Thursday, January 8, 2015

An ISSUES & CONCERNS INITIATIVE


EDITOR'S COLUMN

We are into 2015. Old order changeth yielding place to the new. So, its WISHING ALL OUR READERS, PATRONS & WELL WISHERS A GREAT NEW YEAR. The year 2014 that went by had all the making of political block buster, with the newer political party AAP making its debut in forming government in Delhi. They came with a bang but left without even whimper in just 48 days. It was the stupidest political move by any party, especially an year old party.
Narendra Modi is another phenomena, that came with a roar of an untamed lion. He has redrawn the political behaviour unseen or unheard earlier, whether it was his prostrated entry into the parliament complex or his independence day speech. They were class apart. Of course with him came his party’s unprecedented victory. After quarter century, it was again a single party government, although for record it is NDA.
After 6 months, it is still not clear that the ‘Abki baar Modi Sarkar’ would deliver all its promises! But certainly there is a new culture of work across corridors of power in Delhi.
Emergence of lunatic fringe ISIS is another macabre development. Birth of this ISIS is very bad for the world in general and Muslim world in particular. Sooner the Muslim world realizes it, the better for them, better for the world. 
Looking back over the month, the most devastatingly shocking news was the barbaric killing of 148 persons including 132 children in an Army Public School in Peshawar. Tehrik-e-Taliban, terror group from the restive North West Frontier province claiming responsibility for the killing. TeT reportedly told the media that “Taliban were forced to attack the school because of military operations against us. We want them to feel our pain because they target our families”. 
There was global outrage at the killing of innocent school children. Understandably Pakistan went into national mourning. The government in Islamabad, civil society and of course Army were all shell shocked at this unprecedented dastardly act of violence.
While India and its leadership expressed grief for the western neighbour’s collective sorrow, Pakistani media made stark observations. In a straight forward statement, 'The Nation', the Pakistani daily said “Not just terrorist, but everyone from the wider population to the civil and military leadership is responsible for the barbarity our children were subjected to”, while adding “The country is reaping what it has sown over decades”. Thus the question that came out ringing, like Hillary Clinton famously observed “if you are rearing snakes in your backyard, how can you guarantee it will bite only your neighbour”. Yes it is biting the hand that reared terrorism. In this there are lessons for India’s pseudo secularists as well, if they are open to learning. Hope, this tragedy shall have changed the sub-continent for better. The 125th birthday celebration of Nehru has led to avoidable controversy between the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress. We have tried to discuss the issue of India’s first Prime Minister Nehru’s legacy while comparing with the newest Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Focus for the relevance it presents. Hope readers will find it interesting. Kindly revert with your feedback. We do value them.

MONTH-IN-PERSPECTIVE

NEW DELHI: Attributing to a Delhi court, the print media carried a head line “Women making false rape allegation need to be punished”. This observation did not come a day too early. In fact there are ‘n’ number of instances where false complaints are lodged to settle personal score.
These false cases not only cause completely avoidable humiliation and misery, it even lead to suicides by some sensitive persons who are completely innocents.
Instances of false complaints are not only in rape or something similar, but also in dowry harassment cases, where there have been absolutely false cases filed by disgruntled wife against her husband just to cause agony and harassment to innocent husband. Then there are false cases slapped by police, either due to inept handling or by design and innocents suffer unaccounted jail terms without any rhyme or reason. Who will compensate the suffering and other pecuniary loss due to varieties of reasons? Suffering can be physical and mental. There are any number of cases where innocents incarcerated as accused, have walked free after court acquittal. Who should pay for their suffering? State may pay some compensation, if any. But what about the suffering innocents have endured? Will the policeman or all those who were responsible for the injustice be made accountable?
At a meeting of CMDs of public sector banks, Financial Services Secretary from the Ministry of Finance has reportedly observed “Improvement in lending quality will reduce NPAs” Ha, ha, ha! Obviously Mr Hasmukh Adhia, the F.S.S. thinks that these CMDs of public sector banks are still students of banking.
Or else what does he mean by ‘lending quality’! Quality lending and NPAs are always in reverse proportion.  If there is quality lending there will be no NPAs. Of course with best of intention and planning some projects may go haywire, in which case, it could be a genuine NPA. But here again, the size of NPA can be lowest, due to all positive factors operating within the project. Trouble with NPAs is not the lending quality or the quality lending, it is the compromise in the qualities required, to make it a - as near as possible – a fool proof appraisal. In any finance proposal, it is the integrity of the client, as an individual or as corporate entity that should be the most important factor to be taken into consideration. The tag, 'willful defaulter', does not come from thin air. It is a factor, built over a period, because of compromises the CEO’s of client entities have made with financial prudence. Thus, the bank executives, starting from appraisal level to approval level, to disbursal level must necessarily exercise due diligence as needed at all levels of actions! Where only the interest of the Bank is the over-riding consideration and nothing else.
With Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or RSS, making lot of noise on India’s culture and its promotion around the country, how are they going to justify Girirajs, Saadhwis, and now Saakshi Maharajs. They are our honourable Members of Parliament, and hence are our cultural ambassadors! But BJP must take care not to send them outside the country for any official function.
Like Amartya Sen called us ‘Argumentative Indians’, we revel in making controversial and some time even derogatory remarks. If Giriraj is credited with the ‘Go to Pakistan, if you don’t like Modi’, Saadhwi, uttered a very unparliamentary and very uncivil sentence not befitting a Saadhwi at all. She had called, implying Aam Aadmi Party and its supporters ‘Haraamzaade’, or children of prostitute. Latest to adorn the ‘Bluster Troika’ is Saakshi Maharaj. His pearls of wisdom described Mahatma Gandhi’s killer, Nathuram Godse as a patriot.
Except in the case of Giriraj, Narendra Modi as the Loksabha leader of ruling BJP, did force both Saadhvi and Maharaj to apologize to the house for their intemperate and ill advised remarks. 
Resignation, as demanded by the opposition may not be the real answer but they should be cold shouldered by the party for creating problems for the govt. by their irresponsible and absurd use of lung power. RSS must rein these blusters talking out of turn, who need some cultural polishing. 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a kind of ‘wordsmith’, unlike any other politician in the country.
His latest quips “Team India” and “Co-operative Federalism” are likely to resonant across the States of India in the context of an evolving new body to replace the decades old Planning Commission.
Taking the Prime Ministers declaration on 15th of Aug, during his independence day address to the nation that 'Planning Commission will be scrapped' to facilitate better Centre-State relations especially in respect of funds allocation, there is a definite move for the proposed new body. Niti Commission shall be the likely title for the proposed body, informs report.
Of course there have been lot of support, for the newly proposed body, so also opposition for the way Planning Commission was summarily scrapped. Many a time, you do not agree with a new proposal only because you do not like the proposor, not because, the new proposal is bad or unworkable. But if the basic intention of the new body is to make the relationship between centre and state better, surely there should be no complaints. After all the name of a set-up and its efficacy in the larger context of the country as a whole, need not be compatible. Objective of every political decision should be its relevance to the larger socio-economic issues. The new set-up hopes to address this and therefore most states have rightly endorsed it, since this also has the backing of Article 263 of the constitution. 
Hope, all stake holders, see the logic and the economic reasons of the change and go ahead with least waste of time and energy for it to become operative as soon as possible.       
As if controversies involving BJP Members of Parliament is not enough the Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj has hit upon an another equally completely avoidable controversy. The question is why BJP likes to revel in controversies!?
Addressing the public meeting to mark 5151 years of the Bhagavad Geetha, she is reported to have urged the central government to declare this holiest book of Hindus, variously described as song celestial, as the ‘NATIONAL HOLY BOOK’. While as a practicing Hindu, she may be right in urging as such, but India, although consists of 80% Hindus, there is this 20% who too have their own set of holy books. Here the question is not whether this 20% would be generous enough to accept it. The question is, being a constitutional secular state, it is not only improper to urge, but also the vast majority of Hindus themselves who may not be comfortable with the idea of declaring Geetha as a National Holy Book! Since, it is this section of Hindus, who represent the IDEA OF INDIA, where tolerance of one’s speech, practices and beliefs has always been its cornerstone. Writing in 'Eternal India'  late Ms.Indira Gandhi stated “while others only spoke of secularism India truly practiced and sustained our scriptured perception of tolerance and compassion". Hence declaring Geetha as a National Holy Book, may not be appropriate for the larger picture of India. However, it may be difficult to find fault with Narendra Modi for presenting Geetha to world leaders, since he is not merely the Prime Minister of secular India but also is representing one of the most ancient civilization in the world. Hence, in fitness of things MEA should not persist with this demand of National Holy Book status for Bhagavad Gita.

MAHARASHTRA:10 years for a criminal case to be decided by a local court, is not exactly very fast and right enough not very slow either. In the Indian context, it is fair, looking into the status of cases dragging on and on. The LN Mishra murder case of 1975 is a case in point. The district judge in New Delhi has just convicted the accused only this December. So, it’s been 39 years, the case went on. By this standard, the case involving Nagpur's Kasturba Nagar goon Bharath alias Akku Yadav’s killing, the court came to a considered judgment to a significant extent, in just 10 years.
It was on 13th Aug. 2004, right inside the court room in Nagpur, a group of enraged women attacked the notorious history sheeter, from all sides. He dropped dead in matter of minutes. The anger of women was such that police, who brought the goon to the court simply ran away, leaving him at the mercy of attackers.
Akku and his gang of thugs were a terror to some 300 families of Kasturba Nagar for over a decade, barging into their homes at will, shouting threats, demanding money and sex. Dozens of Akku’s victims reported the crime to the police. But he was never charged with rape. Instead, women of slum say, the police would inform Akku about the complaint and Akku would come after them with vengeance. Reportedly police were hand-in-glove with him. He used to feed police with bribes and drinks and in turn they protected him, said the report. Stories were, that police would turn the case against complainant saying “you are a loose woman hence he raped” or that “you are having an affair with him” and would send them away. Reportedly he had 24 cases of murder, dacoity, robbery and extortion, but no case of rape, tell the police. Vociferously disagreeing slum dwellers insist at least 20 cases of rape where families left the colony to live outside.
Thus it was a life of helplessness for these women of Kasturba Nagar with nobody to rescue them from the abyss of this blind alley. Until one day, encouraged by an educated woman of the colony Usha Narayane, they decided to stand up to the goon. Having got wind of it, Akku disappeared. On 6 Aug. 2004, hundreds of residents smashed his house to rubble. He arranged with the police to ‘surrender’ to ensure his physical protection. Suddenly Kasturba Nagar atmosphere underwent a dramatic change. They didn’t want to die every day. They decided to act together and act decisively, come what may.
On 13th Aug. 2004, when he was brought to the court, women of Kasturba Nagar slum decided to hit and hit hard. They had already gathered in the court premises, 200 of them, discreetly armed with vegetable knives, chilli powder and stones. As he walked in, Akku stopped by one of the women he had earlier assaulted. He called her a prostitute and threatened to repeat the crime against her. Police, reportedly, laughed. Enraged, the woman took off her sandal and began hitting the goon, shouting “It’s either you or me, both can’t live on this earth together.”
What followed was the most devastatingly defeaning statement, loud and clear, on the monumental degeneration of criminal justice delivery system in the world’s largest democracy.
For the already incensed crowd, woman’s shouting was like a war cry and Bharath alias Akku Yadav was attacked from all sides, right inside the court premises. Two terrified policemen guarding the goon ran away. In 15 minutes flat, it was all over. The notorious goonda dropped dead on the shiny white marble floor of the Nagpur district court. Every women of the colony claimed responsibility for the killing “We have all done it together, arrest us all” they told police.
Justice Bhanu Vahane, a retired high court judge had reportedly gone on record justifying women of Kasturba Nagar, saying “In the circumstances they underwent, they were left with no choice but to finish Akku. The women repeatedly pleaded with police for their security. But the police failed to protect them”
Of course, police had to make a case and file an FIR. After 10 long years, Nagpur district court acquitted all the 18 accused in the case. Justice delayed yes, but at least there is no victimization of poor and vulnerable. Bhagwaan ke ghar mein deir hoga, magar, is baar andher tho nahee!    
Two judges from Mumbai’s City Civil and Session Courts wrote a letter to the Bombay High Court for the attention of Justice Anuja Prabhudesai on the pathetic condition of children in observation homes.
The Principal judge Sangitrao S Patil of CCSC and another judge, Justice A.S. Shinde visited 2 observation homes in Dongri. They found one of the building not only was in such a dilapidated condition that it may collapse any moment and hence very dangerous for the children living there. They have stated in their letter that children should be immediately shifted out to other safer building.
They also observed that one of the homes housed only 28 children (28 boys & 1 girl) and the other also a similar structure accommodated 340 children with 250 boys and remaining girls. In their letter they stated that the condition of these homes were brought to the attention of authorities in the past, but no action was taken, and hence they requested the Bambay HC to take suo moto cognizance of this letter.
While this is a very welcome development coming from the judiciary it is a sad commentary on the governance aspect of the Maharashtra government which just demitted office. This government, which shouted from the roof top to tell the world, that they are concerned about the welfare of aam aadmi, in fact did only to help themselves and their families for the most part. These poor children who are neither voters nor belonging to any vote bank have been left to the nature’s elements to fend for themselves with apathetic and exploitative managers and their political masters. The fact that Kailash Satyarthi, the child rights activist, whom Nobel committee recognized, but mentally poor Indian governments, both federal and state, have failed to take note of, exposes the comprehensive double standards of barking up the wrong tree. This is Yeh Mera India.      

UTTAR PRADESH: At times politicians do make sensible statements, even if controversial by nature. “Scrap evil practice of purdah” was a report attributed to UP strong man Mulayam Singh.
Addressing a national convention organized by Samajawadi Party’s women wing at the party office in Lucknow, Mulayam Singh called for the ‘eradication of evil tradition of purdah’ (veil). Saying that, ‘purdah should be scrapped as it hindered the progress of women’.
We need to really congratulate the SP leader for saying what he said, despite the fact that a good part of his electoral target do wear veil, purdah or burqah. And as he remarked veil, purdah or burqah, did hinder the socio-economic progress of women in general.
Hope all concerned take note of what Mulayam said, and take the fight for equality to improve their socio-economic position across the religious divide. 

MADHYA PRADESH:        It was 30 years ago, on 2nd Dec 1984, little past midnight, poisonous Methyl Isocyate, 40 tonnes of it, escaped into the still wintry night air and Bhopal wakes up to the nightmare of the world’s worst industrial disaster. Close to 20000 died, around half a million maimed in different degrees. This accident had happened in the pesticide factory of U.S. conglomerate Union Carbide in Bhopal.
After 30 years, story of the suffering of Bhopal residents continues. They got poor compensation, partly because, for the U.S. Indian lives were cheap and for Indian government of the day it was apathy, insensitivity and ineptitude, that simply did not understand the anormity of the problem.
Or else, Warren Anderson, who came to India on 6th December, and was arrested on arrival would not have been let off on bail, hours later! He left the next day, allowed to travel on the condition that he will come back when needed by the court. He never came back and died on 29th Sept. in Florida, U.S. If the compensation was poor, the garbage the Union Carbide left 30 years after the factory was closed, is still rotting in open. Resultant contamination of the ground water table, the soil, and air has continued to affect the area around the factory of many square kilo meters. It is an unending struggle. Successive governments for all these past 30 years have been going in circles doing precious little to address the issue of disposal of the chemical waste. And the endless suffering of the people of Bhopal continues. In the name of Swachha Bhaarath, will Modi government do something?!We have to wait and see. 

JAMMU & KASHMIR: The election in the state has thrown up different possibilities. Despite calls by separatists like Syed Ali Shah Geelani & others, Kashmiris have defied the Pakistani sponsored terror strikes and turned up in large numbers to cast their votes. There was high % of polling in all phases. It is good for the general health of any society, who have democratic aspirations, to participate in the electoral process to elect people’s representatives. Like all of India J & K too has a history of 67 years. It has seen the goings on in the neighbouring Pakistan for similar length of time. What is the assessment of average Kashmiri, either born before 1947 or born after? That needs to be studied and understood. According to media, increased participation of youth is primarily to prevent BJP in coming to power. Since BJP is perceived to be a party of Hindus and therefore communal. But excuse me Mr Kashmiri, what about other political parties in Kashmir politics? Congress, which claims to be secular, is as communal as one can be, so are others like PDP, National Conference and Peoples Conference. All have found that secularism as practiced by these parties, is only a ploy. Nobody is genuinely secular. Even communist parties in India are not secular in true sense. Probably there were two individuals, in Kashmiri context who were truly secular, and they were Sheikh Abdullah and Jawaharlal Nehru. Sanity of both these gentlemen are not there any more. Hence suspecting BJP for its alleged Hindu bias is to think with closed mind. 
The religious partition of the pre-1947 India and the creation of Pakistan, surely disappointed the floating soul of Mohd. Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. He wanted to create a Muslim dominated secular Pakistan. What is the status of Pakistan to-day! Answer need not be given. All thinking people are in the know of the harsh truth. It is indeed an ‘International Migraine”. The latest killing of 132 school children by terrorists has proved it to be the most violent country. So going towards Pakistan may not be an option for Kashmiris. India certainly offers much better and guaranteed option for growth, with equity, despite its suspected fault lines.
Kashmiris have seen all governments and its leadership. Giving BJP led coalition may be an option, they should consider for at least one term. After all the proof of pudding is in its eating, isn’t it! 

WORLD: It is a documented truth that Pakistan uses fomenting trouble and terror against India, as a state policy. This policy has a long history, of several decades. It became more pronounced since the days of Zia-ul-Haq. As president of Islamic Republic of Pakistan (IRP) Zia-ul-Haq’s programme of causing thousand cuts to India has been an ongoing agenda of successive governments in IRP. When it comes to India, the attacks on Indian objects and on Indian soil, it is orchestrated with the participation of ISI, the Pak intelligence agency and the Jamat-ul-Duwa urf Lashkar-e-Taiba. Hafez Saeed, the cantankerous hate monger is the vicious face of terror from across the western border since a long time. The recent election in J & K has brought the diabolic plans of Pakistan led terror attacks into open.
There has been a series of violent assaults in the valley. The attack on Army camp in Uri, a checkpoint in Srinagar, a grenade blasts at Tral and Shopian are some of the assaults, that J-u-D has carried out with the support and participation of Pakistani establishment. The question that, to normalize relation, there has to be talk between the countries to the conflict, but if you keep orchestrating bloody attacks, leading to killings and destruction of properties, how can there be atmosphere conducive for talks!? Doesn't it consolidate the Indian public support so also international support for New Delhi’s position that it cannot talk to Pakistan against the back drop of terror?
 There was this report in the print media, datelined Berlin. It said “Germany to aliens: Speak only German”. Sure, and why not?! Christian Social Union (CSU) a sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel and a partner in her coalition government in Berlin made the proposal in a draft policy paper which says “People who want to remain here on a permanent basis should be obliged to speak German in public and within the family”, prima facie, the demand is perfectly legitimate. Of course these outsiders who want to make a home in Germany, generally would know either French or English. With French & English, the life can go on without any hick-up in any German city, but it is the national pride of CSU that has prompted this proposal. However, what is of interest in this context is the ongoing controversy on the introduction of Sanskrit as the third language in CBSE schools. Notwithstanding the debate this move of the HRD ministry has caused, it was reported that Angela Markel herself wanted to take up the issue of German being removed by the executive fiat of the ministry as the third language in Indian schools. While she has every right to promote German globally, because of her love for her own national language, is it wrong for Indians, at least a section of them to do just that, to express love for Sanskrit. India’s very own language of the yore! After all Sanskrit is one of the world’s oldest languages. In India it should not only live, but flourish. It is true that, students who are learning any foreign language they should be allowed to complete it within the system. But then, in India there are jokers who talk about Sanskrit as a dead language. These jokers need to know that Friedrich Max Muller, the German Indologist had a great fascination for Sanskrit. He had started learning Sanskrit as a youngster and specialized to write his treatise on Rig Veda, funded, believe it or not, by East India Company, in as far back as 1847. So let’s not be churlish about the dignity of Sanskrit.
This language needs to be promoted back to its earliest glory while allowing Indian students to pursue any foreign language of their choice. But that need not be at the cost of Sanskrit.         
Ferguson crisis involving the killing of teenager Michael Brown, who was reportedly unarmed and was shot 18 times by a white policeman, understandably has raised the hackles all across the U.S. and even in the wide world. But those who were hopeful of U.S. judicial fairness were aghast. The juries reportedly accepted the argument of the white policeman Darren Wilson that he felt, young Brown, although unarmed, was a threat to his life and therefore shot the youngster in self-defence. But the jury somehow decided not to question, if the youth is unarmed why shoot him 18 times and on the head? Instead they closed case and gave a verdict of ‘not guilty’. Do you feel deeply disappointed that this was not United States of America but some banana republic!
And comes the case of Eric Garner, a big made African American, caught selling loose cigarettes in the Staten Island. He too was unarmed but being big made, many policemen scuffled to overpower him. But Daniel Panteleo, the white policemen, held him by the neck, making it difficult for Eric Garner even to breathe. Garner died on the spot. Here too, the grand jury verdict did not indict Panteleo. This was despite the video showing the execessive use of force by the police, which truly caused the death.
If this is a reflection of a deep seated racial divide refusing to go away, inspite of an African American occupying the White House, here is the confirmation. A 12 year old Tamir Rice was shot dead, within 2 minutes of Petrolcar stopping by his side, ostensibly because, he was trying to pull a gun from his waistband. As it turned out, it was a toy gun. Here too, it was a white policeman, Tim Loehman, who ‘believed’ the boy had a real fire arm. “Young boys playing with replica guns are common place in America and police are expected to approach them safely if an investigation is warranted, not shoot them dead in 2 seconds” said the law suit filed in U.S. District court. Grand Jury’s verdict is awaited.         


        

FOCUS

NEHRU TO NARENDRA MODI
WHERE HAS THE CONCILIATORY SPIRIT GONE!
Come 14th Nov. 2014, it’s the Children’s Day in memory of chaachaa Nehru, as Jawaharlal Nehru was called, for his fondness of children. Of course, he is not alone, there are millions the world over who are fond of children. But then as a leader of an important country, in the global context, probably not many are known to be fond of kids.
While every year, the schools across the country observed Children’s Day on 14th Nov., this time round, besides its solemn observance in schools, a completely avoidable controversy was introduced by the two major political players of the country. It was petty and appeared a bit sectarian too.
Of course the controversy surrounding the celebration of the great man is not new. Surely, many Indians would remember the issue of Nehru Centenary Celebration Committee formation. Rajeev Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, riding on 400+ seats in the Loksabha had announced that Amitabh Bachchan would chair the committee. There was an understandable furore    in the socio-academic circle. Rajeev Gandhi beat a hasty retreat with Bachchan name. Right enough, Amitabh Bachchan, with his mega cine-status, was simply not the right choice.
So, a quarter century later, the controversy came back to haunt Congress.
This time round probably Congress didn’t ignite the controversy. But then, it was clearly a case of one-up manship, and completely avoidable at that. There was no earth shattering reason. If the party perceived the BJP actions as petty, there was no need for a tit for tat. Which in the ultimate analysis did not help the Congress image at all.
However, BJP led by Narendra Modi contributed its own brand of controversies by trying to appropriate Patel legacy by portraying him that, Nehru and by extension Congress, did not give Patel his right due. Of course, Patel being a Gujarati may have had a role in Modi trying to usurp for the so-called Gujarati pride!
Coming to the claim that Sardar Patel did not get his well deserved place in the public space may have some logic. So also the accusation that Nehru, as Prime Minister did not give Sardar Patel his due, may also have some takers. But, may be Modi’s antipathy for Nehru could also be the reason for Modi to drive a wedge between Nehru and Patel. The claim by BJP that ‘Had Patel been the PM of independent India, India would have been different’ also have takers, for whatever it is worth. But then, it was the choice of Mahatma Gandhi to make Nehru, the  PM. Besides, according to available sources, despite differences there was mutual respect for each other. Reportedly, Patel wrote in 1949, and we quote “Contrary to the impression created by some vested interest, we have worked together as lifelong friends and colleagues, adjusting ourselves to each other’s point of view…. It is difficult for people to imagine how much we miss each other when we are apart and unable to take counsel to-gether in order to resolve our passing problems and difficulties”.
Here it is very important to note, that Sardar Patel was the first one to ban RSS, post Mahatma Gandhi assassination. Yet courtesy Modi, Sardar Patel is back on national page.
The proposed mega ‘Statue of Unity’ planned as a monument to  Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel has its ‘nay’ sayers, besides a whole lot of supporters of the project. While it is perfectly legitimate for any government in Gujarat to  think of a monument on one of India’s greatest sons from Gujarat, it is the scale of the executive involvement, that is a bit disquieting.
As the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, who is presently the Prime Minister of the country, laid the foundation stone on 31st Oct. 2013, which also happens to be the 138th birthday of Sardar Patel. On completion, it is expected to be the tallest statue in the world. The question is, why so huge? It is planned to be 182Mtr tall on a base of 58mtrs. So from the ground it is 240Mtrs, spread over an area of 20000 square meters, surrounded by an artificial lake, a bridge connecting the mainland, a memorial garden, a convention centre, a research centre, a hotel and an amusement park.  The contract has been awarded to Indian engineering giant Larsen & Turbo at a bid of Rs: 2989 crores, for design, construction and 15 years post completion maintenance. The cost is expected to be met under PPP model. Gujarat Govt. has already allotted Rs: 600 crores. Union Govt. has allotted in 2014-15 budget Rs: 200 crores. Private contribution is expected to be more than government share. Hence, indeed why this heightened projection of Sardar Patel? Is it Gujarati pride or there is an element of leadership ego?
While it is very important to create an aura around Sardar Patel for what he represented on the national landscape, so also it may be an attempt to correct a wrong or a perceived wrong, it is certainly not a national priority. Of course, it needs to be reiterated that the memory of Sardar Patel has to be etched in the national consciousness for the information of posterity, it was simply not needed on such a mega scale. We have an example of Tamil chauvinism in Kanyakumari, where the statue of Thirukkural completely dwarfed the Vivekananda Rock Memorial constructed much earlier.
It is in the context of this ‘Statue’ politics, Nehru has been, kind of pushed to the background by BJP under Modi. Here we need to understand the impressions both Sardar Patel and Pandit Nehru have left on the national psyche. However, it is indeed true that Pandit Nehru has been extensively written about, unlike Sardar Patel. This also means that, the allegation that he has not got his due in the public space may not be wrong after all.
Delivering a talk at the “Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Memorial Lecture” under the auspices of All India Radio, on Oct. 30, 1992 eminent lawyer and former Indian ambassador to the US Nani Palkhiwala remarks “As you cannot conceive Solar system without the Sun, you cannot conceive a modern India without Sardar Patel”.
Comparing India & emergence of US, and how events in the respective countries had thrown up men of talent with sterling character, Mr Palkhiwala stresses ‘undoubtedly Sardar Patel was in the top rank’. According to him “Sardar Patel was a true Karma Yogi. After he became a widower at the age of thirty three, the only love in his life was his motherland to which he passionately devoted”. Probably this is what inspired Modi to remain celibate, despite marriage and remain committed to his motherland. Writing on the unifying role of Sardar Patel, Mr Palkhiwala quotes ‘The Manchester Guardian’ which commented “Without Patel, Gandhiji’s idea would have had less political influence and Nehru’s idealism less scope. Patel was not only the organizer of the fight for freedom but also the architect of the new state when the fight was over. The same man is seldom successful as rebel and statesman. Sardar Patel was an exception”. Similar was the response of Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev when he visited India. He expressed surprise that ‘India had managed to liquidate the princely states without liquidating the Princes’, and there were 554 Indian Princely States! Mr Palkhiwala also mentions that both IAS and IPS were the brain child of Sardar Patel, meant as instruments of strong civil service. Dismissing the talk of Hindu Rajya of RSS, he reiterated “If the government could not act as trustee of the entire population irrespective of caste, religion or creed, it does not deserve to continue for a single day”. Since Patel was a very secular person, as the Home Minister he had the courage to ban RSS, hence it is wrong to portray him as being anti-Muslim, says Mr Palkhiwala.
In a situation of rampant political interference in the bureaucracy, Sardar Patel stood out, informs Mr Palkhiwala and he quotes Sardar Patel “the most dangerous thing in a democracy is to interfere with the services”.
Thus, there is enough and more to write home about Sardar Patel. Only problem has been that the charm which Nehru held for media, Patel didn’t have and has therefore remained without the media patronage and hence in public space, there is less on Patel unlike Nehru.
As Mr. Palkhiwala concludes, he quotes Lord Wavell, the last Viceroy to India before Lord Mountbatten. According to him “Sardar Patel is certainly the most impressive of the Congress leaders and has the best balance”, and Mr Palkhiwala bemoans “Our greatest tragedy is that the lessons taught by this outstanding Indian and statesman who unquestionably ranks in the world class, are so little remembered to-day”. Hence, whatever the present dispensation in New Delhi is trying to do is to perpetuate the memory of the Iron Man of India who unfortunately passed away in little over 3 years of our political independence, on 31st Dec 1950.  
Coming to Nehru, Sir Mark Tully, of BBC fame writes “his charm, integrity, his intellectual stature and westernised sophistication, did single him out as the public voice of the nation” and he quotes Taya Zankin, then ‘The Guardian’ Correspondent in India, “Nehru was immensely inspiring. He was not only very good looking, but he spoke superb English and was a good writer. Everybody was vaguely in love with him in a platonic sort of way. He was an idealist”.
‘However the most widely held criticism of Nehru was that he vacillated and procrastinated, lacking the single minded determination, (which Sardar Patel had) that a situation demanded’, writes Sir Mark Tully. His eclectic liberal political philosophy, influence of Marxist theory which saw some success in Stalin’s regime in the erstwhile Soviet Union led to a kind of Fabian socialistic policies. This led to jungle of laws, regulations and controls which Sir Mark Tully thinks “provided a happy hunting ground for corrupt politicians and bureaucrats” and the legacy continued for a long time, even after the death of Nehru in 1964.
Hence, while the popular acceptability of Pandit Nehru was a fact, his style of administration & governance didn’t much help the socio-economic evolution of the country over a long period of time. This is where the Sangh Pariwar, who had no love lost for Nehru, looked around and latched on to beat him and his legacy. Sardar Patel, thus became an instant choice and an aura was built around him “If only Sardar Patel was the Prime Minister during the early part of post independent India”!
Narendra Modi, as a leader by his own right, exploited the Gujarati root of Sardar Patel to his advantage. Coupled with his personal clean image, he slowly and consistently tried to build his own image as another ‘iron man’ in the footsteps of Sardar Patel. Now that lot of success has attended his efforts, rightly or wrongly, he cannot be blamed if he sees himself as a replica of Sardar Patel for the future generation. Thus, ‘is this statue politics, an ego trip for Narendra Modi?’ This is a question only time will answer.
Reverting to the title “Nehru to Narendra Modi”, the two individuals, who have been the first Prime Minister and the current Prime Minister, in the same order, as the title, it may be of interest to know how both these personalities are comparable to each other.
Nehru, was with aristocratic background, whereas Modi is from the margins of socio-economic status. Education and upbringing was in line with the aristocracy and was exposed to western English public space unlike Modi, who had humble evolution with nothing to sing a song about. Modi grew up like vast majority of Indians with less means of material comforts. But, he consciously tried to walk away from the beaten path. Slowly but surely he made a unique niche for himself. If Nehru grew with all the attraction of youth being satisfied, Modi denied himself the worldly pleasures. Unlike Nehru, Modi grew like an ascetic, except of course his sartorial obsession. Nehru was more democratic, but there are allegations, that there were instances, that he frowned upon people resisting his authority. But Modi is not exactly on that mould. He is indeed a bit authoritarian within the democratic limit. However Nehru’s democracy failed to see the potential of India and Indians’ flourish, besides encouraging indiscipline. Modi is a no-nonsense type and hence discipline is his watch word. His public image and private life, there wasn’t much of a difference. Same may not be so with Nehru. In fact, there are accusations that Nehru’s friendship with lady Mountbatten interfered with some of our political decisions. No such thing can be expected from Narendra Modi. He has no visible vices as a mortal. He can set example of probity in public life, which is the most important quality Indians in general are looking for. Only comparable politician probably is Modi’s political idol Sardar Patel besides Lal Bahadur Shastri.
There can be no doubt on the genuineness of Nehru’s concern for the welfare of India and Indians, but he lacked the commitment of a serious player. Like Mahatma said “Nehru is a visionary thinker but Sardar is a doer”.
What India lacked for all these 60+ years is the leadership which was committed to ‘doing’. Certainly Modi means business, but there is a danger of overkill. This “Good Governance Day” on 25th Dec., is one such case of over enthusiasm.
Robert Lynd, was an English writer, who wrote a piece over a hundred years ago “Sermon on Shaving”. He expounds a theory, “to have a proper shave, not only one needs a good razor but also a good brush and good lather”. He was attempting to tell the reader that there need to be amalgamation of ideas to have a good and a working political doctrine.
Indeed our politicians like Modi, who is working overtime to give a working and result oriented governance, need to take leaf from all his predecessors, who are in their own way, role models. A little from Nehru, little from Patel and little from Shastri and some more from Vajpayee, can help Modi create a circular approach to the national plan of action. Will this happen?
The areas of concern however, more than governance, is the kind of noises of a section of Modi’s party that is causing worry. There is Giriraj Kishor, who said ‘those who do not like Modi go to Pakistan’. Now that is a pretty crude hero worshipping. Modi, not only did not caution him, instead he rewarded him with a ministry. This is simply not right. Of course, he made Saadhwi of Raamzaade/Haraamzaade infame, apologise to the parliament, so also he rebuked the Maharaj of Godse hype. But then, there has to be far clearer message of no-nonsense approach while dealing with his party foot soldiers who are in the sectarian promotion mode unlike Modi’s apparent good governance goals of development. Another aspect which is also worrisome is he has an impression of being business friendly in preference to people friendly. He must necessarily be all friendly. All governance and therefore the development has to be equity driven, which Nehru always advocated, but couldn’t achieve. His much hyped, but well meant all the same, Swachcha Bhaarath campaign has so far been only symbolic. There are many pockets in Gujarat, say Morvi, the ceramic factory to the nation, is probably the filthiest. It is here, informs a ceramic dealer that, private transport owned and operated by a Gujarat government minister is promoted at the cost of public transport. These are first hand information which need to be countered for the sake of larger pan Indian picture.
Of course, Modi deserves to be assessed over a longer period of few years at least, if not a full term. Then there can be a kind of gradation which can truly reflect his position in the contemporary history of the nation. Until then, its wishing all Indians a very good 2015, of deliverance from Narendra Modi & Company.
J.SHRIYAN

FEATURE

The real silent killer-your own mind

Prof. B. M. Hegde,
hegdebm@gmail.com
“Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.”
Kent M. Keith
Our medical scare system tries to rope you into their basket by frightening you with words like silent killer high blood pressure, silent killer diabetes, etc. almost daily. The truth is otherwise. The silent killer is your own mind. Where is the mind? All over you, indeed! Mind is your own consciousness.
Consciousness is fundamental and all else is derived from that was the opinion of one of the great brains in physics, Max Planck. Human body, is therefore, the extension of or the other name for the human mind. "Cogito ergo sum"- "I think, therefore, I am" was the right proclamation of Rene Descartes back in the eighteenth century, although he meant it for the opposite reasons to divide the human body into two parts-the thinking part (res Cogitans) and the other part (res Extensa ). That is where our curse began of reductionism-science started looking at bits and pieces to understand the whole. With all the wonderful advances in modern day physics of (w) holism medical science still looks at bits and pieces, becoming a bane to society.
Charles Sherrington, a Nobel winning physiologist, became the professor of physiology in 1899 when he admitted that "positive sciences do not and cannot answer the question "why"? That was precisely how silent killer hypertension etc. originated. Today with the understanding of (w) holism we are able to ask the pertinent question as the why does the blood pressure go up in the first place? Here
I am not referring to the disease secondary hypertension where we know the cause for elevated BP. I am talking of what modern medicine calls primary or essential hypertension. Similarly we now know why the sugar or cholesterol goes up, again excluding primary type I diabetes.
Now the reader will have to understand elementary human physiology. We have a healer inside us which is the most powerful healer and the best doctor in the world called the immune system. This has to be kept in its best mode all the time. While we were hunger gatherers in the forest our only cause of premature death was predation. Nature then endowed us with a very intelligent extra system called the autonomic nervous system which would keep us going when we are seriously injured as we did not have the intensive care units then. What the intensive care unit does was being done by the autonomic nervous system in a better way. If could close up cut vessels, make the blood clot there, get our blood pressure up when it goes down and see that the vital organs get enough blood by redistributing blood more efficiently. In Case we see a tiger the same system would make us capable of running away from danger by elevating our blood pressure, sugar, cholesterol and other sterols as life saving measure.
Now that we are in a (un) civilized world with our rat race to make money and get positions we have to deal with human tigers every day. Many a time these tigers live with us as our near and dear ones. We are yet to evolve to get rid of the autonomic nervous system and that might take millions of years of evolution. As of now we get the flight-fight-fright reaction of the forest tiger sighting with the same biochemical reactions and consequent altered blood parameters and BP rise. While in the forest the elevated levels used to be burnt up to give us energy to run. Today we cannot run away from the human tigers. On a chronic basis we accumulate these elevated blood parameters and become hypertensive, diabetic, and what have you. So it is not the tail, elevated blood pressure, which wags its tail silent killer. It is the abnormal consciousness of fear, fight reaction of human mind that does the trick. Unfortunately in reductionist medicine we do not look at the whole and try to deal with the end result, may be BP going up or cholesterol.
Cancer is another killer. .Cancer cells are normal body cells that fail to die on their appointed time by apoptosis (normal programmed cell death) and mutate to become rogue cells. They are bunch of jobless, aimless, wandering cells that might eventually become clinical cancers-weeks, months or even years after they get formed in the first place. So if we can screen for rogue cells all of us will have many potential cancers inside us every day. Why do these cells grow to be cancers in some but die away in the majority? Here again the culprit is our mind. Negative thoughts like hatred, jealousy, and anger and pride help the cells to grow to be cancers while love, camaraderie, sharing and caring (otherwise called spirituality) would try and destroy those rogue cells. Abnormal over eating is another trigger for cancer cells to grow. Frugal diet might not encourage them.
Modern medicine also is now recognising hostility as the main culprit in heart attacks and anger in haemorrhagic strokes. Depression with frustration does bring on cancer and all other killer diseases in their wake. We all know how to keep our body clean but many of us do not know how to keep our minds clean and devoid of all the negative dangerous thoughts. Every thought gets translated into a powerful chemical in the body to do all the damage or good depending on the thought being either negative or positive. How then do we do control our thoughts?
That is the job of the true educational system which, unfortunately we had completely destroyed in India thanks to our colonial masters who wanted to keep us under their thumb. Every new born child is a genius and a Godly person only to be converted into an idiot and a devil in the present schooling system where negative thoughts and competition are taught. From day one in school those innocent compassionate children are graded with ranks and marks and are made to be aware of their individuality. The altruistic "we" concept gets transformed into the dangerous egoistic "I"concept. That I leads to illness in later life while e WE would have encouraged wellness.
cation must make Healthy minds and not just wealthy careers. Healthy mind is defined as that which has "enthusiasm to work and enthusiasm to be compassionate". Indian Sanathana dharma, which goes back to times out of mind, has had all those beautiful ideas but was all but removed from the educational arena. We still follow the British model in our schools and colleges while Britain is slowly taking ideas from our ancient system. Schools in London are trying to teach Sanskrit, a fully developed ancient language of India. Let us be human and humane in our social intercourse for us to develop a healthy mind which is the best vaccination for all killer diseases and the mercury containing chemical vaccines that we load our children with. Another one of those reductionist ideas. Even Adam Smith had defined education as that rocks which trains a man to act "justly,
Skilfully and magnanimously under all circumstances of war and peace". This world runs through your consciousness. Matter comes into existence when observed by you. This new concept is called bio centrism, a brain child of that great thinker physician Robert Lanza.
“The truth can only offend those who live a lie!”                 
  -    Anon



YEH MERA INDIA

Swachh Bharat & manual scavenging co-habit
Lucknow: Over a year ago when Parliament passed a stringent anti-manual scavenging legislation, the husband-wife duo of Krishna and Ratna had hoped that government help would come and they would be able to shun the “horrific” job of cleaning night soil with their hands.
But at a time when the Centre and the State governments are engaged in carrying out their own versions of “swachhata abhiyan”(cleanliness drives), every day at the strike of dawn the couple, with their little girl child, go from one home to another with a basket and a broom cleaning dry toilets in the bylanes right in the heart of the state capital.
Krishna and Ratna are not the only ones engaged in manual scavenging. Dry toilets exist in around 1,000 homes in at least a dozen localities in the older part of the city. This is despite the fact that forcing people to clean dry toilets can attract stringent punishment, including up to five years of imprisonment.
Though the district authorities officially “liberated” 57 manual scavengers last year, NGOs working in this area claim that there are still over 125 people engaged in cleaning dry toilets in the city.
“Each person cleans at least 25 – 30 homes...We have been doing this for the past 10 – 15 years. Last year, after the stricter anti-manual scavenging law was passed, a lot of buzz was created by local authorities and surveys were done, but nothing changed for us,” says Krishna, a worker at Sadatganj area. Asked why he continued to do the cleaning although he took up other odd jobs during the day, he explains: “It is about two hours of early morning work every day. I make Rs.3,000 per month...I want to quit this job but house owners whom we have been serving for decades and with whom we have developed close ties, plead with us not to quit. I took over this job from my parents, but I would not pass it on to my kids.”
The dilemma is the same for his other colleagues, be it Sanjay and his wife Sunita or high-school educated Rohit who took over the work from his parents. Enter the narrow streets of Billozpura, Hussainabad, Bhadeva, Ghanta Gharaiya, Kachcha Bagh, Lakadmandi, Tudiaganj, Asharfabad, Victoriaganj, Shahganj, Nakkhas and Akbari Gate, and you will find people carrying baskets and brooms cleaning dry toilets.
Ajay, the son of a former manual scavenger who now works as a social activist, asks what one could do when the authorities responsible for removing the social evil live in denial. “I have approached every authority in the state, right up to the Chief Minister, but no one is ready to listen,” he rues as he shows elaborate document with data on manual scavengers as well the numbers of homes where dry toilets still exist.
“Last year, when the civic authorities conducted a survey of the city to identify manual scavengers, our team went along to identify them and also identifying homes with dry toilets.

RTI Exposes: Around 150 Resolution passed but not acted upon in 5 years
Mumbai: 142 resolutions passed by the BMC in last five years, mainly concerning public welfare and developmental issues could not be implemented for want of approvals either by the state or central government.
A reply to RTI query field by activist Anil Galgali revealed that most resolutions when sent to the Central and State Government for necessary approvals do not receive the desired response or simply languish due to lack of follow up by the BMC officials.While replying to the query, the Municipal Secretariat said that from May 2009 to May 2014 around 143 resolutions were discussed in the House by the Councilors, and till  date the BMC received report on just a single resolution.
Galgali alleged, “This is mainly because of lack of interest on the part of Municipal Secretary department. The department does not follow up or pursue the issue well enough.
The Municipal Secretary Department is the nodal agency between the central and the state governments, and the BMC is supposed to strongly pursue any proposal, resolution or any communication.
Galgali further said, “But it seems that this department has failed to take up the issues and seek appropriate responses on its proposals and communications from the respective government departments.”“As a result the efforts of various Councilors who initiate and move these proposals and further debate to get them approved by the House go in vain,” he added. Galgali has also demanded action from the Mayor and Municipal Commissioner against the Municipal Secretary for this negligence.   

Bengalooru Roads sub standard!
Bengaluru: The quality of roads in Bengaluru just cannot get worse. A report by the Quality Control Engineering (QCE) wing of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) states that more than 90 per cent of the roads are sub standard.
Officials of the wing have inspected 189 works, executed between April and September, 2014, and found that 171 works did not conform to quality standards.
Following the report, Upa Lokayukta Justice Subhash Adi has issued notice to BBMP commissioner and executive engineer (Quality Control) to furnish the statement of utilization of funds during 2013-14 towards road works. Justice Adi has directed the BBMP commissioner to submit a report in person by January 7, 2015.
“If road work or any civil work is executed during rainy season, it may also amount to deliberately screening the evidence of substandard work. I have sought a report on the action initiated in pursuance of the report of the executive engineer of Quality Control,” Justice Adi said.
The QCE wing report says that of the road works inspected, only 9.52 per cent were approved as standard, while the remaining were substandard or inferior. It said that use of substandard construction materials was also the reason for pathetic condition of the roads.
“The office of the Quality Controller has not recommended action against the engineers or contractors concerned for substandard works. Besides, the BBMP has not initiated any action in this regard. These 189 works were executed within a span of six months and that too during rainy season. It is not known why rainy season is chosen for executing asphalting work,” Justice Adi added.
Irregularities:
Saidatta, president of the Karnataka Janahita vedike, had filed a complaint with the Upa Lokayukta alleging irregularities in road works taken up by BBMP during 2013-14. The complaint said that the BBMP had spent nearly Rs 1,000 crore on development and construction of roads.
However, none of the roads is of standard quality. Saidatta has provided a copy of the QCE report, along with the complaint, and has blamed contractors, BBMP officials and local political leaders for the substandard works.
The complainant stated that the BBMP commissioner had not taken any action on the complaint field in this regard by the Opposition Leader in the BBMP council.         

What’s common from Bhutan to Brazil !
 Its destination IndiaHyderabad: From Indian bureaucrats to executives from as many as 87 countries around the world, when it comes to gaining proficiency in English, it is not England they go to, but India. Indian defence personnel to Indian Foreign Service (IFS) probationers, corporate executives and government officials from non-English speaking countries, they all look to English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU) to learn or hone their language skills. The unique university caters to ministers, bureaucrats, doctors, engineers and others from different parts of the world not just graduate and post-graduate courses in English but also 11 foreign languages.
 “Every year about 400 executives from the countries right from Bhutan to Brazil come here for English proficiency under ITEC (Indian Technical and Economic Co-operation) programme,” EFLU Vice-Chancellor Sunaina Singh told IANS.
“These are extension services apart from regular courses. We are completely nationalistic in our approach. As Indian experts on English, we train foreign citizens who come to us. They don’t just learn English but also learn culture and go back as ambassadors of India,” she said.
Under a new initiative, EFLU through the Ministry of External Affairs established Centres for English Language Training (CELTs) in Sri Lanka and ASEAN countries like Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam.
“We are going to set up soon more such centres in five African countries – Sudan, Djibouti, Central Asian Republic, Tago and Mauritania,” she told IANS.
The university engaged in research, training and teaching English language, foreign languages and their literatures, linguistics, inter-disciplinary and cultural studies is uniquely placed at national and international levels. Only one of its kind in South Asia, it has its main campus here while two campuses are located at Lucknow and Shillong. Students from neighbouring countries come here through the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).
EFLU offers a range of short-term, self-financed and need-based vocational courses in addition to MA, Ph.D. programmes for on campus students and also diploma and distance courses. The university today teaches about 11 foreign languages – German, French, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Japanese, Chinese and Korean. It plans to add the Norwegian language.   


MONTH THAT WAS

Indian Roads unsafe!
New Delhi: Three out of five people feel unsafe on Indian roads, says a survey conducted in 12 cities of the country including the four metros.
During the survey, the general public expressed strong support for the Road Transport and Safety Bill, 2014 and expressed hope that roads will become safer.
“81 per cent of all respondents “strongly favor” passing of the proposed Road Safety Bill and 90 per cent believe that passing the Bill will be an important accomplishment for the Indian Parliament,” said the survey report which was released by Former Union Home Secretary GK Pillai in the presence of several families affected by road accidents, reports PTI.
In the past decade, more than 12 lakh people have been killed in road crashes in India. This translates to over 380 deaths a day, equivalent to a jumbo jet crash. Survey findings also revealed that 3 out of 5 respondents feel unsafe while traveling on Indian roads as drivers, pedestrians or passengers, the report said. The survey was jointly commissioned by Save LIFE Foundation and the Global Road Safety Partnership (a hosted project of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies).
The report further revealed that 91 per cent respondents believe that increased penalties for traffic violations will improve road safety while 97 per cent respondents favour the various statutes for protection of children during commute. 90 per cent respondents favoured mandating helmets for everyone on a two wheeler and 96 per cent favoured reforming RTO’s. Talking about the lack of focus the society and politicians have on road accidents, Pillai pointed out that 2,500 people lost their lives due to terrorism during the last one year.
“But you see the kind of attention terrorism gets. Yesterday, 214 people died, you saw the Union Home Minister going all the way to Chattisgarh and the whole publicity and so on…328 people died yeaterday in road accidents in the country. People don’t identify it as it gets scattered across the society,” Pillai said. Pillai called upon the society to press the elected representatives to get the bill passed. He also said that just by preventing road accidents, we can increase the GDP by three %.
The survey was conducted across twelve Indian cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkatta, Chennai, Varanasi, Nagpur, Rohtak, Chengalpattu, Burdwan, Palghar and Mandya in which more than 1300 people were interviewed. The meeting was also attended by families of various victims including Jyoti Gupta who had started an online petition to Prime Minister Modi to introduce a strong Road Safety law.
Jyoti along with the families later reached the Prime Minister’s Office and delivered the petition signed by over 2,00,000 people.      

When ICICI Bank did not see reason
In an interesting case, a local consumer court has slapped a fine of Rs 11,000 on a private bank for not issuing No Objection Certificate (NOC) to a customer due to his outstanding loan amount of 43 paisa, DHNS reports from Jaipur. The bank later added late fees and other charges asked the customer to deposit Rs 1037.55
According to details one Rajnikant borrowed Rs 1.75 lakh from the ICICI Bank as personal loan. A few months later Rajnikant expressed his wish to deposit the entire loan amount which was around Rs 1,66,6677.43. The borrower deposited the entire amount but bank refused to give him no objection certificate and informed that 43 paisa are still outstanding. Later the borrower deposited a cheque of Rs 1 in the bank. The cheque was rejected as outstanding amount shot up to 1037.55 after the bank added late fee, debit fee, pick up fee and other penalties on the customers. Reacting on such practices consumer court said that these are unfair practices by bank as such a small amount must have been waived off by the bank. 

Christian held for blasphemy in Pakistan
Lahore: A Christian man has been arrested here for allegedly posting blasphemous comments in a blog he wrote in 2011, just days after a Pakistani couple, belonging to the same faith, was charred to death for alleged blasphemy. “We have arrested Quasar Ayub, 40, from Lahore on the charges of committing blasphemy on his blog. We have also obtained a two-day physical remand of the accused from the district and sessions court (Talagang),” senior police officer Jabbar Husain told PTI.
Ayub, who holds a Masters degree in Computer Sciences, is currently held in Chakwal district in Punjab province, where a case was registered against him in 2011 under blasphemy law (Section 295C of Pakistan Penal Code) for posting blasphemous comments on a Christian websitehe was moderating. The arrest comes just days after the killing of a Christian couple for alleged blasphemy in Kot radha Kishan area near here on Noember 4. 

‘I am not Malala’ day in Pakistan
Islamabad: A network of private schools in Pakistan today observed ‘I am not Malala’ day to condemn Nobel laureate and teenage girls rights activist for her alleged support for controversial British novelist Salman Rushdie. Malala Yousufzai, 17, shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 in Pakistan’s northwestern town of Mingora, won Nobel Peace Prize 2014 with 60-year-old Indian anti-child labour activist Kailash Satyarthi. In a statement, the federation president Mirza Kashif Ali alleged that “Malala has nexus with Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasrin”. He said Malala’s book, written with British journalist Christina Lamb, was too sympathetic to Rushdie. Ali said Rushdie’s book was clearly “anti-Islam” and by supporting him, Malala has joined his club. 

Rs.1.19 lakh cr black money in India
New Delhi: While the nation awaits the results of government efforts to bring back black money stashed away, the money is very much here and within the reach of the arm of law. In the last three years, between 2011 to September 2014, authorities have traced over Rs. 1.19 lakh crore, as undisclosed income in surveys conducted on 14,169 entities.
What does revenue department say?
Department of Revenue figures show during the same period, 1,955 entities admitted to having undisclosed income of Rs 40,458.13 crore. Action against them were initiated under section 132 (4) of the Income-Tax Act. Authorities have seized assets worth only Rs 2,786.21 crore so far from them. The highest undisclosed income of Rs 90,390.71 crore was detected 2013-14 through 506 surveys. This was the time when a political campaign against black money and the institution of Lok Pal had taken centre stage.
How much money has the govt lost?
The government has lost Rs 91,747.54 crore on account of service tax, central excise and customs duty evasion of Rs 59,315 crore has been detected. The amount is Rs 18,017.42 crore for central excise and Rs 14415.12 crore for customs duty, respectively.
What’s the govt’s tax revenue? 
Experts say only 0.5% taxpayers in the country are assessed. Prof. Arun Kumar, author of The Black Economy in India, estimates that India loses Rs 14 trillion from tax evasion annually. The government’s tax revenue, at an estimated 18 per cent of India’s $1.5 trillion in gross domestic product (GDP), is the lowest among the four BRIC nations.
Where does all this money go?
Kumar, who is Chair Professor at the School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, in a recent study, said that illicit funds taken out of India are all not left in banks but consumed, round-tripped back to India and invested in various projects. So, he makes a case to find this wealth in India, as he also argues that the amount of illicit funds left in offshore banks would be a fraction of the total funds that would have left Indian shores. Biju Janata Dal leader Bhartruhari Mahtab, who participated in the debate on black money in Lok Sabha, told that one needs to keep in mind that money we always claim or say that it has flowed out is getting re-routed and being invested in different forms in different fronts in this country itself. “So, the money that is stashed away abroad is something that is actually  a fraction of the black money generated within the country,” he said.

Officer suspended for laxity !
Mumbai: After the mysterious disappearance of as many as 57 investigation files from one of the departments of state’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) headquarters, the state FDA commissioner suspended the assistant commissioner against the officer at Kherwadi police station in Bandra.
Assistant commissioner SS Kale was posted at the state headquarters in the city till May 2014 and held the charge of assistant commissioner, intelligence, joint commissioner, vigilance, and assistant commissioner, drug zone VII. According to the suspension order issued by the commissioner’s office, Kale had withheld254 cases from zone VII of which he was in-charge pending.The cases were show-cause notices to chemists and druggists for defaulting on various sections under the Drug and Magic Remedies Act that range from sale of drugs without prescriptions to discrepancy in sale and purchase bills. But Kale served in the office till September, despite his transfer orders, which were issued in May. “Kale was asked for a clarification for withholding so many files. But his explanation was not satisfactory, after which the commissioner ordered a surprised check,” said an official from FDA.
The check revealed 57 files of the 254 were missing. On December 1, the commissioner then filed FIR. “The files were not his private property. They should have been in office. The suspension is the preliminary action. The inquiry is underway, once it is over we will know the extent of offence,” said FDA commissioner, Purushottam Bhapkar.
“Many times, suspension happens without any ground. The suspension is not a punishment. It is merely an inquiry procedure,” said a former joint commissioner, FDA.

Self-reliance in electricity possible
Bangalore: For a little over a lakh rupees, a portion of your terrace can make you absolutely self-reliant in electricity.
Meet Ratnadeep Bhattacharjee in Bangalore who did not take an electricity connection from public power suppliers for his newly built four-storied office building. Lights, fans, computers, air conditioners and three water pumps in this 5,000 square  foot building run without any botheration of a power failure, thanks to 36 solar panels installed on a small portion of the terrace and parepet wall.
Bhattacharjee, a former senior executive in Tata Power Solar, is currently running Array Tech, which supplies Japanese Solar Frontier panels and installs solar rooftop systems and plants. “We wanted to show that complete self-reliance in electricity is possible with solar power,” he said.
All that it cost him was about Rs.5 lakh, which included the price of a battery bank to store the power. His rooftop solar system generates 5.5 kilo watt (KW), which is more than sufficient for his office’s energy needs. In less than eight years, Bhattacharjee will recover this from his saving on power bills.
A number of others in metros such as Delhi, Kolkota, Mumbai, Chennai and Pune also have installed rooftop systems to meet the energy needs of their houses and offices substantially, if not fully independently.
According to experts, rooftop systems for households would cost only Rs.1.3 lakh per KW, which is enough to meet the requirements of most households.
The Centre and various state governments are pushing for rooftop solar systems with subsidies as overburdened power grid remain vulnerable to frequent failures. The Narendra Modi-led government has set an ambitious target of 100,000 MW of solar power in India at a cost of Rs.8 lakh crore by 2019.
“The rooftop solar systems will see manifold rise within a year with the Centre’s thrust on renewable energy,” said Ravikumar Gurumurti, consultant at Quantum Sun.

ABRACADABRA

Here labour pain is not an emergency
Mumbai: A woman in labour is not an emergency, believes the state government. This view was aired before the Bombay High Court while a division bench was hearing a PIL filed in 2009.
Aariya Khan, a 20-year-old destitute woman who sells trinkets on the western line, delivered a baby on the Bhayandar railway platform in January 2009. After the delivery, a constable present on the platform took her to the BMC-run Bhagwati Hospital in Borivali West.
Aariya had delivered an underweight baby and was discharged from Bhagwati Hospital within a week, as a result of which, it is claimed, her baby died. She has earlier lost two children.
The petition points out that no hospital or clinic is available near railway stations to deal with emergencies and that no ad hoc step was taken while the lady was in labour.
But Niranjan Pandit, Additional Government Pleader for the state government, had a different take on the issue. “A woman in labour is not an emergency. Pregnancies and deliveries are not emergencies because you know you are pregnant right from the time a child is conceived to the time the child is delivered…”
The petition further contended that the lady was made to leave Bhagwati Hospital within a week as she did not have address proof to support her contention that she belongs to the below poverty line (BPL) category, which would have enabled her to avail of the medical services.
AGP Pandit said, “How do we know she indeed belongs to BPL? She did not have an address proof to prove it.” The petition further contends that the mother and child should have received care and assistance under the National Health Mission, the Janani Suraksha Yojana and the Integrated Child Development schemes which guarantee food and nutrition for pregnant and lactating women pre and post delivery.
Advocate Gayatri Singh for the petitioner said, “No pre-natal or post-natal services were provided to the mother or the baby. Moreover, she should have been kept in the hospital for at least 14 days.”
The petition also highlights the need to have hospitals or clinics next to railway stations. No hospital is available in Bhayandar where almost 12 lakh people reside; therefore the victim had to be taken to a hospital in Borivali West.
The division bench comprising Justice Abhay Oka and Justice A S Gadkari has asked the woman to be present in court and summoned the said constable who took the lady to the hospital.
A woman dies in childbirth every eight minutes and India accounts for more than 17 percent of maternal deaths in the world every year.

Foot ball match & black magic
Mombasa (Kenya): A domestic football match in Mombasa was abandoned over the weekend after riots broke out following claims that spectators used black magic – juju – to decide the game’s outcome.
Alaskan FC were leading 1-0 over local rivals Napoli FC during the Mishi Mboko Tournament when a supporter of the former ran onto the pitch and broke a coconut as a charm to maintain the result, reports Xinhua.
Tournament coordinator Said Rajab confirmed that soon fighting broke out between the two teams and spectators, who pelted each other with missiles, forcing the abandonment of the match with 30 minutes of play left.
Following the melee, Alaskan FC was expelled from the tournament for bringing the game into disrepute.
Last year, in April, a referee sued Football Kenya Federation (FKF), claiming he had been rendered impotent after a coach grabbed and squeezed his testicles during a pitch invasion in the same city.

Watch football match & get arrested
London : A woman has been arrested in Saudi Arabia after she disguised herself as a man in order to watch a football match. The police said that the woman bought her ticket online and was able to bypass the security by wearing men’s clothing including, a baseball cap and a hoodie to cover her hair. Women are barred from watching football, volleyball matches in Saudi Arabia.

Elephant flees with tourists
Bangkok: A rampaging elephant killed his mahout and fled into the nearby forest carrying a Russian female tourist and her eight-year-old daughter on his back in central Thailand, media reports said. The incident happened at Puvara Tour elephant camp which offers elephant rides for visitors in Muang district. The 18-year-old male elephant, Phlai Meow, was on a forest tour with the Russian tourist and her daughter on its back. The animal was steered and guided by 60-year-old mahout Sook Submark, Bangkok Post reports. 

Dog in witness box
Maryland: A little dog Ozzy took the witness box along with his owner Sharon Betts in a Maryland courtroom to testify in an animal cruelty case involving Bett’s former boyfriend Khanh Hoang Hong. In April 2013, Hong broke into Betts’ home, grabbed Ozzy and his mate Pieper whose carcass was found four days later. Ozzy somehow managed to chew his way out of the bag and jumped to safety. With Ozzy on her lap, Betts pleaded with the judge to impose tough sentence.


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Unforgettable S.Sadanand

Dr. M. V. Kamath

The Telephone kept ringing. I knew Swaminath Sadanand, my boss at the Free Press group of newspapers, was calling me. But I didn’t want to speak to him. That morning, Sadanand had chewed me out over some trivial matter and although he’d often done it before, this time something in me had snapped. Leaving his room in a daze, I had typed out a resignation letter and fled from the office, vowing never to return.
“Go on, answer it,” my sister-in-law urged me. I picked up the receiver. It was, as I’d guessed Sadanand, though his normally grating voice now was choked and tearful. Why was I so upset? He asked. Wasn’t I like a second son to him? Couldn’t fathers scold their sons? He was sending his son to fetch me.
How could I resist? I returned to the office and was enveloped in a bear hug that unnerved me as much as the morning explosion. But that was Sadanand for you. He raged and loved, he laughed and he cried, with all the abandon and innocence of a child. And like a child, he generally got his way-at least with me and most of the people I knew.
Today, as I recall that 40-year-old incident I can think of many ways to describe Sadanand. He was a champion of a free press. He was a patriot who refused to yield to the British despite the most crushing pressures. He was a visionary who started an Indian news agency when all news in our country was distributed by foreign organizations.
Always Exciting. But it was really his extraordinarily forceful personality, the passion with which he threw himself into everything he did, that made him the most unforgettable character I’ve ever known. It wasn’t easy working on the Free Press, at times it was downright awful, but, by god, it was always exciting!
Sadanand did everything differently. Unlike most Indians, he cared little for age or formal education and was always ready to gamble on young people. When I approached him for a job in 1946, I was 25, a science graduate who’d worked for a few years as a chemist. “This is not a factory”, he told me curtly, then added “You’re hired. Rs 100 a month, three months’ trial.”
The trial began right away. I was given important assignments – the Municipal Corporation, Congress politics, speeches of top national leaders. I worked hard and even managed exclusive interviews with Jawaharlal Nehru and former US President Herbert Hoover. Sadanand didn’t say anything to me, but I sensed that he was pleased: I’d vindicated his belief that if a person was enthusiastic and industrious, he could do well at almost anything.
Under Sadanand, the Free Press became one of Indian journalism’s most important nurseries. Some of the biggest names in the profession today-cartoonist R.K. Laxman, T.J.S. George, former editor of Asiaweek, sports commentator and columnist A.F.S. Talyarkhan-worked for Sadanand. Though most of the staff were, like me, from humble backgrounds, Sadanand, also attracted a number of affluent young men, including Raja Hutheesingh (Nehru’s brother-in-law), Sharokh Sabavala (who became a Tata director) and Homi Taleyarkhan (later governor of Sikkim and our envoy to Libya and Italy).
Restless Spirit. The man who presided over us all was a school dropout. Born in Madras in 1900, Sadanand left home before completing high school because his stepmother ill-treated him. His father published a Tamil Magazine, and Sadanand was always determined to be a journalist.
Little is known of Sadanand’s early struggles. He worked briefly for the Associated Press in Bombay, the Independent of Allahabad and the Rangoon Times. When he returned to Bombay in 1923, he got a job looking after Congress Party publications and helping propagate Khadi.
But Sadanad was restless and yearned for full-time journalism. At the time, Reuters and Associated Press were the only news agencies in the country and, naturally enough, projected the British point of view while reporting on the freedom movement. Sadanand decided to challenge them with a nationalist news agency.
With money from industrialists sympathetic to the Congress, Sadanand launched his Free Press News Agency in 1927. Run on a shoestring, the agency at first had only two staffers –Sadanand and K.Srinivasan, a childhood friend.
The agency picked up a few subscribers, but with the launching of Gandhiji’s salt Satyagraha in March 1930, the British Government imposed severe restrictions on the press. Free Press agency telegrams were censored; its directors were pressurized to resign. Soon, the agency’s subscribers began withdrawing.
His Great Obsession. Sadanand, though, wouldn’t give in. If others wouldn’t carry his agency’s news, why, he’d start his own paper. For a while he was only able to bring out a cyclostyled sheet called Free Press News Bulletin, but he finally managed to buy a cheap secondhand press, and on June 13, 1930, the first issue of The Free Press Journal rolled out.
Throughout the 1930s and 40s, Free Press, with its news and comments on the freedom struggle, was aggressively anti-British. Sadanand bitterly opposed papers which reported objectively on the freedom struggle-the issue, he felt, was too important to permit anyone to sit on the fence. And to project his views in his papers, he even rewrote reports filed by his correspondents. In 1946, the British Cabinet Mission under Lord Pethick-Lawrence arrived in Delhi to negotiate the transfer of power. Sadanand was opposed to the Cabinet Mission and, ignoring the dispatches of his correspondent Sharokh Sabavala, published instead his own bitter denunciations of the delegation’s proposals.
However, once Independence-his great obsession-had been achieved, Sadanand insisted on objective reporting. One day, detecting a bias towards the socialists in my writing, he questioned me closely. I admitted that I had joined a newly formed socialist party. “Kamath,” Sadanand said, “you’ve got to make up your mind. You can either be a politician or a reporter. Not both.” I resigned from the party soon after.
Reading Sadanand’s Free Press during the freedom struggle was an act of patriotism, like wearing khadi or spinning the charkha. The British twice jailed him on sedition charges and also forced him to deposit huge sums of money as security. Over the years Sadanand was fined more than Rs 70,000. That was an enormous sum for the time, but it never cowed him.
Fiery Temper. Just about the only thing predictable about Sadanand was his daily routine. Around ten every morning, a chauffeur-driven Oldsmobile would halt in front of the paper’s office at 21, Dalal Street. Out would step a stocky figure clad in immaculate white jibba and dhoti, black hair slicked down. Sadanand suffered form filariasis and one of his swollen legs was often painful. Normally, he climbed the two floors to his office, but on bad days, three workers carried him up on a chair. Before beginning work, he spent several minutes performing puja to the gods whose pictures covered the walls of his room.
After reading the morning’s Free Press he would start firing instructions. If he was pleased with a report, he’d compliment the reporter personally. But more often, it was an ominous, “Ask him to see me later,” a sure indication of a trouble.
Life at Free Press was not for the faint-hearted. If something was not to his liking, Sadanand would go into a rage and sack people indiscriminately. But once he cooled down, he took them back. News Editor Hariharan was sacked thrice and thrice reinstated, each time with a raise.
His temper apart, Sadanand could be extremely considerate. M.R. Bhandarkar, who became his secretary when he was only 19, was at first slow, and made many mistakes. But Sadanand patiently corrected his grammar and spelling and constantly encouraged him to do better. Within a few years, Bhandarakar had improved so much that he was able to get a job at the Bombay High Court, where he worked successfully for a number of judges including martinets like the late Justice M.C. Chagla.
Sadanand could be gracious even to those who criticized him. B.G. Horniman, editor of the Bombay Sentinel, often lampooned Sadanand, calling him the “Dancing Dervish of Dalal Street. “Yet, when Horniman left the Sentinel and couldn’t get a job, Sadanand published excerpts from his autobiography for a handsome fee.
Main concern. Like trouble, good fortune at Free Press came without warning. One afternoon, I got a hurried summons from the Boss. Wondering what I’d done wrong, I entered his room. “Here, read this,” he said, brusquely thrusting his evening paper into my hands. I looked at it thunderstruck. It was the Free Press Bulletin’s new imprint line with the magic words, EDITOR: M.V.KAMATH. Sadanand had given me no indication that he was promoting me.
The Boss had no hobbies; sports, music and parties bored him. His papers and his family-in that order-were his only interests. In the office, even small matters rarely escaped his attention. When a reporter called Sethuraman regularly began coming to work unshaven and shabby, Sadanand started giving him one rupee everyday for a shave. Sethu, though, used the money to bet on horses. Sadanand found out, then ordered the barber to shave Sethu daily in the office!
Sadanand’s main concern was for his readers. Once I concluded a report with “And peace arrives not with a bang, but with a whimper,” based on a line by the poet T.S.Eliot. Sadanand asked me what the line meant. “It’s from T.S. Eliot,” I replied. “How many of our readers have read Eliot?” he asked, deleting the line. “Remember you are writing for the common man, not literature graduates.” That advice I’ve never forgotten.
The Boss toed no one’s line. His respect for Gandhiji did not prevent him from asking the Mahatma for not reviving the Quit India movement which had fizzed out by 1944. He further antagonized Gandhiji by publishing accounts of the confidential Gandhi-Jinnah partition talks of 1946.
He also stood by his men. Once, Srinivas Mallya, a Congress Bigwig, asked me to project his views in my reports, hinting that he could get Sadanand to sack me if I didn’t oblige. I refused. “You know Mallya, don’t you?” Sadanand asked me one day. I nodded. “Why is he after me to sack you?” Then, before I could reply, he changed the subject.
A Bitter Blow. Sadanand never bent to pressure, whether applied by Englishmen or Indians. In 1947, when the Indian Navy blockaded Junagadh because its Muslim ruler had opted for Pakistan, the Free Press published the name of ships and units taking part in the blockade. Sardar Patel, then home minister, was furious. The Sardar’s anger was to cost Sadanand dearly. At the time, Sadanand had nearly finished setting up an international news agency with bureaus in London and Washington. He’d spent Rs 7 lakh on the venture and all that was needed was the government’s go ahead to start.
But because he had antagonized Sardar Patel, the permission never came and Sadanand had to give up his dream of an Indian-controlled international news agency. It was a bitter blow, but there was worse to come. In 1951, the government passed a law restricting press freedom. Sadanand was one of its leading opponents and persuaded the All India Newspaper Editors’ Conference to adopt a resolution that all papers should carry a protest message above their editorials. Although most papers ignored the resolution, the Free Press faithfully ran the line: “Freedom of Expression is our birthright and we shall not rest until it is fully guaranteed by the Constitution,” until sadanand’s death.
The great years of the Free Press were from 1945 to 1950, Sadanand made it a distinctive paper with an attractive layout and several innovations-daily cartoons, numerous columns, special supplements and a full page devoted to sports. “He was the first Indian editor to realize that sports can sell,” recalls A.F.S. Talyarkhan, then the paper’s sports editor. Circulation and revenue boomed during this period.
Sadanand, unfortunately was a poor financial manager. A great deal of money was squandered on the stillborn international news agency and on a temple complex and a mansion in Madras. By 1951, Sadanand’s debts were mounting. Often there was no money to buy newsprint. Racked by tension, Sadanand’s health deteriorated. He suffered from diabetes, high blood-pressure and fever caused by the filariasis. After a heart attack in 1952, he realized that his end was near. In October 1953, he sold his papers, sadly telling us, “Even Sadanand is not indispensable”
I shall never forget my last encounter with Sadanand. We met half-way up the stairs of The Free Press. I was going to the office, he was coming down. He looked haggard and his eyes avoided mine. I knew he was leaving the office for the last time and started to follow him. “For God’s sake,” he cried, “don’t”. Within a few days he was dead.
The Indian press has made great advances since Sadanand’s time. There are more newspapers and magazines and they look a lot better, thanks to new technology. Moreover, reporting today is, by and large, better than it used to be. But the press is still under pressure. We could do with another Swaminath Sadanand.