Saturday, November 7, 2015

EDITOR'S COLUMN

Friends
Looking back over the shoulder, at the road traversed, has its own sense of joy and the stillness of those haunting memories of trials and tribulations. We have just completed a major milestone at No: 15. Fifteen years that have gone-by, has no-doubt tried our spirit of endurance. But that has only made us stronger to face the future with fortitude.

It has been a year since we have lost our dear MV Kamath, our friend, philosopher and guide. We do miss his benevolent presence. But then what can’t be cured has to be endured. So life goes on.

The completion of 15th year has also changed our subscription profile. Paid readership has seen overall improvement, but not very encouraging, also those patrons who supported us initially shall be due for renewal on completion of 15 years. Hope they all will renew.

15th Annual issue was released by Prof BM Hegde, our editorial board member and former Vice Chancellor of Manipal University along with Dr Ronald Fernandese, President of Mangalore Press Club & Bureau Chief of  Deccan Herald & Dr Ravishankar Rao, Prof & Head of Deptt. of English, Mangalore University. A report is appearing in following pages.

We also had organized an intercollegiate elocution competition for degree students, to mark the completion of 15th year. This has been a regular exercise since last many years. The topic of elocution was “Human Development Index, what went wrong with India?”. A report on this too is appearing in the pages following.

November is the usual month of festival of lights in India. DEEPAVALI, represents light over darkness, of victory over evil. In the public space, lot of dark spots had appeared all through the past 12 months. The new government is in place since last some 18 months. Although no scam has cropped up, not much of development has been seen in the traditional front. However, there have been initiatives of newer kind both nationally and internationally. Will the coming years see better days as the government talks about ‘achche din’! One has to wait & see.

As usual Month-in-Perspective has covered what could be covered within the space constraints. Cow slaughter ban, heightened controversy of beef eating has led to violent protests in different parts of the country. In U.P it found its worst expression of most inhuman kind. A group of people, allegedly lynched a man in his fifties, for allegedly slaughtering cow, storing and eating cow meat. That was most dastardly and unacceptable, by any standard. There was national condemnation of the incident. We have tried to take up the issue of Cow, the most docile but beneficial animal to the human kind, and its socio-economic dimension. Since there are many diverse emotional issues involved with cow, we tried to discuss it from a more egalitarian standpoint to present a balanced view point. Hope readers, discernible that they are, shall find it interesting. Rest of the issues are as usual. Kindly do revert with your input.    

MONTH-IN-PERSPECTIVE

NEW DELHI: Since last fortnight or so, media is, almost on a daily basis, coming up with stories of literacy awards being returned by recipients. This is sequel to the alleged attack on litterateurs, especially post Kannada writer Prof Kalaburgi’s killing so also the alleged acts of violence on minorities and the alleged non-response of authorities (read Modi).
We are a democracy alright, but we are a democracy for the haves and have nots are involved only on the voting day. And those who can talk or act, do it when they think they should. Fair enough. But are they victims of some set pattern of thinking! And media, being media, has its own agenda of promoting one set against the other.
Objectivity was always the victim of this hype. Hence truth was not available in the public space. There were many who went with the awardees logic of returning the award and there were those who questioned their motive and its futility to convey the intended message.
And here comes the controversial Bangladeshi writer, living in India, Taslima Nasreen. It could be true that since she stood up to the Muslim fundamentalism in her country and had to escape to the safety of India, Indians have welcomed her. But here too Muslim fundamentalists have tried to disturb her life, even violently at times. But the government of the day, anywhere in India, except Left government in West Bengal, did protect her. Other day, she expressed her views on growing intolerance in India among both Muslims and Hindus. Post ‘Awards Return’, campaign she is back again. According to her, Indian writers practice double standard and their secularism in largely anti-Hindu.
Is she wrong? Probably not, because most Indian writers suffer from some kind of weird mental block. If Muslims or Christians are protesting, these writers are either quite or take their side. If Hindus are protesting, these writers and their friends in media go to town to cry hoarse as if India is going to balkanize when no such thing is happening. Indeed they do suffer from the selective response in the public space. Even this ‘award returning’, is only to target the central government like Arvind Kejriwal is trying to blame Modi and his government for the law & order problem of Delhi. It is eminently possible for ‘His Excellency’ the Chief Minister of Delhi to call on the Police Chief of Delhi, who is reporting to the Lt. Governor, and discuss with all seriousness how to tackle the menace of assault on small girls. Only thing is, he has to get down from his ivory tower, and I am sure, instead of crying hoarse on ‘who is wrong’, both can sit down and discuss ‘what is wrong’, the issue can be tackled head-on. Similarly if these awardees who have returned their awards, more as a reaction, should meet and debate how the issue can be addressed rationally, without emotions for the larger good of society as a whole, without any blame game. Hope wisdom dawns on all. Didn’t the Mahatma say “Eashwar Allah Tero Naam Sabko Sanmathi Dey Bhagawaan”!

That the government in India either at the Centre or at the State is barking up the wrong tree, was never in doubt. Or else India despite 68 years of post independent developmental planning in redistributive exercise, with 12 Five Year plans, would not have ended up at 138 among some 180 countries in its Human Development Index.
Two reports in the print media on 21st Oct.2015 in the Indian Express has just exposed our sense of priorities. On the top of Business Page was “Govt. promises to resolve concerns of FPI” and the other was “MS rues scant attention to Farm Sector at Ground level”. Here FPI meant ‘Foreign Portfolio Investors’ and MS meant M. Swaminathan, the Father of India’s Green Revolution.
First report from New Delhi on FPI, it said, “Government will address tax concerns of Foreign Portfolio Investors and will consider suggestions made by them”. The statement was attributed to the Economic Affairs Secretary in the Ministry of Finance.
The second report was from Washington. Mr. M.  Swaminathan was interacting after his presentation at the Centre for Strategic & International Studies in Washington. He lamented that ‘the agriculture is not receiving the necessary attention in India and mentioned how public policy works on achieving zero hunger target, and that in India concerns have been raised about the new government's priorities despite at times appropriate noises.’
Coming on the same day, and FPI appearing on the top and ‘Farm Sector neglect’ appearing lower is an indication of even the media-mindset. Only the powerful make noise and they are heard. For the powerless it’s a cry in the wilderness. No wonder, in India rich always become richer and poor, poorer. Government runs after FDI to please international business community while neglecting our own strength and not attempting to sustain it leading to poor HDI. Indeed FDI cannot and will not bring about better HDI. But alas! Will the government hear!  

Arvind Kejriwal is trying to be in the news at all times. 10th Oct. newspapers carried the news of Asim Ahmed Khan, a minister in AAP Delhi government being sacked for corruption. Reportedly Arvind sacked him in public, in a live press conference. Reportedly he had conducted a sting on the minister in conversation with a builder demanding some Rs. 6 Lakhs.
While taking action against the minister for demanding bribe is correct, but the way he went about this sacking of the minister was clearly a show off. Because in the same press conference, he challenged BJP to do likewise in Rajasthan, in Madhya Pradesh and against Sushma Swaraj in Lalit Modi case etc. So, it was very clearly cheap dramatics to portray that Kejriwal and his AAP will not ‘tolerate’ corruption. Like BJP spokes man called it “Kejriwal is making an event of the sacking”.
Slowly, whether anybody likes it or not, there is an element of megalomania emerging out of him, which, if not checked, can be his undoing. He has a tendency of always attacking the centre, especially Modi, for all the ills of Delhi administration. Modi is the Prime Minister of the country and certainly far higher unlike Kejriwal who is the Chief Minister of only a tiny half state. Yet, the noise he makes is almost like Modi. However there is one common factor between the two, they like to see themselves as news makers, in the middle of photographs. Just a few weeks ago, reportedly Delhi govt. spent some Rs. 1.5 crore on full page advertisement in all major English and Hindi newspapers, only to rubbish a news report in a popular Hindi T.V. channel which mentioned of a scandal in the sale of onions by the Delhi government. Point was, the government. was in the dock anyway was not the issue, but the waste of public money for purely the reasons of ego. Isn’t  Arvind Kejriwal is the one who provided (for the Delhi government) Rs. 526 crores per annum advertisement budget raised from a modest Rs. 26 crores, all to market himself? A paper even called him “A law into himself”
   
“No reasonable human being definitely not a Hindu man, can ever look upon his wife as a child-bearing machine”. The above reported remark was attributed to one Bal Mukund, the head of Akhil Bharatiya Itihas Sankalan Yojana (ABISY), an RSS affiliate. This is probably the sanest statement from any right thinking individual, especially in the context of jokers like Sakshi Maharaj, Sadhwi Prachee and Praveen Togadia, who are also from Hindu organizations.
Indeed, any sane person, who is a responsible human being would ever want his wife to be a child-bearing machine. All the more so, in a democratic society like India, where growing population has its own huge socio-economic ramifications, to end up having more than two, say 4, 6, or more is to seriously violate the human rights of the woman in question. Of course, in India, there is a section, belonging to all religious affiliations, who just produce children-left, right and centre-without reference to their ability to look after their social wellbeing. They cannot provide them good education health and nutrition, essential for growing as a responsible citizen.
Especially in the context of the recent population report published, indicating higher population growth among Muslims and the apprehension of a section of Hindus that Hindus can be reduced to a status of minority in coming decades, the stand taken by RSS that they will not encourage the population growth is not merely very sensible it throws light on their sense of proportion and sense of national citizenship.

‘End of the road for Don Chota Rajan’ was the print media news on the fugitive underworld king. Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje, alias Mohan Kumar alias Chota Rajan (CR) was on the run, away from the Indian laws for over 2 decades. Reportedly he was on a flight from Sydney to Bali. Acting on Interpol notice authorities in Australia tipped off authorities in Indonesia, that CR was travelling as Mohan Kumar. He was arrested on arrival. Of course, those who live as fugitive mostly do not end up as fugitive, they do get caught, if those who should act, does so in all earnestness. Of course Ottavio Quottrochi died a fugitive since those who should have acted to nab him didn’t act, or rather they facilitated his remaining a fugitive from Indian laws.
Now that the Don has been caught, there are all kinds of interpretations. ‘He has surrendered himself’, there could be an agreement between the Indian police and th Don, hence 'could have been caught’. He wanted to save himself and hence allowed himself to be caught. These and some more unsolicited explanation shall keep coming in the context of competitive politics of India.
The following day the news paper headline was, 'Rajan Caught, now its Dawood’s turn'. Surely all law enforcement authorities in India would like to think that its as easy as it was with CR. But the fact that Dawood is under Pakistani official protection, it’s not going to be easy to get hold of him. But get hold, has to be. How he can be caught should workup the authorities. May be Israelis can guide us. Now that Narendra Modi is slated to travel to Tel Aviv, some inputs can be worked out.
Crime controllers in Mumbai are aware that CR and Dawood after having worked together are now working to annihilate each other. It was in 2005, sometime in August, that a plan to eliminate Dawood was hatched with the help of CR and his men. But the mole in Mumbai police, reportedly Sub Inspector Aslam Momin, derailed the plan by arresting CR and his men. Now that CR is arrested and likely to be with the Indian authorities shortly, all intelligence on Dawood can be collated to the work on hand. Hope the CR saga can be used to the advantage for a larger cause.  

BIHAR: It’s all out war in Bihars. Prime Minister Modi appears to be on a long term election mode. It is as if, ‘if he is not travelling abroad then he is at an election rally’. His attack appears to be no holds barred. He is using his gift of gab, which none of the Prime Ministers of the past had, to the NDA advantage. But will it really be advantageous or prove antagonistic in the ultimate analysis! All political leaders try to mudsling at opponents, especially during election time, some may stick and some may not stick. But the bad taste can linger. As a Prime Minister of the country, his responsibility at a sense of proportion is far higher than say Nitish Kumar or Lalu Prasad. Hence, his no holds barred attack on all and sundry, especially Nitish & Lalu can have the Bihari voters on defensive and therefore, at least to some extent, can lead to negative voting.
Coming to Nithish Kumar, all Indians are privy to the fact that, he has done better than, 15 years' misrule of Lalu and his wife. There is therefore an element of trust Biharis repose in Nitish administration. That is expected to influence at the hustings. But his association with Lalu Prasad has certainly dented such possibility. This is what Modi is exploiting. Of course, as this goes for printing, most of the state election would have been over with a small portion remaining pending. From the survey of the poll scene, it appears mixed fortune for both sides. It is difficult to wager who would make it to the seat of power. May be Nitish Kumar deserves to be given a chance, since he is one of the few Chief Ministers who scored better than many in the shifting development dynamics. Of course, it is left entirely to the Biharis to decide their fate vis-à-vis the newly elected government. However there is a bit of lacunae in the home work of Modi / NDA camp. The infamous Chaara Ghotaala involving Lalu Prasad had an unlikely beneficiar, which has remained out of media hype and beyond the radar of CBI and the like. It is strange but true. A key witness in the scam, in a sworn affidavit, had stated that a sizeable amount was given to the President of Samata Party. Chief of Samata in Bihar was Nitish kumar. Thus the fodder money loot has benefitted Nitish too. Legally even donation to charity or other social causes from stolen money is illegal and therefore beneficiaries too are subjected to criminal proceedings. Nitish is lucky nobody briefed Modi about it.

MAHARASHTRA: Indeed Sena blackened its own face when it painted the face of former LK Advani aide Sudheendra Kulkarni, with black paint. And they called it democratic, historic, mild, non-violent and other nonsensical adjectives. It may have its educated interlocutors, but it also has its unruly mob. Sure, they have problem with Pakistanis playing cricket in India. It may be accepted since even BCCI seem to have supported so far, for the political compulsions. But to attack a person only for joining hands for a book release, only because the other person was a Pakistani, it is the height of intolerance and there can be no justification. Law must be enforced to arrest all those hooligans who attacked Kulkarni. Even the president of Shiv Sena, Uddhav Thackray has to be summoned by the police. He should be admonished and probably even warned of the consequences of such hooliganism.
Of course, it is to some extent, the failure of the government in Sachivalaya headed by Davendra Fadanavis, to  control its trouble maker ally. Ever since, Sena has lost its face, when it lost to BJP in number game in the last assembly election and BJP formed government without its support, Sena has been playing truant, to assert itself.
It may be true that the book launch went ahead despite the incident of Kulkarni episode, but fact remains, unless the government of the day acts with firmness to call the bluff of its boorish ally and tries to give it a piece of advice to behave, association may be in jeopardy.
The leader of Shiv Sena, which is more a family entity, is a person without any vision for his party, or Maharashtra. BJP has to tell Shiv Sena, that they are not the only protector of interest of Maharashtrians, but BJP is as much its protector. They have enough men to say and prove it and Shiv Sena has to be shown its place. Only then Mumbai can become truly cosmopolitan.

Andhra Pradesh: For N number of years, our political class, bubudom and experts were talking about river linking to do away with water shortage, drought and flooding in some places. The Deccan in particular, comprising of north east Karnataka, south east Maharashtra and portion touching these two areas with Andhra Pradesh, have always suffered from water shortage from times before independence. In 68 years that have gone by, except suffering by the locals, nothing concrete long term efforts have been initiated, to mitigate the hardship of people.
In the above back drop, the initiative in formally linking Godavari & Krishna is extremely good news, with the ambitious object of making the state “drought free”.
Reportedly Godavari water from west Godavari district is already flowing into the Krishna basin in Krishna district to divert it to the parched Rayalaseema region. It was formally interlinked at the Ibrahimpatnam Ferry village, located some 20 km from Vijayawada. This interlinking of rivers fulfills a long cherished dream of farmers of Krishna & Guntur districts. According to Parakala Prabhakara, Advisor to Andhra Pradesh Government, this project shall be helpful in storing about 300 TMC of water in various tanks and reservoirs and the stored water would be useful in the event of a monsoon failure to ensure, state becomes drought-proof. Hope the vision of Chandra Babu Naidu becomes a model for the entire country.

A news report datelined Kadapa, in Andhra Pradesh said “Dravid’s experience boon for youngsters”. This was attributed to the manager of Indian ‘A’ Cricket Team, M.V. Siva Reddy. A cricket buff and a member of the BCCI information technology sub-committee, Reddy was reminiscing his association with the Indian ‘A’ team as manager, where Rahul Dravid was the coach. “Associating with Indian team and working with Coach Rahul Dravid was fantastic. It was once in a life time experience. We can find a keen observer and adviser in Dravid who can do lot of good to the Indian cricket in the years to come” was his considered opinion.
Indeed, but for the politics of cricket administration and his own desire to under play himself, Rahul Dravid could have been at the helm of affairs at Karnataka Cricket Association if not in BCCI. Now that Sourabh Ganguli has become the president of West Bengal Cricket Association, courtesy Mamata Didi, the West Bengal Chief Minister, there are reports suggesting that this in the first step to take over BCCI.
No doubt Ganguli was a successful captain but he is ambitious like many other cricketers of his time. Some are after power and some are after money. But Rahul Dravid is not after either. It was Jack Kallis who spoke in endearing terms on Rahul Dravid as an exemplary cricketer, a fine gentleman of the gentleman’s game. Rahul Dravid deserves national recognition. Probably to begin with he should be made the Chairman of Selection Committee. He can do wonder. Hope some such things happen.

Karnataka: Some time ago, there was this report in the print media “Raichur Loses its Much- loved Leader”. It was informing about the death of Devadurga Congress MLA Venkatesh Naik, who died in a freak train accident involving Bangalore Nanded Express. The report described the MLA as soft spoken leader and was known for his simplicity, and that he was 81 years old and a very admired figure. I&C pray for his soul to rest in eternal peace. But what intrigued I&C was, he was an M.P for four terms from Raichur, and presently an MLA representing a part of the same parliamentary constituency. And the parliamentary constituency is represented by none other than his eldest son B.V.Naik. The report also informed that his second son Rajashekar Naik is the president of Raichur District Co-operative Central Bank (RDCCB). Thus it is very clear that the writ of this Venkatesh Naik family runs through the length and breadth of Raichur.
In all probability, the report appeared in a section of the press and forgotten, and life must have gone back to normal for the general public, or those thousands of admirers of the man, from Devadurga taluk and surrounding areas.
But quite frankly, why media failed to see the promotional starkness of family fiefdom of one individual. This so-called gentleman politician was MP for 4 terms that is 20 years, and continued his ‘service to the country’ by becoming an MLA, but he ensured the continuity of his hegemony by ‘relinquishing’ his M.P seat in favour of his eldest son, and not any other son of the soil of some other congressmen, while promoting and protecting family financial interest by making his 2nd son the president of RDCCB. So that the family can get a lasting place in the psyche of Raichur as the ‘servants of people’ while continuing to promote and protect only one family tree, just like our present President of India, besides so many others in this Son Rise Industry among the political class of this country.

Kerala: Oct. 18, 2015, issue of THE WEEK from Kochi had carried on its cover, cricketer turned businessman turned politician turned football promoter Sachin Tendulkar. The week had used 18 pages of its ‘Journalism with human touch’ in describing his evolution. Quite frankly, for us at I&C, it was a magnificent waste. May be we are wrong and biased, but who is Sachin Tendulkar? He is a mere cricketer, who only chased personal record with ‘willow & the red cherri’ and his advertisement revenue, besides interest in up-market food outlets. Serving the country, which he always claimed, was way below, in his priorities. One striking aspect of the magazine’s 18 page ‘magnum opus’ was, there was no mention of ‘Bharath Ratna’ award to him. May be, like millions of Indians you too agree that it was an insult to the hallowed ‘Bharat Rathna’ when it was awarded to him for purely political reasons, on the recommendations of Sharad Pawar. So was, his being made the Rajya Sabha MP, and Bal Thackray, one of Tendulkar’s high profile neighbour, had called it a ‘joke’. Hence, unless it was an attempt to glorify him as a marketing gimmick, no apparent reason was seen. After all great Indian public has its own funny ways of voting for the best man. Rajdeep Sardesai, the TV anchor, had in his wisdom, some years ago, selected 100 greatest Indians after Mahatma, and through some ‘intellectuals’’ intervention pruned it to 50 and then to 10 and asked our Great Indian Public (GIP) to vote on the net. And they voted. At the bottom was, believe it or not, Lata Mangeskar, the Indian nightingale, with just 20 votes, graduating further was Indira Gandhi with 49 votes, Nehru with 57 votes, JRD Tata was with 102 votes at 7, and Mother Theresa was at 6 with 168 votes. And the ‘Ripley’s believe it or not’ at 5th place, with a whopping 309 votes, was this cricketer, turned businessman turned politician turned football promoter Sachin Tendulkar. Indeed this is Yeh Mera India. Of course, it is another matter, that India’s tallest Prime Minister, the diminutive Lal Bahadur Shastri, who probably died of poisoning (by whom?) was neither in Sardesai’s 100, which had likes of Rajanikant & separatist Phizo & other worthies, nor included by the ‘intellectuals’ in that pruned list of 50. Was it a reflection of intellectual impoverishment of not just our GIP but also the so called intellectuals?!
And THE WEEK has not covered itself with glory, by glorifying Tendulkar. Yes you may have sold more copies, and at the end of the day, that is what matters, isn’t it!
   World: The barbaric episode of a domestic helper’s hand being chopped off by her Saudi Arabian employer has to be condemned in no uncertain terms. Whatever be the provocation, but to chop off a hand of a defenseless female servant is most reprehensible. In fitness of things, India reacted rather very angrily terming “This is unacceptable”.
According to the family sources of the Indian woman in question, “her right hand was chopped off by her employer when she tried to escape harassment and torture”. Reportedly Indian embassy has taken it up in right earnest by seeking an independent probe and demanding that an attempted murder charge be lodged against the employer. Hope something positive shall happen in giving justice to the victim. However what was most disturbing was the reported fact that the woman from Tamil Nadu is 55 years of age, and that back home the family is dependent on her earnings. Report informed that she is having a son who may be more than 30 years of age.
The question is, how an elderly lady in her mid fifties could be travelling to a country like Saudi Arabia, which has a pathetic record of human rights when it comes to domestic female helpers! Besides, if there is a grown up son in the family, how can they be dependent to the salary of his old mother! And the AIADMK government of Jayalalitha is a pro people government with her many of the ‘Amma’ schemes. Indeed, the desire for ‘lucre’ is a human weakness which, if not carefully controlled can lead to disasters. And Saudi Arabia is certainly not a place for single defenseless women.  

There was this news "Nepal as the world knows, is an impoverished land locked country. Its population is mostly aligned with Maoism; has not helped with the stability for growth. It is a highly politicized crowd with its leadership suffering from one-up man ship. Despite long years of freedom from the Kings’ shenanigans things are very unsettled in the country. After the devastating earthquake ruined the country’s landscape and economy, the govt. had asked the international agencies and other foreign countries to stop the supply of aid for reasons of national pride etc.
However, for the purpose of post- quake reconstruction, an Indian NGO, Bharathiya Jain Sanghatna (BJS) wanted to build 100 health posts for primary medical assistance. Reportedly BJS has pulled out of Nepal, citing ‘harsh’ terms and conditions and the authorities in Nepal have refused to relax those conditions. But what were those ‘harsh’ conditions? BJS termed it “Way too lavish.” According to them, Nepalese Ministry of Health & Planning had guidelines laid down, made it an insurmountable challenge to complete the project. All that the authorities in Nepal wanted was, a) granite finish,  b) heating,  c) ventilation and air conditioning systems. And, did we say, Nepal is a poor country! The message probably was, “If giving, give it top class. So what if it’s charity!”

When you have freedom without the sense of responsibility you surely do not deserve freedom. ‘Briton jailed for checking FaceBook while Son drowned’, was a news datelined London. Joshua Barnett, all of two years old child, slipped into a pond full of water, while playing in the garden at his home in Beverley, East Yorkshire. And his mother Claire Barnett was busy checking her Facebook, while the child was sinking into the pond. She clearly was more into her FB than to her toddler son. It was a clear case of neglect.
Court, while passing the verdict of guilty and sentencing her for 5 years in prison said “Your son died due to your neglectful conduct. You will have to live with that for the remainder of your life. For a parent to be, as you did, amounts to bad parenting. You pose very serious risk to any child for whom you might have responsibility.”
It was indeed very heart rending for a small child of 2 years to die so miserably. It is sad too for a mother to lose her child and then be imprisoned for the criminal neglect. But it does hold out lesson for all adults, to be responsible for their wards, safety under all circumstances, in spite of our obsession and weakness for material attractions. Whatever a person is involved in doing or attending, the child under your charge has to be within your comprehensive eye sight at all times, while allowing child its freedom to play safely. That’s the bottom line.

What They Said

I read at least half a dozen periodicals but none of them as frank and bold like “ISSUES & CONCERNS”.
Many hidden and unheard news items to know. This makes me to understand that the Editor and his team are well read and informed on day to day happenings around the Globe. I also admire the frankness and advice of Prof. B.M. Hegde in his articles particularly in respect of Medical Profession and Multinational Pharma Companies. In the September 2015 issue on Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, the People’s President, the Missile Man and a fitting man to receive Bharat Ratna country's highest award, is apprecialted.
Wishing Good luck to you and your entire team of ISSUES & CONCERNS.
Ambrose A Monis, Mumbai, via email.

Dear All Ardent Readers of the Issues and Concern.
It is indeed a triumph of personal endeavours to achieve what ordinary mortals like me cannot even dream to tread.
Shri Shriyan has achieved an important milestone in his journey to create an awareness about the real problems which has besieged India over the past Fifteen long years. I have been one of those bystanders who has kept an incredible distance and not been a part of his endeavour to create such awareness.
I have been reading his articles but not really contributing in any way to help him make his journey easier. 
I congratulate him for his grit and determination to carry out the work he has taken on for the last Fifteen years, I read his Editor's Column without fail and his Month in Perspective is truly an insight and trip to all the happenings in around all the States/UTs of India. Shri Shriyan touches the most core issues be of poverty, human bondage, corruption, health, barbarism, nepotism, negligence etc...you name it...its there.
I appeal to all the fraternity who read ISSUES & CONCERNS to please spread the good word and the work being carried out by Shri Shriyan relentlessly.
May God Bless him with good health and spirits to carry on this agenda which is very close to his heart.
Venkatesh Shriyan, Mumbai,  via email


Kudos! Hats off! for the magnificent completion of 15 long years of non-stop publication of this epoch making periodical ISSUES & CONCERNS. Being a reader for over 10 years, it has been an extremely satisfying journey into a unique world of letters. Despite plethora of news material available on the news stand, I&C has tried to deflect the reader from routine news and views to a silent  reflection on ISSUES, we face & Concerns we ought to have. Like a reader had put it long ago “Any one take up issues. It takes immense courage to take up issues as your own and address them, because they concern you”. I salute the people behind the bold venture for taking issues head-on without fear or favour. This magazine is undoubtedly “be the change you want to see in the world”. Its editorial in the older format and the current Month-in-Perspective is a great reading material. It is indeed an insightful effort in journalism. Wish it grows from strength to strength.
Placid Faria, Hyderabad.    

FOCUS

COW: What is @ stake?

Is there a scope for Give & Take!

In the context of human civilization, cow has always been an animal which gave milk, which in turn helped us produce different products like butter etc. These have been the single most important sources of proteins for humans. There isn’t therefore, any dispute on this utilitarian aspect of cow-across the human spectrum. But it is also true that man in his masculine superiority always usurped things, which truly speaking not his. In this case, the milk that cow has, is the rightful claim of its calf, but man being man, in his terms of trade, denied this claim of calf and usurped it all for himself and his people.
Of course, this arrangement of complete subjugation of cow and calf to the demands of man, is from the beginning of co-habitation of man and other domestic animals. No question asked.
Besides the milk and its allied products, cow was reduced to the palate at the dining table, largely because it is a cheaper source of protein.
While there is enough printed materials available singing paen about the food value of milk and its bye products, there is an open ended debate about the negatives and positives of consuming cow meat, which is also known as beef.
It is true that beef is a cheap source of protein for human consumption. But it is also true that it is not recommended as an ideal food for its negative health effects. High amounts of coagulants are found in cow meat that thickens the blood, hampering normal functioning and leading to cardiovascular diseases. Therefore question is, because it is a cheap source of protein, especially for poor, can you afford to suffer the possible cardiovascular ailments?!
Thus it makes a prima facie case for non-consumption of cow meat or beef. Of course the choice is entirely left to the individual to make, whether to consume beef or not.
Public space has following information, available to all, which talks about 7 reasons to avoid beef.
Reason 1: Beef may increase Alzheimer’s Disease Risk
Reason 2: Beef can cause Cardiovascular diseases.
Reason 3: Beef can increase the risk of Colon Cancer.
Reason 4: Beef consumption can lead to type 2 diabetes.
Reason 5: Mad cow disease is one of the possible, to attack those consuming beef.
All the above 5 reasons listed can apply to all individuals or most individuals in varying degrees depending upon the quantity consumed. It affects mostly those who eat beef on, more or less, regular basis. It may not affect those who eat once in a way. But then again, it depends on each one’s physical composition.
The remaining 2 more reasons are 
1) Like all food items, even beef may not be of the same quality of olden days, when pollution and use of hormones were unknown. Thus the present quality of beef may be carrying all kinds of chemicals from the air, from water and injectables. Hence beef available now may be carriers of increased risk of health hazards.
2) Cow is considered a nice animal in all societies. All humans must have consumed cow’s milk at some point in their life, and therefore there is a feeling in most societies not to harm it.
Of course there is a huge amount of meat export industry which claims to export only buffalo meat. Strangely, why cow meat and buffalo meat cannot be equated, is not known. Buffalo too, like cow, gives milk and its meat too has same harmful effects on human health. But, government of all political hues have always allowed and encouraged export of buffalo meat.
Coming to the theological aspect of beef consumption, some quotes are available as reference. It may not be out of place to refer to a classic poetry in Kannada on the encounter a cow, named Punyakoti, had with a tiger, while it was out grazing. The poignancy of the interlocution between these two diametrically different creation of God elevated the poetry into a spiritually sublime experience. 
In India Hindus consider cow a sacred animal and a huge section of them who not only do not eat beef but would never want to hurt it in any form. They even worship it. Of course there are many among Hindus who do eat beef on regular basis, because it is cheaper than goat meat by more than 50%.
For them it is a source of cheap protein. However, among Christians & Muslims most eat beef and there are any number of traders among Muslims trading in beef and cattle. For them, cow is really a source of livelihood and food.
The recent moves to ban cow slaughter has therefore has caused consternation especially among Muslims. The issue is certainly delicate, and hence need to be handled with sensitivity.
At the outset, there could have been a stage of talking to those who are affected by the ban, without having to push it down the throat with an outright ban. India being a democratic country airing opinion in a public space is a done thing. With internet and social portals, it’s a veritable war of words, some reasonable, some unreasonable and some extremely provocative. Naturally the atmosphere is charged and vitiated. The killing of alleged beef eater in Dadri, U.P., has only made things worse leading to the widening social chasm. An element of helplessness has pervaded the law abiding citizens. If for consuming beef, a person can be killed, there cannot be a greater depravity, a man can go down to. The perpetrator has to be given the harshest punishment for the alleged crime. 
The issue of beef eating and cow slaughter has been in the public space for a long time. There used to be a time, when cow meat was consumed by Hindus, according to some of the writings of yore. But over a period of time, an element of sacrilege was attributed to eating cow meat and deification of cow started. Over a period, worship of cow became increasingly in vougue and this section became more and more vocal in condemning beef eating. This increasing shrill in the public space started causing unease in the psyche of beef eaters, especially Muslims. While there are still good number of Hindus who eat beef besides Christians and Muslims, it was the trading and transportation of cattle that became a target of some of the vocal elements among Hindus. The unauthorized slaughter and illegal transportation of cattle led to violent protest from this section. According to some sources, if these elements are taken into confidence, by means both questionable and otherwise, at least the illegal transporters managed life with less tension. Which, if true, means, is blatantly unethical and may be even criminal. What is the law enforcing authorities are doing about this dimension is a question begging for answer.
While it is true that the issue of beef has become a political issue, with all kinds of people trying to muddy the water, no acceptable solution is emerging. But a solution has to be found out for the larger issue of peace. The problem basically is an atmosphere of assertive, tit-for-tat, which has greatly harmed the social atmosphere with media being subjective in taking sides rather than unbiased objective comments. Thus intolerance is all pervading.
However, it is the good fortune of this country, that despite attempts by hardliners everywhere from all sections, to whip-up feelings, vast majority of Indians are very tolerant and accommodative and therefore issues do not go out of control. And this is not because of the law enforcing authorities but an average citizen is law abiding and means well for his fellow human beings.
It means that, since some people do not consume red meat, whether mutton, beef or pork, it is easier to advocate. But what needs to be appreciated for the larger picture is to put the health aspect of our food habits as the uniting force in the public space.
Imam Hazzrat Ali in his book Nahjul Balaga directs Muslims not to make their stomach a graveyard of innocent animals. Al- Gazali in his Ihya Ulum-id-din observed that beef creates diseases, milk has got cure and clarified butter has medicinal effect. Maulvi Mohd. Ismail wrote a poem that was taught in primary schools, that expressed gratefulness to god for creating a being as benevolent as cow. A writer writes in the media that, ‘while nations like Iran have taken into a/c Islamic tenets and put a complete ban on slaughter of cows, in our own nation Hadith and Quran are openly flouted,’. If this is true, there appears to be room for dialogue, which is the corner stone of any civil society. This writer also quotes ‘Fiqh-us-Sunnah, volume 3, number 104, Prophet Mohammad was asked by his companions, if kindness to animals was rewarded in the life here-after. He replied “Yes, there is a meritorious reward for kindness to every living creature”
As for those among Hindus, who consume beef, there are many references in scripture, eulogizing cow. According to Atharvana Veda (11.1.34) cow is the fountain head of all bounties. Cow is indeed the source of nourishment of creation, its milk and derivatives- ghee, curd, butter, etc- form an important dietary component for humans; the dung is a free and natural fertilizer, it also protects against radiation; the urine acts as a natural pesticide and has medical uses. It also talks about, worship of cow and if worshiped, how, and in the process, if cow licks one’s head, person’s mental faculties bloom. Myth has it that Kabir’s poetic abilities manifested only after his head was licked by cow.
That brings Union Minister for Women’s and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi, she had, some months ago, urged in a letter to the council of ministers to switch over to “Gavnyle” an environmental friendly cleaning liquid made from cow urine extract- instead of chemically  based  phenyl. According to her, Kendriya Bhandars are stocking it. 
Thus there is enough scope for all to participate in the debate over cow slaughter, without the official ban by the government of the day.
Then you have this commercial aspect of meat export, leather and footwear industry etc. It is also true that most farmers have always sold aged cows, oxen and buffalos to abattoirs. This alone has provided raw materials for meat export, footwear and leather industry, and is a source of huge employment opportunity. How is the government, going to address this issue? Who will pay for those farmers, whose aged cattle earns them money when sold? What about the loss of employment and source of income? What solution the government has for this loss?
While ban may be greeted by a section with glee, it has certainly disturbed greatly the social fabric. Political class of all hues must take the initiative of how the issue can be addressed without the tu-tu-mai-mai politics of blame game. Even civil society must take initiative how to reduce the chasm among different sections of society.
As we mentioned earlier about the liberal dimension of Indian society, comes this news. “Avoid cow slaughter in larger interest, Ulema urges Muslims”, was a print media news datelined Hyderabad (See Box)
Hence truly speaking what is at stake? Palate vs Peace & Harmony! Choice is left to all stake holders, since there is immense potential for GIVE & TAKE.


Avoid cow slaughter in larger interest: Ulema urges Muslims

Hyderabad: With the ban on beef in some states and the upcoming Eid-ul-Azha triggering a fierce debate on cow slaughter across the country, a group of Islamic scholars in southern India has made an appeal to Muslims to avoid sacrificing cows, bulls and bullocks in the community’s larger interest. The scholars have advised Muslims to show pragmatism in the prevailing situation and instead opt for alternate animals permitted by the Sharia to ensure that peace is maintained and there are no impediments in their larger duty of ‘dawat-e-deen’ of distributing food to the poor and the needy.
Backed by all schools of thought, the group has taken up the campaign through social media, meetings, pamphlets and Friday sermons in mosques in different states of southern India. “Our message is that Muslims should not take law in their hands but desist from sacrificing cow, bulls and bullocks for maintaining peace. This will also help in introducing Islam to others,” Syed Hussain Madani, an Islamic scholar heading the campaign, told IANS.
The scholar has suggested that the community should avoid sacrificing cows to protect life and property. People trading in cows, bulls and bullocks have been suffering loss of life and property and sometimes ending up harming others. Madani quoted ‘Hadith’, or the sayings of Prophet Muhammad, that “There should be neither harming nor reciprocating harm.” Noting that the Prophet sacrificed two sheep on Eid-ul-Azha, he said: “Since the Prophet Muhammad is the best model for us, we should follow him. Sacrificing cow is allowed but it is not ‘afzal’ (preferable),” he said.
Every year, hundreds of bulls and bullocks are brought to the city for sacrifice on Eid day. Such animals are in huge demand because seven people can have share in each. At Rs.2,500 to Rs.2,800 each share, this works out more economical than Rs.6,000 to Rs.7,000 for a goat or sheep. The scholars pointed out that sacrificing per se is not ‘farz’ (obligation) but ‘sunnat’ (practice of the Prophet). “Allah doesn’t burden more than one can bear. There is ample room to avoid this (sacrifice of cow) in the prevailing situation when there are legal restrictions and communal disharmony over the issue,” said Madani. As many families take a share in such animals to distribute meat among the poor, Madani said that the poor may be helped in many other ways.
The ulema, while noting that slaughter of cow, bulls and bullocks are linked to the livelihood of a group, argue that the interest of the entire community should get priority. “Prevention of means of ‘fasad’ (mischief) is better than the benefits we may get from certain things,” said Madani. The scholars are also of the opinion that the misconceptions about cow slaughter and the misinformation spread by some elements affects ‘Dawate-e-deen’ and since this is an obligatory duty of every Muslim, it should get priority over sacrificing cow, bulls or bullocks.
The appeal also has the backing of Muslim political leaders and legal experts. It also made reference to a suggestion by some political leaders that giving up eating of beef for a couple of years will show its impact on the economy and those opposing it will be forced to amend the legislation.

FEATURE

President Abdul Kalam has become immortal!

Prof. B. M. Hegde,
hegdebm@gmail.com
"Do something worth writing about or write something worth reading to become immortal." So wrote Benjamin Franklin. If that yardstick is applied Late President Abdul Kalam has already become immortal by both those two counts. In addition he lives in the hearts of every Indian child and youth because he loved them both most sincerely. Death, be not proud that you have been able to snatch him from our midst but alas, he lives in our midst. His childlike innocence, his transparent sincerity, his disarming universal smile, and his love for his motherland have made him the most popular President in recent times. Of course, there were great Presidents like Rajen Babu and Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan in the past.
Probably the one unfulfilled wish in Kalam's life was his dream of becoming a professor in an IIT or Anna University and settle in Chennai after exiting the Rastrapathi Bhavan. That was not to be, thanks to the small mindedness and hubris of some of our hard hearted fossilised minded so called scientists and educationists, both of whom have not understood what education is all about. If having a PhD is the hall mark of becoming a professor many of our professors should not be where they are.
None of our IITs or Universities has set the River Ganges on fire anyway what with all their PhDs. With the same yardstick Guruji Tagore was not qualified to be a teacher, leave alone getting the Nobel Prize for English poetry in 1913, not having had any formal education worth mentioning! I do not think any of our present educationists and scientists have any idea what education is all about? Kalam made up for all that by teaching in all schools and AIIMs all over the country which made him the darling of our children's eyes. He would have loved to die in harness that too while still teaching-anaayaasena maranam-which only pure souls get. Single as he was all his life he would not have any one to look after him if he had some illness that made him disabled in life. God has been great. Kalam sab was lucky in life and also in death. Luck is a certificate that comes from God without his signature affixed.
I first saw this great man and got to meet him when I was still very young as a new entrant at Stanley Medical College in 1956 in Madras. I did not have a hostel place. My cousin, Balachndra Shetty, was a final year student of the new Engineering institute, The Madras Institute of Technology, at Thambaram where they had nice single room hostels. Kalam sab was his class mate and lived in a room with another of my acquaintances, Surendra Hegde, in the same hostel. I stayed for over a month in their hostel till I got a room at Stanley. I might have met him a few times during those days.
I had not met him for decades after that when I saw him in a science conference where I was invited to lecture. I could not have the courage to go to talk to him because he was by then a big man. After the lecture he came up to me and remembered our meeting at MIT hostel and he was conversing in Tamil only. I was pleased to hear him telling me that when I was describing the plight of poor malnourished kids dying like flies in India he had tears in his eyes. That made me feel how simple he was and how child like his heart was. The next meeting of ours happened in some curious circumstances. I was then the Dean of a medical college. The then VC of Kanpur University came to meet me. I thought he had his child in our college but no. He had come all the way to personally meet me for a request. It looked rather strange. He had come to personally request me to deliver a Guest Lecture at their next Indian Science Congress. Of course, I agreed but I was curious to know why he had to come. Then he told me that the scientific advisor to the Govt of India who is in charge of grants for their conferences had told him to have my lecture to get grants. That was Kalama Sab. I was really moved to tears that such a big man must have a soft corner for an ordinary human being like me. That was our second encounter and the lecture went well, thank God.
Late Abdul Kalam was India' greatest technologist and an engineer of the class of Late Vishveshwarayya. Prime Minister Vajpayee, in his wisdom, chose him as a jewel in the crown of India- Bharata Ratna. As a technologist and a missile man he had no peers and he went on to occupy all top posts in the Ministry of Science and Technology culminating him being the back bone of the Pokaran Test. He had invited me to Delhi for his inaugural but I wrote back saying that I could not afford the travel costs at such short notice. He had then given me a standing invite to meet him when I go to Delhi and did go to see him several times when we would discuss matters of common interest to the country. He always thought of the poor and the less endowed. He even released one of my books at the Rastrapathi Bhavan and got his own photographer to shoot the event. I remained grateful to hi. I had invited him to inaugurate our University’s Golden Jubilee event in 2003. He was reluctant as he does not want to spend tax payer’s money for private functions. Last minute he called me to say that he is going over to Bangalore for some Government engagements and would come from there. I was so happy and the function went off well. He had one condition, though. I had to get him 1000 copies of a book of mine which he had bought himself when it was published from his own money (1000 copies) to give it to school children when it was published. I have given hereunder his letter about that book. I also had to get 1000 school children to whom he will distribute my book on the occasion of our Golden Jubilee. We did that and he was so pleased to see the children there. Interestingly, he did not take any of our private hospitality during that occasion.
The first time I met him at the Rastrapathi Bhavan I was shocked to see him having a big bundle of Bhavan’s Journals where I used to write a column and in one of them I had written about him long before he became the President that he would be the ideal person for the Presidentship of India. He wanted to know; “ade epedi eleAthininge? How did you write that?” He asked me-such a child like innocence which is his hall mark. We used to meet now and then and each time he had that warmth which never diminished in intensity even long after he demitted office. His personal secretary, Palghat Prasad, was good enough to connect me to him whenever I wanted, to whom I remain grateful. Prasad was Kalam’s trusted lieutenant even after retirement. Prasad could read Kalam’s mind easily and would tell me if he is in good or bad moods.
Kalam came to this world, he saw the world, and he conquered the hearts of the people here. Such people are rare creations of God and come once in a long time. Our best tribute to him would be to emulate his example and live our lives make life sublime and be of some use to our fellowmen. I, for one, have benefitted immensely from his example. May God keep his soul in eternal peace with HIM. May he become jeevanmukta. May Allah, the Most Merciful, shower him with HIS best blessings and give courage and right direction to Kalam’s fellow citizens to change themselves to be good humans.
May the people’s President become immortal.


Gold monetization scheme could be a roaring success

A.N.Shanbhag
The Gold Monetization Scheme (GMS) appears to be good. Besides reducing reliance on import of gold, this recycling of the existent idle household gold, will also provide a fillip to the gems and jewellery sector by making gold available as raw materials on loan from the banks.
Most importantly, in the Gold Deposit Scheme (1999), the customers received exemption from Capital Gains Tax, Wealth tax and Income tax. Similar tax exemptions are likely to be made available to the customers in the GMS after due examinations.
Salient Features
It is well known fact that if you desire to sell your jewellery (or gold) to meet some urgent need, the jeweler –well- collects his pound of flesh. Apart from other issues, the main problem is that one has to pretty much take the jeweller’s word as to the purity and pedigree of the gold. However, GMS will have a set up of a vast infrastructure network for facilitating easy and secure Purity Testing. There are at present 350 Hallmarking Centres that are Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) certified spread across various parts of the country. These centres may not necessarily be jewelers. Moreover, there are about 32 refineries in the country. The laboratories of some of these are NABL accredited which means that the process that they adopt is certified BIS. They can be also roped in, if possible.
In a purity Testing Centre, a preliminary XRF machine-test will be conducted to tell the customer the approximate amount of pure gold. If the customer agrees, he will have to fill-up a Bank/KYC form and give his consent for melting the gold. If for any reason he doesn’t agree with the stated purity, he can take his jewellery back at this stage after paying a fee.
If the customer consents, a further test of purity will be conducted by removing the studs, meena etc., which will be handed over to the customer. Then, right in front of the customer the jewelley will be melted and through a fire assay , its purity will be ascertained. The customer has once again a choice of refusing to accept the results of fire assay, in which case he can take back the melted gold, then he will be given a certificate by the collection centre certifying the amount and purity of the gold. The fee will be paid by the bank. The minimum quantity of gold that a customer can bring is 30 grams.
When the customer produces the certificate to a bank, it will open a ‘Gold Savings Account’ for him and credit the ‘quantity’ of gold into his account. Simultaneously, the Purity Verification Centre will also inform the bank about the deposit made.
The amount of interest rate is proposed to be left to the banks to decide. Both principal and interest to be paid to the depositors of gold will be ‘valued’ in gold. For example if a customer deposits 100 gms of gold and gets 1% interest, then, on maturity he will have a credit of 101 gms. Consequently, it is the customer who bears the market risk.
The customer will have the option of redemption either in cash or in gold, which will have to be exercised at the time of making the deposit.
The tenure of the deposit will be a minimum of 1 year and with a roll out in multiples of one year. Like a fixed deposit, breaking of lock-in period will be allowed.

Other Details
To incentivize banks, they may be permitted to deposit the mobilised gold as part of their CRR/SLR requirements with RBI.
Banks may sell the gold to generate forex. The foreign currency thus generated can be used for onward lending to exporters / importers. Bank may convert mobilized gold into coins for onward sale to their customers and also buy or sell on domestic commodity exchanges.
Yet another way of mobilizing the deposited gold is through tapping the need of jewellers. Jewellers can get a Gold Loan Account opened at the bank. When a gold loan is sanctioned, the jewellers will receive physical delivery of gold from the refiners. The interest rate charged by the banks will have to cover a) Interest rate paid to the depositors. b) Fee paid to the refiners and Purity Verification Centres. c) Profit margin of the banks.
The banks can also directly get gold from the international market on a consignment basis and lend it to the jewellers.

Schedule of fees
1) Melting Charge per lot up to 100 gms begins with Rs. 500 and increases by Rs. 100 per additional 100 gms. For instance, if the lot consists of 100-200 gms the fee would be Rs. 600 and 200-300 gms it would be Rs. 700 and so on.
2) Testing/fire assaying charges – Rs. 300
3) Stone removal charges – at actual, minimum being Rs. 100
4) Melting loss – at actual.
For obvious reasons, the Scheme will be launched initially only in selected cities. Over time, as the infrastructure for assaying and refining of gold develops it will be extended to other cities.
At end
This scheme could be a roaring success, mainly because of the exemption from Capital Gains Tax, Wealth tax and Income Tax it is likely to offer. The only issue that will be an impediment is the sentimental attachment that we may have towards our ornaments. However, if we are honest to ourselves, we will find that it is only those few ornaments handed over to us over generations or purchased on a very special occasion that have true sentiment attached to them. A vast majority are just dead unproductive assets lying in the locker at home or at the bank. Now we will be getting a chance of put these to productive use. It is earnestly submitted that the authorities should also offer to buy the stones, studs, meena etc., to make the Scheme more customer friendly.

A DATE WITH TIME

15th Annual edition release of ISSUES & CONCERNS held in SDM College of Business Management, Mangalore.

“Journalism supposed to serve the truth, but in India it seem to serve an interest” commented Prof B.M Hegde, former Vice Chancellor of Manipal University, after releasing the 15th Annual edition of ISSUES & CONCERNS, held at S.D.M. College of Business Management on 9th Oct 2015. Congratulating I&C for its non-stop persistence in publishing the magazine, month after month, year after year, for all the 15 long years, he remarked “it’s a miracle in Indian journalism, that almost a one man periodical could have travelled so long and that too in style”. Issues & Concerns has done pretty well in its concerns about Issues without fail for all these years. The courage shown to writing about the wrongs in public space is exemplary and therefore it deserves support of all participative readers. Stating “Do something worth writing about or write something worth reading to become immortal. And in that sense ISSUES & CONCERNS has already become immortal”, was his inimitable tribute to the saga of I&C “Towards a purposeful regimen”.   He also expressed concern at the deteriorating level of values in media and public life, while expressing happiness that I&C has not compromised its core value of truth, honesty and justice, in treating different subjects of relevance in its pages. He wished a bright innings in coming days. Dr. Ronald Fernandes, the President of Mangalore Press Club, who is also the Bureau Chief of Deccan Herald in Mangalore, commended the effort of the editor, for bringing out I&C so continuously, without any break, expressed happiness being at this function to mark the 15th milestone of the journal.
Dr. Ravishankar Rao, Prof & Head of the Department of English, Mnagalore University, recalled once again an old Hindi Song “Jane Walon Zara, mudke dekho mujhe, ek insaan hoon, mein thumhari tarah”while telling the audience, that the man behind this ISSUES & CONCERNS is one like you, so turn back to have another look at the man. ‘He needs support’, he exhorted, complimenting the editor for his valiant struggle to keep the periodical going, while adding “this is the successful story of a journal that has survived to tell the tale of its print & footprint. 
Prizes, for the winners of the elocution competition for the district degree students were distributed on the occasion. This competition was earlier inaugurated by Ln.Kavitha Shastri, Distt.Governor of Lions Club International, And RJ Arpit of Radio Mirchi being a Guest of Honour. Ms. Francita Steffi – St. Mary’s College Shirva bagged the 1st prize, while Ms. Deepthi Jyothi D’cuna, Besant Women’s College, Mangalore bagged 2nd prize. Third Prize was won by Mr. Lionel Kenneth Tauro of SDM Law College, Mangalore. Five Consolation prizes were awarded to Ms. Shreedevi of PPC, Udupi, Ms. Malika – St. Aloysius, Mangalore. Ms. Shivani-Govind Das, Surathkal, Shambunath, SDM Mangalore & Triston, Sri Devi Mangalore.
Mr. Shriyan, the editor of I&C, besides giving a perspective of the journey of I&C, also rendered vote of thanks in the end. Mr. Shriyan in his perspective remarked how the touch & go approach of the main stream media left a vacuum, which I&C tried to fill and tried to live upto its intention of being journalism with a difference”. Dr. Sathish Rao, Head of the Dept. of Psychiatry at KSHEMA, felicitated the organizers for the magnificent journey of I&C in the print media.
The function ended with National Anthem.


SERIAL : 29

INDIAN IN COWBOY COUNTRY

TWO LINES

“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!” As he put Seeta down on the kitchen floor and walked away to the bathroom for refreshing post-haircut shower, his sight smile persisted.

THE HUNT

When a somber Tim O’Leary the vice president of human resources of Clark Oilfield Technologies, walked into his office unannounced late Friday afternoon and told him that the firm’s president, Billy Stayton, wanted to see him immediately, Satish was not surprised. He had been anticipating this moment, when he would be politely told that his “position had been eliminated,” American corporate-speak for being fired.
Tim was a good friend and colleague who had supported him through many tumultuous twists and turns in his ten-year career at Clark, but now had to pay the role of a reluctant executioner. Industry conditions and the firm’s continues hemorrhaging of cash needed a tourniquet but often reducing headcount by amputating employees was the fastest way to stop the bleeding.
Satish was familiar with the process of being “let go.” He had played Tim’s role before. For the past year, on several occasions, he had to undertake the loathsome task of informing his employee that his or her services were no longer required, and giving the unfortunate person a formal letter that outlined the details and the background of the dismissal. He also had the repugnant task of informing the ex-employee that he or she had to leave the premise immediately, and that personal belongings could be collected at a later appointed time, unseen by the still-employed, lest it affect employee morale.
Both Tim and Satish knew that this was the last time he would walk these hallways and the campus as an employee. It was a long silent walk to Billy’s executive suite on mahogany row in a different building.
As they came out into the open and walked along the pathway around a man-made lake, Tim pulled out a cigarette and lit it nervously, his hands trembling as he tried to bring his lighter’s flame to its tip. He inhaled deeply and hurriedly several times, attempting to ingest sufficient nicotine before they reached Billy’s office building.
The two walked down the final hallway with portraits of founders of the firm. Liz, Billy’s new executive assistant, saw them. She hastily got up and went into Billy’s office to announce their arrival. By the time they reached the end of the hallway, she was back to escort them into the conference room adjoining the office, saying that Billy would join them in a moment.
Tim and Satish sat across from each other at the conference table, leaving the seat at the head of the  table for Billy. They said nothing until Tim got into a coughing fit and poured himself a glass of water from the pitcher on the table.
“You’ve got to stop smoking, Tim. It will kill you,” Satish said.
“This job and my ulcers will kill me before any cigarette,” replied Tim. “This is hell.”
“That’s not the way it looks from where I am sitting, Tim. You still have your job,” he said, with a touch of acidity that was not lost on Tim.
Tim paused, took another gulp of water, and said, “Yes, I have my job, but this part is very stressful. You can’t imagine doing this all day long with no end in sight.”
Satish tried to empathize with Tim but could not; not while he was waiting for Billy to walk in and graciously tell him that his services were no longer needed. His mind was engrossed in devising a plan to look for a job immediately, so that Monica and two-year-old Seeta continue to live the good life.
Still, he advised his friend, “I wish you’d stop smoking Tim. It does not help you with yours stress. I am the one being axed. You are the one who still has a job, and you are more nervous than I am.
Tim took another deep puff and said, “That’s because of all that yoga stuff that you Indians practice to remain calm in all situations. Besides, I don’t know when my neck will be on the block and I need this job to pay my bills. I cannot afford to loose it.”
“No one can afford to lose their job, Tim. Just take it easy. All will be well. And, just in case you do need another job, call me. I’ll have a head start on you,” he said with a sincere smile that seemed sardonic to his friend.
Just then, Billy walked into the conference room carrying a manila folder that Satish guessed contained his walking papers. Unpredictably, Billy sat next to Tim and both now faced him, as if they were on opposing sides. These subtleties were Tim’s style.
After a few pleasantries, Billy got swiftly down to business. He recounted how the industry’s severe downturn had affected Clark’s bottom line. His board of directors had bought in some consultants who recommended that his division be mothballed, if not shut down, because it was a long-term play and was burning cash that they could ill afford.
“I am sorry Satish, but your product line did not make the cut. As a consequence, your position has been eliminated.”
Tim sat silent while Billy spoke but, as if on cue, on the Phrase "your position has been eliminated", he  jumped in and fulled out some papers from the folder that Billy had bought in. He read the terms of their disengagement aloud, highlighting various confidentiality- and non-compete agreements that Satish had signed.
After Tim was done, Billy said, “Satish, this was a very difficult decision for us. I mean it. We tried to find you a position somewhere else in the firm, or at least an advisory role on my staff, but we have many more good people than we have slots. We are now cutting into the bone. There is no fat; there is no flesh, only bone.”
 “I am sorry to hear that, Billy,” he replied. “Clark has been an excellent company to work with and I have good memories here. I enjoyed working with the people here. They are the best, and I will miss them. Thank you, Billy and Tim, for the opportunity and the support. Trust me; my gratitude comes from the bottom of my heart.”
With that, he rose from his seat, shook hands with Billy and Tim, and left the conference room. He passed Liz, who had a sympathetic face when she said, “We’ll miss you, Satish. God bless you, your wife, and your darling little baby.”
He smiled momentarily as he thanked her for her best wishes. He walked down mahogany row, and as he was about to step out of the building. Tim came panting up to him and said, “Wait, I’ve got to talk with you.”
“I am listening,” he replied as he walked to his car in the parking lot. “You don’t have to walk me to my car. I know the drill.”
“Listen you, you, Indian,” Tim stammered, as he was prone to do when he was upset with him. “What the hell was that all about? Jesus, nobody gives up on a ten-year career like that, so courteously. You just left without asking for anything.
"What should I have asked for?"
"A severance package, for instance?"
"A severance package? I thought that was only for senior executives. I am just a manager, Tim. Not even a director,”
“Well, my friend, we had one ready for you, in case you asked for one. Now you don’t.”
“Sounds good, Tim. Anything else? I have to get home and let Monica Know about this. She has been worried for months, and now that it has happened, we can move on. Thank you for everything. Tim. You are a good friend.”
“Will you please stop hurrying to your car? I have one last favor for you, Satish. Just walk with me to the cafeteria. I want to talk with you.”
The post-lunch cafeteria was empty. Without people, it looked like a morgue for molded plastic and steel furniture- the sets of chairs and tables perfectly aligned with each other, creating an antiseptic but geometric design that Tim shattered by yanking out a chair and clumsily setting it at an angle to the table. He pulled out a cigarette as Satish sat down and crossed his arms. He positioned his chair away from the table.
“I don’t give a whit who sees me,” Tim muttered as he lit his cigarette in this non-smoking area.

  


 

 
 

MEDICAL FRONTIER

Cells that re-generate liver without cancer risk

New York: Scientists have discovered new type of cells which are an important part of liver regeneration, reports IANS.
When healthy liver cells are depleted by long-term exposure to toxic chemicals, the newly discovered cells, known as hybrid hepatocytes, generate new tissue more efficiently than normal liver cells.
Importantly, they divide and grow without causing cancer, which tends to be a risk with rapid cell division. “Hybrid hepotocytes represent not only the most effective way to repair a diseased liver, but also the safest way to prevent fatal liver failure by cell transplantation,” lead researcher professor Michael Karin from University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of medicine. The liver is the only organ regenerates after being damaged. Exactly how it repairs itself remained a mystery until recently, when researchers discovered a type of cell in mice essential to the process. The researchers also found similar cells in humans.
The researchers studied liver function in mice. They were able to isolate the hybrid hepatocytes after observing how the tissue regenerated. They then exposed healthy mice to three known cancer causing pathways and watched the hybrid hepatocytes closely. Liver cancer never originated from these cells.

Insecticide to eradicate malaria!

Washington: Researchers have come up with a new antibody insecticide that targets malaria mosquitoes, says ANI.
Recent progress in halting the spread of the disease has hinged on the use of insecticide-treated bed nets and spraying programes that target the insect that spreads the disease, the African malaria mosquito (Anopheles gambiae). However, the insects are fighting back, developing resistance to insecticides such as pyrethroid that control their numbers, forcing Brian Foy and Jacob Meyers from Colorado State University to think of alternative control strategies.
The duo decided to test whether antibodies targeted at a key component of the malaria mosquito’s nervous system could be fed to the insects in a blood meal to kill them.Identifying a glutamate gated chloride channel (the mosquito glutamate gated chloride channel – AgGluCl), which is an essential component of the insect’s nervous system, to be the target of their novel strategy the duo decided to generate antibodies that specifically targeted a portion of the protein that is exposed on the surface of nerves to try to exterminate the disease carriers. However, Meyers admits that the strategy was risky as antibodies against a single mosquito antigen have never been shown to have mosquitocidal properties before and the majority of previous research had focused on midgut antigens, while they were targeting a neuronal antigen expressed only in tissues found outside of the midgut.
Meyers said that cattle are a major blood meal source for multiple malaria vectors, explaining that any malaria-harbouring mosquito that consumed blood carrying the toxic antibodies during the malaria parasite’s incubation period would die, disrupting transmission of the disease and offering hope of a malaria-free future for generations to come.

TECHNOLOGY

Teen brilliance makes robotic arm

New York: 17-year-old Indian-origin teenager has won accolades for an inexpensive robotic arm he created for his school science fair project in California State of the US. Nilay Mehta was awarded a blue ribbon award- an accolade that recognizes a student’s academic excellence in US schools – for his project. His project qualified for the Orange County Science and Engineering Fair where he won four first-place awards, Daily Pilot newspaper reported recently. Nilay, a student of Irvine Public School in California, spent over four months building and programming the robotic arm to replicate the movement of a human hand. “First I was confused about what direction I would go to, but I knew I wanted to do something in prosthetics. One issue I saw is that there were no lower-cost options,” Nilay said.   

YEH MERA INDIA

Court should respond to collective cry of society: SC

New Delhi: A court, while imposing sentence, has a duty to respond to the "collective cry" of the society as people await with patience to see that justice is done, the Supreme Court said as it quashed a High Court order to allow three persons to walk free in a case of abetment to suicide.
The apex court termed as "casual and fanciful", the order of the high court to reduce the sentence of three years jail term of the three convicts to the period of nearly four months and 20 days, already undergone by them. "A court, while imposing sentence, has a duty to respond to the collective cry of the society. The legislature in its wisdom has conferred discretion on the Court but the duty of the court in such a situation becomes more difficult and complex. It has to exercise discretion on reasonable and rational parameters. The discretion cannot be allowed to yield to fancy or notion.
"A judge has to keep in mind the paramount concept of rule of law and the conscience of the collective and balance it with the principle of proportionality but when the discretion is exercised in a capricious manner, it tantamounts to relinquishment of duty and reckless abandonment of responsibility," a bench of justices Dipak Misra and P C Pant said. The judgement assumes significance as it was delivered on a day when another bench allowed real estate barons Sushil and Gopal Ansal to walk free on payment of Rs 60 crore as fine in the 1997 Uphaar fire case, sparking a debate over the award of adequate sentence in proportion to the offence. Finding fault with the High Court's decision, the bench said it is really "unfathomable" that the HC observed that no useful purpose would be served by sending the accused to jail for undergoing their remaining sentences of imprisonment, for the High Court itself has recorded that the appellants had remained in custody only for four months and 20 days. "The approach of the High Court, as the reasoning would show, reflects more of a casual and fanciful one rather than just one," it said. 
The verdict, penned by Justice Misra, talked about the the doctrine of proportionality to stress that the punishment should be commensurate with the offence.The apex court, while upholding the trial court verdict in the abetment of suicide case, asked the three convicts to surrender forthwith to undergo the remaining jail term."One cannot remain total alien to the demand of the socio-cultural milieu, regard being had to the command of law and also brush aside the agony of the victim or the survivors among the victim. Society waits with patience to see that justice is done. There is a hope on the part of the society and when the criminal culpability is established and the discretion is irrationally exercised by the court, the said hope is shattered and the patience is wrecked.
"It is the duty of the court not to exercise the discretion in such a manner as a consequence of which the expectation inherent in patience, which is the 'finest part of fortitude' is destroyed. "A Judge should never feel that the individuals who constitute the society as a whole is imperceptible to the exercise of discretion. He should always bear in mind that erroneous and fallacious exercise of discretion is perceived by a visible collective," the verdict said.

Recruit more woman & Pay well for better GDP

Ankara:  India’s GDP can expand by a whopping 27 per cent if the number of female workers increases to the same level as that of men, International Monetary Fund’s chief Christine Lagarde said.
This is much higher than the positive impact a 50-50 gender parity in workforce can have on the economies of the US and Japan at 5 per cent and 9 per cent respectively.Speaking at the launch of W20, a grouping of women leaders from the world’s 20 largest economies including India, Lagarde said that “it is an absolute economic no-brainer” that empowering women boosts economic growth.
“For example, we have estimates that, if the number of female workers were to increase to the same level as the number of men, GDP in the United States would expand by 5 per cent, by 9 per cent in Japan, and by 27 per cent in India,” Lagarde said in a written keynote speech she had prepared for the event. “These estimates, while of course tentative, are significant and large enough to be taken seriously. This applies particularly to countries where potential growth is declining as the population is ageing,” she added. Lagarde also said only big words should not matter for women and they must verify the delivery of the promises made for the women empowerment. She also said that men have a key role to play in the empowerment of women and quoted Indian-origin Nobel laureate Amartya Sen as saying, “Women are increasingly seen, by men as well as women, as active agents of change — the dynamic promoters of social transformations that can alter the lives of both women and men.”
Referring to the G20 pledge of November 2014 to reduce the gap in women’s labour force participation by 25 per cent by 2025, Lagarde said this would have the benefit of creating an estimated 100 million new jobs for the global economy.
“That was The Promise of 2025. Today, I want to focus on how to deliver on that promise… By the latest estimate, there are more than three and half billion reasons why gender equity matters,” she said while adding that women’s empowerment is not just a fundamentally moral cause, it is also an absolute economic no-brainer.
Lagarde also said that getting more women into secure and well-paid jobs raises overall per capita income.
The IMF chief listed three key policy areas for women’s empowerment as the education, getting a job and having a family. She said that a number of countries with highly educated women still have low levels of female labour force participation.
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TIT BIT

Android Nanodegree scholarships

New Delhi: Search giant Google and Tata Trusts launched a programme in partnership with Udacity under which 1,000 Android Nanodegree scholarships will be offered to developers. The Android Nanodegree is an education credential that is designed to help developers learn new skills and advance their careers in a few months from anywhere on any device at their own pace.
Google said India being the second largest developer population in the world with three million software developers, has the potential to become the #1 (number one) developers population by 2018, with four million developers. “While India has millions of software developers, we still lag behind in creating world-class apps. Today, only 2 percent of apps built in India feature in the 1,000 apps globally and our goal is to raise this to 10 percent in the next three years,” Google South East Asia and India, VP and Managing Director, Rajan Anandan said in a statement.
The Udacity Android Nanodegree programme comprises of courses developed and taught by expert Google instructors from the Google Developer Relations team and will include project reviews, mentorship and career services from Udacity. The curriculum will be updated regularly with new releases and will provide developers with a certificate that will help them to become a more marketable Android developer reported PTI.
Tata Trusts and Google will give 500 Nanodegree scholarship each. The programme, which is open for enrollment right now, takes an average of 6-9 months and coast Rs 9,800 per month with Udacity refunding 50 percent of the tuition upon completion. “With over 381 million Internet enabled mobile phone subscriptions in India, there is a growing demand for the Internet as a multi-purpose solution provider,” Tata Trusts Development Manager Ganesh Neelam said.   

Man asked for wine, gets detergent; dies

In a bizarre incident, a 49-year-old Spanish man died after he was mistakenly served undiluted detergent instead of white wine at a bar. Andres Lorente died of internal burns after drinking cleaning fluid he thought was white wine in the city of Benicarlo in the Spanish province of Castellon.

Driver fined for biting nails at the wheel

A driver in Spain was hit with a $90 fine for biting his fingernails while at the wheel. The driver was stopped by traffic police in the Spanish city of Salamanca for the seemingly innocuous bad habit.

MONTH THAT WAS

In Gadchiroli Maoists are anti-development

The death of Patru Durge, pro-development Dalit leader and deputy sarpanch of Damrancha Grampanchayat in a remote area of the Gadchiroli district, has asked his son Prithviraj Durge to step into his father’s shoes. Durge had been working relentlessly for the implementation of a lift irrigation project in the area and was allegedly killed by Maoists on April 19 this year.
Since Durge’s death hopes for the lift irrigation project seemed to have dimmed. However, his son has now taken up the battle for development. A few other activists are also backing the said project, which is expected to bring development to the area and inspire others to promote development in Naxal-affected regions.
According to locals, Durge had travelled to the state capital — Mumbai —and submitted a memorandum to authorities at the chief minister’s office, finance and water resource minister’s office for the implementation of the lift irrigation project in his village on March 16 this year. This project was expected to increase the crop productivity.
Nearly a month later, on April 19, he was allegedly killed by Maoists. They claimed that Durge was working for the police force, but senior police officials denied the claim.
Durge’s village Damrancha in Aheri taluka is situated on the banks of the Indravati and Bandiya rivers that cut the place from rest of the district and he was trying to bring people together as he believed it was essential for development.
For many reasons, the region also lacks basic amenities like healthcare centres, schools, transportation, etc. Therefore, he also undertook a study to understand the geography and basic requirements of some development projects.
Durge first demanded the irrigation project at the district level, but officials reportedly told him that the implementation of a lift irrigation project would need to benefit minimum 1,000 hectares land. Following that, he tried hard to convince the farmers and in a Gram Sabha in December last year, a resolution was passed to press for the lift irrigation scheme for 942.02 hectares of land in the area.
In his proposal submitted to the CM’s office, he gave reference and relevant documents of his study for the need of a lift irrigation project in the area. 
He also said in his proposal that the area was close to rivers and had fertile land, but crop or farm productivity was not enough. He said it was this reason that irrigation facilities could improve harvesting and crop productivity and ultimately benefit the people.
Durge’s murder has forced his son Prithviraj and the rest of his family to leave their hometown in Aheri taluka as they face threat to their lives.
Speaking to the press, Prithviraj said, “We have moved to another place, but I still believe the lift irrigation project will be implemented soon. I have taken up some work to fulfill the basic needs of my family. I am going to meet CM Devendra Fadanvis for the development of the region and also for employment.”
Nagpur-based activist Arvind Sovani of Bhumkal Sanghatan, who was aware of Durge’s development activities said, “Patru told me how and why the lift irrigation project is the need of the area. Unfortunately, before he could follow up the issue, Maoists warned him not to contest Grampanchayat elections again as he could gather the farmers together for development. 
They murdered him in April. Therefore, the implementation of such a project will certainly encourage the people for development in the area.”
Ravindra Kadam, IPS officer and in-charge of anti-Naxal operations at Nagpur range said, “It is absolutely true that Patru Durge was working hard to develop his area and was visiting government offices to meet the authorities for the same. He was attacked by Maoists for his pro-development work in the area. 
It has been revealed that Maoist violence has taken the lives of around 20-23 pro-development activists like Patru in the last 10 to 15 years. After such killings they always claim that the deceased was working for the police, but that’s not true.”
Another person from the region, who is connected with the issue said, former home minister late R.R. Patil had travelled around the Indravati river during his tenure and had asked for better management of the water flow that is being wasted due to ignorance. He had said it could prove to be helpful for the local farmers. However, still no development has taken place.

Maharashtra to form common welfare board for all unskilled workers

Mumbai: All the unskilled and unorganised labourers will soon be under one roof with the state government set to form a common welfare board to protect their rights.
“The state government’s labour department is planning to suggest reforms in labour law. The government will form a three-member committee by the end of this month,” said Prakash Mehta, labour minister.
“The committee will study disputes between industries and labourers and will also recommend minimum wages. All the reforms and recommendation will be in force once the report is submitted. Cab drivers and auto drivers will also be under the definition of labour and can avail welfare facilities from the board,” Mehta said. Based on the recommendations suggested by the committee, the new board will be formed. In many cases, industries have very few permanent employees and they hire contractual labourers even for skilled work, which is against the labour law. The committee will help the state government correct such irregularities.
All labourers in the state working with industrial or service sector will be registered under the board, which will handle their wages. Every employer including small contractors will have to deposit the wages of labourers with the board, which will distribute the wages to individual labourers at the board office in their district. The board will deduct some amount from the wages deposited by the contractor or employer as levy for the welfare of the labourers.
According to sources from the labour department, about Rs 240 crore is pending with the recently established Construction Labour Board, and around 3 lakh construction labors have been registered. The government could not spend the money for the welfare of any other worker except construction labourers.


India's record in infant care poor

New Delhi: India’s latest health indicators paint a very poor picture indeed of the state of infant and young child feeding (IYCF), with India scoring just 78 out of a score of 150. This score is given according to global standards World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative (WBTi) that seeks to monitor infant care across countries. India’s score comes from the 2015 assessment, the fourth such assessment, which shows that the country has made bare minimum improvement from a score of 74/150 from the 2012 assessment.
India’s indicators are lower than its more impoverished neighbours, Afghanistan with a score of 99, Bangladesh 107.5 and Sri Lanka 129. While Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have long left India eating dust when it comes to public health care, Afghanistan scoring higher should serve as an alarm bell to look into potential gaps the country’s programmes and policies.
Dr Vandana Prasad, of the Public Health Resource Network, while releasing the WBTi report, said that these countries had cultural practices and traditions similar to those in India, however, their high score reflected stronger political will. “We need an overall full time national body to coordinate efforts by the Women and Child Development Ministry, the health ministry, the labour and rural ministries,” she said. India’s score is low largely due to poor performance in national policy, programme and coordination, baby friendly hospital initiatives, maternity protection that entails paid maternity leave, as of yet only available to central government employees, and national legislation encouraging work site accommodation for breastfeeding and/or childcare. Another dismal score was on enabling breastfeeding or young child feeding during emergencies, for which there are no provisions. Where India performed relatively better was on providing skilled counseling services to all women concerning IYCF, in providing counselling and creative outreach on child feeding in the context of HIV.

ISSUES OF CONCERN

A ‘bridge’ brings teenage girls closer to schooling

Kulsum Mustafa
Shabbo, 12, hailing from a nondescript village in Hardoi, Uttar Pradesh (UP), had completely given up on her dreams after she, the eldest of five sisters, was pulled out of school barely two months after joining it. Her father Baitullah, a labourer earned just Rs 50-60 per day and could not afford the school fee. With a heavy heart she joined the other village girls, who worked at a nearby Zardozi (traditional embroidery done with gold and silver threads) centre. Ardous labour of seven to eight hours a day fetched her a meager sum, barely enough to ensure a square meal a day for the family.
The fact that the work affected her vision and the fine needles punctured her fingers hardly seemed to matter to anyone. Not even to Shabbo, who worked through the day and even at night without a break, without any rest – weaving dreams in shiny threads for others, while she herself was bereft of any hope. The only luxary she allowed herself occasionally was to ‘steal’ a few rupees form her daily earning and treat herself to golegappas  (a spicy snack) and an ice-lolly. Of course, for this she had to be prepared for the spanking if her father found out. Most of the time, he did not.
It was a hard life for a teenager but, frankly, Shabbo did not really mind it. She simply knew no better. But then one day something happened, that changed Shabbo’s world. It made her look at things with a different perspective. In 2008, a field worker came looking for ‘out-of-school’ girls to be enrolled in the Residential Bridge Course (RBC), a state government and UNICEF initiative.
Shabbo, who had faint but happy memories of her school days, showed her eagerness to join. “Ham to zindagi bhar bus kaam hi kartey reh gaye (I have only been doing work all my life)” was how she explained her emotions when she first heard of the RBC. The sorrow in her voice was quite palpable. Now that life was giving her another chance Shabbo welcomed the change with open arms. However, her parents, especially of Baitullah, were not ready to let her go. They were not sure how sending their daughter to the residential school would do her any good. Field workers had to make several visits to Shabbo’s home before her father finally agreed. They told him that the 11 months would transform his daughter into a young woman he would be proud of. Even Shabbo’s old school teacher and mother put pressure on him. Shabbo joined the first batch of RBC set up at Sarvodaya Ashram, Hardoi, along with 200 other girls selected from two blocks of Hardoi, namely Hariyanva and Pihani.
RBC has emerged as an effective strategy, both at the NGO and government level, for bringing ‘out-of-school’ girls to their age-appropriate class in school. It follows a curriculum that allows learning at a faster pace. At an RBC school, trained live-in teachers use a specially devised innovative educational curriculum to teach girls in the ages of 11-14 years. Over a period of 11 months, the students are brought to speed up with the studies of the primary classes up till Class Five, following a specific daily timetable for meals, studies and sports. Through intensive but interesting methods they are taught Hindi, English, Science, Maths and life-skills. Transition form one class to the other requires a minimum of one week where evaluation,  sharing, training and planning for the next session is conducted. Whenever needed, another week is added for clarifications and improvements in specific topics. The girls go home twice during the duration of the course. Besides the school in Hardoi, two more facilities have opened in the state one each at Gonda and Mall, the latter in the periphery of Lucknow, taking  the total number of RBCs in the state to three.
Whereas Shabbo knows that life will never be the same again outside the portals of the centre her  batch-mates, Soni, Ruby, Aruna feel exactly the same way. Aruna, in fact, has gathered the courage to tell her parents that she will not marry before she completes her intermediate. And Soni’s father, Jaichand, turns emotional every time he comes to meet her at the centre. “I cannot believe this smart young girl is my own timid Soni, I am happy she took this step,” he says. Jaichand had pulled her out of the village school because they were “wasting time and not teaching anything”. 
According to UNICEF education specialist Vinoba Gautam, the USP of the RBCs is the curriculum and the play methods used to teach the girls. “They are taught Hindi, Mathematics and Science and life skills. English is added in the class fourth curriculum. Poems are taught through group pebbles, stones and sticks. They are encouraged to develop leadership qualities besides life-skills,” he says.
The percentage of girls’ dropout is very high in UP, a state which has nearly a quarter of million children out of school. UNICEF has been an equal partner in the UP Government’s endeavour to bring girls back to school. Dwelling on the reasons for drop out, a UNICEF report cites extreme poverty, school at a far away distance from village, women (mother, sister) in the family being uneducated, girls entrusted with household responsibilities particularly minding younger siblings while parents go to work, concerns about safety and the poor quality of education imparted at government schools. So even as the RCB centers change the fortunes of girls like Shabbo or Soni there has to be a concerted move to tackling these hurdles that are bound to come in their way as they get into mainstream schooling. After all, that’s the only way the government can truly deliver the promise of Right to Education.
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A teacher becomes an inspiring agent of social change

- Ajit Panda
A group of more than 50 students are waiting in the classroom. Girls out-number boys. They are waiting for ‘Sir’. Sir rushes in, apologizing for being seven minutes late, and the English class immediately gets underway.
The classroom is in a middle school at Bodra Village in a remote part of the tribal-dominated Nagri Block of Chhattisgarh’s Dhamtari District. It is located 160 km from Raipur, the state capital. But none of the students who were waiting for Sir are from the school. They range from Standard IX to graduation level, and come not only from Bodra Village but from surrounding villages as well. The class begins at 8 am and ends before the middle school timing of 9.30 am. It is a special English Learning class for rural children, to make them job-ready. It is being run free of cost by Mahendra Kumar Borjha, who is the head teacher of the middle school.
The day begins at 7.30 for Borjha, who hails from the Halba Tribe and lives some 14 km away from the village. “I don’t want these children to suffer and face the same situation that I had to at their age. English should not be a barrier for them while appearing for exams, jobs and interviews,” says the 45-year-old teacher. “I am not preparing them only for government jobs; rather, I think they should become self-reliant in whichever field they will choose,” he adds.
“We are learning grammar as well as spoken English, which makes us bold and confident,” says Phuleshwari yadav, who is pursuing a BSc Degree and regularly attends Borjha’s classes. Like her, many students reach the village by bicycles.
There are 212 households in the village, and of these, 150 families belong to Scheduled Tribes. The village has two schools – the primary school has 87 students while the middle school has 55. For higher secondary education, the village children go to nearby Farsia Village. Inside the middle school compound there is a beautiful garden. Besides flowering plants, it also has a vegitable patch and fruit-bearing trees. Water comes from a bore-well. There are separate toilets for boys and girls, and one for special children as well.
But this was not the case a few years ago. There was just a school building with a toilet. “The credit for whatever development is seen today goes to Mahendra Borjha, who joined four years ago,” explains Dikesh Som, Borjha’s collegue, who has been teaching at the school since 2006. “When I joined here, there were only two teachers and infrastructure was an issue. I took that as a challenge. Besides writing to the administration, I involved the villagers by inviting them to our Independence Day celebrations. I sent invitation cards to each one. All of them came. I requested them to contribute for the development for the school and Rs 50000 was collected,” explains Borjha.
“So we got water connections put in around the campus, including the toilets. And with the villagers contributing labour, we leveled the ground and planted the garden. We now grow our own vegtables and use them for our mid-day meals; aftera few years, our trees will yield fruit. We also succeeded in getting furniture for the students, as well as a compound wall and more toilets built,” Borjha adds.
Borjha shares his chamber with other members of the staff, both teaching and non-teaching. What is unique is that each one has a table, even the sweeper and the Grade Four employee. And on each table, there’s a name plate. It has made a world of difference. “Our head teacher is a great man; he says all of us should have name plates as we are all contributing equally to the school and education. He has not only motivated us but also the students and their parents,” says K.L. Kashyap, the Grade Four employee.
And Borjha’s initiatives have borne extraordinary fruit. Of the five students from the school who took the National Talent Search Examination last year, three have been deemed eligible for a stipend of Rs 500 till Std XII. In the Open School examinations, ten of the 11 students who participated emerged successful. Small wonder that this little oasis of education has become the talk of the region!     

Infant Death

The mounting death toll of infants in Cuttack’s Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Post Graduate Institute of Pediatrics Hospital — commonly known as the Sishu Bhawan — coupled with the dire situation in Melghat on the Maharashtra-Madhya Pradesh border, where about 450 infants die every year, is a stinging indictment of the state of health care in the country.
Odisha’s Sishu Bhawan, the largest child hospital in the state, is a picture of neglect — suffering from infrastructural deficiencies. The rising death toll has brought to the fore Naveen Patnaik-led state government’s reluctance to address problems plaguing the health care sector. Now, it is left to the state and the Centre to jointly work out a solution and avert such a crisis in future.
Melghat in Maharashtra, too, is a victim of state apathy for years. In the absence of doctors, the Korbu tribals resort to a scary practice called damma — where a crying infant is given burn marks with a sickle. Malnourishment is rampant here and even new generation parents, who are aware that damma is not a scientific cure to a bloated stomach, are helpless. This then explains how Maharashtra, considered the richest state in the country, has turned its back on the marginal and underprivileged, letting them die at such an early stage in life. Currently, India spends only 1.04 per cent of its GDP on public health, compared to 3 per cent in China and 8.3 per cent in the United States. For a country, with the highest population growth rate, this minuscule percentage of government expenditure on something as essential as health leaves the vast majority of Indians vulnerable to death and disease. The high rate of infant mortality goes on to prove a criminal lack of primary health care centres and an overburdened referral system of hospitals. Little wonder that according to the World Health Organization, India ranks at a lowly 112th position among 190 countries, lower than strife-torn Iraq and Syria, and way below neighbouring Sri lanka. Two successive Union Budgets have steered away from the commitment to national health — in 2013-14, health care expenditure was slashed by nearly 20 per cent and was marginally increased in 2015-16. Consequently, the poor have found it increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to rely on government services.
The spate of infant deaths comes on the heels of the NDA government’s recently announced plans to increase public health investment to 2.5 per cent of the GDP by 2020, with 70 per cent of it to be allocated to boost the primary health care system. Of the Indian states with high neonatal deaths, Madhya Pradesh and Assam are the worst, followed closely by Odisha. Even today, diarrhoea and pneumonia are the biggest killers of children in India, which claim 20 infants per 1000 live births. It flies in the face of the incumbent government’s stated objective of putting in place a universal health-care system.A radical overhaul of the National Health policy has become an imperative, given the precarious conditions at the grass roots public health systems. A multi-pronged strategy that also takes into account basic amenities like clean drinking water, a nutritious diet and medicines should form an integral part of the government’s thrust on reducing infant mortality. Such a strategy should include not just the villages, but also the sprawling urban slums and tenements, where children lose their lives to diseases which can be prevented at the outset.