Friday, February 7, 2014

EDITOR'S COLUMN

Friends

We are into the budget month of the year. However with election due in April, the government in Delhi may not be able to present the customary union budget in Feb. Election fever is heating up with main protagonists Congress and BJP are already with daggers drawn at each other. Last assembly election, if can be considered indicative, then BJP is the clear winner compared to Congress. Of course having the adequate number to rule is a different ball game. According to all prophesies, its going to be BJP as the party with largest number of seats, but still well short of majority. It is true that with their star campaigner Narendra Modi, they are hoping to inch towards a comfortable number. If that happens, there may be more parties joining the winner, although many of these regional parties are still not cosying upto BJP. So it’s a big waiting game.
But there could be a dark horse, in the name of AAP. Although they have done spectacularly well in Delhi assembly election, would they repeat at the national level, is a very big question. The current governance at Delhi has not inspired confidence. However sentiments are at times can be funny. It is difficult to say anything with certainty. One has to wait & see. In any case there will be change of guard in the portals of parliament this time round. Which combination of players shall make it to the treasury benches is a dicey question. The uncertainty prevailing at the moment, across the country wagers no possible guess to the outcome. Only when the counting is complete, the picture can emerge. However, all Indians only wish and pray that, there is a stable government. Lets hope we have it.
Being, a new entrant in the political arena, we have tried to focus on the two main protagonists of the possible change in the country, we have Focused on both Anna Hazare and Arvind kejriwal. Kindly revert with your thoughts.
J.SHRIYAN

MONTH-IN-PERSPECTIVE

MAHRARASHTRA: There was this news item some weeks ago in the English daily of Mumbai “Old captain, oldest debutant”. They were about guys unsung and hence probably 24x7 electronic media didn’t pick up the news since there was no sensation quotient. A 35 old Wassim Jaffar was captaining the Mumbai Ranji Trophy team. And another, believe it or not, a 42 year old was to make his debut. Was this because, there were no players in Mumbai to be part of the team? No. For Mumbai, there is no dearth of players ‘Q’ ing up. But quite frankly, selectors for Mumbai, ‘realized’ for the first time that there is a guy who really bowls well and a decent bat too. So he becomes an all rounder. Surely this 42 years old debutant must have been around for over 20 years looking for break. But remained ignored for varieties of reasons including lack of god father. Until of course, Rahul Dravid, the captain of Rajasthan Royal, the IPL team, picked him up and played him. And played him over and over again. And this 42 year old, latest Ranji Trophy debutant, did not disappoint his captain. He returned the tally of the highest wicket taker in the IPL 4, concluded some months ago. And suddenly the Mumbai selectors woke up from their deep slumber and may be even bias, to include Pravin Tambe, in this year’s Ranji Trophy team. And media carries the story of hunger for runs of a man who has always been hungry to be in the lime light. Sachin Tendulkar still wants to play Ranji Trophy and does not mind denying an aspiring youngster. This is Yeh Mera India, where those who get more they still keep getting more, and remain hungry for more & more.
Some weeks back, there was this report “Why BMC School fail to deliver!” The report informs ‘Civic schools continue to underperform despite the money spent by the BMC per student per year being more than that spent by many private-aided schools in Mumbai. According to the report, while in 2008/09, the government was spending Rs: 20165/- it has more than doubled to 2 ½ times at Rs: 59828/- during 2013/14. 
Praja Foundation (PF), an NGO, obtained these startling details through their RTI query. Covering a sample size of some 24700 students, survey by PF found that most schools had a pass percentage of some 38%, despite the fact that the inspector of education deptt. filed a very exaggerated rating on the quality of teachers of these schools. All of these teachers, in one area, got high inspection marks on attributes like, qualification, education, experience, teaching methods etc. Obviously, it was all hogwash. It exposed the entire system of education department to evaluate its own people, the teachers. To come to think, that the government had budgeted for 2013/14 – around Rs: 60000/- per student, and 62 of every 100 students have failed, is a serious reflection on the very governance of the Maharashtra government. It reflects the comprehensive failure, that these teachers, or at least most of them are there only to be around in the school to complete the number of hours every day and get paid a fat government salary. So the schools have become teacher and inspector centric rather than student centric. The report by Praja Foundation has also exposed the bankruptcy of political leadership of Bombay Municipal Corporation. According to PF, of 227 corporators, 164 of them did not ask even one question on education or on the state of government schools in Mumbai. It also informs that only 5 city fathers asked more than 5 questions on education during the entire year, while reporting that there have been 15% to 20% school dropouts which did not merit any query by elected representatives. Yes, as report suggest that unless there is continuous and comprehensive performance linked appraisal of teachers, government shall continue to spend huge money, with education department and its inspectors fiddling instead of monitoring, continue to keep the result of students passing well below 40%. But then, its been the same story for all these years in most parts of India. There was this survey of governmental educational scene some months ago and an English weekly carried this title on its cover “The empty promise of primary education in India – CANT READ CANT WRITE, CANT COUNT.” That is indeed very sad. And it is a documented truth. Yes, unless the skills of teachers are ungraded and only committed teachers are selected and appointed, situation shall continued to be sad and bad.  
A Pune based research group Arthakranti Pratisthan, which translates as Foundation for Economic Revolution, has come up with a revolutionary idea of scrapping all direct and indirect taxes in favour of a nominal transaction tax only on receipts. Not surprisingly, BJP reportedly has picked up the idea to study the proposal. Prima facie, it is indeed a positive response by BJP. Surely governments any where need money to run the state. It has to come from public space or assets of the nation, or both. India like most countries have to make do with both its natural resources and from public, as individual and corporate houses. While earning through natural resources can be easier organized, the collection from public is fairly complex, which leaves good portion uncovered or inefficiently covered for varieties of reason especially in a huge country like India. Taxation, as is the logic, is based on ‘what the traffic can bear’. Hence it has to be easy on those who have less means to pay and vice versa. Thus if there is a proposal to scrap all taxes, all those who are in the tax net shall be happy to declare all their earning, thus removing black money in a single stroke. But the proposal to charge only on receipt, then a certain lower limit may also has to be in place. Since every receipt to one amounts to a payment from the other, the report is unclear if it is covering the income or expenditure.
It is also not clear, if the nominal rate suggested is single, double, triple or multiple depending on the amount involved. It has got to be at least double, with some minimum exemption limit.
Any statutory measure that would leave more money with people with inadequate means or less income, is a welcome measure. 
Yet another time, CBI has proved itself as a helpless organisation. In the wake of Adarsh scam, and the subsequent charge sheet by the CBI on the involvement of former Maharashtra CM Ashok Chavan, and the refusal of the state Governor to permit his prosecution, the premier investigation agency, could have waited for different options to be considered. Instead CBI appealed to the special CBI court to drop Ashok Chavan’s name from its charge sheet.
As if to throw its appeal out of the window, the judge S.G. Dhige, reportedly one lined his order “I am rejecting this application”.
This has not only caused avoidable discomfiture to the CBI but has also put paid to the plan of Maharashtra's political establishment to rehabilitate Ashok Chavan. Both are in a quandary. Besides, it has questioned the legitimacy of Governor's refusal to sanction permission to prosecute this former CM, who had, by his own indiscretion, allotted 3 flats in the Adarsh society, to his relatives. “He owes an explanation to the public” is the demand of state opposition leaders. Is the film “Hum Sab Chor Hai” is an apt description of the situation!

UTTAR PRADESH: Who is Salman Khan after all? A mere film actor. And these jokers in Uttar Pradesh, invites him and some other females including the so-called Dhak Dhak girl, for a floor show at the cost of public money. U.P. has been in the news for all wrong reasons these days, with father and son duo – Mulayam & Akhilesh Yadav – being insensitive to the core, decides to have a festival despite the Muzaffarnagar tales of suffering by the victim of a riot, hogging the limelight.
Reportedly, payout was in crores of rupees, for these gyrating filmy folks, who too had the full knowledge of the suffering humanity at Muzaffarnagar. But then it was big money.
Fortunately Mahesh Bhatt, another thinking filmy man, had the sense of accepting the apparent slip and regretted publicly for the participation of his daughter in the festival show and reportedly asked her to donate the entire earning from the show to the fund for Muzaffarnagar victims.
And comes this Salman Khan, asking Bhatt not to apolgoise. Reportedly even the other khan, named Shah Rukh, too seem to have joined Salman in defending the participation in the show by these cine actors. But then, these filmy folks, always thought they are exclusive. Its time general public take a call to put these made up heroes in place. Will it happen?

WEST BENGAL: State owned Coal India Ltd. has done well to pay a special dividend of Rs:29/- or 290% for the year 2013/14 ostensibly as interim.
Since the government owns 90% of CIL, it could get Rs: 16486 crores. Then of course the dividend tax to the tune of Rs: 3113/- crore, helped the Union Govt. mop up close to Rs: 19600 crores.
Since the government had the target of collecting Rs: 40,000/- crores via divestment, this interim dividend had greatly helped to come close to its target to bridge the deficit of 4.8% of the GDP in the current fiscal.
The move by CIL is likely to be followed   by other blue chip PSUs who are all sitting on huge cash reserves.
In fact, these cash reserves readily available, have always been a source, which most finance ministers failed to tap in case of need. According to an estimate there is around 1.80 lakh crores available with these Public Sector Companies which truly belong to the government. Hope both company management and the government act in unison to salvage the economy in need of injection of fund free of encumbrance. Do you harken Mr Finance Minister!

NEW DELHI: Post meeting between Arvind Kejriwal of AAP and controversial cleric Maulana Tauqeer Raza Khan, there was this tweet by Bangladeshi controversial writer Taslima Nasreen criticizing the meeting.
She was probably justified in criticizing the cleric who had issued a fatwa against her, sometime in 2007. These fatwas can be fatal at times, and certainly Taslima’s situation was indeed vulnerable. Thus, the tweet became a handle to beat her under section 66(a) of IT act. Thus when somebody complained to UP police on behalf of cleric, and an ever obliging ‘secular’ Samajawdi Party government of Uttar Pradesh acted fast. After all, a Muslim cleric’s sentiments were hurt. An FIR was filed by the police promptly. Fortunately for Taslima, there are more Indians who want to help her in her times of troubles than those who create trouble and possibly even hold death threats. Senor Supreme Court Lawyer KK Venugopal appearing for the Bangladeshi writer told the Supreme Court that the tweet cannot be construed as an offence under the said ITA clause, and court restrained UP police from taking any coercive step against Taslima.
But what really baffles logic is the prompt action of UP police in initiating action against the Bangladeshi fugitive, who fled her country in the face of militancy similar to the one prevailing in U.P. and other parts of India, including Hyderabad. There are a number of issues on which police should be acting, or administration should be concerned, but are glossed over by political compulsions. It is another sad aspect of Yeh Mera India.
Minister of state for statistics & progamme implementation (MOSPI), of Govt. of India is reported to have stated the other day that delay in over 300 projects to cost more than Rs:175000 crores, in excess of budget outlays.
While this is indeed a very serious issue, not merely for the increased amount that the exchequer has to pay, but also these projects that have taken lakhs of crores of national resources, are still non-performing. If it is borrowed money there is an interest component, which can only gallop in coming days, not just walking or walking briskly. It is a plain and simple arithmetic and it does not require the brains of an economist Prime Minister, who chair the cabinet committee for investment. Suddenly the 2014 election is round the corner, and everybody from Srikant Jena, the MOSPI, to FM Palaniappan Chidambaram to the PM Dr Manmohan Singh, are trying to hit the bulls eye.
According to reports, the problems for the delay in completion of projects are many, like land acquisition, law and order, rehabilitation and resettlement problem, fund constraints, delay in environment clearances, right of way or right of use, delay in supply of material and contractual issues. Of course, it has to be accepted that, unlike, dictatorial police regimes, like the middle eastern countries or even centrally controlled communist regimes, like in China, in a democratic polity, it is not possible to rush through any decision for obvious reasons. But fact remains that seriousness, in making every rupee of the public exchequer to work for the country, is not there. There is this saying that if you look at the bottle, the bottleneck is at the top, meaning, if the top is clear of any blocks, - mental or physical – the flow is normally smooth. Hence, problem is with the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister. We all know, Finance Minister P. Chidambarm, is from business community, and hence openly bats for trade and commerce. He is business friendly. There are any number of instances where he tried to influence course of events, including trying to arm twist RBI governor. While economic growth is an essential part of governance, it has to be people centric. Inequity is our national malaise, and we take powerless stake holders for granted. These are bound to raise problems of compensation led land acquisition, rehabilitation package etc. which can lead to law and order issues. There is also the mai-bap culture of favouritism, which in the ultimate analysis has led to many avoidable bottlenecks to smooth flow.
Thus, the problem of such delays, and the consequent cost overruns have always been endemic, it has come to the centre stage only because of the coming election and the prospects of losing power. Hope someday, politicians will work for the country rather than their party or personal agenda of friends, relatives and cronies.  
The issue involving diplomat Devyani Khobragade, was by any stretch of imagination, an entirely avoidable mishap. If American police, guided by some misguided elements in the system, acted rather stupidly, even to the extent of strip searching a lady, and then putting her in lock-up of common criminals and drug addict, Indian government led by its MEA Salman Khurshid showed a complete lack of considered application. After all, it is purported to be a visa fraud allegedly committed by a member of Indian chancery in the U.S. Of course, it could as well be an eminently fit illegality to file a case of crime or irregularity. 
The case has been there in the media space for over a month. But it was allowed to fester for no good reason. If the misguided action by the U.S. police and the New York’s legal eagles has in the first place showed a super power in poor light towards a strong regional power by its own strength, India on in its part wanted to show, that it will not buckle under the weight of super power gimmick.  In the end both turned unreasonable and their actions unsustainable in the larger context of international geo-political relations. 
But the truth of the matter is there is prima facie an element of untruth in what the lady Indian envoy did. To that extent American labour law can be made to apply. But that the U.S. decided to hit rather very hard at the envoy, did indicate a kind of method in madness. It appeared to have been planned as the truth of the case started to emerge. 
But what saddened at least some of the more sensitive Indians who moaned in public space “Soldiers’ beheading failed to evoke such reaction”. They were comparing our governments reaction to the Devyani episode to that of the beheading of 3 Indian jawans by Pakistani rangers. All that MEA did was to express shock and issue ‘strongly worded’ letters to the press. And we have seen such umpteen instances by the mandarin and political leadership. Thus the latest outburst of words and action was a pleasant departure, however misplaced. But then weren’t we always like this, ‘Kabhi Naram Naram, Kabhi Garam Garam’. To quote a Hollywood film, ‘Blow Hot Blow Cold’.
There was this report some weeks ago, attributing it to some Congress member of parliament. “Save Goans from losing Indian citizenship”, was the call by Shantaram Naik, urging the Indian government to help salvage a situation of helplessness of about one lakh, presently Portuguese nationals, who were India born. These, about one lakh, Portuguese nationals, who opted for that nationality, in 2006, as per a Portuguese law, had acted in their own selfish interest to jettison their Indian citizenship. Naturally under section 9(2) of the Citizenship Act of 1955, anybody who has willingly given up Indian citizenship in favour of an alien nation, would automatically lose the right of being a citizen of India. 
Giving up citizenship, prima facie, means rejection, and hence there is no case for consideration for return.  Hence those who have thrown away a birth right, as unwanted, have forfeited their right to return. Since it was their considered decision, to leave the tag of being Indian, it must be allowed to rest there, since India respected their wish to become Portuguese, in search of an El Dorado.
Vini Vidi Vici, is an old Latin saying, meaning, Came Saw and Conquered. Indeed AAP came, articulated and conquered. But sadly with the same speed, AAP lost most of it, if not all of it. The ground swell of goodwill that Arvind Kejriwal and his AAP managed to win, built over a period, although a little over a year, its leaders, including its top man Arvind Kejriwal, managed to just throw it away, by its very unimaginative and irresponsible behaviour.
Oscar Wilde, had famously observed long ago, ‘When someone does a thoroughly stupid thing, its` always with good intentions'. The dharna, by the Chief Minister was indeed unacceptable, which surely caused lot of public inconvenience besides being a nuisance. That he got a part of his demand met and called it people’s victory, does not take away, the crudity of it all.
Sorry! Arvind, this was simply not expected of you and your team. We all know, AAP is different, but for heaven’s sake do not reduce it to a 'tamaasha', in your great hurry to do things. Notwithstanding, what we write, or people say, wisdom surely must have already had the better of you with sober souls like Yogendra Yadav being around. Hope, there will never be a repetition of what happened in Delhi during 19th and 21st of Jan. 
Cancellation of Augusta Westland Chopper deal for the supply of 12 VVIP helicopters has raised more question than it tried to answer. Apparently, the deal, which was mired in payoffs and bribes, was cancelled to ward off any further uncomfortable queries involving persons in position. In fact it can even be inferred to mean as an attempt to cover up.
Now that the country is heading for a general election only a few days away, this decision to cancel the deal was to present a political straight face of the incumbent government. We have already received 3 of the 12 ordered choppers and have already paid the bulk of supply price. Although these were the very pricey kind, these choppers were very much needed. Hence cancellation really do not make sense. What should have happened is the investigation of pay-off to some middle men. CBI is already in the thick of its investigation into the multi crore bribe scandal involving this deal. Law ministry, obviously under pressure, refused to grant permission to CBI to quiz Goa Governor Wanchoo and West Bengal Governor Narayanan in the case. These two gentlemen were involved in the meeting that cleared the specification favouring Augusta Choppers. So the rat is very much there. But what will happen to the advance money already paid so also the Rs.362 crore alleged bribe involved in the procurement process of this deal? Will the file, like the now infamous Bofors case, be closed? is a question lost in the corridors of power. Poor Mother India.

WORLD: American Medical Journal recently published a report about the smoking habit among men and women. Startling as it may sound, in smoking, Indian women are second in the world, next only to Americans. Yes, in a survey of some 187 countries for the years – 1980-2012, its been found that there are over 12 million women, slaves to this killing habit. This is despite knowing that millions of people all over the world succumb to this dreaded habit. What is interesting in the finding is men in India seem to learn lessons in good health. Reportedly Indian men, who were smoking in 1980 at about 34% has come down to 23% that is a reduction of some 33%, although globally the total smokers have gone up from 721 million to 967 million during the survey period. However same cannot be said about Indian women. In a liberalized and globalised socio-economic scenario, Indian women found freedom more than earlier years. Unfortunately their financial freedom only led them to submit to the pleasure of puff. Sadly, the survey indicated that Indian women have defeated the Indian men folk in smoking, due to their new found emancipation. Is this a misplaced exercise of freedom? Only women and the proponents of their socio-economic freedom should be able to answer. 
Surely all agree that smoking is bad, probably worse than drinking alcohol, since smoking forces passive smokers to inhale thus affecting non-smokers health as well, at home, offices and public space. In economics, we are taught of what is a ‘demonstration effect’ as a factor influencing social behaviour and therefore the prices. It talks about, villagers imitating bigger villages, who in turn imitate town folks. Towns look to cities, then to larger cities. Mega city dwellers imitate foreign location for their inspiration or habit etc.
Thus is it the new assertiveness among women, due to increased money earning power, that is taking its toll?!
The global policeman, the United States, is at it again. “U.S. calls for fresh vote in Bangladesh” has not surprised many. After all it was the same country that sent 7th fleet to brow beat the then East-Pakistan, which was at war with West Pakistan, which led to the creation of Bangladesh. U.S. has different yardsticks to different people. China can ‘cock-a-snook’, at the world at large and get way, and U.S. may have nothing really to say. It has done everything possible in Iraq to get Saddam out on imaginary WMD (Weapon of Mass Destruction), but has nothing to say when confronted with the involvement of Saudi Arabia in 9/11 bombing of World Trade Centre, despite ‘incontrovertible evidence’. There are any number of instances of blatant double standards by the U.S. administration.
So there is nothing special about their observation on the recent election in Bangladesh. Indeed there was poll related violence, which was boycotted by a large section of Bangladeshis. But why did they boycott? Why did they resort to large scale violence? Why the main opposition party is in cohorts with pro Pak militant outfits, which are banned? It’s all very well for the U.S. and its western allies to mouth inanities of the clergy. Dynamics of the internal situation in Bangladesh has its own method in madness. In a world, where militant led violence has to be taken head-on, what Sheikh Hasina did need to be applauded. She is on course and we all must wish her, her government and all Bangladeshis well. India, like Russia had accepted the pole verdict and left it to the elected government to do what it thinks should be done, since the record of Sheikh Hasina is better, under the circumstances, in protecting religious minorities. The latest acceptance by China, of the elected government in Dacca, is a welcome development. Hope the rest of the world is nudged to fall in line with China on board.
The news that former Pakistan ruler General Pervez Musharraf is suffering from many ailments need not surprise anybody. According to reports coming from Islamabad, he is suffering from 9 medical conditions, namely, calcium deposits in his coronary artery, mental stress, frozen shoulder, excess cholesterol in the blood stream, enlarged prostrates, spinal pain and pain in bones. This is the first time that a former military ruler has been tried for high treason for imposing emergency in 2007, when he was the president. All media savvy men and women, the world over are privy to the actions of commission and omission by Gen Musharraf, as a military ruler after deposing the elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sherif. General was an ambitious man in hurry. He even put Chief Justice of Pakistan Ifthikar Chaudhary behind bars, after stripping him of all government privilege. The photograph of this CJ being pulled by the hair of his head by police in public, to get him into a police van, enraged the entire Pakistan's legal fraternity to get united to oust Musharraf. In life there is always a payback time. For the former Pakistani strongman, the time probably has come. But his misfortune is, his adversary, the man whom he banished from the country, Nawaz Sherif is the current Prime Minister of Pakistan.
J.SHRIYAN

FOCUS

AN OPEN LETTER TO ANNA HAZARE

Respected Annaji

Namashkaar. Nayee Baras ki Shubh Kaamnaaye. Greetings of the New Year, although little belated.
Hope this finds you in good health and at peace. Must be really relaxed and happy that you have been able to influence, however little, the clearance and passage of Lokpal Bill. That you have decided to go with the government draft is a tribute to your accommodative spirit, which is very essential in the larger public space of governance. That you went by the suggestion and opinion of Justice Santosh Hegde makes it fair enough. After all he too was part of the original Janlokpal andolan. Having parted company with your former deputy and associate Arvind Kejriwal, his divergent stand wouldn’t have really disturbed you. However, you had publicly stated “Those who are not happy with the format can go ahead with their agitation for a better Lokpal Bill”. How much more can happen on this Bill, we may only have to wait and see. But the fact remains, the current bill is a very diluted one. But let’s hope it’s a good beginning and it will keep changing for better. 
Annaji, you have for a longtime gave yourself up in the cause of social issues. 
We do realise that you had no personal agenda when you worked for the betterment of areas around Ralegan Siddhi. Your agitation for corruption free governance in Maharashtra is a public knowledge all over India, for all those who used to read news papers. Thus you had already created an image of a fighter against corruption. However, in your Maharashtra state there are intellectuals who do not take you very seriously. Do not know why? There are also those who think you do have friends in the corridors of power, whom, they allege, you do not criticise. Is this true? All media savvy men and women know that irrigation scam under M/s Ajith Pawar & Sunil Tatkare was one of the biggest, but strangely Anna had no stand on this, says your detractors. How true is this? There are also others, who talk of you disrespectfully. All these in your state of Maharashtra. That indeed send confusing signals.
Coming to corruption, we all know it is a pan-Indian malaise, and the fight quite rightly, had to go national. On the issue of corruption, there were rumblings in Delhi too. Arvind Kejriwal, who too was primarily interested in a cleaner political administration of the country, joined hands with you, with campaign associates like (father & son) Bhushans and Kiran Bedi. Justice Hegde in your India Against Corruption movement was like an icing on the cake. Your fight became, so much, more relevant.
Arvind Kejriwal is a qualified engineer from one of the best institutes, IIT Kharagpur, and then cleared his IRS to become the Income Tax Commissioner. Even as he was working he worked for the empowerment of aam aadmi through RTI. His work was internationally recognized and that brought him Magsaysay Award at an young age of 38. That’s indeed a big achievement. So, at the top of his popularity and acceptance he gave up his cushy job, at the alter of service, for a larger cause. It does make him a great soul. This quality alone is the greatest single factor that influenced the runaway success of AAP.
Yes, any of us can become an activist, because not much is at stake. But to give up a position of power and money at a young age needs courage of conviction, clarity of purpose, and above all, a large heart. That he had all these, was never in doubt. Your association – Anna and Arvind - worked  really well. You were the moral force and he was the brain. You were the engine and he was the prime mover. Your association brought the union govt. almost on its knees. Rest of course, as the cliché goes, is history.  
In the intervening months, union government let you down. Arvind decided rightly that politics is the only thing that can force the issue, since the govt. had already betrayed, by not acting on its promise. Arvind felt that going political is the only way. Besides you are aware that spokespersons of UPA government of the day, had many time taunted your movement and had challenged you to join the electoral fray if you want to change things. You didn’t agree, with Kejriwal, and the association was divided right down the middle, with Kiran Bedi and Justice Hegde agreeing with your “NO POLITICS”. Bhushans and Kejriwal remained committed to the political initiative. 
Anna, you have to recognise that Kejriwal was initially not interested in electoral politics, at all. Even now, after perforce, he had to launch a political party, due to circumstances beyond his control, his clear stand is, “I am not here to make a career out of politics.” Besides, he didn’t grab the opportunity offered by the Congress on the 8th Dec, the result day, itself. Clearly he was not an opportunist. And you, unlike others, know him better.
Yes looking back, Arvind proved his point. He almost ran away with the majority. Not only Arvind was proved right, whole lot of people who voted for him, some 30+% of Delhi voters, they have spoken. Spoken loud and clear. Aam Aadmi Party has arrived and Anna, don’t you think, you and Kiran Bedi have remained there only, when Arvind left you far behind! 
Now, can you give one good reason why you didn’t join him? A reason that can stand scrutiny of reasoning. You didn’t have any then. You don’t have any now. Hence you have stated, when AAP won 28 seats but below the halfway 35 mark, “If I had campaigned for him he would have won the majority”. Indeed, that’s as true as the day light. In fact when I visited Ralegan Siddhi, along with 3 others, it was just to convince you to change your mind. We had come there, as well wishers of Aam Aadmi Party, three of them were functionaries of the Local Unit of AAP in Mangalore. It was 4 days before the Delhi election, that we called on you. You were very gracious, you arranged food for us in the canteen of your centre. Your stand was, there should be no political party, people must directly elect representatives. After 66 years, you know, like all of us, it is not possible to reverse the system. Your stand was not only unthinkable but was also impractical.
In the evolving dynamics of democratic polity of our country, it will certainly pay for all of us to join AAP. Of course, it is not to suggest, that all that they are doing or saying is 100% right. They are raw, they need to fine-tune their approach. But they have a honest desire to bring change. They may take time, but they are young. They will make their mistakes and they will surely learn. But certainly, if you do not join them, what can become of your movement? Have you thought about it? They have done it without you, and they continue to grow without you. One day they will become the national game changer, not just in Delhi. Danger for you is very clear. Writing on the wall is very clear. Even if so late in the day, if you do not join Arvind Kejriwal and his AAP, Annaji YOU WILL BECOME IRRELEVENT. Fortunately you are a person with no ego problem, hence we do hope, you will have no difficulty in reversing your stand, in the larger national objective, and join Arvind Kejriwal and his AAP.
When AAP formed the government in Delhi, you had responded to the query, ‘what do you think about Arvind Kejriwal?’ You had stated “He will do good”. So, deep down in your feelings, you mean well for him. So in the larger scheme of things, you should openly come out in his support. Kiran Bedi too should have joined AAP. She didn’t join, may be partly due to personal ego, since she is much older to Arvind Kejriwal. Professional jealousy some time has the better of you. So she is a victim of her own ego. She was, I am told, even offered Chief Minister’s position by Arvind Kejriwal, before the election, but she refused. She missed a great opportunity to leave her indelible footprints on the shifting sands of time. That could have really helped Arvind to spread the AAP in other parts of India. Anyway that was not to be.
Here one pertinent point has to be made to see the truth. Recently the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha passed the diluted Lokpal Bill. Do you seriously believe, it is because you fasted in Ralegan Siddhi! Quite frankly, after the recent assembly election to 5 states, where Congress was mauled beyond hope and BJP romped home in 3 states and was the biggest party in Delhi and was denied the chance to rule Delhi by an year old debutant AAP, these 2 major players in national politics were convinced that aam aadmi wants Lokpal and the arithmatic was to think that its passage can be claimed as their achievement, to be tomtomed at campaign during April 2014 hustings. Only this consideration decided the passage of Lokpal Bill, without much of a debate.
Dear Anna, think clearly, if you are truly serious of bringing about change, join Aam Aadmi Party, not people like Gen V K Singh. At least you know Arvind Kejriwal better, than you know Gen V K Singh. It is too early to say, how genuine is Gen Singh. He may be clean, but may be having political ambition. And ambitious people can be dangerous at times. Thus yes, as a senior activist, you have the responsibility of protecting and standby junior activists for the larger good of the socio/political landscape of the country.
So this is to earnestly appeal to you to make up your mind and throw your lot with Aam Aadmi Party. Or is your intransigence beyond hope?

Yours ever Indian

Jayaram Shriyan

An open letter to Mr Kejriwal

Dear Arvindji,

It has been a long wait. 66 yrs after we rejoiced on the streets celebrating our Independence, there is palpable hope. Every heart genuinely caring for our motherland feels that the time has come for that moment in history. The recent political broom of AAP has indeed captured the imagination of our nation.
All look forward to strengthen your effort to rid our land from the charlatans who masquerade as our political mai-baap. They offer us doles, subsidies from our very own hard earned money they collect as taxes. Instead of strengthening our infrastructure – our highways, railways, transport – our arteries and veins; our educational system – our cerebral temples; our law enforcement forces – our tonsillar  guards to check crime; one can go on and on.
And AAP Sir, stands aloft bearing a burning torch at a critical juncture of our country’s destiny. These are indeed testing times. Do please have the courage to take time, to contemplate and comprehend. The flash bulbs of media glare can only be blinding. Even with stellar intentions, haste has often been a waste.
The AAP Law minister probably genuinely got all fired up with his constituency’s frustration in tackling the drug trafficking, alleged prostitution, and all the social evils that follow. But activism whether by the common man on the street or by the chief minister must necessarily tread cautiously. You have declared war Sir, and that implies strategic planning. Rushing to the front lines could be praised for the sheer courage but can be fool hardy. The country simply can’t afford, this brazen gunning down of AAP street revolution by the electronic and print media.
In Yogendra Yadavji, in Shri Prashant Bhushan and in some new spokeswomen in Delhi we have sane venerable voices. She had the courage to apologise for the law minister’s inappropriate burst saying he could spit on the faces of other legal colleagues – Jaitleys & Harish Salves. These sane voices seem to have learnt an important lesson of life – Learn not to react, but to respond.
Genuinely fine people seem to be gravitating towards AAP. We understand that you had requested Kiran Bediji to be the Chief Minister of Delhi. Why she is not on the same page as you, confounds us. Even with good intentions, media men Ashutosh’s easy irritability, Kumar Vishwas’s theatrics, Law Minister Bharti’s inappropriate language are all reasons for concern.
Lets take the worst criticism in our stride. Someone called “Arrogance” the middle name of AAP. Harsh it is. Yet its time we condemn issues, not people, not even name political opponents, nor even constitutional instruments like condemning all the police personnel. ‘I am clean, and you all are bad” creates disquiet. You have to build bridges among differing perceptions.
While ordering CAG audit of private power distributors, you had rightly claimed “what the previous government couldn’t do in 4 years, we have done in 4 days”, and expressed happiness when told that Haryana & Maharashtra are reducing power tariffs as AAP effect. But your other remark was eminently uncalled for “We will teach them politics”. There is an apparent element of arrogance in this statement. Yogendra Yadavji would never have made it. Please note, quieter you do your job, more respect AAP will command.
Your latest agitationist politics of taking to the street is not a right thing for a Chief Minister to do. Not sure, if this will win you friends and influence people. All your points could have been discussed with the Lt. Governor and leave the agitation to your party and MLAs. Even if you are to go for agitation, as a last resort, could have kept LG in the loop.
Isn’t it the aim of AAP to reach out to each citizen of the country and ignite their sense of patriotism, of fairness, of a just and equitable society?
Our country has been a witness in the past of anticorruption crusades –  J.P. movement, V.P.Singh’s rebellion are clear examples. AAP has caught the imagination of the aam aadmi on this very plank. So it has to rise above sloganeering. Theatrics even if unintended should be carefully dusted off from the body politic of AAP. The momentum that you have garnered shouldn’t get buried by the sands of time. It is a historical opportunity knocking on the Altar of our Democracy. Let it not be drowned by populism, my friend.
Surely you wouldn’t want circumstances making you a “Khaas Aadmi” of the Aam Aadmi. We hope you will seize the opportunity of retreat from the janata durbar experiment, from the Rail Bhavan to introspect and strategize. It is a long dusty uphill road and there are indeed miles to go. So varied are the expectations and so diverse our magnificent country’s problem that these can come as a cascading avalanche enough to smother. Do back your clarion call with equanimity and uncluttered thinking

With admiration & respect 

Chitralekha J.S




SERIAL : 9

INDIAN IN COWBOY COUNTRY
THE INTERVIEW
“Focus, Satish, focus,” he said to himself. “Focus on keeping your job and getting your green card. Not on the promotion; that can come later.” 
“Mr. Peterson will see you now,” announced Ms. Black from Pete’s door. 
“Thank you, Ms. Black,” he said as he went into the room. She shut the door behind him. 
Pete’s office was the largest, most imposing one he had ever seen. Satish had heard about its features. It was laden with rich mahogany panels on the walls, a formal library with richly bound volumes, a huge, almost red cherry desk, leather Queen Anne chairs, and a leather sofa in a corner with a matching love seats. 
The adjoining room had a huge dark mahogany conference table and white boards on the walls. Pete’s oversized desk faced large windows that overlooked the woods of the campus. 
“Good afternoon, Mr. Peterson,” he said as he entered the room. 
“Afternoon,” Pete said, without looking up from the papers that he was reading. “Sit.” 
“Thank you,” he said as he took the seat directly in front of Pete. He watched him as he read some documents, his eyebrows visibly knit in anxiety. Pete then shut the file, set it aside on the edge of the table, and leaned back in his swiveling chair. He looked him in the eye and said, “So, you’re Satish.” 
“Yes, sir,” he replied with an enthusiastic yet nervous smile.  
Pete learned forward at the table, pulled out a book from a drawer, leaned back again, and started writing in it, keeping the book on his lap. Then he stopped, looked up at his nervous employee, and said, “John tells me that you’ll be a good engineering manager, and so does Tim. I’ve seen your performance reviews. They are excellent.” 
“Thank you, sir,” he acknowledged. 
Ignoring Satish’s response, Pete continued, “Everyone seems to feel that you’re a keeper. And I’ve seen some of the reports you’ve done. They are good; not extraordinary, just good.” 
“Thank you, sir,” he said, assuming that there was a compliment in there somewhere.
Pete continued, “I have another meeting in ten minutes, so let’s get to the point. We all know why we are here. John wants to promote you to a manager, but,” he said, and paused, looking at him dead-pan, “I am not going to sign the PCO form to promote you.” 
Then he paused to write something in his book. Satish sat in stunned silence. He had not expected such an abrupt statement. He did not know how to react. 
“Don’t you want to know why I am not going to promote you?” asked Pete, again looking up. 
“No, sir,” he said. “I mean, yes sir. Are you not satisfied with my work?” 
“Your work is fine. You are a good worker bee. We need more people like you, but you are not a manager,” Pete said. 
“Sounds good,” he said and began to rise from his seat, satisfied that his job and green card were secure. 
“Don’t you want to know why I don’t think you’ll be a good manager?” asked Pete, gesturing him to sit down. 
“No sir,” he said. “I am sure you have good reasons. May be I am not ready for it and I have to wait.” 
Pete leaned back to write his notebook, then looked up and said, “No. I cannot promote you because the oil industry will never accept an Indian as a chief. You are an Indian in cowboy country, and this redneck industry will never accept you as one of them.” He paused to gauge Satish’s reaction. 
“Look at Billy Stayton, president of our contract drilling division. Do you think he will ever take you seriously when you tell his engineers what to do, which you will have to?” asked Pete. 
“People take me seriously, sir, because I do good work. When I make engineering sense, they don’t look at the color of my skin,” he replied calmly, rapidly regaining his composure.  
“Satish, I am doing you a favor. Get your green card and get out of this industry. I am from Minnesota, and even I feel the prejudice. You are an Indian and you look different, and the prejudice will be ten times worse.” Pete sounded genuinely concerned for Satish’s welfare. 
He continued, “I cannot jeopardize this division’s progress by having an Indian in a managerial position. You have to sell your ideas and positions, and I cannot take the risk that you will be rejected because you are different. This will impede the acceptance of our products in the market, by other divisions, and, most important, by our customers.” 
Satish remained silent and watched him scribble again in his book. Without looking up, Pete told him, “That’s all. You can leave now.” 
He did not know what to think as he left Pete’s office. He walked past Ms. Black and the next group of visitors without acknowledging them, a very unusual act. He walked past the portraits and wandered out of the building toward the cafeteria. There he picked up some bread crumbs that were kept for people who wanted to feed the resident ducks at the campus lake. 
Picking up a large packet of stale bread, he walked to the lake and sat on a bench under a tree, throwing breadcrumbs into the water for fish and fowl. It was a nice March spring day. The grass and trees were beginning to resurrect, and there was not a cloud in the sky. 
Ducks waddled around him, and the water was a beautiful blue-gray with tiny ripples. A jet plane taking off from the nearby Houston airport shattered this pastoral ambiance, but calm soon reigned as the plane left the area, speeding to its destination. 
Like that plane, a few sentences from Pete had shattered his aspirations. He was angry at Pete for having been so blunt, abrupt, and crass with him. 
He threw more crumbs in the water and watched some fish come close to the surface pick them before the ducks could reach them. Perhaps he was like the fish, destined for small crumbs, while people like Pete were like the ducks that owned the pond and its vicinity. If a fish came remotely close to their territory, they simply ate them. Perhaps he had come too close. 
He sat on the bench, throwing crumbs and thinking, till it was well past five o’ clock. His colleagues would have left for the day. To avoid encountering anyone, especially Tim, he went directly to his car in the parking lot and left the campus. 
As he sped south on Highway 59 to his home, a modest garage apartment, he saw Houston’s legendary freeway traffic jam on the other side of the freeway, headed north. He wondered if he and his career had unknowingly merged into that long trail of stranded motorists. They went through this routine, day after day, as if they had no choice or free will, just fulfilling their preordained destiny. 
Twenty minutes later, he took the Shepherd-Greenbriar exit and proceeded to his home in the vicinity of Rice University. 
Though he had had a job for almost two years after graduation, he had continued to stay in his student apartment, built on top of an aging three-car garage. It was small, about seven hundred square feet but had four distinct walled areas: a living room, a kitchen, a bedroom, and a bathroom. The living room had an unfinished oak wall unit that contained a cable-ready TV and his stereo system. 
Scattered around the room were a few director’s chairs, a beanbag, and small end tables with lamps. He had bought all of them at a garage sale in the neighborhood for $25, a steal. 
He plopped on the beanbag, removed his tie, and threw it on the nearby chair. He reached for the remote and turned on the TV, which was tuned to local news. He immediately switched it off. He sprang up, went to his tiny kitchen, and put a pot of water on the old gas stove to make some tea. Then, abruptly, he switched off the stove, put the mug back, grabbed his tie from the living room, and went to put it away in his bedroom closet. 
This room was sparse. It had a mattress, a phone, a clock radio, and a lamp, all on the floor. When he moved to this apartment, he discovered after he had signed the lease that he could not take his box spring up the curved staircase. Rather than lose his deposit, he decided to do without a regular bed. He bought a futon mattress that he put on top of a regular mattress, and he was quite comfortable with the arrangement. 
Nobody thought any less of him because of his Spartan surroundings, especially Priya, his girlfriend, who was a graduate student at Rice. 
He placed his tie on a hanger in the closet and then went to the phone to call her. He needed to talk to her, but there was no answer. He hung up the phone and decided to call Tom. 
“What should I do, Tom?” he asked his older, single friend, an international banker who had lived around the world, especially in Asia. 
“Let’s talk over dinner. I’ve found this great Thai restaurant in Montrose. You’ll love it. The food’s hot, hot, hot!” Tom said.
Satish drove a couple of quick miles to Jimmy’s Thai House, where he saw his friend, the lone customer in this new restaurant that had bamboo strips on its walls from floor to ceiling. The tables and chairs looked as if they were picked up from a used restaurant furniture store – they were too worn out for a new place. Pictures of the Thai king and his queen adorned the area near the cash register. 
“Hi, Tom,” he said as he entered the restaurant. He made his way to his friend before a waiter could escort him. 
“Hi, sit down. Have some of this Thai beer. It’s terrific,” Tom said, raising his beer mug and pouring a waiting bottle into his Indian friend’s frosted mug. 
“Yeah, I’ll have one. I need it today.” 
“I’ve already ordered some Tiger Cries, Thai street food that you don’t get at regular Thai restaurants. It’s beef, rare beef. I hope a Brahmin like you won’t mind it,” Tom said, smiling and taking a sip of his beer. 
“Only Indian cows are sacred, my friend,” replied Satish, smiling and joining the repartee.

Excerpts taken from the book "An Indian in a Cowboy Country" by  Pradeep Anand. Published by Jaico Publishing House.  - Editor
to be contd.

FEATURE

Patient not doing well; certainly intervene.

Prof. B. M. Hegde,
hegdebm@gmail.com

William Osler, one of the great thinkers in modern medicine, had said way back in 1905 that: “when the patient is doing well DO NOT interfere.” This statement of his reverberates in my ears each time I see apparently healthy people being labelled with all kinds of new “doctor-thinks-you-have-a-disease” syndromes only to suffer in the long range of multiple ADRs (Adverse Drug Reactions). The latter, in turn, are then treated with some more drugs! Thus starts the never ending cycle of human misery. I am now observing a new syndrome of people suffering and doctors not doing anything about their suffering as long as the laboratory reports are within the doctors’ accepted norms!
I had the misfortune of seeing a good friend of mine who wanted to see me for some time now but could not. My mistake! Let us call him Mr Singh, which is not his real name, anyway. Mr Singh is an important VVIP of this state. He is a fit seventy seven full of enthusiasm to work but, has no energy at all. In fact, he saw me when he was in Mangalore for a lecture. This gentleman, while travelling in an A/C first class compartment all by himself en route to Bangalore, woke up at 2AM feeling dizzy and vomited repeatedly. He had to wait till day break when the train reached Bangalore where he was too weak even to get out of the train. To cut the long story short, he found himself in a Corporate Hospital in Bangalore. He has lot of praise for that hospital and its staff, both medical and nursing. That was six months ago.
They kept him in the ICU for four days and then sent him home after exhausting all their gadgets on him with a long list of medicines with the probable diagnosis of a cerebellar infarct, damage to a small area of the hind brain which looks after our balance in addition to many other functions. They had told Mr Singh to keep seeing his personal physician on follow up. His personal physician added a couple of more tablets to the list. He was going for a monthly check up and each time he was asking the doctor if the drugs could now be tapered off to be finally eliminated. A firm NO from the doctor kept him going but he was slowly becoming lethargic, with aches and pains all over and no energy to do anything at all. He kept pestering his doctor who went on repeating the blood tests and assured him that all his parameters were within normal limits and he does not have to worry. But worry he did because he was not able to walk even for ten minutes while he was an obsessive morning walker for several miles earlier! When he saw me he told me that he was not able to go for a walk at all, although his doctor has been goading him on each visit to walk daily lest his new found diabetes should worsen. Mr Singh, however, kept reminding the doctor that he was NOT ABLE to walk and do any work.
This is a new syndrome, which has not been described in textbooks of medicine as it is of recent origin. The present therapeutics encourages doctors to give multiple drugs all together for most, so called lifelong diseases. Mr Singh has been on a sugar pill, three blood pressure lowering pills of different castes, the universal drug for all people who see doctors today, the (in) famous STATINS, a couple blood thinners like aspirin, to counter the gastric irritation with all these a powerful proton pump inhibitor, ranitidine, another calcium channel blocker to prevent a future dizzy spell in cinerazine and a few vitamins and minerals.  Each one of these drugs has undergone controlled trials in isolation under ideal circumstances. Alas, there is no study to show what happens when they are combined and given to the same patient. This is what we call evidence based medicine of twenty-first century. Each combination could throw up a new ADR syndrome which can never be predicted by the Pharmaceutical representatives that educate doctors these days. Whoever could have dreamt that Thalidomide, such a nice tranquiliser, given to pregnant ladies for sound sleep could bring forth monsters?
 If one wants to suppress the production of human healthy cholesterol in the liver with statins, one is also suppressing other liver functions through the same enzyme that statin tries to suppress! One of the vital chemicals needed for healthy human system is Mavalonic acid which is also produced in the liver in the same pathway as cholesterol. When statin is given to patients it would also suppress Mavalonic acid production. Children born with congenital mavalonic acid defect look like old ghosts at the age of two to three years and do not live long. Think of the same defect being brought on by drugs in adults. Statins also damage muscles universally in all recipients (biopsy proven) although some might not be symptomatic, or even get their muscle enzyme levels increased! But when a patient who is intelligent keeps on complaining that he cannot walk for more than a few minutes he needs immediate intervention to see what is happening. Most of the time this is one of the ADR syndromes. Concurrently Mr Singh’s most of the vital systems are knocked off by beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, proton pump inhibitors and even alpha blockers and H1 blockers.  I do not think that any of his vital systems is functioning at its best, imagine at age 77. I was surprised that he is still on his feet and has the courage to come to lecture for one hour! He must be a lot better now with very few of those deadly drugs.
The new doctrine should be to intervene when patient bitterly complains repeatedly while on drugs. But do not forget Osler’s dictum of NOT interfering when patient is doing well. Patient’s story is a better judge compared to laboratory reports.



YEH MERA INDIA

No Reservations for standing

Mumbai: A reporter was in a packed BEST bus when a woman demanded that a man step aside and let her stand in the space `reserved’ for women.
The man did not like her tone but politely replied that only seats and not standing space was reserved. But the woman was in no mood to listen, at which he lost his calm and said, “Kahan likha hai batao? (Show me where it is written)’’
As the argument continued, the conductor was told to be the arbitrator. He ordered both of them to shut up or get off the bus. That was the end of the argument and both of them were quiet during the rest of the journey.


Justice 23 yrs after losing job

New Delhi: Twenty-three years after a railway employee was dismissed from the job for allegedly taking money in exchange for issuing fitness certificates to colleagues, Supreme Court has set aside the removal of the man, now 75-years-old, saying that the penalty had shocked its conscience.
A bench of Justices TS Thakur and Vikramajit Sen, said the man, who had served Railways for 23 years, should be treated as compulsorily retired from service and be given retirement and other benefits if he was entitled to the same, within a time span of three months.
“In the present case, the appellant has served the Respondents (Union of India and Railways) for a period of 23 years and removal from service for the two charges levelled against him shocks our judicial conscience.
Part III of the Railway Servants (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1968, contains the penalties that can be imposed on a railway servant. “We have already noted that it has not been established that the appellant had… made illegal demands from railway servants desirous of obtaining a fitness certificate.
However, since two of the three charges have been proved, we are of the considered opinion that the imposition of compulsory retirement i.e. Penalty 6 (vii) would have better and more appropriately met, the ends of justice,” the bench said.
The apex court verdict came on the appeals filed by Dr Ishwar Chandra Jayaswal against the orders of Allahabad High Court, which had upheld his dismissal.
Jayaswal was accused of demanding and accepting small sums of money — Rs 18, Rs 26, Rs 34 — from three railways employees for issuing fitness certificates to them.
Of the three, two charges were proved against him by the inquiry officer and the Disciplinary Authority on January 22, 1991 imposed the penalty of his removal from service.

Home Minister unfit

New Delhi : In a scathing attack on Sushilkumar Shinde, former Home Secretary R K Singh said he is not fit to be the Home Minister and Finance Minister P Chidambaram is “100 times better” than him.
“… He is not fit to be the Home Minister,” Singh told TV channels.
He was replying to a question on whether Shinde should resign for his alleged interference in the transfer and posting in Delhi Police and giving wrong information about the US helping India in bringing back underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.
Asked whom he considered to be a better Home Minister–P Chidambaram or Shinde–the former Home Secretary, who has recently joined BJP, said the current Finance Minister “is 100 times better” than the current Home Minister. Singh said Shinde has been “misleading the nation on Dawood by giving wrong information”. “The FBI never said that they would help in nabbing Dawood. I was also there in FBI meetings. Why would America help us in a third country,” he asked.


Alive man declared dead at city hospital

Mumbai: A 55-year old alive man was declared dead at Atharva Hospital and Research Centre, Sion. Chandrakant Gangurde, a resident of Dharavi, was hospitalised after he felt uneasiness. When the patient met a neurosurgeon at the hospital for a check-up, he was told that he has a blood clot in the brain. The surgeon soon started the treatment. After his condition deteriorated, he was kept on ventilator by neurosurgeon Dr Atul Chirmade. The following night Dr Chirmade declared him dead and asked relatives to take the body to Sion Hospital. But Gangurde’s son requested to keep the body for the night on ventilator. Meanwhile, all relatives from different places came to Mumbai for his funeral. The news of his death was displayed on various boards in Dharavi. When his children went to the hospital for claiming the body, the next day, they witnessed some movement. When asked, Dr Chirmade said the movement can be witnessed up to 30 minutes after taking the body out of the ventilator. But his respiration was still on and subsequently he was found to be alive and further treatment was continued. 

Lost in Translation

Mumbai: A correspondent of a local daily on his daily beat observed a resident doctor from Kerala unfamiliar with the local language Marathi, trying to interact with his Marathi speaking patient. As the doctor was trying again and again to explain the ailment, the patient was getting more and more confused.
He used every method; sign language, hand movements, pictures for making him understand what he meant and the nature of his ailment. The more he tried the more unsuccessful he became in his attempts.
After observing for a few minutes, this correspondent walked to him to understand the reason of why is he not getting someone for translation. The tense doctor said that his head of department wants him to make the patient understand everything as it is a part of his course.
As much as he tried, the patient was getting more and more disturbed and tense, thinking that he might have contracted a big incurable disease.
Soon, his daughter who must be in her late teens, started crying as she became scared for her father. The man was unwell and was admitted for a month in the hospital due to which his family was almost sure that he has acquired a terrible life threatening disease. The patient’s family became very scared.
The doctor was making every effort for making them understand that his ailment had almost been cured and it was just a matter of a week after which he would be discharged. Seeing the doctor infuriated, the patient’s family became even more scared of calling out for some other doctor and asking for help.
Finally, the head of the department walked to the doctor and told him to get someone else for translation. The family was relieved to know that their patient had recovered. All the members and the doctors started laughing while the doctor from Kerala left the room red-faced.


When First-aid kit couldn’t aid

Mumbai :There was no first aid for burn victims in the Dehradun Express which caught fire near Dahanu on January 8. In fact, insiders say that the first-aid kit of most trains does not even have items listed in the rulebook.
All that Dehradun Express had, was a few bundles of cotton, band-aid, scissors and antiseptic lotion. Doctors say that first-aid kits on trains should have Burnol, an eye-drop, which reduces burning caused by the smoke, an oxygen cylinder and clean water to wash the wounds.
Those in the know say that the rulebook for the first-aid kit in a long distance train has no provision for a burn victim. A burn victim of a train fire will have to wait until a medical van arrives even for first-aid. However, railway officials say maintaining an elaborate first-aid kit is a bother.
The only first aid treatment that a patient on a long distance train can get access to, is a small kit available with the guard. “The rule book for medical help only states that the kit should have an antiseptic liquid such as Dettol, a few bundles of cotton and an antiseptic cream such as Soframycin. There is no provision for the any medicine pertaining to a burn victim,” said Anil Tiwari, a former member of the divisional railway user consultative committee. Vishaka Iyer, who was in coach S-1 of the ill-fated train, said, “We had to wait for over an hour for the medical train to arrive. We were in the middle of a jungle and there was no network.”
Dr Ashok Gupta, a burn specialist with Bombay Hospital, said, “A burn victim should be kept in open air and the wounds should be washed with lots of water. Apart from that an antiseptic cream becomes a necessity for these patients.’’ A senior railway official said, “The maintenance of a first aid kit is not an easy thing. One has to keep track of the expiry date of medicines. What if a victim is given a medicine that has already expired? There are numerous trains that go on a journey of over 24 hours. During the period there are five guards changing duties. It gets difficult keeping a tab on the first-aid kit in these circumstances.”
Rajeev Singhal, a member of the zonal railway users consultative committee, said, “It is a known fact that the first-aid kit with the guards is mostly incomplete. The kit should have a blood pressure machine along with blood sugar testing instrument and pain-killers. However, no such thing is ever present in the kit.”


MONTH THAT WAS

Educated well off tortured helpless minor domestic

Bhayandar: Yet another shocking case of physical abuse of a minor domestic help has come to light in an upscale locality. This time such an incident which exposed the shameful face of humanity has been reported from the posh-Poonam Crown Complex in the Govind Nagar area of Mira Road. Thanks to the intervention of building residents, an 11-year-old girl was rescued from the clutches of her tormentors who are a couple identified as –Sarjil Ahmed Ansari (38) and Farhat (35). The monster couple have been charged with physically torturing the minor girl, whom they had brought from her native place in Budaun village, Uttar Pradesh, a year back under the pretext of educating her. However, the couple held the little girl captive and forced her to do all the household chores and brutally assaulted for trivial reasons.
Suffering silently the girl, who has visible bruises and wounds all over her body, had nowhere to go and seek help. However, the girl mustered courage and managed to reveal about her ordeal to a neighbour, who immediately alerted other society members and rescued the girl from the flat and rushed her to the police station. However it allegedly took more than 15 hours for the police to register an FIR against the accused.
“We smelt something fishy was going on in the flat, but to be honest we never imagined this kind of torture on the girl.” said a building resident.“The girl had apparently been brought from her village for Rs 15,000 by the couple. It is suspected that two other siblings of the girl have also been brought to Mumbai,” said Lira Nanavati- who heads noted NGP- Helping Hands Foundation.
While Sarjil has been arrested, his wife Farhat is still absconding. Apart from the various sections of the Indian Penal Code, the couple has been booked under the relevant Sections of the Child Labour Protection and Regulation Act.

Chocolates over by 2020!

London: Chocolates could run out by 2020 as the cocoa supplies are diminishing across the world. Industry expert Angus Kennedy said that the chocolate bars may get replaced by slabs of palm oil and vegetable fats packed with raisins and nougat by 2020 as there is a worldwide shortage of cocoa, the Mirror reported.
As the cocoa crops are being replaced by more profitable rubber plantations, the future of chocolate bars looks bleak.

Simple living high thinking

Pope Francis has written to the cardinals he is preparing to appoint next month, warning them to steer clear of “worldliness” and “celebrations” and telling them they should retain “a simple and humble heart”.
Francis has repeatedly warned clerics against being ambitious and has curtailed the use of honorific “monsignor” titles as part of his plans to revamp the Vatican’s scandal-tainted bureaucracy and finances.
“The post of cardinal is not a promotion or an honour or a decoration. It is simply a service that demands a wider view and a bigger heart,” the pope said in his letter, made public by the Vatican on Monday.
He said the 19 new cardinals, who were named on Sunday and will officially be appointed at a consistory on February 22, should make sure they follow the example of Jesus Christ — “the path of humility”.
“You should take up the post with elation and joy but make sure this sentiment is far from any expression of worldliness, any celebrations that are foreign to the evangelical spirit of austerity, sobriety and poverty.”

To err is human – So what, she is a nun !

A nun has given birth to a boy in the Italian city of Rieti, report Agencies from Rome.
The nun, originally from El Salvador, claimed she did not know that she was pregnant. She was rushed to a hospital after experiencing severe abdominal pain.
An ultrasound scan revealed she was expecting a full-term baby, who was delivered by doctors during a natural birth.
“The baby is one of God’s creatures and we have the utmost respect for human life. Pope Francis himself has recalled, that human errors aside, the dignity of the individual must be respected,” said Fabrizio Borello, a priest. The nun will take care of her baby. The other nuns at the convent were “shocked” at the birth, the priest added.


Women power that failed

Bhayandar: The three biological sisters, who landed in the custody of Mira Road police after they were caught red-handed while trying to steal money from a bank customer in Mira Road, have been remanded to police custody. 
The sisters had tried to rip open the plastic bag containing Rs 50,000 cash carried by a bank customer. According to the police, the matter was reported from the Shanti Park branch of Bank of India at about 12 pm.
A resident of RNA Courtyard, Swati Singh, was waiting in queue to deposit the cash in her account when a young woman, who was later identified as Jogeshwaridevi Guda Chamar (18), tried to rip open Singh’s bag with a blade. A stunned Singh, who noticed the act, immediately raised an alarm, prompting the on-duty security personnel to rush to the spot and nab the woman.
Soon it emerged that the Jogeshwaidevi was not alone, her two elder siblings, identified as Mona Guda Chamar (21) and Gauri Shrikant Chamar (30) were assisting her in the crime. The bank authorities immediately alerted the local police who reached the spot and arrested the women. The trio who are said to be natives of Madhya Pradesh and staying at the Mira Road railway platform, were remanded to police custody by the District Sessions Court, Thane. Primary investigations revealed that the sisters were  part of a gang involved in similar crimes in the region. It is interesting to note that Seeta Chaurasiya was robbed of Rs 50,000 from the Bhayandar branch of a nationalised bank on December 6, in exactly a similar manner.
The PSI , Sneha Mehtar is carrying out further investigations into the case.

Eureka forbes fined for deficiency

Mumba : The Mumbai Central Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has held Eureka Forbes guilty of deficiency in service and penalised it for rendering faulty service to a consumer. Besides the main compensatory amount, the forum has asked Eureka Forbes to cough up Rs10,000 for the complainant’s legal expenses and his mental agony.
In May 2012, the complainant, Digambar Dhande, had approached the firm for installing a water purifier at his Dadar residence. One of the firm’s employees had accordingly visited Dhande’s house and advised him to get the AG Booster (water filter-cum-purifier). Eureka Forbes then asked him to make an advance payment to book the filter.
On July 17, 2012, the AG Booster was installed at Dhande’s residence. His contention was that the machine worked properly for the first three months after installation. However, it broke down in October 2012. He then lodged a complaint about it with the firm, which then sent a technician to Dhande’s residence to fix the problem. The technician was unable to trace the problem and advised Dhande to register a complaint with the firm’s Bangalore toll-free number. Meanwhile, the firm deputed more technicians to fix the problem, “but nobody was able to solve the issue,” stated the complaint.
He finally visited the firm to seek a solution, but did not get any response. Eureka Forbes reneged on its offer to replace the faulty purifier with a new one.Aggrieved, the complainant then finally approached the redressal forum, filing a complaint against the firm.
After going through the evidence produced by Dhande, the forum held the firm responsible for deficient and faulty services and directed them to pay a fine of Rs 8,590, along with 9 per cent interest, from June 2013 to Dhande. It also directed the firm to pay Rs 5,000 to compensate for the complainant’s mental agony and an additional Rs 5,000 toward the complainant’s legal expenses.

ABRACADABRA

Beware there are pavement thieves

In a bizarre robbery, thieves posed as workmen cordoning off an area in UK's Kent county and stole pavement slabs weighing more than five tonnes.
A 35-year-old man from Chatham, Kent, has been arrested on suspicion of theft and bailed until January 14.
The thieves used stolen roadwork signs to cordon off part of the centre of Rochester, Kent, and lifted 7,000 pounds worth of Yorkstone paving slabs.
"This appears to be a brazen operation to make it look genuine. It would have taken time and effort to set up and work in this way," Councillor Phil Filmer was quoted as saying by Daily Express.
"It could be very difficult for the council to replace the missing slabs with matching Yorkstone as it is difficult to get hold of. I would ask any resident who may have seen what was going on to contact the police as soon as possible," he said.


‘Vandalism’ French style

Paris: Some 1,067 vehicles were torched in France over New Year’s Eve, Interior Minister Manuel Valls announced, a marked drop from last year in what has become a turn-of-the-year tradition in rundown areas.
Every year, the night of December 31 to January 1 sees hundreds of cars set  ablaze across the country in an orgy of vandalism — as much a tradition as champagne and oysters in more affluent parts of France.
 Briefing reporters late on Wednesday, Valls said the number of cars torched  over this New Year’s Eve had dropped by more than 10 percent.
 The Seine-Saint-Denis department that neighbours Paris, the poorest in  France, was the clear winner with a total of 80 burnt cars, he added. Authorities had stopped publishing official figures of the number of burnt  cars after it was discovered a district-by-district breakdown was fuelling a  destructive competition between rival gangs.
 But last year, Valls had promised to publish the figures again. Some 53,000 policemen were deployed across the country during New Year’s  Eve to try and avoid any violence, but three people were knifed and died, including one in Paris.


Kiss a girl’s hand & school suspends 6 yr-old

Denver: The suspension of a 6-year-old boy for kissing a girl at school is raising questions about whether the peck should be considered sexual harassment. The boy’s mother said officials at Lincoln School of Science and Technology in Canon City, a Colorado suburb of 16,000, are over-reacting. Jennifer Saunders said her son was suspended once before for kissing the girl and had other disciplinary problems, and she was surprised to find out that he would be forced out of school again for several days. First grader Hunter Yelton told KRDO-TV (http://tinyurl.com/lyhxh7l) that he has a crush on a girl at school and she likes him back. “It was during class, yeah. We were doing reading group, and I leaned over and kissed her on the hand. That’s what happened,” he said. Saunders said she saw nothing wrong with her son’s display of affection. She said she punished him for other problems in school, including rough-housing. She was shocked when the school’s principal brought up the term “sexual harassment” during a meeting. “This is taking it to an extreme that doesn’t need to be met with a six year old. Now my son is asking questions. what is sex mummy? That should not ever be said, sex. Not in a sentence with a six year old,” she said. District superintendent Robin Gooldy told The Associated Press the boy was suspended because of a policy against unwanted touching. “The focus needs to be on his behaviour. We usually try to get the student to stop, but if it continues, we need to take action and it sometimes rises to the level of suspension,” he said.

When bullet boomaranged

In a bizarre mugging incident, a 16-year-old robber was killed after a bullet fired by an accomplice ricocheted off their victim’s face and hit him.
A man was walking along the Alemany Boulevard in San Francisco when a group of boys approached him and demanded his cellphone, police said.
One of the robbers pulled out a gun while the other robbers rifled through the victim’s pockets.
The victim was not resisting and complying with the robbers’ demands, but the armed man fired one shot at the victim anyhow, Sergeant Danielle Newman was quoted as saying by the SF Weekly.
The shot bounced off the victim’s face and instead hit Clifton Chatman, one of the robbery suspects, killing him instantly, police said.

A dog’s day as driver

New York: A mischievous Chihuahua in the US got behind the wheel of his owner's car, somehow kicked it out of gear and steered it onto the open road before crashing into another driver. Jason Martinez, from Spokane, said he left the pooch in his car while he ran into a store. The cheeky chihuahua, Toby, somehow kicked the vehicle out of gear and took it for a spin. However, unable to properly control the car, he ran through a red light and crashed into a woman's motor. Fortunately only her tire was damaged in the bizarre crash, 'New York Daily News' reported. Tabitha Ormaechea told KREM-TV she couldn't believe her eyes when she saw a dog was driving the vehicle. "When I looked up, there was no one in the car, just a little dog up on the steering wheel peeking over looking at me," she said. The dog owner Martinez got to know about the crash when someone ran into the store and said that a gold car had been in an accident. "He [the dog] must have knocked it out of gear and the car rolled out," Martinez said.

THE LAST PAGE

Presidential and Prime Ministerial travels

M.V.Kamath

How much should the President of India or, for that matter, the Prime Minister of the country, travel during his or her term of office? Once every month? Once every term? And this, at a time, when one can get in touch with anybody just by the touch of a button? But then it may be argued that heads of state or government don’t travel to have a good time but to conduct government business. But then the question may arise: what are Ambassadors for? Or Ministers of External Affairs? Such questions have recently occurred following Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s visit to Russia and China. It is asked: what has he gained? What has India gained? In the past President Pratibha Patil came in for loud criticism for spending a whopping Rs 205 crore on her foreign visits, surpassing the record of all her predecessors. Since assuming office as the country’s first woman President, Patil had undertaken 12 foreign trips covering 22 countries across four continents. The countries she visited include Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Bhutan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Spain, Poland, Russia, Tajikistan, the United Kingdom, Cyprus, China, Laos, Cambodia….what, questions were asked, had India to do with Chile, for instance? Why did she have to go there? Her immediate predecessor, Dr A.P.J.Kalam undertook seven trips to seventeen countries for 47 days during his 5-year term. Before that K.R.Narayan covered ten countries in six trips spending 46 days of his tenure out of the country. And earlier still S.Sharma travelled to 16 countries in four trips for 47 days. Were those trips worth the money spent? As the first Prime Minister of India, if Jawaharlal Nehru had travelled a few times it was on his Non-Aligned mission. He had a specific vision in mind. In the early years, besides, he usually travelled by regular Air India flights, the front part of the plane reserved for him and his officials. Now we learn that Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in his nine years has undertook 67 travels since 2004 and the country has had to bear the cost of Rs 642.5 crore, something of a record. The maximum amount of Rs 26.94 crore was spent duing his 7-day long visit to Mexico and Brazil in 2012 to attend the G20 Summit and the Rio+20 Summit respectively. Of course, it is not that he traveled alone. He had to be accompanied by a posse of concerned officials and these days media persons also get a free trip which they possibly cannot deny. And it is just as well that they are invited. It would be part of their education in international affairs! There has been some quiet behind-one’s-back criticism of our leaders for spending too much on travelling, as always, with their spouses, children and even grand grandchildren. Is it right to take one’s spouse along, when one is on an official visit? But what would be wrong with it? It only shows that we are human. Besides, a spouse can make friends with wives of local leaders and, in their small way, practice diplomacy. Nehru was invariably accompanied by Indira Gandhi, but the latter, in her time, travelled all alone – and wisely. Her visits abroad often made history, whether to Moscow or to any other international capital, especially Washington, where she was hated. The charge is now made that after eighty sojourns abroad in nine years, Dr Manmohan Singh has achieved nothing. To make the charge more shocking the point is further made that he has been away from India one in every ten days. Half his visits were to the more relevant countries like Russia, China and Britain and the United States but two things are relevant to remember: one is that the Prime Minister had to be present at the annual opening session of the U.N. General Assembly. That has almost become a tradition. Two, should every visit abroad necessarily have to be a “success?”. And what exactly is “success” or “achievement”? A visit abroad is made precisely because an issue has to be settled and that cannot, normally, be done through diplomatic procedure involving top officials. Expecting ‘success’ all the time is over-expectation. For example, after nearly a decade of lobbying, India has not been successful in getting a Permanent seat in the U.N. Secretary Council. India’s biggest and most vicious opponent is China, a nation with no sense of gratitude. Then there is another relevant question: Presidents and Prime Ministers of how many countries make foreign visits? Of course, the argument can be made that one cannot compare any other country with India which is unique in its own way. When an Indian president travels abroad he represents not just political India, but a cultural or a civilizational India – and that is very important. It makes sense to go around the world and make one’s presence felt to show that India exists. The problem is to find out what should be the frequency of visits abroad, both for the President and the Prime Minister. Here opinions will necessarily differ. Besides, another relevant question is whether our leaders go abroad invited or uninvited. One can’t just push oneself on any country’s goodwill and sociableness. We need to get an invitation from the host country. Do we get such invitations on a regular basis? This is not revealed. It is possible, of course, that we may express our desire to visit a particular country which, out of sheer courtesy, the recipient of our request may find it difficult to discard. Besides, isn’t it an honour for any country to say that an Indian President or Prime Minister has deigned it important enough to be visited? In other words, to be critical of presidential and Prime Ministerial visits abroad as necessary, avoidable, and, in the final analysis too costly, is unfair, unjust and unwise. Here again, yet another point may be made, that everything is ephemeral and that howsoever glamourous a visit may turn out to be, in the end it is forgotten in no time. Yes and No. But what is relevant here is the intention. And, in any event, one cannot possibly give a quantitative evaluation of the success of any visit and this is where criticism must stop. Keep moving sirs, and madams. And may you take the goodwill and graciousness of a civilizational India to the world around.