Saturday, December 7, 2013

EDITOR'S COLUMN

Friends

We are in the last month of the year 2013. In the life of a person or that of the society, there is always a beginning and hence there will always be an end. Month of December signifies the end of Gregorian calendar year. This month coincides with the anniversary of the election of Barack Obama for his 2nd term as the US President, so also the death anniversary of charismatic parochial but iconic political figure, Bal Thackeray. So is the hanging of Ajmal Kasab an year ago for the 26/11 mayhem.

India is a place of myriad things happening. The month of December witnessed things from good, bad & ugly to bizarre to macabre. Among the good things are the emergence of AAP as a force to reckon-with, in the political firmament of India, so also the long awaited agreement between Iran and the West. Bharat Ratna to cricketer Tendulkar was another strange development, besides snoop master Tarun Tejpal’s sexploits of his young lady staff being the ugly happening of the month, are only some of the highlights of the Month-in-Perspective.

The award of Bharat Ratna to cricketer Sachin Tendulkar did expose the intellectual impoverishment of powers that be, in a country where talent, dedication and achievements are measured by media hype and depends upon the Mai-Baap culture of patronizing politics. There have been many voices of opposition to the award from many eminent and from less media rated intellectuals across the country. The main stream media somehow shied away from these criticism being highlighted. That was indeed strange. We have, however, tried to discuss the issue of relevance of Bharat Ratna to Tendulkar in Focus. Hope our readers would find it different from the general run of the mill. Do kindly respond with your thoughts on the issues raised therein. Rest of issues are as usual. 
J.SHRIYAN
                                                                                                            


Month-In-Perspective

MAHARASHTRA: There was this over 1000 words article on the seamier side of Sharad Pawar, the Maratha strong man appearing in a national magazine. Most media houses, whether print or electronic has never taken on Pawar and his network, for whatever reasons. But all know that Sharad Pawar is a machinist, and yet no media directly took him on in passing a value judgement on the man. He is a politician, who is there only for his friends, relatives and cronies. Ask P.Sainath he will tell how many farmers have died, and Pawar, as Union Minister for Agriculture, may never know the exact number. Even if he is told about it, he would never bother. Thus, he is there for rich farmers, sugar co-operatives, industrialists, businessmen and real estate developers, all of whom fund his NCP. Lavasa City of Hindustan Construction Co. off Mumbai Poona Road is a standing testimony of what he is capable of doing. His daughter was the shareholder/director, courtesy sweat money! Poor Shashi Tharoor had to quit his Union Ministry for a similar case of sweat money involving IPL and his wife. Lavasa still does not have clearance from Union Ministry of Environment. It was during his Chief Ministership of Maharashtra, a plot was hatched to kill Nusli Wadia of Bombay Dying by Ambani of Reliance. Even an RIL director was briefly arrested. Nobody knows what happened to the case. There are stories floating that criminal fugitive Dawood Ibrahim’s tele number was found in the tele bill of Pawar. But it remained a story, like many other stories which didn’t see the light of the day.
The latest article dwells into the files in Maharashtra government, which are reportedly not moving. Unfortunately for Pawar, those files belong  to some of his friends and cronies, which fortunately for the state, the CM, Prithviraj Chauhan, is not clearing  for some valid reasons. So frustrated Sharad Pawar was, he reportedly used uncivil language while asking “whether their hands get paralysed at the time of signing files?” The article informs “Nobody takes on Pawar and his network. That has been the unwritten rule of Maharashtra politics for over three decades. Even BJP and Shiv Sena followed this rule. So at long last, it looks there is somebody, with a cleaner slate, dared to take the Maratha strongman Sharad Pawar. Hope success attends to Prathviraj Chavan in his cleaning up measures. No wonder, Pawar is cosying upto 3rd front to keep his options open, as another report informs about his presence at a convention sponsored by LEFT parties in Delhi.
The latest Anna and Arvind tussle in public, is certainly a bit of dampener for AAP, and is most unwanted and unwarranted. The election to the Delhi Assembly is only days away and the publication of CD made some 12 months ago, most definitely indicate a method in madness. Somebody is playing dirty. It has to be somebody who is getting hurt by the surge of AAP in Delhi’s by-lanes. So, it is either the Congress or the BJP’s dirty tricks department that is desperately raking up issues, which are apparently settled. And you have this hyper journos like Arnab Goswami, screaming at his news hour interlocution, as if its ‘Eurekha’. Why is he like this? is difficult to surmise. Is he with the truth or only looking for sensation mongering!
From the visuals and the statements coming from both Arvind Kejriwal and Yogendra Yadav, have shown the pain and disappointment at the latest development from Ralegan Siddi. On their part, they have tried to say in many words that they are open and have never misused either the fund or Anna’s name in their political aspirations. With due respects to Anna, it will do good to the public cause, by accepting statements of both Kejriwal and Yogendra Yadav, for their sincerity and apparent honesty in coming clean on the whole issue, including their demand for an investigation by Justice Santosh Hegde, who was earlier part of Anna’s Anti Corruption movement and like Anna, he too did not subscribe to the new political party being the solution to the sagging anti corruption movement.
Anna, in his own interest of being fair and square, should refrain from being used by vested interests which are opposed to likes of Kejriwal and his AAP. Kejriwal, Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan represent hope in a hopeless cesspool of muck in India’s political landscape. They may not be able to do all that they want to do, but there is no lack of honest intention to do it. It is fervently hoped that someday Anna too would join the AAP, which will only help a much larger cause. In fact even if he announces his support, so late in the day, but before the Delhi Assembly election, it is sure to make a very positive impact on the future of this latest entrant, AAP. Hope it happens. 
There was this report “British couple attacked by junkie in Dadar”. Of course, on the face of it, the news is disturbing. In a county where peaceful co-existence is the philosophy of life, it is very important that nobody attacks physically anybody else, more so if somebody is a  guest. ‘Athithi Devo Bhava’ is our national dictum, and this British couple are travelers wanting to experience the ‘Idea of India’. In all fairness they should feel always secure. That they were attacked physically is certainly a bad news. But, there are details, of why it has happened, which also need our attention and an evenhanded approach in tackling it. 
A junkie is a drug addict and it is to be appreciated that he was sitting alone without causing any trouble to anybody. He may be a menace at times, but rarely he disturbs anybody. It is true he is ruining himself, may be  a problem, an Issue of  Concern, to his family and friends. May be he ends up as a liability to the society. He may even become violent, that’s when he becomes a law and order issue. 
But in this particular case, the lady in question, whom he pushed and she fell on the ground, and he wanted to pull the camera from her hand, herself can be blamed for the incident. She photographed the guy, who was quietly sitting in a corner. She had no business to photograph him. She proved to be an intruding type of guest, which she had no business to be. He had every right to protest, of course without being violent. Thus the blame can be on the British couple for transgressing his privacy. She should have asked his permission before taking his photograph. So what, he is a drug addict? Can U deny him his human right because he is a junkie?

GOA:  Tehelka in Hindi/Urdu means turbulance. Indeed when  Tehelka came, in its snooping avatar it did cause lot of turbulance in the corridors of power, especially in New Delhi. Then it appeared, it had a one point programme of fixing BJP and its functionaries and associates. They partly succeeded in mudslinging, rightly or wrongly, but their principal target George Fernandese, the then Defence Minister, they couldn’t besmirch his reputation, however best they tried to destroy his integrity. But their snooping business continued. They got into print media with the financial help of some corporate houses, probably with some political support of those who are opposed to BJP. With the kind of financial/political support, they succeeded in roping journalists to write for them. By any standard, they appeared successful in its reach. It built up a fair reputation for incisive writings. But philosophy remained chasing truth with sensation, since sensation had more buyers. They packaged it nicely and it was making its presence felt. They started going places. Success sometime makes people become over confident. That’s precisely what happened to Tarun Tejpal the editor-in-Chief. His name is Tarun which means youth, which he is not anymore. But then, like Jeevan, a Hindu villain of the yore, had said long ago, “Bandar kithna bhi bhooda ho, Gulati maarna nahee bhulta”. That is, “Monkey however old, never forgets to roll upside down”.
Thus, the over confidence led this not so ‘Tarun’ Tejpal, the Editor-in-Chief of Tehelka, to mouth “a bad lapse of judgement”, after he was accused of sexual assault by one of his young lady staff. On 22nd Nov., newspapers carried the story “Police probe rape charge against Tehelka editor”. Although the entire details of the attack is not available for public consumption, two statements of the victim in an email to the managing editor of Tehelka, also a lady, exposes the depravity of the attacker. According to the victim, it was not a “drunken banter” as claimed by Tejpal. ‘Banter does not involve forcing yourself on someone’. She had reportedly written. The report left things for imagination. Probably after having committed the transgression he said “Well this is the easiest way for you to keep your job”. Thus it appears a clear case of sexploiting a hapless junior staff, a heinous act by any standard.
Reportedly, the perpetrator has unconditionally apologized for the crime and the management of the paper is trying some tricks like penance etc to get over the murky situation without the intervention of legal eagles. However like Brinda Karat has reportedly observed “Jail is the best place for Tejpal’s atonement”, looks the right thing to happen, then it would be truly Tehelka coming home to roost.

UTTAR PRADESH: Speaking to the media early last month, Mulayam Singh Yadav has reportedly informed that the “Third Front will form the next government at centre”. He reportedly appeared confident. Some 17 regional parties had reportedly met in Delhi in preparation for the ensuing election in April 2014, and the UP strongman thinks that he is the kingpin and has an important role in getting these 17 parties work as a unified force. In this evolving scenario of desperate parties coming to-gether only to get into power at Delhi, Mulayam is pushing that he will be their leader, in other words, he is dreaming of being the Prime minister of India. Sometime in May this year, Business Line, from The Hindu, had reproduced what their journos had overheard in the Delhi’s corridors of power, where they had travelled down the memory lane in the making of India’s Prime Minister. They had ascribed certain adjectives to describe the persona, e.g. ‘Nehru proved that a rich man can become the country’s Prime Minister, Shastri proved that a poor man can become PM’, and came down among others to Deve Gowda and Manmohan Singh. ‘Deve Gowda proved just anybody can become the Prime Minister, while Manmohan Singh proved that India does not need a Prime Minister,’ were the take of the interlocutor. 
Thus, probably Mulayam Singh Yadav is hopeful of filling the gap left by Manmohan Singh, since anybody can become the Prime Minister like Deve Gowda. The question therefore is, if Deve Gowda can be the Prime Minister, whom Lalu Prasad Yadav had famously called Nikamma (meaning-useless), why not Mulayam.
So, its wishing all the best for SP Supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, for his day dream, since he feels his party will win all 80 seats of Uttar Pradesh and will emerge as a kingmaker.

GUJARAT: Here comes another P.M. in waiting for the main opposition party BJP, Narendra Damodar Modi. He has been travelling all over India, well before time, giving people only hopes and rhetorics. Fortunately for him and his party, people have been lapping up all he said with resounding applause, and numbers have always been in lakhs. And believe it or not, he is the only politician who commanded a price for his public election address. Of course with the gift of the gab, he has been able to live with his controversial past which continues to haunt his present. However, since, despite his being unwelcome to United States, he has appeared on TIME cover. That by any standard is a climb-down for U.S., and plus for Modi. That was purely on the Gujarat development story he has been able to sell. And no wonder global investment banker GOLDMAN SACHS (GS) came calling to greet him. The 18 page report by GS “Modi-fying our view: Raise India to Market weight”, suggested a likely victory of Modi led BJP would enhance investor sentiment and would be business friendly. Expectedly Congress was irked by the over enthusiasm of the American Banker and hence asked them to be in banking rather than in political kite flying.

KERALA: Replying to an RTI query, Director General of Prisons and Correctional Services in Kochi informs: that there are about 40% of persons held in prisons not guilty of any crime, in other words, they are all innocents. This is the situation in Kerala, supposedly one of the better administrated state with higher Human Development Index (HDI). In other states, it may be worse than that.
According to Joy Pushpan, the state information officer of Prisons and Correctional Services, many innocents have landed behind bars because of circumstantial evidence against them, then there are volunteers working for political parties and other organizations undergoing jail term on behalf of culprits who are probably with power or connections or both. Another startling disclosure was that about 100 under trials are mentally challenged and therefore there is no doubt of their being innocents, but are still being held in prisons across the state.
The above picture can only be a tip of the ice-berg. There should be a comprehensive study of such situation to understand the kind of set up we are living in as a ‘civilised’ society. An All-India study can throw up very disturbing statistics to make the authorities - the executive, the politicians – the legislature and the legal fraternity – the judiciary, to sit up, take serious note and ponder. Media, instead of sensationalizing issues must try to educate and sensitise these three sectors of democratic governance to make a more humane, sensitive and responsive legal provisions and apparatus to serve the aam aadmi, the helpless hapless masses of the country. It is these faceless multitude who suffer in the hands of police and the system, because neither they have the power of money nor the physical strength to endure, since both good food and good medicine are beyond their reach. Will this happen? is a question asked umpteen times on these pages, but still devoid of answer. This is Yeh Mera India.

NEW DELHI: The speech rallies of BJP Prime minister candidate, Narendra Modi, has drawn lot of flak from opposition politicians, rightly or wrongly. Among these opposition politicians, are also the one’s who too are dreaming of becoming the Prime minister of world’s largest democracy.
Yes, it’s a free country, all are entitled to dream, and why not? 
Long years ago, when Indira Gandhi was assassinated Pranab Mukherjee too dreamt of being the PM of the country. So was Sharad Pawar, too had this unfulfilled ambition. LK Advani was another, who along with likes of Sushma Swaraj had to accept Modi, due to “public demand”. Now comes Mulayam Singh Yadav having day dreaming of some 3rd front coming to power so that he will lead the pack.
Of course, of all the people, when Deve Gowda became the Prime Minister at New Delhi, there were suddenly many contenders saying , ‘’if Gowda can be PM so do I’. 
However it is very interesting to note what Bene Prasad Yadav, a Union Minister observing “He (Mulayam Singh) is dreaming about becoming the PM. But he is not even fit enough to get a sweeper’s job in the PM’s residence”. Indeed it is a very unkind barb, but shows the level of aspirants to the hallowed job in New Delhi. 
Yes, reportedly “EC asks Centre to ban opinion polls from the date of notification”. This was the headline in the print media. So the election managers of this country do not want opinion polls, or rather public opinions, about their preferences prior to the actual polling.
For over a month, the issue of the relevance and desirability of psephology was being debated in the electronic media by political representatives. We all know election to 5 states are round the corner, so also the Loksabha election due in April next year. It is a well known fact that all are keen to know where do they stand with the electorate, especially when elections are round the corner. Cutting across party line, so also the general civil society, the interest in knowing the shifting fortunes of all political players, is a very common phenomenon, just about anywhere in the world, more so in the largest democracy in the world.
Reportedly parties favouring a ban include, the Congress, the BSP, the SP, the Janata Dal (U), the AIA-DMK, the DMK and the DMDK. While last three parties are from Tamil Nadu, other three parties are from north confined to UP and Bihar. Among the national parties only Congress seems to be against the opinion poll. 
Of course, it is true that in 2004, all parties wanted ban on opinion polls. Reportedly they had all unanimously agreed that results of opinion polls should not be disseminated during the period starting from the date of notification to poll completion.
It is also true that this time round BJP,the main national opposition party, is conveniently opposing the ban, because it suits the circumstance that the party is in. 
Besides it is true that legal luminaries too are divided in their view about the constitutionality of the EC move. If Soli Sorabjee , the former AG in NDA regime, observed that ‘ a ban on opinion surveys would not stand judicial scrutiny as it would violate the fundamental right of free speech’ while the present AG Goolam Vahanvathi has backed the ban. This divergent view may be, only to be expected, since, like a paper opined that “Lawyers can interpret the law depending on who their client is”. However, it appears a case of party in power pushing its cause. The recent such polls have reportedly revealed that the Congress may not do well. With a logical notion that such surveys can influence fence sitters or floating voters, it can truly influence the final outcome at hustings, is not entirely misplaced. But the fact remains that a ban on opinion polls would not stand judicial scrutiny as it would violate the fundamental right of free speech. 
When on July 11, the newspapers and electronic media headlined that ‘being imprisoned or in police custody for a crime will disqualify a person from contesting poles’, the whole nation said “Cheers to Supreme Court”. This order of the Supreme Court did puncture the politician’s ambition to go on and on, with impunity. For once at least, the aam aadmi will have some better choices of cleaner men and women. Most political parties had sleepless nights. The party in power even applied for a review petition, along with an amendment in the Representation of Peoples Act, opening up an escape route that since ‘the name of the person being in electoral role shall not cease to be an elector’.
And believe it not, all the euphoria of general public came crashing, when the apex court accepted the amendment saying “Jailed persons can contest polls”. Indeed it is a sad development for India and Indians. Isn’t it a reasonable desire of people, the aam aadmi, the law abiding, taxpaying voters to expect the nation to be ruled by clean politicians? So what is the government doing in ensuring this minimum expectation? Going to court to protect criminals! and courts joining them in ensuring that criminals shall continue to have their shelf life! 
This amendment truly knocks the bottom out of the argument that only persons with clean record should contest elections. With this amendment how would or how could anybody hope to have clean politics?! This has only further encouraged the criminalization of politics. Like a reader puts it “One simple amendment has put the whole clock back and consequently open the floodgates to criminals.
As we are approaching the next Loksabha election this is a very disappointing development. Hope, other restrictions do come to control criminalization of politics in the not so distant a future.    
A New Delhi date lined news informed “Won’t allow Hindu version of Taliban to succeed”. Attributing the above statement to Digvijay Singh of Congress, it only exposed how politicians have tried to keep the society divided and media only played a second fiddle. In a larger socio/political scene, fundamentalism and its related violence is something which should be discouraged and put down with an iron hand wherever/whenever it is necessary to use force. It surely should not have any sectional or religious bias, either in reported statements or any action on the ground.
Taliban, is a rigid Islamic way of life. All are free or should be free to practice, what they want to, in their private life. But the word Taliban became controversial and even repugnant because of the violent enforcement of rigid rituals. Humans, being what they are, some fell in line and some rebelled, and those who rebelled had to pay with their life. If this rigid application of certain way of life had confined to one small area, problem could have remained localized. Unfortunately they went around propagating their rigid practices and any opposition was ruthlessly and violently forced into submission or annihilated.   
It is an accepted argument, that in every set of people, there are those who accept anything new, for their own reasons, but there will always be people who do not like any force and hence resist. But it is those who are amenable to these rigid code of life, who are generally unreasonable and therefore intolerant, who have created problem for those who despite differences in their way of life opted for co-operative co-existence. Hence, in most parts of the world, Taliban, as a way of life is not opted and practiced. But because of the violence involved in the practices of Talibanis, it earned notoriety. Malala Yousuf Zai is a classic example, how one of their very own refused to fall in line. And fortunately for herself and the world, she survived very remarkably to tell her story to the world at large. The entire civilized world celebrated her global recognition.
Coming to politicians like Digvijay Singh, we need to tell that he should restrain from using the word Taliban in an Indian context. Intolerance among human beings has its origin in the idea of superiority. Humans, being what they are, intolerance is a human attribute. Hindus too therefore, at least some of them, are  intolerant, but surely they are not as violent and uncompromising as Taliban. Or else this country of 1200 + million people with 80% of them being Hindus, couldn’t have survived as a pluralistic state. Hence for politicians like Digvijay Singh to bring Taliban in an Indian context is not only misplaced, illogical but clearly mischievous and diabolic. Necessarily media must take an unequivocal stand in maintaining social coherence by underplaying or even ignoring such politicians.

WORLD: As usual Pakistan is always in the news for wrong reasons. The report “US has murdered peace in Pakistan” was sequel to the killing of Hakimullah Mehsud by the drone attack by US forces from across Afghanistan. The report was an accusation by the Pakistani leadership which reportedly complained that “drone attack in North Waziristan was not about the killing of an individual but the murder of peace in the region”. Reportedly a 3 member team of ulemas was to visit Islamabad to discuss the peace talks between Taliban and the new government of Nawaz Sharif. Clearly upset with the latest killing, Islamabad summoned US ambassador Richard Olson to lodge a strong protest stating that this killing will have negative impact on the proposed talk with Taliban.
There is no doubt that killing of Taliban’s top leader shall surely have angered Taliban, who have reportedly vowed to take “unprecedented revenge” for the killing of their leader. What is causing concern for Pakistan is the allegation by Taliban leadership that Pakistan too is involved in this attack in North Waziristan. Thus, the worry of Pakistan is quite understandable. They are indeed in a no-win situation. But who is responsible for this unenviable situation that Pakistan finds itself to-day? This whole policy of causing “thousand cuts” to India, so that India will bleed forever, of Zia Ul Haq, has at last coming home to roost. The  monster, it has so generously encouraged within its society has come back to haunt. Pakistani leadership must necessarily need to realize that hatred will only bread hatred. It will never win the day. Despite causing intermittent problems some of them very grave, to Indian socio-political fabric, it has failed to cause any serious rupture in our pluralistic social structure. But irritations are there, which are truly speaking, road blocks for possible friendship. Pakistani leadership need to realise that it does not pay to be hostile to a well meaning neighbour.
There was this report “Teacher in Abu Dhabi School defend accused in rape case”. 
On the face of it, it sounded rather bizarre, how can anybody defend an accused in a rape case, that too in a police state like Abu Dhabi in the UAE? The truth probably is, the accused, a 56 year old Gangadharan, is innocent.
It was a case of alleged rape, of a 7 year old girlchild. Reportedly the accused is facing death sentence, who has worked in the same school for the last 32 years. For over 3 decades if he didn’t have a record of any bad behavior, it may be difficult to believe the story. But, the mother of the child, along with the father had made the allegation of the physical attack on the child. Were they settling some score or the case may be having some civilizational profile?! 
With the emergence of new testimony by four teachers, it looks the justice may after all, come to this Keralite Indian. It could be a case of bad blood being exploited by some locals and chances were that this Gangadharan’s case could have been an open and shut case in the absence of any counter testimony. But the courage of 4 teachbers need to be appreciated, especially in the atmosphere that is generally prevalent in Arab world, who intervened to speak on behalf of the alleged accused. Hope this Gangadharan leaves the Abu Dhabi prison with no harm and his honour intact. 
The world will hopefully be a better place. The historic agreement between the West, led by US and Iran has put behind them the bitterness of 34 years, since both countries have ceased their diplomatic relations from 1979. Of course, by any stretch of imagination, it was a minor step foreword, but a step in the right direction. The agreement will certainly not be to the satisfaction of Iran, but having suffered 3 decades of sanctions and isolation, this consensus shall surely pave way for a far reaching positive development.
Of course John Kerry, the US Secretary of state has single handedly led most part of the discussion with the Iranian delegates, but fact remains, it was the earnest desire of President Obama that there is indeed a breakthrough in the impasse of over 3 decades of ice. President Obama needs to be congratulated for his courage of conviction, in standing upto the pressure from both Saudi Arabia and Israel besides Republican politicians and the Jew lobby in the US. Both Israel and Saudi wanted no agreement with Iran. “This agreement is a historic mistake” was the response of Netanyahu of Israel.
But surely the world realizes the importance of such an agreement and its sustanance beyond the 6 months period. Idea should be that in this global village all should co-exist as one family, taking into consideration the peculiar need of every group for a decent existence of the entire human society. Obama is qualified for that job. Hope all help him do it.

FOCUS

Bharat Ratna & TendulkarA Question of Answers

Long years ago, late V.K.Krishna Menon, had famously observed in writing on one of his ministry files, “When everybody thinks alike, nobody really thinks”. He was commenting on some bureaucratic bungling by his secretaries.  This statement keeps coming back over and over again, every time there is an occasion to think differently unlike mob psychology.
‘The Hindu’, an English daily of South India, perhaps read by many all over India and abroad, including Pakistan, prided itself on the front page, everyday, by claiming in capital letters ‘INDIA’S NATIONAL NEWSPAPER SINCE 1878’.
That this so called ‘national newspaper’ has an agenda, was never in doubt. Because, their entire approach to news publishing, its placements and comments, highlighting some and making some look very innocuous, has never been even handed. It is true, that there are others too in the media, who too are similarly agenda driven and suffer from this malaise.
Of course despite this, there is a readership who buys it for the reading material it provides. May be, the financial muscle it has, probably has a role in getting writers to write for it. Since there are any number of intellectuals anywhere in the world who do lack the evenhanded vision to see things in proper perspective, like Indian Express had observed in one of its editorials some years ago, “One of the more dangerous paradoxes of public discourse in a democratic society is that some “liberals” are often the most intolerant, some “intellectuals” are often the best practitioners of smear campaigns and some media often are willing carriers of such “liberal intellectual concerns”.
So, when Sachin Tendulkar, the cricket icon, was awarded the nation’s highest civilian decoration, it was not up-front, in its treatment of the news. It waited for the vox populi, the letters to editor, where there was an outpouring of congratulatory messages. Right enough it had a very sedate commentary in its editorials which concealed its double standard. 
Coming to the latest national award to Tendulkar, although, it was slow to come, the response is certainly mixed. Unfortunately for Tendulkar, even the political class is sharply divided with MHA giving a statement that “Home Ministry opposed Maken on award to Tendulkar”, so informs a report in The Hindu on Nov 19.
Some have complained to the Election Commission, accusing the govt. of violating election code of conduct. An advocate, Sudhir Kumar Ojha even questioned it in a court in Bihar. On the first day itself, there was this twitter “If UPA/Congress think, that Bharat Ratna to a cricket legend can shore up its sagging vote bank, they are sadly mistaken”.
Thus the claim that nation celebrates the coronation of Tendulkar is wrong. Besides, the popular feelings need not be a measure of considered response to an act, as awarding the highest civilian award to a mere cricketer.
For the fickleness of vox populi there are any number of instances. Rajdeep Sardesai & Company of CNN/IBN had undertaken a task, an year ago to assess “Who is the greatest Indian after Mahatma”. They had, as per their wisdom selected 100 such ‘greats’ and selected another ‘eminent’ thinkers’ jury to prune the list to 50 and then to 10. This jury of ‘wise men’ put these 10 names on the channel’s website for this ‘great Indian public’ to show their preferences and vote according to their own perception of ‘what constitutes greatness, after Mahatma’.
And come to think of it, among the greatest ten, they put Lata Mangeshkar with 20 points at the bottom, graduating further was Indira Gandhi with 49 votes, Nehru with 57 votes, JRD Tata with 102 votes, Mother Theresa with 168 votes, and believe it or not Tendulkar was voted 309 to get the 5th place among the top 10 of greatest Indians. Doesn’t this represent the intellectual impoverishment of our ‘great Indian public’ and of course our elite? As a matter of interest, all the five mentioned are Bharat Ratna’s for the service and sacrifice they did for the country and its countrymen. What has Sachin Tendulkar did in comparison to those five, to truly deserve this recognition?
The sad commentary is, Lal Bahadur Shastri, the cleanest politician India ever had in all its 67 years, so also a Bharat Ratna, was not even included in the 100. And the jury didn’t include even Jayaprakash Narayan in the final 10. So where are we heading as a nation?!
Bharat Ratna means Jewel of India. Instituted in Jan 1954, this is the highest civilian award given to an individual who has rendered service to the nation, of a highest order, in recognition of his/her services.
Thus it is very clear, that it is given only to an exclusive person or a group of persons over a period.
From the information available in the public domain, there were 41 Bharat Ratna’s, who were recipients of this national honour. 2014 would mark the completion of 60 years since its institution in 1954. This means there hasn’t been one every year, which also means, no Bharat Ratna was given in some of the years. Usually, it was always one person during one calendar year who was nominated and this year there were 2 of them proposed and announced. The statute covering the award informs the kind of services which include - arts, literature, science & technology and public service. Although, awards, all over the world, from Nobel to any other, thousands of awards given by organizations anywhere in the world, do attract debate. These debates have always been about the appropriateness, correctness, and the passing over of some who deserved better etc. So also the Bharat Ratna award, would have attracted debate, if not criticism for the selection etc. But, since it is given to some truly tall personalities debates were few and far between and life would go on as usual. But, it became a topic of discussion in the recent past after a section of Indians, especially from Maharashtra, including Sharad Pawar, proposed Sachin Tendulkar for the coveted honour. As all those who are in the know of things realize that Pawar is a kind of an uncrowned king in the politics of the state. He got everything that he desired, by means right or wrong, except that of Prime Ministership of India. He was BCCI president, was ICC president and currently forced himself into Mumbai Cricket Association as its president, besides being a senior Union Cabinet Minister.
Now going back to the statute, sports was not an area considered for awarding Bharat Ratna. So under sports ministry’s pressure, the statute was amended. Suddenly there was rush of names of great sports personalities of the past being put forward by different sections, from Dhyanchand in Hockey, P.T. Usha in Athletics, Vishwanathan Anand in Chess etc.
Sportspersons are generally awarded Arjuna awards, and Khel Ratna’s are very rarely given. Some of them do end up with some Padma awards depending on different considerations and yardsticks. It is true that many achievers, whose services call for national honours and public recognition, have remained unseen, unheard and therefore unrecognized in the public domain for varieties of reasons. Lack of ‘God Father’ in a culture of ‘Maai-baap’ scenario besides downright bias, have been the causes of such neglect.
“Full many a flower is born to blush unseen and waste its fragrance in the desert air” or “In a poultry show peacock did not get an award”, are some of the thoughts that cross our mind. These are universal truths and not peculiar to India alone. They are facts of life, whether we like it or not.
In such scenario, talk about giving or awarding Bharat Ratna to Tendulkar, had understandably aroused extreme reactions. Before we go any further, it is important to know what is Sachin Tendulkar.
Without any shadow of doubt, he was the presiding deity of Indian cricket, a dream of every young cricketer. Where cricket is a passion, he is a legend not many can match, anywhere in the world. He has, over a period of 24 years, hit every known swinger of the cherry into submission with cool contempt and disdain. Shane Warne, the Australian spin magician had famously exclaimed “He gave nightmares to me”. Rawalpindi Xpress, Shoib Akhtar, was made to derail over and over again by the sheer strength of Tendulkar’s bat. Thus when he completed century of centuries, the entire media called him ‘the uncrowned king of gentleman’s game’, the white man’s legacy. Thus his greatness with the willow is indisputable. There never was one like him nor shall there ever be, another like him, who can repeat his near miracle performance. Now that he has completed his 200th test, it is a benchmark too difficult to reach or over take. The nearest to him is Shivnarain Chandrapaul of West Indies, who has completed 150th test, that is full 50 tests shorter.
But friends, are these long innings and a hundred of hundreds good enough for the nation’s highest civilian award? To be part of the nation’s history, for the information of posterity, as Bharat Ratna, just being a cricket legend is a qualification enough?
These are very loaded questions. Being a public figure and in the thick of media glare for all the 24 years that he strode the cricket pitch like a colossus, it is only natural that he will be under an equally glaring public scrutiny. Thus, the first to fire the salvo was PCI Chairman, Justice Markandeya Katju. Sometime in July 2012, while presiding over a cultural function he had categorically stated “Don’t give Bharat Ratna to Tendulkar”. Of course, he didn’t give any reason for denying this national honour to Tendulkar. However this time round, Justice Katju strangely did not show his concern, neither positive nor negative to the latest announcement. He is known for his penchant for unsolicited ‘wise’ cracks.
World will never know why Sonia Gandhi never became the Prime Minister of India. But for public consumption, she renounced it, and ‘earned’ a tag of sacrifice. Similarly Tendulkar announced rather abruptly on 10th Oct 2013, that he will retire after his 200th test, when he never had any plan to call it quits. So what’s that suddenly hastened the decision. Grapewine has it that BCCI pressured him, without the public knowledge to quit. Hence quickly arranged this 2nd class West Indies team to come to India and play two tests so that Tendulkar completes his 'glorious' 200th test. Rest, as the cliché goes, is history.
It is true, whether Justice Katju or all those who do not approve of this highest national honour to Tendulkar, like it or not, he will get it anyway, since the UPA government in its haste announced the award to him. However there appears to be enough room to question the rationale of this action. Hence a kind of Balance Sheet may have to be drawn, at least as a measure of participative debate, to set the record straight.
Writing on “The God of a hundred things” in the Hindu, Nissim Mannathukkaren says, “While there were glowing tributes to Tendulkar reaching the century milestone, there was a deathly silence about the inexplicably slow innings that brought the hundred-100 off 138 balls-his second slowest one-day century, that too against Bangladesh, which eventually played a part in India’s defeat and eventual exit from the tournament. The milestone, which had become a millstone around the neck could be achieved only by sacrificing the interest of the team, that too after an year’s mortally agonising struggle”, he added, “For once, Tendulkar’s oft repeated ‘serving the country’ line clearly did not hold good”.
Naturally, the question arises ‘Was he playing for India or was he playing for his records?’ At different points of time this question did make its rounds. Thus there is, indeed, a public perception both privately whispered as well as expressed through the media, that often, the time Tendulkar took at the crease while reaching his hundreds were inordinately long. There is no denying that all players do look forward to creating records of one kind or the other and that is very human. But playing for the country and playing for the records is not the same thing. Here, it is very pertinent to quote Imran Khan , a former Pakistani cricket captain, who wrote “Records must be broken within the team winning. You should not be playing to break records. Records should be part of the win”. He was generally commenting on why Tendulkar is not retiring. At that time Tendulkar was still chasing the elusive hundredth hundred, and India had lost eight matches in a row, to both England and Australia, with Tendulkar playing in all of them. 
Then you have those umpteen sponsorships, which made him the richest cricketer in the world, which reportedly, unlikely to end even after his retirement. Some of these sponsors were marketing unhealthy drinks and products informs British Medical Journal, only to make some more crores of money for the cricket icon.
There are other human frailties which need to be recounted to refresh public memory about incidents which show this demigod as just another human being looking for personal benefits.
Sometime in 2003, one fine morning he gets a ‘gift’ from FIAT-Italy, a Ferrari  Sports Coupe, a glitzy mean machine, which then was costing around Rs:75 lakhs. This ‘gift’, as per norms attracted customs and other import duties of about Rs: 1.2 crores. It is another matter that in Mumbai in normal hours, driving this sports car could be difficult.
He reportedly called Pramod Mahajan then a Union Minister and a political heavy weight from Mumbai for help. An obliging Finance Minister, Jaswanth Singh, acted immediately on Mahajan’s request. Ostensibly in its highest tradition, the Finance Ministry, in “Public interest” decides to waive the duty of nearly Rs: 1.2 crore, to the ‘richest poor man’ of Indian sports.
Now a person worth hundreds of crores of rupees, in 2003, requesting the government for a measly sum of one crore and twenty lakhs which in all probability is much less than 1% of his net worth, asking for a waiver on a legitimate government due-which really is the country’s money, is simply unthinkable. “Sachin Tendulkar may be a good cricketer, but he does not seem to be a good citizen” said Indian Express, commenting on this duty waiver episode. Or else, how can anybody explain this request from a person who received all the adulation and the resultant wealth from the nation? Would you think, he would still deserve to be a Bharat Ratna?
Another reported incident was involving him in registering his vehicle in New Mumbai, while he is living in main-land Mumbai. The road tax and other government dues are supposedly less in New Mumbai. It was, indeed, very shocking if this was true as reported in the media from Mumbai, since the amount involved could be only in some thousands! Mahavir Pendhari, Deputy Municipal Commissioner of Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation had confirmed that Sachin Tendulkar, Shankar Mahadevan and Anil Ambani were some of the big names in the list of defaulters who were served with notices for cess theft. And do you know what! These biggies gave addresses of some slums, the report informed. 
Then, there is, his attitude towards quitting the Indian team. He had so much of it for over 20 years-name, fame and fortune. No other Indian cricketer was celebrated as Tendulkar. His earnings from advertisements, sponsorships and other commercial appearances are legendary. The demand for his retirement became shriller after the England and Australia white-wash of India. It must have bothered him greatly that others are worried about his retirement from Indian cricket. 
Hence, as soon as he completed his 100th hundred, he combatively declared, “I will decide when I need to retire.” ‘Isn’t it dangerous for the game to put an individual above it?’ asked somebody in the media. Tendulkar’s argument was “When you are at the top, you should keep serving the country instead of retiring”. But who said you are at the top? You took more than a year to get to that elusive 100th hundred that too against Bangladesh. There are any number of instances when you have failed with the bat in recent times! You are getting old, a truth you cannot negate. You didn’t play in IPL, you gave up your captaincy of Mumbai Indians to Harbhajan Singh. You opted out of India team to Sri Lanka. Yes indeed, because you opted out, a young and very talented Ajinkya Rahane got into the Indian team. Precisely for this reason you should have opted out of Indian team for good. Just like entrenched politicians who need to give up their seats in Legislative Assemblies, Councils and Parliament, think they too ‘serve the country’ while denying others to ‘serve the country’. In truth those who hang on, only serve themselves.
Talking about being on top, Rahul Dravid, while hanging his boot had reportedly observed “May be sometime these things are better judged from outside. As a player you will never admit to weakness, to a slowing down of skills. You are not trained to admit these things”. This is in sharp contrast to Tendulkar’s attitude.
The recent nomination of Tendulkar to the Rajya Sabha too has evoked sharp responses. Many of his friends in Mumbai cricket felt, he would not accept it. But he surprised all. Bal Thackeray had reportedly termed it as a “joke”. The Supreme Court wanted to know under what category Tendulkar has been nominated, when the nomination was challenged as unconstitutional. After all, he is not even Xth  pass, according to reports. What contribution can he make to the informed debate taking place in legislative bodies like Rajya Sabha? Sachin Tendulkar is a public figure. He will therefore be under continuous public scrutiny.
Another aspect that could show Tendulkar as commercially oriented was his interest in up-market eating joints in Colaba in South Mumbai, Mulund in North Mumbai, so also in Bangalore with abundant up-market connoisseurs of good things of life. And if you go back to the entire list of Bharat Ratna recipients, only one was from the Industry & Commerce. Rest were all from artistic, literary and scientific fields besides public service. The honourable exception was JRD Tata. Can we compare Sachin Tendulkar to JRD Tata? That is like comparing Sun to 100 watt bulb. The Maharashtra government and those in the central government, for whom Sachin Tendulkar’s political nomination, duty waiver and Bharat Ratna could only be a Vote Bank exercise, need to explain a lot. Reportedly Maharashtra government want to include him in school text books, when there are so many from Maharashtra who are socio/educational icons who contributed immensely to larger social good, whom posterity should remember with gratitude and respect. This indeed is a tragedy, that powers that be in Mumbai, has lost its sense of proportion.
Democracy, we are told, is the government of the people, by the people and for the people, but the Indian experiment has proved that this is “the government of some people, by some people and for some people”. That is a sad reality.

J.SHRIYAN

A DATE WITH TIME

14th annual issue release of held in SDM College, Mangalore

The prize distribution function of the inter collegiate elocution competition  and release of the 14th annual issue of was held at 5pm at the Conference Hall of SDM PG centre for Management Studies and Research on 9th Nov.
Justice M F Saldanha,Former Justice of Karnataka High Court was the chief guest. 
Dr N K Thingalaya,Former CMD of Syndicate Bank was the guest of honour while Padmabhushan Prof B M Hegde,Former Vice Chancellor of Manipal University presided over the function.
The programme began with a prayer by Chaithra Padukone Dr.Devraj,Principal of SDM College welcomed the gathering.
J.Shriyan, editor,  highlighted the journey of for the past 13 years. He also spoke about role of media in the society-both  positive and negative.
Asreen, Law student of SDM College introduced the chief guest Justice Saldanha. Justice praised the efforts of the editor, Mr Shriyan who has made the efforts to promote honest journalism without siding with anybody. He shared his experience of how sensationalism has hijacked journalism today. He made an appeal to likeminded readers and viewers to take up the cause and promote 
Guest of Honour Dr Thingalaya appreciated  Shriyan's ability to run the magazine single handedly for 13 long years and spoke  his words of appreciation about the periodical and distributed prizes of the competition to the winners. In the presidential address Prof B M Hegde told that the journal should sustain. He also spoke about the good and bad things in the society. He shared his experience of life. Among the invitees Capt. Ganesh Karnik, MLC Karnataka, was present. J Shriyan rendered vote of thanks. Wafa compered the programme. The programme was organized by   and SDM PG Centre for Management Studies and Research, Mangalore.
- Dr Edmond Fernandese

THE LAST PAGE

INDIA’S STAKE IN SRI LANKA MUST BE PRESERVED

Dr. M. V. Kamath

For anyone -  least of all Tamilians – to argue in India that Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh should not attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo is to show poor sense of political responsibility. This must be particularly impressed upon Tamil Nadu leadership – all of them, to whichever party they belong. In the first place the meeting was called by the Commonwealth office, not by Sri Lanka. In the second place India is a senior member of the Commonwealth and must behave like one. In the third place, let us go back to history for a while. In pre-independent days, it was the Tamil aristocracy that ruled the roost in Sri Lanka, leaving the 70 percent Theravadi Buddhist who were in the majority to their fate. When Sri Lanka got its independence and the majority came into its own, it sought to exercise its natural rights with a vengeance. Reacting strongly to it, the Tamilians sought to be assertive to the point of wishing to partition the country through arms. Throughout the seventies, private parties and elements in the state government of Tamil Nadu were believed to be supporting the armed rebellion undertaken by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). India could hardly accept that and had necessarily to support the Sri Lankan government which had its own defects. For that India had to pay a heavy price in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. Instead of finger-pointing, it would be a wise government which seeks to look into the future and not into the unsavoury past. India needs Sri Lanka just as the latter needs its big neighbour. Both are members of several regional and multilateral organizations such as the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme, not to mention South Asian Economic Union and BIMSTEC. Since a bilateral free trade agreement was signed and came into effect in 2000, Indo-Sri Lanka trade rose by 128% in just four years and quadrupled by 2006. Between 2000 and 2004 India’s exports to Sri Lanka increased by 113% while Sri Lankan exports to India increased by 342%. Both nations are also signatories of the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA). India’s National Thermal Power Corporation is scheduled to build a 500 MW thermal power plant in Sampoor which will take Indo-Sri Lankan relationship to a new level. India has problems with Sri Lanka in the matter of fishing in the Straits but they are nothing in comparison to what India has been doing to help Sri Lanka. A number of development projects are being implemented under ‘Aid to Sri Lanka’ funds. An MOU on Cooperation in small Development Projects has been signed. Under consideration are constructions of a 150-bed hospital at Dickoya, upgradation of a hospital in Trincomalee, upgradation of the educational infrastructure of schools in the central province including teacher training, setting up of ten computer labs and twenty e-libraries all over the state and a training programme for 465 Sri Lankan police officers. Indian governments have also shown interest in collaborating with their Sri Lankan counterparts on building tourism between the two countries based on shared religious heritage. According to media reports, even Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Chavan has promised to work with Sri Lankan authorities to build a temple dedicated to Sita in Nuwara Fliya. Ravana is forgotten. And that is as it should be. To show, in the circumstances pettiness is in poor taste. For better or for worse Sri Lanka is close to India not only because of the Tamil presence in substantially large numbers in north east Sri Lanka, but because of Buddhism. Buddha should be appalled with Dr Manmohan Singh staying away from the island, not to speak of Asoka who had sent his son to Sri Lanka to spread Buddhism there. It is in the Buddhist spirit, again that India, has supplied medical equipment to hospitals at Hanbantota and Point Pedro, supplied four state of the art ambulances to the Central Province and implemented a cataract eye surgery programme for 1,500 people again in the Central Province. No big deal, it may be argued, but Sri Lanka is not Brazil. Its needs are commensurate with its size and India has shown to be gracious in showing care and concern for the Sri Lankan’s at large. It is against this background that Dr Manmohan Singh should have gone to Sri Lanka for an entirely non-political conference called by the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth is a needed institution. If it didn’t exist it would have been necessary to invent it. Time was when Britain, as the master country, dominated the organization. Now the time has come for India, as the largest member, to take charge of it, even if it is in Britain’s shadow. As many as 53 countries are members of the Commonwealth, covering 29 million sq.kms, spanning all continents, with an estimated population of 2.245 billion, almost a third of the population of the world. It is an organization to be reckoned with. Of that population, half of it is in India, a point worth remembering. So we have – and should have – a stake in the Commonwealth. There are some who even believe that the Commonwealth should be turned into a Union on lines similar to the European Union and one can just imagine what influence India can exercise in its formation and possible birth. For India, in the circumstances, to have behaved childishly to propitiate Tamil-Nadu and for dissuading Dr Singh from attending the CHGM conference is not only bad politics but poor understanding of the Commonwealth’s future. India must behave like an adult country. And Tamil leaders must learn to put the country’s interests ahead of their narrow emotional hang-ups. India now has the power and capacity to handle the Commonwealth and reap benefits. This should not have been allowed to be vitiated for strictly electoral reasons. Above all else, India must be seen as an elder brother who wishes all younger brothers with the highest consideration be it Bangladesh or, yes, Sri Lanka as well. By declining to attend the CHGM meeting Dr Manmohan Singh has done a distinct disservice to India. This was one occasion for India to show that it wants to forget the past and to begin a new chapter in Indo-Sri Lankan relations. In that, Dr Singh has failed miserably. The past has been, yes, ugly; but the future promises great results. Statesmanship, one thinks is alien to Dr Singh’s political philosophy.