Saturday, February 7, 2015

ISSUES & CONCERNS INITIATIVE


EDITOR'S COLUMN

Friends
We are well and truly into 2015. February is the month of customary union budgets. The Parliament shall see hopefully Railway Budget on 26th and the general budget on the 28th of Feb. It will be interesting to see first full budget of the new 'Ab ki baar Modi Sarcaar' shall be. Like the early part of 2014, strangely this time round too, the politics of Delhi is centered round the election to the union territory assembly. AAP, which held the rein for less than 50 days, is again playing a decisive role. This is despite the ‘Ab ki baar Modi Sarcar’. The heat, despite the cold wave in the north is on, in Delhi’s corridors of power. So-called electoral prophesies are still giving BJP, the main political party in the country to-day, a better margin for obvious reasons of its national dominance. 

The entry of Kiran Bedi, the former IPS, has certainly helped its image, especially among the middle class, although it appeared opportunistic and desperate. Desperation on the part of BJP, who suddenly acted to blunt the growing clout of Arvind Kejriwal and his AAP, after all he too is an IRS with clean image. Opportunistic on the part of Kiran Bedi, who was offered the position of Chief Minister of AAP government last year which she didn't accept, but jumped into the fray, when BJP approached her. If BJP manages to win majority in Delhi, she is expected to deliver better than any other BJP Chief Minister in Delhi, due to her tough cop and no-nonsense approach. However AAP deserves a chance to form at least one government, and performs for a full term to show case its intentions. They are after all a harbinger of alternative politics, since between Congress earlier and BJP now not much may change for better for aam aadmi. Right now, its advantage BJP, but between now and 7th Feb its an absolute pot-shot.

Continued violence from fundamentalist group especially the Muslim fringe groups in different parts of the world have been in the lime light continuously for some time now. If Danish cartoons of 2006 had disrupted most of the Muslim world then, this time round, the cartoons by CHARLIE HEBDO, exploded the uncontrolled anger of at least two reportedly petty criminals from Paris. Cherif and Said, reportedly orphans were two brothers of North African descent. According to police record, Cherif is a hashish smoking Pizza delivery boy. He along with his drug addict brother Said attacked CHARLIE HEBDO office and killed 10 of its staff including the chief editor. In all 19 were killed in this entire dastardly act, including the above two brothers.

We have taken up the issue of Freedom of Expression and its limits and the hurt psyche of Muslims in general and the dangers of uncontrolled anger of a small section of Muslims for the larger picture of co-existence of humanity as a whole. Hope the readers would find the exercise worth their time. Do revert with your input. We do value them.

J. SHRIYAN

MONTH-IN-PERSPECTIVE

NEW DELHI : The ongoing T.V debate by some opposition political parties washing their dirty linen in full public glare on the Coast Guard action on suspected terror boat from Pakistan has its own media angle too. When it comes to national security why our political parties cannot talk in one voice, is beyond the comprehension of an average citizen. Parties even wanted the answer on behalf of citizens! That was little too funny. These disagreements in public space not only demoralize forces, which have acted in national interest, but provide ammunition to likes of Pakistan. That is patently bad. Some political parties even referred to media reports questioning the veracity of the security forces’ actions, as if it was fake. But then even these media houses too are in politics. Media too is agenda driven. The Hindu, had two reports on 6th Jan. on the 1st page top, highlighting “Telltale signs of terror” quoting Defence Minister, had a ‘prick’ too, saying “IB sore at being ignored”, in black bordered box print. Was it necessary for The Hindu to carry this ‘prick’ without verification? Indeed Navy clarified on 7th Jan., after reading the media report. The statement by Indian Navy clarified “The Navy denies reports in some sections of the media saying that it had not reacted to the intelligence provided by NTRO”, and Navy confirmed “Coast Guard responded appropriately”. Strangely this clarification by the Indian Navy appeared on 12th page in The Hindu of 7th Jan. without any highlight symbol. What is the The Hindu trying to convey Mr Editor?! Is it the case of undergarments showing!
'Amit Shah discharged by CBI in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case'. This was the news in the media. Is it a surprise!
A news paper called it, in its editorial caption “CBI is like that only”. So, there need not be an element of surprise. It happened in the past, it may continue to happen in the future. At least in the present moment and time the credibility of the premier investigation organisation is much to be desired.
We are privy to the knowledge, how Mayavathi was discharged in the disproportionate assets case. It was a very clear case of ownership of cash and property on a massive scale beyond the known source of income. But CBI did not appeal against it. Since the ruling UPA wanted her support in the parliament. So was the case of Lalu Prasad Yadav. Strangely the name of Nitish Kumar, was never pursued by CBI, despite the clear evidence implicating him as a beneficiary of Lalu’s Chaara Ghotala.
Less said the better, how cases against  Indira Gandhi were never pursued, soon after her return to power, when Janata government collapsed in 1979 under its own contradictions!
How can Indians forget Ottavio Quattrocchi, the Italian connection to the infamous BOFORs scandal? With the death of this Italian, a friend of Rajeev Gandhi family, the Bofors bribery case remains buried deep down. Indians will never know the truth, although for the discerning mind it was a clear case of a political family's involvement. It was the management by CBI which led to the closure of the case. Thus, here too, with the ruling NDA, more specifically BJP being the beneficiary of this Amit Shah episode, it looks unlikely CBI will pursue the case further. This is Yeh Mera India.
Come 26 January, the Republic Day, it’s the time for award bonanzas. Especially the sportsmen and sportswomen who keep hankering for these award. There is Arjuna award and there is Ekalavya for sportsmen, and then Dronacharya for coaches. India being a country of 1250+ million people, a fair number of men and women are involved in all kinds of sports, be it athletics, football, hockey, boxing, tennis, badminton and you name it, there are any number. Influencing sports bodies is a done thing. Whether there are considerations, it is not known. Some of them do get these awards very deservedly, and some without being a fit case. But then there are also those, who do not get, despite being very qualified. But then this is India, and being fair is not necessarily a strong quality among Indians, especially those in power. 
And comes the case of Saina Nehwal, the badminton player.  It is true that she has done well in badminton in different tournaments all over the world. These tournaments are individual entries. She is an Indian alright, but she does not represent Indian team. If memory serves right, she had in the past refused to be a part of Indian team, saying that she is preparing for something bigger. So it is not the country, they are playing for. They are only playing for themselves. They make good money from these tournaments. Once they become famous, advertisement contracts come calling. So they make more money. How is the country benefited? They are already famous and have made money and continue to make more money. Now they want award also. Reportedly, Saina had demanded that it is already five years since Padmashree was given to her, she is eligible for Padmabhushan and that she had expressed disappointment at ministry not doing anything about it. Now this is atrocious, you are demanding and officials and ministries are rushing to placate you. This is certainly poor sportsmanship. If at one end we have people like boxer Saritha who stood upto the Asian Games Authority to reject her 3rd prize for the perceived wrong done to her, thereby rendered service to the country, at the other end there are selfish players like Saina Nehwal, and there are ‘n’ number like her with ‘me and mine’ attitude. This is Yeh Mera India.
In government employment, whether state or central, Indian employees going on leave for long period, either to work elsewhere, or go to Middle Eastern countries to make a fast buck is not unknown. They somehow manage the paper work to let their employment continue to join back, before they can get caught. Of course, it is very evident, that they have active assistance of their superiors for some kind of quid –pro-quo, also colleagues chip in with their help for similar arrangement. Nothing is for free. Only national resources are free to be plundered.
A report datelined New Delhi informed “It took 25 years to dismiss an absentee employee from service."
An official of Central PWD was reportedly dismissed by Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu for being absent from duty for the past 25 years. One A.K.Verma had joined the CPWD in 1980, as Assistant Executive Engineer. In Dec 1990, after working for 10 years, he decides not to report to the work. It was an unauthorized absence from duty and kept extending his absence by writing leave notes. Reportedly, despite directions of the department, to report, he continued to remain absent. A departmental inquiry in 1992 was instituted against Verma and reportedly a major penalty was proposed for his willful absence from duty. Somehow Verma’s connection within the department stalled the inquiry. The department slept over the whole episode. Ostensibly 'due to the non-cooperation of the employee, the inquiry could not be completed', stated the department. The department woke up after 13 years in 2005, and a fresh charge sheet was issued against Verma, and they slept over it again, until the ‘Abki baar Modi Sarcar’ took charge in the corridors of power in New Delhi. On finding this pending case of A.K. Verma, the minister took an immediate decision to sack the erring staff, who remained absent for 25 long years, and exposed the apathetic working style of these government departments. But what is surprising is, how the NDA government of 1998-2004 did not find out and act on this absentee employee! Perhaps, if ‘Abki baar Modi Sarcar’ was not there, A .K.Verma could well still be on the roll of CPWD as absent employee. This is Yeh Mera India.

UTTAR PRADESH: Not often UP comes into the national limelight during the normal course. But then Babri masjid demolition is certainly out of the ordinary. It was 22 years ago that activists of VHP went up the Babri structure to bring it down, which became a kind of watershed in India’s contemporary politics.
Since that day in Dec 1996, the politics of the country changed forever.  The country has seen the transformation of socio-political scene as never before. Although it may be difficult to reduce the evolution in some kind of watertight compartmentalization, it has certainly helped the political fortune of Bhratiya Janata Party in the short run. They managed to be in power for some 7 years at the centre. But failed to keep the momentum. Thanks largely to the anti-incumbency factor of 10 years' UPA rule so also the functioning style of Narendra Modi and his ‘Vibrant’ Gujarat model, BJP came back to power with a majority on its own. Clearly this is an indication of political churning.
Reverting to the Babri imbroglio, it was in 2010, Sept. 30th, that the court in Lucknow decided to trifurcate the land occupied by the Babri Masjid among three parties to the dispute.  Rightly or wrongly, two parties to the dispute wanted the whole of the disputed ‘Ayodhya land’, as was known and the third one too wanted the whole lot for itself. Hence, disagreement remained. However, what is indeed to be celebrated was the IDEA OF INDIA. As a news paper said it “The maturity of average Indian was an spectacular display. Verdict over, a fantastic yet credible quite followed. Not a single incident was reported”. But then politicians being politicians, and some of the print media members being in some kind of weird politics, tried to muddy the waters by taking sides with its constituencies. Logical follow up was to knock at the Apex court, which is where Babri imbroglio is at present. However it is a case which is eminently possible to be amicably settled. There are any number of supporters who would want it closed for a common purpose like an educational institution or a hospital. Hope wisdom prevails for a larger purpose.  
Wouldn’t these politicians, most of them, if not all of them, would have really destroyed this country if judiciary and individual activists were not alive?
Kuldip Narayan, an IAS officer and commissioner of Patna Municipal Corporation had reportedly taken action against close to 500 illegal constructions, either by sealing them or by demolishing encroachments. It was very clear in a state like Bihar or for that matter any Indian state, in this 500, most of them would be either belonging to politicians and those with political connection. Obviously, in the administrative political lexicon, the commissioner has clearly 'overstepped'. The climax reportedly was, the action he took as illegal, to demolish two floors of a Mall owned by a ruling party MLA. 
Kuldip Narayan was suspended for doing this great job, ostensibly for laxity in discharging his duties. So the government of Janata Dal, instead of commending a fine job and awarding him, does the very reverse for equally reverse reason of laxity. Probably such thing can happen only in India. 
An activist Narayan Mishra, files a PIL in Patna High Court on the mushrooming illegal constructions. And taking a suo moto notice of PMC commissioner's suspension, Patna High Court has directed the government not to remove the PMC commissioner until all cases relating these 500 cases are sorted out and disposed. Reportedly, the suspension is likely to snowball into a major controversy.
Former U.P minister in the BSP government of Mayawathi, Haji Yakub Qureshi has gone bonkers once again.
It was in 2006, when this Qureshi, had outrageously declared a reward of Rs: 51 crore and an equal amount in gold to those who would “behead Danish cartoonist”, while addressing a Friday congregation in Meerut. This was sequel to the then cartoon controversy emanating from Denmark. And the U.P government of the day, through its Home Secretary Alok Sinha, had gone on record saying “There is no offence to make such an announcement about a person living in a distant foreign country”. But this time round, after 8 years, the government of Akhilesh Yadav has at least booked the man for not merely defending Paris killing, but has again repeated the bizarre award of Rs:51 crore, only to go to town to deny having said it. People like Yakub Qureshi should be imprisoned as soon as possible for speaking the language of terrorists. He must be made to realise that India is neither Iran nor Pakistan or any such country, where rule of democratic law prevails.

KARNATAKA: Gluttony of the well fed is a dichotomy of the world of homosapiens. Those who have eaten well all their life, still want to eat more and more, unmindful of the hunger around them. Of course this is a metaphor to describe a situation of comfort and power hungry babus and judges. There are any number of IAS, IPS and other retirees including high court and supreme court judges hankering for greener pastures, even after having lived a comfortable life at the cost of public expenditure all their life!
There is this case in point of former Chief Justice of Chattisgarh High Court, Justice SR Nayak. On retirement in 2007, he was appointed Chairman, Karnataka State Human Rights Commission, until July 2012. Reportedly the Karnataka govt – had appointed Justice Nayak again, as Chairman of Law Commission, but he took charge on June 27, 2014.
Now this appointment is challenged by an advocate in the Karnataka High court. According to the petitioner HM Farooq the legal position on such appointment stipulates “on ceasing to hold office, the chairperson or a member (of SHRC) shall be ineligible for further employment under the government of the state or centre”.
This being the case, either it is the government which is inept, doing something illegal or Justice Nayak is after state largesse.
Here, more than the government inefficiency or obliging a friend of the government, the hunger of Justice Nayak to crave for government position and its perks is the issue. A Chief Justice of any court in India has had comfortable living and cannot be physically in pink of health in late sixties. So why not enjoy life with some proactive social work of giving back to society in some form instead of this craving for position of power and comfort!

TAMIL NADU: The English daily THE HINDU carried an ad. of its sister publication, FRONTLINE, on the 11th Jan, indicating its latest issue available “NOW ON STANDS”.
The ad. had, in bold letters highlighted “Sangh Parivar’s Italian Connection”. It had the picture of FRONTLINE front cover, carrying the headline “THE FASCIST CONNECTION”.
THE HINDU daily, for whatever reasons, has a long history of ‘Sangh’ hatred. Why it is so?, is little known, except its own ludicrous claim of secularism.
Although RSS claims itself to be a nationalist organisation, for the purpose of this debate we will go by what THE HINDU say, that RSS is a communal organisation.
But can THE HINDU or any other RSS baiters show how the secular fabric of this country is destroyed by RSS?
It is also to be noted that RSS has, time and again, reiterated its commitment to the composite character of India, not withstanding its untenable demand for a HINDU NATION.
After 67+ years, India has a proud legacy of uninterrupted democracy, except a brief period of 21 months of Indira era. Can the same thing be said about Pakistan?
It too has a history of 67+ years but presently described as the world’s most violent nation! It is not for nothing, that former U.S. secretary of state, Madeline Albright had famously observed that it is ‘an international migraine’.
Pakistan, became a nation because, those who separated and migrated were unhappy and felt unsafe with Hindu majority India. To-day after 67+ years, there have been continuous killings in Pakistan, not by Hindus or RSS, but by its own co-religionists. It is Muslims killing Muslims.
Tehrike –e-Taliban, Lashkar – e- thoiba and many other terrorist organisations operate within Pakistan with impunity. The 30% minority of Pakistan has been reduced to 3% after 67 years. What happened to them?
Did THE HINDU ever ask this question? THE HINDU is sympathetic with Pakistan for whatever reasons it has and trying to keep the Indian society divided by its own cockeyed logic.
That THE HINDU and the FRONTLINE have double standard is very well known. There are any number of instances.
RSS being what it is, has neither destroyed India nor can it destroy India. Indians by nature are a tolerant society, across the board, despite the idiosyncrasies of a small section in the entire social composition.
We certainly do not need stories from the likes of FRONTLINE or THE HINDU, and there are many others too, in this business of “SECULARISM” of being conveniently judgemental.
In the pursuit of intellectual fairness, it is repugnant to the selective digging of history of 1930s of Italy’s Mussolini’s political project, only to malign RSS. It will certainly not win friends nor influence people. It may only help the divide, if any, in society to remain divided. That is indeed very sad.

MAHARASHTRA: Something is seriously wrong with some so-called Hindu outfits. Hindu Rashtra Sena (HRS) had allegedly killed one Mohsin Sheikh, a computer engineer in Pune, sometime mid last year. They allegedly killed him only because, he was Muslim. Now reportedly some organisation in Pune had planned to honour one Dhananjay Desai, the leader of this HRS with Hindutva Shaurya Puraskar (Bravery award). 
If the killing was diabolic, the proposed award is simply sickening. Fortunately the Police refused permission to hold the award function, which organisers hopes to hold it on some future date, as and when this Dhananjay Deasai comes out of prison. 
The question, how can a person be attacked for no rhymes or reason, only because he belongs to a separate set of believers. This is incomprehensible. It is an unprovoked murder because of hatred. The perpetrator must be given the harshest punishment and not this Shaurya Puraskar. Or else, what right anybody can have against likes of Qwassi and his brother, for making hate filled noises? These people like Dhananjay Desai, or those who wanted to award him, or even the like of Qwassi and his brother simply do not fit into the concept of IDEA OF INDIA.
Alleged nexus between under -qualified teachers on the one side and school management of aided schools, Director of Secondary Education, Deputy Director of Education on the other side has been raised by the Bombay High Court, responding to a PIL. The petition had alleged negligence and corruption in the appointment of secondary school teachers with fake certificates in government and government aided schools.
Petition even submitted list of a large number of teachers teaching in various schools across Mumbai without required stipulated qualifications, including fake certificates.
In the light of the recent survey by NGO-Pratham, which has studied the capability of students, which disclosed a startling disclosure where only 35% of Class VII students could read the lessons of II standard. With allegation of poorly qualified teachers and teachers with fake certificates getting employed as teachers, the study of Pratham has only confirmed the true status. These teachers, along with school management and directorates of education are the cause of eroding the future capability of school children and hence have committed crime against these vulnerable children. They should be severely made accountable for the wrong they have committed against these hapless children to endure. Hope the Bombay High Court forces the issue as soon as possible.

GUJARAT: The police in Surat, a commercial hub in Gujarat, must be thick headed, even to think, that a terrorist would appear in skull cap. If it is so, anyone can appear in skull cap and blame it on Muslims.
Never in any of the terror related arrests any person was ever caught with a skull cap on. Hence it is very clear, that police in Surat had clearly decided to show that terrorists are Muslims in their anti-terror mock drill.
It was not merely very stupid for the police to do what they have done, it is the height of insensibility. And for Surat police to defend the indefensible is the height of arrogance.
As usual Congress and others would politicize the incident. But Narendra Modi, who had publicly told that the Indian Muslims are not terrorists, owes an explanation for this idiocy and pull up all those who led to this faux pas, since it happened in his 'vibrant Gujarat'. But there hasn’t been any response from PMO, as usual. In the name of development, these niceties should not be given the go-by in the larger pan- Indian context. 

WORLD: Minorities facing discrimination anywhere in the world is a near normal phenomena. So it is not surprising that “Muslims face worst job discrimination in UK”, as reported in the media. Whether it is African Americans in the U.S. or migrants from other countries, equality of treatment when it comes to jobs or payment at jobs, there has always been ill treatment, or what can at least be called unjust and unfair treatment.
It is a fact of life all across the world of homosapiens. The discrimination is something, as a social reality, may have to be accepted. However it is also possible to overcome the handicap of not being part of the majority in any set-up. Since at least laws are same for all, within the legal framework, it is possible to improve our education and life skills and thereby improve our marketability. This will surely help. For example look at our own Christian brothers and sisters. They improved themselves educationally and made life better for themselves, they did not wait for any governmental or political largesse. Hence it is always possible for individual initiative, even in countries like the middle east, where the law is heavily in favour of locals. But there are thousands of Indians doing well for themselves despite all constraints. Hence the complaint syndrome to which we subject ourselves should be given a go-by, for us to excel in life.
‘36 die in New Year stampede’ was a news from Shanghai, and this included 25 women. The reason, plain and simple, GREED in capital letters.
There was this Hollywood movie, “IT’s A MAD MAD MAD WORLD”. Either it is mad three times or mad over 3 things. One of the three things that drive human beings crazy is the money or anything that looks like money.
M-18, is a bar in the waterfront area of this major financial hub. The bar located in the upper floor of the building threw coupons that looked like US $100 currency note. The waterfront was jam packed with New Year revelers and the throw of US $100 look alike caused a near frenzy and crowd rushed to pick up these coupons mistaking them for $ notes. In the melee, close to 90 were trampled upon, some 36 succumbed and the rest badly injured. By the time this is published, some more would have succumbed.
Shanghai is one of the richer cities of the world. What is a $100! It may not suffice even for a New Year night. Yet look at the way men and women reacted like hungry wolves. Embarrassed at the incident, authorities in Shanghai barred foreign media to cover the police press briefing, lest it be reported critically about the world’s 2nd largest economy’s lack of crowd management skill at a big event like the New Year celebration. It could be a poor reflection on both government and its people. But then like Samuel Butler called, “Its the way of all flesh.” 
Sri Lankans have spoken loud and clear. They have delivered a near death punch to the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and the Lankan President Mahindra Rajapaksa. The incumbent government was comprehensively beaten by a margin of about 4% votes, by the combined front of many parties led by Maithripala Sirisena. A former colleague of Mahindra Rajapaksa, Sirisena who left his senior only a few weeks ago, could manage to cobble to-gether most opposition parties. That these opposition parties have come to-gether, is a measure of disenchantment with the Rajapaksa government which has been greatly disliked by most Sri Lankans primarily for its nepotism and abuse of power.
There were far too many powerful family members of Rajapaksa in running the government. That was a major bone of contention to both people and opposition parties. The defeat of Rajapksa is clear rejection of family culture in politics. That is a lesson, Indians of all hues, have to learn, from Tamil Nadu with Karunanidhi family, Karnataka with Deve Gowda family, Telengana with Chandrasekar Rao family, Maharashtra with Pawar family, U.P and Bihar with Yadav families, Kashmir with Abdulla family and there are others too, who would have to learn lessons that larger national pie belongs to the people and not to some select families. Slowly but surely they will lose the power. Hence there is lesson for Sons and Relatives of India’s Pvt. Ltd., in this rout of Rajapaksa relatives Pvt. Ltd. of Sri Lanka.

       
        
       
       

FOCUS

Western  arrogance&  despicable intolerance that followed

Masked gunmen, two of them, heavily armed stormed into the office of ‘CHARLIE HEBDO’, a little heard satirical weekly magazine of cartoons published from Paris, and shot dead 12, reported the media across the world. The dead included ten staff of the magazine and two policemen. There were 10 injured, some critically, informed newspapers. 
As expected there was global outrage at the dastardly killing. Francois Hollande, the French President reacted saying it “An act of exceptional barbarism committed against expression of liberty”. The gunmen, reportedly brothers, Cherif (called Sherif) and Said Kouachi were gunned down by the French Police, after a dramatic manhunt spread over 36 hours. 
Indeed, terrorists of any brand cannot stand against any organized state for far too long. But this is no reason, why there should be any leniency of any terror act. There has to be zero tolerance of terror in all forms. 
Reportedly what precipitated the attack was a revenge for cartoons of Prophet Mohammed and French Police confirmed to the media quoting witness that they heard the attackers shouting “We have avenged the Prophet”.
Those who are in the know of things, will remember, it was the same CHARLIE HEBDO, which reprinted some 12 cartoons of Prophet Mohammed, first published by JYLLANDS –POSTEM, a Danish paper, way back in early 2006. This was the first time the larger world learnt about this weekly. Eight years ago the Danish cartoons had disrupted the Muslim world from Thailand to Turkey. Yes this time round, the cartoon cauldron is back with a vengeance.
Suddenly whole of France was on the edge, at least until the two killers were nabbed, alive or dead. In a show of solidarity against terror, some 40 world leaders marched hand in hand with thousands of Parisians to express shock over the most fanatical Muslim extremist assault in which some 19 perished including the two gunmen.
Now the question is, for drawing, printing and then publishing a few cartoons of Prophet Mohammed, so many - 17 of them – had to die? followed by the killing of the two killers! The entire democratic world was one in condemning the killing. Rightly so! All because, the sacred freedom of expressions was under assault.
But excuse me Sir! Does your freedom of expression gives you unfettered licence to insult someone’s sacred feelings, especially the people with whom you do not equate yourself!? In this case, the cartoons by CHARLIE HEBDO, has, apparently hurt, at least a section of Muslim population. 
Of course, the answer to the provocation is not this extremely diabolic killing. Indeed those who live with guns are destined to perish with guns. But the larger question is why those 17 had to die in the first place? If these cartoons were not made, would those 17, whose life was cut short, would be living! Probably yes. Surely they would not have had this violent end. So, CHARLIE HEBDO, and men behind it were wrong?
As students we were told that right and restraint go hand in hand. You can’t have right without responsibility. But then white-man has his own concept of what is right for him. Accordingly he decides what constitutes his freedom.
It was in March 1906, in Transwal, South Africa, General Smuts’s regime had introduced an amendment to the Asiatic Registration Act, governing immigrant indentured labour from India and other Asiatic countries. Amendment was thru an ordinance. The idea was to restrict Indian labourers, who were getting organized under M.K. Gandhi, the barrister. Under the ordinance General Smut’s regime was introducing ID cards, which all Indians had to carry at all times. The non-possession could land the person in jail. M.K. Gandhi (who became Mahatma after his eventual return to India post 1915) had organized a protest meet where he spoke about the dangers involved in this ID card. Among many restrictions imposed on brown Indians, in the white-man’s concept of freedom only for himself, it was eminently possible, according to M.K. Gandhi, that a policeman could enter private dwellings of Indians, ostensibly to inspect I.D. proofs of women and children at home. This was one aspect which got the entire crowd of Indians, who had assembled to hear MK Gandhi, incenced. What followed is all there to know in the literature available on South Africa’s apartheid regime. But the idea of referring to the episode/issue was to highlight, how the white-man abrogated the freedom to himself.
Western world should realise that, as much as they have the right to caricature the other side, the side that has suffered the humiliation, or perceived humiliation too has a right to protest. Certainly killing the supposed wrong doer is not at all a protest. What happened in Paris is certainly barbaric as termed by French President Francois Hollande. The anger, for its own sake, has to be controlled. But how does one take an intransigent offender who goes to town to repeat the offence, once again in the name of freedom of expression? 
So there is indeed a problem. While the anger of the Muslim world is certainly a matter of grave concern, the arrogance of white man’s insistence on what he has done, to keep doing, cannot be accepted as well, in a civilized arrangement of co-existence. Which truly means, there is scope for improvement on both sides. They both need to walk a few extra miles. While Muslim world need to temper its response to any external stimuli, there is simply no justification what so ever, in being offensive, insulting and inflammatory in the name of freedom of expression.
Fortunately for the wider world, the temporal head of the western faith Pope Francis has gone on record post-Paris attack on CHARLIE HEBDO, expressing similar sentiments. Reportedly, Pope condemned any killings in the name of God, but also insisted that there are limits to freedom of speech and said that people’s religion could not be insulted or mocked.
It’s all very well to assemble and say “WE ARE ALL CHARLIE”. Here it is pertinent to quote what appeared in the print media from Mumbai on 8th Jan., along the news of attack. We quote “Satirical magazine CHARLIE HEBDO loved to offend sensibilities. It frequently took provocative potshots at popes, heads of state and Islam. But in the name of freedom of expression, it often over-reached itself, especially when it came to lampooning Prophet Mohammed, Islam’s holiest figure. Slain chief editor Stephane Charbonnier, who published his works under the pen name ‘Charb’ told a wire agency in 2012. “I live under French Law not under Quran Law”. The magazine once named Prophet Mohammed as its guest editor, published slanderous cartoons and renamed itself ‘Sharia Hebdo’ with the cover slogan ‘100 lashes if you don’t die of laughter’. Another controversy erupted in 2006 when the publication reprinted cartoons of Prophet circulated by a Danish national. The decision to reprint images landed the then editor in court, though he was later acquitted. The tendency to go after Islam boomeranged and the Hebdo offices were gutted in 2011 by arsonists. In 2012, the magazine again printed provocative cartoons of the Prophet. Of course it has also attacked other religions. Past covers offensively portrayed Pope Benedict XVI, former French President Nicholas Sarkozy and others. But the mocking of Islam had somehow become its forte. The small circulation weekly leans towards the left and professes to practice investigative journalism”. Unquote.
But what is disquieting is the relative silence of leaders of the Islamic world which reveals how far the faith has been hijacked by the jehady merchants of death. Free world will somehow find ways to meet the challenges of these maniacs. But surely, ordinary Muslim, who goes about his life unmindful of global theatre of absurd, shall end up paying   a much bigger but undeserved price.
As an exercise in participative debate, we have reproduced some reports and feedback.
Mushtaq Ali, from Chennai wrote in the media. “The incidents in Paris show that increasingly, sections of society are unable to disown the extremist fringe. Peshawar and now Paris reveal a deeply flawed thinking”.
H P Murali from Bangalore writes “It is odd that the publisher of CHARLIE HEBDO were going ahead with an editorial plan despite knowing that it was fraught with danger. It is ironic that the media both print and electronic, often wantonly walk into the danger zone by hurting sentiments of a community either to increase sales or TRP ratings when there are plenty of other subjects to be discussed, why invite trouble?” It’s a good question. 
Samia Al Duaij, a Kuwaiti who had earlier stayed in Denmark for some years but was staying in Belgium during the 2006 Danish cartoon disruption has a meaningful take on the entire issue. “These pictures aren’t blasphemous, they are racist. I am a very liberal Kuwaiti woman who cracks the odd joke about Islam, but I was extremely offended by these cartoons because I know what kind of society produced them. I am well educated with a well paid job in Denmark, but I was subjected to derogatory comments all the time because I look Middle Eastern. So do all second generation Muslim Danes ‘feel unwelcome’. Its like Blacks in the U.S. Its not just funny. I am not even remotely religious.” While this is a very valid argument against the innate nature of superiority among most whites, she has a very valid question to her co-religionists as well. ‘I have one question for the thousands of outraged Muslims. There are hundreds and thousands of Muslims men, women and children being killed all over the place, by organized states, fundamentalist terror groups, and you lose your head over a bunch of cartoons in a second rate paper from a Nordic country? That’s the true outrage’.
"West which valorises freedom of speech in the Hebdo case, went after Snowden tooth and nail. So where is the freedom of speech? Pure hypocrisy!" remarked Dr Ravishankar Rao from Mangala Gangothri, Mangalooru.
Then, there are jokers like Haji Yakub Qureshi a former minister in U.P. government. He is reported to have offered a reward to the CHARLIE HEBDO killers Rs. 51 crores, stating that “Prophet Mohammed had conveyed a message of peace to the entire world and anyone makes cartoon on him will invite death like the cartoonists and journalists in Paris.” It was the same Qureshi who similarly offered at a public rally in Meerut in 2006, a similar amount, to anyone who would kill Danish cartoonist. This is an extremely repugnant and condemnable statement. Reportedly, All India Muslim Personal Law Board has condemned Qureshi dismissing it as “a gimmick and for cheap publicity”, which is a welcome development.
Thus there is huge scope for liberal Muslims to lead the faithfuls on a more accommodative but responsible life in the public space. They perforce have to take the call for a sustainable and less combative co-operative co-existence. Indeed, as a newspaper puts it “Islamic world must act against the forces of inhumanity and barbarism among its own at the pain of isolation in the comity of nations”.
J.SHRIYAN

Drug-addicts:can they represent any faith?

Two of the masked gunmen who stormed the offices of the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo, are brothers, according to a police source. The two were drug-taking petty criminals before being radicalized and sent to Yemen to train as killers, according to a report by the Daily Mail.
According to the report the siblings Said Kouachi, 34 and Cherif, 32, are orphans. They were brought up in a care home, before turning to a life of crime and then ultimately mass murder. The police source said one of the shooters had been identified by his identity card, which had been left in the gateway car.
The brothers had allegedly frequented a mosque in the Stalingrad district of Paris, where they came under the influence of a radical Imam called Farid Benyettou. He reportedly encouraged them to study Islam at his home and at a Muslim Centre in their neighbourhood, according to a BBC report.
Cherif is allegedly said to be a hashish smoking pizza delivery driver. They were first picked up by terror police in 2005, around the same time Cherif appeared on TV claiming to be a rapper, when they were arrested over links to a group operating in northern Paris. Cherif was arrested again in 2008 after trying to board a plane to Damascus with an AK-47 operating manual. Cherif was sentenced to 18 months in prison in 2008, according to French media. Both were named on police papers in 2010 over a plot to break a known jihadi out of jail.

FEATURE

Sickness Care or Corporate Monstrosity?

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

 Rather fail with honour than succeed by fraud.”       
                                                            -Sophocles
 In a book that is very well reviewed by the New York Times, an Indian born American doctor, Sandeep Jauhar “puts himself on the couch” pricked by his conscience. In his book “Doctored” Sandeep examines the broken system of medical practice in the USA. Thanks to the Indian Karma theory this young cardiologist who was the Director of a teaching hospital in New Jersey had eventually to leave his job as he refused to interfere where the patient did not need it. After being thrown out, he joined another practising cardiologist where again he found that ethical practice was given a go by. His boss told him that he also tried ethicalpractice and found himself in debts. Now he has joined the mainstream. Sandeep left that job also as he was asked to carry out all tests including angiography for all patients who came there!
This is exactly what we do in India now and even our politicians think that we have the best system in place. Our Union Health Minister wants AIIMS like hospitals in every state! In the west there is a cry for closing down such hospitals while we want to start more of them. No one seems to be bothered to audit the system to see what the AIIMS achieved during the time it existed and to what benefit to the common man? Such a study would be most appropriate to scientifically find out what to do for the future. An audit of 14 industrialised countries from USA to Japan showed that those countries with too many specialists and sub-specialists and very high doctor -patient ratio like the USA fared so badly that the system had completely broken down with highest disease, death and disability rates, while Japan with the very small doctor- patient ratio with majority of doctors being family physicians ranked first with increased longevity, decreased death, disease and disability rates!
When doctors went on strike in many countries in the last 25 years-Saskatchewan, Bogota, LosAngeles County, Dublin and recently in Israel- death rates almost plummeted to the bottom with disability rate reduced significantly in every place only to return to the original levels when doctors came back to work. It is reported that in Israel morticians had to bribe the government to give doctors higher pay for them to get back to work as morticians’ coffin business had almost shut down! This prompted the British Medical Journal to comment in an article that “doctors going on strike will improve society’s health”.The French government started a Chinese medical hospital with one hundred beds in Paris while their western medical system had become prohibitively expensive. The new hospital had brought down the medical expense to the government very significantly. Nobel Laureate Professor Bernard Lown, one of world’s best cardiologists from Harvard felt in his research article in the JAMA that unless we ban coronary angiograms for diagnosis of coronary artery disease patients will suffer unnecessarily. Professor Tom Treasure, a cardiac surgeon, pleaded with the British Government through The Lancet that they should drastically reduce cardiac surgical centres in Britain to stop wasting money on unnecessary tests.
Professor Harlan Krumholz, a Yale cardiologist, wrote an editorial in the (NEJM 1997; 336: 1523) about cardiac interventions: "cardiac procedures bring in billions of dollars in cash for doctors, hospitals and the instrument manufacturers, in addition to television interviews. The procedures are done mainly to get those benefits and not to help patients in the USA.” Let me conclude this by quoting a patient that I saw yesterday who had a very sordid story. A very healthy 63 year old man who is also a good writer in Kannada had mild elevation of his blood sugar for the last 6months which he had very well controlled with exercise and diet control. On an average he walks ten kilometres a day including a steep incline up a hill to reach his temple. He was feeling fit as a fiddle.
His publisher and a dear friend, an Ayurvedic physician, who, for some unexplained reason, has a fascination for western medicine, almost forced him to have a “check-up” since he has been a “diabetic”! He took him in his own car to a “special centre” in an upcoming District headquarters nearby. The doctor had also told him to have enough money should he need any interventions. As soon as they went in thepatient was asked by the cardiologist to have his ECG done which unfortunately turned out to be normal. But he was told that he needed an exercise test to see if there is any fault. Before that he had an echo test which showed a normal heart with very good ejection fraction (good function). Still the cardiologist insisted that he should have the TMT. No one had either talked to him or listened to him or even touched him leave alone physically examine him. Doing TMT on a healthy man who walks daily ten kilometres up a hill with ease is a business. Scientifically TMT has no value as that test has its sensitivity and specificity less than 50% which means whether it is positive or negative it means nothing. More over the test results depend on the disease prevalence in society which we do not know for India! Professor Perloff of Washington University had designed a Hyperbole which should be used to plot the results to get a semblance of value for the test. The only value of TMT is the fall of blood pressure during exercise. This denotes a bad heart muscle. In this hospital BP was never recorded during the TMT!
However, TMT was declared to be positive and the patient was almost forced to have an angiogram in spite of his mild protests. Poor man still has a swollen left hand with blood leak outside the artery and inflammation from the catheter! He was then told that he needs either an angioplasty or bypass surgery ASAP. At this stage he smelt a rat and paid their bill and walked out of the hospital. Interestingly, the discharge note has the following diagnosis for an apparently healthy man who NEVER ever had chest pain. Chronic Stable Angina with three vesseldisease and diabetes Mellitus type II. The angiogram, in fact, showed some small peripheral blocks in the epidcardial vessels.
The man came to see me walking slowly (he was asked not to walk till he has the interventions) and talking in whispers- a really sickly pathetic picture. It took me nearly an hour to make hima MAN again and send him back asking him to go back to get his eight tablets prescription also gradually reduced lest he should bleed seriously from the gut or inside the brain for no fault of his. He was on two blood thinners, beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, long acting nitrates (which get tachyphylaxis soon and become useless), and some other fancy drugs. All the man needed was change of his mode of living with some minimal drugs for him to get off the high horse of the rat race that he was running which put him in the fight-flight-freight mode always. Medication could be an added boost.
God save our hapless patients from this corporate monstrosity.
“There are three things in the world that deserve no mercy, hypocrisy, fraud, and tyranny.”
                                                                                                                                 -Frederick William


LAST PAGE

Buddha & Buddhism

Dr. M. V. Kamath

In the absence of an acknowledged gentleman of letters, to fill the Last Page  we are falling back on MVK’s writings.  His book – Letters to Gauri – includes some of his brush with historical wisdom. We are reproducing them with some sequential order for the benefit of our readers. – Editor

 My Dear Gauri

Of all the saints and savants, of all the founders of religions, the Buddha stands out, Gauri, for his great compassion. He was no ascetic, though he followed the usual path of asceticism to find the Truth. Like Mahavira, he too, was born the son of a minor prince. His father was the head of a hill tribe of the Shakyas. There are charming stories told about how in his childhood he was baffled by old age, sickness and death and decided to find out what was behind them. These legends are mostly unreliable, though, as it happens in such cases, there could possibly be a grain of historical truth in them. It is hard to imagine that every sermon attributed to him is, in actual fact, his. After all not every word that he said was taken down verbatim and his disciples had to rely on memory.
But some things we do know: that he left his wife and son, that he sought to perform penance for several years, that one day, no doubt after a particularly concentrated effort at meditation, he received enlightenment while seated under a bodhi tree at Gaya, in modern Bihar. There are legends about how temptations came to him and how he resisted them. It was not that he started as an ignorant man. He was fully conversant with the knowledge and wisdom of the Vedas and the Upanishads. He had discussed them with learned Brahmins who could not, however, fully satisfy him. He had to find his own answers. And find them he did. He was then thirty-five, having left home at the age of twenty-nine.
Having received enlightenment, Buddha, who was born as Siddhartha, went round the country, but mostly in Magadha and Kosala (corresponding to modern Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh) and to some peripheral ‘republics’, preaching his doctrine till he passed away at the ripe old age of eighty at a place called Kushinagara, a small town in the hills.
His disciples were drawn from all classes of society and included both men and women. Besides preaching to those who came to listen to him, he recruited a small, select band of monks and nuns who constituted the Sangh and upon whom, on his passing away, the responsibility for carrying on his mission mainly devolved.
We think of the Buddha as a man of immense dignity and affability, wisdom and kindness. He was a man of great tenderness who could comfort the bereaved and console the afflicted. His serenity was unshakeable. He faced opposition and hostility, even personal danger, with the calm and compassionate smile that has lingered down the ages. He won over friends by his courtesy and thoughtfulness and his supreme and unfailing self-confidence. He impressed kings and ordinary people alike. Long after Buddha’s time Ashoka the Great was to embrace Buddhism.
It is well known that the Buddha himself never wrote anything. Apart from his personal example, his teaching was entirely oral through discourse to, and discussion with, his disciples. He addressed people in their local dialect with which he was obviously familiar and forbade the use of Sanskrit. He told the monks: “You are not to put the Buddha’s message into Vedic. Whoever does so shall be guilty of an offence. I authorize you, monks, to learn and teach the Buddha’s message in his own dialect”. The Buddha wanted to reach out to people. He did not want his message restricted to the elite and to the scholar. The only trouble with this advice was that when the Buddha’s saying finally came down to be written they were put down in half a dozen different languages, including Sanskrit. A great Buddhist scholar has said that “the canonical literature came into existence over a period of roughly a thousand years, from the first to the tenth century after Christ”. That is just another way of saying that somewhere down the line, words had been put into the Buddha’s mouth. Sound wisdom, to be sure, but perhaps not necessarily the Buddha’s own wisdom. As it happens with all great men and their teachings, there was a schism in Buddhism as well. One regrets it, because in the process, Buddhism is diminished. The split in Buddhism came during the fourth Buddhist Council, held, according to tradition, during the reign of Kanishka. Two groups of Buddhism were set up: the Mahayana and the Hinayana. The new school of Buddhism claimed to offer salvation to all and styled itself Mahayana (or the greater vehicle to salvation). This school dismissed the older school of thought contemptuously as the Hinayana (or the lesser vehicle). The Mahayana scriptures claimed to represent the final doctrine of the Buddha, revealed only to most spiritually advanced disciples, whereas the earlier doctrines were viewed as merely preliminary.
One reason for the schism, you must remember, Gauri, was that in the preceding two hundred years north-west India was prey to a succession of invaders like the Bactrian Greeks, the Scythians the Parthians and a people from Central Asia known as the Kushanas. Each of these people must have influenced and, in turn, been influenced by, Buddhism and when this happened, modifications in thinking were bound to take place. It is quite possible that even when the Buddha was alive, there was a tendency to treat him as a God. 
In Indian religions, divinity is not something completely above man or far above all mortal things, as it is, for instance, to the Christians, Jews or Muslims. That is why we Hindus can consider a Rama, a Krishna or a Buddha as an avatar or incarnation of God indeed even God himself.
Buddhism spread to Central Asia and from there travelled to China and thence to Japan and to the south-east Asian countries because along with traders (remember the Great Silk Route?)   Buddhist monks went along too, spreading their message. Missionaries of Mahayana sects established themselves in Central Asia, China and Japan, whereas Hinayana Buddhism was more popular in Sri Lanka and later in south-east Asia.
One of the most distinguished disciples of Buddhism was Ashoka the Great, who, after the battle in which he defeated the Kalinga people, was so aghast at the killings that he then and there disavowed all violence. This, however, is not a book on history and for a full understanding of Ashoka and the Mauryan empire you must refer to proper textbooks. Ashoka’s empire included almost all of India except the extreme tip. He was responsible for setting up stone edicts in different parts of the country, laying down the law and advising the citizens how to live and work.
In my next letter I will give you a flavor of what Buddhism stands for before I move on to other matters.

Your loving
 Ajja