. Such a front will only bring disaster to our beloved land.