Friday, November 14, 2014

AN ISSUES & CONCERNS INITIATIVE


EDITOR'S COLUMN

This is with the deepest sense of loss. I am writing to you that, our dearest Madhav Vithal Kamath, known popularly as MV Kamath is no more. He breathed his last in sleep on 9th Oct. at 7.30 in the morning. He was 93 years and 32 days to be precise, as he bade good bye to this sorry world. Yes all of us have to go someday, so he too has followed the inevitable. But it is only given to some to leave one's footprints on the Indian Journalism landscape, which he strode like a colossus. For us at Issues & Concerns, it is a huge vacuum difficult to fill. He stood with is like a rock for all the 175 issues that we have just completed. We will hugely miss him for his support and guidance. We have attempted to pay our tribute to the departed soul on our back cover for the respect he commanded.
Reverting to the month that went by, it is but significant that we crossed another milestone. Yes we crossed our 14th milestone last month. This month is the beginning of 15th year. So this year end, come October we shall, God willing, celebrate our Crystal Jubilee, as somebody called the 15th years' completion.
The month that went by had the festival of lights, representing victory over evil. Sadly the unprecedented deluge that overtook Kashmir, caused huge displacement of people. The rehabilitation cost is estimated at over 40,000 crores. Army reportedly played pivotal role in being the Good Samaritan. Modi led government played a proactive role in trying to mitigate the magnitude of the tragedy.
Elections to two states of Maharashtra and Haryana raised varied expectations. High on Loksabha performance, Modi led BJP thought that it would walk away with the majority to form the government on its own.
In the event, they were partly successful, although by-elections in different states were mostly negative to the ruling party at the Centre. For the first time, BJP piggy backed on Modi wave ran away with a majority at 47 seats in the Haryana house of 88. It was a magnificent show, especially when in the previous assembly, it was in single digit. However in Maharashtra, the traditional friends of 25 years turned foe in insisting for the larger piece of the cake. BJP and ShivSena went separate just before the filing of nomination, ShivSena, on its part, being a regional bully, did not want to concede to the national party, BJP, bigger area to contest. Having won hands down in the March Loksabha elections, BJP had demanded more seats than what they contested five years earlier. But the Uddhan Thackray’s over-confident ego did not let him agree for adjustment. He became vituperative, to say the least, in his attack on BJP. There was simply no need to be so boorish. The other allys – Congress & NCP – too broke off, due to differences in seat sharing. So it was all against all else. It was free for all. Everybody used superlatives against the other, except Shivsena, which went a notch below the rest, in bad-mouthing its opponent.
But, probably, Indian political scene is going through an incredible evolution.  BJP is coming to a serious national reckoning and emerging as the only player in national politics. All other parties are being pushed to the precipice of irrelevance. How good, this is going to be, for the country, only the next 5 years shall tell. Until then, the juggernaut will go on. BJP is already in the driver seat in Maharashtra. ShivSena has come round to accept the terms of BJP, because of the sudden support of NCP, of course to protect itself from possible corruption charges against them.
The Nobel peace prize to Kailash Sathyarthi & Malala Yousufzai has brought the child rights issue to the fore. In Focus, we have decided to take up child labour for the seriousness it deserved. Hope our readers will find it interesting. 
Kindly revert with your feedback. We do value them.                     
J.SHRIYAN

MONTH-IN-PERSPECTIVE

NEW DELHI: A sessions judge of Mehsana in Gujarat had created a history, back in Jan. 2005, by disposing a dowry death case in 9 days. While he acted with alacrity to deliver judgement which should be the objective of all fast-track courts, he appears to have disposed off himself for a meaner cause with cavelier fashion. Or else there is absolutely no reason for not taking the issue of death very seriously due to alleged dowry harassment of a young mother of a girl child.
According to case details, kerosene was poured on Renukaben, the wife of Mahesh Patel in Panchot village of Mehsana district. She died of burns on 16, December 1997. Although the accused, the husband, and his parents, were arrested and were detained in Jail for three days before letting them off on bail, it took 7 years for the charges to be framed. Prosecution reportedly produced a list of 12 witnesses on 1st Jan 2005. 3 days after the charges were framed. However, they produced only 5 witnesses on 7th Jan. The same day, they were all cross examined, so also the accused. Arguments were heard and judgement delivered. "On examination of all witnesses, under the circumstances, 3 days imprisonment undergone by the accused is fair and therefore they are discharged herewith," judgement was pronounced. No question was asked for the delay, no questions were asked about the other 7 names in the list of witnesses. Apparently the judge was only interested in disposing the case in the shortest possible time, probably for a price.
Family of the victim knocked the door of Gujarat High Court, which reversed the judgement and sentenced all accused for 7 years rigorous imprisonment. Money bag of Mahesh Patel family went to Supreme Court for their demand for justice. Right enough it dismissed the appeal and cancelled the bail of all three, upholding H.C judgement. A shocked Apex court observed “prime duty of the trial court to appreciate the evidence for search of truth is abandoned and in a hurry to dispose of the case or for some other reason the sessions judge had disposed off the trial and acquitted the accused”. It was obvious that court was referring to ‘some other reasons’, as the 'causa proxima' of sessions judge’s hurry. It was indeed a sad day for the judiciary.
“Non-essential drugs are out of drug price control”, is an order, Narendra Modi government could have lived without. If the opposition Congress or other parties are accusing the present union government of ‘succumbing to pressure’ they are not wrong at all. In a global scenario, with WTO sword hanging over your head, it is but necessary that every country should commit itself to the welfare of its people. Most drug companies in critical medicinal preparations are all owned and managed by MNCs.
These MNCs are simply not in love with developing or under developed countries. They are only interested in their bottom-line. The order to withdraw the power of National Pharma Pricing Authority to cap the prices of non-essential drugs for patients of Cancer, HIV and other listed ailments in India, is indeed a bad decision. Notwithstanding the stand of the government that NPPA’s power has not been withdrawn but only the guideline to regulate the prices of these non-essential drugs has been rolled back, the issue persists. For the record, there is nothing which will make NPPA accountable for price control, and is up to its discretion, is a logic without legs. Once the guidelines for caping the price is rolled back, NPPA is free to change its price caping policies. This is clearly some way of making the MNCs happy. Mr.Modi and his government cannot subordinate the interest of Indians to please American multinational companies in his quest for US acceptability. This is just not done.   

MAHARASHTRA: Suddenly life has come full circle to Marathi Maanoos political party Shiv Sena. At the height of over-confidence they broke the relationship with BJP. It did them in. Their latest ally -turned-adversary beat them hollow at electoral number game at the recent Assembly poll. It was 123 of BJP to the Shiv Sena’s 63. Just before 48 hours of filing nominations talks on seat sharing had broken down. Shiv Sena, let its mouth -piece – Saamnaa, do all its talking. Starting with calling BJP – Crows of ‘Pitra paksh’, to 'Afzal Khan', to 'betrayer and enemy of Maharashtra', to 'if chaiwala can become the prime minister, why not a Thackeray a Chief Minister'. Shiv Sena, under Uddhav Thackeray, has been attacking Modi and BJP in unkindest terms, never expected from an associate of yesteryears. Compared to Uddhav Thackeray, Narendra Modi has been gracious in saying that he will not attack Shiv Sena, out of respect for Bal Thackeray and steadfastly refrained from being verbose in competitive bad mouthing. Of course, the D-day had to come some day. To the utter discomfiture of Uddhav Thackeray, his party could only manage 1/2 of what BJP could win. To make matters worse for Shiv Sena, NCP offered outside support to BJP. Now that BJP is firmly in driver’s seat, all bad mouthing and conditions to join the BJP led government, all  flew out of window. Although no media would want to really comment on Shiv Sena position –vis-à-vis – BJP and election results, all know the unenviable position of Udhav & company as Shiv Sena is making all kinds of overtures to BJP. It clearly brings us to the time tested adage, that in politics there is no permanent friend or permanent enemy, but only permanent interest. So keep smiling!
This time round, it’s a full blown controversy that DoorDarshan, the union government owned channel, has telecast live, the annual Dassehera or Vijayadashami address of RSS chief from its headquarters in Nagpur.
Was it right for the Doordarshan to broadcast this RSS programme live? Was a question made interminable rounds in the TV channels for a couple of days, especially with the Non BJP parties aligned with opposition making lots of noise. They are partly right and partly wrong. It is very true that Doordarshan wouldn’t have decided on its own to telecast the sarsangh chaalak’s annual address to the nation. But then it is OK to have telecast the said address. By any stretch RSS is an organisation deeply patriotic and is truly concerned with the issues plaguing the nation although some of its ideology is bit divisive. It may be that the present union government has most of its cabinet members who are RSS members and therefore, what it’s chief says matters. Of course, the fact that RSS is the organisation that gave birth to BJP, but that does not disqualify it from being covered by the government channel, for its sheer numerical strength. It may be having some ideology which is somewhat sectarian in the Indian context, but since its members are involved in the governance of the country for the most part, it is only normal and proper that television channels, both private and government owned, covers it. And that’s what has happened. Besides, RSS chief, as a paper put it, was 'far from being partisan, calling for a national consensus against unremitting cheap Chinese imports, against illegal migration, for nation building etc. Truth be told, the problem of critics is not with the message. It is with the messenger'. That is probably right. 
Latest elections to the Assembly in Maharashtra has been a kind of lesson in politics. For 66 years, except one term Congress and National Congress Party of Sharad Pawar, between them, had ruled the state. Sharad Pawar after breaking away from Congress had his own power centre, which helped him do well. He ruled the cash rich BCCI and controlled the cricket scene. Of course power corrupted Pawar and thought he is invincible. He promoted his family members and friends. Ajit Pawar and Supriya Sule are his gift to the state. Ajit Pawar was deeply involved in the irrigation scam. Supriya Sule was share holder in  Lawasa City Project of Khilachand group, courtesy Pawar. She also had the issue of dual nationality, which came into public space with the news of her property buying in Singapore. Neither politicians exposed it, nor the media went after it, due to Pawar’s connection in right places. Now Sule  is complaining ‘Stop defaming Maharashtra’, was her take on Narendra Modi. Modi had only called NCP as National Corruption Party and did not say anything against Maharashtra. 
This election has proved powerful can be humbled, if they are not above board. Same will happen to Narendra Modi & Company if he does what Pawar & Co. did. Fortunately unlike Pawar &family, he has no personal interest anywhere. That is his trump card. In this respect he is unmatched and that is his USP. Ms. Sule represent her family interest and not of India.  That is the difference.

WEST BENGAL: Mamata Didi had it coming since some time now. There appears to be around a dozen case in the court against leaders of Trinamool Congress. It seem almost unending and continuous that the Writers Building is constantly in the eye of the storm.
Two of the cases are for making hate speeches. Can you believe it!  In 2011, when Mamata Bannerji romped home and dislodged the 26 years old government of Leftist political parties, she was a darling of the West Bengal electorates. Over 3 years down the line, just about most political parties have distanced themselves from Trinamool Congress and it may not be a wrong guess that, she too may be losing her pristine ground with bad mouthing of all kinds.
Two Leaders, Anubrata Mondal and Tapas Pal are already under the CBI radar with later facing possible arrest for threatening to rape and kill opposition political activists. Mondal’s inflammatory speech is reportedly blamed for the murder of an independent pachayat member. While ordering the CBI probe into the murder of panchayat member Sagar Ghosh, a High Court bench came down hard on the TMC government’s inaction in arresting the culprits and said its confidence in the state police chief GMP Reddy has been shattered.
Sharada Scam is another multibillion rupees scam in which many of TMC leaders have been arrested. Mamata Bannerji and her Trinamool could be beneficieries of the Sharada loot. In all probability this scam can truly undermine TMC if culpability of Mamata and her friends in Trinamool are proved. It is the hard earned money of ordinary Bengalees that is at stake. That indeed is the crux. No wonder the state government had earlier attempted to prevent the CBI probe which was eventually ordered by the apex court.
Of course there have been few legislations made by the government in the Writer’s Building which have been, kind of, thrown out by the court, including the law to return the land acquired for industries in Hoogli district. The court had termed it unconstitutional and void.
Thus, the honeymoon of Poriborton days was soon over, and now government is spending state's scares resources to pay lawyers to fight its indefensible cases.

KARNATAKA: Competence of primary school teachers has always been much to be desired. It is a Pan-Indian phenomena. It’s a shame that these government appointed teachers getting regular government scaled salaries never tried to improve themselves despite good payment packages. For a good number of them, if not most of them, it is a 9 to 4 job, that’s all. Neither they have commitment for the noble profession that they are into nor they have the welfare of children under their care. If mother is the first teacher for a child, a teacher is the parent in the school. The term 'Loco-parentis' is used in this context. Of course, it is also true that there are very many committed teachers who truly save the day of teachers and their wards.
However, there are those who are there only for their selfish ends. One of them is asking for transfer to the school nearest to their homes. Many times, it may be a genuine demand, but there are those who desire without a deserving case. Thus it is always tricky for the department to act fairly. Of course there are bureaucrats and politicians making money in millions in this business of teacher transfers. Fortunately, the minister in charge of primary education, being honest and sincere he had lot of requests coming to him for transfers, since he was genuinely trying to be of help. However it is not always possible to be nice and be helpful. So, he thought of checking the competence of a teacher who approached him with the request. Some of them he asked simple arithmetic calculation and general knowledge about the geography, history and details like who is the governor of Karnataka and similar questions. He was apparently not prepared for the bloomers from these teachers and some even failed to give any answers. Since then no teacher has approached the minister, for transfer lest the teacher be exposed. If only the minister or the concerned official had thought of asking these questions before their appointment? May be the educational scene among these government school children would have been better than what it is. Of course here too allegedly money changes hands before the appointment and after the appointment, for the school of appointee's choice.This is Yeh Mera India.  
A Bangalore date lined news informed “ State won’t part with even an inch of land to Maharashtra: Chief Minister”. Reportedly talking to media at a press conference after a meeting with legal expert and Kannada organizations in the state,  Siddaramaiah made the above statement. 
Ofcourse since the full text of Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah’s speech is not available, it is difficult to verify the veracity or otherwise of the published material. In any case, it is highly provocative. If the CM has made such a remark, he is a poor diplomat and therefore not a leader. Even if CM has made such a remark, for a matured reportage, expected of India’s National Newspaper since 1878, it is a poor certificate. This outburst is similar to Uddhav Thackeray’s competitive bad mouthing.
Uddhav is a family politician. On his own he would never have become a leader. Whereas Siddaramaiah has a proven track record of political vertical mobility. What The Hindu published could be OK for tabloids. Assuming you want to disagree with all that Maharashtra politicians have said there are ways to disagree. Like CM said about Parliament’s role, Supreme Court role etc; we must have such contentious issue to be addressed by august national functionaries rather than indulge in political one-upmanship. Such behaviour of downplaying will in the long run win us friends and influence people. After all Maharashtra and Karnataka are part of India, we all must make sincere effort to coexist with all our differences. This calls for a matured behavior both from politicians and media operating in both states. We are responsible for the growth of Mother India, not just Karnataka or Maharashtra. We must see larger picture without being parochial. Don’t we all love India!
       
TAMIL NADU: Indeed it was a ‘mighty fall from grace’. The first Chief Minister of any state in India to be sent to jail in a graft case. And a hefty Rs: 100 crore fine for the “Disproportionate Assets” to the known source of income. For Jayaram Jayalalitha, it was the culmination of 18 years saga. What appeared to be an innocuous wedding celebration became a kind of Kurukshetra to the most powerful lady of Tamil politics. For 18 long years it was persued by the maverick Subramaniam Swami with persistence of a crusader. Of course it was dubbed “Mother of all Weddings” for the brazenly vulgar display of money and power of money with the groom, her ‘foster son’, astride a horse, wearing shoes made of gold, a golden belt studded with glittering diamond, thick gold chains and diamond rings, with she herself, as the Chief Minister and her close aide Sasikala Natarajan walking on the streets of Chennai decked with dazzling Jewellary under police protection. It was indeed a open display of abuse of power and wealth. Surely she had not bargained for what could happen 18 years down the line, when she countered the widespread criticism that “the wedding was in tune with that of a Chief Ministers status.” This singular statement would haunt her for the rest of her life as she was taken to the high security. Parappana Agrahara jail in Bangalore when she was holding the position of the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. Irony couldn’t have been more telling. While, this whole development deserves a long and articulated representation in print for the benefit of posterity, what is pertinent is there are hundreds, across the Indian political spectrum, who have amassed wealth as politicians, as ministers and even as Chief Ministers, who have escaped such exposure on the public space. There has to be more Subramaniam Swamis who have the where-withal to fix and pursue other such cases of absolute misuse of power. Gary Azavedo from Goa is already on the job. “How about convicting Goa’s corrupt?” He asked the other day in his write up in the ‘Herald’ of 13th Oct., a daily from Goa. Hope this is only a beginning, and more exposures and conviction of corrupt rich and powerful shall follow.

KERALA: The news that “Kerala becomes first state to provide free cancer treatment” has once against proved that unlike any state in the Indian Union, the government in Kerala, of all hues, have always been people centric in terms Human Development Index.
When Indian HDI as allotted by UNDP is rather pretty low, the HDI in respect of states Kerala always stood head and shoulder above other states. Be it education, health, gender equality, sanitation and just about all parameters, Kerala has done better than national figures. 
Hence the latest initiative of providing succour to poor cancer patients is indeed laudable. We are all privy to the knowledge that medical expense these days, is exhorbitant and without any regulation, partly due to the greed of pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and medical practitioners.  In such a seenario, the action of Kerala govt. need to be deeply appreciated. Hope other states too take the lead from Kerala to reach out to its section who is in need. Two cheers to Oommen Chandy & Co. 

WORLD: Nobel Peace Prize for 2014, shall be remembered for a long time, for its sheer novelty, in not just giving it jointly to two historical adversaries, India and Pakistan, or a man and a girl, or the champions of the same cause, of empowering and liberating childhood in the sub continent. But its message is very loud & clear. By giving the Nobel to Child Rights Activists Kailash Sathyarthi and the Pakistani campaigner for girls literacy. Malala Yousufzai the authorities in Oslo has only made a very valid statement. “India and Pakistan are neighbours for good. They have little choice, except to live as a good neighbours, if they have to have peace and progress. Their problems of are same for its teeming millions – lack of education, lack of health programmes and malnutrition – By giving the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize jointly to these two warring neighbours, it has forced the leadership of these two traditional rivals to ponder and make sincere effort to address the issue of empowering children in both countries by eradicating child labour, educate them with nutritional support to help them grow as healthy citizens. Hope the power that be in both countries recognise the harshness and bitterness that is a stumbling block to the creation of  a more responsible, meaningful and matured relationship and emerge as an influential block in the comity of nations.
It is a very sad spectacle in the Muslim world. With never ending violence of every conceivable kind, bombing, killing, beheading and what not, comes the news “Suicide Bombing kills 30 kids in Syria”.
A school in the government controlled city of Homs was the target of this bombing. Some 40 were killed which included 30 children-9 and 6 years of age. So many children dying in one incident, this was the highest.
Alawites, an offshoot of Shiite Islam are the residents of this city of Homs, where Assads, the Father and Son, past and present president of Syria belong.
Whatever be your objectives, right or wrong, how can children- as young as 6 to 9- be your target, is a question no sane Muslim can answer.
Why is there so much bloodshed? To what purpose? To what victory? To what heaven your scripture is talking about? When will sanity prevail on the perpetrators of this crime in the name of Bismillah-ir-Rehman ir Raheem? If in Aug. 2013, rebels killed dozens of children, a year earlier some 50 children were reportedly killed in the Haula ‘massacre’ in Homs. How horrendous, life can be for those who remained alive to endure the pain and suffering of this senseless barbaric meyhem of most diabolic kind?!  
So, you may have a Prime Minister of Indian descent in Portugal. If that happens, he will be reversing for the first time the colonial yoke in India which began with Portugese countries ago.
Luis Afonso Maria da Costa was Goa born. He was the descendant of Hindu Gaud Saraswat Brahmin family, which was converted to Catholicism during the Portugese colonial era. His son, Orlando da Costa, was born in Mozambique – another Portugese Colony in Africa, but spent most of his youth in Goa and migrated to Portugal before Portugal lost Goa to India. 
His son, Antonio Luis Santos da Costa, now 52 years old, is the popular Mayor of Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal. That’s great!
But the news is, the youngest of the above Costa tree, was chosen as Portugal’s PM candidate by Portugal’s main opposition Socialist Party for the next year’s poll. Costa had earlier served as Justice and Interior Minister in the previous socialist governments. He was also the European Parliament Deputy before being elected as Mayor of Lisbon. Reportedly he won 70% of vote in his favour for nomination as PM candidate. Mr.Costa is also known as Gandhi of Lisbon for his frugal life style. According to opinion polls, he stands better chance since Socialists are reportedly ahead of Social Democratic Party of incumbent Prime Minister Pedro Passo Coelho. Hope Mr. Antonio Luis Santos da Costa romps home and become the Chief Executive of the country which ruled his ancestors. The victory, as and when it comes, shall be the sweetest.  
Food wastage globally is a big problem. The western world is certainly the villain when it comes to wastage of food, both cooked and uncooked. Listening to idioms like ‘Don’t talk rubbish recycle it’, a group of campaigners have started SKIPCHEN, the newest eatery in the English city of Bristol. The cafe opened sometime early October and is providing meals made from thrown away supermarket food recovered from waste skips so also discarded food from some of the city’s restaurants. Surely these raw materials must be passing through some cooking or heating process, to see that there are no harmful bacteria in the recovered raw food. The report informs there are varieties of eaters from different socio-economic groups-from businessmen to homeless persons-are to pay only after eating. After having the meal, customers will decide, how much to pay or not to pay. Reportedly, SKIPCHEN is a non-profit effort at eliminating food wastage. Even if they are in a position to cover the cost of operation, it is a very commendable effort. It’s report card, may be a month after, should be available for those who put their efforts together to see  “Waste not want not” for the larger good. Hope the experiment succeeds. All the best to SKIPCHEN.         

J.SHRIYAN 


  

FOCUS

Children of Lesser God & Nobel Peace Prize

October 10, supposedly the World Child Labour Eradication day, has come and gone. Has that made any difference to the issue of exploitation of children in India? The answer is No. There are close to 65 million children across the country who are victims of exploitative practices, which is almost 40% of global figure of 165 million. A month later on 14th Nov, its Childrens Day in India. From Rashtrapathi Bhavan to Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, just about all schools celebrate! Childrens Day, to mark the birth day of India’s First Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. But, what about those children without school, children without future, and certainly children without reasons to celebrate. And you see them all around. You find them in eateries, automobile garages, mechanical workshops, brassware making machineshops, carpet weaving factories, rug making units, bangle making works, glass factories, diamond polishing, cracker units, and even in homes of well off people as domestic helpers.
Some years ago, coming down my office, I met a boy climbing the stairs with his tray of tea cups and eats from a big restaurant nearby. He was probably in his mid-teen. On enquiring, found he was 7th pass and stood first in the school. He was without father, and mother wanted him to earn money. Obviously she didn’t know the value of education, but what about his school head master, teachers, and the School Development and Monitoring Committees? None of them thought there is this academic brilliance, need to be sustained. How poor we are, as a nation? The society around this boy couldn’t save him from being just statistics of child labour, at the altar of hunger. Are we so brazenly insensitive when it comes to someone else’s child? Of course, when his own mother let him down at the most crucial moment in his life, how others can be blamed?
Having tasted good food and the new found freedom, since a few years, the boy had lost interest in further studies in the mean time. The salary that he would get, he would dutifully give to his mother every month, but my offer of training to prepare him for direct 10th standard examination did not evoke the necessary interest of a career oriented youngster. Yes, the boy Raju, had stopped dreaming. The break from the studies, coupled with comfortable routine life had killed the brilliant Raju and made him one of the millions of our faceless child labour.
As if to appreciate the problem within the country and to highlight the need to address the issue of global child labour and its possible eradication, on 10th Oct., on the World Child Labour Eradication Day, the Nobel Committee from Oslo, Norway, announced the Nobel Peace Prize jointly to two protagonists of child empowerment. Kailash Sathyarthi, the 60 year old child rights activist from Madhya Pradesh and Malala Yousufzai, a Pakistan, who became a global icon for girl’s education after she was shot in the head in her Swat home town by Talibanis, were jointly awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. They were chosen for this award, according to the citation “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education. It is the prerequisite for peaceful global development that the rights of children and young people be respected. In conflict ridden areas in particular, the violation of children leads to the continuation of violence from generation to generation”.   Committee reportedly stated “Mr Satyarthi showed great personal courage, maintaining Gandhi’s tradition, has headed various forms of protest and demonstrations, all peaceful, focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain”.
Commenting on Malala, committee observed “Despite her youth, she has fought for several years for the rights of girls to education and has shown by example that children and young people, too can contribute to improving their own situations.”
While it is symbolically very significant, the decision of Nobel committee to award jointly to sub-continental rivals, what really prompted them to do so is not very clear. However, in the larger picture of peace and stability in the region, it is but best to take it in the right spirit. Quite rightly, the senior recipient of the award Mr Satyarthi has observed rather succinctly. According to Mr Satyarthi, the joint award to him and Malala Yousufzai “was a big statement” and “it must be read between the lines not only by the government but by the people of both countries. Not having peace is a curse for children. They should be born in peace, live in peace and should enjoy their childhood and freedom of education in peace. We cannot ignore the fundamental principles of peace” he had added.
Mr.Satyarthi, the founder of Bachpan Bachaao Aandolan, reportedly has saved 83,525 children from bonded labour. He sees education as the key instrument of liberation of children from poverty, exploitation and neglect. In his pioneering work on child labour and school education in India, the late political scientist Myron Weiner wrote “Modern states regard education as legal duty, not merely a right! Parents are required to send their children to school, children are required to attend school, and the state is obliged to enforce compulsory education. This is not the view held in India. Primary education is not compulsory, nor is child labour illegal.” As the Hindu editorial puts it “The Nobel Peace prize this year recognizes the crucial links among child rights, labour and school education. In doing so, it recognizes one of the most fundamental prerequisites of a better tomorrow for millions of children everyehere.”
Surely this global recognition, which is probably the top most, will bring to the centre stage the issue of ‘Child Labour’. As Mr.Satyarthi remarked, “award will be a turning point in the struggle for the rights of children”. There is absolutely no doubt that this latest public concern on the issue will reflect on the ground in coming days. But, it is also equally true that this cannot be a magic wand to change things early or fast, since child labour and child exploitation is fairly endemic globally, and India in particular, primarily due to uncontrolled population.
A recent re-look at the 2011 census data, post Nobel intervention, reportedly only reveals, that successive governmental and social interventions have hardly had an impact on its demographic distribution and the numerical vastness. The data, compiled and circulated by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights in India put the number of working children in the country at over 35 million. That data categorises child labourers in two categories – main worker and marginal workers. The marginal workers are those who work for 3-6 months a year. According to the data, over 22 million of the child labourers are in the main worker category and over 13 million in the marginal worker category. Data indicated it was not just BIMARU states but also more resourceful states were infected with the problem.
Here, it needs to be emphasized that, there is a dismal absence of accurate data on the extent of child labour in India. Census 2011 put it at 4.3 million, UNICEFs figure for the same period was 28 million. While the ILO came up with 40 million. However according to Mr.Satyarthi, it is now around 65 million. Thus, all those who are paid to do the job, they always come up with figures much lower than the actual, probably to tell the world, it’s not so bad as it is made out to be. Or else, they may be pulled up or lose the job!
The ground condition, as seen by Bachpan Bachaao Aandolan, tells that the ‘child labour is thriving only because it is cheap and is an easy fodder for exploitation of the worst kind. These young boys and girls are sent by their parents through middlemen to contractors with a promise of education. Once these children reach work point they are made to endure 12 hours work shift with heavy work load on their young and fragile frame. They neither get minimum wage, nor proper medical help in case of need, nor any compensation for accidents. Situation, with all governmental intervention is very grim for these children. Dishonesty, deceit, cruelty, lack of fairness and transparency is rampant. Neither, the employer nor the enforcing authorities have done much to help the helpless situation of these young children. Recounting her experience, Meera Raman, a journalist, writes “when Ganesh, a child labour, found resting, he was punished with red hot iron on his stomach. That left a scar, both physical and psychological, for the rest of his life. He recounted his experience of another child labourer slipping into paddy boiling drum and how he boiled to death. Not only death was covered up but Ganesh was threatened with similar end  if he didn’t work properly. Unable to cope with the torture, he managed to escape to tell the story". Will it be difficult to think that such children, with both mental and physical scar join the ranks of naxalites and become militants!
Child Labour Eradication Day comes and Childrens Day goes, but on ground, these young and vulnerable victims of time and circumstances, continue to suffer. We need more and more Kailash Satyarthis who will not only work towards the emancipation of these bonded children, but who will also compel the governments – both federal and state – to take measures, not only to protect these young children but also make all those employers who make these helpless victims endure the suffering in silence. Will that happen? is a very big question.             

 J.SHRIYAN

FEATURE

Senior Citizens and their Citizenry

October 5th 2014, FPJ weekend supplement carried a front page story “THE UNSEEN VIOLENCE THAT IMPACTS CHILDREN” by Amrita Nandy. Then there is a small highlight “Amrita Nandy says that violence against children by their own parents and near and dear ones is the hidden violence that nobody talks about.”
 It was an article of around 1250 words. The article was completely devoted to the vulnerability of senior citizens, especially women. The highlighted portion displayed on the main body of the article was no were found. There was neither , even a passing reference to children or ‘violence that impacts children’, as the title claimed. Thus my hunch is, the paper did not carry the story meant under the above referred title. There appeared to be a mix-up. Kindly correct me, if I am wrong.
 Of course the idea of writing this piece was, not to point out the visible error, but to comment on the story that was carried rather than the title.
 There was clear articulation of the writer’s thought on the problems faced by senior females in and around Bhubaneshwar.
 It is true that seniors both men and women are increasingly becoming vulnerable due to the disintegration of undivided families. The career dominated life of most Indians, both men and women, is the single most important factor that contributed to the state of affairs. Of course there are seniors with no issues of their own, which no doubt did not increase their responsibility during their working life, of bringing up their children.
 The article, in question, wrote mostly on women belonging to middle class, with reasonable source of income and possessions like owned flat etc. These parents had their children working abroad earning US $. So money wouldn’t be an issue.
 In a multi polar, WTO driven world, two children living in Berkeley in US and Brisbane in Australia and parents living in Bhubaneshwar, could be a fact of life. This situation has, probably, come to stay. But what is the way out?
The article talks about various measures that could help senior citizens live an improved, secured and happy life to some extent. Living in Old Age Homes, regular meeting by groups of seniors, NGO involvement in bringing these seniors together etc. are some of the avenues of living with some degree of happiness, stability and security.
This section of society fortunately are endowed with some means, both physical and financial and hence can command a certain standard of living. But there is also a huge section of seniors, who are at the mercy of multiple elements, whose existence is near pathetic and they have no source of help. Society needs to have a look in, into the lives of these hapless victims of time and circumstances.
Reverting to the article in question, it can be safely articulated that there is enough scope to improve the mental and physical health of these senior citizens.
There are enough imaginative ways to enjoy the late innings of life. A monthly one day excursion, or at times an over-night picnic. Arrange tournaments that does not demand too much physical efforts like table tennis, carrom, chess, antakshari etc. They can even try to organize debates and elocution competitions. Those who are single, can try to live together in twos and threes. This can not only reduce expenses, but also shall make them more secure. Those who were in managerial positions prior to retirement can apply their skills to improve others lives as well. So the possibilities are far too many. We may need to overcome some mental blocks and feel free and be open to suggestions etc.
However what is glaring in these writings on senior citizens, and their there are 'n' number of them, is that   they do not try to peep into the altruistic dimensions of humans.
 We all need to recognize that all that we have, some expended and some saved for the monsoon and winter, has come from society out there. Even those we have inherited from our parents, if any, were not their own. They too have got it from society. We all have come naked and go naked. We brought nothing and can take nothing. But we can certainly leave our footprints wherever we go. Some of us may have monetary resources, some may have landed possessions, and some may have both and some may have neither. But the fact is that all of us, have some time at our disposal. From Brack Hussain Obama to the scavenger on the streets of Bhubaneshwar, all of us have the same 24 hours. No more no less. Upto 60 you were occupied, earning livelihood or monetarily employed. At 60 you are free of any encumberance on your time. Ask yourself, can you spend some time for others, who need some help?
 Of course there are any number who would say, ‘I have worked for 40 years of my adult life I want to rest now. Sure you need to relax. But, sir/madam, you can’t relax for 24 hours of the day and 365 days of the year. Surely some part of this hours & days you can take out to try to give to others. And avenues are hundreds. Look around and you will be pleasantly surprised, if you are a positive person, to find the number of activities that can make your life more meaningful. Suddenly you will realize that living for others is far greater, far pleasing and mentally elevating, than living for yourself. There are government schools, schools for specially abled, orphanages, government hospital wards, help desks in public service areas, and many other places where your time is needed. See daily newspapers, for stories of unusual people and happenings and let your imagination go wild. Suddenly you could be a Buddha waiting to happen. 
                 
J.SHRIYAN

A DATE WITH TIME

175th Issue release of ISSUES & CONCERNS held in Govinda Dasa College,Surathkal,Mangalore

Indian journalism should be less melodramatic, more humane and realistic - commented Mr.Ananthakrishna, Chairman, Karnataka Bank, at the function marking the release of the 175th issue of the journal "Issues & Concerns", held at Govinda Dasa College on 10th October, 2014.  Congratulating I&C, for its  'never say die' spirit, also expressed concern regarding the early exposure of children to negativity and cruelty, through television channels. He expressed hope that children will be encouraged will be weaned away from TV, towards creativity in print and humane gestures in the future.  
The unfortunate demise (a day before the event) of Dr. M.V.Kamath, former Chairman, Prasara Bharathi, who was slated to preside over the event, turned the event into a commemorative event to the “Bhisma” of Indian journalism.  Sri. Jayaram Shriyan, Editor, Issues & Concerns, in his poignant recollection of fourteen years journey of the journal, expressed deep anguish over the untimely demise of Dr. Kamath  his mentor and ardent supporter through all ups and downs.  
The Guest of Honour for the occasion, Dr. G.R.Krishna Murthy, the Founder Director of TIME Institute of Management, spoke on the importance of the right approach to journalism. He applauded the efforts of Sri. Jayaram Shriyan, in throwing light on various issues of concern of the country.  Dr. Thingalaya, a famous Economist Banker and educationist, reminisced over his first meeting with Dr. M.V.Kamath on international shores and the wonderful rapport they shared over the years subsequently. Congratulating the fruitful journey of Issues & Concerns, he also emphasized the role of students in journalism and in improving the Indian scenario.  Dr. Ravishankar Rao, Professor of English, Mangalore University, recalled an old Hindi Song “Jane walon zara, mudke dekho mujhe, ek insaan hoon, mein tumhare tarah,” while emphasizing the need for journalists to take note of the pathetic plight of fellow Indians and assist people through journalism.
The Prize Winners of the District Level Elocution Competition for degree colleges, held as part of the festivities, were felicitated on the occasion. Ms. Benzita Ferrao of St. Agnes College, Mangalore bagged to First prize while Raeshel Fernandez of St. Mary’s College, Shirva bagged the Second prize.  The third prize was shared by Ms. Deepthi D’Cunha of Besant Women’s College Mangalore and Satshya Thrien of St. Aloysius College, Mangalore. Mr. Lionel Tauro, Ms. Amrutha Shanbhogue and Ms. Ashmitha Shetty bagged consolation prizes.
Sri. P. Ranjan Rao, a renowned Advocate and the President of the Hindu Vidyadayini Sangha, who presided over the event, said that he had eagerly awaited for the day in order to hear Dr. M.V.Kamath’s words but to his misfortune, had to pay tribute to him instead. He expressed that the release of the 175th issue of a journal, was an appropriate means of paying tribute to the great journalist. 
Sri. Giridhar Hatwar, member of Board of Governers, H.V.Sangha, Members of the Lions Club, Surathkal, and prize winners of the Elocution Competition were present. Prof. K. Rajamohan Rao, Principal, Govinda Dasa College, welcomed the gathered. Shri. Jayaram Shriyan proposed the vote of thanks. The program was anchored by Ms.Rupashree Rao,
Head of the Department of English, Govinda Dasa College. Function ended with national anthem.
Rupashree Rao

YEH MERA INDIA

University PG Hostelites go without food

Raichur: As many as 130 students, including 10 girls, studying in Yeragera postgraduate centre of Gulbarga University, have been starving for two days mow. The reason: the university hostel mess suddenly shut down.
The students are finding it tough to appease their hunger as the college is situated around 20 km from Raichur in an isolated rural area. The students said that the contractor, to whom the hostel has been outsourced to, abruptly closed the kitchen when they questioned him on the poor quality of food served.
“The food offered to us was not good. We questioned the contractor, as we pay him a monthly bill of Rs. 1,300, apart from the one-time deposit of Rs. 2,500 and yearly hostel room rent of Rs. 4,500. He forced us to starve by closing the hostel kitchen just two days after he opened it,” said Pratap Kumar, a second-year M.Sc student of the Instrumentation Technology course. The mess was opened on October 8, though it was supposed to open on September 1.
When reporters visited the hostel, more than 80 students, including the 10 girls, whose homes were within Raichur taluk, had deserted the hostel, unable to bear the hunger. Adding fuel to the fire, the only borewell pumpset at the centre stopped working. The students have gone without bathing since then, as they want to save the water in the tank for drinking purposes.
The students had brought the issue to the notice of in-charge warden and assistant librarian G.S. Biradar and Special Officer of the PG centre P.Bhaskar.
“Except giving assurances, these officials did nothing. The contractor’s mobile phone is always switched off,” said the students.
When contacted, Mr. Bhaskar said the contractor was not heeding the authorities.
Deputy Commissioner of Raichur Sasikanth S. Senthil, who said he was unaware of the issue, added, “I will talk to the Vice-Chancellor of Gulbarga University and make alternative arrangements.”  

One toilet for 58,844 people

Lucknow, with a population  of nearly three million and the capital of India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, does not have any public toilet for women and has a toilet for every  58,844 people, a Right to Information (RTI) application has revealed. 
No wonder then, says RTI activist Urvashi Sharma, the city has become an open toilet, with hundreds spotted on any given day relieving themselves out in the open, on busy thoroughfares and even in VIP colonies. In her questions sent to the Lucknow Municipal Corporation (LMC), the activist had sought the number of public toilets within its limits. Admitting to an “acute shortage” of public toilets, LMC officials have also conceded that Lucknow has “no separate toilets for women.” This is amid growing concerns in the civil society about creating more toilets in the state, in absence of which many crimes against women like rape are taking place in the countryside. “I found this shocking as every day we hear that absence of public toilets is leading to spiraling crime,” Sharma told IANS while ruing the fact that if this was the situation in the state capital what it would be in small towns and villages?
Sharma also pointed out that issue was much graver as Lucknow is not only the state’s seat of power but also a tourist attraction and a cultural centre. 
Reacting sharply, social activist Umra Warsi said the RTI revelation were shocking and urged the state government to sit up and take note. 
“It is a shame that even after so many years of independence, successive governments have failed to provide such a basic need in the capital of Uttar Pradesh, the most populous and politically significant state,” she noted.
“I am amazed that a chief minister (Akhilesh Yadav) who zips through the city’s streets and roads every now and  then has not even thought of something as important as this,” Madonna Xavier, a teacher with a local college in Indiranagar, said. More shocking, she added, was the fact that the state had a women chief minister a few years back.
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and city mayor Dinesh Sharma said the facts were misplaced. 
When confronted with the facts given by the city’s medical health official, Sharma said that additional toilets had been made by other government agencies like SUDA and the Lucknow Development Authority (LDA) and private NGOs, including Sulabh. 
Sharma admitted that there should be greater focus on the development of public utilities. 
“We have identified some places for modern toilets and they would be ready soon,” he said. 
Municipal officials, however, say “people travelling in cars and on two-wheelers do not use  public toilets and tend to use ones in malls, multiplexes.” 
So where is the need to build more toilets, especially for women?    


Insurance for grounded flights – An Air India business sense!


New Delhi- Is ruined-by-scams Air India starting at another big ticket irregularity in its face? AI pilots have sought an independent probe by CBI or CCV into the airline’s costly decision to insure six aircraft that have been out of service for three years.
The airline has forwarded the Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association’s (ICPA, union of erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots) complaint to its finance department and is examining the same.
“Six Boeing 737 (freighter) aircraft are still being insured at $1 million each for more than years (the period for which they have been grounded). Even as recent as October1, 2014 we understand that the insurance of four of these aircraft stands renewed for another year at $50,000,” ICPA chief Shailendra Singh’s  letter to the airline management and aviation ministry sent last week says.
The pilots’ union has also expressed concern at a sharp drop in the insured value of these aircraft. “It is baffling that the management is maintaining these aircraft in its fleet and paying hefty insurance premia every year to keep them insured… There is a prima facie loss of crores,” the letter says.
These six aircraft were nearing the end of their life as passenger planes were converted to cargo aircraft at a substantial expense about seven to eight years back. A private courier company was to operate these aircrafts which it did from May, 2007, till the contract was abruptly terminated in March, 2009. “The parties (AI and the private company) were locked in arbitration and AI has just suffered an adverse award, facing a liability of Rs 26.8 crore,” Shailendra Singh’s letter says. 



MONTH THAT WAS

‘Dry’ Sundays in God’s own country

Thiruvananthapuram: Liquor sale outlets and bars in Kerala will remain closed on all Sundays as part of the Congress-led UDF Government’s liquor policy which seeks to lead the state to total prohibition within a decade.
Under the new policy, nearly 400 retail liquor outlets of State Beverages Corporation, the sole distributor of Indian Made Foreign Liquor, will remain shut for 52 days a year, reports PTI.
Apart from Sundays, holidays like Gandhi Jayanthi, Sree Narayana Guru birth anniversary and Good Friday are already dry days in the state.
The Government has ordered closure of bars attached to hotels, except in the five-star category, as part of the policy of reducing availability of liquor to the people. Also, 10 percent of the retail outlets will be closed each year.
Over the years, Kerala has earned a reputation of being one of the top liquor consuming states in the country. The state had a foretaste of partial prohibition when the ministry headed A K Antony banned sale of arrack in mid- 1990s.
The Kerala High Court is expected to deliver the judgement on the plea of hotel owners challenging the government decision.

Post Nobel Peace Prize – A story from across the border

Lahore/Quetta/Islamabad/ Peshawar: Fourteen-year-old Zeba wakes early in the morning with her younger siblings Saira and Hina. The girls get dressed, comb their hair and leave their home at 7.30 am; they are not headed to their school, but to help their mother who works as a maid at several houses in the capital.
“There is a girls’ school here in Bhara Kahu village, but our parents believe that girls should not be sent to school, but should be trained to do household chores,” Zeba said. “We work from 7.30 am until 6 pm, and we eat roti with leftover curry during this time.”
Their village is located on the northeastern outskirts of Islamabad, not too far from Parliament House and Prime Minster Secretariat. Zeba’s mother is the sole bread-winner in the family as her father is a daily wage labourer and it has been many days since his last job. “We want to go to school, we want to drink milk and eat an egg in the morning and we want to play with our friends,” Zeba says. Education, health and nutrition – the right to access these fundamentals is denied to millions of girls in Pakistan like Zeba, Saira and Hina, largely due to poverty and a lack of awareness.
“In a conservative society like Pakistan a girl usually has to face discrimination right from the moment her family learns that a mother-to-be is pregnant with a baby girl,” said Country Representative Rutgers World Population Foundation (WPF) Qadeer Baig as Pakistan marks the International Day of the Girl Child, commemorated annually by the United Nations on October 11. The theme for 2014 is focuses on empowering adolescent girls in order to end the gender-based violence.


Mahatma inspired jail inmates

Mumbai : In an indication of Gandhian thoughts continuing to inspire prisoners, 92 inmates of the Taloja Central Jail near Mumbai appeared for the Gandhi Peace Exam, PTI reports.
TRK Somaiya of the Bombay Sarvodaya Mandal, which conducted the exam, said the exercise was carried out to evoke a sense of regret for the wrong deeds in the minds of jail inmates and to reform and help them be a responsible citizen of society.
Bombay Sarvodaya Mandal and Saksham jointly conducted the exam.
On the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti, prizes and certificates were distributed to the inmates who appeared for Gandhi Peace Exam. Most of the inmates passed the exam.
The topper got 76 marks out of 80. A Nigerian inmate got 65 marks. Jail Superintendent of Taloja Central Jail presided over the function.
Gandhi’s autobiography ‘My Experiments with Truth’ and other books written by Mahatma Gandhi and on his thoughts are made available to the inmates free of charge, Somaiya said.
One of the inmates said, “After reading Gandhi autobiography, I have decided that I will never choose the path of violence under any circumstances.”


VIP & aam aadmi – a celluloid effort

New Delhi: The hassles and challenges faced by ordinary people during VIP vehicular movements in the streets, and fight of a man against such restrictions is the subject of a new film set in the national capital.
Tentatively called ‘Project R’, the political drama puts a spotlight on the “hardships” that people undergo on account of being stranded on the roads so that beacon-carrying vehicles can have an “easy passage”.
“It is a common practice in our country to be sidelined so that big-ticket, batti-wali gaadis (beacon-carrying vehicles) ferrying politicians or some VIPs can easily pass through. What the government doesn’t realise is that many people in medical emergency situations are caught in that melee end up being ill-fated,” its Line Producer Amit Sharma said. “The film’s plot revolves around one such case, where a man challenges this ‘VIP system’ in a court, after his ill son dies, as a result of being stranded in the streets,” he said. Starring Raima Sen, Deepak Dobriyal and Parvin Dabas in lead roles, the 130-minute film has been shot on a “shoestring budget” in a duration of a little over one month.
“The shooting of the film was done in a period of 35 days with just two breaks. We are now on the editing table and expecting to release it by this year,” Sharma said.
The film, which has been largely shot in Delhi with some scenes being filmed in Gurgaon, possibly for the first time would also’showcase’ on screen the nearly 150-year-old Town Hall in Chandni Chowk. “The heritage Town Hall doubles up as a Supreme Court in the film, with both the inside and outside of the premises extensively shot. Besides, we did some scenes in Chhatarpur farm houses and the Gugaon sessions court. We did the traffic-stranded scene in Vasant Kunj area,” he added. 
The male protagonist is essayed by Dobriyal, who fights a legal battle in the wake of his son’s death. Sen plays a city-based lawyer while Dabas dons the avatar of a VIP politician.
Municipal authorities also see this as a good occasion to “celebrate and showcase” the heritage buildings of the city, which otherwise go unnoticed by    many people.
 “About 10 years ago, a film was shot in the Town Hall campus, headquarters of the then unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) in which actresses Sushma Seth had played the role of Aruna Asaf Ali, freedom fighter and first mayor of Delhi,” a senior official of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) said.                                                                                                                                       
He said though the Delhi government has been trying to establish a full-fledged Delhi Film Commission to allow a “single-window clearance” to productions houses for shooting purposes, the plan has not come to fruition. “But, we try to give shooting clearances as soon as possible. In the film ‘Fukrey’ for instance, the Hardinge Municipal Library (now Hardayal Municipal Library) was dressed up as a police station for a night shot,” the official said.
The Town Hall, built in the 1860s as ‘Delhi Institute’ has already been proposed by the NDMC to be restored into a heritage complex, but change of guard at the Centre has put this project in a limbo. 

ABRACADABRA

…and she married herself !

London: A woman in the UK who was fed up of being single got married to herself in a full wedding ceremony attended by 50 guests. Grace Gelder, a photographer by profession, said that after being single for six years she had built up a brilliant relationship with herself – and creating that bond with someone else seemed like too much hard work.
Gelder ‘proposed’ to herself on a park bench in Parliament Hill, London, last November and walked solo down the aisle in mid-March this year, ‘mirror.co.uk.’ reported.Gelder bought a dress, a ring, rehearsed vows and eventually wed in a farm-house in rural Devon watched by her sister and friends – sealing the deal by planting a kiss on a mirror.
“A few did comment, in a light-hearted way, that it was a bit narcissistic,” Gelder said. “Obviously, if you have just announced you’re marrying yourself, it is plainly a statement of self-love, and I was under no illusion how self-indulgent that might appear.
“But I was completely comfortable with my motivations. I’d been on a journey of personal development using meditation, dance and performance to increase my self-awareness,” Gelder told the Guardian.Although the wedding holds no legal ground, Gelder is glad she is no longer a ‘single’ lady.   

Now, cash for fatwas

New Delhi: A television channel aired purported footage of Muslim clerics in the national capital and Uttar Pradesh issuing fatwas for a payment, triggering condemnation from community leaders and protests in Meerut.
The clerics allegedly issued fatwas on a variety of subjects, including the use of credit cards and camera phones by Muslims, acting in films, and watching television, said the report on Star News carried out a sting operation along with Cobrapost in Delhi and Meerut.
One of the clerics, Ahmed Nadir al Qasmi, an official of the Delhi-based Islamic Fiqh Academy, was shown allegedly accepting Rs 5,000 for issuing fatwa. The footage also purportedly showed Maulana Imran, a cleric from Meerut, allegedly demanding Rs 50,000 for issuing five fatwas against the wearing of jeans by girls in Muslim-run institutions and the teaching of English in Madarsas.
In Meerut, students of a madarsa staged a protest against the clerics, saying the incident had ‘hurt’ the community.
Muslim leaders convened a meeting of clerics to decide whether action should be taken against those named in the sting operation.
In a statement, Islamic Fiqh Academy general secretary Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rehmaniexpressed regret at the incident. He said the body had launched a probe and would take action against anyone found guilty.
Ahmed Nadir al Qasmi had been restrained from issuing any more fatwas, he said. Rehmani said the academy was not responsible for Qasmi’s actions. He said the academy did not charge anything for fatwas, which were issued only after they had been vetted by at least two clerics.
Uttar Pradesh’s Haj Minister Yaqoob Qureshi said the allegations against the clerics were ‘serious’ and their purported actions should be condemned. “Those who have issued fatwas for money have committed a sin,” he said.
All India Muslim Majlis-E-Mushawarat president Syed Shabuddin said, “A fatwa is the reply of one’s query from scholors and it cannot be issued in exchange of money.” Condemning such practices, he said, “These kind of fatwas cannot change society and are therefore meaningless.” 

Corruption makes me restless says- Ajitdada

Former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar said that he doesn’t like corruption and it irks him. Therefore, neither will indulge into corruption nor will let others.
He was addressing an election rally for his party candidates in the city and district in Aurangabad.
Pawar further said that term of corruption itself makes him restless and therefore he was always against it. Referring to the allegations made against him regarding irregularities in irrigation projects in the state, Pawar banged on the Chitale committee report and said that the panel given him a clean chit. He has neither done a single penny’s fraud nor violated any rule. He hasn’t treated any case as special one, so hasn’t cleared also. He was clean, is and will remain so in future also. Therefore, people should vote for NCP and ensure victory of its candidates.
Ajitdada slammed the BJP for running a false campaign against his party and said that BJP is misleading Maharashtra. In fact, NCP has the highest chances of returning to power on the basis of developmental activities carried out by it during last 15 years. This fact is forcing BJP leaders to have sleepless nights.

Navaratri Gift-  Dead man comes alive

Patna: In a startling case, a young man declared dead in Bihar came back to life minutes before his cremation, his family members said. The condition of Dinesh Mahto, 30, of Bahera Bazaar in Darbhanga district deteriorated after he consumed poison in a fit of anger.
His family members admitted him to a private clinic the same day. Munna Mahto, a close relative of Dinesh, said: “After 24 hours, doctors told us that we have to spend a hefty sum of Rs.35,000 daily for his treatment while making it clear that there was hardly any chance of his survival.
Another relative Lakhan Mahto added: “We decided not to waste money on his treatment and his oxygen mask was removed. Doctors then declared Dinesh dead and we informed other family members of his demise.”
Munna said: “On the way to Simaria Ghat, we noticed some activity in his body near Samastipur but we ignored it as an illusion. When we reached the ghat, Dinesh suddenly opened his eyes and we found he was conscious. It was like a miracle for us.”
He said: “We informed the family at home. When we reached there with Dinesh, celebrations started. It is a unique Navratri gift for all of us.” 

LAST PAGE

Sino – Indian ties: Sans spirit

Dr. M. V. Kamath

After all the brouhaha and sloganeering like Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai, the three-day visit of China’s President Xi Jinping turned out to be a damp squib. The boundary dispute persists, even when both sides want peace and tranquillity along the border. True, both Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping are more than anxious to correct the situation and be accommodative. Xi Jinping did his level best to sound friendly, calling India “an ancient and magic land, an enchanting and beautiful land” and Modi lavished unheard of hospitality in more than ample measure. Prior to his visit word was going round that China was willing to invest over US $100 billion in India but in the end, it turned out that the amount would not exceed US $20 billion – chicken feed as critics called it, and to be spent over the course of five years.
One thing seems clear; unless the border dispute is amicably resolved, a sense of restraint will continue to prevail in the relationship between the two countries despite a genuine desire to live in harmony. In an article in the media, Xi Jinping stressed on the positive. “We have deepened mutual trust,” “we have forged a aclose friendship by encouraging more people-to-people exchanges,” “with rich experience in infrastructure building and manufacturing, China is ready to contribute to India’s development,” “the combination of China’s energy plus India’s wisdom will release massive potential,” “we need to work together to carry forward the Five Principles of Peaceful co-existence (Panchsheel)" are some of the points be raised which are commendable. Narendra Modi’s response to it was to say that China and India are “two bodies, one spirit.” Wise words.  But what is the reality?
While India has been working on Confidence-Building Measures (CBMs), the border dispute remains unsolved. There is frequent trouble over the 4,056-km long Line of Actual Control (LAC). There are some 14 places on the LAC where India and China’s perception of where it lies differ, giving rise to so-called ‘transgressions’ and ‘incursions’. The Joint Statement issued at the end of Xi’s visit has taken note of this. It says, for instance, that both sides are committed “to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution, proceeding from the overall interest of bilateral relations.” The statement further reaffirmed “the utility and significance of the mechanism of Special Representatives for seeking a political settlement.”
The SR level talks were instituted under former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s regime in 2003 and the two sides have already held 17 rounds of negotiations. How many more rounds of discussions will need to be taken for a final solution acceptable to both sides to be arrived at is anybody’s guess. One can only take satisfaction that arrangements for discussion are there for the time being, and have not been scrapped.
There are other positive developments to be noted in the Joint Statement. One is that the two sides have taken a positive view on defence cooperation and there will be “regular exchange of visits between the Defence Ministries to expand ‘pragmatic cooperation.” It may be remembered that Xi Jinping is, apart from being President, also the chairman of the country’s Central Military Commission and head of China’s armed forces. Yet another positive development is that both sides have decided to launch “working level consultations” between the Department of Atomic Energy on the Indian side and the China Atomic Energy Authority, a year-and-a-half after they first decided to engage in civil nuclear cooperation. But perhaps a more cheering issue is the one dealing with terrorism.
 According to the Joint Statement “both sides reiterated their resolute opposition to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations with ‘zero tolerance’, committing themselves to cooperate on counter-terrorism. One presumes that Beijing is fully aware of Pakistani terrorism and jihad. Will Xi Jinping have talks with leaders of the Pakistani Armed Forces? For India, China’s close links with our Pakistani neighbour has long been a matter of concern for India, India’s growing closeness with Vietnam must be a matter of concern for China.
Even as Sino-Indian talks were going on in Delhi, Indo-Vietnam talks were going on in Hanoi with President Pranab Mukherjee leading the Indian team. Seven pacts were signed between the two countries to strengthen and deepen bilateral ties on the basis of a strategic partnership with focus on political, defence and security cooperation. But more importantly – and this is where Beijing must feel genuinely concerned – the two countries asserted that the freedom of navigation in the disputed waters of the resource-rich South China Sea should not be impeded, calling all the parties ‘concerned’ to exercise restraint in this context It is no secret that China has been exerting its influence in these waters which is not taken well by Vietnam and bordering countries like the Philippines and Indonesia.
Among the seven pacts signed, a Letter of Intent (LoI) was signed between the ONGC Videsh Ltd and Vietnam Oil and Gas Group. Beijing has objected to India’s exploration projects in the Vietnamese Oil Blocks. India is right in making friends with China’s neighbour Vietnam, just as China has been making eyes at Colombo. This is part of the political game which China should be aware of and accept graciously.
What China should be happy with is the fact that India has accepted Tibet to be part of the People’s Republic of China in the Joint Statement, while thanking Lhasa for opening a new route to Mansarovar through Nathu La.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

EDITOR'S COLUMN

Friends
We are into the monsoon season, but unlike last year, this time round, rain god is playing hide and seek. It’s not been even 50% of the last year, when, it caused unprecedented devastation in Uttarkhand. Thousands had died and loss of property has been colossal. While the rebuilding is still in its limping stage, the memory of the dead shall linger for a very long time to come with dead bodies still popping up from no-where. A complete account of the loss of life may never be possible with the kind of topography the state has. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was not functional then, hope, it is activated by this time to be available in case of need.
According the Meteorological people, July shall have better monsoon. Hope it is proved right or else we will have a serious socio-agrarian problem.
Month-in-Perspective, as usual, has tried to cover as many issues of relevance as was possible within the space constraints. We have tried to be as fair as possible in our treatment of the issues involved.
Election 2014, has ushered a new government with its own principles and ideology. Administrative changes to suite its thinking is bound to happen with horizontal and vertical transfers in babudom. The gubernatorial position of Governor has as usual, come under sharp focus due to the politicization of governors office by the previous regime. The incumbent government is earnestly on the job of replacing men & women at these comfort zones. The apex court intervention of 2010, in this regard, is the only stumbling block. Congress, which is out of power, is crying hoarse at the attempt of NDA govt. in Delhi, citing this court judgment. But, it was the Congress, which taught others, how to treat the Governor as a foot ball. Now it’s the payback time. However, it is hoped, the present NDA regime at the Centre shall not stoop too low to settle the score. In FOCUS we have tried to discuss the relevance of Governor's office in a country like India, which is quite frankly a superfluous position, the country can live without. Hope readers shall find it interesting. Do revert with your input. We do value them. Rest are as usual.      

MONTH -IN- PERSPECTIVE

NEW DELHI: ‘Good days are coming’ has been the clarion-call of Modi’s campaign in Election 2014. Modi has been rather innovative, in his verbose in the election rhetorics. Result, we have all seen. After 30 years, there’s a single party government in New Delhi. Narendra Modi has certainly arrived on the national stage like none before him. Hence the expectation of ordinary Indians, especially those who voted for him, is justifiably there, of good days ahead.
And comes the bomb shell, by way of 14% hike in the railway passenger fare and 6% in the freight charge. As expected all political parties went to the town to cry hoarse. Even BJP would have done the same before Election 2014. But that is politics. This is the only way it functions in a country like India.
Media informs that the increase of 14% and 6% was planned in the last vote-on-account proposals of former Rail Minister of UPA, Mallikarjun Kharge. But due to possible election fallout it was not tabled in the parliament. Thus saved the ‘blues’ for the UPA.
All Indians need to know that Indian railway travel fare is the cheapest in the world. This means, it is highly subsidized. Media informs that Railway’s daily loss is Rs 30 crores and the passenger fare subsidy is Rs. 26000/- crores. Of course, notwithstanding the media hype that railway is a govt. operated public utility service and therefore should have alternative ways of bridging the loss than increase in the fare. Unfortunately media being less responsible, fails to make the general public understand why this raise is needed. It is true that these raises should come in small doses over period, then the hue and cry could have been much less. But then, somebody sometime has to face the music composed by someone else over a period. In nation building all have to share the pain in different degrees and that makes for responsible citizenry.
Personal Laws affecting the cross section of our multi religious humanity has always come to the fore at election time. BJP in its wisdom always thought that India must have a Common Civil Code (CCC) for its citizenry. While all have to recognize, that CCC is nobody’s case, not everybody thinks about the human rights angle involved in civil codes of different religions and sectarian divide.
The most important dimension of the civil code is the status of women in these myriad social groups. It is very apparent that it is because of the suppressed and subjugated state of women, across the spectrum, which truly demands the Common Civil Code in a democratic milieu.
While there are any number of supporters of CCC among Hindus and Christians, there are opponents too among the same section who like status quo of denial to women to continue. Similarly, among Muslims CCC is largely unwelcome. But a sporadic supporters, among Muslims too pop up here and there.
In a democratic polity, debate is the essence of public life. There has to be open debate on these Civil Codes. A Common Civil Code is definitely in the interest of the country, since it can play a unifying role. What is good for the nation will be good for its population. Therefore all sections must look at it with open mind and dispassionately. The core of the discussion and debate and the eventual agreement has to be the protection of human rights of women and children based on natural justice and transparent fairness to one and all. If all of us think only as human beings who have the same emotions and aspirations, having a Common Civil Code is only as far as that. To decide on CCC, all that is required is, to be a rational human being and being Indian at heart is all that matters. Nothing else should matter.
Prashant Bhushan has done it earlier and is doing it again, putting the CBI and the govt. in dock. This time round he is trying to fix Praful Patel, former Civil Aviation Minister in UPA govt. Patel is a Pawar protage and therefore protected. Despite many accusation against Pawar, either in Maharashtra, New Delhi, or even in his cricket involvement, he appears to be slippery for reasons unknown. Of course, like Ambanis, he too has a large pie in the media, and hence nobody writes against him. 
This Patel was accused of wrong doing in the unnecessary buying of  68 aircrafts in 2005 for Air India. There was a small mention, a storm in the tea cup followed and it quietly died. But this time round, its Prashant Bhushan, who has the wherewithal and the commitment to take it to some logical conclusion. Hence, Patel should be a worried man, and UPA is not in power, Pawar too is not in his political pink health. 
A passenger identification biometric system, was mooted by some Air India insiders, when it was not needed at all. Two Canadian companies, probably Indians owned, engineered the demand. One of them was only a quotation letter head company. Nazir Karigar, sounds a sub-continental name, the owner of Cryptometrics, the other Canadian company, is the kingpin of Rs.500 crore scam of Air India’s bid to buy this unwanted system in 2006. Reportedly, the security department of Air India had estimated the cost of this system to be about Rs.75 lakhs. But the tender committee, directly under the Minister, pegged it an incredible Rs.500 crores. 
Fortunately an upright officer in the finance department of Air India raised objection and the contract was dropped. But the money meanwhile changed hands from Canadians to Indians. A Canadian Court, reportedly, on 23 May sentenced this Nazir Karigar for bribing Patel, V. Tulsidas, the chairman of Air India & others. The sentence is for 3 years.  Strangely Indian authorities had not acted despite the judgement. 
Having complained to CBI, Bhushan is determined to make CBI act or else he has decided to knock at the door of Apex Court. Hope and wish he succeeds to fix Patel + Co.

The newest Chief Justice of India Justice R M Lodha is already making waves with his path breaking initiatives. We are all privy to the unsustainably increasing pending cases all over India. Reasons for this unhealthy development where litigants, especially the poor, have to interminably commute up and down for years on, is innumerable. It is systamic failure of a weird kind. Can we get out of it, is a question never seriously dealt with. Different Chief Justices have come up with different solutions. Surely some improvements have taken place over a period. But lot remains to be done. 
The proposal by Justice Lodha to keep the courts open for all 365 days of the year is certainly a welcome one. Of course as expected Lawyers lobby has opposed it tooth and nail. Unfortunately, the leaders that took over from the British in 1947, which includes likes of Nehru & Patel have, like many other practices, just carried on the colonial legacy of summer break of 45 days, besides other shorter breaks for winter and autumn. Justice Lodha, rightly argues that holidays one can take as per his/her choice than as fixed. A pre-planned holiday programme of all judges can enable planned functioning of the courts. Of course, there are other ways to improve the faster disposal of cases as pointed out by Supreme Court Bar Association president Pravin Parekh, who literally took on the entire judiciary. According to him there are over 3500 vacancies for judges including 5 in Supreme Court and 250 in High Courts. This is to be decided by the superior courts and not the fault of the government, he avered. Besides the functioning styles of judges too are the bane to be addressed. Parekh complained of judges coming late and having intermittent breaks and there has to be policy for the time management of judges. Besides increasing the time of court sitting is better than sitting every day, he suggested in his letter. While both sides have their respective points of view, this move by Justice Lodha should lead to some action taking place for the overall improvement in the functioning of court and therefore to the life of average litigant. 
We thought English MPs from United Kingdom are bad, since they claimed many expenses without incurring them. They tried to enrich themselves with false means. And comes the news “6 MPs & Ex MPs booked in Leave Travel Concession (LTC) scams by the CBI". In England they had both men and women, some even of Indian origin. In India 6 MPs, 3 former and 3 current, all men, have indulged in this despicable malpractice of a man with clerical mentality. Of course, there may be many clerks who are truly gentlemen. But it certainly exposes the cheap and petty mind of those who indulged in this financial misdemeanor. 
It was always thought that financial poverty has solutions but mental poverty had no solution. Obviously these Member of Parliament, by any reckoning, an honorable position, were suffering from mental poverty. They simply threw to the wind the dignity their position brought them. It is indeed an act of disgrace. 
And strangely, TMC, has condemned the new NDA government for allegedly using CBI since one of its MP was booked for claiming air travel fare for his companion who did not travel. But they did not condemn,     if the false claim is true. New government probably had no time even to talk to CBI in the two weeks in power at the Centre. But Mamata being Mamata she suffers from extreme form of paranoia. In all fairness, these dishonourable members of parliament should be stripped of all their previlages. 

Old order changeth to yielding place to the new. This is the law of nature. Whether it is the law of the nature or not, Delhi is certainly changing with the new government taking up its reins to manage the affairs of the country. The new directive of the new man at the helm is going down fast. Reportedly all government offices are suddenly looking spic & span. The age old unclean corners and stinking toilets are things of the past, report media. And a new culture has gripped the corridors of government bhavans. All those babus who were used to come at 11.00/11.30 am, are on their seat at 9.00 AM dot. So are their bosses. Hope it’s not the story of new broom, but shall stay at least during the currency of Modi government. 
Also the decision to dump those above 75 years of age. Modi made a clean departure of denying minister-ship to all those who are above 75. So was Rahul Gandhi. He too denied Rajya Sabha, nomination to all those above 75 years. S M Krishna, 83 year old, tired but not retired, still lobbied hard to get Rajya Sabha nomination. But sorry! said Gandhi. That’s an end to SMK’s long political career. In fact even Janardhan Poojari who was inching towards 80 should not have been given the seat in Mangalore. He too had a very long innings. Again tired but not retired. Hope Modi and Rahul, do keep the reins in leash for all these oldies.
WORLD: That minorities in Pakistan was never safe, is an all time truth, was never in doubt. But also the truth is, who is safe in Pakistan? Even among majority Muslims, there are denominations who are unsafe. Shias, Ahmediyas and a few other Muslim denominations too are unsafe in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It is true that the person responsible for the creation of Pakistan, Mohd. Ali Jinnah himself, had a larger picture of a secular Pakistan. But the fact is after his death, the leaders that came after him, who took over the reins of Pakistan, Islamized the idea of Pakistan, and for all the 66 years that followed non-Muslim minorities of Pakistan lived a harrowing life, and it took the Supreme Court of Pakistan over six decades to think of having a special armed force to give security to minorities and their places of worship. 
Although better late than never, it is a welcome step and that such a realization has come, even so belatedly to the judiciary of the country, augurs well for Pakistan. 
            


So the hands of Pakistani government, army and its spy agency ISI are full with crisis management of a weird kind. Report coming from Islamabad and other places from India’s western neighbour indicates, that there have been wide spread and large scale tit-for-tat violence, between government forces and so-called militants. These militants are truly speaking are the terrorists striking at will at all places in the name of Jihad. These terrorists are all part of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). 
Quite frankly, it is the chicken-coming home-to-roost. For far too long, the authorities molly-coddled these terrorists, as long as they were creating violent trouble for Indians and Indian targets. But then a monster is a monster, sooner or later it will go out of control. And that is exactly what has happened. The level of laxity that Pakistan allowed to its terror outfits like TTP, it has grown to such an extent that it has become a threat to the very existence of Pakistan as a nation. No wonder, the government of Nawaz Sherif is fighting tooth and nail to stop TTP in its tracks. Of course, if the authorities in Pakistan, the government, the army and the ISI, come together with a single purpose, then taming TTP and even annihilating it, may not be a problem. But the issue is, army and ISI wants TTP to remain active to cause the ‘thousand cuts’ agenda of Zia-ul-Haq, to cause mayhem in Indian territory and hence are not honest and sincere in controlling TTP. This indeed is the crux. It is not for nothing that Madeline Albright the former U.S. Secretary of State, had publicly stated on record that Pakistan is an ‘international migraine’. Now it has an internal domestic migraine as well. It has become a victim of its own contradictions with hundreds of men, women and children dying at regular intervals in violence across the country. 

The kind of a civil war between Sunny’s and Shia’s in Iraq was only expected. U.S. made the first mistake of entering Iraq on false premise of destroying WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction), which was not there in the first place. While it is true that Saddam Hussein and his sons were cruel dictators to those who opposed them, the life for an average Iraqi was reasonably good with petrol revenue. But then, problem if any, was of Iraq and its citizens, U.S. had absolutely no role as an international policeman. 
Yes, although U.S. came in wrongly, they were right in exiting but the exit was not properly planned or managed. U.S. had destroyed the status-quo with which an average Iraqi had no issue. Having destroyed Saddam and his coterie, U.S. should have stayed back to adequately strengthen the administration of a changed government of elected representatives. The changed authority composed more of Shia representatives and less of Sunny’s. Although Shia and Sunny are the different sects of same Islam, they have a problem to co-exist. 
Indeed, Iraq is not India, where all sections of Indians co-exist. Of course, India has its share of irritants due to its vastness and plurality, but surely not serious. In India, all sects of Islam live in peace with all the freedom guaranteed by the constitution. It could be true as U.S. accuses the Shia Prime Minister Nuri-al-Maliki of alienating Iraqi Sunny’s. But then the violence, as being indulged by ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq & Syria) is no solution at all. That, which lives by sword shall perish by sword, is a time tested idiom. Co-operative Co-existence is the only solution, which countries like, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria and Afghanistan need to realize. ‘Peace be with you friends’. Amen   
We are all privy to the visit of SAARC heads of state to the oath taking ceremony of Narendra Modi, as Prime Minister of India. Among these neighbouring VVIPs, was Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister of Pakistan. He had, due to his domestic compulsions, took his time to accept the invite, unlike others, who responded immediately, to this unexpected and unprecedented display of bonhomie from the world’s largest democracy, so also the biggest among SAARC members. But the internal dynamics of Pakistan was not amused, they were non- plussed. They were clearly in a dilemma. In the event better sense prevailed, and Nawaz Sharif came to India and went back, probably satisfied. Sartaz Aziz, the National Security & Foreign Affairs Advisor has reportedly stated, “The outcome of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to India was much better than we expected”. That was indeed very positive to look at things like that. But here is this cricketer turned politician Imran Khan who went to the town screaming “Sharif was treated like a school boy during his trip to India.” Now that’s a very funny observation. Imran never explained what is the ‘school boy’ dimension in the entire trip. Such observation neither wins friends nor influences people. Of course, all those who were not keen that Sharif undertakes this trip to India to meet the new Prime Minister, may find Imran’s barb sensible, which otherwise did not make any sense.     
MAHARASHTRA: It is ironic, as the Maharashtra Anti Corruption Bureau, was cleaning their slate by giving Ajith Pawar, the Deputy Chief Minister and former minister in-charge of irrigation, a clean certificate of no wrong doing, comes the CAG bombshell. It was during the tenure of Ajith Pawar, the Rs.70000 crore irrigation scam hit the NCP government in Mumbai. Different persons and agencies had decried the wholesale mismanagement and misappropriation in the administration of irrigation projects for many years. The government of Prithviraj Chauhan did not do anything to check and present the loot of the system, neither they fixed responsibility of the massive procedural syphoning of the money. The report from CAG has come as a slap on the face of Maharashtra government. According to CAG, there was a cost over-run of Rs.47,427 crores in the 601 ongoing projects. Reportedly the CAG report was tabled in the Maharashtra assembly recently in mid-June. The report informs, that of 601 ongoing projects, 77 were under execution for over 30 years and 225 projects were more than 15 years old. This reflects the shocking apathy, inefficiency and incompetence of the state irrigation department. Of course, as usual, there are always explanations for delays and cost over-runs and therefore offers no-solution. In the meanwhile unchecked loot goes on uninterrupted. Report also informs about the projects costs incurred without complete acquisition of land. Similarly, estimates were prepared without survey of the dam sites, invariably leading to the change in design after the works were awarded. These are the time tested ways of making money for everybody in the system. Unfortunately the rot in the system is happening with the active knowledge of top leaders within the government and therefore CAG or no CAG, corruption goes unchecked in Maharashtra. That is a sad last word. 
The violent death of I.T. professional Mohasin Sheikh, reportedly at the hands of some Hindu outfit in Pune, is by any stretch of imagination absolutely  senseless and dastardly. If  as reported, that he has been killed, for no fault of his, but only because   he sported beard and had a skull cap indicating that he is Muslim, it is extremely diabolic. Just because, somebody from somewhere wrote or portrayed Shivaji, the Maratha warrior king and Bal   Thackray, the late Shiv Sena supremo, in terms allegedly inflammatory, one cannot make anybody pay for someone else fault. While violence of any kind is not acceptable on anybody, but to target innocents is totally unacceptable. The authorities concerned must take the stringer possible action on the perpetrators of this insane act of beating somebody, as young as, all of 24, to death. Surely, to his grieving family, the violent death of their son, must be an irrepairable loss. The new government at the centre, it must come down heavily in no uncertain terms that zero tolerance of such violence is not just spoken but practiced as well. For record, however, it is sad, that none from New Delhi has made any positive noise. In the larger context, the supreme sacrifice of this young man, should at least galvanise the authorities in Delhi, not just in Mumbai, to act decisively to ensure safety of every citizen of the country irrespective of its diversity. 
We at I&C can only pray for the departed soul of the young man and ask for forgiveness from his traumatized parents for causing a completely avoidable end of their dear son.   
Kerala: Believe it not, it happened in Thiruvanantapuram, the capital of the most literate state. And it happened to a teacher, who practiced what she taught, and the inflictor was none other than the Kerala minister of education, Abdu Rabb. There was a function to inaugurate the District. English Club at Cotton Hill Government Girl’s High School in the city. It was supposed to have been inaugurated by the Minister of Education at 9.30 and the whole battery of teachers led by the Head Mistress (HM) Smt. K K Urmila had readied the venue and were waiting for the minister to arrive. After waiting for 2 hours, at 11.30 am, HM got going with the function. 
The minister when arrived at 12.30, that is full 3 hours late, he found the gate of the school closed. Minister’s security man opened the gate and arrived at the venue. Welcoming the minister, the disciplinarian HM K K Urmila took the minister to task for making all children wait for such a long time.
Not used to this kind of treatment by teaching fraternity, a show-cause notice was issued to the HM asking her to explain the ‘humiliation of minister’. However, despite the 15 days notice period to reply, the HM was transferred to a school, some 45 Kms away from Thiruvanantapuram. This is Yeh Mera India. Its time All Kerala Teachers Union take up the issue to set right the wrong inflicted on one of them, who had the gumption to stand up-to an uncivil minister. 
 We all recognize that communication is the civilizational dimension of evolving mankind. When we start communicating our views, there comes along a degree of camaraderie, which when properly harnessed leads to bonhomie. And bonhomie is the corner stone of any peace foundation. Progress comes only when there is peace. Hence, we must, as homosapiens always should keep our channel of communication open. 
“Kerala Catholic bishops warm up to Modi” was a Thiruvanantapuram date lined report. Title itself has conveyed it all. Whether right or wrong, Narendra Modi was a butt of all accusations of being divisive ever since the 2002 sectarian violence in Gujarat. 12 years have passed, and India has moved on. Narendra Modi of 2002 has evolved over a period, slowly but positively steadily. Come 2014 election result, NAMO has transformed so incredibly, it is difficult to imagine. Graciousness in victory has been there for all to see. From the day he entered the parliament by prostrating at the entrance to the temple of Indian democracy, to that first address he made in the Loksabha, there was a clear signature of conciliatory noises. It clearly bodes well for India’s pluralism and people centric socio-economic development. 
Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) has to be congratulated for the suo moto-upfront initiative in extending their full support to the NDA led by Modi. 
Speaking to the conference of 35 Bishops belonging to Latin, Malankara and Syro Malabar of Catholic denomination, KCBC president Archi-bishop Cardinal Baselios Mar Cleemis, promised co-operation of the church in all pro-people initiatives by Modi and hoped that the new government will lead the nation on the path of development. 
Reportedly Archibishop Cleemis, who is also the president of Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCF) did not speak about the concern Catholics nursed       about Hindutva forces in the country. Fittingly, Bishop Stanley Roman of Kollam Diocese said ‘there was nothing for the minorities to fear as they are an integral part of India’ informed the report. This is a heartwarming development for all those looking at the larger Pan India picture. Mera Bharath Mahaan.   


KARNATAKA: There appears to be some haste in the taking over of troubled Bangalore head quartered Amaanath Co-operative Bank. For some time now, there is this news hovering about the public sector Canara Bank taking over this premier Co-operative Bank, owned mostly by the Bangalore based Muslim community. That, this bank is in trouble, is not a news at all. It is probably over a decade old. A minister in the outgoing UPA government at the centre appears to be the ‘Chief Engineer’ of this hurried attempt of taking over this troubled bank. The logic probably is, once it is taken over by a public sector bank, the trouble shall go away, and the trouble makers would heave a sigh of relief. But, unfortunately for Rehman Khan, a Chartered Accountant turned politician that was not to be.
Congress leader Jaffer Sherif and some other share holders of the bank have questioned this hurried attempt of takeover by Canara Bank. Accordingly Karnataka High Court has asked the troubled Co-operative Bank to call for the share holders meeting to decide the future course.
Here it is very pertinent, to understand that Rehman Khan was the Chairman of this Co-operative Bank and during his tenure at the helm of the bank there have been accusations of financial wrong doing on massive scale. None in the government, either the state government or the central government really took interest in fixing this Rehman Khan for the wrong doing. But then, it is India, where aam aadmi is only destined suffer silently, the wrongs committed by khaas aadmi. Yeh Mera India.