Tuesday, October 20, 2015

EDITOR'S COLUMN



Friends,

Are we upbeat at I&C ! YES & NO ! Yes because, this issue of October 2015, completes our 15 years in the print media, some even call it CRYSTAL JUBLEE. Either way, we are happy. Our first issue was released in November 2000. Its been a long and very demanding journey of ups and downs. What saved us is our commitment and support of some of our well wishers. Indeed there were souls, who regularly came back to tell us that we are doing a good job. We are grateful to all of them.
Coming to the growth of I&C, we must admit that it is growing in popularity, in acceptance, so also in circulation. However, when it comes to circulation, the growth has been very slow. It needs more participative support of readers and well wishers. I&C is a movement towards a better India and hence need participation of all those who feel concerned.
It is true that there were souls, who supported us, Kaaya, Waacha, Manasaa, some of them have been exemplary. Dr. M.V.Kamath, a doyen of Indian English journalism, a Padma Bhushan, passed away on 9th October last year, has been a pillor of strength for us. He had continuously contributed without fail until his last day. We are beholden to him beyond words. Prof. B.M.Hegde, a former V.C of Manipal University also a Padma Bhushan, has been continuously writing in I&C. We are grateful to him as well. There were corporate houses like Nitte group and Ramco group of companies who supported us by way of advertisement over a longer period. We are touched by their participative spirit. Its a BIG THANK YOU to them too.
Ofcourse, there were others, who reached out in both cash and kind to be part of our journey "TOWARDS A PURPOSEFUL REGIMEN", we are grateful to all of them who kept us going, to reach the 15th milestone. The month that went by saw the killing of noted Kannada scholar M.M. Kalburgi allegedly by some fundamentalist Hindu group. Karnataka              government has handed over the probe to the CBI for the sensitivity involved in the case. While it is true that violence has no place in a civilized society, the intolerence of differences is stretching too far. While killers have to be dealt with sternly in accordence with the law of the land, it is imperative to find out what precipitated the act of killing. Allegedly Kalburgi had remarked negating the relevance of 'Shivlinga' that instead of worshipping it, one should urinate on it. If it is true, then it is extremely inciteful. Why the government of the day did not take action under the respective statutes? He could have been saved. In matters of this kind, having already witnessed similar killings in the past, the police should have acted with speed, rather than react. It is indeed true that, killers deserve no mercy, but can our so called intellectuals control their urges to go to market to remark tasteless barbs only to hurt people's sentiment, all in the name of freedom of expression! So, it takes two for a company. Both Kalburgi and his ilk and these idiots who kill in the name of their faith should be severely dealt with by both the government as well as the media in public space.
As usual we have taken up some of the other relevent happenings of last month in the Month-in-Perspective. The reservation controversy ignited by Patels in Gujrath prompted us to revisit the issue of quota in India. In Focus we have tried to deal with it on issue basis rather than group dynamics. Hope readers would find it interesting. Do revert with your inputs. Rest as usual.  

MONTH-IN-PERSPECTIVE

NEW DELHI:    Supreme Court, baffled at the vanishing seized drugs in the ‘safe’ custody of police! Supreme Court, with due respect, is little too late in recognizing this dimension of our policing. It is an open secret that there could be thousands of instances of 'fence eating the grass' when it comes to police. It is an all India phenomenon. The perception among police is quite established that once the seized property is in the possession of police, no question shall be asked, and even if asked it is eminently manageable. There is an element of non-challance among policemen, when it comes to accountability of seized tangible assets, since most higher  ups are hand-in-gloves in the in-house crime.
Recently there was this story of a Mumbai cop found with drugs in his personal cupboard and in contact with drug mafia. This is only a tip of the iceberg.
To illustrate a bank robbery, where robbers emptied the strong room of a co-operative bank, giving mostly loans against gold. Case registered, FIR filed and investigation starts. Cops find the robber and gold. Robbers are dumped into the prison, but what happened to the gold? Panchanama is doctored to include a small part of the gold recovered. Police are aware that there is insurance cover for the gold held by the bank. So the bank would get the gold or its equivalent in cash. The unrecorded recovered gold is allegedly distributed depending upon the rank of policemen from top to bottom. And what happens to the alcohol bottles caught in a raid on an illegal storage and sale? There are any number of stories of police machination, appearing in the media, and if Apex Court expresses shock and say it is a “serious matter” then one can only feel sorry for the lack of judicial involvement in the happenings in our public space at large. It is certainly a reflection on the judicial state of affairs.
There was this print media report “No proposal to issue Rs. 25 note”. On the face of it, this news on the ‘no proposal’ of the Finance Ministry may not raise eyebrows. Because apparently it is a mundane news. But, it is a mundane news for those, who do not realize the significance of the report.
We all know that there are currency notes of Rs 10/-, Rs 20/-, Rs 50/- & Rs 100/-. All these four, serve the purpose for which it has been printed and circulated. But one of the four currency notes is, quite frankly irrelevant. Rs 20/- has primarily no role, since 2 of Rs 10/- can substitute it easily and hence can be easily done away with. It is differently made with different ink and design. It’s a cost, the department can easily avoid. But they neither thought about it, nor is it in their radar.  But then, this is how most government works with no imagination.
And comes this Ram Das Singhal, a trader in the Chandigarh grain market, who suggested to the Prime Minister, in his 'Man Ki Baat' about the need to have a currency note of Rs 25/-. The idea, according to this Singhal was to eliminate the daily problem of Rs 5/- change, which, if this Rs 25/- note comes into circulation, can greatly help the trader and even general public. Reportedly PM Modi instantly liked the idea and said ‘why not?’ but as usual, the Cash & Currency division of the department of Economic affairs has clearly stated, while responding to an RTI query that, there was “no such proposal under consideration of issuing Rs 25/- note.” This is Yeh Mera India.
While we are about it, it may make some sense to print and circulate the currency denomination of Rs. 250/- even. It too can greatly facilitate the cash dealing, if only the government thinks and acts.
There was the news in the print media “Centre to focus on rural poverty”. On the face of it, there is nothing wrong with the news. But it took 68 years of politically independent India even to recognize the issue and to focus on rural poverty. That is unfortunately an undeniable aspect of our tryst with planning & development, where 12 five yearly development plans have left a significant section of Indians untouched. That is rather very sad. 16 Loksabha elections were held to have 16 central governments in New Delhi. Every elections were fought on the promise to improve the lot of aam aadmi, but every time the election got over and the government formed, the elected representatives forgot the existence of these aam aadmis, who voted them to power. This has been happening for all the 68 years of free India.
According to the report, this year the ministry seeks to capitalize on the participatory planning processes conducted and the existance of the block planning teams to plan more comprehensively for addressing the various facets of poverty of rural families by incorporating all rural development programmes in a single participatory planning exercise. Accordingly, the Rural Development Ministry is undertaking the process under Intensive Participatory Planning Exercise – II (IPPE II) in 2532 poorer backward blocks of the country and will be launching on 2nd Oct, the Gandhi Jayanthi Day. This is sequel to the survey conducted last year by the central government in some 2500 backward blocks for the purpose of budget preparation for the MGNREGA labour cost.
Hope this initiative of the present government shall eventually draw a road map for the eventual reduction in the poverty, if not eradication, among rural population of the country.
The issue of ‘triple talaq’ has dominated the media space for far too long. But somehow it has remained a subject where the community concerned has refused to take the call. Recently, a spokes person of the community organization AIMPLB has reportedly remarked that ‘triple talaq’ is a crime. ‘But once said it will be considered complete and unchangeable’. One Maulana Syed Ather Ali has reportedly remarked divorces as ‘undesirable’ thing, and ‘talaq’ uttered successively therein is wrong. But if done, it is not retractable. If ‘triple talaq’ is a crime and wrong, why have it at all? Is it because, Quran says? According to Noorjehan Safia Niaz, a co-founder of Bharathiya Muslim Mohila Andolan(BMMA) “Their opinion that a ‘triple talaq’ cannot be retracted is based on faulty interpretation of Quran.” A report informs that a survey conducted by BMMA of Muslim women across 10 states including Bihar and West Bengal, 88% of 4700 respondents wanted the practice of quick divorce or ‘triple talaq’ to go. So why do you have them? There is so much opposition from women folks across the spectrum in the community to this ‘triple talaq’, besides there are liberal men who want to join issue with these women. Yet, they are helpless to bring about the desired change, because vast majority of men and clergy oppose the scrapping of this ‘triple talaq’. This is indeed very sad, that something that was decided by ‘whom-so-ever-concerned’ long time ago, cannot be changed with the changing times! Like Tufail Ahmad  of Middle East Media Research Institution, Washington says, "On July 25, a Muslim girl refused to take pre-medical examination because it required her to remove burqua: blame the burqua, not the government, if she remain backward." Hope the community rises to the occasion to take the call when and where needed.

Uttar Pradesh: It’s bizarre to think that what happened in a village in Bhagpat district of U.P could reverberate in far away London. But then, that’s what happened. What happened in their village is not merely most condemnable but also repugnant. It’s a shame that 2 of the British Members of Parliament should have got worked-up with what they described as ‘disgusting’ and wanted their Foreign office to take it up with Indian counter parts.
Two young girls, aged 15 and 23, had reportedly fled their home in a village in Bhagpat district after village elders allegedly ordered that they be stripped naked, raped and paraded publicly after their brother eloped with a married woman.
Reportedly the sisters and their family have now appealed to the Supreme Court for protection.
Disgusted at the ruling, Nadhim Zaharri, a conservative British MP urged UK foreign office to intervene saying ‘I am revolted. No culture or religion, no human being with any humanity would condone this.”
Reacting to the request, Hillary Benn, the Shadow Foreign Secretary has urged Phillip Hammod, Foreign and commonwealth secretary of UK to make immediate representation to authorities in India to take action to protect these two sisters.
This is extremely deplorable that such incidents in UP and elsewhere does not unfortunately, attract action from our four estates of governance, the legislature, the executive, the judiciary and the media. And it is very unfortunate we need to be pulled up by British M.Ps for our monumental inaction. But how can Modi govt take action against UP government when Malayam is helping BJP in Bihar. Opportunism, Indians thought, is alien to Modi. But his calculated friendship with Sharad Pawar and playing down things in UP for electoral benefit has also exposed him and his politics of convenience. May be, instead of talking to Sushma Swaraj, if these MPs talk to Modi, out of embarrassment, he may act after all, to save these sisters on the run, to save themselves.

Maharashtra: Can you imagine, you are observing Teachers Day without teacher! But that is exactly what Prime Minister Modi has done! On Teachers day he decided to talk to students, rather than teachers. No doubt, students are certainly a very important part of any evolving society. They should always be the focal point of any educational initiative. But on a specific day like Teachers day, it is meant for felicitating teachers and to know if there is any need of intervention from authorities, so that, they can perform better as teacher.
Right enough there was this news report “Who will listen to our grievances – Teachers” in the print media date lined Mumbai.
Prime Minister Modi, is a serious person and whatever he does he does it with all seriousness. But may be his prioritization of issues needs another re-look, especially when it comes to issues involving Education and allied problems. Actually he should start with his HRD minister, who has education as part of the ministry. How in right perspective Smrithi Irani can be a minister in charge of educational activities of the country, when she is not even a graduate? There have been innumerable innuendoes making its round since her inclusion in the ministry. However, the issue here is Teachers Day. What Prime Minister needs to recognize is, if corporate leaders like Azim Premji, can invest half his fortune for creating good and competent teachers, then it is important that the country’s Prime Minister has to pay his attention to issue of creating good and competent teachers, which is indeed the need of the country. Therefore, an a day like Teachers day, it makes lot of sense that he interact with them to not only give them a piece of advice on their role as societal game changers, but also listen to them of their concerns. Of course, Teachers Day or no Teachers Day, Prime Minister of the Country can always find time to speak to teachers or their bodies in different states to have a firsthand update on the issues, and there are so many, involving teaching fraternity.  Now that he has not interacted with them this year and the last, he can find some exclusive time for them. Hope he does.
By now everybody knows, when it comes to charging for services Reliance cannot be trusted. First, it was Delhi power supplies by Reliance group. Indians are privy to the agitations by Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmy Party.
Following Delhi, power pricing, huge billing by Bombay Suburban Electric Supplies (BSES) is making its news. Mumbaikars are already under tremendous pressure due to this inflated electricity billing. And BSES is controlled by Reliance.
And comes the news that, Urban Development Minister in Fadnavis                 government, Ranjit Patil is trying to take on the might of Reliance by statutory interventions.
Reportedly Reliance, who is the administrator of Mumbai metro, want to increase Metro fare and Maharashtra government, is in ‘no mood to succumb to the pressure.
Reliance is claiming their standard shenanigans of cost escalation. They did the same with Delhi. They would do the same with BSES. Minister Ranjit Patil has already gone on record ‘wanting to go for CAG audit of Mumbai Metro’ to ascertain the veracity of cost escalation claim. The Minister is urging the Union government to exclude Mumbai Metro from the 2009 Metro Railway Act, so that the 1886 Indian Tramways Act can be invoked, where state has the power to fix the fare, unlike the Act of 2009, which has given away the privilege of fare fixing to Reliance. We have to call the Reliance bluff. It is undeniable that Reliance always exploited opportunities to make excess money or how can they be in the fortune 500, global wealthiest?!  
As a nation, we are poor learners from situations and experiences. Every set of human activity present its own set of problem, be it government, private, groups or personal. We all start an activity with an objective in mind. As we go along, we experience success and failures. We also face problems and issues, some of which can be easily managed, some managed with difficulty and some challenge our intellectual and physical strength. But each set of experiences, pleasant, unpleasant and bad, throw up its own lesson of management of men, methods, materials and machinery. More often, an effective manager learns from these experiences and tries to improve things. However there are instances when things lapse into inertia and life carries on.
Suburban railways in Mumbai, transports everyday millions of passengers. The pressures on railways have always increased in Mumbai uninterrupted. Since Mumbai is the London of Charles Dickens, the pan- Indian rush is very huge. Railways take the brunt of this pressure. So there is a huge scope for improvement in the management of these local railways. But somehow the people managing it are completely unimaginative. They may have constraints of resources, which is the usual complaint. But it is always possible to improve things as they are. After regular demands of many years, western railways have trains starting from Andheri to Virar. This has been a welcome development. However Indians being Indians, they do not allow passengers to get down in stations before Borivali, they say, 'you should not get into such train,' you must take Borivali trains.' But all trains are coming full. And since Andheri-Virar is a starting train from Andheri, it is possible to enter the train in Andheri, which is not possible with Borivali trains. After all trains were started for all passengers from Andheri to Virar, hence all should enter and exit between these stations. But the selfish Indian mindset chokes the corridor for Andheri-Borivali passengers. Many a times there are instances of passengers being carried over to next station beyond their destination. To address such a stupid situation, Double Decker trains can be the best solution with all those going beyond Borivali can go upstairs leaving the lower compartment for Andheri - Borivali passengers. This change is possible with least cost and most benefits. Despite demand for these Double Deckers for many years, railways have not applied itself. Now High Court has come in to rap railways and have asked them to act. These railway officials get huge payments but lack imaginative skills to manage recurring problems which are eminently  possible with an open mind to suggestions. But as usual we are poor learners.      
The infamous hit & run case involving actor Salman Khan, continues to be in news for some right or wrong reasons. There was this news in the print media, that Supreme Court refused to entertain a plea seeking cancellation of bail granted to Salman by the Bombay High Court with a remark “We are Sorry; the petitioner is permitted to withdraw the petition.” Reportedly it was the bench of Chief Justice H. L. Dattu. It was hearing a plea filed by Sushila Bai Himmat Rao Patil, the mother of the deceased body guard of Salman Khan, Ravindra Patil. It is very well known, that Maharashtra government under the R.R Patil’s home ministership, played villain, in getting justice to the victims of this Salman hit-and-run case. It took some 13 years for the Sessions Court in Mumbai to arrive at some stage of conclusion to award a jail term of 5 years. It is also true that High Court, did not take even 3 days to grant bail to Salman. During these 13 years, the star witness Ravindra Patil, who was sitting next to Salman Khan when the hit & run happened, even made to suffer interminable hardship by his own police department, obviously under pressure from the accused and his henchmen. His testimony had played a decisive role in the conviction of Salman Khan. He died in a government hospital under unexplained pathetic condition in Oct 2007. Reportedly he was hounded by his own police department under instruction from government higher ups, including arrest and dismissal from service. How can this happen? Why has this happened? Supreme Court and its chief justice HL Dattu had a golden opportunity to go into the nitty gritty of the death of a star witness. But alas they had no time to hear the anguish of a mother of a brave and honest police officer son. Probably if Harish Salve or Ram Jethmalani were to represent Ms. Patil, India’s chief Justice would have taken more time to have the plea heard in greater detail, especially when there is already a plea in the High Court in Mumbai to probe the death of Ravindra Patil. This is a sad and an undeniable dimension of justice of our Yeh Mera India.

ANDHRA PRADESH: Hyderabad, egged on by the Owaisi brand of hate politics, is slowly emerging as the centre to polarize Indian Muslims.
The recent meeting of the leaders of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has alleged ‘threat to Muslims and other faiths’. In their eagerness to ‘save the religion’, they also want to save the constitution.
Constitution will always remain a document above controversy and hence does not require the help of AIMPLB to save it. There are enough people from all sections of society to save the sacred constitution. Coming to their ‘save the religion’ call it is true that there are elements within the ruling combine and their followers, who are mouthing inanities bordering on intolerance.
They have to be undoubtedly forced to keep quite. Coming to Yoga, Surya Namaskar and Vande Maataram, it is a bit of bogie. There are any number of Muslims and even Muslim majority societies who have no issue with Yoga in its physical & spiritual part. There are number of Yoga practitioners among both Muslims & Christians who are ardent faithfuls of their respective religions. Similar is Surya Namaskar. Look at it from the energy point and not as a symbol of Hindu myth. And Vande Maataram, was sung by A R Rehman for the full house of parliament in his own inimitable way to the joy of a whole nation. Hindu puritanicals had no complaints about Rehman’s own musical score for the national song. Hence this need not be an issue.
However, another subject which AIMPLB discussed has, in a way, given away their untold agenda. Reportedly they had claimed that there are efforts to amend and change the laws, they said in a statement that these attempts may affect the Muslim Personal Laws. Thus, it is clear, it is the fear of interference in their personal laws that has prompted this ‘threat’ perception to Muslims and others.
A democratic country, while not interfering with the religious practices of its citizens, its government has every right to initiate amendments to all unfair personal laws of all communities. That said, the central authorities should work towards a common civil code applicable to all citizens pari passu, by having a dialogue with all stake holders. Period.

KARNATAKA: Editorial of a Bangalore based English daily screamed “Lifeless toddler, humanity’s shame”. Apparently editor avoided applying his mind to the issue at hand. Indeed it was very heartrending to see a toddler lying lifeless on a beach, head in the sand with his shoes still on. Editor was blaming Europe for being heartless. May be so! Even Canada refused entry to the family that perished leaving only the father alive. Canada or Europe many not be right in refusing the present migrants. But may not be wrong either! Can they be blamed for protecting their interest first! After all it was someone else’ making isn’t it?
Who is, and what is the genesis of the problem of this migration? Who is & what is causing the migration? You are clearly wonky in not being truthful.
Mr. Editor the problem has persisted only because of opportunists like you, and there are many in Indian media scene who avoid coming to terms with the reality. As long as you refuse to see the truth with your goggled eye sight, the problem will not only persist but can also grow. That’s the harsh truth.
And comes the news in the same paper a few days down, “Germany bursting at seams with migrants.” Hungery’s Prime minister has gone on record saying “Germany’s decision to relax asylum laws have caused chaos. European leaders are living in a dream world. The idea that quotas will work is an illusion. The influx is endless: from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria. If they are all going to come here, then Europe is going to go under.” Then you have an opposition view from Germany itself, “Markel’s decision to welcome migrants is a political error that will have catastrophic consequences. We have lost control. It is completely irresponsible to allow thousands of people enter. One can’t really estimate how many IS fighters are among them.” was the opposing view. Thus the duplicity of the editor is exposed. If the circulation of the paper is the target by not being truthful, then it is shortsighted. In the long run only truth shall triumph. It is true, those who want to escape the war torn Syria have to be helped. But what about Gulf countries of the immediate neighborhood! Aren’t they their Muslim brethren! Of course Germany may have its own agenda of finding young workforce for its factories with its own ageing population. That again is not a permanent solution besides, a possible ethnic tension between the locals and migrants cannot be ruled out in the future. The solution is a conflict free world. How do we get at it? This is the question the editor and his ilk have to ponder and debate.
Readers always enjoyed reading the sharp and sensible writings of T J S George while most of what he said on 30 Aug in TNS Express under Mindspace is agreeable. But there are few dimensions which need better appreciation. He was generally commenting on the recent report on the population status of India based on relegion. Growth of Muslims in India is not different from other countries. Whether it is U.K, Europe or other developed countries, there too it is increasing. Alleged poverty in India may not be there in those developed countries. The problem is the hard-line Muslims, whose number is very high as compared to hardliners among Hindus, Christians or Jews. These hardliners want their number to be increased, so that one day they become majority not just in India but all over the World. This fact, if T.J.S. say, he is not aware as he tries to explain out things, then he is simply lying or fooling himself. Then there are liberals among Muslims, sure they are many, but many of them have confessed, ‘we are afraid of the hardliners,’. So whom do we blame! We have to blame intellectuals who look the other way when it comes to take things head on. Then there are any number of Muslim men, who will not send their girls for higher education saying it is not needed. As for Hindus, there are more poor people among Hindus, than there are among Muslims. Who are the workingmen in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Countries? All of them are Hindus? Or  most of them Muslims? Where does their Gulf money go? For social engineering or anti social activities? Let him ask his Malayalee friend former chief minister of Kerala A.K Antony. He will have enough & more to tell George. So please Mr. TJS George we expect at least intellectual honesty of an assertive kind from you. Don’t write to the gallery. Surely you are aware why Myanmar do not want Rohingyas, don’t you? The recent Statement in the ‘Organiser’, the RSS publication, ask a pertinent question ‘Is rise in Muslims larger conspiracy to Islamise Bharath?’ Do you want to brush aside this question? Then you have this almost anti-national Asaduddin Owaisi stating that Muslims in India will be equal to Hindus in 250 years, and Hafiz said, that lunatic Pakistani, saying “I will not rest until India is merged with Pakistan.” Mr. George, we all owe it to the time we live in to give a stable and peaceful society to Indians of all hues irrespective of their sociological difference of compartmentalisation.
 
  World: Ever since Aug 2014, when U.S journalist James Foley was beheaded by one Jehadi John, dressed in black, from top to toe, with only opening for eyes and nose, world tried to get at him. First, they tried to analyze his voice, which had English accent in his Arabic. They tried to zero on a Kuwaiti national with similar gait and physique, studied computer programming in London. At the early stage of discovery, there were people in England, who confidently guessed then, that this man is Mohd Emwazi. Their guess turned out to be right.
As soon as the identity of this lunatic barbarian became pronounced, it went viral. In the meantime, he had already beheaded over ½ a dozen, mostly American & British nationals. He was also involved in the beheading of Syrian soldiers. As soon as the wider world came to know of the identity of this sick killer, this beast in the human form ran for his dear life. Suddenly, the Jehadi in him turned turtle, he did not want to die. He proved to be a fake Jehadi. He was not interested in killing in the name of Allah, damn the so- called larger cause of Caliphate or Allah, he vanished into the strife torn Syria. He was even afraid that his team mates, the lunatic fringe itself, might kill him, since his utility became fraught with danger for ISIS itself, once his identity became known to the world. Since he wanted to live, and enjoy life with the looted resources of ISIS, he crafted a plan. Suddenly he announced that he will return to U.K on “beheading spree of non Muslims,” with his face completely uncovered for the benefit of video shooting. May be this barbarian Jehadi thinks that all those non-Muslims in the UK are waiting to welcome him “Aa bail mujhe maar”. And comes the news “Cameron orders M16 to hunt down Jehadi John”, dead or alive.
So after all, the days of this barbarian may not be too far away to come to an end. Insha Allah it happens.
Democracy presupposes two conditions. One says I am  not less than you, meaning both are equal. The other says you are not less than me, also meaning both are equal. But there is subtle difference. One is being assertive and therefore has the potential to cause unease. The other being accommodative and therefore a better representative of peace. In the global order today both situations are visible.
Emerging Super Power, ambitious of being No:1 in the global clout, China is flexing its muscles everywhere with its money power and defence capability. For fairly a long time, the issue involving the South China Sea (SCS) has been a kind of flash point between China and other countries around the SCS. China is clearly trying to browbeat and bully its smaller neighours. All global players have tried to reason out with China. But its assertive behaviour borne out of its financial power with huge balance of payment in its favour, is causing a completely avoidable unease among not only its smaller neighbours, but also Japan and India.
Now comes the warning by Australian Defense Minister severely criticizing Chinese military aggressiveness in the SCS and against any intimidation and aggression in the disputed waters. Australia appeared very concerned about the airstrip being built on Fiery Cross Reef and thereby creating an island, is clearly with hegemonistic tendencies, especially when several countries in the region including Philippines and Vietnam staking territorial claim on SCS. This is certainly not an issue, the international community will take it kindly. Hope, China tries to behave pragmatically in the larger issue of peace in the region.  


FOCUS

PATELS, ANSARI & KALAM:
THE RESERVATION CONUNDRUM

“I will not be presumptuous enough to say that my life can be a role model for anybody; but some poor child living in an obscure place in an underprivileged social setting may find a little solace in the way my destiny has been shaped. It would perhaps help such children liberate themselves from the bondage of their illusory backwardness and hopelessness”
The above statement, attributed to former President of India, late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam has to be dissected verbatim to let the world know, the beauty of the personality of Dr. Abdul Kalam, born into a Muslim family, died a practicing Muslim, yet like Mahatma Gandhi “World will scarce believe that such a one as this would ever have walked upon on this earth in flesh and blood.”
Indeed Dr. Abdul Kalam is the most acceptable human being in India’s public space, where 80% of its population constitutes Hindus.
He was, as he writes in his autobiography “WINGS OF FIRE”, born in Rameshwaram, a non-descript town, without the paraphernalia of modernity with no facility of a high school or a hospital. He was born into an unlettered parentage without much wealth, but just enough to live with essentials. Yet, as’ The Hindu’ commented on his autobiography “Deeply passionate story of a common boat owner’s son, who has become India’s most distinguished living technocrat…”
All through his working life of some 35 years, he worked for Government of India agencies of Ministry of Defense. It was under his stewardship that India achieved a significant self reliance in space and defence technologies. A grateful nation not only awarded him with the nation’s highest recognition, “Bharath Rathna” but also made him the 1st citizen of the country by anointing him as the 11th President of India. In his entire journey of close to 70 years, prior to his occupancy of Rashtrapathy Bhavan, he only practiced what John F Kennedy had asked his countrymen. “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”
And comes, the Vice President of India, Mohammed Hamid Ansari, who is the only person to have been elected to the position of Vice President of India twice after Dr.S. Radhakrishnan. Thus, he is the Vice president of India since 2007 and shall continue to be so, until Aug 2017. Born into a political and affluent family of a former Congress President Mukhtar Ahmad Ansari, he did not experience any hardship on the way to adulthood as Dr Abdul Kalam has experienced: An MA in political science from Aligarh Muslim University, he started his career as an IFS appointee, represented India in the U N, was High Commissioner to Australia, was Ambassador to the UAE, Afghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia. He was made chairman of Minorities Commission, which he resigned to become the Vice President of India. Thus it is very clear, he lived much better life and was politically supported by the government of the day, in all his appointments indicating his proximity to the ruling class.
On 31st Aug 2015, he addressed the 50th Anniversary of All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM), a body, which reportedly opposed reforms among Muslims.
Commending the objectives of “Sab ke saath,Sab ka Vikas” of the present government, he complained stating “Identity and security, education and empowerment, equitable share in the largess of the state, besides fair share in decision making are the principal problems of India’s Muslims” “These are rights of citizen and this discrimination has to be corrected.” 
Clearly, this was not an address of nation’s Vice President. He spoke like a Muslim politician. He was making veiled reference to Reservations to Muslims. So late in the day, he is bordering on 80, he suddenly realized, after 68 years of independence that Muslims in India need state largesse. Because he belonged to Muslim elite with political connection, he didn’t need help from state for advancement. Life has been fairly hunky-dory for Ansari. Not so for Dr. Abdul Kalam, he had to strenuously work his way up. He is a classic example of dedicated commitment to the national cause. Unlike Ansari, who spoke about rights, Dr. Kalam only thought of his duties. That was how he made that epochal statement that “Country is bigger than an individual.” 
Tufail Ahmad, director of South Asian Studies at the Middle East Media Research Institute in Washington, responded to Ansari’s speech with a piece “WHY NOT CONSTITUTIONAL PATH FOR MUSLIMS?” He recounted “At the AIMMM event, Ansari spoke as the leader of Muslims, not as the nations Vice President. Indians are in search of a Muslim politician in the mould of APJ Abdul Kalam, not Hamid Ansari.” According to him “India is yet to produce a Muslim who could present himself as the leader of all Indians.” He also feels “Qualitatively, Indian Muslims do not qualify as a minority. Only women, Scheduled castes and Tribes are India’s first sociological minorities because they are subjugated, while Muslims conduct themselves as a politically vocal group. This is not a sign of subjugation”. He asserts further “Ansari must keep in mind: Sachar like reports were produced to serve official secularism.” That was a kind of nail, that almost asked Vice President Hamid Ansari to ‘take a walk’.
Thus it was very clear to Tufail Ahmad, that Vice President should not have stated what he stated at the AIMMM event, while stressing “Any attempt by Ansari and others to insert Islam as a criterion of politics must be condemned. It is time India’s youth spoke against leaders who advocate quotas in the name of religion and caste.”
So you have two constitutional figures, one former and the other current. One exhorted the youth to ‘Liberate themselves from the bondage of their illusory backwardness and hopelessness.’ The other is demanding reservation in the state largesse for his community. Besides the common constitutional position both had - one as President and the other as Vice President, both are practicing Muslims. Of course Dr Abdul Kalam is no more.
Now going back to the title of this Focus, we have dealt with Dr Abdul Kalam, and Mr Hamid Ansari, hence are left with Patels.
On July 6, first of the many rallies by Patels of Gujarat was held in Mehsana. It was reportedly led by a young man- Hardik Patel, all of 22. The rally was to seek OBC status for Patels, to get reservation in education and employment. It was followed by a rally on 23rd July in Visnagar in North Gujarat. Reportedly it turned violent. On Aug 17, Surat saw another rally, reportedly over 3 lakh Patels took part. A ‘Maha Kranthi Rally’ in Ahmadabad followed on 25th Aug, with lakhs of Patels on the street. Reportedly city came to a standstill. Consequent to a Gujarat Bandh call, state, too reportedly, came to a standstill. Bandh turned violent, and some 6 people died. Internet and social media was banned.
Reservation, as envisaged in the constitution is for those who are in the margins, deprived of opportunities and means for better education and employment. But Patels are a dominant community with solid means. According to published accounts, they dominate hotel industry, pharma manufacturing industry and pharma distribution, chemical, plastic, real estate, ceramic and diamond industries, not only in Gujarat but in many places outside Gujarat. They are also into big time politics with 3 chief ministers in the past and the current incumbent being Anandhiben Patel. There is a huge Patel NRI group all over the world; In U.S there used to be jokes making its round-from Hotels to Motels to Patels – indicating their dominance in hotels and motels in the U.S. Thus, it’s a community which is powerful with not only in money power, but also in political power. So Reservation is clearly a politically inspired arm twisting exercise. Keshubhai Patel, a former Gujarat chief Minister, never concealed his dislike of Narendra Modi’s growth trajectory. So, is this an attempt to check-mate Modi! Historically Patels always opposed reservation. In 1981, when it was introduced by Solanki government, riots erupted which led to some 100 deaths. In 1985, anti-quota agitation by Patels turned violent and some close to 400 died. Solanki government was dismissed as a result. So, why suddenly the stand of Patels against reservation reversed?
On the face of it there is absolutely no scope for further reservation. Things are going to be extremely dicey with Marathas in Maharashtra, Gujjars is Rajasthan and Jats in Haryana waiting in the wings to be included in the quota, or to fish in troubled water!
So what is the solution?
Probably disband quota based on discriminative caste and religion. Make quotas only on economic model. Then all would be covered, irrespective of caste, languages and religion. There would be no hankering from Patels, Gujjars, Marathas, Jats and Muslims, once economic criteria is accepted. Even the father of constitutional reservation on caste basis, Dr Ambedkar, did not want it to continue beyond 10 years.
Of course, those who are already covered by 49.5% reservation in force, there has to be ways and means to slowly dismantle the quota regime, and have large scale skill development schemes for jobs, coaching classes for educationally backward classes and other reach out initiatives.
Surely, the present government in Delhi has to get down from its ivory tower mentality to talk to all political parties to have consensus and then take all stake holders on board to make quota of reservation a thing of the past, and make state largesse distributed on more equitable model.
Certainly this is easier said than done. But a national debate may have to be set in motion ‘towards a quota free society’ where only meritocracy rules.


 Are Quotas Rational & Moral?

The problem that has plagued India since Independence has flared up again: caste-based reservations for education, employment and career promotions. In the last four decades of living in Europe, I have heard both sides of the debate. As an Indian living abroad, it appears to me that these debates actually raise one single question: Are Indians irrational or immoral, or both? This is the un-debated side of the reservation discourse in India. Let me explain. Is caste-based reservation a rational policy to follow? The answer to this question does not require a definition of ‘rationality’. Instead, the issue is: does this policy eventuate in irrational consequences or effects?
Consider two individuals: one outside the reserved category, the other within. The former knows that to get an admission in a good university, he should belong to the top 0.5 percent of the applicants. He knows too that he will not be part of the very few, who make the grade. Thus, what is the most rational thing for him to do? If putting in enormous effort and taking it easy, both produce the same result, it is rational for him to extend less effort. Consider the later. He knows that to get a seat in a good university, he only needs 35 percent. Getting more marks will not increase his chances. No matter how little effort he puts in, he will get the desired seat. As a rational agent, therefore, he too takes it easy. Because knowledge and competence are mostly commensurate with the efforts put in to acquire them, expending little effort implies equivalent increase in ignorance and incompetence. 
Since the caste based reservation makes it rational for people both in and outside reservation to choose to be lazy, there is an incentive to remain ignorant, incomplete and inefficient. If this attitude is generalized (in college, courts and bureaucracy), it produces and reproduces such people. Result: the institution they run cannot be more efficient than them. The inevitable consequence is the collapse of both the society and its institutions. That is how outsiders perceive India today: her courts, educational institutions, bureaucracy, police, governments, are in the process of breaking down.
Why does this rationality argument not figure in Indian discourse? There is a well-known answer: the reservation is the reparation for the injustice committed by one group of people against another over two millennia or more. In that case, moral considerations trump rationality. If we accept that it is irrational to follow policies that lead to the collapse of society because everyone is rationally encouraged to pursue irrational goals, the question becomes: is it moral to be rational?
In and of itself, there is nothing absurd about it. One can indeed speak of local rationalities, such as scientific, technological and ecological rationalities and raise ethical questions about them. So, let us ask: irrespective of its rationality, is the caste-based reservation system moral?
Today, it is common sense to say that there is oppression of one group of people across the whole of India by another group of people spread equally widely across India. However, there can be no empirical evidence for this claim because say ‘Dalit’ or OBC (Other Backward Caste) is neither one social group nor one particular caste. Both names refer to sets of groups. It is only correct to say then that multiple groups have oppressed multiple other groups in the millennia in India. One could, of course, name the oppressed groups as the Dalits or OBCs. Sadly, this fact of oppression is true for all human civilizations. Therefore, if the reservation system is a moral critique of oppression, it would have to follow that all other societies except the Indian are immoral, because they do not have such a system. This suggestion is implausible. Is the reservation system a payment for the sins of our forefathers, who instituted an unjust social system? This could be true, but only if one argues that the children of oppressor have to pay for the sins of their forefathers.
This moral stance is unique to the Judaic tradition, where the sins of the fathers visit their sons. No other moral tradition has coherently argued this. I am aware that some Indians do talk in this fashion but theat is incoherent within the framework of Indian culture.
Rightly or wrongly, ideas like karma and punarjanma require that only the agent pays for his misdeeds. If one has to pay for the misdeeds of another, what do karma and karmaphala mean? The entire set of Indian tradition would become totally incoherent. Therefore, you cannot assume this ethical stance unless you are a Jew yourself. But Jewish Israel has no reservation system. Neither are Indians Jewish. Hence, this moral justification does not work.
Can we not say that the reservation system is the reparation of past damages, whether inflicted on one group or multiple groups? Maybe. In the case of the Native Americans, for example, the white settlers took away their lands and became wealthy as a result. The Nazis deprived the Jews: of property, wealth, and life itself. African-American were displaced and transformed into slaves.
Perhaps, one could also address the British: for the damages inflicted by colonialism. In all these cases, a specific group appropriate unjustly what belonged to another specific group. Again, there is no historical evidence to indicate that there was dispossession of the property of one particular group by another specific group all over India.
If none of these arguments work, why does this policy appeal? Is it because of the demand of justice in general and of social justice in particular? If this is the case, one should give the criteria of justice and of social justice that make sense of caste-based reservation. Nobody has done so. Surely, those who question the morality of rationality mean something other than all these flawed arguments.
Here is one such. Just structures are preferable, since they always generate just consequences. However, it has been shown that structures, in certain contexts, produce unjust consequences. Therefore, this claim is not a logical truth; we are compelled to show empirically that the reservation system is not generating unjust consequences. If that were to be the case, there would be no Patel, Gurjar or Jat protests, nor mandal commission. Thus, the reservation system is not an embodied critique for a local rationality (‘the’ case system) nor it is about the morality of rationality.
Consequently, the caste-based reservation system is neither rational nor moral. One has to say that Indians are either irrational or immoral or both, if they defend reservation. The British were reluctant to give self-rule or independence to India because many were convinced that Indians were immoral and irrational. Looking from the outside today, one is compelled to ask: were the British telling the truth, after all?

The writer is a Prof at Ghent University, Belgium and Director of India Platform and Research Centre, Comparative Science of Cultures.
************

CONFESSION OF AN UNKNOWN INDIAN

I am an OBC by the constitutional classification of the Indian nation. I have had no role in being within this OBC. Quite frankly it matters nothing to me as an individual. This classification was affected by the constitution makers ostensibly to help the person within this group like so many other groupings, for some government handouts and possibly some positive discrimination by the state.
I grew up like most Indians of lower middle class. Having had schooling in some government school; for which I did not have to pay. I am from coastal Karnataka district of Dakshina Kannada. Life was largely uneventful. Managed to complete the school. So far the system was taking care of my education. I was just an average student without any academic brilliance.
College education required payment of fees. I enrolled myself into a commerce college in the city of then Bombay, where my father was a small time shopkeeper. Without much of expectation or rather not knowing what to expect, life trudged along.
One day my father sold his business interest and shifted back to the village in Dakshina Kannada.
Suddenly life experienced a bit of an upheaval. I had a lot of relatives in Mumbai, yet I was alone. Managed to take up a small job. Meeting two ends with college fees, boarding & lodging was not easy, but there was no choice. Being just an average student I took more years to clear my graduation than what was required. Managed to join a big business group as an Accounts Assistant. But big people are not always big at heart. Payment was poor. Then managed to join a German pharmaceutical company in its Accounts Department with better payment and better working environment. Life slightly improved.
I also had the responsibility of assisting the family back in Dakshina Kannada with younger sibling’s education being of importance. Life was not easy but definitely better than lot of Indians of the time. It was a struggle alright, but a struggle which I had accepted. I had no complaint against the society of the time. Neither did I expect the government to look after my needs, or that of my family. I even gave tuition and taught in a tutorial college to make some extra money. But fortunately I had a saving streak. I was not a spend thrift. In the mean time I managed to complete my M.com from the University of Bombay in my 2nd attempt. So also completed my intermediate ICWA. With the experience I gained in the accounts department of this German pharmaceutical company and additional qualification, scouting for a vertical change began. Managed to get called for some bigger and better positions. Suddenly an opening in Muscat, Oman came calling and my experience and qualification suited like a round peg in the round hole. For almost 20 years I worked in Muscat, which included a stint as trader and civil contractor. Worked very hard for all the 20 years, sometime even as long as 15 hours.
I strongly believed hard work did not cheat anybody. Thus working long hours became an attitude. While being in the Middle East, I had wild ups and downs, especially when I tried to be on my own. With law heavily loaded in favour of the locals, one had to tread rather cautiously. I have been able to manage decent savings which helped me launch on my own back in India.
Looking back, especially in the context of politics of reservation and Sachar Committee reports on minorities, I deem it a privilege to tell all Indians that if you do not come out of dependency syndrome, you will be condemned to remain dependent on whimsical politics of reservation and politically oriented largesse. Our 68 years of post-independence experiment in social justice has only made us dependent. Is this the freedom we deserve? Biggest empowerment comes from within. Develop a mental freedom. Empowerment is only as far as that. 
As told to I&C 


FEATURE

Risk factors Vs. Asset factors

Prof. B. M. Hegde,

“This world was never about TRUTH or LIES. There are only hard facts. Despite that, some who exist in this world mistakenly believes that only FACTS FAVORABLE TO THEM are truths. They know no other way to live. Do you know all the Facts?”
Bleach anime

Risk factors for any disease, especially for life style diseases, are another big business. Almost every known thing is cited as a risk factor. If one carefully reads a recent medicine textbook heart attacks have more than one hundred risk factors! People goad you to get yourself checked up regularly by regular screening to lessen your risk factor dangers. There are many studies of risk factors which are small cohort studies done for a short time slot, so called cross sectional studies, mostly funded by the vested interests, which proclaim that every single risk factor needs to be actively pursued and treated (controlled) vigorously. The main line media, both print and electronic, is made to pick up these studies to focus public attention on them thus creating a conducive environment to sell their drugs or other interventional methods to make money. To the best of my information none of these studies has ever followed up the same cohort for longer than five years to see the long term interventional outcomes of those risk factor controlling strategies!
When the industry finds that their product is dangerous to health they devise “scientific” studies to show how their product is good for health. One example will suffice. In the early 1970s new insights in the medical world showed how dangerous alcohol is to the heart. The advent of alcoholic cardiomyopathy as a dangerous cause of sudden death, even more dangerous than heart attacks, was discovered in Russia by Maurice Lev and his associate Saroja Bharati. THE ALCOHOL INDUSTRY IN Europe devised a new study by inviting alcohol experts from all over the world for a long session at the Dorchester Hotel in London with a brief to get a “scientific” paper to show that alcohol in small doses is very good for the heart and also to prevent a heart attack. They all obliged. Their paper saw the light of the day in the journal Heart in 1981 with an editorial by the then editor urging doctors to proactively ask people to drink in small quantities for heart health. Dr. Eric Oliver from Chicago University in his paper The Politics of Pathologyhow obesity became an epidemic disease shows how the epidemic of obesity is created by the industry to sell their obesity reducing drugs and surgical technics.
The longest prospective study of risk factors was the (in) famous MRFIT study-multiple risk factor interventional trial, which started by screening 500,000 Americans to select 100,000 participants who now have completed 25 years of observation. The final conclusion of the study, having spent millions of American Tax Payers’ money, was: there have been no risk factors in MRFIT study. The so called risk factors could be effectively controlled by interventions, drugs and surgery but, the final risk, when present, will remain intact and the intervention does not make any difference. So there are nothing called risk factors! My take on this study is that the study shows the hollowness of two things. One is that risk factor theory is created to sell their wares by the industry and secondly, the patients whose risk factors were controlled had to recover twice as William Osler had written decades ago:
"The person who takes medicine must recover twice,
Once from the disease and once from the medicine"
-William Osler,
Many of them in the MRFIT study had to meet their maker in heaven prematurely, though. That much for the risk factor hypothesis.
Some years ago I had coineda neologism-asset factor. If one looks at the other side of the risk factor coin we see that a large number of humans that have similar risk factors do not suffer from any disease. A telling example would be simple malaria. In Mangalore on a given day there might be about a dozen patients with malaria in many of the hospitals put together. There are more than 15,00,000 humans live in Mangalore. The large majority of 14,99,990 people with the same mosquito bite do not suffer from Malaria. Logically there must be something in that majority that prevents them from getting malaria despite the mosquito bite. It might be their immune resistance, their diet, their life style etc. It was an American physician, Theobald Smith, who in 1915 propounded the Grimm’s Law which states that “while any disease is directly proportionate to the virulence of its cause, it is also inversely proportionate to the resistance of the host.” The host resistance is what is keeping us alive in the midst of the sea of risk factors. On a given day there might be a few million suffering patients but there are more than six billion that are healthy and kicking. If medicine were to be a philanthropic enterprise without the lure for big money returns mankind would have been happy because doctors were goaded to “cure rarely, comfort mostly but to console always.” But alas! Today almost all patients have to recover twice if they are lucky-once from the disease and once from the medicines and interventions.
Let me conclude by quoting Eric Oliver again: “it is useful to understand how “new ideas” become widelyaccepted. Scholars of diffusion theory have long recognized that fads, innovations,and trends often accelerate across populations in exponential fashion, muchin the same way that contagious diseases do (Rogers 1962). One day a singleperson pierces her navel or rolls up his pant cuffs and then, suddenly, everyone isdoing it (Gladwell 2000).The key for the spread of a new idea, like the spreadof a disease, is having the right set of circumstances and a particularly goodmethod of transmission. The HIV virus, for example, allegedly spread out ofAfrica in the early 1980s because of the international promiscuity of a singleCanadian airline steward, Gaetan Dugas, the infamous “patient zero” (Shilts1987).The same holds true for ideas: a new concept lies fallow for a time untila triggering event, particular circumstance, or the right person suddenly causesit to be embraced by a large number of people.”
Long live mankind on this planet despite this kind of non-science.
“Lies can't grow. Once plucked they can only wither. But every truth, once planted, grows into a tall, noble tree. ”
Stefan Emunds




SOCIOLOGY

Juveniles Incarceration & Teenagers Education

Washington: Teenagers who are detained tend to have substantially worse outcomes later in life than those who avoid serving time for similar offences, according to a new Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) study, reports IANS.
Juvenile incarceration lowers high-school graduation rates by 13 percent and increases adult incarceration by 23 percent. “We find that kids who go into juvenile detention are much less likely to graduate from high school and much more likely to end up in prison as adults," said co-author Joseph Doyle, an economist at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
The study uses the variation in judges’ sentencing tendencies to analyze a large pool of otherwise similar teenagers, thus isolating the effects of the sentences on the kids in question. “We think this is some of the first real causal evidence on the effects of juvenile detention on kids’ outcomes,” Doyle noted.
The co-authors are Doyle and Anna Aizer, an associate professor of economic and public policy at the Brown University. The study looks at cases involving 35,000 juvenile offenders over a 10-year period, who had all committed offences that provided presiding judges with latitude in determining sentencing levels.
Those periods of incarceration appear to make kids much less likely to return to school at all, particularly if they are around age 16, “The kids who go to juvenile detention are very unlikely to go back to school at all,” Doyle explained. The study was published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Sailing Saucer

Prof. B.N.Karkera

 Sailing Saucer (SS) is a fundamental invention in ocean engineering. The three tier structure and saucer like shape of SS shields it from the disturbances of the sea/ocean and provides land-like stability under all weather conditions. Thus, a SS System (SSS) is proposed for offshore mega harbor, cruise Island Township, research station, airport, nuclear/thermal power plants, battle station in national exclusive economic zone, vessels and many more spinoffs. The fundamental invention is by way of realizing multiple immunities to sea waves, ocean current and sea breeze. The first immunity, to sea waves, is due to absence of change in buoyancy volume. The remaining immunities, to ocean current and sea breeze, are due to its saucer shape. These features permit SSS to harvest bountiful renewable ocean wealth, while rejuvenating coastal water, as the subsidiary invention. 
Lower Deck with heavy equipments. Artificial Reefs to 200 m depth 3 km diameter Main Platform Buoyancy Gravity Columns & Elevator ShaftsAnnular Buoy in multi compartments for Immunity to Torpedoes Annular Upper Deck; 3 levels – Port Activities; Quarters & Terrace V 0.5m 4.5m 5+m 
A typical SSS shown is under consideration for possible deployment off Managalore coast and has one 3km diameter Main Platform ; thirty 0.3km diameter Sub-Harbours; and three thousand 30m diameter Fishing Vessels. They have whole lot of features listed above. Their saucer profile permits sail-ability in any direction equally well. Out of them, the first two needs tugging and only the Vessel is propel-able. It is steerable without rudder because of multiple propellers. The propellers are built within “Hollow Shaft Voltage-Frequency- Control Motors”; avoiding driveshaft and gearbox. It forms the Turbo-Propeller with swivel-ability and rigidity. 300 meter diameter Sub-Platforms Annular Upper Deck; 2 Levels – Port Activities & Terrace Lower Deck with heavy equipments. Central Fish Farm to 200m depth Annular Buoy in multi compartments for Immunity to Torpedoes Columns & Elevator Shafts Confidential for Privileged Audience 0.5m 4.5m 5+m Buoyancy Gravity 30 meter diameter Vessels Lower Deck with heavy equipments. Fish Traps up to 5 km all around Columns & Elevator Shafts Confidential for Privileged Audience Annular Upper Deck; 2 levels – Port Activities & Terrace Annular Buoy in multi compartments for Immunity to Torpedoes V 0.5m 4.5m 5+m Buoyancy Gravity. 

The author is Reactor Engineer, Adjunct Faculty at NIAS, Visiting Professor and the consultant to BRNS project on HLC at NITK, Research Directror, SCEM; was a BARC Senior Scientist for over 34 years, Deputy Director, CSIO/CSIR for 3.5 years, Faculty of Nuclear Engineering, Manipal University, consultant to DRDO on ‘BodyPhone’, member international /national Technical Boards for Super Conducting Tokomak of IPR and National Optical Telescope Project and holds several patents. Six of his projects were recognized through Prime Minister, President of India and awards at national / international levels. They include India’s first fast reactor PURNIMA-I, FBTR and DHRUVA Reactor, TAPS SRM/IRM System, LCA--HUD, LINAC and MC-PET Project for cancer care, and PHWR PT Gauging. He had promoted research-funding all around as an ATC Member, BRNS, BARC and is the recipient of Life Time Achievement Award form NITK Surathkal AAB.

Monday, October 19, 2015

VOICE OF SANITY

Pakistan should stop cross border terrorism: Muslim Cleric

Jammu: A prominent Muslim cleric said India should not holds talks with Pakistan unless it stops cross border terrorism as no engagement with the neighboring country “is possible at the cost of safety and security of our countrymen”.
Against the backdrop of the cancellation of NSA level talks between India and Pakistan, Syed Athar Hussain Dehlavi, chief of the Anjuman Minhaje Rasool, also said that while Pakistan itself was “struggling for its  survival”, its other neighbours like Iran and Afghanistan, too, have become victims of the terrorism emanating from its soil.
“No dialogue with Pakistan is possible at the cost of the safety and security of our countrymen. Pakistan itself is struggling for its survival given the internal conditions of that country,” Dehlavi told reporters here.
“Not only India, countries like Iran and Afghanistan, too, are victims of terrorism emanating from the soil of Pakistan,” he said.
Referring to a recent row surrounding a Common wealth event which was to be staged in Islamabad, he said that while Pakistan cannot give respect to the elected Speaker of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly, it was adamant on inviting separatist leaders for a meeting with their National Security Advisor (NSA).
“I am happy that the talks have been called off and the onus lies on Pakistan, which has been pursuing a policy of deceit and backstabbing whenever India tries to extend a hand of peace,” he said. Meanwhile, asking the government to extend all basic facilities to the residents of the bordering areas “who have fallen victims to the bullets from the Pakistani side”, Dehlavi said that on a tour of the bordering areas of Jammu, he had found that the people there lacked basic facilities.
He said it was only during elections that the politicians remember the border residents and the army, but forget them after being elected to power.      

 

HEALTH

‘PCOS & Life style’

Mumbai: A recent study has revealed that around 10% of women in India have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) “Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a complex metabolic, endocrine and reproductive disorder that results in overproduction of male hormones, and is associated with insulin resistance (IR). In PCOs multiple small cysts are formed in the Ovaries,” said Dr Sandhya Kadam, MD, Ayurveda.
Hormone imbalance causes problems with the regularity of woman’s periods and releasing eggs, and can also cause problems for women when trying to get pregnant. PCOS may also cause serious health concerns such as diabetes and heart disease.
“I had PCOS when I studied in Kota for 3 years. I was preparing for the different engineering entrance exams. I gained 18 Kgs in 2 years since I hardly underwent any kind of rigorous physical activity. I started having a lot of irregularities in my menstrual cycles. I skipped months many times. I also had an episode where I kept bleeding for over a month. I had to take steroids in both those cases,” said Radhika Joshi, an engineering student from BITS Pilani.
“However, when I joined a gym in the summer vacations, my menses came back on track,” added Radhika.
Radhika’s mom Dr. Archana Joshi, who is a Paediatrician, said, “Parents are not aware as to how much they should feed their children. Overfeeding children has adverse effect on children’s health.
Also, physical activity is a must for everyone. One should indulge in some form of exercise to stay fit. Healthy diet and appropriate exercise will help us in control lifestyle diseases such as PCOS.”
DR. Kadam says, “To correct imbalance in PCOS, lifestyle changes is first line therapy. Prevention of excess weight gain can be achieved by adopting dietary regimen and structured exercise as per Ayurveda and yoga guidelines. Food which is easily digestible, with high fiber, low saturated fat and low high glycemic index  carbohydrate should be consumed.”
“Consume whole grain- eg. Ragi, Shashtishaali (red rice), barley etc., green leafy vegitables-rich in minerals, vitamins and nutrients, low glycaemic index whole fruits like apples, pears, plums, prunes etc. that contain fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, Dry fruits- dates, figs and raisins, should be consumed,” added Dr Kadam.
 

TECHNOLOGY

No More Shoes!

London: A swish company claims to have created socks that are 15 times stronger than steel and could make shoes obsolete. The waterproof Free Your Feet (FYF) sock is built to “fit like a glove” and gives the wearer a feeling of being barefoot, while protecting the feet from injuries, according to a report by PTI.
The tear and abrasion resisted socks have been tested by athletes and adventurers for rock climbing, surfing, slack lining and even swimming with sharks.
The Swiss Barefoot Company used a super-strong fabric named Dyneema to create the socks. Dyneema floats on water and is resistant to moisture, UV light and harmful chemicals.
The socks’ soles have ‘grip dots’ that let the wearers use them on all terrains, ‘Daily Express’ reported.
“FYF increases your performance safely, and with a new sense of security,” said Dieter Hesch, founder of the company in Switzerland.
“There are many sports where you would like to be barefoot but the risks of being injured are too high so you don’t do it.
“For example water sports and martial arts, balance and equilibrium are very important,” he said.
The socks, however, will not protect against sharp objects that can puncture the feet like needles and sea urchin spines.

Unmanned factory: Futuristic solution!

A Chinese firm specialising in precision technology has set up the first unmanned factory at Dongguan city where all the processes are operated by robots, regarded as futuristic solution to tide over China’s looming demographic crisis and dependence on manual workers, reports PTI.
In the plant, all the processes are operated by computer controlled robots, computer numerical control machining equipment, unmanned transport trucks and automated warehouse equipment. The technical staffs just sit at the computer and monitor through a central control system. At the workshop of changing precision Technology Company in Dongguan, known as the “world factory”, which manufactures cell phone modules, 60 robot arms at 10 production lines polish the modules day and night, state-run People’s Daily reported.
Each line has an automatic belt with just three workers who are just responsible for checking lines and monitoring. A few months ago, it required 650 workers to finish this process. A robot arm can replace six to eight workers, now there are 60 workers and the number will be reduced to 20 in the future, Luo Weiqiang, general manager of the company told the daily.
This is the first step of the “robot replace human” programme, it said. In the next two years, the number of robot will be increased to 1,000 and 80 percent process will be conducted by robots, said Chen Qixing, president of the company. Compared with many skilled workers, these robots are new hands.
But they made far more and better products then well-trained workers and experts, the report said. With nearly 200 million people above 60 years and old age population set to rise sharply, China is bracing to face demographic crisis in the near future as it will have fewer work force.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

YOUTH COLUMN

PORTRAYAL OF FEMALE CHARACTERS IN MAINSTREAM CHILDREN’S TELEVISION

Shailene Woodley, the young star of the best-seller-turned-movie “The Fault in our Stars”, in an interview, refused to call herself a feminist, citing the reason that she “loves men”. When did feminism turn into man-hating?
In the contemporary era of digitised opinions, virtually projected ideas and hypocritical propositions, the term ‘feminism’ has been stripped of its true essence. Militancy has taken over the movement which has latched a sense of shame and disgrace to calling oneself a feminist.
I will not look into feminism and its bittersweet relationship with influential women, but rather wade into the deep waters of how women are depicted in one particular yet vast segment of popular media – children’s television shows.
In my two years of study of the basics of psychology, I’ve come to apprehend that, as Freudian as it may seem, an almost unnoticeable metaphorical blemish on a child’s psyche, if not cured, can grow successively with the child’s age into an unrectifiable scar. So, the point I’m getting to is that if Shailene had to deny herself the pride of being referred to as a feminist, her childhood and developmental years must have predisposed and conditioned her into misinterpreting feminism. And what are the normal child’s earlier routines usually centred around? Cartoon shows.
As a young girl I wanted to be convinced, I not by myself that it’s okay to be a girl and still retain a distinctly unique identity, not defined by the stereotypes projected by the media, without being attributed in terms of what I mean to the males, to internalise the fact that it’s okay to take the lead, be the protagonist, be smart and beautiful, without the two qualities being traded off against each other just to squeeze myself into superficial labels.
I’m fortunate enough to have had gender sensitive and sensitized parents, some remarkable empowering mentors, and undeniable social support to have been disillusioned by my fellow females’ unrealistic depictions in a few of my all-time favourite cartoon shows.
When one is asked to retrospect one’s glorious childhood, she or he instantaneously boxes it up into three little set of words – Tom and Jerry. Oh! What revelry, lolling around on the messy sofa, gorging down late Sunday brunches comprised of Amma’s delicious alooparathas dripping with butter while tuning into our daily dose of cat-and-mouse antics.
I don’t know if it’s just me or if the question did baffle other nine-year-olds as well, but I was and am perpetually intrigued as to why (except Tom’s owner of course) no single lead was female, except when Tom or Jerry had to be wooed. Female cats and mice were mere eye-candy for Tom and Jerry to drool all over, hoot at, wolf-whistle at and win over.
Scooting over to the ever-entertaining Scooby-Doo! This show has two central female characters – Daphne Blake and Velma Dinkley. I, as a child, did not identify with either of them – Daphne being too much of a damsel-in-distress and eye-candy (again) and Velma, the stereotypical, generally unattractive nerd. Why was there no in-between?
Although Popeye’s spinach fetish did culminate into an increased intake of green, leafy veggies in children, has the show crossed any significant milestone in promoting Olive Oyl as an ideal role model for young women? I think not.
The current frenzy revolved around Japanese animated shows called Anime. What flabbergasts me is that one of the most mainstream Anime which came to an end this January after running for a legendary 8 years – Naruto – of which I’ve watched keenly every single one of over six hundred episodes, hides its face in shame over the powerful male to powerful female ratio of one thousand to just one. Don’t get me wrong; I love the show and have come to revere it as something truly divine because of its alluringly complex and multi-faceted male characters. But the fact that I can’t position myself in the shoes of any female character claws away at my heart. Ninety-five percent of Naruto’s female characters are merely two-dimensional, busty, and have no real persona.
My rants over this deeply saddening truth isn’t limited to just these instances: this disproportionate ratio spreads its ugly wings over umpteen other childhood classics such as Phineas and Ferb, Dexter’s Laboratory, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Shinchan, Doraemon, Kiteretsu, etc.
Most kids’ programmes today and since time immemorial don’t and haven’t passed a crucial benchmark – that of the Bechdel Test. The Bechdel Test was introduced in a comic strip in which the illustrated woman firmly states that she goes to watch movies that tick three boxes – one, the movie should have at least two women in it, two, who talk to each other and thee, when they do, their conversation revolves around something besides a man. This test has now been conducted on all genres of popular media, including kids’ TV shows. The inability of some of the most widely viewed shows on Indian TV to cross the mark - Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Thomas the Tank Engine, ChhotaBheem, Oggy and the Cockroaches – certainly throws light on the dishearteningly blatant underrepresentation and faulty portrayal of women.
In all my years of over-eager cartoon viewing, I’ve come across one show that ticks all my feminist boxes. I believe that this series delivers wholly to the diverse young audience, ‘diverse’ being the key word here, for this titillating and entertaining series and its equally riveting sequel leaves no stone unturned in making one feel truly at peace in all its aspects. And this heaven of a show that I so highly speak of is ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’, plus, its follow-up ‘The Legend of Korra’.
First things first, an unlimited range of well-rounded female characters, make it realistically well-rounded. There are female warriors, dancers, antagonist, housewives, police commissioners, princesses, queens, gymnasts, musicians, geniuses, the intellectually slow and the eye-candies – for there is no denying their existence either.
The sequel to Avatar, ‘The Legend of Korra’ caught many a viewer, parent and child alike, off guard, because the protagonist Korra was for one, female, two, had dark skin, and finally, was bisexual.
The last feature didn’t go down that well with Nickelodeon for reasons ever so evident and the show was pulled off primetime and instead, uploaded online.
This act of Nick’s was deemed outrageous by hoards of ardent fans across the world while, at the same time, creators of Avatar – Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, endearingly referred to as ‘Bryke’ by the ocean of a fandom, were lauded for their brave stand on feminism, racial equality and rights of the LGBT community.
Not only did this masterpiece of a cartoon break down barriers of taboo and misplaced stereotypes, it also dealt with a delicate issue with utmost care and empirical approach – that of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) gradual recovery from psychological trauma.
This show is articulated so very meticulously that it is in no way “too much gore” or “too intense” for young viewers. In fact, I insist that in order to evolve and blossom into socially responsible human being, every child must grow up watching both the series, for it encompasses greatly varied information as undertones to entertainment – from personality development to fighting off one’s demons, from the cruelty of dictatorship to the chaos of anarchy, from themes of meditation and salvation to those of war and unrest – and the list never ends. One could write and entire thesis on how the Avatar series is the quintessential educational programme of the twenty-first century. The stories so artistically woven really are legends, to be told and retold in all the years that lie ahead of us.
A handful of other animated television shows that have, if not equally yet scratched the surface of breaking stereotypes, include Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, the Powerpuff Girls, Hyouka and a few others. Anime like FMA: B have impacted millions of people across the world in ways indescribable.
Why can’t we have more such intricately designed and sensibly manoeuvred cartoon shows adorn children’s television? Why do baseless storylines of Doraemon and Oggy and the Cockroaches encroach upon the space meant for cartoons that wield the baton of knowledge and wisdom for the young, impressionable minds? Will there ever dawn an era where we the ‘fairer sex’ be portrayed realistically? All of us – young, old, thin, fat, the in-betweens, the dark-skinned, the light-skinned, the albinos, the handicapped, the voluptuous, the anorexic, the conflicted, the happy-go-lucky, the maniac, the depressed, the powerful, the simpletons, the over-achievers, the YOU’s, the I’s, the WE!
I await the day.
Author is a degree student. 

ETCETERA

When friendship is deeply meaningful

London: A single supportive close friendship can help young people from low-income background to thrive in challenging circumstances, says new research, reports LANS.
“Boys’ and girls’ best friendship are an important source of meaning and strength in the face of substantial adversity,” said lead researcher Rebecca Graber from University of Sussex in Britain.
Young people from low-income areas typically face substantial challenges to good physical health, mental health, academic achievement and employment.
Previous research has linked these challenges to involvement with peers and membership of larger friendship groups particularly among boys – but has not looked at whether young people’s best friendships, could positively contribute to resilience: self-reliance, a balanced perspective on life, and the ability to make meaning from difficult circumstances.
In the new study, the researchers surveyed 409 student aged between 11 and 19 from three schools and two colleges in Yorkshire serving catchment areas with poor socioeconomic status. The researchers found that both boys’ and girls’ best friendship facilitated effective ways of coping (such as planning, reframing an issue in a positive way and using emotional support) that helped them develop resilience to complex challenges.A significant gender difference also emerged: counter-intuitively, girls’ best friendship had a slight tendency to promote risky and ineffective ways of coping with adversity (such as self-blame and substance use), but boys’ best friendships did not. “Our research suggests that boys’ best friendships may be intimate, trustworthy and supportive, even as they face social pressures towards a stoic or macho masculinity,” Graber said. The research was published in the British Journal of Psychology.   

‘GARAM MASALA’ Burger in the U.S

Washington: A 9-year-old Indian-American girl who floored the Obamas by serving them a Quinoa burger with raita, enhanced with ‘garam masala’, cumin and ginger, won a chance to attend the Kids “State Dinner hosted by first lady Michelle, reports PTI.
Shreya Patel from Chicago was pleasantly surprised when US president Barak Obama came to her table during the kids State Dinner hosted at the White house. Accompanied by her mother Priti Patel, Shreya was the only Indian-American to have been invited by the First Lady for now what has become an annual event.The 55th participation to the Kids State Dinner were selected from a national Healthy Lunchtime Challenge. Nearly 1,000 kids had entered the competition this year. “I have watched my mom and grandma make all sorts of delicious food in the kitchen with an Indian twist since I was born,“  Shreya said.
“I have been helping them cook since I was three. I love to mix, measure, chop and even clean up afterwards,” she said.
“My grandma and I came up with this recipe together because we both love sandwiches. We make this recipe often to take to school for lunch or even on picnics with friends,“ Shreya added.
Though the dinner is hosted by the First lady, Obama has been making a surprise crash into the party every year. “I particularly am impressed with the Barackamole. So I’m expecting people to save me a little sampling of the Barackamole," he said amidst laughter. He said broccoli is his favorite vegetable. “I eat it all the time,“ Obama said. “You blew the judges away with your talent and creativity. You included fruits and veggies from every color of the rainbow in your recipes. You used all kinds of ingredients- Flax seed- do any of the adults even know what flax seed is? Cumin, and we have yellow miso paste that was included in one of the recipes- pretty sophisticated,” the First lady said in her remarks. One of the participant Dillon Andrews, 12, from Wyoming was invited for his Indian tacos. “When I was little, I lived in San Francisco, and was exposed to all sorts of culture and food," he said. The kids’ State Dinner is part of Michelle’s move to combat childhood obesity. Her “Let’s Move” initiative is 5-plus years old. After lunch, the winners got a tour of the first lady’s White House Kitchen Garden – to walk off the calories.

TEACHERS DAY

Meeting students is OK. But what about teachers!

Mumbai: Teachers welcomed ‘Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan to interact with school students a day ahead of Teacher’s Day but they want him to also address their concerns.
Modi will interact with Students in New Delhi for an hour-and-a-half, from 10am, like last year. The interaction will be telecast live for senior students at HVB Global Academy, Marine Drive, on Friday. “We had a staff picnic planned but now that is not happening. We will screen the students from grade IX to XII and over 150 staff members in the school hall. We will also record the interaction and show it to the other students on Monday,” said principal, Chandrakanta Pathak. It will be streamed live for over 500 students at Andheri’s Hansraj Morarji Public school.
While teachers said it was a great idea and schools are making arrangements for screening it for students, they want Modi to also take note of their problems. “The idea of the prime minister speaking to the students is very exciting. The students had enjoyed experience last year, but on Teacher’s Day, he could have instead spoken to the teachers. We have several problems that are not being addressed. It would have been great if we got a chance to voice our problems, “said Anil Deshmukh, general secretary, Maharashtra State Federation of Junior College Teacher’s Organization.
Many other teachers echoed this opinion. “Teachers do not get medical facilities on time, there is lack of educational resources and many other issues which we would want to discuss with the PM. Teachers are role model to the students. The PM should have interacted with them and encouraged them to stand up against corruption and other malpractices, so that there can be a positive influence on students,” said Rajesh Pandya, vice-president, teachers Democratic Front. The group plans to write to the PM,s office in this regard.
The interaction will be telecast live on Doordarshan and webcast too. Some sections felt the Centre was trying to force students to watch the speech live last year. Many schools had to alter exam timetables and other Teachers’ Day plans for the telecast but the mandatory tag was later pulled out.

SHIFTING PARADIGM

Tamil Parliamentarian  is  Lankan opposition leader

Colombo: Sri Lanka’s parliament named an ethnic minority Tamil politician as the main opposition leader for the first time in 32 years, a sign of growing reconciliation in the nation following the end of a bloody civil war.
The majority of the nation’s population belongs to the Sinhalse community and the minorities Tamils have alleged persecution by the government since the uprising of Tamil Tiger separatists three decades ago. 
Rajavarothiam Sampanthan, 83, head of Tamil National Alliance, is the first ethnic minority opposition leader since 1983, when Tamil legislators resigned en masse to protect against a law that compelled them to denounce separatism. Parliament’s speaker accepted Sampanthan as the main opposition leader after loyalists to former president Mahinda Rajapaksa were divided on whether they should support the government or be in opposition.
“We will oppose the government on all issues, where it is in the national interests to do so, “Sampanthan told parliament in his debut speech as opposition leader, “we will support the government on all issues, where such support is justified.” Sampanthan, a lawyer, was first elected to the Tamil parliament in 1977. His party, the former political proxy of the Tamil Tiger insurgents, backed Maithrypala Srisena in the January presidential election, defeating Rajapaksa.
The last government refused to acknowledge Tamils’ request to probe alleged war crimes during the final phase of the war. The UN last year passed a resolution calling for an international probe on the alleged human rights abuses. The outcome of the UN investigation will be released this month.  

SERIAL : 28

INDIAN IN COWBOY COUNTRY

TWO LINES

When Satish first came to the America, like any new immigrant to this country, he was given many telephone numbers of people from the old neighborhood who now lived in the U.S.
Vikas, a fifteen-year veteran of this country, living in Manhattan, was one of them. He had one piece of advice for him: “Don’t go changing your name to Sat or Stan. If this country can say Zbogniew Brzezininski, it can Satish, Heck, your name has two vowels in it, and recognizable syllables from the English language!” Zbigniew Brzezinski was the secretary of state in the Carter administration.
“Pardon,” exclaimed Quynh. “I don’t understand ‘speak news?”
“No, Zbigniew,” he said, It was too difficult to explain, so let it pass.
“You from Vietnam?” he asked as she turned on her clippers.
“Yes, “she said, again quite pleased. “How did you know?”
“Easy,” he said. “Your name is Vietnamese.”
“Yes. You say it so well, but most people find it so hard,” she complained.
“You know lot of Vietnamese people?”
“Yes,” he said. “Who does not, if you live long in Houston?”
“You live in Houston?”
“Eleven years. When did you come here?” he asked.
“Two years ago,” she said, and then the dam burst open.
She was born in Honoi, in North Vietnam. Her father had his own business, building boats. In the early eighties, she and her family left Vietnam in a boat, seeking a better life.
“I was nine year old, maybe ten. I don’t remember. One hundred and fifty people in a boat, for many days, no food, no water, all smelly and sick. One day we landed in Macao. You know Macao?”
“Yes,” he said. “Near Hong Kong. It was a Portuguese colony.”
“Yes, said Quynh. “We children go to villages to beg for food, to bring to big people. Children were good for begging for food,“ she said, pleased with her insight.
“Villagers gave food for a few days, weeks, maybe months, but soon they ask us to leave. We go back to the boat and leave Macao. Again, all smelly and sick and no food till we land in Hong Kong. My father, mother, and all of us sent to camp for Vietnamese refugees.
“I learn English there, “she added. She beamed when she said that. Then she cut quickly to how all of them were shipped back to Vietnam from Hong Kong, and her father went back to his boat-building business. Soon she got her visa to come to the U.S. “But only my mother and I come to the U.S. with my brother.”
“Your brother? Where did he come from?” he asked.
“Yes, I have a four-year old brother. He was born in Vietnam,” she said. “I work to take care of my mother and brother.”
Quynh had a slight smile, or so he imagined when he saw her face in the mirror. It was that slight smile of being in the moment, of being aware and happy as she went about cutting his hair. He sensed that she knew that she was better off at that moment than she ever was before. When she was done, he gave her a handsome tip.
With images of sick Vietnamese boat people, a child begging in the villages of Macao, and refugee camps in Hong Kong still swirling in his mind, Satish stepped into the neighborhood’s giant grocery store. Usually this errand was a pleasure, but today it was soaked with irony. He grabbed a basket and made his way to the deli, where women and men wearing transparent plastic caps and latex gloves were helping other customers.
He politely took a position in front of the counter, glancing around at the people who were ahead of him in this informal line. There was no organized line; just people scattered along the length of the deli counter, some peering into the glass enclosure that displayed a variety of cold cuts, cheeses, and refrigerated products. Quynh and the irony persisted as he joined the curious crowd and began walking up and down the display while keeping tabs on his relative position.
Before it was his turn to respond to the query, “who is next in line?” he was tempted by the tabouli salad in the window. A helpful assistant offered him a plastic spoonful sample of the salad, and she closed the sale.
“Half a pound of that tabouli salad, please,” he found himselfsaying. The assistant went on to say how it was her favorite salad. She poured out a little more than half a pound and said, “It’s a little more; would you like me to remove some?”
“No,” he said. A spoonful more would not hurt. As she packed the salad and put a price sticker on it, he remembered, thankfully, the original mission that brought him to this counter.
“Will that be all?” asked the cheerful deli assistant.
“No, I’d like half a pound of pepper jack cheese, please,” he said. “The same brand.”
She disappeared and came back holding an almost translucent slice.
“Is this Okay?” she asked.
“No, a little thicker, please.”
She disappeared again and came back with thicker, more acceptable slices.
Again she said, “It’s a little more; would you like me to remove a slice?”
“No,” he responded, but he was beginning to see pattern here. “A little more” was about 10 percent more than he had requested.
Before he could mentally compute what 10 percent of everything sold in the deli would amount to, and its impact on the obesity of the local population, not to mention the store’s cash flow, he remembered that he had to buy multigrain bread. So he went to the bakery section and pulled from a special display stack a loaf of “whatever low-fat multigrain bread is on sale.”
Next, he stopped at the dairy section without getting distracted or tempted by hundreds of food items that were on his path to buying milk. He remembered a sage professor from his executive MBA program saying, “Always place the dairy section at the far end of a grocery store, so customers can see other items in the store. Every customer needs milk and dairy products, so use those as magnets to draw customers through the store so that they can make impulse or other purchases.”
“Hah!” he thought as he made his way to the dairy section with singular focus, not even sneaking a glance at his favorite jalapeno potato chips that were strategically positioned on his route.
He grabbed a gallon of milk-2 percent fat, store brand, of course-and rushed past the tempting ice section to the “less than five items” checkout counter. He paid cash to the clerk, and when he was ready to dart to his car, he heard a voice call out his name.
It was “Harry,” his Sikh friend Harbhajan, who had Americanized his name for Texans. He had migrated to the U.S. during the Reagan era, and had not heard the Zbigniew Brzezinski story from Vikas. Harry had a large load of groceries, his cart brimming with basic supplies and more.
“Looks like you just moved into a new house and you’re stocking up your refrigerator and pantry,” Satish said.
Harry’s face fell as he said, “We just came back from Mumbai. We had a death in the family.”
“I am so sorry to hear that, Harry,” Satish said. His voice dropped from its former ebullient tone, greeting a good friend, to a softer one, empathetic and sympathetic to the loss he had suffered.
“My nephew, my sister’s son suddenly passed away,” Harry added, with tears brimming this Sikh’s eyes.
As he dropped his face to conceal the tears, Satish reached out and patted his back.
“Oh God, Harry,” he said. “This is the worst loss we can face in life. The death of a child. Come, sit here for a moment,” Satish said as he guided the visibly shaken man to a nearby bench.
At that moment, it did not matter to him that he was in the U.S., in suburban Sugar Land, Texas, as he held Harry and led him to a nearby bench. He could sense that many people watched curiously the unusual sight of one Indian man holding another, but his friend’s grief was intense. He sat next to him, consoling him the best he could.
Harry sad, “He was only twenty, doing so well at medical college so bright and successful, so responsible, and so full of joy and happiness.
“Every parent should be blessed with a child like that. I wish the whole world had children like my nephew, but suddenly he is gone. He went into a coma-no one knows why-and then, a few days later, he was gone!”
“My sister is still inconsolable. I tried to tell her that she had a perfect son for twenty full years, and most people don’t have that for a lifetime. She enjoyed him all these years.”
“But a mother’s sadness and grief is simply beyond words. I stayed with her as long as I could. But I could not console my sister. What use is a brother if he cannot help his sister at a time like this? Only God and time can help.”
Then he turned to his groceries, “Look at the cart. I can feed a whole village in India for a week,” he proclaimed.
“Or a boat full of Vietnamese refugees,” Satish thought.
“You bought only milk, cheese, bread. And this green stuff?” Harry asked.
“Tabouli salad,” he replied.
Harry abruptly got up, composed himself, and asked, “So, Satish, are we going to help some candidates win some city council elections this year, or what?”
“Yes, of course,” he said, attempting to march the regained enthusiasm in his friend’s voice.
Grabbing his hand and pumping it, Harry said, “Thanks, my friend.” He turned to his cart and rushed out of the store, the automatic door opening barely in time to let him and his cart through.
When Satish reached home and emptied his grocery bags’ contents on the kitchen counter, Monica noticed the container with tabouli salad and examined it closely.
“You paid $3.25 for just this much salad?” she asked in a voice tinged with a combination of incredulity and disappointment. “Half of this is water!
“I don’t know why I spend so much time looking for coupons and saving money, and I don’t know why I send you to the grocery store. All you do is buy useless stuff and waste money.” She put the accursed plastic container in the refrigerator with a thud of displeasure, Seeta briefly looked puzzled. She wondered, for an instant, why her mother was so upset but went back to play with her toys on the kitchen floor.
Normally, Satish would have reacted to his wife’s well-intended criticism and leaped into a rebuttal, arguing that, occasionally, he was allowed to make some impulsive purchase. Instead, he said nothing. He sat still as a slight, almost invisible smile of awareness crept across his face.
He thought about Harry’s loss, Joe’s layoff and Quynh’s life when a phrase from his native Tamil, “Iru Kodugal,” crossed his mind. It literally meant “two lines,” but was commonly used to convey two unequal lines, one long and one short. The phrase was the idiomatic equivalent of, “I cried because I had no shoes, until I saw a man who had no feet!”
Satish picked up Seeta from the floor and hugged her warmly. With his daughter in his arms, he went over to his displeased wife, embraced her affectionately and whispered in her ear, “I love you!”
Monica wondered why he was acting so strange and pushed him away gently after she tenderly whispered back, “So do I, but next time don’t waste money!”