Thursday, November 14, 2013

EDITOR'S COLUMN

Friends

Looking back in perspective has its own joy. Yes, its joy alright, but a deeply mixed one. We have completed 13 long years in the print media. Yes, this is our 1st issue of the 14th year. Going back to the above second sentence, ours has been a journey of cliffs and valleys. If our 150th issue release function was an unqualified success and made us feel that we shall have an accelerated paid readership, we were not exactly misplaced, but we did realise that in the world of dime a dozen ‘nay’ sayers, its not always a smooth ride especially, when it comes to print journalism. However, we have had many well meaning souls, who stood by us, beginning with Nitte Group Chairman Dr N Vinay Hegde, who sponsored 20 of his friends, relatives and colleagues for ten long years in a spirit of participative support. Yes, the trickledown effect is there and slowly but steadily our circulation is going up, as more are coming forward to sponser. Hence, it’s a big THANK YOU to all those who stood by us. 
Month of November this year has the festival of lights, the DEEPAVALI, representing victory of good over evil. The political atmosphere is already charged, with 5 states going to poll. Election to the Loksabha is only 6 months away, hence the cross country political climate too is pretty hot. What with Telengan issue taking the centre stage, with incessant rain lashing southern parts of the country, there is an air of general unease. Hope things would look up. BJP Prime Ministerial candidate and Congress crown prince are going hammer and tong at each other. Media as usual is having a field day.
With Aam Aadmi Party in its maiden possible entry into Delhi assembly and the general hype on Narendra Modi, we thought of FOCUSing on both of them. It is becoming increasingly clear that both of them shall occupy larger media space at least until April 2014, when Loksabha election is due. Hope readers will find it interesting.
We are releasing this issue at a specially arranged function along with the prize distribution of the elocution competition held this September. As usual, do revert with your comments, we do value them. We take the pleasure of wishing all our readers a very happy and peaceful DEEPAWALI.


MONTH-IN-PERSPECTIVE

BIHAR: Chaara Ghotala, which took place some 2 decades ago, actually happened in the unified Bihar before Jharkhand was carved out, when Nitish Kumar was the chief of Samatha Party in Bihar. It is alleged that some proceeds of this fodder money loot was indeed donated to the Samatha Party when, the present Chief Minister of Bihar, was the president. A key witness in the scam, in a sworn affidavit has stated that a sizeable amount was given to Nitish Kumar as political contribution to his party. Somehow this dimension of the case has not been highlighted, either by the electronic media or even the spokesperson of  investigating agencies. It is not clear, if the judgement of the special court has made any reference to it. But clearly, it appears, that CBI has not followed it up to its logical conclusion. Legally even donation to charity or other social causes from stolen money is illegal, and therefore beneficiaries too are subjected to criminal proceedings. Hence Nitish Kumar too is accountable for this illegal benefit received in the past. But the changing political equations, with Nitish Kumar cozying  upto Congress after dumping BJP, could be the unexplained reason for this CBI silence in the matter, after all CBI also means Convenient Bureau of Investigation isn’t it?
So at long last, 17 years to be precise, Chaara Ghotala has caught up with the remarkable Lalu Prasad Yadav. The month began with the print media headline, all over India, with “Lalu convicted with 44 others in the infamous fodder scam”. Two days later the special CBI court of Pawan Kumar  Singh pronounced the sentence. “Lalu jailed for 5 years” was the report next day. For once, the over confident Lalu had gone dumb with shock. It is a shock that will have reverberation all over the country. In light of the recent judgement of Supreme Court that an MP or MLA would lose his seat immediately after he is convicted for a crime with a punishment of two years or more, the future looks very bleak for Lalu Prasad Yadav. So shall it be for his baby the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).
This conviction shall surely put fear into the otherwise brazen politicians, who normally give a damn to propriety in public life.
It was on June 27, 1996, this 950 crores scam, came to be known as Chaara Ghotala, was unearthed, to the utter shock of a bewildered nation. It was a fraud on the citizens of Bihar, who had voted Lalu to power. It was plain and simple loot of public money, the money meant for cattle feed. In the end there was neither feed nor any cattle. “High level politicians bureaucrats and businessmen connived to-gether and entered into a criminal conspiracy for fraudulent withdrawal of public money” observed judge Pawan Kumar Singh, delivering the judgement.
While it is true that, in the end Lalu got what he deserved, what is important is the likely message that will go across the political spectrum that you can “no more have and eat it too”. Yes, it is by far the loudest message in recent times, that stealing of public money can be very dangerous. Hope more such convictions take place and slowly but surely, the process of cleaning of the Aegean stable is set in motion.

KERALA: “Jazeera takes her struggle to Delhi.” is a news from Thiruvanantapuram. It’s a print media report from Mumbai. Not many in South have taken note of this struggle seriously, by a single lady, that too a Muslim, against the entrenched sand mafia. Reportedly she had staged a protest a year ago against this sand extraction from the beach near her village Madayi in Kannur in North Kerala. Nothing happened then and nothing happened after her recent two month long dharna outside the state secretariat. Nobody bothered even to issue a statement, either for or against, by the Oomen Chandy government in Thiruvanantapuram. In her campaign, she has been accusing the real estate sharks for causing severe damages to the fragile eco system across Kerala. Except some environmental and some socio-cultural groups, besides local media, none seem to have cared about this lone ranger, with her 3 small children in the sit-in, at the state capital. Reportedly no political party supported her. In a milieu where it is difficult to find individuals taking up common causes, a single 31-year-old mother of three minor children, that too in an educated / literate state like Kerala, is struggling to find support, is a sad phenomenon. Now that she is shifting to Delhi to continue her struggle, hope at least Aam Aadmi Party will join her. So that well meaning public causes survives socio-political apathy of our citizenry. 

MAHARASHTRA: Lot of politicians and even men and women from national media have always been harping over the financial and social ills in Karnataka and Gujarat, but rarely spoke about Maharashtra, which is just as bad or worse in all parameters in corruption and other socio political ills. Media savvy Indians would have read about the Rs: 70000 crores, irrigation scam, and the involvement of NCP MLAs and ministers including Ajith Pawar, the nephew of Maratha strongman Sharad Pawar. But, all of us are aware nothing really happened, except a drama by the Maharashtra govt. Nothing came off the state governments promise of unearthing of irrigation scam. One of the minister who was deeply involved along with Ajith Pawar was Sunil Tatkare.
And comes the news of a PIL being heard by the Bombay High Court against this Tatkare, for his, involvement in money laundering and land grabbing by his companies. Reportedly Bombay High Court has hauled up two investigating agencies, EOW (Economic Offence Wing) and ACB (Anti Corruption Bureau) for a poor and shoddy investigation into the Tatkare case. Reportedly Justice Chandrachud lambasted the complete failure on the part of EOW and ACB. “Every page of the report lacks proper application of mind. Prima facie the investigating agencies have virtually abdicated its duty”, court has reportedly observed. This again proves how things are bad in the state of Maharashtra, primarily because of Sharad Pawar’s influence and that of his party NCP. National media and central politicians have always talked about the Lokayukta issue, both in Karnataka and Gujarat, how the government in Bangalore and Gandhinagar are trying to subvert law with respect to the appointment of Lokayukta. But excuse me, where is the Lokayukta in Maharashtra, the biggest money spinning state of India? Its not even being debated. And nobody is talking about it. This is our media and politicians, always barking up the wrong tree.
It was during 2005-2009 period contractors for solid waste disposal in the Bombay Municipal Corporation raised bills of Rs: 96 crores for jobs on sewer lines and manhole, which were not carried out at all. However, these cheating contractors did not claim the bill until 2009, presumably for the time to take its toll. After all people do have short memory and that it is quite likely, many wouldn’t have remembered, whether such jobs were carried out or not, way back in 2005. So the modus operandi appeared to be 'to play by the ear'. But then, that was not to be. The old time adage, “One can fool all people some time but not all people all the time” is a time tested dictum. For the bad luck of these crooked contractors, an alert civic official was all that was needed to stop the loot. The payment was stopped in the track. But it took over 2 years, in 2011 for the Municipal Commissioner to announce a departmental inquiry.
Preliminary inquiry found some 32 contractors and 11 BMC staff from the sewage operations were involved in the failed loot. ACB launches an investigation subsequently. But perhaps there was no breakthrough for reasons unknown. So, in 2012 Dec., a fresh probe was ordered with Mr Madhukar Kamble, a deputy municipal commissioner heading it.
And as usual, files go missing, documents available are without the signature of official, photocopies are with signature space appearing blank, with probably a white sheet covering that portion. Therefore the scope of the inquiry is widened, with a senior civic official observing that in the absence of information on who signed what document, ‘conclusion about the guilty can be inconclusive’.
While the investigation is still on to find out the parties to the crime of fake billing, there appears to be no information in the media, as to how it is being tackled. However there are names available of all contractors-32 of them-who have raised the bill, and they should be in a position to spill-the-bean, to fix the officials concerned. It has already taken over 4 years. Surely ‘where there is will there is a way’.
While we are about it, it was reliably learnt, during the investigation that there is a wholesale misuse of a BMC practice of making allowance for increase or variation in project cost, which probably has led to this fake bill scam. Reportedly for 2008-09, an allowance of 58% variation was allowed, an original cost of Rs: 1031/- was allowed an escalation of Rs 600 crores for some 90 works. Similarly in 2009-10, for 122 works’ original cost was Rs 1808 crores, which was allowed to go upto over Rs: 2803 crores, an increase of 55%. These are clearly cases, where loot has taken place, in the practice of awarding contract for the lowest priced contractor, as per the rule with a proviso for discretionary enhancement under the garb of cost escalation. Thus it is evident, corruption has many dimensions. Yeh Mera India.
Like all else, every good thing too has to come to an end. So is Sachin Tendulkar, the greatest exponent of the willow, the Englishman’s game. He announced ‘quits’ from cricket. So 10th October 2013, shall go down as an indelible number, in the history of Indian cricket. Will cricket be any different from now on? Not likely. ‘Men may come and men may go, but I go on forever’ was Lord Tennyson’s ‘Brook’, the most quoted poem. So shall be the game of cricket.
Surely the footprint left behind by the maestro shall be there for generations to come, as a museum piece, a bench mark, remarkable by every sense of the word. There wasn’t one before and unlikely, there will be another in future who shall repeat what Tendulkar crafted for any cricketer anywhere in the world, let alone India . 
For 24 long years, he strode the cricket pitch like a colossus, inspiring awe. There is no handler of the ‘cherry’ who would not get unnerved by the little master. Ask the ‘Lahore Express’ Shoib Akhtar or the wiliest of the spinners Shane Warne, they will vouch for it. Reportedly they had ‘nightmares’. Thus his signature and stamp of authority was all over. Reams have been made black from white, about his exploits of the ‘gentleman’s game’, which did not remain gentle at all in these times of IPL or Indian Plundering League  of making money and money only.
But isn’t it little too long he stayed at the crease, that he denied a spot for another youngster? This was a question only some tried to ask and have tried to answer it too. Some even asked, was he playing for India or for his records and his sponsors, who made him the richest cricketer in the world!
Interestingly there was a report alongside the report on his retirement which said “Retirement not to affect sponsorship”, which convey the message. Thus it is pertinent to quote V.G. Gangadhar, who wrote “I too believed that Sachin had overstayed. Never in good form for the last three years, he hung on desperately, depriving promising youngsters place in the team. Ideally he should have retired in greater glory after the last World Cup triumph. After that it was sad to watch the little master struggle to score runs”.
Yes, although the role of BCCI is rather controversial, their decision to let Tendulkar play his last match on his home pitch and go off in a blaze of glory – amidst cheers, tears & sobs – against a weak West Indies, instead of a tough Dale Steyn & Co in South Africa, is  fair enough for a dedicated and disciplined cricketer that Sachin Tendulkar was.
Isn’t it sickening to know that “Sick baby languishes as No Civic Hospital Admits Him”, that too in the financial capital of India, Mumbai? Reportedly a 20 days old, prematurely born infant has shuttled from one hospital to another, in search of bed, ostensibly because, all civic hospitals in Brihan Mumbai (Greater Bombay) do not have vacant beds. Isn’t it shocking? All major hospitals, KEM, Nair and Sion, reportedly have been facing not only bed shortage but also medical equipments  in pediatric ward since a long time. Could it be that the richest Municipal Corporation of India has no money or resources for the health of its poor citizens?
Jagriti Mishra, the 18 year old mother of the sick child, is in tears going from pillar to post for her delicate 20 days infant. Of course she is from Bihar. Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation is run by Shiv Sena and MNS. Politics of violent discrimination, by the likes of Raj Thackeray and company and his MNS and Shiv Sena, especially against Biharis, this particular instance becomes all the more stark. Would things have been better, if the mother was a local Marathi Manoos? It’s a moot point, but the name of Mumbai surely took a beating. How can a system make a child of 20 days to suffer inordinately, in an apparently civilized world, because of an irresponsible, irresponsive, callous system? Somebody should be made accountable for the tragic situation. 
Since BCCI is a big cow giving milk to lot of hangers on, no wonder, there are any number of beneficiaries speaking in turn and out of turn, either in support of BCCI and its presidents, whether Srinivasan or any of those earlier ones. There are also many who just prefer to keep quite despite provocations to the contrary. 
And comes the yester years hero Ravi Shastri, coming in defense of Srinivasan and his ways of managing things at BCCI. “Shastri backs SRINIVASAN’S stance of not stepping down” was a media report from Mumbai. And why not?! After all he is one of the cricket commentator contracted by BCCI at an attractive compensation package. Shastri is not alone, there are any number of beneficiaries who will defend BCCI and its president, despite court observations, and we call them sportsmen, isn’t it! Even on the issue of Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement  before his announcement of quitting Test Cricket, all these ‘gentlemen players’ had kept a ‘golden silence’ while his early retirement could have benefited at least 3 players in 3 formats of the game.  People like Shastri, are all time servers, trying to make the most when the sun is shining. 

PUNJAB: Long years ago, during election time, with posters of candidates galore all over the then Bombay, party foot-soldiers were sticking these election posters on walls of most buildings. One building near central Bombay, there was a film poster already pasted on the wall, and above that poster a couple of posters belonging to different political parties were pasted subsequently. Men pasting election posters did not read the film poster, and the film was “Hum Sab Chor Hai”. All had a hearty laughter when a smart lensman clicked the photograph of all those posters to-gether and published in the news paper the next day. Indeed most of these contesting candidates could indeed be chores (thieves).
Right enough, there was this funny interlude in the ongoing battle at the suspended Indian Olympic Association (IOA) with Abhinav Bindra, the Olympic gold medalist. Bindra had carried a sustained campaign against tainted officials to be purged, annoying the president of the suspended IOA, Abhay Singh Chautala (ASC). Chautala took the battle right into the drawing room of Bindra, accusing him of double standard. Reportedly, Bindra’s father, an industrialist, was in prison for a month in 2009, for a cheque-bounce case. “If Bindra has a problem with tainted people then he should first disown his father or leave his father’s house” ASC who is also the opposition leader in Haryana, is reported to have said.
Of course, war of words continued with National Rifles Association of India (NRAI) openly supporting Bindra with Mahesh Bhupathi too joining the chorus for the ouster of tainted IOA officials. Here, it is of interest to note, that Chautala, who is the son of Om Prakash Chautala, a former Chief Minister of Haryana is defending the indefencible. It appears, for younger Chautala, a taint is a feather, to be kept on the crown. His father is in prison too for the recruitment scam. Hence NRAI president remarked “Its like the big pot calling the small kettle black”. This is Yeh Mera India.

UTTAR PRADESH: Ever since Akhilesh govt. took power in U.P., it has always been in news, generally for all wrong reasons. And comes the news “Dalit doctor bashed by Mulayam’s brother-in-law, cops yet to file FIR”. 
Reportedly one Dr Pawan Pratap Singh had parked his vehicle outside the house of Ajant Singh. Taking umbrage, men of Ajant Singh bash the doctor black and blue. He goes to police station and police take the complaint but do not register an FIR, instead, another complaint is registered against Dr Singh accusing him of trying to run over Ajant Singh. Police sensing that Dr Singh is a dalit and hence under the stringent Prevention of Atrocities against SC/ST Act, can be a non-bailable offence, floated the idea, that both have compromised and that Dr Singh has not complained, with SP of Etawah, Nilabhja Chaudhary,  playing villain. Isn’t it sad that law enforcing authorities are only with power and powerful men and powerful family. Mulayam is an M.P. and his son is the Chief Minister of U.P., and Mulayam’s daughter-in-law and Akhilesh wife is an M.P., got elected without any election, and the system is  bent-on helping them perpetuate. So what is the future of Indians, may be AAP!
Shoban Sarkar – the head priest of his own temple dreamt of a ‘hidden treasure’ of 1000kg gold coins under the Daundiya Kheda fort of Raja Ram Buksh Singh in the Unnao district of U.P. And come to think of it, amidst heavy police cover, the Archaeological survey of India, the keepers of India’s heritage monuments, launched the bigger and unprecedented chase, of digging to unearth the hidden treasure. Even a Public Interest Litigation was filed in Supreme Court to order a court monitored excavation to protect the gold. So you can imagine the cross country interest that this dream of hidden treasure triggered.
Not even two weeks are over, to the horse powered excavation efforts, and ASI is likely to call it off with gold fading into plain dirt. Just about all concerned have made a fool of themselves by this absolutely thoughtless act of chasing the mirage. Quite frankly the whole operation has blown in the face of the authorities who decided to act on the wild dream of a temple priest to excavate even as deep as 20 mtrs. Now that the excavation is likely to be called off at less than 6 meter itself, shows the Geological Survey of India in a very poor light. It is clear that those who are in charge of such issues, like geologists have not done their home work. It is becoming increasingly clear that it is a wild goose chase. 
Narendra Modi, who had poked fun at the beginning of the excavation will have a hearty laugh, and this failed chase likely to become a fodder to his otherwise no-holds- barred attack on UPA and UP government, who had worked in tandem to get to the bottom of the Daundiya Kheda fort. Modi had reportedly remarked then, that instead of chasing the wild goose of a poojari’s dream, better chase the Swiss Bank black money, where it is sure to yield very positive result. But then we are Indians, chasing mirage is one of our ways of life. Isn’t it?! Like our news paper called it, “UPA digs for gold. May discover wisdom.”   

NEW DELHI: So, it is the ‘crown prince’, who is apparently calling the shots. The ordinance, which the union government so hastily and clumsily tried to push through was indeed thrown in the basket, as desired by Rahul Gandhi. The UPA II clearly embarrassed, and a deeply hurt, (but did not show), prime minister, reluctantly withdrew the ordinance meant to shield tainted members of parliament and legislative assemblies, who would have lost the right to stand for election so also their present elected position. In the event, the aam aadmi has won. Of course, all political parties have made appropriate noises in accordance with their political agenda, which is not necessarily in the interest of the nation. However question persisted what really made the UPA II to hurry through this controversial ordinance?
Like his predecessor, Shivraj Patil, the present incumbent Sushil Kumar Shinde too gets into serious trouble with his one-up-man-ship. His latest letter to all state Chief Ministers asking them to ensure that innocent young Muslims are not wrongly arrested on terror charges, has expectedly run into trouble. While his letter may be with good intentions, but can be faulted on many counts. The truth is, the police all over India, always rounds up defenceless and weak, belonging to just about all sections of society, and there are any number of men incarcerated on just trumped up charges, held in prison for interminably long periods without trial. Hence his singling out Muslim youth is completely misplaced and cannot be termed unintentional at all. As, the so-called friend of minorities, especially Muslims, the Samajwadi Party has accused Shinde of indulging in ‘Vote bank  politics’, especially with 2014 elections to the Loksabha being only 6 months away. This accusation is fairly well placed and hence difficult to deny, of course the Congress leaders of all hues have all refused to accept thus. As usual BJP has taken a strident stand and has demanded that Home Minister should not only withdraw the order so also should apologise to the nation. It is true, neither has happened. But then divide and rule policy is not a stranger to Congress politics.
Our sports bodies are run like some closely held private companies, especially when it comes to dealing with players who do not have god fathers. If Srishant and company were awarded with life ban from playing cricket for the country, for their role in match fixing, now it is the turn of Jwala Gutta, who did well in doubles, for her role in a passing-trouble in the recently concluded IBL (Indian Badminton League). Of course, discipline is an important part of sports management but outright ban for life is unthinkable under any circumstances. For every wrong, if construed as wrong, should carry some amount of punishment, which is fair. A ban to a player is akin to Death Sentence, which should be avoided under all circumstances. Although, we are a democratic country, feudal mindset is a fact of life. There should be a conscious effort to shed this mindset fully in the interest of the game.   

WORLD: In a polarized world, the 15 minutes tele talk, after 34 long years, between US President Barack Obama and his Iranian counterpart Hasan Rouhani, is sure to vibrate the world over, especially the middle east. Indeed it was a ‘seismic shift’ as someone remarked, in the relationship of these two long time adversaries. Of course, the election of Hassan Rouhani, considered a liberal by Iranian standard, has indeed shifted rather significantly, as international diplomats, especially European and US, attributed to the tone and attitudes of the evolving Iranian leadership.
While it is true that Iran-US bitterness has a long history of over 3 decades, the fact that Iran survived for so long, with all the sanctions imposed on it post 1979, has shown its innate strength, despite the 10 long years’ war with Iraq, the next door neighbour. The Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussain was killed by his own men, and Iranians have flourished, albeit slowly.
But, of course, history is a fact of life, that cannot be wished away. A mere 15 minute vocal d├ętente will not change the hostile history between U.S and Iran, for sure. But, surely it is also true that, like the old dictum “to get to anywhere is to start from where you are”. That should indeed bring smile to all those who are optimists in an increasingly polarizing world. The very fact that, Rouhani was warmly welcomed back home by a much larger liberal crowd than those who are hardliners and opposed to U.S and chanted “Death to America”. Besides, while in the United Nations Iranian president did make positive noises and tried to reach out to the larger world, which is a positive sign. He categorically told in the US television interview that “under no circumstances would he seek any weapons of mass destruction including nuclear weapons, nor will we ever”. This and all other actions including the recent release of a Human Rights Lawyer, “Iran’s high profile political prisoner, Nasreen Sotoudeh” are some of the bright spots in the emerging Iran under Hassan Rouhani.
Therefore, not withstanding Israeli protestations, the now famous 15 minute tele talk must necessarily lead to handshake and carried forward for the sake of larger good of tranquility in the troubled atmosphere of the middle east.
So, it has happened after all. Buckling under intense pressure from world over, Swiss authorities signed Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in the Tax Matters with Paris based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
This convention, reportedly signed by 58 countries including India, provides for sharing of information and mutual co-operation among all its signatories, leading to automatic exchange of details and necessary administrative assistance in tax matters with overseas authorities.
So from now on, if there is a will there is a way. All those who stashed away their ill gotten money shall have sleepless nights from now on. Not only it is possible to get all that is there, hidden in Swiss banks, but no more new illegal flight of money.
Of course, it is a dream come true. But still a dream, until the money truly reaches Indian system to fund the pending infrastructure which India seriously lacks. Yes, we have crossed the primary hurdle but more needs to be done by India to follow up on what Switzerland has done. When and how, Indian government will act, is a very big question. Yes, something is better than nothing. So also, it is eminently possible to build on what Switzerland has done.
J.SHRIYAN

FOCUS

MODI & Aam Aadmi Party
Manoj is a good friend. I know him for many years. He is a subscriber of ISSUES & CONCERNS and of course he reads too. I bumped into him in a restaurant. Touching many subjects, our talk was meandering into all and sundry, and suddenly he says, “In the next Focus, you must write on NA-MO”. Surprised at his abrupt suggestion, had to gather my response. “You do have a valid suggestion but not sure how to go about it. Na Mo is not a simple person that he can be described easily both in his words and actions. But he is not the same Narendra Modi of 2002. He is beginning to evolve. But will he be the solution to the myriad problems in this country of over 1200 million, diverse & kaleidoscopic population? Answer is a capital ‘NO’. Yet, in the public discourse of our contemporary India, he is the most talked about and written about. Therefore we at ISSUES & CONCERNS are certainly seized of the matter. However, what we hope to articulate may not be, exactly as you would want him portrayed. He shall be focused critically, but with some others as well and some issues of relevance with it”.
Indeed, since last over 6 months, Narendra Modi, the present Chief Minister of Gujarat and the proposed candidate of BJP for the position of Prime Minister of India, should the party be able to win enough seats and manage alliances to form its government, this controversial personality strode, on the political landscape of this country of 1.2+ billion people, as a colossus. Not a day or night has gone, when Modi has not become a staple of news across India and across media, both print and electronic.
Of course it is a very big IF, whether the principal opposition party shall ever make it to the treasury benches in the Loksabha after the next battle at the hustings?
But then, in a democratic set up, all are entitled to dream, not just BJP, even their current icon Narendra Modi, and why not?!
And fortunately for him and his party, at least in the public space, things are working well. Mind you, it is not because of him or his party. But because of the opposition. Like a columnist writes, “Thanks to his opponents, he has become the topic of the day in a way that Indira Gandhi was in 1971, 1977 and 1980.” That itself ,by any measure, a tribute to the man, like it or not.
Yes, nobody, I mean nobody, in the history of free India of 66 years, there has been a political actor, who has been written about and talked about as Narendra Modi, with such endearing verbose as well as deep seated hatred. Of course, it is difficult to agree or disagree with everything written about this Mr Modi. But one thing is becoming increasingly clear, in India, “You just cannot ignore Narendra Modi”.
While his history may not be of much relevance, in the context of the emerging political scene in India, it cannot be ignored for the sheer smallness of his origin, and the evolution of his persona into an indomitable pan Indian presence. There hasn’t been one like him in independent India.
From, a tea vender in trains, at less than 10 years of age, to be the Chief Minister of ‘vibrant’ Gujarat, and just tipped to be the Prime Minister of world’s largest democracy, should his party make it, it is indeed a saga of multiple dimension. Surely it makes him an institution of another kind.
A ‘married’ bachelor, a Master of Arts (M.A) from Gujarat University, and personally incorruptible, it is indeed very difficult to have anyone in whole of India, to match his Curriculum Vitae. Despite multiple controversies surrounding him, he is unique, because of his myriad dimension. He is one of the few politicians, who is also a writer. His book on Emergency era in Gujarat has propelled him as an intellectual. He is a visionary with a distinct stamp. According to his admirers he is the only leader who “thought of placing solar panels over the canals to prevent vaporization of the water and to generate power, although all states in India have rivers and canals”. He is a disciplinarian, due to his association with RSS. He is a tough administrator. He has been acclaimed by many as the best Chief Minister India have. Despite many 'nay' sayers, central govt of UPA has given better certificate on many counts on Gujarat under him. We have seen in the media, his detractors criticizing him at the low HDI in Gujarat, yet there are any number who are betting on this 63 year old extempore speaker from Vadnagar, some 110 kms from Ahmedabad.
Thus it is very clear that his credentials are excellent. Yet, he is unacceptable to many in the pan-Indian landscape. His record as the one who presided over the 2002 sectarian flare-up in Gujarat, where hundreds were killed, especially Muslims, still poses a big question on his communal leanings.
Hence, a very pertinent question, will he lead his party to power in 2014? is being asked all over the country.
If Narendra Damodar Modi, is a phenomena, the nation cannot ignore, we have another more acceptable, may be less rhetoric and dynamic, but sincere and honest, is the emergence of Arvind Kejriwal and his bunch in the Aam Aadmi Party. There are lots of positive vibes and responses coming from across the spectrum. Mostly from general public and public spirited men and women. It is true, that after the initial euphoria and the media hype on Anna Hazare/Arvind Kejriwal combine on the Jan Lokpal bill agitation, media, for whatever reasons or compulsions, went silent. Of course, from an anti-corruption movement, jumping into main stream politics is a logical development. In democracy, only the electoral politics has the power to bring about change. But, despite the basic intelligence of such rationale, the political class and the media, both print and electronic, castigated Kejriwal and his supporters accusing them of being power hungry. Entrenched politicians and their friends in the media took a silly stand that, ‘Kejriwal who consistently took the position that he will never enter electoral politics is a chameleon and hence have changed colour’. But for a larger cause, one can and should change the position  if needed,  that is what Kejriwal did in the interest of the aam aadmi and therefore the country.
Having started, slowly but steadily it has grown in visibility and presence, despite media blackout. It is making its presence felt across the country. But being a political party with no money, it had to perforce take small and careful steps in the slippery Indian political space. But they were steps of courage, integrity and honesty and hence were sure steps.
Sure enough, slowly but steadily AAP grew. Media reluctantly, but perforce, had to accept the arrival of the newest political party.
Having seen and worked in and around the capital, the decision to focus on Delhi, in the immediate future, was a right move. To take part in the ensuing assembly election in Delhi is a natural development. During the last several months, AAP has made definite inroads into the pocket borough of both the major parties, the Congress and the BJP.
There is a definite unease in the camps of both these parties. Both are accusing AAP as a spoiler and are not prepared to accept the AAP and that it could be the game changer. But that is precisely what is happening. Survey after survey has confirmed the arrival of AAP with a bang. Surveys have indicated that 1/3 of votes and therefore1/3 of seats shall go to AAP, concluding that it can be a king maker if not the king himself.
For an evolving India, currently under the burden of corruption across the national spectrum, the arrival of AAP is like a breath of fresh air in a stinking political atmosphere in the country.
Emergence of Aam Aadmi Party as a political alternative shall have far reaching implications. Should it do well in Delhi, as projected, it will be a force to reckon with, all over the country. It has caught the imagination of average men and women and its pan-Indian appeal is only a matter of time. A positive vote in Delhi shall propel it to take a pot shot at Loksabha Election due in April 2014.
Here it may not be irrelevant to recount the journey of the man, Arvind Kejriwal, and his group of men and women.
He is born into a family of better-off parents. Had good school education. He belongs to the cream of Indian educated class, an IITian from the best institute of Kharagpur. These details confirm, he is an intellectual. Then he does his IRS, and kicks the job to get into public life of serving the general public. Mind you, he was a Joint commissioner of Income Tax. In a milieu, where such bureaucratic positions are money spinners, he quits to serve a larger cause. That he can be called a hero is an understatement.
While being in service itself, he got involved in societal issues of empowering ordinary people. Right to information (RTI) was one of his principal involvements, which led to his international recognition.  In 2006, he was awarded with the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership when he was only 38. There have been many awards that came his way. 2011 saw him joining hands with anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare, to force government for the enactment of Janlokpal Bill. Despite the central government giving undertaking to Anna Hazare and his team on the Janlokpal Bill, nothing concrete happened.
A deeply disappointed Arvind Kejriwal, while accepting that change cannot happen without political actions decided to plunge into electoral politics. Government, which was asking Anna/Kejriwal combine enter the politics to bring about change, now changed their stance, and accused Kejriwal of chasing political power. Unfortunately Anna Hazare broke away from Kejriwal not to be part of any political party.
Coming to the two gentlemen that we discussed above – Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal – they are two distinct personalities. There are the vast differences in their upbringing. Modi despite being from humble background is very ambitious and is after power.  Whereas, Kejriwal although being from a comfortable background and very well educated, and internationally recognized for his work in public life, is not ambitious and is not after power. Both wants change, but the change that Kejriwal is looking for, is the empowerment of aam aadmi, where as Modi wants change to be in power. Fortunately for Modi, there is a party with sectarian background, not necessarily sectarian in its goal, there is an organisation with huge cadre base. Same is not the case for Kejriwal, as he got his Aam Aadmi party registered only an year ago. Everything has to be built from scratch. But commitment and sense of purpose is very much there. There appears to be an air of expectation that this AAP will make an indelible mark in the coming Delhi election.
Given a choice, an average thinking Indian would vote for AAP. BJP of  Modi has history of more than 50 years including that of its earlier avatar Jan Sangh, where as AAP of Kejriwal is just an year old party and is already making waves. Between BJP and Modi, later may be better, for some positive aspects like personal incorruptibility and a no-nonsense approach. Besides, he is not driven by Mandir in Ayodhya. His comment, Shauchalay pehle aur Devaalay baadmein is distinctly different from that of his party. Even if he is an RSS man, he wants to carve out a niche which is distinct and he is distinctly coming out differently, to which his party is falling in line, rather than the other way round. Here his personality becomes more clear. “He is bigger than the party”. He reminds a Kannada quip “Adondu adamaniyawaada pravaaha, Adbhuthawaada Benki, yedurige bandaddu kochchikondu hogale beku”. Indeed, he is an irrepressible torrent, wonderful fire, whatever comes on its way will be wiped out. But, and it’s a capital BUT. There are justifiable apprehensions. He has a streak of being dictatorial. He gives an impression of being an egoist. He could have greatly improved his public image and therefore, his public stock, by apologizing for what happened in 2002 in Gujarat. He may not be directly responsible for the occurrence, but accountable all the same, being the administrative head of the state. Besides, many in the main stream, rightly or wrongly, are not comfortable in his association. Thus, will Narendra Modi bring more solutions to the myriad problems of India, or will he contribute more to its already existing Issues & Concerns, is an open question, only time will tell.
Coming to AAP, it has many positives to its credit, although yet to be tested in public life. While articulating thoughts on Mahatma Gandhi, someone remarked, in a gathering, Anna Hazare+Arvind Kejriwal=Mahatma Gandhi. And there were thoughtful approbation of the observation by some of the men in the gathering, almost instantly. It was obvious that general public have already formed a positive opinion on both Anna and Arvind as torch bearers of a positive change in the dynamic socio-political space of India. Of course, it is indeed sad that Anna is not part of the political discourse. Hope he changes his mind in time to give a morale booster to the newest political outfit. After all no change is possible without politics.
Coming to Arvind Kejriwal, it is apparent he is basically service minded with rare commitment, and he is already known positively all over the country and internationally too. Being an ex-bureaucrat, he has a ring side view of Issues & Concerns. He is an intellectual who mixes with one and all. He has been able to attract men and women of integrity and commitment. He has an ability to take people along. Following Awards that have been conferred on him amply proves his antecedents.

• 2004: Ashoka Fellow, Civic Engagement
• 2005: 'Satyendra K. Dubey Memorial Award', IIT Kanpur for his campaign for bringing transparency in Government
• 2006: Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership
• 2006: CNN-IBN, 'Indian of the Year' in Public Service
• 2009: Distinguished Alumnus Award, IIT Kharagpur for Eminent Leadership
• 2009: Awarded a grant and fellowship by the Association for India's Development.
• 2010: Policy Change Agent of the Year, The Economic Times Awards for Corporate Excellence along with Aruna Roy
• 2011: NDTV Indian of the Year along with Anna Hazare

Thus, clearly, between Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal, the later is more acceptable for both aam aadmi and main stream political leaders. Of course, in the immediate political scene, Narendra Modi may score, since the AAP has no presence except the possibility of doing well in Delhi. However future for India lies with Aam Aadmi Party, take it or leave it.
J.SHRIYAN

FEATURE

Free Speech – My foot!
Public memory, we are told, is notoriously short. Hence we find in the media, players of different class playing to the gallery or even otherwise, mouthing, pearls of wisdom, so also inanities of grand standing, conveniently forgetting, having said the very reverse.  Instances and issues are innumerable.
Sometime ago, a Mumbai based newspaper had carried the story “Shabana offended by ‘Ishq Ki Maa Ki”. Those who are in the know of colloquial Hindi/Urdu in Mumbai would vouch that the above statement is not only very distasteful but also derogatory to both love and mother. It is a song in the film ‘I don’t love you’.
Taking exception to the song, she went viral on the social networking site. She is reported to have said “When we talk about self regulation in our industry, we must keep in mind the identity of women before producing such things. One must be vigilant whether our work is treating woman as commodities or objectifying them and their individuality. When you have a song with lyrics like ‘Main tandoori murgi/mujhe alcohol se ghatkaale’ why is the actress enacting this not thinking about it. Why is she not offended, I wonder”.
Now this is certainly a responsible response to an irresponsible creation. We are all aware that in free India, in the name of freedom, we have written and portrayed women in very poor light. She has been reduced into a mere commodity. In a country where woman is kept in high pedestal, where she is anointed as Devi in literature & mythology she is reduced to a crass merchandise and titillation. Ms. Azmi is justified in speaking her mind out.
But, my question is why are we being selective? Our country-made intellectuals and interlocutors are not always being even handed. We are not really a polarized country, but when it comes to the so-called artistic freedom or freedom of expression, we go to cynical extent in either keeping quite or egoistically justifying the macabre.
Some years ago, Aishwarya Rai, the beauty icon and Nandita Das, an avant-garde in her own class, were attending Cannes Film Festival. Both are Indians but presented a complete contrast in their appearance on the same day and at the same place. Rai appeared every bit ‘phoren’ a ‘La mode’ in black armless dress with back and cleft exposed. In stark contrast was Das, fully draped in a beautiful saari looking every inch Indian, dignity personified. Both were Indians representing their motherland. ‘Who was right and who was not’ may not be a subject of debate, but starkness was apparent. We are an ostensibly free country and have all kinds of comments and observations to make, when it doesn’t affect us. We are more prejudiced and suffer from bias stemming from our idea of what constitute sense of proportion.
This Nandita Das felt, to present herself to Parisians, as a cultural ambassador of India. But back home she had no compunction to justify a sickening painting of Jesus urinating from his cross into a W.C. with his phallus exposed. So also another painting of Durga delivering a demon child in a squatting position with child coming out of vaginal opening. The paintings were obnoxious to the core. But they were the products of this so-called ‘Freedom of Expression or Artistic freedom”, which Das was at pain, to justify.
She was taking part in a protest in New Delhi, some years ago against the ‘so-called’ moral policing at M.S. University of Baroda. This was clearly a double standard. While at Cannes, she wanted to present herself as a true representative of Indian ethos with an elegantly costumed dignified appearance. But here she wants to support a painting of Jesus and Durga – portrayed so obnoxiously – in the name of freedom of expression.
Reporting the event of May 2007, four paintings by a student of M.S. University of Baroda were exhibited in the University premises as part of the examination procedure. The exhibition was probably open for public for a few days and that’s when, the paintings became a public knowledge. These controversial paintings were 1) of Jesus on a boxlike cross, with hands dangling out from either side so were feet at the bottom. At the first glance it appeared, like it was a straight forward picture, but there was this small hole from where phallus was shown with urine dripping into the commode at the bottom. 2) The other was that of Durga, a Hindu goddess shown squatting in birthing position with child (supposedly  demon) coming out of the vaginal opening. Other 2 paintings were equally bad.
Writing in the Frontline magazine one Anupama Katakam writes, “In April, the Tate Modern Art Gallery London had an exhibition of works by……Some works were sexually explicit in the extreme. The show…. closed with rave reviews early this month.”
Now do we take lessons from London school of nudity? Before even the white man knew of civilizational norms, our frescos, paintings and carvings were of very high order. Hence comparison with the London exhibition was indeed very silly. But what this Katakam did not tell was, if those paintings were of Jesus or of Mary or any other objects of worship. More often than not, these white artists do display a measure of sensitivity in dealing with their objects of worship. But Indian artists have a tendency to take it for granted, this so-called freedom of expression. They stoop to any extent and do not stop at anything. But they take care, to paint only Christian and Hindu Gods or Goddesses, like Maqbool Fida Hussain, who started it all some years ago. In their domain of freedom of expression, Indian artists have completely excluded all objects of Muslim worship. Even this maverick Maqbool, who is a Muslim himself does not dare – to take pot shot at his own faith or his people. These artists and their stupid defenders realise in their basic intelligence not to tinker with Muslim feelings or else they may have to run for their life. So, freedom of expression is used only when, the other person does not hit back violently.
The article by this Katakam takes more pain in describing, all thru, Sangh Parivar in Gujarat as the bad boys, allegedly with active connivance of the authorities. That she had an agenda or not was a moot point. But her writing “Some Christian priests teamed up with Jain (BJP MLA) and the VHP activists to take on Chandramohan (student) and Panikkar (Dean). This despite the fact that Gujarat’s Hindu fundamentalists are known to attack Christian missionaries on the slightest pretext” has exposed her comprehensively. It is journalists like her and her ilk who divide the society and tries to keep it divided. The question here is, if there is a common cause, why shouldn’t both fight together? What is Katakam’s problem?
However, just about every paper only tried to tell ‘its only VHP and Bajrang Dal’ who are trouble makers and no paper mentioned about Christian participation. Here agenda becomes more clear.
Writing in the Indian Express S. Gurumurthy asks “WHY ARE HINDU DEITIES THE TARGET OF CREATIVE ARTISTS? Denigrating Hindu Gods and goddesses exclusively is the specialized creativity for many artists”, he adds “Unfortunately for the secular protestors, in Baroda the creative artist had included Jesus Christ among the denigrated that led to a Christian filing the FIR and police action consequently. But even this-that Jesus was vandalized and a Christian had filed the case – was suppressed by the secular media to abuse Modi as if it was all the work of some Hindu goons”, he continued.
What was sad and has compounded this sadness was, the government in New Delhi was using the UGC route to fish in the troubled waters, courtesy HRD minister Arjun Singh in its Gujarat centric obsession. It was the same government, who defended the Muslim outburst on the Danish caricature of Prophet Mohammed as a manifestation of genuine anger. And in Baroda, there was no such outbursts and those communist fellow travellers, those Yachoori Pachories, waiting for an opportunity to hit at Sangh Parivar had reportedly stated “This is not merely an attack on diversity and goes against the fundamental rights of an individual”. Thes Yachuries shall do well to exhibit these Baroda paintings of Durga, in Kolkatta, especially during Durga Pooja/Dassera seaon, and see the reaction of people for whom Durga pooja is like a national festival. May be even Nandita Das, the other Bengali, too may have to eat her words.
Now the question is how does one’s right of unfettered expression, gives licence to offend the people with whom you don’t equate yourselves? Freedom to cause hurt is not freedom. There is no justification whatsoever in being offensive, insulting and inflammatory, in the name of freedom of expression. 
Hence our sentinels of freedom of expression need to look inside and ask if their fathers, mothers, wives, sisters, daughters are to be portrayed in nude in the name of this freedom of expression, how would they react?
If they want to be sensitive towards their own kith and kin, why others should be denied this sensitivity?
J.SHRIYAN

YEH MERA INDIA

Flash strike by CR motormen on Visarjan day
Mumbai: Central Railway motormen and guards struck work for half-an-hour, affecting services for an hour. They wanted an additional 10 minutes during their break between two trains.
During the protest, two engine failures occurred, further disrupting the services. An engine of a train stalled at Kalwa and the other at Tilak Nagar. Official suspect foul play, as the engine failures occurred exactly during the protest.
Both, motormen and guards refused to ply trains from CST from 5.05 pm to 5.35 pm due to which 36 trains were cancelled on the main line and 51 on the harbor line. Although this was the peak hour but due to a holiday on account of Ananth Chaturdashi there were comparatively fewer commuters.
The motormen and guards want to increase their ‘signing on’ time, that is, the time between changing of two trains as well at the beginning of their work hours. The demand of the 754 motormen of CR is to increase this time from 20 minutes to 30 minutes as the motormen are under severe stress according to the unions.
Joint secretary of the National Railway Mazdoor Union S K Bose said, “When the motorman as well as motorguard change their trains from one to another and have to drive in the opposite direction that they were driving for the past one to one-and-a-half-hour it is very stressful.
According to the Bose the CR had already increased the signing on time period to 30 minutes but changed it back to 20 without any dialogue between unions.
Bose said “When they cut the minutes back to 20 we went to talk to them but they were just not interested in any dialogue, hence we had to take this step.”
A CR official on the condition of anonymity said that this is just a ruse by the unions to increase their working hours, which will inevitably increase the overtime hours adding more zero’s to their salaries.

U.S. patent for a Keralite Engineer
But Indian patent still awaited since 2008
Thiruvananthapuram: M.C. David, a 57-year-old amateur magician from Kerala, has secured a US patent for an invention that generates electricity "anywhere, anytime". The invention relates to generation of electricity from gravitational energy.
An iron pipe, filled with water, is placed vertically and hollow balls made of concrete or wood are driven into the pipe from below. As each ball rises due to buoyancy and is forced out of the pipe, it falls on to a moving platform which is connected to a wheel. The wheel is connected to a generator and electricity is generated, David said.
David sums up his invention as one that can generate "energy anywhere anytime" in every household. The principle of buoyancy is used to raise the solid objects to the desired height prior to letting them fall on to the platform.
In the copy of the patent granted by the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, it states the requirements of law have been compiled with and it has been determined that a patent on the invention shall be granted under the law.
After close to two decades working in Qatar and Bahrain as a quantity surveyor/ estimator with leading companies, David returned for good to his home in Kayamkulam, about 100 km from the state capital, three months back.
Since then, he has been trying out experiments on his novel project. "After my wife died a decade back, I did not think of anything else...and only this project was in my mind. In 2008, I applied for Indian patent but am yet to hear from them. I got the US patent last month," David said.
He tried this successfully on a model and is now trying it out on a much bigger scale. "The new prototype has been prepared using the services of a blacksmith and would be ready shortly," he said.

State funded NGOs under RTI: SC
New Delhi: NGOs and private organizations, substantially financed by government or its authorities, come under the ambit of Right to Information Act making them liable to reveal information under the transparency law, the Supreme Court said.
A bench of justices K S Radhakrisnan said that even though government may not have any statutory control over such organizations but they fall within the definition of public authority if they are substantially financed by it.
“Government may not have any statutory control over the NGOs, as such, still it can be established that a particular NGO has been substantially financed directly or indirectly by the funds provided by the appropriate government, in such an event, that organization will fall within the scope of Section 2(h) (d) (ii) of the RTI Act (definition of public authority). 
“Consequently, even private organizations which are, though not owned or controlled but substantially financed by the appropriate government will also fall within the definition of public authority,” the bench said. 
Although the term NGO has not been defined in the RTI Act but these organizations carry on various social and welfare activities which are otherwise governmental in nature, it said. 
“The term Non-government Organizations (NGO), as such, is not defined under the Act. But over a period of time, the expression has got its own meaning and, it has to be seen in that context, when used in the Act. “Government used to finance substantially, several non-government organizations, which carry on various social and welfare activities, since those organizations sometimes carry on functions which are otherwise governmental,” it said. The bench, however, said that whether an NGO has been substantially financed or not by the appropriate government, is a question of fact, to be examined by the authorities concerned under the RTI Act.
The apex court said that substantially financed means that “the degree of financing must be actual, existing, positive and real to a substantial extent, not moderate, ordinary, tolerable etc.”  

State almost forgot Gandhi jayanti &
Tilak and Shastri are distant memories 
The State government, which frequently invokes the name of Mahatma Gandhi, almost forgot his birth anniversary this year, but not that of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv.
The state government roused from its slumber after 9 months and only then ordered the administration to celebrate the birth anniversary of the father of the nation.
The extent of apathy towards national icons is apparent from the fact that the state government also forgot Lokmanya Tilak and Lal Bahadur Shastri.
Orders were issued to commemorate Shastri’s birth anniversary, which also falls on October 2, on the penultimate day (October1)!
The general administration department, which is controlled by the State Chief Minister, made a mockery of Tilak, too, and orders for observing his birth anniversary were issued two months after the event!
Every year, the general administration department issues a Government Resolution (GR) to mark birth anniversaries of great personalities at national and state level. This year, the GR was issued on January 10 and was signed by BR Gavit, Deputy Secretary of GAD. It listed 19 such events, which included 18 birth anniversaries and the Constitution Day, which falls on November 26. The list included former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s birth anniversary on November 19, which is also celebrated as the National Integration (Ekatmata Din) Day and Rajiv Gandhi’s birth anniversary in August, which is marked as Sadbhavana Diwas. But the government forgot the father of Indian unrest, Lokmanya Tilak, who used to head the Congress in the 1920s. On September 5, a GR correcting the blunder committed in January was issued by Under Secretary of GAD, R D Panchal. But care was taken not to upload this GR on the state government website to cover up the blunder. But even as the state government corrected its blunder on September 5, it committed yet another faux pas — It put the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on course, but forgot all about Lal Bahadu Shastri, even though his birthday also falls also on Gandhi Jayanti. The department woke up only on October 1 and then issued a fresh GR.



MONTH THAT WAS

Illegal Evidence may be admissible: SC
The Supreme Court held that obtaining evidence illegally by using tape recordings or photographs is admissible in law although such methods was not the procedure established by law 
"It is a settled legal proposition that even if a document is procured by improper or illegal means, there is no bar to its admissibility if it is relevant and its genuineness is proved. If the evidence is admissible, it does not matter how it has been obtained," a bench headed by Justice B S Chauhan said.  The bench, however, said that before accepting such evidence, the court must come to the conclusion that the evidence is genuine and free from tampering.  "However, as a matter of caution, the court in exercise of its discretion may disallow certain evidence in a criminal case if the strict rules of admissibility would operate unfairly against the accused. More so, the court must conclude that it is genuine and free from tampering or mutilation," it said. "This court repelled the contention that obtaining evidence illegally by using tape recordings or photographs offend Articles 20(3) and 21(Protection of life and liberty) of the Constitution of India as acquiring the evidence by such methods was not the procedure established by law," the bench said. 
The court passed the order while directing CBI to conduct a probe against Andhra Pradesh DGP accused of amassing disproportionate assets and pulled up the state government for refusing to investigate the case on the ground that the complaint against the state's top police official was forged. 
The apex court held although the complaint was forged the documents annexed with it shows property details of the top cop, which must be looked into.

Unfair pharma practices 
under CCI lens  
 New Delhi: Emphasizing that pricing aspects of pharmaceuticals are critical for the general public, CCI Chairman Ashok Chawla has said that some cases of probe into alleged unfair practices in this space are in the “pipeline”. 
Competition Commission of India (CCI) has already slapped penalties on some entities, including chemists and druggists associations, for including in unfair trade practices. “There are a number of cases, which have been dealt with. There are some (more) cases in the pipeline,” CCI Chairman Ashok Chawla told PTI. 
On healthcare sector, the Commission is looking at possible anti-competitive practices with regard to hospitals asking patients to take the services of a particular entity. 
However, the CCI chief noted that pricing of services in the healthcare would not exactly fall under its purview. “When there is tying in of supply of services, there are some cases we are looking at…,” he said. 
Without providing specific details, Chawla said that one case is at an advanced stage where the allegation is that of insisting on going to a certain supplier of services by hospital.”… otherwise whether the charges are high or low, it is not really for us to see.  


Phocomelia - No disability for MBBS: HC
The Bombay High Court  directed the state authorities to grant admission to a disabled student, who has phocomelia (shortened limbs), in the MBBS course. 
Rajdeep Deshmukh, who has two fingers in each hand and short  big toes on his feet, had contended that the deformity would not come in his way while studying medicine.  According to Deshmukh, his mother, when pregnant, was given thalidomide to prevent morning sickness. Consequently, he was born with phocomelia, his petition said. 
The division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice M S Sanklecha asked the Directorate of Medical Education and Research to admit the petitioner in MBBS course, after receiving a report from doctors of Grant Medical College and Sir J J Group of Hospitals. 
The report certified that Deshmukh was capable of performing basic practical examination with certain limitations. The judges noted that report stated that Deshmukh is capable of holding a syringe, and pursuing the MBBS course otherwise. 
"On account of shortened right index and middle finger and deformity of right thumb, petitioner's ability is partially affected, but does not prevent handling of slides, holding scissors and also there is sensation in the shortened fingers,"  the Court noted.

Sweden best country to grow old, 
Afghanistan the worst
Geneva: Sweden is the best place to grow old and Afghanistan the worst, according to a UN-backed study  that warns many countries are ill-prepared to deal with the old age time bomb, reports AFP. 
In a rapidly graying world, the Global Age-Watch Index – the first of its kind – found that Sweden, known for its generous welfare state, followed by Norway and Germany were best equipped to deal with the challenges of an ageing population.
How countries care for their senior citizens will become increasingly important as the number of people over the age of 60 is set to soar from some 809 million today to more than two billion by 2050 – when they will account for more than one in five people on the planet, the report said. 
“The 21st century is seeing an unprecedented global demographic transition, with population ageing at its heart,” the authors of the study said. 
The survey ranked many African and South Asian countries as the worst places to be retired, with Tanzania, Pakistan and Afghanistan rounding out the bottom three.
The index was compiled by the Help Age International advocacy group and the UN Population Fund in a bid to provide much needed data on ageing populations worldwide. It ranked the social and economic wellbeing of the elderly in 91 countries, by comparing data from the World Health Organisation and other global agencies on older people’s incomes, health, education, employment and their environments. 
While the world’s richest countries – including Western European nations, the US and Japan – predictably ranked highly, the report somewhat surprisingly found that a number of lower-income countries had put in place policies that significantly improved the quality of life for their elderly.
Bolivia, which offers free healthcare to its older citizens despite being one of the poorest surveyed countries, and Sri Lanka, with its long-term investments in health and education, were among those singled out for praise. 
The emerging economies of Brazil and China ranked 31st and 35th in the survey, while South Africa, India and Russia came in much lower at 65, 73 and 78 respectively.

Muslim faith school closes in UK 
London: A Muslim faith school in the UK accused of imposing strict Islamic practices on students and staff has been closed following an inspection. The Al-Madinah School in Derby has been dogged by controversy recently over its practices. The schools regulator visited the school and decided to close it, citing “health and safety” reasons. 
An unnamed former staff members of Al-Madinah, which opened as a free school in September last year, had alleged that girls were forced to sit at the back of the classroom, and that female staff members, including non-Muslims, had been forced to wear the hijab, BBC reported. Acting head teacher Stuart Wilson said the school would close temporarily. A Department for Education spokesman said: “We were already investigating this school before allegations became public. We discussed the problems with Ofsted and it launched an immediate inspection. We are waiting for Ofsted’s final report and considering all legal options.” 
The free school was opened in September 2012. Its first head, Andrew Cutts-Mckay, left after less than a year in the job. On its website, the school describes “a strong Muslim ethos” with shorter holidays and longer school days “to maximize opportunities for pupil achievement and success”. The Education Funding Agency – from which the school gets its public funding – is also investigating alleged financial irregularities, the BBC reported.     





              

ABRACADABRA

Italy has lowest graduation rate
Rome: Italy has the lowest graduation rates in Europe with just one-fifth of people aged 30-34 holding a university degree, according to a study.
A total of 31 percent of Italian families cannot afford to pay for their children's university studies, and must take out loans or have their offspring seek jobs to help fund tuition and living costs, said the report by charity Save the Children.
It said Italy was jeopardizing the future of its youth by spending just 1.1 percent of its economic output on children and families, putting the country in 18th place out of Europe's 27 nations.
Almost 29 percent of children during the crucial early years from 0-6 are living in poverty and 23.7 percent endure hardship in terms of nutrition, clothing, holidays, sport, books, equipment and school charges, according to the study.

When jail bird chose honesty
Houston: In a bizarre incident, a prisoner in the US state of Oklahoma chose honesty over freedom and called up emergency number 911 to politely report his own escape. A cross-country trip transporting prisoners turned wild when two of them stole the van which had a total of eight prison inmates. But it was a phone call from one of their own that landed the prisoners back behind bars.
Joshua Silverman, a prisoner, along with five other inmates watched as the two prisoners stole the van after it stopped at a hospital in Weatherford. Michael Coleman and Lester Burns worked together to steal that van, police said. They escaped while two guards were inside the hospital with another prisoner. Silverman called 911 and alerted police after the prisoners stopped the van at a distance, ABC News-affiliate KOCO TV reported. "Uh, yes, ma'am, you're probably not going to believe this, but I'm a prisoner in a van, and I'm here with a couple of these other cats," Silverman politely explained to the 911 operator.
"A couple of the guys that were in the van jacked the van ... at the hospital," he said during the nearly four-minute audio clip that Weatherford police released.

“Rubbish to call Maharashtra progressive” 
said noted actor Amrapurkar
Right enough “Aged couple ostracised by caste Panchayat”
Bhayandar: An elderly couple living in Tembhi-Pada village in Virar, have become strangers in the own village, after they were socially boycotted by the local “Caste Panchayat”. 
Their Crime: keeping construction material outside their house, leading to an oral complaint by one of their neighbours with the panchayat members. As per information – Anant Nijai (70) is a small time labour contractor who lives with his wife Bhavna (65) in Tembhi-Pada village. Nijai had kept some construction material outside his house inviting the ire of neighbours who sought the intervention of the local caste panchayat. In open defiance of the law of the land, the panchayat members allegedly issued a diktat, ordering the couple to tender an apology to the complaint.
When the elderly couple refused to tender an apology, the panchayat banished them from the community issuing a verbal diktat forbidding villagers not to interact with the couple. 
“We have gone into exile in our own village as nobody is ready to talk to us. Everybody is behaving like strangers.” alleges Nijai. When contacted, API S. D. Barge, said, “Even as a non-cognisance complaint had been registered on the issue of dumping the construction material, as of now no such case of banishing has come to our notice. We have taken statements of Nijai and also the panchayat members.
However, strict action will be taken if anyone is found issuing such illegal diktats.”  

A casual song & luck came calling 
Thiruvananthapuram: Casual singing of a popular Malayalam song has elevated a poor housewife in Kerala to the cine world. Chandralekha from Vadaseikkara village in Pathanamhitta district made a foray as a playback singer by lending her voice to a duet in ‘Love Story’, a feature film being directed by M Prashant.
The 31-year-old woman, who was noted after a video showing her singing the song from movie ‘Chamayam’ hit the ‘YouTube, paired the song composed by newcomer David Shon with Hariharan. Though the video showing the song Chandralekha singing the song ‘Rajahamsame’ with her child in her arms was uploaded by her husband’s nephew in YouTube none took notice. Those who heard the song did not believe it original. After many comments like that appeared in the social networking sites, Chandralekha added her mobile number to the video resulting in a flood of calls from within India and abroad. The video suddenly went viral. In just four days as many 350,000 people viewed it. The composers, who heard her voice, came forward with offers to sing in their films. Chandralekha has so far got offers from five composers. She has also an offer to sing a devotional album being produced by a Thiruvananthapuram-based music company.
Shon has taken the credit for initiating Chandralekha into the playback singing by giving the song set aside for Shreya Ghosal. Chandralekha, who could not make use of forums available for using her hereditary talent due to the burdens of life, is stunned by the outpourings of love, affection and encouragement she is receiving. 
Talking to reporters after completing the song at a studio in Kochi, the gifted singer said her biggest wish was to see in person K S Chithra, who sang the original song that has transformed her life. Chandralekha had sung the popular song without any instrument, including a microphone.
Chandralekha, wife of Raghunath, wanted to pursue music but the conditions did not allow her to join a music college.
Though teachers in the school and college, where she studied, encouraged her, the poverty at home tied her down to her dilapidate house.
Raghunath’s nephew, who heard her singing at home, believed that the world will one day notice her voice. He did his bit by posting her song in the YouTube.It has transformed Chandralekha’s life and may help her fulfill her long-cherished dream to become a playback singer.

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An Icon for Gen Next leaders 
Dr. M. V. Kamath
When I read in the papers that 50 percent of the Lok Sabha members and 17 per cent of Rajya Sabha members have criminal cases against them and another 16 per cent have “serious criminal cases” against them, I keep wondering about those great days in pre-Independence times, when it was an honour to be a people’s representative. Many of them were best and the brightest of the lot, who had fought for freedom and in the process often, gave up their flourishing careers. 
My favourite is Kanhaiyalal Maneklal Munshi (1887-1971), one of the greatest of his generation, who established the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in November 1938 with the blessings of Mahatma Gandhi. It is the only organization which can boast of 119 kendras (branches) in India and seven centres abroad, not to speak of a record 367 constituent institutions that are engaged either in teaching or researching a range of subjects from science, arts, commerce, communication, engineering, management, yoga karate, to technology, ayurveda, chartered accountancy, personality development, Vedas and Upanishads, tribal culture, even tailoring! 
I am referring to the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan today for a special reason. It is celebrating its Platinum Jubilee. It is truly a tribute to its founder, Munshiji, lawyer, scholar, patriot, educationist and an out-of-the-box-thinker, if ever there was one! A Gandhian, he had given up his lucrative career as a lawyer to be a freedom fighter and understandably suffered imprisonment. 
Broadminded, the motto he chose for the Bhavan’s Journal reflects his catholicity: Aa no bhadrah kratavo yantu vishvatah. (Let noble thoughts come to us from all sides). One of the earliest institutions Munshiji set up after the establishment of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan was the Mumbadevi Adarsh Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya in 1939. Then came the Mungalal Goenka Institute of Post-Graduate Studies & Research (1939), the Sanskrit Vishwa Parishad (1951) and the Saral Sanskrit Pariksha Vibhag (1952). 
A thinker in his own right, he had differences with Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, especially with Nehru, who as the then Prime Minister of India smelt ‘Hindu revivalism’ in Munshiji’s attempts to renovate the decrepit Somnath Temple in Gujarat. To him, Munshiji wrote frankly. “It is my faith in our past which has given me the strength to work in the present and to look forward to the future.” 
But Munshiji was no Hindu fundamentalist. At the Bhavan, every public meeting began with prayers from Hindu, Muslim and Christian texts. To him, the world was one – ‘vasudaiva kutumbakum.’ As the Bhavan’s ‘kulapati,’ he led from the front. 
As a legal expert, his contribution in the framing of the Indian Constitution was indeed notable. He wrote several volumes. His classic work, ‘Krishnavatara,’ published in seven long volumes, displayed his deep scholarship. His historic work, ‘Jay Somnath’ won him followers throughout Gujarat. His novel, ‘Pritvi Vallabh’ was made into a movie of the same twice. One was directed by Sohrab Modi. 
Nehru appointed him Governor, United Provinces (UP), when he became automatically the ex-officio chancellor of Allahabad, Lucknow and Agra Universities, during which, he chalked out a programme for youth which not only involved doing physical labour, but participation in cultural discourses on the Gita, Upanishads and Vedic literature.
Munshiji believed in the ultimate establishment of universal peace, despite contemporary socio-political churnings, which he dismissed as part of the larger ‘samudra mathan.’ He supported the ageless message of Faith, Self-discipline and dedication – Shraddha, Samyama and Samarpana. In many ways, he was a social revolutionary and perhaps one can attribute this to the fact that at Baroda College, he studied under Aurobindo Ghosh, the revolutionary who was to become Sri Aurobindo the saint. 
He championed the cause of widow marriage – and that, too, in the first decade of the 20th century, when it required extraordinary courage to stand by such principle. But he not only stood by his view, he had the courage to himself marry a widow in 1926. Leelavati Sheth, as she was known, who stood by him through thick and thin in his later years. 
The point is that he had a vision and the courage to follow it. His faith in India’s past led him to fashion his thought for the present and plan institutions for the future. What stood out was his self-evident pragmatism. It is that, one suspects that saw the growth of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan from being a modest Indo-logical research institution, into a comprehensive, cooperative, apolitical national outlook, seeking to inculcate a value based life and the promotion of ethical and spiritual values in everything it does. 
What more can one expect not just from Munshiji, the great thinker and activist, but from his successors who have out done him? Munshiji stands as a role model for the new generation of politicians who have no leadership worth the name. Munshiji provides the answer. He has shown what one man can do, and how to do it. As he once stated, “the real strength of the Bhavan lies in the character, humility, selflessness and dedicated work of its devoted workers… and not in the volume of its assets”. Today we need not one Munshiji, but the ones like him in dozens, and let it not be said that the GenNext has not been kept informed.