Saturday, June 14, 2014

EDITOR'S COLUMN

Friends

We are well into the monsoon season. It has already been around, doing hide and seek. Meteriological Deptt. reckons, North West monsoon to hit the Kerala coast early June as usual. Hope it keeps its date with the earth. Despite the forecast for deficient rainfall, the food production is likely to be normal, report monsoon watchers.
Month that went by witnessed an upheaveral of another kind. Some even called it a tsunami. 2014, election has come and gone and has left Congress, SP, BSP, NCP devastated. While the Congress has been reduced to double digit, SP and NCP were reduced to single digit of 5 seats each, and BSP could manage only zero. Congress managed only 44, as against over 200 seats in the last Loksabha. This is perhaps the lowest for Congress in all these past 16 elections to the Loksabha. Indian electorates have spoken, loud and clear.
Indeed, in one sweep, NAMO wave has swallowed all of them to register a highest tally for his party, the BJP. From 106 to 284 is a huge leap of over 160%. In the event, BJP became the first party in 25 years to get a single party majority mandate.
While of course, supporters of BJP shall celebrate their stunning victory, it is also expected to cause little unease with its alleged record of divisiveness. But then victor can be, in fact can afford to be, gracious in victory. Mr. Modi being a strong person both physically and mentally, has been trying to be accommodative in his utterances before and even after the victory. That is a good sign. Hope, he sustains the hope that he has generated during the past months. In Focus, we have tried to talk of the new government, post election, and the ongoing unfinished task of 8 Millennium Development Goals, to be completed within the next 15 months, upto Sept. 2015. Hope Modi & his new government shall take the call. We, at I&C, wishes the new leader and his team, a smooth and a result oriented performance to help those, who need his help the most. Rest, as usual. Do comeback with your take.
 




MONTH-IN-PERSPECTIVE

NEW DELHI: Every good thing has to come to an end. So is the prime ministership for Dr Manmohan Singh. Come June 2014, there will be a new dispensation in the corridors of power at the portals of parliament. So the incumbent CEO, the prime minister of the government at New Delhi, will call it quits. The honeymoon, which was, kind of bestowed on Dr Singh, shall be curtains down. Thus, fare-well speeches have already begun for Dr Singh.
 Speaking on one such occasion at the Planning Commission he is reported to have said “India’s Growth story is a Work-in-Progress”. Indeed, it is a story of never ending work-in-progress! 66 years, of independent India’s ‘tryst with the destiny’ has been a story of a long, winding, with continuous ups and downs, journey of glorious uncertainties. How long into the future, it shall be a story of work-in-progress? is a question begging for answer. Of course, Dr Singh was frank in admitting that “there is lot of distance still to be covered”.
Around the same time, as he was speaking at the Planning Commission, the World Bank or the IBRD, the International Bank of Reconstruction & Development, announced that, after U.S. and China India is the third largest economy. For the first time India replaced Japan. Great!! But does this call for celebration! To answer this query we Indians need to see ‘Satyameva Jayathe’ of Aamir Khan, the show man per excellence, for his incisive T.V. serial, both I & II, which travelled to remote parts of India to find the truth of our 'tryst with destiny.'      

Obviously N. Srinivasan (NS) the out of office BCCI boss also boss of Madras Cements, which owns IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings, was asking for it. Despite court appointing Shivlal Yadav and Sunil Gavaskar to run BCCI and its current IPL No:7. N.S has been persisting with his request to let him continue with the president ship of BCCI until his term gets over sometime in 2014, indicating there may be something he needs to cover in the meanwhile. Court was simply not amused. But in a setback to NS, the Supreme Court on May 16, directed a probe against Srinivasan himself and those 12 prominent players, including Dhoni, in the IPL betting and spot fixing scandal. Earlier BCCI had proposed to conduct its own probe by its panel, which court had turned down and asked Justice Mudgal to investigate further, what he had reported earlier. With the power vested with Justice Mudgal committee, it would be difficult to save himself, if there is, as suspected, evidence of wrong doing by Srinivas and some of the prominent cricketers. It is a development good for the country’s sports in general and cricket in particular. Hope, the message goes across to make BCCI accountable in the broader picture.
 
Whatever the truth of the matter, the RIL gas pricing imbroglio is on a spin. At one stage RIL is threatening to increase its price unilaterally and reportedly Lt Governor of Delhi, who runs the Delhi government, in the absence of an elected government in place, has submitted under affidavit that the then govt. of Arvind Kejriwal of Aam Aadmi Party has not given any direction to file FIR against RIL, Mukesh Ambani and Former Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moili.
While the court, acting on the FIR, has asked the Centre & Reliance Industries to co-operate with the Delhi Govt’s. Anti Corruption Bureau, it has issued the notice to the Delhi govt. seeking their reply. Strangely Delhi govt. has negatively responded saying there has been no direction by the then govt.
Justice Manmohan Singh of Delhi High Court has rather reacted sharply “Matters are listed here by the Registry, not by judges. I take strong umbrage. What nonsense is this. I can summon the Lt. Governor for putting this submission on affidavit. You can say government of India is fixing matters”, was the response of justice Manmohan. It appears L.G is trying to influence the course of the case. It is appropriate that court takes a very serious note of such tactics from the Delhi Lt. Governor. It is an issue of national resources owned by Indians in general and nobody should usurp and help usurp its benefit by an individual or a group of individuals like a company. And comes an unprecedented development. Reportedly, the Supreme Court has allowed the RIL, one of the party to the case, to take their Price Fixing issue to London for arbitration.
This is a strange development which need o be explained in a public space for the informed debate on the subject. Hope it happens.

More often than not, this Yoga exponent Ramdev is in the news for all wrong reasons. With BJP smelling power, he is suddenly more vocal and irrational. He thought his honeymoon remark on Rahul Gandhi is a smart observation and people will lap it up. In the event most people riled him for his, not only stupid, but insensitive remark. While trying to show Rahul Gandhi in poor light, he painted a whole community rather badly. There has to be a legal course to fix him under SC/ST protection provisions. Some even called him saint. That’s a joke. While we are about it, comes another insane bounty with justification to boot. If Ramdev was stupid, this Bhagwan Singh Chohan, a BJP member of Parliament from Punjab has reportedly offered Rs 1 crore for Ramdev’s head “I am ready to pay Rs 1 crore to the person who will bring Ramdev’s head to me,” he is reported to have remarked while burning Yoga guru’s effigy for his controversial remark. As law will attend to Ramdev’s utterances, so should it reprimand this M.P. It is indeed a poor reflection of socio-political interlocution in public space in the emerging India. There can be no justification for either of the above boorish yaps.    

Responding to a petition by an NGO, the Supreme Court has recently passed an order, fixing a deadline of one year, from the date of framing charge for the completion of trial involving MLAs, MLCs and M.Ps. Our legal system being what it is, with every advocate inventing newer ways of dilatory tactics, of delaying the court proceedings, by asking for adjournment for all kinds of reasons, for any length of time. It has been a phase of interminable freedom to the powerful politicians from the clutches of the law. These politicians with the help of their lawyer friends take the law and judiciary of the land, for a long ride. The latest intervention, happily, shall fix the responsibility of both, lower courts and the lawyers, representing their MPs and MLAs, to strictly abide by the time frame and thus has empowered the trial court to refuse routine adjournment. Hope it should serve the ends of justice.    

Sometime even the judiciary too acts with jerks and starts. Suddenly the Supreme Court has realized in its wisdom “A corrupt government servant is a corrupt servant”, and there cannot be any discrimination with senior bureaucrats with Joint Secretary and above requiring the government’s prior sanction before the CBI investigation and trial in the corruption cases.
Better late than never. At long last the long arm of law is catching up with those babus who were high and mighty with their political connections. Yes, the highest court of the land has, after all, decided to take the call, to put in their place, these 'invincible' babus, inspite of their political masters. The fact of the matter is, this lacunae of senior bureaucrats’ prosecution requiring government sanction has always been there. Despite intermittent intervention by concerned individuals and groups and even judiciary at lower level, the government of the day went out of its way, to grant protection to these erring senior babus. Obviously it was an arrangement of mutual benefit, between the political class and its senior administrative helpers in the bureaucracy, so that loot continues unchecked and unaccounted.
Hopefully with the new man at the top, this section 6A of Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, that mandates the CBI to take prior sanction before probing corruption of senior babus and again before taking them to court, has become null and void, after this ruling, and shall not comeback with some other contrived versions.  

Performance of AAP, must have dejected even the most optimistic, not withstanding their 4 seats win in Punjab. Ever since, it’s fantastic debut in Delhi election, the controversy of one kind or the other, rightly or wrongly kept on haunting it. Were this controversies wrongly managed? Is a question lost in the ever increasing criticism of Arvind Kejriwal’s handling of issues. Whether it is the quitting of Delhi government in 49 days, when they could have lingered much longer. Or his agitationist tendency. Or even his latest move of going to jail, have all invited criticism, ridicule and derision. Of course, there were even some miniscule section who admired him. But then this miniscule was too small to influence any course correction, either in the general thinking or even with Kejriwal himself. The ‘forever fighter’ in him is slowly but surely making him a pariah. Whether his apology for the error of judgment in quitting the Delhi government, shall have any impact on the future of AAP is a matter to be seen, around next election to Delhi, as and when it will happen. But the damage was done, as the result and the overall voting to AAP indicated around the country. It just got 2% votes. So there is a need for a comprehensive stock-taking by the AAP leadership. Sooner they do it the better.

There was this extremely disturbing report of six convicts in Akshardham temple attack case, being acquitted. Supreme Court, on the day ‘Election 2014’ result was declared, acquitted all six convicts including three on death row for the attack on Akshardham temple. This acquittal was sadly due to the failure of the police to sustain the alleged charges of all six convicts. It was in 2002, post Gujarat pogrom that Akshardham temple was attacked by Pakistani terrorists killing over 2 dozen devotees. All six terrorists were killed in the retaliatory attack. But, the police in Ahmadabad in their wisdom thought, that there were local supporters of these Pakistani terrorists, and hence rounded up six of them, on all kinds of charges. Three of the six were given death sentence. For 11 long years all of them languished in jail. Police could not prove the veracity of their charges in Supreme Court.
While the nation should celebrate the victory of justice, what is of deepest concern is the ham-handed police conduct in all parts of India to detain, arrest and frame –innocents - as accused through the apparent process of law and jail them, including the ‘rarest of rare’ death sentence, all on trumped up charges.
Surely the highest court of the land has applied itself fully to come to this judgment. But, what about the high court and initial trial courts? Why have they failed to see the truth?
Is it because, accused are poor, vulnerable and powerless? There are any number of convicts who do not have the where-withal to challenge the lower courts’ orders.
In such circumstances, a long jail term or death sentence could be a criminal miscarriage of justice. Law & judiciary have the greatest responsibility on its shoulders and they have to perforce, live it. Wonder if Apex Court would take the call to correct this apparent anomaly.

UTTAR PRADESH: There was this cover page head line in ‘THE WEEK’, “Who’s afraid of Namo?” followed by another line on the same cover. ‘The Priyanka missile hits the BJP where it hurts most, Modi?'  With ‘wisdom’ pieces from yours ‘faithfully’ M L Fotedar and Sam Pitroda
Frankly what was the journalistic purpose of this hype was not clear. Although the message was not lost. They were only telling the Congress and its president, that THE WEEK is batting for them and the dynasty is fine in Indian politics. There was nothing that can be called missile. It could be that they had only Priyanka that Congress had in its armoury to hit at BJP. She did her job to the best of her ability. But to what effect? is a question still rambling for an answer. Surely it is not as big as THE WEEK made it out to be. Of course, there were mudslingings from both sides of the divide. Both Congress and BJP are past masters in making controversial remark and then try to defend the indefensible. But Vadra’s land dealings, which made him a billionaire, except emotionally charging BJP that it is attacking her family, she could never explain the bonafide of his latest riches. The fact remains that Robert Vadra benefitted himself, and by extension his wife Priyanka and family enormously, in short few years through the politics of contact in Congress ruled states. And what is Robert Vadra’s antecedent and qualifications even to make a decent earning?    
   
 In the season of bad mouthing, there is competitive belligerence. If Yoga man Ramdev made uncharitable pun of Rahul Gandhi, Rahul’s sister was no less in being arrogant. Priyanka Gandhi (PG) had reportedly snubbed Smrithi Irani by questioning her existence, while campaigning for her brother Rahul Gandhi. Rahul Gandhi of Congress was fighting Smrithi Irani of BJP besides others in Amethi. Priyanka like most Congress men think that Amethi is the pocket borough of Gandhis and hence had wondered “Irani who?” referring to BJP candidate.
It displayed PGs ignorance and arrogance. Ignorance because, Smrithi Irani is not only an official national spokesperson of BJP but also a fairly known T.V. actress. As a spokesperson, she represents her party pretty well. Whether one agrees to what she says or not. She is knowledgeable and articulate. The same may not be the case of 2 Gs (Rahul & Priyanka). She is in public life due to her own capability and she has earned it. But what about these 2 Gs. Except their relationship to the Gandhi name, which is actually Ghandy from Firoz Ghandy, what else they can show off? Hence for Priyanka Gandhi to ask “Irani who?” is certainly exposes her arrogance, over confidence and ignorance.

That this man called Azam Khan, who is notorious as a minister in the UP government is also a kind of joke in this democratic country called India. His boss, Mulayam Singh, had the visions of being possible Prime Minister candidate in the recently concluded Election 2014. It is another matter that his party was fairly snuffed out by the Modi wave that swept the country. Due to sectarian inclination of this Mulayam Singh the minister Azam Khan has also become powerful exploiting his minority identity.
Most Indians are in the know of this ‘Missing Seven Buffaloes’ story of this Khan, and how in a matter of 36 hours, the police force under the supervision of district police chief and District Magistrate ensured the ‘recovery’ of these 7 missing buffaloes and the arrest of ‘culprits’. It was an emergency. Alacrity with which police acted was a matter of ‘praise’ for the police and in their ‘action packed drama’, the authorities even suspended 3 police men for 'dereliction' of duty. After all these 7 buffaloes were the prized possession of the temparental minister. Mind you, he did not complain but his ‘anger’ caused the ‘heat’ at Etawah district headquarters. Which promptly acted. It was some four months ago, and all non affected were sleeping peacefully, since, only the powerless were the victims of this buffalo saga. And comes the news that on 23rd May, the police in Etawah arrested seven automobiles thieves, one of whom confessed to the stealing of Azam Khan’s buffaloes, and police realised to their acute embarrassment that the earlier culprits were in fact innocents and the buffaloes recovered were not the stolen ones. Wah bhai wah! What can this be described as? Shouldn’t this District Magistrate and his police superintendent, be summarily dismissed and jailed for this flagrant misuse of power of the state?

GUJARAT: There is a growing perception that established political parties cannot bring about change. And it is becoming increasingly clear that there is truth in such thinking. Election 2014, has come and gone. As we are writing this, results are yet to be announced. Over 8000 candidates, all over India have tried their luck to be one of the 543 Members of Loksabha.
A good number among them are good and mean well. Probably they all have tried to do some good to the people without their selfish agenda. Such people are there in all parties. But party agenda has not much helped them in translating their visions into reality.
But there are also enough people, who are criminals’ thugs and robbers of public resources through their strong arm tactics. Then people live by brow beating law abiding aam aadmi, Terrorizing helpless, vulnerable people by pocketing the system, has been their way of life. Porbundar, the land of Mahatma, the land which gave the world, the apostle of peace, believe it or not, is going to be represented by a criminal goon.
BJP is represented by Vithal Radadia, who courted controversy by brandishing gun when stopped at toll booth for payment. He was the local Congress MP and joins BJP and wins the last Loksabha election. Now he is back again as BJP candidate. Opposing him is the Congress supported NCP candidate, reportedly, from a pure criminal stock. So one way or the other, it is going to be a criminal, representing the land of pristine purity of Gandhi Legacy.
 This is BJP and Congress for you.

MAHARASHTRA: If in Delhi, Apex Court has pulled up the government for the special treatment of senior babus for their non accountability in corruption cases, in Mumbai, reportedly, the cosy citadel of film actor Salman Khan is being rocked. Since the government of Home Minister R R Patil after 12 years has decided, under whatever pressure, to start afresh, the case of ‘Hit & Run’ on the actor. There have been witnesses coming up to prove the case.
Reportedly, 3 key witnesses have in a sessions court, identified the actor. They have apparently seen him getting down from the vehicle which ran over persons sleeping on the roadside footpath on Sept 28, 2002.
For the last several years, the police in Mumbai, apparently under the instructions of their seniors in the government were shoddily going about the case. However, it was at the instance of a session judge that charge of culpable homicide was added. One person was killed and four were injured in the accident which police had booked as ‘rash and negligent driving’, as normally they do for all powerful and moneyed offenders. As we have seen on innumerable instances, interpretations of the law changes, depending upon your paying capacity. Hope this time round, the noose tightens for the actor who thought that politics and money can help you all the time, evade the law of the land.

KARNATAKA: Bangalore has not made any newsworthy reportage for a long time. When govt of BSY was in power, Karnataka was in the news for mostly wrong reasons. However, the new government of Siddaramayya did make news for that 30 kg rice for Rs. 30/-, which most beneficiaries were only selling it in the open market for Rs 300 or more. But here comes news that is not only disturbing but is also deeply worrying.
It is the story of non-performance or serious lack of performance of a Government of Karnataka undertaking. According to CAG, Karnataka Road Development Corporation Ltd (KRDCL) was given the target of completing 404.67K.m. of road building for the period of 5years, from 2008 to 2013. But the government corporation completed only 86.47kms. In other words, against the target of 80 K.ms per year, it could do only 20K.ms. So this was a case of monumental failure. The CEO of this Corporation should be sacked immediately. If failure to perform is a reason enough to sack the CEO, there were several irregularities too. According to the CAG, both in calling tenders and in awarding contracts rules were not followed. They were arbitrarily done like design change after awarding contracts, and the deliberate delay in acquiring land. This, observed the watchdog, caused immense cost overruns. These are well known tricks of the authorities concerned to award larger compensation than the rates quoted to loot the system for the benefit of the persons authorized to award contracts. CAG also found laxity in fixing concession period for toll collection under PPP arrangement of road constructions, in which state suffered huge loss of revenue and private parties were unduly benefitted by crores of rupees. These are very serious issues of robbing the national resources, but unfortunately, these audit report of CAG rarely see accountability in the quid-pro-quo or ‘you scratch my back & I scratch yours’ principle, between the politician-babu nexus. This is Yeh Mera India.

WORLD: As usual more often than not, Pakistan is in the wrong news. Latest being that of two Indian scribes, one from PTI and other from The Hindu, were asked to leave Pakistan in a week’s time from the date of notice. While, the action is entirely regrettable and unfortunate, as MEA responds, it is a reflection of intolerance by the entrenched ISI and army higher-ups, who would rather want a simmering relationship than see improvement in the love-hate relationship between India and its Western neighbour. According to report coming from Islamabad, the domestic dynamics within the political class and army, do not like Indian press persons writing about the issues within Pakistan as per writers perspectives which is increasingly seen as anti-Pakistani or anti-Pakistani establishments. Just because a country allows one to stay  within its borders these journos cannot whitewash what they can see and report. If they interview persons, with whom government or army is not comfortable with, the views of those who are opposed to the government, it cannot be published. This may be a difficult proposal. These situations can be appropriately handled by guidelines to these journos rather than sending them away from the country. By their thoughtless action, Pakistan has closed a possible door or window, which was open or ajar, for any open-ended initiative for bettering our – improving - not improving – improving – not improving - blow hot – blow cold ‘friendship’. When will Pakistan grow-up?

A London date lined report informed “British kids innocently poison teacher’s coffee”.
Of course, the teacher, one Emma Place from Clapam Terrace Community Primary School, was saved in time by another student, who warned her, not to drink the coffee. The police, who were called, felt that kids aged 10, probably did not realize the seriousness of what they were doing. But the ‘Independent’ reported that they could have been arrested and charged with the offence, since the age of criminal responsibility in Britain is 10 years.
If Britain, in their wisdom, think that 10 years could be the age of criminal responsibility there is no reason, why such a wisdom has not dawned on Indian judiciary. Judiciary in India has steadfastly refused to reduce the age of minor from 18 to even 16, for the purpose of criminal responsibility, where the crime committed by these juveniles is most dastardly, heinous and calculatively cold.
There is a serious need to do some rethink and national debate on this issue of age of minors especially for violent crimes. The most worrying part of the scene is adults using boys just under 18 to commit murders and get away as juveniles under the present act. It is time judiciary and society wake up to the hard reality facing them.

FEED BACK

Let me, at the outset, thank you for sending “ISSUES & CONCERNS”. The magazine is really focusing on several issues & concerns that all of us are facing. The articles are of high standard dealing with contemporary Social, Cultural and Political problems they are both informative and educative, analytical and meaningful. Write-up by Prof. B.M.Hegde is practical for he deals with Science for everybody by his simple examples. There are other articles of interest together with snippets. On the top of everything, the magazine carries an article by a Journalist of Great eminence DR. M.V. Kamath whose write-up are of immense value. While again thanking you, I congratulate you for being an Editor of a good Magazine.
H.G.Somashekhara Rao, Bangalore.

Its been quite sometime since I wrote a feedback to I & C. So here I am penning some of my thoughts. I & C, as an awarness periodical is certainly doing a commendable job. Its analytical excercise - Month - in - Perspective - is in an exclusive class. I have not seen any paper or journal, weekly, fortnightly or monthly doing anything similar. For the shear reading pleasure, I do not mind more pages of M.I.P. Coming to FOCUS, March issue 'When can India win Mr President', was by far the most courageous for its tenor and directness. Although what was written are all true, no paper or journal dared to write the way I & C wrote. Hats off! The one on 'Sahara Besahara' too was good. But media was already full of stories of Subroto gimmicks. The write-up on AAP and Changing political discourse appeared more pro AAP than they deserved. They could have been certainly better than what they did so far. Hope they do critically lookback over their journey so far. Other writings by greats like Dr M V Kamath, Prof B M Hegde increases the value of the magazine. All in all I & C is a valuable member of the printmedia.  

                                                    Placid Faria, Hyderabad.  

In one of the second class reserved compartments there were rats, lizards and cockroaches giving a lot of inconvineance and trouble to the travellors. Apples and banana fruits kept with us were half eaten by these rats. Cockroaches came out flying from the lavotaries, when opened. These creatures enter the carriages to consume the left over eatables spreadout in the compartments, while they are in the yard, because they are not properly cleaned either at Mysore or at Chennai. Though the train comes to Mysore at 7 A.M. and leaves only at 8.30 P.M. leaving much time to clean it. The rake is misused for an interim trip to Bangalore and back.
To speak the truth it is more a fast passanger than an express. During its run from Jolar Pate to Chennai three fast and super fast train over-take it. With the two railways-S. RLY and S.W RLY- look in to the matter and see that it is well attended before departure.

M.S. Visveswara Sastri Nanjanagud, Mysore. 

FOCUS

Millennium Development Goals & 
The 3rd Largest Economy Post May 16


While, being No:3 among the larger global economies may improve our international stock, it is more important that our own domestic problems have to be better addressed with genuine concern. At the end of the day, it is the human capital which is more important than capital formation. The present dispensation at the centre headed by a controversial but dynamic leader is expected to address this issue of Human Development Index (HDI) more than the index at the share market. Hope post May 16, 2014, things should look up for Indians rather than Brand India.     

“India replaced Japan as the 3rd largest economy after U.S. & China, say data released by the World Bank” informed a media report on 1st May. Reportedly the data was related to 2011. So, it may well be true that India is indeed world’s 3rd largest economy. But frankly, does it really calls for celebration? is a question staring at all thinking Indians. Around the same time Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh was speaking to his Planning Commission officials and staff, at New Delhi. He was making his farewell speech. He is reported to have remarked “India’s growth story is a work-in-progress”. Indeed, he couldn’t have been more right. 
Looking back over the shoulder, the labyrinth that Indian development has traversed, is indeed quit wonky with too many cliffs and valleys. Whole of our growth story has produced many billionaires and millions of millionaires, but it has also left a huge section of Indians, of close to 50%, with earnings at below 2 $ a day. For this section of Indians it’s been a continuous work-in-progress. We could never, during all these 60+ years of 12 five-yearly-development plans, come out of ‘developing country’ label.   
India is a country with immense possibilities, both in resource terms 
as well as human terms. Yet couldn’t make it big despite over six decades of developmental exercise. Is it a case of governance failure? Or a case of unimaginative leadership? Or simply a lack of socio-political will to do better? Or is it the combination of all of them? These are all questions making its interminable rounds.
    Constitution makers of India, when they formally presented it to the country, included in its preamble, Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP), as a guide for the state for the establishment of a welfare state based on egalitarian social order. Among other things, it had enshrined in the constitution that “The state shall endeavor to provide, within a period of ten years from the commencement of the constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years”. That was in 1950. And it took 60 years for the managers of the country’s affairs to enact Right to Education (RTE) as a fundamental right. 
     But, ask Mr. A Subramanian of the Save the Children. He has a valid complaint. “Terminal 3 in New Delhi’s international airport just took 37 months to go from conception to reality. But it took 63 years to enact Right to Education bill and it is stalled because of lack of funds”. And he asks a relevant question. “Have we got our priorities wrong”? 
Indeed, it’s deeply disturbing that for all the 6 decades of planned economic growth, our priorities have been, for most part, misplaced. Article 39 of the DPSP lays down principles of policy to be followed by the state, 'for providing an adequate means of livelihood for all citizens, equal pay for equal work for men and women, proper working condition, reduction of concentration of wealth and means of production in the hands of a few and distribution of community resources to sub-serve the common good.' But what is the ground reality after 12 five-yearly developmental plans of redistributive exercise? 
Speaking to Indians after unfurling the tricolour on 15th Aug. Dr Manmohan Singh had stated “Today India stands among the fastest growing economies of the world. As the world’s largest democracy we have become an example for many other countries to emulate”. It is true that India has made globally recognizable achievements on many fronts. It is steadily growing in its clout as a regional power. Morgan Stanley had even predicted some years ago that India will surpass China in growth, within the next 5 years. Whether it will happen or not, the fact is, there is visible growth. Yet, it is also very true that we still have many gargantuan problems defying management and solution. However it is also true that these problems are not peculiar to India only, there are hundreds of countries of Africa, Latin America and Asia, who too have similar problems in different degrees. But the harsh truth is, India is home to the largest number of poor people. India is home to the largest number of malnourished children. India is home to the largest number of households without toilets. To address these socio-economic problems, the world over, United Nations organizations, had declared some fourteen years ago what is known as Millennium Development Goals. 
It was on Sept 8 2000, United Nations made this ‘Millennium Declaration’ at the UN Millennium summit at New York. This declaration was signed by 189 countries. Declaration had eight goals called Millennium Development Goals, (MDGs) to achieve. It gave the signatories (189 countries), time of 15 years up to 2015, to accomplish these goals. Those goals are, 
1.Eradicate Extreme Hunger and Poverty. 2. Achieve Universal Primary Education. 3. Promote gender equality and empower women. 4. Reduce child Mortality. 5. Improve Maternal Health. 6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other Diseases. 7. Ensure Environmental Sustainability. 8. Develop a global Partnership for development.
As is evident, it was basically an initiative to fight the scourge of poverty, hunger and disease, the world over, targeting primarily the health of women and children worldwide. 
Targets are (1) Halve by 2015, proportion of population below national poverty level (2) Halve by 2015, proportion of people who suffer from hunger (3) Ensure that by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary education.(4) Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education in all levels of education by 2015. (5) Reduce by 2/3rd , the under five mortality rate by 2015. (6) Reduce to a quarter, maternal mortality ratio by 2015 (7) To halt and to begin reversal of spread of HIV/AIDS (8) To halt and to begin reversal of spread of malaria and other major diseases. (9) To integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs and reverse the loss of environmental resources (10) To halve by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. (11) To have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers. (12) In cooperation with private sector, both national and international, make available, the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communication. 
Thus the world body’s intention of lifting the overall well being of global population through the participation of 189 member countries is very loudable. This will become possible with the involvement of all signatories to the declaration. Surely 189 countries are endowed with its own strength and problems. Those with strength shall contribute to the UN kitty to augment fund and other tangible assets and those with problems shall try their best to overcome those problems within their respective countries. There are countries which shall be only givers and those who are only receivers. But there may be countries which are both receiver and giver. India has its strength and problems. It has committed to do its best to overcome its persisting problems. 2015 is only an year away. Since 2000, for 14 long years, its contribution to improve its own problems have been inconsistent and uneven although not very unsatisfactory. 
How have we, the government of India, performed to achieve the targets set by these goals from 2000 to 2014, now that only a little over one year is left for the target year?     
Statistics apart, despite good intentions there have been uneven progress in the effort to reach the target. In every MDG, there have been positive differences. But those differences were well below the target set, hence very unlikely that the Sept 2015 goal shall be achieved. Current rates of progress on many indicators are not sufficient to meet many of the child related National Development Targets nor the MDGs by 2015. According to reports, poverty has come down, literacy among children has gone up, but gone up also is the school dropout. Only 4 out of 10 girls who enroll complete 8 years of schooling. Every state has been doing its bit in addressing the issue of hunger. They were more as political move or vote bank politics rather than an issue of concern. Female infanticide although not on the rise, more could have been done by the authorities. Some improvements are reported in child mortality but maternal health especially among pregnant and lactating mothers are still a matter of concern. Some 42% of households without latrines globally are in India, and Indian children make up one-third of the world’s malnourished children. Issues related to child protection, including trafficking and child labour are becoming more pronounced. Repeated and extensive emergencies such as tsunami, flooding and earthquakes have also adversely affected the lives of children in India. This uneven development path has been further exacerbated by persistent inequities by gender, caste and geography. While HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to spread and poses a significant threat, there is near eradication of polio, and eradication of malaria is still a long way. GOI has adopted ambitious targets related to children that are in line with, and at times, more ambitious than, the MDGs. Centrally-sponsored schemes have increased public resources to key sectors, notably the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan in education, the Reproductive and Child Health Programme II, the National Rural Health Mission and the Integrated Child Development Services. The challenge remains to convert these commitments and resources into measurable results for all children, especially those belonging to socially disadvantaged and marginalized communities. Ensuring environmental sustainability and developing global partnership for development, India is still lagging behind. All in all, spurred by UN declaration, India has progressed, but not enough. Lot still need to be done. While, being No:3 among the larger global economies may improve our international stock, it is more important that our own domestic problems have to be better addressed with genuine concern. At the end of the day, it is the human capital which is more important than capital formation. The present dispensation at the centre headed by a controversial but dynamic leader is expected to address this issue of Human Development Index (HDI) more than the index at the share market. Hope post May 16, 2014, things should look up for Indians rather than Brand India.   

WILL THE ‘RIGHT TURN’
                        BE RIGHT FOR INDIA? 

From a mere 2 seats in 1984, to win 284 seats in 25 years, it is indeed a massive surge, especially when only 5 years ago in 2009, it had only 106 seats. Thus, the truth become very apparent that it is not the BJP which has won these seats, it is the NAMO wave which swept the nation. However, what is true also is, 69% electorates, did not vote for him or BJP. Only 31% voted for him. 

Election 2014, has come and gone. It has thrown up its decisive mandate. It is an unparalelled verdict in the context of an ever evolving India. For the first time, in 25 years, a single party has won a clear majority in the Lok Sabha. That too, the unthinkable has happened. Country took a sharp right turn. It is unprecedented. Rajeev Gandhi won 414 seats in 1984 on the sympathy wave over the assassination of his mother. It is rather unfortunate, he lost it all in just 5 years. Congress couldn’t get even a simple majority. From then on coalition came to stay. For all the 25 years from 1989 to 2014, it was the govt. of the convenient for the convenience of the convenient. Everybody helped themselves, and country came a cropper. It had to change. AAP came along with a big hope but failed to sustain the hope. A go-getter in the Indian political firmament emerged. It will be an interesting study, why the BJP leadership, or rather its President Rajnath Singh, thought, that Narendra Modi could be the horse that he can bet on. Obviously Rajnath Singh was convinced that NAMO had the potential to turn the table. And turn the table, he did, so very magnificently, like no one else could have done. 
From a mere 2 seats in 1984, to win 284 seats in 25 years, it is indeed a massive surge, especially when only 5 years ago in 2009, it had only 106 seats. Thus, the truth become very apparent that it is not the BJP which has won these seats, it is the NAMO wave which swept the nation. However, what is true also is, 69% electorates, did not vote for him or BJP. Only 31% voted for him. 
Of course, this 69% is divided among over dozens of other parties, which include Congress, AIADMK, TMC, BJD, who have won 27% of seats as against 63% of BJP & allies. Other parties, like NCP, SP, CPM, AAP, TRS, LJS, PDP won remaining seats. But then vote share and number of seats have always been a mismatch. Congress got 44 seats with 19.3% vote share, but AIADMK got 37 seats with only 3.3% and BSP with 4.1% vote share had no seat at all. Such dichotomy is more a norm than an aberration during election time. Of course we have to add the vote share of  ShivSena, Shiromani Akali Dal, Telugu Desam Party and Lok Jan Shakthi of 6% to the 31% of BJP, since they are alliance partners in NDA.    
In any case what is important, when all is said and done is, Jo Jeetha Wohi Sikandar. And the truth is except some regional parties all national parties are devastated at the completely unexpected victory of Modi led NDA. So, for the next 5 years, Modi government will be in place, and chances are, with the kind of appropriate noises that Modi is making, it would look set for long innings. The spectacle of Modi bowing and touching his forehead on the steps leading to the parliament house has won him millions of hearts, who witnessed it, and the acceptance speech that he made in the Central Hall of the parliament has sent clear signals of taking everybody along. He was gracious in saying ‘there are no enemies in politics. It is our responsibility to take everyone along?’ He acknowledged openly that ‘various governments in the past tried to do some good work in their own way, for which they deserve appreciation?’. He must have been ambitious to be at the top of happenings, but having arrived on the big stage, appears to have made him humble. It augurs well for the ‘Idea of India’, which was, so far perceived to be, under threat. That is a very good sign. He is unexpectedly warm to one and all. Although some 69% voters did not vote for him, he has apparently created an impression that they need not fear him. His being a single man without any visible weakness, and without any family obligation, put him at an unique advantage unlike anybody else in the entire political spectrum. 
His invite to SAARC heads of state was, by any stretch of imagination, a diplomatic master stroke. 
His friendship with Corporate Houses, in coming days may become more businesslike in the pan Indian picture, unlike in the past. Private sector, whether national or international has enough skeletons in its cupboards and board rooms. From now on he may not rush, where angels fear to tread. 
He will not want his present government at Delhi to be the 1st and the last. He has already promised to take everybody along. He is India’s Prime Minister not of BJP alone. We are optimistic he will live by this hope. Happily Modi gives a clear indication of flexibility of co-operative co-existence. He will be a performing Prime Minister who will deliver. And chances are, he may have long innings like our first Prime Minister Nehru, who called it a day while in office. Should that happen, Shakespeare, in all probability would repeat that ‘This was the noblest Indian of them all’ His life was gentle, and the elements so mixed in him that Nature might stand up, and say to all the world “This was a man”. Being Indians in love with our country, we wish NARENDRA MODI good health and long life in service of Mera Bharath Mahaan. With this hopefully the country and our countrymen can become better and richer. Let’s hope it happens. We at ISSUES&CONCERNS, wish Modi and his team God speed and all the very best.  


ISSUES & CONCERNS

TRIBAL WOMEN IN OUR BLUNDER LAND

  Ajit Panda
Banita Naik is a lactating mother living in a remote village in Sunabeda Panchayat in Nuapada District of Odisha, where the only hope during any health problem for a pregnant or lactating woman is the ASHA (accredited social health activist). Although weak and anemic, Banita can’t consult any health person because the doctor, pharmacist and the ANM (auxiliary nurse midwife) posted in the PHC (primary health centre) in her village do not stay there for fear of Maoists. The lives and livelihood of 4000 such tribal women and children in 24 villages scattered over an area of 600 sq km inside the Sunabeda Wildlife Sanctuary are thus left to the mercy of God. There is no one to monitor the health and nutrition programmes which could help thousands of women live healthy lives. 
Mamata is one such scheme, floated by the Government of Odisha in 2011 as a conditional cash transfer plan, to compensate pregnant and nursing mothers for wage loss to an extent, and enable them to get adequate rest and nutrition, besides providing incentive to health-seeking behaviour such as immunization, appropriate child-feeding practices, etc. Eligible women in rural areas who register at the anganwadi (day care centre or nursery) and get immunized are given the first installment of Rs. 1500 out of the total incentive of Rs. 5000 in the sixth month of pregnancy. The other installments are given in due course, when the women fulfill certain conditions such as immunization and adoption of breast-feeding. However, due to the negligence of the service providers of ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services) and health departments, the women of the remote villages are deprived of their rights. 
Banita gave birth to a baby 11 months ago, but she is yet to get support under the Mamata Scheme. Kasturi Bag has also not got her due benefits, although seven months have passed since the birth of her baby. There are many others-Chanchala, Lalita, Indumati, Gotri, Rosanti, Triveni, Jaimati and Suka, to name a few – among the 50-odd women of Sunabeda and Soseng Gram Panchayats, who have registered for support under Mamata but have not yet received a single installment of the money due to them. There are also women who were not allowed to even register their names. Nrupati, now the mother of a six-month-old baby, and her sister Gomati, mother of a one-year-old baby were not allowed to register. “We requested the ANW to register us when our children were in the womb but the ANW did not care.” say the sisters. “We have submitted all the required forms and documents, even the bank account numbers to the ICDS office, but no action has been taken,” say the ASHA and ANW of Sunabeda and Sanbaheli Villages. “We do not know, what the cause of the delay is,” they add. 
Santara Bhunjia is the ASHA of Sunabeda Village. She submitted documents of 10 pregnant and lactating women to the ICDS office of Komna in the course of the last year, but not 
one of them have received any support. “My daughter-in-law was one of them. She was very weak during her pregnancy. The baby died just after birth in the hospital, and the doctor said the fluid in the womb had been drained, which caused the death of the child,” says Santara, who had shifted her daughter-in-law to the CHC (community health centre) of Komna, covering a distance of 34 km on a ghat (uphill) road from her village, hoping in vain for a safe confinement for the woman. Ninety per cent of the pregnant and new mothers in Sunebeda area are underweight and anemic. But the system is such that no one can be blamed. 
The Sunabeda area is a conflict zone due to the presence of the Maoists. “The situation was not good even in the past,” say the people. They explain how the forest officials were harassing them by lodging cases against them for alleged violation of laws. “The forest officials have withdrawn after the arrival of Maoists but they were equally harmful for us. Hundreds of forest law and police cases were lodged against us during their reign in the sanctuary. Eleven of our villagers had been jailed in 2006 and the case is still going on in court,” they add. After the withdrawal of wildlife officials, the people are now sandwiched between the Maoists and the police force. Considering the area a danger zone, the health officials have been avoiding it for years. 
The only staff of the PHC staying in the village is the attendant, S. Majhi. “He even conducts deliveries when the ambulance does not arrive to take women to the Komna CHC for institutional delivery,” say the villagers. “The attendant stays here because he is a tribal,” they add. “I am facing a lot of difficulties due to non-availability of medicines,” says    Majhi.The pharmacists’ quarters located near the deserted health centre is locked. A heap of boxes with medicines is inside the room. “The pharmacist has not handed over to the attendant, the medicines that he brought a year ago and their best-before-dates must have expired,” say the villagers. The headquarter hospital in Nuapada has not issued medicines to the Sunabeda PHC for several months, hence there is a shortage. Majhi is not authorized to take medicines from the headquarters and the pharmacist has not turned for more than a year. The victims of this apathy and indifference are the people, mostly the women and children. Some of the women are fortunate enough to have got Rs 1400 under the Janani Surakshya Yojana (JSY), which is given as an incentive for institutional delivery. Seven such women of Village Sanbaheli got the support as they were admitted in time to the CHC of Komna. But nine others, who could not get transport to reach the CHC in time, were deprived of the grant. There are posters of 108 ambulance services in every village but no one has benefited from this. “We go on calling the number, but they do not arrive,” complain the villagers. 
Khadang, Datunam, Jalmadei, Paharia Pada of Dhekunpani, Siletpani, etc are some of the villages where the women are most unfortunate. None of them have visited a health centre in their lives. They do not take any medicine even during their pregnancies. They are even deprived of the supplementary nutrition under ICDS. This could be causing increased maternal and child mortality, but in the absence of a specific study of this situation, the figures can only be guessed. 
Grassroots

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

IS THERE MORE TO BITE THAN JUST EATING
New York: If you are longing for a quiet and relaxing meal with your kids, cut up their food as research has found that children are likely to become more rowdy when they need to bite the food with their front teeth, reports IANS.
When 6-10 year old children ate foods they had to bite with their front teeth, such as drumsticks, whole apples, or corn on the cob, they were rowdier than when these foods had been cut, said the study.
“They were twice as likely to disobey adults and twice as aggressive toward other kids,” said Brian Wan sink, a professor at Cornell University.
For the study, the researchers observed 12 elementary children for two days. The findings indicated that when children were served chicken on the bone, they acted twice as aggressively, and were twice as likely to disobey adults, than when they were served bite sized pieces of chicken.

Furthermore, the children who were served chicken on the bone left the circle without permission more frequently and were more likely to jump and stand on the picnic tables.

ETCETERA

ARE MONKEYS BETTER IN MATHS THAN HUMANS!
New York: Go tell this to your kid who is throwing tantrums at learning maths. According to a new research, even monkeys have the ability to use numbers and symbols to add up, says IANS.
The scientists from Harvard University taught three rhesus monkeys the values of 26 distinct symbols – the 10 Arabic numerals and 16 letters. Each symbol was associated with zero to 25 drops of a reward of water, juice or orange soda. Given the choice of two different symbols, the monkeys chose the symbol that represented the larger reward with up to 90 per cent accuracy.
“The monkeys demonstrated the ability to not only differentiate between the symbols but also to add the values of two symbols at a time,” said Margaret Livingstone, a neuroscientist at Harvard University’s medical school.
The results suggest that the monkeys learned to distinguish the symbols and assign them specific values. Monkeys estimated quantity based on relative value rather than absolute value. This could give new insight into the evolutionary origins of our ability to count, the researchers added.

The team is now planning to see if the animals can multiply numbers too.

   GOOD SAMARITAN
The stray cats and dogs living on railway platforms from Marine Lines to Mahim must surely be a grateful lot. An elderly woman, who does not call herself an animal lover, comes every night from her home in Mahim to her select bench on each of the stations where she sits feeding the hungry animals after the rush hour has subsided. One can see especially cats hovering expectantly for their daily dose of fish which this lady gets for them abundantly from the Mahim fish market. The dogs get their biscuits and even curry rice, which this lady prepares at home. In fact, she comes with bags full of fish and other eatables for the felines and canines, a virtual Santa Claus for the lonely animals.
At a time when fish and everything else is so expensive, it is heartening to note that this Good Samaritan does this selfless service without a murmur or without a big show and that too on a daily basis. Now, this is one gesture which lives up to the Biblical saying that “the right hand should not know what the left hand is doing.”

LOST AND FOUND
It was around midnight at Churchgate station. While waiting for her train, a correspondent noticed a girl in her early twenties standing on the footboard of a train going to the car shed. The girl, who had Mongoloid features, seemed lost and scared, standing in a corner in the train while the lights were off.
Realizing the danger, this correspondent went up to her and stepped inside the train. As she went up to speak to the girl, the train started. She told her to jump but the girl was scared, so this correspondent caught her hand and jumped out of the train just in the nick of time. 
The girl, who could hardly utter a word, was surrounded by curious onlookers. Some railway cops approached them while the girl was still in a state of shock. They assumed that she could not understand their language and started looking for someone who could help them with translations. Luckily, they found three young women with Mongoloid features who could speak English as well as Hindi. They requested these females to escort her home. After being seated in another train, the girl looked up to the cops and said, ‘Dhanyawad’, as the train left. 


FEATURE

Dirty Electricity
Prof. B. M. Hegde,

hegdebm@gmail.com
“Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it.”
Groucho Marx

Last time I wrote something on the above lines, a good hearted Bombay doctor was so upset that he abused me in a comment. This word –dirty electricity-has now become a respectable word for Indians as their intellectual masters in the west do use it. I am sure the doctor would be nice to me this time round. Much more dangerous than the ghost called cholesterol, dirty electricity has become a dangerous killer risk factor for myriad illnesses and many daily discomforts like tiredness, aches and pains, dizziness which might cost the hapless sufferer thousands of rupees if he goes to main line neurologists who would want to rule out everything using all their gadgets without finding the cause though, lethargy, insomnia AND EVEN DEPRESSION AND PANIC ATTACKS.
More dignified name for this dirty electricity would be electro-smog, worse than the usual water vapour smog that we worry about. The dirty electricity emanates from all the latest gadgets that have become second nature to modern man. Computers, Wi-Fis, smart phones, cordless phones, moneysaving new bulbs (not LCD), mercury filled bulbs, cell phone towers, heavy electricity lines above your house, microwave ovens, refrigerators, cell phones, electric blankets, hair dryers, water beds, electric blankets and such "life comforting" gadgets of our advanced civilization. All these gadgets work on an unhealthy 40-60 Hz frequency while the Schumann and other healthy energies workbetween 0-30 Hz.
Body tissues need this healthy range for their good health-2 Hz for nerve regeneration, 7Hz for bone growth, 10 Hz for ligament growth, and 15-20 Hz for capillary growth stimulation. “Everything in life is vibration” wrote Albert Einstein.
Holistic health includes the most important 6th element-the earth. In addition to food, water, oxygen, exercise, mental tranquillity, the vital sixth element is the earth. The healthy vibrations of the earth, the electromagnetic energy from the geomagnetic field, arewhat sustain life on earth. We should be plugged in to it to be healthy. Earth gives energy to our body, organs, cells, and atoms. Our health and even longevity depend on our environment. Our genes have very little to do with either our health or our longevity. Epigenetics now tells us that genes could be managed with the mind. Of course, we also know that matter and mind are but the two faces of the same coin. Positive thoughts have been shown to change the winding and unwinding of the genetic coil!
When we are not connected to the earth as happens in people who are not earthed at all, our health suffers. They live in high rise buildings and rarely walk on earth.Several studies have shown significantly increased incidence of psychological illnesses in high rise dwellers like anxiety, depression, agitation, and even suicides. They travel in metal vehicles or planes where geomagnetic energy cannot reach. They are totally unplugged from their energy source. In addition they drain their own body energy faster and feel fatigued easily.
Jet lag is one such simple example where long distance travel in closed metal jet aircraft the body’s energy does not get replenished. The static energy of the body does not get drained either. Together these make the person feel tired. The time zone change and the dehydrating pressurized cabin put extra burden on the human physiology. Lack of exercise and altered sleep rhythm add to the burden.
Human sole of the feet are built with very thick superficial layer (stratum corneum) for barefoot walking. Our ancestors in the forests did not use shoes. The thick soled layer becomes thicker by walking bare foot. Earlier chappals were made of animal hide which is but a poor conductor of electricity. Leather chappals and shoes are in that sense better than the artificial soled shoes. Bare foot walking is very good for health but our roads and walkways are not conducive to barefoot walking. Those who can afford would do well to walk on wet sand on the seashores. Rest of us can make do with walking and working with our bare hands in our own back yard kitchen gardens.
Live with nature and live well. Live with others in society and be healthy. Replace the super ego of “I” with that altruistic “We” concept and avoid debilitating diseases.
“The best feeling in the world is realizing that you're perfectly happy without the thing you thought you needed”
Marxie.




OPINION

Road-side properties: Precautioinary measures to be taken before purchase by the investors
Vivekananda Paniyala
Cities are undoubtedly becoming cauldrons of development, demanding fast paced upgrade in the quality of existing roads. May it be the National highways or the State Highways or even Major District Roads, they have seen massive development, fuelling a sudden rise in the prices of the properties abutting them. There is a rush of the investors wanting to invest on these roadside properties which hold immense potential for development to yield higher returns.
However, extreme care and caution should be exercised before acquiring such properties given the kind of pitfalls that these properties pose and in some cases the investment may prove to be disastrous. Hence, it is advised that professional advice is sought while finalising such a deal. Factor that needs to be looked at while contemplating to purchase a roadside property is the vulnerability of the land for compulsory acquisition in case of widening of road.
This vulnerability is also coupled with several other factors like the affect of drainage, rain water storm construction, service lines like electricity underground cables, water pipelines, gas pipelines etc. 
 The common concerns are listed in a question format and answered as hereunder: 
 1.   What are the general precautions to be taken while purchasing roadside properties.
 In the case of vacant sites, make sure that the land is privately owned having clear marketable and valid legal title thereto. Many a times, the owners of small strip of road side properties encroach the road margin lands which is owned by the government left as “road margin” for future development. Over a long period of time, the adjacent private land owners have enclosed these lands by constructing compound wall and pose as if the same is in their possession. From the eyes of law, they are called as unauthorised encroachment and any length of time cannot legalise the same. It being a public property can be evicted summarily by the governmental authorities by invoking special laws and powers without paying any compensation. So, make sure that the property is excluded from road margin and for this purpose get the property measured by the well experienced and competent official surveyor having regard to the government survey documents like FMB etc. This will make sure that you are paying only for what is legally sold to you and not for road margin government land.
 Secondly, in the case of buildings abutting to the road, even if they are built long back, still the land and the building remain unauthorised construction and they are liable to be demolished and no one can claim any kind of compensation even if the building has got door number, electricity supply and water connection. So, one has to make sure that the property being purchased does not include road margin lands, the ownership whereof is vested with the government. 
 2.   How do I ascertain that the road side land under purchase does not belong to the government?.
 Carefully examine the title deed under which the seller claims right over the property and make sure that the boundaries mentioned therein tally with the physical condition and the same shall be read in conjunction with the survey sketch annexed to the title deed, if any. Also get the property measured by the official surveyors as provided under the survey laws and regulations. Make sure that the authorities who maintain the roads like the National Highway Authority, State Highway Authority or  the PWD etc are consulted in writing about the same.
3.   Is it sufficient if I take their opinion and verify the sketch available in these public authorities?
 It is advised to take written opinion and seek their consent or no objection letter before acquiring such lands. 
4.   Do the authorities have an obligation to give the opinion in writing? How can I obtain the same?
 Yes. They have an obligation to give correct reply. For this purpose invoke the provisions of the Right to Information Act, 2005 and the Rules framed there under by submitting an application along with the sketch depicting the actual condition of the site and seek specific answers for your queries. 
 5.   Apart from road margin issue, are there any other aspects to bother about?
Yes. The issue of road widening is something that all investors have to look at critically. Almost all National and State Highway are getting upgraded , redeveloped under different models like PPP, BOP, BOOP etc. and these roads are being transformed from two lanes to four lanes and in some cases even six lanes. Hence, most of the roads are already in the process of land acquisition and some are under widening proposal. In the case of land acquisition being conducted, lands cannot be alienated and any such alienation will be null and void. Hence, make proper enquires with the special land acquisition officers who are in charge of the land acquisition for highway [Both N.H and S.H] and also the other officials concerned. 
 6.   Where can I contact the Special Land Acquisition Officers?
 It depends. However, the easiest way of finding such officers are by approaching the office of revenue authorities like Deputy Commissioners [ District Collectors ], Assistant Commissioners [ Sub Collectors ] and Tahsildars. Also, the National, State High Way authorities and specifically PWD’s. Local government surveyors can also throw some light on the same. So, never hesitate to approach all the authorities concerned. Unfortunately, there is no single office or nodal agency wherein you get complete information. 
 7.   Does it hold good for roads inside the municipal limits also or only the National and State High ways? 
 Even the roads running inside the corporation and municipal limits are in the process of being widened and one can find the same in the city master plans being approved by the urban development bodies like BDA in Bangalore, MUDA in Mangalore in addition to Corporation and Municipal councils.   
 8.   What are the other potential threats of which one should take note of before purchasing these road side properties?.
 Most of the investors are not aware of the fact that before constructing any building on the road side, even though in the private property, certain set back has to be left which varies from National Highway, State Highway and major District or Panchayath roads. It varies from 40 metres to 22 metres. The local planning Engineers will be in a better position to guide the buyers to take note of the Master Plans or CDP’s etc. 
 9.   Is there any data bank or official publication available in this regard to study?.
 Unfortunately, most of the times, these publications [even official ] are not readily available for citizens’ scrutiny. As the buyers go by the advice of real estate brokers than subject matter expert professionals like Advocates,  Planning Engineers, there is very little awareness on these aspects. Hence, every time, it is advisable to file an application under R.T.I specifically showing the details of the properties which are under consideration for acquisition by specifically mentioning the survey number, village, extent etc duly supported by approved survey plans. This forms important part of Due Diligence. What is important to note here is that only authentic and competent legislation and government orders having the force of law shall be looked into. Advocates are better professionals to be consulted in this connection. 
 10.  Are there any other things that we should be really worried about?.
 Yes. One should also take note of the service or civic amenities lines like water supply, underground electricity cables, drainage lines, storm water or rain water drains [ open or closed] as they will also have impact on the value and utilisation of the lands. On this, the local engineers will be in a better position to advice. So, it is just not enough to consult an Advocate on the legal and valid marketable title, but also involve the engineers and planners as the importance of taking opinion of multi level professionals is increasing. 
 The FAR or FSI issue can also be a major problem. This is determined by the developmental or municipal or regulatory bodies.  Though these are developmental aspects they do have direct bearing on the commercial and real estate value when the land is going to be resold or offered as security to banks or financial institutions at a later point of time. The local practising architects will be in a better position to guide as the same varies from location to location and street to street based on certain parameters like width of the road, nature or classification or zoning of the land etc. 
 11.  What if the land is acquired for widening of road? Will I not get compensation? 
 Yes. You will get compensation. It is a matter of legal and constitutional right. But, the compensation is determined on the basis of guideline value as fixed by the authorities. The real transaction value is hardly reflected in the deed of sale or title deeds. It is heavily undervalued to save stamp duty and in case of compulsory acquisition. In some cases, compensation is paid in Transferable Developmental Rights [TDR’s], which is in the form of a certificate and one can realised the value only by selling the same in the open market. Mostly the builders are interested to buy. This is again in the clutches of real estate cartel and certain vested interests. Hence, compensation may not be adequate and commensurate to the loss of land. 
 12. What are the measures to be taken after purchasing the lands abutting to the public roads?.
 Firstly, enclose the property by constructing compound wall after obtaining license from the local authorities. Most of the people are under the impression that no license is required to build compound wall. This is important for protecting the property from encroachment and to also ensure that no one puts up any hutment or petty shops in front of your land blocking the road margin. It is better to put temporary fencing in-between your land and road margin to prevent unauthorised occupation of the government road margin land. Even though you will have absolute right to gain access to the public road from any point of your property, the enforcement thereof becomes extremely difficult once vested elements encroach the road margin land blocking your frontage. It is advisable to put up a small shed in the land and obtain door number for the same as that can give some practical benefits during land dis
putes and to establish your exclusive physical possession over the same in case of litigations or disputes or rival claims. It is not mandatory or absolutely essential but, highly advisable. 
 13.  Who are the professionals who should be consulted in this regard ?.
 Advocates, Chartered Accountants, Planning Engineers / Architects, Surveyors will be able to guide from different perspective.
 14.  Which are the departments one has to deal with generally ? National and State Highway Departments, P.W.D, local self governments life Municipal Corporations, Town Municipalities, Village Panchayaths and developmental authorities like Urban Development Bodies, Electricity Corporations, Water Supply, Drainage boards / departments etc. 
 Therefore, it is advised that  special care is taken while looking for properties abutting to the public roads. It is better to take the professionals to the site and closely examine the proposal from all angles and do not confine the importance to just pricing and legal documentation. This will save an investor from many future risks. 

Mr. Vivekananda Paniyala, a senior lawyer based in Mangalore, is also an activist in public interest issues. Here he tried to highlight the possible travails of prospective investors. We have published with the view, that it can help those who are contemplating buying property anywhere. Even as general knowledge it has the potential to make a mark. He can be reached at vivekanandapaniyala@gmail.com. 

 


SERIAL : 13 INDIAN IN COWBOY COUNTRY

THE INTERVIEW
“What, you resigned? What about your green card?” she asked, her voice turning uncommonly shrill.
“Oh, don’t worry about it. I’ll get it sooner or later. For now, I don’t have to work for that Pete or his gutless staff anymore. Come, let’s make some tea.”
As he put the kettle on, she came up behind him and hugged him.
“Now why would you do something so drastic, Satish?” she asked tenderly.
“Because, sweetheart, I don’t want to be at a company that condones such behavior, especially from its president,” he said, matching her singsong, tender tone, as if talking to a child.
“Be serious, Satish. This is no joke.”
“Seriously. This is no joke. I have seen enough prejudice and discrimination in my life. First, my grandparents had to leave Tamil Nadu because they were Brahmins. They dropped their last name because it denoted our caste. That did not help, so they came to Mumbai hoping for a better life.”
He paused, waiting for a response from Priya. She remained silent as she looked down at her task of cutting okra.
As he stirred the boiling pot with split peas, he continued. “Then my parents had to go through prejudice again in Mumbai because they were South Indians. This time they changed their last name to Sharma because it was common across most parts of India. We all got non-denominational first names that made our linguistic and ethnic origins impossible to trace, at least in India.”
He started at the lather forming in the pot. When it was about to overflow, he skimmed it and threw it away in the sink a spoonful at a time. After discarding the last spoonful, he reduced the flame. He watched the split peas in the pot dance from the bottom to the top, perceptibly changing their color and texture from solid, golden brown hemispheres to yellow platelets with serrated edges.
“Did you know that at the multinational company I worked for in Mumbai, we had three of everything? One for the European whites, one for Indian managers, and one for Indian staff. We had three lunchrooms, three sets of travel plans, and, for heaven’s sake, we even had three different toilets. Anyone who had any self-respect and dignity would have found this humiliating.”
Priya had finished cutting her vegetables, and she moved toward the range to take her turn at sautéing them. She nudged him aside and poured a few spoonfuls of oil into the pan. She added torn dried red chilies, mustard seeds, and other spices before the oil could heat up. He stood near the doorway and watched her.
As the pan of okra simmered down, she stepped back from the range. He came forward and poured into the pasty, yellow split peas a reddish-black concoction of boiled tomatoes with rasam powder, tamarind, and salt.
“I think you should call Tim and take back you resignation,” she said.
“No. You know I cannot do that. It’s done. It’s an irreversible action. It’s final! There’s no going back.”
“You have to,” she pushed.
“No, Priya. I came to this country because I believed it to be the last bastion of principles and equality. People would value me for my values and my work, and not the color of my skin or my ethnicity.”
“But, Satish, what about your green card?”
“It’s not worth it. If I have to fight back, I might as well go back to India and fight my battles. That’s my home turf, and I know the lay of the land better. Screw this place,” he said testily.
“Don’t get excited. Take it easy.” She tried to calm him. She filled a plate with vegetables and rice and poured some rasam on the rice. “Do you want some potato chips?” she asked.
“No, thanks,” he said as he poured some cold water into glasses, took them to the living room, and placed them on the end tables.
Priya soon joined him with two plates of food, both with potato chips. She smiled at him and said, “I know you are upset. But don’t show your anger at your food. You never eat rasam and rice without some potato chips, so I brought some for you. If you don’t want them, I’ll take them.”
Priya was right. He loved potato chips with rasam and he was glad that she added some. As they dug into the rasam, rice, okra, and potato chips, Priya asked, “Why don’t you play some music? Stan Getz?” She knew that it would soothe him.
 In moments as the soft strumming of Charlie Byrd’s guitar began strumming the first chords of “Samba De Una Nota So” and a tenor sax joined in, he calmed down and began enjoying their joint culinary effort.
“This is great,” he said as he took another tablespoonful of an Indian version of Cajun gumbo – rice, rasam, beans, and fragmented potato chips for that added crunchiness in the otherwise semi-viscous mass.
They ate quietly as Brazilian music filled the still calm of the garage apartment.
“Do you realize that you have put our future in jeopardy, too?” she asked softly.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Satish, you know I love you and I would do anything for you, but without your green card my future in this country is in jeopardy, too.”
He did not say a word. He knew there was more to come.
She set her plate aside and continued. “I was hoping that we would get married after you got your green card.”
“Why did you not tell me this earlier?” he asked.
“I thought it was obvious. I did not think you would want to move back to India.”
As Astrud Gilberto sang the One Note Samba, he put his plate aside and turned to a distraught Priya. “Don’t you want to go back to India?” he asked.
“No, I absolutely don’t want to go back to India. I want to stay here, do my Ph.D, and raise my family here. I don’t want to go back,” she replied, close to tears.
“Sweetheart, I don’t see a life without you. If it’s important for you to stay here, I can look for a job at another company that will sponsor me for my green card,” he assured her.
“Be realistic,” she said. “In this economy? Oil companies are laying off thousands of people. Who would hire you at a time like this? Besides, you are technically out of status. You are required to leave the country immediately.”
He recognized the truth in Priya’s words. He remained quiet, thinking about his limited alternatives.
“What should I do?” he asked Priya.
Brushing back her welling tears with the back of her palm, she sniffed and said, “There’s only one thing you can do. You have to go back to Clark and get them to take back your resignation.”
He remained silent. He was not about to go back to the firm and beg them to take him back.
He argued, “Priya, even if Clark took back my resignation, it would stay on my records, and this is the end of my career at the firm. They’ll fire me the first chance they get. That, too, on their terms, not mine.”
“What would you rather have? No green card, head back home, leaving me behind? Or would you like to get your green card, get married, and settle here? And if you think your career is going nowhere, change jobs when you want to, but get your green card first.”
Priya had this uncanny ability to bring things into perspective very quickly. While he was prone to consider a situation logically, generate seemingly infinite alternatives, and slowly throw out unrealistic ones, she could intuitively bring things into focus faster than he could.        
Over the past seventeen months, he had learned that her instincts were rarely wrong. Time and time again, he had quietly tested her intuitive conclusions with his slow, tedious ones and found that they were not too far apart. The processes were different but the conclusions were the same. He did not have time to go through his analysis and synthesis, so he conceded to her alternatives, with their obvious choice.
“The choice is clear, Priya. On one hand, I have no green card, I have to leave the country, and I may lose you. On the other hand, I get my green card, stay here, and continue to be with you. What do you think I will choose?” he teased, delicately wiping away a remnant of a tear from her cheek.
“I hope you choose to go back to India. Then I don’t have to deal with you and your impulsive acts,” she said, still distraught.
He hugged her, gently stroked her hair, and said softly, “It’s not going to be that easy to get rid of me, sweetheart. I’ll call Tim tomorrow and take my resignation back.”
She got up and walked to the kitchen, sniffing along the way. “Come, let’s clean the dishes,” she said.
It was about six thirty the next morning when the phone rang. Still in a deep slumber after a long night of discussing how to get his resignation back, Satish, without getting up, groped for the phone in the dark.
“Hello?”
“This is Tim,” said a familiar, raspy voice.
“Who?” asked a disoriented Satish as he tried to raise himself.
“This is Tim; I want you to bring your ass in my office by eight o’clock.”
“What?” he asked, still unable to comprehend the situation.
“I want to see you at eight o’clock. In my office. Bring your security badge.”
“Eight o’clock?”
“Yes, eight o’clock. In my office. Wake up. I gotta go. Be there,” he said, and before hanging up he added, “Wear a decent tie.”
Satish drowsily put the phone in its cradle and reluctantly got out of bed.
He was confused and nervous when he arrived at Clark’s parking lot fifteen minutes before his appointment. He walked hesitantly to the security device at the entrance to Tim’s office building. Till then, he had taken his entry into this building for granted, but today was different. The security card scanner was a threat.
He nervously swiped his card and waited for the tiny green bulb to light up, followed by the metallic sounds of locks unlatching. Nothing happened.


HEALTH

Vitamin supplements cannot replace natural foods
New Delhi: Natural foods provide the best nutrition to the human body and there is no evidence to prove that vitamin supplements can better a person’s health, medical experts have said.
“All kinds of natural food if taken in moderation are good for health. Nature is the best. It is better to have natural foods than tablets supplementing vitamins,” Seema Puri, associate professor at the Institute of Home Economy of Delhi University, said, reports IANS.
Cautioning against any kind of dietary supplements, she said even “super foods” which claim to be fortified with minerals and calcium should be taken with caution. Puri was speaking at the seminar “Vitamins-Do I need the multivit supplements” at the India International Centre here.
Asserting that natural food items were always the best, N.K. Arora, former professor of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), said simple measure like washing vegetables first and then cutting them for cooking can preserve essential vitamins in them.
“It is only children who sometimes require supplements as they cannot get all kinds of vitamins from milk alone,” he added.

Naresh Gupta of the Consumers’ Forum, an organization working for transparency in drugs, said vitamins are required in very small quantities and not necessarily always needed in high doses.  

FUNDAMENTALISM

Extremist's school plot – Blue printer identified 
London: An alleged plot to takeover some of Britain’s schools by Islamist extremists has been reportedly master-minded by a ringleader who had drafted a guide document on the process, a media report has said, reports PTI.
Tahir Alam, chairman of governors at Park View school in Birmingham, is allegedly the man behind a blueprint for the so-called “Trojan Horse” plot for the radical “Islamisation” of secular state schools.
He called for “girls [to] be covered except for their hands and faces”, advocated gender segregation in some school activities, and attacked a “multicultural approach” to collective worship, ‘The Sunday Telegraph’ reported.
In his 72-page document, published by the Muslim Council of Britain in 2007, Alam and co-author Muhammad Abdul Bari attacked many state schools for not being “receptive of legitimate and reasonable requests made by Muslim parents and pupils in relation to their faith-based aspirations and concerns”.
They described how Muslim governors could be activated to press the “views and aspirations of Muslim parents and the local community” on reluctant schools.
Birmingham has a large Muslim Population – nearly 22 per cent, according to the 2011 census.
The “Trojan Horse” plot had come to light recently and involves the alleged takeover of secular state schools and the removal of secular head teachers in Birmingham by radical Muslim staff and governors.


WHEN MILITANT BECAME ROBBER 
NEW DELHI: A former Sikh militant and elder brother of a convict in Punjab chief minister Beant Singh’s assassination was arrested for robbing a diamond merchant, police said Friday. Avtar Singh, 47, was a member of a robber s’ gang who used to target jewelers in Delhi. They had robbed  jewellery  worth Rs 2 crore from a Mumbai – based diamond merchant in central Delhi.

YEH MERA INDIA

UNDERSTANDING COP
Near Dadar in Mumbai, a boy was riding his bike in top gear and jumped the signal. The traffic constable caught him and very politely asked him as why he was speeding. The boy merely wanted to know the fine. The traffic constable said, “It is not the question of a fine. You could have lost your life. You should follow the traffic rules to avoid accidents. You have not read the instruction displayed on the screen near traffic signals?” The boy said, no. The traffic constable took him to the monitor which was displaying the messages about safe driving and asked him to read them. The boy read out, “Sar Salamat hai to pagdi Hazar hain, If you want to stay married, divorce speed, Go to home in peace and not in pieces.” Thereafter, the traffic constable fined him and let him go.

LONELY IN BIG CITY
At Santa Cruz station, a correspondent saw a very old man walk by. He was wearing a crisp white shirt and starched trousers and was walking very slowly, his eyesight being poor.
As he walked past, the correspondent smiled at him and he smiled back. He took five minutes in walking past her. After he had left she got busy with her book when somebody tapped her from the back. She turned back to find that he had taken extra energy to come back to her for asking something.
“Do you know me?” said the old man.
“No sir. I smiled just like that,” said the correspondent.
“Oh I thought you know me. Actually, my daughter has shifted to USA. Her friends often see me and I don’t recognize them because of my eyesight. My daughter rarely calls me. So, I thought if you were one of her friends, I will talk to you and remember her. I miss her,” said the old man.
He paused for a brief moment looking at the other side of the platform. Then he looked at the foot over bridge. “Anyway, I have to cover a long distance now. And you observed my walking speed I think. I must go. God bless you,” he said.

As he walked past the platform on the staircase and from the bridge this correspondent kept looking at him. He walked and paused after every five steps, as he felt drowsy. That was Mumbai for old and lonely.

Indian cars fail crash test              under European conditions 
New Delhi: Some of the popular small cars sold in India, including Maruti Alto 800, Tata Nano, Ford Figo, Hyundai i10 and Volkswagen Polo, have failed crash tests, a global safety group, the New Car Assessment Programme.
Small vehicles are the biggest segment of the Indian price-sensitive car market: almost all two-wheeler owners aspire to own a hatchback as they upgrade. Incidentally, the Tata Nano is billed as the world’s cheapest car. As per the tests conducted by the safety group, an independent charity based in the UK, the aforesaid five cars received zero for adult protection ratings in a frontal impact at 64 km / hr. 
Incidentally, the combined sales of these five cars accounted for 20 per cent of all the new cars sold in India last year.
India is now a major global market and production centre for small cars, so it’s worrying to see levels of safety that are 20 years behind the five-star standards now common in Europe and North America, the safety group said. 
When contacted, spokespersons of the companies named said their products met Indian safety norms. According to the findings, in Maruti Alto 800, Tata Nano and Hyundai i10, the vehicle structures proved inadequate and collapsed to varying degrees on impact, resulting in high risks of life-threatening injuries to the occupants. The extent of the structural weaknesses in these models were such that fitting air bags would not be effective in reducing the risk of serious injury, the group said.

Cops booked: bribe from foreigner
Mumbai: A senior Inspector of Railway Police and a Constable allegedly accepted a bribe of Rs 50,000 from an overseas businessman to release him from illegal detention and return his belongings, including passport, Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) of Maharashtra said on Thursday. 
An FIR in this regard has been registered against Senior Inspector Devram Wadmare, attached to Dadar Railway Police Crime Branch, and Constable Sushil Kharat. 
The businessman, who hails from Cameroon and deals in garments, was illegally detained for three days. The 32-year-old was freed only after he paid Rs 50000 out of the original bribe amount of Rs 1 lakh, an ACB officer told PTI. 
The cops were booked for corruption on Saturday. 
The Victim had on March 14 gone to Kurla railway terminus to board a Hyderabad-bound train. Kharat approached the Cameroonian national and told him he required to go to Dadar to catch a train to the southern city, the ACB said. On pretext of helping him to reach Dadar station, Kharat took the foreigner to Crime Branch office, where his passport and other belongings were seized. 
“Wadmare and Kharat told us they detained the victim suspecting his involvement in drug trade. The foreigner, who arrived here in December last, was asked to shell out Rs five lakh for his release. 
“He was illegally kept at the Crime Branch office for three days. Wadmare later agreed to release him for Rs 1 lakh after the victim expressed helplessness to arrange Rs 5 lakh,” the Investigating Officer said. 
On March 17, the Cameroonian called his friend to Crime Branch office and handed him over some US dollars, which were exchanged and Rs 50,000 was handed over to Wadmare. The businessman was later released. 
The victim was told to shell out the remaining amount on March 24. On March 21, he approached ACB and lodged a complaint. The next day, the policemen were booked. 
ACB laid a trap last Monday when the victim went to Wadmare’s office with Rs 5000 in cash, instead of Rs 50000. However, Wadmare did not take the cash but returned the businessman’s passport and his three mobile phones, after possibly getting a wind of the trap. – PTI.   

Sit on RTI query & Pay from pocket
Mumbai: A senior citizen who had been denied information under the RTI Act has been awarded a compensation of Rs. 50,000 to be paid by the civic official who sat on her query. 
In his order dated April 1, 2014, Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Ratnakar Gaikwad has told the officer concerned to pay up by April 30. He has also instructed the official to let the senior citizen inspect all the documents pertaining to her case. Further, the documents sought by the senior citizen are to be posted free of charge to her by April 25. 
It does not end here. The official who held back the information, assistant engineer N M Kotkar, has been ordered to appear in the CIC’s court on April 25 and explain why he should not face disciplinary action. 
The case which pertains to a property dispute in south Mumbai shows the extent to which the BMC can go to favour one party in such matters. 
Nandu Kapadia (85), the senior citizen, had sold one of her four rooms on the top floor of Mulji Jetha CHS at Princess Street to a man who then created an illegal entrance to the mezzanine floor. On Kapadia’s complaint, the local ward officer had it inspected and ordered the man to restore it. However, after complying with the order and attaching photographic evidence, the man compounded the offence by knocking off an even bigger section. 
Kapadia then filed an RTI application on October 11, 2013 seeking the inspection report, site photographs taken by the inspecting officer along with his name and designation. She also wanted to know the reason for not initiating any action as deemed fit under the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act for non-compliance with the notice issued by the civic official. 
Gaikwad’s order notes that the ‘C’ ward office refused to part with any information which Kapadia badly needed for presenting her side in the dispute which had moved to the court. 
He further notes that the first appellate authority under the RTI Act (the executive engineer) had on January 15, 2014 ordered that the information be provided to Kapadia. The order was ignored.  
Kapadia then took her case to the CIC on February 24 where she alleged that the public information officer (assistant engineer N M Kotkar from the building and factory department) and the first appellate authority were both guilty of flouting the RTI Act.