Saturday, October 12, 2013

EDITOR'S COLUMN

Friends

This October signifies the completion of yet another eventful year of this journey 'towards a purposeful regimen'. Yes, ISSUES & CONCERNS has completed 13 long years. Looking back over the shoulder, this sojourn has been very trying and tiring too. But the satisfaction of completing a milestone has its own rejuvenating dimension. We are certainly more sure of facing the future with confidence.
Monsoon has ebbed. But it has been far more copious than the requirement. In different parts of the country there have been massive water logging and inundation. Hopefully it has not damaged the food crops to any cognizable extent. But it was clear that climate is changing. Hope our experience of this year’s monsoon fury shall become handy in the next monsoon to be better prepared.
Bombing at church in Peshawar, where some close to 100 died with over 200 injured, was the worst terror attack that world witnessed in recent times. It was very very sad and bad that in international conflict, it is only the defenceless who die. The drone attack on Pak by US army, ostensibly was the reason for this completely senseless terror attack on Christians in Peshawar. Its bad for the world, bad for Pakistan. Surely, there will be international reaction on this. Now that the new Pak government of Pakistan has released a top terror leader Mulla Baradar to facilitate dialogue with Talibanis and Afghan leadership, it is going to be very dicey for any govt. in Pakistan to come up with any meaningful solution to this problem of terror.
The ordinance, the UPA govt. is trying to promulgate, to shield tainted MLAs and MPs just before the judgement on Chaara Ghotala case of RJD Supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav, has run into very awkward impasse, with Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi calling it NONSENSE, and that it should be torn and thrown into basket. Union cabinet, to reverse the apex court verdict which recommended disqualification of MPs and MLAs who are convicted, had decided on the ordinance and submitted to the President, who has already raised questions. However with Rahul Gandhi introducing cat among the pigeons, its going to be pretty embarrassing for the union government. There is an air of serious uncertainty. One has to wait and see.
Month-in-Perspective is as usual. We have tried to cover whatever was possible. In a span of only a week, many things in  Pakistan have happened, besides the church attack & Fidayeen attack in Kashmir, which represented the failure of civil society of Pakistan. We have tried to cover it under Focus. Readers are requested to read it with an open mind and revert with your inputs. We do value them.


MONTH-IN-PERSPECTIVE

RAJASTHAN: It is rather sad that we had to start this column with the episode involving a 16 year old girl accusing a septuagenarian preacher Aasaram of sexual assault at his Jodhpur Ashram. A student of 12th from the preacher’s Chindwara gurukul in Madhya Pradesh has even alleged that the accused has threatened to eliminate her parents if she goes public about the alleged assault. 
Public, she did go, with Delhi police filing an FIR and recording her statement before a magistrate under section 164 of Criminal Procedure Code.
Although, the details of the incident is not important, as long as the truth of the sexual assault is established and the perpetrator is dealt with extreme severity for the crime committed on a minor. 
The incident allegedly happened in Jodhpur, where the girl was brought by her parents to see this Aasaram from the hostel in Chindwara, for a cure of an alleged possession of the girl by the evil spirit. What transpired in the Ashram is in public domain. 
Delhi police came into the picture, since the parents could only manage to see the preacher at the Ramlila Grounds where he was conducting a 3 days camp. Having stopped by his security, the parents met the police to complain about the incident. That, he, despite his multiple attempts through his legal team joined by his son and supporters, could be presented before the court to send him to 2 weeks custody, only confirms, that slowly public outrage coupled with the sensation hungry electronic media does cause action by the authorities, is a welcome sign. This is a good development. Hope the judicial last word is said on the accused, the preacher teacher.
Of course, the dirty politics by all and sundry in the political arena with media contributing its own tinted version was in full display for all 10 days prior to his eventual arrest.
By hindsight, it can be said that, like some Hindu activists have alleged that when it comes to so-called God-men from Hindu background, they are subjected to large scale media exposure. Similar charlatans among other faiths are not been as severely hunted by the media. Like it or not. This is the truth. There are any number of instances of media taking snide sides.
This is not to suggest that this sex maniac Aasaram has to be leniently dealt with. In fact he should be shown his proper place in prison rather than those Ashrams where his writ runs. Reportedly, despite many allegations of wrong doing, this rich and powerful spiritual practitioner has evaded the law for a long time. At least now, it seems to catch up. So be it. Or is it so!? Enters Ram Jethmalani, the ‘best’ criminal lawyer in the country, to defend, the apparently indefensible Aasaram. He has already muddied the water by his now infamous observation that the 16 year old girl suffers from a strange disease of “wanting to meet men in private”. It was atrocious to say the least, that a lawyer of his stature could stoop so low that he could cast aspersion on a minor girl for the benefit of a suspected lecherous old man! That too in a sexual assault case, especially when the accused is allegedly having more skeletons in the cupboard. It was very clear that Ram Jethmalani had difficulty in  justifying his observations on the minor girl that he walked out of the TIMES NOW Channel unable to face the barrage of questions from the anchor and other two lady interlocutors. He was so irritated that he even asked one of them to “shut up”. That was indeed a great fall for a ‘great’ lawyer. No wonder, former CVC Sahilesh Gandhi was so deeply upset with this ‘great’ lawyer, he complained to the Bar Council to cancel Jethmalani’s membership of the council, observing ‘What Jethmalani is doing, is the character assassination and intimidation of a minor girl, instead of Aasaram, the culprit. This is obnoxious’.

KARNATAKA: “Hundred Days and 101 mistakes” by the opposition to the ruling dispensation in Bangalore, is as usual an opposition party’s opposition to the party in power. While the incumbent government is in great hurry to fulfill their pre poll promises and post poll assurances, its Anna Bhagya scheme is certainly not well thought out but purely populist. It is sure to drain the government resources and unlikely to greatly help the poor in the long run, except make them more and more lazy. There are controversial moves like CET counseling, disqualifying village panchayat members for their failure to hold meetings, termination of management committee of temples coming under Murzai deptt, etc. These are measures decided in a hurry and without application of mind. Right enough, court has stayed the order termination of temple management committees. But one thing is clear, this government has tried to do something, since they managed to win absolute majority, unlike the last government, which did precious little, witnessed during the first couple of months itself, a wholesale trading in MLAs, with Reddy brothers, who are in the hibernation at present, playing the kingmaker role. 
As a country we do suffer from some kind of selective mindset. Recently one Yogesh Master was arrested, based on a complaint that his book “Dhundi” in Kannada has outraged the religious sentiments of Hindus by portraying one of their gods Ganesh in poor light. Portraying Hindu gods, and occasionally even Christian gods badly, is a national pastime for our so-called creative writers and artists. What they don’t realize is that, like they have a freedom of expression, the freedom to protest peacefully is a right they should recognise. But our media is quick in picking up cudgels against Hindu protesters, unlike other protesters.
So much has been written about this “Dhundi’ episode and the arrest of the author. Surely, arresting the author is untenable and cannot be justified, but nobody has condemned the author for his action, but have taken on the protesters. But the same media seem to have gone dumb on the protest by hardliners in Kashmir on the Zubin Mehta concert. This selective mindset of our media is a matter of concern, which nobody in the media talk about, including the present PCI chairman Justice Markandeya Katju. The fact is, if the Indian society has remained divided, the media role is certainly not a healthy one. 

KERALA: We are, as a nation, poor admirer of good job. There are any number of people doing good job, where a small step of appreciating them can be so much fulfilling and make the recipient of appreciation perform still better than what he already performed. This casualness of not recognizing is a national malaise, be it the government apparatus, or service organization, schools or colleges or any other institution manned to manage things. Examples of cynicism are dime a dozen. And comes this news from Credit Information Bureau (India) Ltd. (CIBIL) about better treatment of good borrowers. A Thiruvanantapuram datelined report informs that as a reward to those borrowers who have kept their promise of paying back the loan to banks in letter and spirit shall be given repeat loans at cheaper interest rates. This is not merely a social and public recognition of a responsible loanee, but makes lot of business sense. In fact, the writer is involved in a co-operative bank where those who repaid their loans in time, were given remission or reduction in interest burden. But the present proposal of CIBIL makes lot of sense in attracting responsible financial behaviour from all prospective loanees. Any reward for the past credit worthiness has a lot of promise for the future of bank loans, besides, it also boosts the morale of the individual who gets a public recognition of his credit worthiness. It is indeed a win-win situation for both. Hope this becomes a pan Indian spirit for the larger good of the society.

TAMIL NADU: As a rule judicial officers or justices are known to be wise and very selective in their usage of words, especially in public platforms. But then they are human too.
Justice N. N. Kirubakaran of Madras High Court, while inaugurating the Fast Track Mahila Court in Ramanathapuram in the southern tip of the state had this wise crack “Nirbhaya, the Delhi gang rape victim chose the wrong time to travel”.
It was an extremely uncalled for observation by the judge, who probably did not have the full details of the case, besides seems to have predilections about women movement in public. As expected women’s group have slammed the remark. The question what is the right time or wrong time and for whom and when, is a matter of universal application and hence segregating women for special restrictions on the time of their movement is a regressive bent of mind. Certainly all need to be sensitized on this, including judges.  

MAHARASHTRA: As a nation, like most western countries, we always accused Pakistan of being bad with minorities. Of course, to some extent it helped our national politics as well. But there are recurring evidences emerging where police and other law enforcing and investigating agencies are casually arresting and detaining without trial some of the Muslim youth on suspicion alone. In a country like India, which prides itself as a democratic secular nation, this approach needs an overhaul. Of course, police as a matter of practice always target weak and poor without much application of mind. We can accuse Pakistan of doing something like this, but India should not and cannot do it, or else the difference between India and Pakistan shall get blurred slowly but surely.
The news report “2006 Malegaon Blast: 9 accused set to walk free” informs that National Investigation Agency found no decisive proof to support the earlier conclusion drawn by Anti Terrorism Squad and CBI. So it is the court that saved the day for the idea of India, an idea that should survive all condition for India to be a model to the world. There is this Syrian young intellectual in his thirtees writing from London, that he does not want Syria to be antoher Pakistan, but he wants Syria to be like India. 
As a nation, we must necessarily protect our composite culture and spirit of Vasudaiva Kutumbakam. It is a call all must take across our national spectrum. Of course when all is said and done, we must also appreciate, subject to the black sheeps, that our police too has its own share of helplessness, forced upon them by circumstances of the past, and the experience gained from them, influences some of their harried or hurried actions on the ground. How much police can be blamed for their actions of commissions and omissions, while it is a moot point, there is certainly scope for more responsible and responsive approach in dealing with cases involving all sections of society, not only Muslims. Hope all players play their role with sensitivity, which indeed is a hall mark of a civilized society.
According to KEM Hospital in central Mumbai, some 190 cases of Dahi Handi accidents were reported at the hospital. They were from different parts of Mumbai. Of these 190 injured youths, 23 were admitted with others being treated in OPD. Of the 23 admitted 6 were operated upon for multiple fractures with two in ICU. Unfortunately one of them, 25 years old Shashikant Mane, died. Dahi Handi, an occasion for exuberant joy of Krishna Janmasthami, had turned into suffering, to so many across Mumbai, with some even being turned away from hospital, since they did not know who will sign for their treatment. 
All organizers, normally claim that they all have safety precautions in place, like Ambulance, stretchers, First Aid Box, waiting doctors and the group insurance cover, etc. But in reality none of them were there, when accident really took place. How can such reckless stunt of human pyramids of 30/40 ft without any shock absorbers in place, allowed to be performed? Some of these Dahi Handis are organized by even Ministers and their hangers on. But there appears to be no law to control super dangerous acrobatics in the name of festivals. Hope somebody up in the city administration take some decisive action to control these Govindas. 
There was this headline “Muslim leaders shocked at distribution of swords”. A Shiv Sena leader reportedly distributed 2 ½ ft. long, 500 swords at a Dahi Handi function at Dadar. Why only Muslim leader should be shocked? It should shock the entire thinking population of the country. Aren’t newspapers shocked to report such a bizarre happening, that too right in the heart of Mumbai city? What’s gone wrong with the Maharashtra’s political class? that they didn’t react sharply at this brazen act of brow beating? For police to justify that they were blunt and hence does not come under the definition of weapons is quite simply ludicrous. Why shouldn’t one of these ‘blunt’ swords tried on the head of DCP Dhananjay Kulkarni, who reportedly defended police inaction? It is absolutely unthinkable that police didn’t even confiscate these swords even after days, let alone take action against the distributor. 

JAMMU & KASHMIR: Believe it or not, in J & K, lives are differently valued and paid accordingly. And more shocking is, this practice is in place since last over 23 years. According to a govt. order of 1990 “the next of kin of personnel of para military forces, if he is permanent resident of J & K is sanctioned Rs: 5 lakh (in case of death), where as for other personnel of para military forces, only Rs: 2 lakhs is sanctioned”. Similarly “On the death of a policeman compensation is Rs: 5 lakhs, paid to the next of kin,  where as in case of policeman, or a magistrate who dies in similar circumstances, Rs: 2 lakhs compensation is paid to the next of kin”.
Supreme Court was hearing a PIL on the Kishtwar riot victims. The lawyer appearing for the litigant cited the discriminatory order, and court reportedly took a strong exception to the J & K state government order, where apparently they were treating the permanent residents of the state of J & K as state subjects, and other as non-state subjects. This is “highly objectionable” the apex court felt. Reportedly, the apex court had remarked “Can you manage without the assistance of others? Can you discriminate between natives and outsiders who lost their lives while serving in your state? We know that you have a special status. "But”, the court asked “Does special status granted to the state allows you to discriminate between natives and outsiders who lost their lives”. Hopefully in the course of disposal of the PIL, the court shall take the call to rectify this highly discriminatory order.

NEW DELHI: Another important happening of the month that went by is the 3 years' jail term for the most cruel rapist among the Delhi gang rape accused, only because he is still few months away from his 18 years age bar, to be an adult. So it has only proved that you can do all that an adult is capable of doing, but our law is not empowered to treat you as an adult. That is rather very funny. The alibi that courts are giving is, that constitution makers have thought and decided the age for juveniles as 18 and that they should be treated as per provisions of Juvenile Justice Act. Therefore unless the constitution is amended to reduce the age, it is status quo, like it or not. But what our legal eagles do not think is, that it was in 1950, that the country gave itself a constitution when boys were still boys and any incident of crime by young boys were few and far between. But the new millennium has seen the complete metamorphosis of the youth with television and information explosion on the internet. Life has never been the same for anybody, let alone youth. Hence any change in the constitution to take care of the evolution of the society, is only too normal. Courts must necessarily take care of this and advise the government of the day that its not early at all to respond to the changing social scenario and take the call where needed. After all, Justice is, only the truth in action, isn’t it? Thus the truth is, boy has grown, but our response to him has not grown enough to render justice where it is due. The shock and the sense of outrage felt not merely by the parents of the late Delhi gang rape victim, but also by the people at large, should be understood in right perspective. This boy, who was held guilty of rape and murder should necessarily get the punishment in accordance with his crime, not allowed to go scot free by this mere 3 years, in correctional juvenile home. This is a complete miscarriage of justice.
News report regarding the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) about the per capita expenditure of different religious group, has somehow failed to get electronic media sensation hype. Some of the dailies had highlighted in its headline about the expenditure by Muslims to be the lowest. “Muslims live on average Rs. 32.66 a day”, was the headline. The report also informed about Hindus living on Rs. 37.50, not any better than the Muslims. Report further inform about the Sikhs enjoying much better at Rs. 55.30 so was Christians at Rs. 51.43. The news report does not give details of how they have calculated the average. However what all should recognize is that if income is divided among the number of mouths per household  then both Hindus and Muslims have exposed themselves as groups with larger families and that they have failed to check their numbers. Similar is the explanation for both Sikhs and Christians. They surely will have more per capita expenditure as families are smaller and they managed to not only keep their number under control, but also tried to empower themselves with education and hard work, which both Muslims and Hindus have failed as a community. Of course, there are millions of Hindus whose per capita expenditure is very very high and so are there among Muslims.  
There was this report “Jairam rapped for pampering opposition” in a Mumbai based newspaper. Jairam Ramesh is one of the gentlemen politician. Suave, highly educated, articulative. Ramesh is a welcome guest in any crowd and pleasant person to meet. He is probably the best with his rapport with politician of all hues. Congress party should be happy to have him as a trouble shooter. But politics being politics, surely the likes of Chidambaram and Kamalnath have reportedly reprimanded Ramesh for accommodating opposition amendments in the land acquisition bill. Of the two, Chidambaram in particular is not liked by most politicians, including his own party colleagues.  Kamalnath is an aspirant for higher positions in the government, but does not make open display of ambition. Hence the acceptability of Jairam Ramesh to opposition members of the parliament should be looked at as an asset in the larger interest of national good in the overall political discourse rather than be made subject of narrow prism with which people like Chidambaram and his ilk are allowed to brow beat pleasant political personalities. 
“Litigation beyond poor man’s reach” was an observation from the Apex Court, some weeks ago. Expression of its regret for the commercialization and the exploitative dimension of legal profession, the Supreme Court has been rather slow. Like medical profession, lawyers profession too have been most exploitative since last few decades. It has been crass commercial. Helplessness of the people has been the capital of these ‘professionals’, good number of them have been mercenaries to the core. Of course there are equal number of gentlemen professionals who protect the fair name of the profession. But sad part is the increasing number of lawyers and doctors taking easier course to the riches. But unfortunately, rich man may not have any qualms of paying higher cost to these professional black sheeps, it is the poor who are treated with the same ruthlessness. And that is sad. Hence there are any number of cases where the poor either stop the treatment and face the inevitable or the litigants give up the fight in court or hospital, only because it has become increasingly difficult to fund these legal and medical profession. That indeed is a sad dimension of an emerging super power!
Better late than never. At long last Supreme Court woke up to the reality of justice delayed is justice denied or justice denied is simply injustice. Hearing the petition filed by the father of a 15 year old school girl from Haryana, who was gang raped by three men in 2012 and her mother killed for not withdrawing the complaint, apex court judges R.M. Lodha and Madan B. Lokur observed rather sharply “What is wrong with the system? Why are 90% of rape cases ending in acquittal?”.
Court was responding to the pleading by senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, representing the victim’s father. According to him the girl was denied entry into the school by the school principal, to persue her studies, after the incident of rape. How such person can still continue in their position, but for the state complicity? So it is the comprehensive failure of the entrenched power, the police, the bureaucracy, the legal fraternity or may be even the judiciary at times, besides the political class who have all joined hands, to keep the victims of the system where they are. Of course, it has to be fought. Fortunately there are activist judges, Colin Gonsalvises, Shailendra Gandhis, Arvind Kejriwals and Prashant Bhushans and their ilk popping out of the pavement, as Mahatma had said it long ago, in a system where there also likes of Ram Jethmalanis and his ilk. Hope the dawn is not far away. And we all live with hopes, don’t we?! 
Yasin Bhatkal, notorious wanted 30 year old, native of Bhatkal in coastal Karnataka, was arrested in the Nepal border. He is reportedly wanted in several blast cases. Unfortunately, he has a Muslim name, and some in the political parties raised questions, if he was being arrested because he is a Muslim whether there are enough grounds to arrest him. On the face of it, the observation by Kamal Farooqui a spokesman of Samajwadi Party can be taken on the face value or as mischievous. For some reasons, Congress Party felt it was mischievous. Even his own party felt irked by his observation, and removed him as party spokesman.
Hope the multi state police, who are going into the details of the Bhatkal terror activities in their respective states come up with some solid evidence of wrong doing to fix him and make him accountable. Only thing the police involved in interrogating him, should keep all sensitive issues under safe custody, without their daily media briefings, to arrive at the truth. According to these daily media reports, this Indian Mujahideen operative is a mine of information on different terror module operating across the border with Pakistani official complicity. Wish something conclusive emerges for the overall improvement in the terror scene within the country by this detention of the elder of two Bhatkal brothers.
There was this news in the media, which one more time has exposed the lack of planning and economic imagination of our planners “Lack of Storage: India loses fruits, veggies worth Rs: 2 trillion/year” was a news report in the English print media some weeks ago.
“India incurs, post harvest fruits and vegetables, losses worth over Rs: 2 lakh crores each year largely owing to the absence of food processing units, modern cold storage facilities and a callous attitude towards tackling the grave issue of post-harvest losses” informed a study report of Assocham, an all India trade and industry organisation. While pegging the production of fruits and vegetable all over India at 227 Metric tons, it states only 22% reach the wholesale market. So there is 78% of the production, according to the report, losing the market access, only because, they cannot be stored to market it on a different day and place, thus causing a huge loss to all concerned, including the state. And what is the Sharad Pawar and his thumb sucking babus in the agriculture ministry doing? Storage is an issue both centre and states can tackle, but sadly neither is doing anything about it.  As agriculture minister, he has only protected the interest of his family, friends and cronies. National interest and those of farmers, was never his priority. That is indeed very sad and bad. This is Yeh Mera India.

WORLD: Who ever has said that Indians and Pakistanis are not same, we are birds of the same feather. We have a history of to-getherness of many centuries. We are separated only since last 66 years physically, and mentally may be some years more. Since independence, they became an Islamic republic and we became a secular democracy. But our mentality and even moral values are same. Hence, the news report “ISI officers caught cheating in Pakistan exam” did not come as a surprise to anybody. An Islamabad date lined report informs that at least 500 candidates were caught cheating in an examination held for Pakistan’s National Centre Terrorism Authority (NACTA). Candidates were found liberally using smart phones to download answers from the internet to solve papers.
Ten invigilators for 5000 candidates were also accused of helping some candidates. Don’t we find such scenes in India too? It is very normal anywhere in India. So how are we different from each other? And we have been fighting for all the 66 years of post independence, including wars. It is another matter that, official connected with NACTA has reportedly cancelled the papers of those who were found cheating.
As usual Pakistan is once again in the news for all wrong reasons. The whole month was replete with one or the other news that commanded global attention. Month began with “Taliban strike Nato base near Pak/Afghanistan border” “Lal Masjid murder case filed against Musharraf” was another. “Pak resumes firing along LOC after lull” but “Pak approved amendment to anti terror law” to empower police to deal with terror was a positive news in line with aspiration and interest of the people. Despite India having granted Pakistan MFN status since many years, “there is no immediate consideration to grant India MFN status” Pak Finance Minister Isaq Dar was reported to have stated. And they talk about Confidence Building Measures (CBM)! talking about anti terror steps. But still “Pakistan to release seven Taliban prisoners” & “Hafiz Saeed has a free run at Jamat-ud-Dawa’s Islamabad rally” were the self defeating developments, while releasing a top Taliban leader Mulla Abdul Ghani Baradar,  ostensibly to support the peace efforts in Kabul. Same people killed Indian writer Sushmita Bannerji for writing against Taliban. Like they were concerned about the size of ‘Samosas’, it is the “quality of Kebabs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province” got Chief Justice  of Peshawar court go cracking on police and Health Deptt, informed a report. 
A former legislator of MQM was arrested on alleged murder charge and Karachi closes in protest, was a news about the difficulty of police in acting lawfully. Being Indians and Pakis being from the same home and hearth, there was this sad news “Gang rape of 5 year old in public unsettle Pak” “A Kashmiri arrested in Pakistan”. “Armed man in standoff with police in Islamabad” “Saeed dares  India over 26/1” “Blast kills officers in Khybar Pakhtunkwa” “Women grapple with violence in Pak” “Pak recovers body of killer of 26/11 prosecutor” “Church in Peshawar blasted with over 80 killed”. “Protest all over the country”. Earth Quake kills 45 in Baluchistan” “12 killed in Jammu by terrorist from across the border” To cap it all, as Indian PM and Pak PM were meeting in New York “A car bomb killed in the troubled north west Pak” informed a Peshawar datelined news to end the month. So this is Pak for you.
J.SHRIYAN




FOCUS

Majority in Pakistan
MJ Akbar was in Karachi some years ago, he recounts, at the home of a close Pakistani friend. Between them they decide to visit the Binori mosque and madrasa, founded by Maulana Yusuf  Binori immediately after Aug. 1947. It is another matter, that despite being a dignitary in the Pakistani official apparatus, the friend too, had never visited this Binori mosque for all the six plus decades’ post independence. Was this too, a reflection of the air of uncertainty prevailing in Karachi? This location was widely believed to be a sanctuary for Osama Bin Laden during his association with US forces in their fight against Soviet Union’s presence in Afghanistan. On reaching the mosque, MJA describes “We mounted steps that opened into a spacious courtyard surrounded by rooms. A few students loitered around with their usual outfit, of white kurta and the two inches above ankle pyjama, like in any Islamic seminary in the subcontinent. As I bent to unlace my shoes, I dismissed a slight tremor of unease, unwilling to accept that I was afraid. It was impossible, however, not to sense that we were on the threshold of  different world, where a different law and a separate order prevailed. The Karachi police would probably have guffawed at the thought that they needed to do something about an Indian held hostage in the mosque. Fools deserve their fate. Then, without a word, my companion signalled, that it was time to end this stupidity. We returned to the car at a brisk pace, just short of a panic run,” he concluded. Here is an eminent Indian intellectual and his prominent    friend, both Muslims, after over 60 years, could not muster enough courage to be inside a mosque cum madrasa in an Islamic Republic and literally runaway panic stricken.
Experience of MJA prompted the writer to raise pertinent questions and write the piece. Readers are requested to be open minded in asking questions and answer them themselves, in the context of the sub-continent as a whole. Feedback and critical comments are welcome.        –Editor

Surely it looks a confusing and amusing title for an article on Pakistan. There have been whole lot of debate, discussion and reports in the media so also meetings by global intellectuals on the minority situation especially in Pakistan. It is not for nothing that former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright had said many years ago that Pakistan is an ‘international migraine’. That this geographical land mass called Pakistan is a case of migraine was never in doubt. But Ms. Albright was the first one to say so on record and it became, quite rightly a quotable quote. But the fact is, even that country itself is a victim of migraine it created. 
Recorded latest statistics available in the public domain informs us that Pakistan consist of 97% Muslims of both Sunni and Shia denominations. This leaves 3% Christian, Hindus, Parsees and even those of other Muslim denominations like Ahmedias and others. If these are figures of 2012/2013, the figures on 14th Aug 1947 were much different. According to the figures available for those earliest days of Pakistan, non-Muslim population of Pakistan was of the order of over 30%. So whatever has happened to the 27% of these non-Muslim members of the Pakistani society? 
There are lots of theories making its rounds in the public discourse. These theories include, forcible conversion of women through forced marriages, forced conversion of men by intimidation and threats, outright elimination through violent killings and of- course those who could manage to flee, escaped to other countries. 
Although, it may be uncharitable to describe Pakistan as a violent society, it is admittedly true that violence is found and witnessed all across the country, almost on daily basis which corroborate the description ‘International Migraine’. Hence the question arises, what is the majority community doing to shed this image of a country, of being an international migraine? 
Mobasshar Javed Akbar, is an Indian journalist, writing in English since many decades. He is well known as MJ Akbar and is respected all across India as a thinker and an intellectual. Penguins published one of his books in 1985, “India; The siege within”. It was an intellectuals account of how he saw the land of his birth evolving, and the challenges before it as a pluralistic society. 
It was in 1950, that India gave itself a constitution, drafted by some of the greatest minds of India of those days. The committee that finalized and presented the constitution was chaired by the indomitable Bhimarao Ramji Ambedkar (BRA) According to the social stratification of the day, when India became independent, BRA was an ‘untouchable’. The New York Times, in an article reportedly published on Nov. 30, 1930, describes Ambedkar as the “most unusual ‘untouchable’, having the degrees of Doctor of Philosophy from Columbia University, New York and a Doctor of Science from the University of London’s London School of Economics. At the end of all his study abroad he returned to India as an ‘untouchable’ as when he left. He could not enter a temple or drink at a public well”. Yet, in 1947, when the country got its political independence, a respectful nation appointed B R Ambedkar to chair the Constitution Drafting Committee, for his sheer intellectual greatness.
The Indian constitution declared the country as a secular nation without any state religion, unlike the Islamic Republic of Pakistan (Islam-i Jamhuria-e Pakistan), which had Islam as its official religion. 
In 1950, on 26th of January, when India declared itself as Sovereign Republic, it overwhelmingly conveyed to the world at large that secularism shall be its guiding philosophy in statecraft. Here it is important to recollect, “When, 13 June 1947, Mahatma Gandhi was asked whether those who called God Rama and Krishna instead of Allah would be turned out of Pakistan, he answered only for India; we shall worship God as both Krishna and Karim and show the world we refuse to go mad.”
No wonder, in his book “India The siege within”, MJ Akbar writes “Hindu fundamentalism, long the thirst of a section of the middle class, has never got much response in an India whose population is 80% Hindu. It needs to be pointed out that India remains a secular state, not because 1/5th of its population is Muslims, Sikh or Christian and therefore obviously has a vested interest in a secular constitution, but because 9 out of 10 Hindus do not believe in violence against minorities”. (Page 23) 
Does this mean, majority in Pakistan failed to protect its minorities? 
Indira Gandhi, a tall leader by her own right, wrote in her magnum opus ETERNAL INDIA, published by London based George Allen & Unwin “The secret of India’s greatness and resilience is the acceptance of life in all its fullness, the good and the evil, and at the same time trying to rise above it all. In all the ups and downs of its long and chequered history, Indian customs, mores and traditions have been continuously evolving. It has not hesitated to adopt, adapt, absorb new and fresh ideas and issues. And inspite of various foreign influences of thousand years, the roots of indianness have remained strong and healthy. The Christianity came to India from outside, so was Islam. Parsees driven away from their homeland found refuge in India. All of them made India their home and flourished. While others only spoke of secularism, India truly practiced secularism and sustained our scriptured perception of tolerance and compassion.” 
Free and democratic India and theocratically oriented Pakistan, both have the same period of existence, yet how diametrically different both these countries are and how they have evolved over the last over 6 decades as a congregation of civil society! According to MJ Akbar “Indians and Pakistanis are the same people; why then two nations travelled on such different trajectories? The idea of India is stronger than the Indian; the idea of Pakistan is weaker than Pakistani”.
Population of Pakistan, consisting of 97% Muslims, are mainly Sunni denomination with 77% and the balance 20% being Shia. All through its history of 66 years, there have been continuous bloody attacks on Shias. Ahmedias, who claim that they are Muslims, have been declared as non-Muslims by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, and thus was rendered extremely vulnerable and are hence living a terrified existence. There is one more Muslim minority group, which want to migrate to India, where obviously they feel more secure and safe.
Isn’t this a massive failure of the majority in Pakistan’s civil society? Mohd. Ali Jinnah, who swore by secularism, whom officially Pakistan calls as ‘Father of the Nation’, would be a deeply disappointed man rolling in his grave. Or was Pakistan a puppet in the hands of Jamat-e-Islami, which was founded before 1947, by Maulana Maududi, acknowledged as god father of Pakistan?  And Zia-ul-Haq, who was a disciple of Maududi, destroyed the liberal fabric, if any, of Pakistan by his, over a decade’s, autocratic rule by the application of Shariat. MJ Akbar, reminisces, that even after Zia regime, the efforts to reverse his legacy have not succeeded, because a strain of theocracy runs through the DNA in the idea of Pakistan.
We are told, that Army and its allied institutions like ISI run the Pakistani politics and economics and therefore the larger society. Almost the whole of the men and women, who mans these institutions are from the majority community and therefore has the power to protect its less than 3% non-Muslim minorities, and the 20% Shia Muslims and yet, day in and day out we see and read reports of violent killings, almost every day, including during the holy month of Ramadaan. Dead are generally Shia Muslims, Ahmediyas, Christians or Hindus.
Look at the politics of Pakistan. Despite, there being federal parliamentary system in place, in 1958, Field Marshal Mohd. Ayub Khan seized the power, and enforced his brand of ‘controlled democracy’ till 1969, as President. His deputy, General Yahya Khan deposed Field Marshal. He ruled until 1971, when he presided over the balkanization of Pakistan, and East Pakistan got liberated as Bangladesh. This was again the failure of the majority, which led to the eastern part of Pakistan deserting the mainland.
Zulfikar Ali Bhulto was handed over the power by Gen. Yahya in 1971. He was overthrown by Gen. Zia-Ul-Haq, who executed Bhutto in 1979, accusing him of murder of a political opponent. Gen. Zia was killed in an air crash, allegedly planned, in 1988. Was he killed for executing Bhutto? The question was never answered. In the general election held in 1988, Benazir Bhutto’s party was voted to power, who was dismissed in less than 2 years in Aug. 1990. Nawaz Sheriff Government which took over was dismissed in 1993. Benazir who returned to power thereafter was again dismissed in Oct. 1996. Feb. 1997, saw Nawaz Sheriff again taking over the power, only to be overthrown by the then army chief Gen.  Pervez Musharaff in Oct. 1999 who packed off Sheriff to Saudi Arabia with a 25 years sentence not to return to Pakistan.
All those military rulers who usurped power, promised civilian rule, only enjoyed it without keeping the promise, and they all belonged to the majority section of the Pakistani society. Even the last of the military ruler, Gen. Musharaff enjoyed unbridled power until end of 2007, when he resigned, after the assassination of   Benazir Bhutto, when she had returned to Pakistan, from a long exile, to fight the ensuing election. There are accusations that Gen. Musharaff was responsible for the killing of Benazir, so also that of the tribal leader Bugthi of Baluchistan. He is presently under house arrest in Pakistan. With Nawaz Sheriff government in power, there is every chance that Gen Musharaff will be made to pay for his alleged acts of commissions.
Thus, for all its 66 years, the political life of Pakistan has been one of turmoil and uncertainty. All actors were from the majority section of Pakistani society.  Hence the question persists that “Could it be that, majority in Pakistan has failed to realize the dream of its Father of the Nation, ‘A Muslim majority secular nation’?” Despite there being a plethora of political parties formed by civil society members, latest being that of Imran Khan, writes Ayesh Siddiqa from Islamabad, “None of these parties challenged terrorism and radicalism in the country despite being in power at different times”. May be Indian friends of Pakistan, like Mani Shankar Iyer, may be able to answer this troubling question with adequate explanations.
Introducing his book “TINDER BOX - The Past and Future of Pakistan”, MJ Akbar writes, “Muslims of British India had opted for a separate homeland in 1947, destroying the possibility of a secular India, in which Hindus and Muslims would co-exist, because they believed, that would be physically safe, and their religion secure, in a new nation called Pakistan. Instead, within six decades, Pakistan had become one of the most violent nations on earth, not because Hindus were killing Muslims, but because Muslims were killing Muslims. Islam did not save the Pakistan of 1947 from its own partition, and in 1971, the eastern wing separated to form Bangladesh. It is neither coincidental nor irrelevant that the national anthem of Bangladesh has been written by the same poet, Rabindranath Tagore, who gave India its national anthem”.
According to Sir Hillary Synnott, British High Commissioner in Pakistan between 2001 and 2003 “Pakistan’s structural and historical weaknesses are such that nothing short of a transformation of the country’s body politic and institutions will be necessary, which can be brought about by Pakistanis only”. MJ Akbar thinks “Pakistan displays the characteristic of a ‘jelly state’, neither will it achieve stability nor disintegrate. It seems condemned to sectarian, fratricidal and international wars. The thought is not comforting.” And he feels “Pakistan can become a stable, modern state, but only if the children of the Father of Pakistan, Jinnah, can defeat the ideological heirs of the god father, Maududi.”
J.SHRIYAN

Minority in a Naya Pakistan

Naya Pakistan is the new buzzword in the country. It is the campaign slogan of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, and it speaks to those who are seeking not only a new leadership but also new Pakistan. There is an expectation that with this election must come a Pakistani renewal that would be more in keeping with the original promise of Partition, instead of the present corruption, poor governance and the absence of any sense of security. Many see the country suffering from the burden of an inept leadership and an expensive partnership with the United States in its war on terror, and believe Pakistan has paid too high a price for this. In the past few years, the media seems to have put the burden of both internal mismanagement and skewed external relations on the ruling Pakistan People’s Party. With new leaders like Imran Khan on the horizon, it is believed that a positive change is in the offing. Although it is not clear that Mr. Khan will be the ultimate winner in the elections, it is taken for granted that the new 40 million votes added to the voters’ list, including those of the youth, will favour the cricketer-turned-politician.

Turnout uncertain
However, there is a lot of uncertainty underlying the change mantra. Given the fact that the voter turnout in past elections was low, it is still not certain how many will show up for the election today. In provinces like Balochistan, the voter turnout in the 2008 election was as low as 20 per cent. Countrywide voter demotivation could get compounded by the threats being issued by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which has warned people, especially in the tribal areas and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, against going anywhere near a voting booth. Thus far, there have been numerous murderous attacks by the TTP against the previous ruling combine of the Pakistan People’s Party, the Awami National Party, and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, targeting its leaders, candidates and campaign rallies. The TTP has declared these parties liberal-secular and thus deserving of its ire. The irony of course is that none of the three parties challenged terrorism and radicalism in the country despite being in power for five years.
Even if voters overcome these challenges to come out and vote, there is no evidence yet that a Pakistan under a different leadership can bring about the sort of renewal that is required for the task of nation-building. Nowhere is this more evident than in the attitude of political parties to the religious minorities. There are 2.9 million non-Muslims in the country formally registered with the National Database and Registration Authority. Of this, the biggest number is of Hindus (approx 1.4 million), followed by Christians (1.2 million), and then others which include Ahmedis, Zorastrian, Bahai, Sikh, Buddhist and even a handful of Jews.
Pakistan, which opted for separate electorates for its minority communities at the time of Partition, took the decision to integrate these communities in the political mainstream by abolishing that system in 2002. But in other ways, the process of integration of the minorities has been non-existent and, thanks to the overall ideological-political climate in the country, the attitude towards them is one of violent intolerance.
After many such incidents of violence targeting them and their mosques, the Ahmedis, for instance, are feeling more ostracised and threatened than before by the growing latent-radicalism in the country. The community was declared non-Muslim by the Bhutto government in 1974. Mainly concentrated in Central Punjab, the Ahmedis have opted to boycott these elections as none of the political parties seems to heed their concerns.
Earlier in the campaign, Imran Khan, who spoke about changing Pakistan from his hospital bed after his fall this week, issued a formal press statement contradicting the video footage about the party’s plan to revisit the law declaring Ahmedis non-Muslims. The video clip had gone viral on social media and the ensuing controversy forced Imran Khan to make the statement that he believed in the finality of Prophet Muhammad. But shockingly, he went on to add that no one from his party had sought Ahmedi votes. More than anything else, that declaration raises worrying questions about a national party’s agenda. Notwithstanding differences on interpretation of faith, the right of Ahmedis to life and inclusion in politics has to be ensured. It is also interesting that Imran Khan used the term ‘Qadiyani,’ which the Ahmedis in Pakistan consider derogatory.
The situation in relation to other political parties is not encouraging either. Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N, which is trying to maintain control of the largest province of the country, is entrenched in an electoral partnership with the defunct militant Deobandi organisation, Sipha-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), that is contesting elections under the title of Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat (ASWJ). The party’s rabidly fundamentalist posturing in Punjab does not bode well for the Ahmedis, or for the Shia community. In these last few months, the Shia community has been violently targeted in different parts of the country, especially in Balochistan, by the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an offspring of the SSP. The Shias are not a minority, but their relentless targeting is a result of the mainstreaming of Deobandi and Wahabi discourse in society and politics in general.

Misuse of blasphemy law
The Christian community is not happy either. In the past five years, there was a noticeable increase in the number of attacks on Christians using the blasphemy law. The Zia-era legislation condemns anyone guilty of blaspheming against the Prophet of Islam to death. The law is frequently manipulated to settle personal scores and disputes over land, especially by land mafias that are spread across the country. Some ministers of the PML-N were allegedly behind some of the attacks.
A similar situation seems to prevail in Sindh where Hindus feel increasingly insecure and abandoned like everyone else by what was once Bhutto’s party. Many PPP candidates are wealthy land-owning wadheras; some of them have well-known links with criminal gangs and militant outfits. The Hindus of Sindh will probably vote pragmatically for the PPP in areas dominated by the party, not out of loyalty, but to safeguard their interests and buy security, seriously deficient in Sindh.
Unlike the Hindus in South Punjab who mainly consist of the scheduled castes, the Sindhi Hindus include castes that are more affluent. They dominate business and industry in rural Sindh but consider themselves a threatened species primarily due to the abysmal economic and security conditions in the province. In upper Sindh, they say that the banyas dare not even show off their wealth for fear of attracting unwelcome attention, usually in the form of kidnappings for ransom. The overall increase in poverty and poor governance in the province have raised ordinary people’s threshold as far as crimes against rich Hindus are concerned. No one is outraged if some of their wealth gets stolen or extorted.
A bigger concern for Sindhi Hindus in recent years pertains to forced conversion of upper caste Hindu girls to Islam. Their economic influence has not translated into sufficient political clout to generate support among the political elite of Sindh to solve this particular grievance.

Wadhera-mullah combine
The lack of political engagement does not help counter the influence of religious wadheras or the wadhera-mullah combine which is now increasingly behind the conversion issue. It was in 2012, for example, that the conversion scandal involving a pir of the Bharchundi shrine became public. Mian Mithu, as he was popularly known, was also a PPP member of the National Assembly. He was instrumental in converting a local Hindu girl, Rinkle Kumari, to Islam after one of his men facilitated her abduction and then married her off to a boy she allegedly had an affair with. As Rinkle’s Talraja caste has some influence in Ghotki and adjoining Dharki, where it even has a huge shrine of Sacho Satram Das, the PPP eventually abandoned Mian Mithu.
Pakistan’s renowned Sindhi playwright, Noor-ul-Huda Shah, believes that there is a tendency to treat conversions, especially of upper caste girls such as Rinkle Kumari, as a trophy. The pride in converting upper caste Hindu girls could also be linked with the gradual spread of militant organisations like the SSP, JeM and LeT in interior Sindh. Piggybacking on the shoulders of the religious party, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, the various militant outfits are said to be engaged in several cases of violence including the killing of three Hindu boys in Khairpur who were suspected of involvement with Muslim girls.
The efforts made by some Hindus in the last couple of years to migrate to India caught media attention. Though most people in the community still consider Pakistan their country and would not leave, political parties have paid scant attention to their problems.
For the minorities in Pakistan, the biggest question is whether this election will help them negotiate their safety and security in a society and polity increasingly drifting towards the right wing. So far, no political party has had the courage to provide a reassuring answer.
(Ayesha Siddiqa is a commentator based in Islamabad and author of Military Inc.: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy) This is a reproduction of an article in the Hindu of May 11, 2013.


FEATURE

Science, God, and Myths.
Prof. B. M. Hegde,
hegdebm@gmail.com

"The impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrous universe, with   our conscious selves, arose through chance seems to me the chief argument forthe existence of God."
Charles Darwin (1809-1882)   
While the word science brings reverence in hearts of many superficial thinkers, the word God also brings about similar feelings may be, ina largergroup of people. It is time to have a liberal debate on the subjects to demolish many myths that abound in this area. Both sides have their proponents who hate the opposite view so strongly that they miss the truth in between the two extremes. The greatest exponent of Neo-Darwinism, the corner stone of science, Richard Dawkins, is still clear in supporting the unsupportable neo Darwinism. Similarly there are powerful people in the organised religious fields who abhor science and attribute everything to their God. There are enough and more data to support the L
amarckian environmental theory of evolution in contradistinction to Darwinism. Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, an evolutionary biologist, proposed that plants and animals could pass on their adaptations to the surroundings on to their offspring. Charles Darwin was a convinced Lamarckian in that sense. It is only the Neo-Darwinists that are against this theory. Darwin’s book The Variation of Animals and Plants under domesticationclearly brings out this theory of pangenesis. Neo-Darwinists, who began in the 1940s, reject all that and are fanatically opposed to Lamarck.
Epigenetics (above and more than) today has shown the futility of going after the few human genes in our chromosomes ignoring the trillions of germ genes that we also are heir to. Time was when bio-technology was the craze both in the industry and teaching institutions. Many have earned lots of money in this area especially in the arena of reductionist pharmaceutical compounds, all of which are potentially dangerous. Today the industry is not looking up and many have lost their share market in the west. 
Since there is big money in the field even now efforts are on the create in-vitro stem cells and cloning etc. They even tried to make money promising to produce offspring without parents through self-replicating nanobots. Eric Drexler, the first founder of this company, made billions by just the announcement but soon lost the market for his shares when the truth was exposed by his former teacher, Nobel Laureate Richard Smally. When the human genome project started in the 2000s the expectations were so high that a private company, Celera Genomics,quietly started to study and try to patent human genes along with the Government funded genome project.Later that year President Clinton announced that human genes, when found by the genome project, cannot be patented as those belonged to humanity at large. The shares of the private company tumbled down but they went on. 
When the human genes were being mapped the scientists were upbeat saying that the foundation of life will now be charted just as the CERN scientists started saying that they have found (99.9% for sure) the basic building blocks of nature, the God particle. Both proved to be damp squibs. The present day scientists remind me of the poojaris and priests that try and sell God in their places of worship to the gullible public. In what way are our scientists, blinded by their reductionist science, selling their God (science) to the gullible public different? Otherwise, how does one explain the efforts to sell gene mapping to surgically remove someone’s breasts to prevent cancer breast in 2013 when we know that human genes hardly matter in isolation in future happenings?
Neo-Darwinism kept God completely out of nature and thought that(bio) chemistry and physics could run this world.The Decade of the Brain, inaugurated by President George Bush Sr. in 1990, gave the impression that brain mapping would reveal the inner secrets of the mind. Earlier Penfield in Canada did similar studies and believed that secrets of the brain could be totally unravelled!  Now that we know that every human cell has a brain (memBrain) old concepts are vanishing from science but not from materialistic modern reductionist medicine where brain mapping still is a big money spinner. So is gene mapping and counselling. How long do we cheat the common man in the name of our new God, science?
The best definition of today’s science comes from Terrance Kemp McKenna, an American pshychonaut, when he said that “modern science is based on the principle: “give us one free miracleand we will explain the rest.” The one free miracle is the appearance of all the mass and energy in the universe and all the laws (man-made) that govern it in a single instant from nothing.” How could one presume that all the Laws of Nature were already present at the very instant of the Big Bang? The story of Laws is highly anthropomorphic as only humans have laws, not even animals or plants. That too only so called civilised societies have laws and not all human races. The assumption of mathematical genius, omnipotent God was accepted by the founding fathers of science. Today Laws of nature float in the sea of materialism in a metaphysical void. God concept was well recorded in the Pythagorean and Platonic Greek philosophies.  The father of modern science, Sir Francis Bacon, actually a trained Barrister, asserted in 1620 or so that these Laws of nature are eternal and immutable.  Kepler, Galileo, Descartes and Newton saw the Laws of Nature as mathematical ideas in the mind of God! God in their sense transcended time and space and so the Laws were enforced by God’s Omnipotence.
To cite one example how the Laws could be flouted is the story of liquid helium when kept in a big vessel at the bottom, slowly starts climbing up on the walls of the vessel to spill over defying gravity. Plants follow gravity and sun for their existence but not by following the laws of gravity as we understand it. Fourteen out of the sixteen experiments in mapping star light coming to the earth on solar eclipse nights did show that both Newton and Einstein were not correct in their laws. Only two clumsy experiments on cloudy nights by Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington tried to prove them right. The materialistic world believes Eddington. Poor Eddington belies his own findings when he propounded the “Fish Net Hypothesis.” The size of the fish depends on the size of the holes in the fish net. Smaller fish could always escape the eyes of the “net using” scientists.
The Big Bang theory, one of the pillars of modern science took root in 1960s and scientists started swearing by it ever since. The truth is that the Big Bang theory was propounded as primeval atom by Rev. Father Georges Lemaitre, a Roman Catholic priest and cosmologist. He said the universe started as a “creation-like event.”  It is ironic that one of the staunch opponents of Father Georges was Fred Hoyle, who contemptuously called this theory as the “Big Bang Theory” and the latter name stuck permanently.  This reminds me of the Goddem particle which the author had suggested for the Higg’s bosons but the editor thought that the word was too bad for a book and made it “God Particle”. The latter name stuck!
The concepts of both God and science will have to change in this materialistic world for the common man to survive. In a way both those could have a unitary origin. Quantum physics knows that the “world is immaterial-mental and spiritual” in the words of Johns Hopkins physicist, Richard Conn Henry. The new science of biology which the great biologist, Rupert Sheldrake, describes in his “morphic resonance” theorygives  a new direction. This, of course, was criticised by materialistic scientists as pseudo-science. The theory has had a mixed reception. His book A New Science of Life has been described by the editor of New Scientist thus: “Sheldrake is an excellent scientist, the proper and imaginative kind that in anearlier age discovered continents and monitored the world of sonnets.”Biologist editor wrote: “well written, provocative and entertaining….improbable? Yes, but so was Galileo.”
I am still trying to graspwith the concept of “morphic resonance”. My new book on The New Science of Man (still in the press but articles on the topic have been published by me) takes us into another area of holistic science of man where the human body is NOT treated as a machine, containing parts called organs but as a bundle of energy vibrations where the trillions of body cells, which are capable of independent living, are in sync with one another. Health is that state where the body cells are in sync and ill health is the altered energy state where cells are out of sync. This would be the basis for new therapeutic efforts using energy to make medical care (illness care) universally affordable and effective.
Human being is a part of this universal consciousness (call it God, if you like) and is interconnected with all else in the universe. Even human meta-genome has more than two trillion germ genes. This truth should make manhumble and tranquil. When human greed disappears with this new scientific awakening, man will lose interest in hoarding money both in the name of science and religion. Even a Nobel Laureate physicist, Hans Peter Durr, calls this world as a changing drama, Wirklichkeit, akin to Adi Shankara’s Maya. Durr’s “a-duality” (energy=matter) theory comes down to Advaita philosophy of tat/sat. Durr himself alludes to Advaita philosophy in his paper, matter is not made out of matter.”
Let us face the truth. Both science and God concept (not the one inside temples, churches etc.) have helped mankind a lot. While science with its technology has made life easier with many amenitiesfor life, God concept has saved millions by its faith,which kept millions from committing suicide in frustration. God concept has been a great placebo for man. Latest science shows that it is only the placebo effect that heals even in modern medical quick fixes, at the end of the day. Both God and science are ill understood, in my concept; they will remain like that for all times to come. Man will never be able to know his future. If nature places all her cards on the table, life loses its charm and becomes insipid. Rather than fighting with each other let the scientists and religionists sit across the table and understand each other and decide to stop fooling the unsuspecting gullible public to make unethical profits.
“The statistical probability that organic structures and the most precisely harmonized reactions that typify living organisms would be generated by accident, is zero.”
Ilya Prigogine, Recipient of two Nobel Prizes in chemistry


YEH MERA INDIA

Crazy police urinate into youth’s mouth
Kolkata: A fresh controversy, which is likely to push the Mamata Banerjee administration into another uncomfortable corner, finds three policemen in Kolkata accused of urinating on a youth, who had asked them for help against some antisocial.
The parents of 20-year-old Md. Rafiq Anwar, a resident of Beniapukur, which is barely a couple of kilometers away from the city’s central business district, filed a complaint with the local police station alleging that their son was walking towards his home late evening through the Park Circus Maidan – the large sports ground and morning walkers’ haven provides much-needed greenery to the otherwise concertized area-when he was accosted by four men.
The men asked Rafiq for a matchbox to light their cigarette, but when he said he had none and walked on, they stopped him again, surrounded him and started forcibly digging his pockets.
As these men were taking away Rafiq’s mobile phone and whatever cash he had, he noticed a black police van making rounds of the park and raised an alarm. Managing to tear himself away from the four men, he started running towards the van, when the men screamed “Thief!” from behind him.
As he reached the police, they hit Rafiq instead of helping him and beat him up severely, claimed Rafiq’s father Gazi Anwar in his complaint.
The complaint further alleged that when, gasping for breath after being assaulted, he asked for water, the policemen urinated in Rafiq’s mouth. When some of Rafiq’s neighbours saw him being pushed into the police van and being driven away from the dimly-lit ground, they informed his parents.
While his parents accused the policemen of being drunk, cops from Beniapukur police station claimed that Rafiq was inebriated at the time of the incident.
Rafiq, who had fallen unconscious, was admitted to a nearby state-run hospital, where he has been keeping under medical observation by doctors.
Meanwhile, following the formal complaint by Rafiq’s parents, Kolkata police ordered an enquiry against the assistant sub-inspector and two constables for allegedly assaulting the youth. 
All three policemen have been ordered to stay away from routine work at their station of posting, and have been asked to present themselves before the duty office at Lalbazar, the city police’s headquarters.
Sources in the city police informed that while any assault mark is yet to be found on Rafiq, if the allegations against the policemen prove to be true, suitable action would be taken.
Senior officials, however, preferred to stay away from commenting on the matter till further instructions from the state government.

One-third MPs, MLAs face criminal charges: survey
New Delhi : Almost one-third of sitting Lok Sabha members and an equal number of MLAs in various states are facing criminal charges, a study by an NGO favouring electoral reforms has said. The nation-wide survey, done by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), was undertaken in view of the forthcoming polls in five states and the general elections later, a release by the NGO said. 
The survey was undertaken in relation to 62,847 candidates who had contested the polls since 2004 for the Lok Sabha and Assembly seats in various seats. “Out of these 62,847 candidates, 11,063 (18 per cent) candidates have declared criminal cases against them while 5,253 (eight per cent) candidates have serious criminal charges. Thirty per cent or 162 out of the total 543 MPs in the current Lok Sabha are facing criminal charges, while 76 face serious charges. “Moreover, 1,258 (31 per cent) MLAs are facing criminal charges across India. While 23 per cent of those with serious criminal records won, only 12 per cent of the candidates without criminal records won,” the ADR analysis said.
It said these trends indicate that those with criminal records were better oriented for a win at the hustings.

Waiting for Aadhar card, but found in garbagebin
Bhayandar: Less than 20 days after bundles of MSEDCL electricity bills were found lying with a scrap dealer in Nallasopara, around 60 aadhar cards were recovered from a garbage bin in Virar (East). The cards, wrapped in a black polythene bag, were spotted by a rag-picker in the Sai Dutt Nagar area of Virar (East). The rag-picker informed local resident Balmukund Mishra, who rushed to the spot and was shocked to find the cards dumped in the garbage bin. Incidentally, Mishra was on his way to the Virar post Office to inquire about his Aadhar card, when the rag-picker informed him about the abandoned cards. And to his utter disbelief, Mishra found six cards, belonging to him and his family members. Although Mishra is happy to get hold of the long-awaited government document, he is worried about consequences of such a careless attitude of concerned authorities. “Aadhar is a vital identification document for Indian Citizens, it could have been misused if fallen in wrong hands,” observed Mishra. 


Hospitals in day - Dormitories by night
Mumbai: It is no surprise that one of the rapists of the photojournalist was found sleeping in the corridor of Nair Hospital. All public hospitals turn into dormitories for the homeless at night. They just pay the security guards and sleep along with the relatives of patients in the premises of the hospitals.
“I just have a blanket and bedsheet. I am new to this city and drive a taxi in the daytime. I pay the ward boy Rs 250 everyday and sleep here,” said Kamleshwar Kumar who arrived in the city last month and sleeps in Nair Hospital. An auto driver introduced him to the place.
The ward boys give the best place under the fan to the one who pays the highest sum. “It depends on my days. The day I earn well I get a better place,” said Vaishnavi Bahirgonde, a beggar.
“Three or four security guards cannot take care of such large premises,” said Dr Avinash Supe, dean of Sion hospital.
However, this correspondent has been a witness to the carelessness and irresponsible attitude of even the four to five security guards. The security guards can never be found alert while on duty. The metal detector machines and the security check rooms remain locked and non-functional throughout the day.
Many of the doctors of KEM, Sion and Nair hospitals have complained that these security guards are drunk, mostly at nights. “We have complained to the authority. But so far no action has been taken,” said a doctor from Sion hospital requesting anonymity. According to the dean of Nair hospital Dr R Bharmal, the security in public hospitals cannot compete with the security in private hospitals because of the volume of work received by them. “The area of the private hospitals are limited and they have better manpower. Besides they don’t take in every other patient. We have to admit everyone because of which crowd is huge and questioning every other person is difficult,” said Dr R Bharmal.
When asked on why the relatives cannot be given entry passes and only one can be allowed in the premises at one time he said, “They also have to wheel the stretchers and wheel chairs. We don’t have manpower for wheeling in patients from one ward to another.”
After the gang rape incident BMC has issued circulars for curbing the inflow of illegal people in the hospital premises. “We have issued the circular according to which the security can question anybody present in the hospital premises. We cannot restrict entry of people in the hospital but we will ensure that nobody is present in the premises without any work,” said Dr S Nagda, Director of BMC.

MONTH THAT WAS

Mentally challenged girl accused of blasphemy by imam in Islamabad - Imam arrested but released
Islamabad: A Muslim cleric charged with falsely accusing a Christian girl of blasphemy was freed by a Pakistani court for lack of evidence. Khalid Jadoon Chishti was arrested last year on charges of planting pages of the Quran in a shopping bag containing burnt paper to strengthen the blasphemy case against Rimsha Masih, a mentally challenged teenager.
Chisti's lawyer Wajid Gilani said a court in Islamabad had accepted his plea that there was not enough evidence to prosecute him. Masih was booked under the controversial blasphemy law and spent three weeks in jail before she was released when it emerged that the imam of the mosque in her neighbourhood had falsely implicated her. Three witnesses who testified against the cleric had later backtracked from their statements, The Express Tribune reported. They said police had "forced" them to testify against Chishti.
Masih and her family went into hiding after she was released by a court due to fears of being targeted by militants. They secretly shifted to Canada and are currently living at an undisclosed location. Rights groups say the controversial blasphemy law, introduced in the 1980s during military dictator Zia-ul-Haq's regime, are often misused to settle personal scores or to persecute members of minority communities. International rights bodies have called for changes in the law but no government can dare do so due to the fear of militants. Salman Taseer, the Governor of Punjab, was killed in 2011 by his own police guard for criticising the blasphemy law.

Mute  uses RTI & minister sacked
Chennai: The UPA Government might be wary of giving more teeth to one of its pioneering legislations – the Right to Information (RTI) Act. But the legislation has empowered people to such an extent that a speech and hearing impaired man in the southern district of Madurai has, albeit unintentionally, managed to get Tamil Nadu School Education Minister Vaigaichelvan dropped from the Cabinet by exposing corruption in his Department.  
K Ganesan, a Dalit who is suffering from speech and hearing impairment, had applied for the posts of Government school watchman and sweeper and attended the interview for the same in June last year. When he was rejected for the job, Ganesan sought details about the selection procedure from the District Educational Officers (DEO) in Melur, Madurai and Usilampatti (all in Madurai district) under the RTI Act.
While the DEOs of Madurai and Melur did not respond to his application, the Usilampatti DEO replied that most appointments were made on the basis of recommendations of ruling party politicians. Of 25 posts of watchmen and sweepers that were filled up, 13 were appointed acting on the recommendations of a Minister, four MLAs and some ruling party office-bearers, the DEO said in his RTI reply. Ganesan submitted these documents in the Madras High Court (Madurai Bench) and sought to quash all appointments made in the Usilampatti education district. Surprised by the evidence, Justice Nagamuthu had summoned senior officials of the School Education Department to the court to explain the charges.  
Finding that some pages were torn in the files, the judge questioned the officials how the selection was made. A Desk Superintending Officer, Mayan, who was present in the court told the judge that he had received a call from the office of the Director of School Education asking him to make the appointments based on the recommendation letters of politicians. After the said candidates were appointed, the recommendation letters were forwarded to the School Education Director’s office. However, Mayan did not name the name of the official who influenced the appointments saying he was unable to recollect the name. 
The former School Education Director, who was summoned, denied any knowledge about the recommendations.  An angry judge had while hearing the case a couple of days ago said that this was a fit case for being probed by external agencies like the CBI or CB-CID and asked the Additional Advocate General to get instructions from the Government on its stand on the matter before he could decide on ordering a probe.

‘Walking’ shark discovered in Indonesia
Jakarta: A new species of shark that “walks” along the seabed using its fins as tiny legs has been discovered in eastern Indonesia, an environmental group said. The brown and white bamboo shark pushes itself along the ocean floor as it forages for small fish and crustaceans at night, said Conservation International, whose scientists were involved in its discovery. 
The shark, which grows to a maximum length of just 80 centimetres and is harmless to humans, was discovered off Halmahera, one of the Maluku Islands that lie west of New Guinea. Bamboo sharks, also known as longtail carpet sharks, are relatively small compared to their larger cousins, with the largest adult reaching only about 120 centimetres in length. They have unusually long tails that are bigger than the rest of their bodies and are found in tropical waters around Indonesia, Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Woman in beggar’s home ordered to be set free
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court  directed that a Pakistani woman, who has been languishing in a beggars' home here since May, be released, saying she had lawfully married an Indian here in 1983 and allowed her to reunite with her family to celebrate Eid. 
Allowing a habeas corpus plea filed by her husband Mohd. Gulfam, a resident of Kala Masjid Turkman gate, for his wife's release, a bench of justices Kailash Gambhir and Indermeet Kaur ordered for Nuzhat Jahan's release. 
"Undeniably, we do not find any justification in detention of the petitioner (Nuzhat) in a solitary confinement in the Beggar's Home, Nirmal Chhaya Parisar, Delhi as persuasive when, undisputably, the petitioner had lawfully married Mohd. Gulfam, and was holding a valid passport and valid long-term visa.
"No doubt, the Pakistan authorities did not renew the passport of the petitioner and there is a possibility that on that account, the visa of the petitioner was also not renewed by the Indian Government, however the petitioner did take necessary steps to seek renewal of her passport and extension of her long-term visa," the bench said. 



ABRACADABRA

Intolerance of a weird kind
Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia has revoked the permanent residency status of a Singaporean resort owner who was arrested on a charge of defiling a place of worship after he allowed Buddhists to use a Muslim prayer room. 
Syed Ahmed Alkaff, a 45-year-old Singaporean with Malaysian permanent residency status, was arrested on August 11 at Tanjung Sutera Resort in southern Johor state under Section 295 of the Penal Code for injuring or defiling a place of worship. He had allowed a group of Buddhists from Singapore to use the prayer hall for chanting. Alkaff was later released on bail. 

Cow falls thru roof to kill sleeping man
London : In a bizarre incident, a 45-year-old Brazilian man has died after a one-tonne cow fell through his roof on top of him as he was in bed. Joao Maria de Souza had been in bed with his wife Leni when the animal fell through the ceiling of their home in Caratinga, southeast Brazil, narrowly missing his wife. The cow is believed to have escaped from a nearby farm and climbed onto the roof of the couple’s house. The corrugated roof immediately gave way and the heavy animal fell eight feet onto de Souza’s side of the bed. Reports said his wife and the cow both escaped unharmed.

When Punjab didn’t leave Panesar
London: England spinner Monty Panesar has been fined for urinating in public in a state of drunkenness. The 31-year-old was ejected from a club in Brighton on the English south coast after he was seen urinating near the venue. The police were called and he was fined for being drunk and disorderly.
The Sun newspaper claimed that Panesar urinated from the promenade above the venue onto bouncers standing below. The incident happened just hours before England retained the Ashes at Old Trafford by drawing the third Test; Panesar was in the 14-man squad but did not play.The 31-year-old left-arm spinner had been partying at the Shooshh club on Brighton’s beachfront, which was hosting a Gay Pride event. However, when a group of women complained he was harassing them, Panesar was asked to leave. Panesar, born to Indian parents, proceeded to the promenade above the club and relieved himself on the bouncers standing below. The bouncers then chased Panesar until he was cornered in a nearby pizza parlour, according to the report.  The bouncers dragged Panesar back to the club and called the police. Panesar later released a statement, through his spokesperson, offering an “unreserved apology” for his behaviour. “Monty would like to apologise unreservedly for any offence caused,” the  cricketer’s spokesperson said.
The incident had Twitter in splits. Said one user, ‘‘Monty Panesar giving us proof that you can take the man out of Punjab, but you can’t take the Punjab out of the man!’’ Another had a dig at Sharad Pawar’s nephew – ‘‘Ajit Pawar just accepted Monty Panesar’s friend request.’’ A Guragon resident had this to say, ‘‘Gurgaon opens its doors for Monty Panesar. Says they plan to rope him as their brand ambassador.’’ A cricket buff felt that Panesar had completely changed the meaning single handedly ‘bowling a googly.’
Panesar, who has 164 Test wickets from 48 matches, has not been included in the squad for the next Ashes Test at Durham. His county side Sussex also dropped him this season in part due to a poor on-field attitude. Struggling with a sore shoulder, he had fallen into the habit of stopping the ball with his boot in the field and throwing it back to the wicketkeeper underarm.
 Panesar was also arrested and interviewed by the police in 2011 after a heated argument with his wife in a pub car park. He was subsequently released without charge.

25000 appeared & 25000 failed
The “epic fail” of every single candidate — about 25,000 of them — in the admission examination to the University of Liberia provoked bafflement, consternation and heated debate, with some convinced that flaws in Liberia’s education system had been brutally exposed. A government minister likened it to a“mass murder.”
The results mean there will be no freshers at west Africa’s oldest degree-granting institution — one of two state-run universities in Liberia — when it reopens next month for another academic year.
According to university officials, the applicants lacked enthusiasm and did not have a basic grasp of English. 
Spokesman Momodu Getaweh told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme that the university stood by its decision to fail the candidates and would not be swayed by emotion. 

Forklifted to hospital
Riyadh:  20-year-old Saudi man, weighing 610 kg, was forklifted out of his apartment and flown here for treatment. On orders from Saudi ruler King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, Khalid Mohsen Shaeri, suffering from extreme obesity, was forklifted from the second floor of an apartment building in Jazan, capital of Saudi Arabia’s Jizan province, and flown here for treatment, local media reported. Accompanied by a special medical team, the patient was taken from Riyadh air force base to the King Fahd Medical City (KFMC), where he was received by Abdulaziz Al-Humaidhi, head of the transfer process, and Mahmoud Yamani, executive director general of KFMC.




THE LAST PAGE

INDIA AND UNITED STATES: STRATEGIC FRIENDS? 
Dr. M. V. Kamath

Some weeks ago I received a list of twenty nine Indian Americans who are presently supposedly holding high positions in the U.S Administration, including offices in the White House. The list seemed unbelievable. It was sent to me by one himself an Indian American, and for a time I felt an intense desire to publish it. But then I became hesitant. What if the list proved to be totally incorrect? Was I being taken for a ride? But then, to what purpose? After a great deal of thought I decided that I would drop the idea. It is no secret that many Indian Americans are holding top jobs in the fields of trade and commerce, as much as in the field of education like, say, Amartya Sen. We have also seen a couple of them elected to the Governorship of states. But how completely integrated are Indian Americans in American society as a whole? That is, perhaps, a matter for deep study. It was once said that a large percentage of Indian Americans had found employment in NASA which is creditable to them. Some time ago I remember reading a report that one Puneet Talwar has been nominated by President Obama to the post of Assistant Secretary of State for political and Military Affairs. President Obama is generally taken to be India-friendly and indeed has claimed that he wishes India to be a strategic partner with the U.S. It is a far cry from the early days following India gaining its independence when America knew little, or practically nothing, about us. India was for Americans a land of beggars, holy men, cows wandering in the streets and poverty anywhere. Things, naturally, have changed, and to a remarkable extent. Among the list of top Indian American names I received is one Taara Ranganathan, described as “Special Assistant to Susan Rice”. Rice is National Security Adviser who has recently supposed to have expressed her “impatience” with Indians. What has India done to merit this “impatience”? According to Shivshankar Menon, India’s “deepening strategic partnership (with the U.S) does not mean that we won’t have our differences”. As he put it, “this is inevitable between countries in different circumstances, at different levels of development and in dissimilar geopolitical situations”. But the U.S apparently does not trust India. It comes as a shock to learn that two of the most important nerve-centres of Indian diplomacy outside the country – the Permanent Mission of India at the United Nations and the Embassy in Washington DC – have been targets of “such sophisticated bugs implanted by the U.S National Security Agency (NSA) that entire computer hard discs might have been copied by the American agency”. According to a lengthy and very revelatory report in The Hindu (25 September), the U.N. Mission building in New York and the Embassy premises including its Annexe in Washington were on a top-secret list of countries and missions – many of them European allies of the U.S – chosen for intensive spying. Consider the following: There is no world war on. The era of Non-Alignment has been dead for a long time. India is no friend of China to indulge in spying for it. India seems even to have, to some extent, been alienated from Russia. Indo-Russian relationship presently is not worth discussion. In such circumstances what is it that the U.S has reason to be suspicious of India? Indeed, the Left in India thinks Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh is too close to US for comfort. The United States for Indian students has the greatest attraction. More Indian students want to go to the States for higher studies than to any other country, including Britain and Australia. It is stated that US. And Indian officials hold more than 30 official dialogues every year and as one commentator has noted, “India continues to believe that the Washington consensus is better than the Beijing Consensus”. For all that, reading the report on American spying is shocking. The U.S according to The Hindu has accepted its duplicity, maintaining that “the U.S gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations”, the argument being that all nations – even nations friendly between them – spy on each other, so what’s the big deal? If that can be taken as true, then the U.S spies also on the United Kingdom, France, Germany and many others and one has then to take for granted that these friendly countries react the same way towards the United States. The question is: what damage may have been done by U.S eavesdropping on India’s diplomatic centres? It is difficult to know. An Indian Embassy spokesman is reported as saying that the country’s Mission buildings have “adequate measures in place”, to safeguard secrets. One sophisticated approach would be to take nothing seriously and keep good relations going. No matter what, spying will continue and one has to accept reality. Besides, one has to remember that Indo—American relations have had several ups and downs in the past. During the Cold war, India was practically “persona non-grata”. The then Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles had summoned India’s Ambassador Vijayalakshmi Pandit to tell her that non-alignment was a sin. During the regime of Richard Nixon, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was, perhaps, the most hated person of all in the world. In his conversation with his own Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Nixon would use foul language against Indira Gandhi. But, as any philosopher would say, ‘Even this shall pass away’. Presidents and Prime Ministers come and go. Every country’s needs change with the times. If India wants anything, it is peace with everybody and prosperity for all. The important thing to remember is that technology has changed beyond imagination. Even a private conversation on the mobile can get recorded. The best thing is always to be honest and frank with each other so that there is really no need for spying—and creating mistrust. India should continue to be friendly with the U.S because it is practically the only country in the world with which it can relate easily, thanks to language and even more importantly because of a growing and substantial Indian presence in the country. May be I should publish the list I earlier mentioned to stress my point.