Tuesday, June 7, 2016

EDITOR'S COLUMN

Friends,

Month of May has gone leaving most parts of the country high and literally dry. Water Crisis all over India did cause a major concern. There has been unscheduled rain in different parts of the country for just a day or two. While it did help, with rise in some ground water level, it also helped mercury level to go down. Hope it was not only a passing respite.

The Month of June supposedly herald the onset of monsoon. Meteorological men have predicted more than normal monsoon. They were even very specific by saying it will be 4% more than normal. While they said, last week of May as the possible time of south-west monsoon to set in, now they have changed it to the 2nd week of June for the onset of monsoon. So what to take or what not to take is left to the reader. In any case the uncertainty is truly causing concerns. We need rain to come, soon and in plenty. 

Month that went by saw elections to many states. Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu have seen elections to state assemblies. Anti incumbency is the usual factor that would influence outcomes. But election being a game of glorious uncertainties, one has to wait and see. Of course, by the time, this print is in your hands, result would have already been declared. As usual psephologists have been having a field day predicting victory or defeat of parties in the field.

Abki baar Modi Sarkaar completed 2 years at the centre. There have been differing assessment of the NDA government’s performance from all and sundry. The grand posturing and promises have not seen action as anticipated. May be expectations should have been tempered down realistically. It’s been a mixed bag. Of course, it has to be seen from the perspective of aam aadmi, not necessarily from that of Arvind Kejriwal, who has been a bit of a joker looking for dirt only in the persona of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In the next month’s edition we hope to go into the details of ‘NaMo’s 2 years’.

Month-in-Perspective has been as usual. We have come up with our take without mincing words. Of course we could not cover many issues in our perview due to space constraints.

The incident of anti-national activity in National Institute of Technology, Srinagar, has charged the national atmosphere, for the importance it deserved. Unlikely combination of Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) and BJP has not been able to influence the course of events in Kashmir. Unfortunately Kashmir has been an issue of concern and Pakistan have always tried to fish in the troubled waters. In Focus we have tried to discuss the Pakistani role in keeping the Kashmir issue burning. Hope readers would find the effort interesting. Do revert with your inputs. Rest as usual.

MONTH-IN-PERSPECTIVE

HARYANA: The recent Jat agitation for reservation in government jobs etc has cost the nation thousands of crores in destroyed properties. The destruction of public property and loss of honour for some women folks has been due to many factors including the non-performance of both the police and official machinery of the state government.
The Prakash Singh Committee which probed the Jat agitation has only proved the obvious. It has come up pretty fast with its report. Reportedly it has charged some 90 officers, both among police as well as government officials.
Of course, the Committee has no punitive powers. It is for the government of CM Khattar to take the call. All are aware, Jat is a dominant and well off community in Haryana. There are bound to be many, who are Jats, both in Police and in State machinery, who not only remained plain onlookers but in some instance were party to the breakdown of law and order. It goes without saying that the duty of police and govt. machinery is to protect and uphold the law and order. That is the constitutional duty imposed on them. In the event they failed in their role. Khattar government is duty bound to ensure the primacy of the constitution and therefore the law of the land and ensure that guilty are punished according to the law and no mercy in shown. Only then the message can go that government means business of governance.

NEW DELHI: It was on 15th Aug 2014, that Prime Minister Modi, in his address to the nation from the ramparts of Red Fort had given a veiled warning at the working culture in the corridors of power in New Delhi.
It is a well known truth that almost 2/3rd of government staff- whether in centre or in states, are good for nothing dead woods and a drain on national resources.
It was only a matter of time, ‘for whom the bell tolls!’; and it struck. In the first week of May, some 33 tax officials have been prematurely retired, including 7 Group ‘A’ officers, reportedly for the first time. This is over the 72 officers already dismissed on disciplinary grounds during the last 2 years, informs Finance Ministry. Reportedly, these 33 officers have been asked to ‘go home’ for ‘Non- Performance’. Like NPA can we call them as NPS – Non Performing Staff or Non-Performing Liabilities- NPL!?
Hope the NDA government continues to clean the mess in the government apparatus.

Some time politicians do make sensible statements. Many months ago RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat had remarked that ‘Reservation needs revisit’. There was a national furor. There are many steps taken, schemes started and laws enacted by different governments in the past, which had its, ‘nay’ sayers. As the time passes, many a time ‘nay’ sayers were slowly proving right. So there is nothing wrong in having another look at the whole legislations, schemes etc. Bhagwat was only echoing that sentiment, and he was pulled over the fire.
Now comes, a Senior Congress Leader P L Punia (PLP), all of 71, who continued to remain Chairman of National Commission of Scheduled Castes (NCSC), even after NDA came to power, making a ‘Bhagwatian’ statement. Reportedly PLP has stated “Dalits who have prospered as a result of reservation should give up their claim in favour of those who have not prospered.” “This they should do as a social responsibility” he had added.
Now compared to RSS boss, this statement of PLP is far more radical. He is clearly giving notice to likes of Meira Kumar & Co., so also Mallikarjun Kharge & Co., who are both from Congress like PLP and have enjoyed the reservation benefits to the hilt for a long time. It is another matter that Congress leadership is upset that an SC/ST Congress leader has made this radical remark. Yes, we do need to revisit this issue of Quota in the larger national picture of justice and fair play. Amen.
 
In the wake of Supreme Court order around 30000 diesel taxies had stopped plying on the roads of Delhi’s NCR. The sheer number suggests the magnitude of the problem for the taxi owners/drivers so also the taxi using general public. The inconvenience due to this stoppage is humongous. Naturally, since it was the issue of livelihood, the taxi drivers blocked the arterial roads that has thrown traffic out of gear. As is the norm, authorities or those who force a rule will understand the gravity of the problem only when the affected section take the law in their hands and cause great deal of public inconvenience, may be even loss of life and public property. Then wisdom dawns on authorities and they make accommodative amends to the issue on hand. Now that the Apex Court handed down its decision to stop the diesel taxies it has occurred to them little late in the day, that it cannot be abrupt, but need to be slowly and steadily to be stopped. And, Apex Court wants the government of Delhi to give it a plan for this eventual stoppage of diesel taxis.
It can occur to anybody that there are older vehicles which pollute more, they should have been the 1st one to be stopped and slowly go up the ladder. This is not a rocket science, plain and simple practical approach.

There was this report datelined Delhi- ‘Defense Force to be trimmed’. But why only defense forces, every department of government needs to be trimmed. If one observes the annual union budget, the biggest item of expenditure is on salaries of staff.
 Of course, all those who are working has to be paid. Period. But, there is a huge section of salaried class, who simply do not work, or in some cases, they have no work. They just were recruited, at times just to favour some body. Hence, if the defense forces have thought of cutting down some flab and doing away with redundant posts in the armed force, it makes lot of sense. For the information of those who do not know, the combined strength of all of our 3 armed forces, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, is around 15.50 lakhs. The question is, in a world, where combat management has undergone sea change with more machine and less men doing the job and nuclear warfare may become the future war game, what will excessive number of men do! Since every rupee saved is a rupee earned, it is best, that some exercise is put in place to trim the numbers.  

Latest diatribe against Raghuram Rajan by economist politician Subramanian Swami has to be taken with a pinch of salt. The former IMF economist and Chicago University professor is a professional, knowledgeable, competent and a right man for the job at Reserve Bank of India. The language used by Swami prima facie has a tinge of personal bias and was highly improper for an economist and a former professor to use against another economist and professor. It could be that he is being nudged by some external elements, who are not happy with Rajan for varieties of reasons, since shooting off mouth is a kind of trade mark of this latest Rajya Sabha MP. Among the VIPs who have taken umbrage and at times disagree with RBI governor is Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
As is generally believed, Rajan has been as competent or better, as anyone could be. His image as an international economist helped. But he has been a bit open in his off-the-cuff remarks. For his background, what he said, right or wrong, has been perfectly in order. But it’s the politicians who think that they are the masters, are not comfortable with free thinking and acting bureaucrats. One of the most debated barb was his ‘one eyed jack’ remark. Prima facie, what he said about India being a one eyed king among blind is most telling and appropriate. It’s pretty long way to go for India to be recognized as an economic power house. There is so much social inequity in our system that it is too early to brand as the best destination of feel-good situation. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is a lawyer turned politician. His priorities and utterances are certainly guided by his party’s political philosophy, where as an RBI governor has his ears to the ground. In the larger interest of the country Prof Raghuram Govind Rajan need to continue at the helm in RBI head quarters, even after Sept. 2016. Hope PM Modi understands this, despite Jaitleys and Swamis.

After Bofors, there appears to be one more, which can come to the public space, disturb the national politics and get lost into the oblivion like Bofors.
Bofors story was known to all. There were clear evidence of bribe having been paid. Lot of media investigation went into fix some names. The main player Ottavio Quatrochi, a friend of Rajeev Gandhi family, quietly left the country as soon as Swedish news paper exposed the corruption in the Howitzer deal. He never returned to the country with all the ‘good intention of the Congress government of the day to get him back’ and he died leaving the mystery to remain a mystery.
Now comes the story of some Rs. 350 crores, having changed hands in the Augusta- Westland helicopter deal worth Rs 3600/- crores. Italian courts have convicted 2 of their nationals for paying the bribe. There is ambiguity who received the money in India. It happened during UPA II. Hence it is surely at the door of the Congress party. Like Bofors, here too they are claiming innocence. So who has really taken this Rs. 350 crores!?
Former Airforce Chief Tyagi is clearly in the radar. He is being grilled by the CBI. But there appears to be lack of clarity in what the NDA government is doing, except accusation of Sonia Gandhi and counter accusation by Congress of malafide. Since Italian courts have clear indication of bribe payments, why is it difficult for the incumbent Indian government to take more drastic measures is not clear. May be an Apex Court monitored investigation only can lead to some conclusive state or else, it can be another Bofors waiting to happen.

Controversy surrounding cine actor Salman Khan in the appointment as a Goodwill Ambassador to the Rio Olympics later this year has to be seen in its proper perspective. First of all this Salman worthy has many controversies surrounding him. Controversy thy name is Salman Khan. He has pending court cases for criminal liability. All news savvy Indians are privy to the antics of this filmy hero in trying to delay the court proceeding with the help of his battery of expensive lawyers. His foot in the mouth observation that Pakistan had no role in 26/11 Mumbai attack, had to be expunged by Salim Khan, his own father. Hence projecting him as Goodwill Ambassador is not likely to be of any use, except that since the announcement there are more people talking about Olympics. Besides organization presided over by Suresh Kalmadi, is not expected to be above board. Hence some discreet understanding between IOA & the P.R.O. of this filmy worthy cannot be ruled out. He was probably trying to refurbish his image. But this unwarranted thoughtless action of IOA has certainly upset many sports persons. Central govt. must act to annul this appointment in the larger interest of the sports in the country.
         
 ASSAM: The Story of an army jawan’s untimely death while undergoing endurance test raises lot of uncomfortable questions. Reportedly, there was a kind of mutiny from jawans against officers of the infantry unit after the death of jawan while training.
Part of 8 J&K Rifle, the unit was practicing somewhere in Dimapur in Arunachal Pradesh. A jawan complained of chest pain while undergoing the test. A doctor attached to the unit reportedly attended on him and declared him ‘fit’. Left with no choice jawan joined the group to continue his 10 km route march. Soon thereafter jawan was reported to have collapsed and as he was being carried to the Field Ambulance he breathed his last.
Understandably there was emotional outburst from among other jawans who probably argued with the unit officer, that the deceased jawan should not have been sent again for the march and rightly so. Having complained of chest pain should have been taken seriously by the doctor before declaring him fit. Or was he declared ‘fit’ at the instance of the Major commanding the unit. It was not clear.
However what needs to be appreciated is, there have been, in the past, instances of officers being unreasonable with jawans or juniors. This trend has to stop. Besides tribunals going into the cases of indiscipline should have men from different levels rather than only senior officers to understand the rationale of any emerging situation. Only then there will be fairness and justice to the underdogs.
             
GUJARAT: George Orwell became more famous as a writer for his epochal book ‘Animal Farm’ than all his other seminal works are concerned. It is in this book, critical of Communist governments, he had this famous observation “In Communism. All animals are equal but some are more equal than others”. I think except autocracy in every  other form of govt. some are more equal than others. Although world prides itself by quoting Abraham Lincoln that ‘Democracy is a government of the people by the people and for the people.” Indeed, it is really so, to begin with. But as time passes the equality, which is the corner stone of democracy, takes a back seat, for varieties of reasons. Hence it is no wonder that Mr. Yatin Oza, of the Gujarat High Court Bar Association has made public his perception of some Gujarat High Court judges being more equal than other judges of the same court. Reportedly Mr. Oza had written letters to the Chief Justice of India regarding the “manmaani” (do as they like) of two judges of Gujarat High Court because of their proximity to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP party president Amit Shah. Now that Mr. Oza has made public these letters, the Gujarat High Court has instituted a contempt case against Mr. Oza. Here the question is- Are there not other judges, in other states who are close to powerful politicians? Of course judiciary should not suffer from nepotism. It will be interesting to see how Apex Court responds.

MAHARASHTRA: Bhoomata Brigade Chief Trupti Desai appears to be wanting to bite more then what she can chew.
She has appeared in the media in recent times ostensibly to empower women, especially when women are denied entry into places of worship. In India, women in particular, suffer from many denials especially in our male dominated society. It is mostly true for all social backgrounds, be it Hindu, Muslim or Christian.
Every society has its share of controversy. Of course, among Christians, by and large restriction are less due to western influence. Same may not be said about Hindus and Muslims. Empowerment of individuals are more for socio/economic reasons. Religious empowerment like entry into temples is certainly very low in the importance. Hence, the kind of halla baloo, this lady and her brigade is making, is a kind of overkill. Courts do intervene in these matters, and they should be good enough than these attempts at forcible entry. It may be true that in places like Shani Shingnapur temples, this protest worked. Because by and large men in Hindu temples buckle under pressure. But her attempt to gatecrash into Haji Ali Darga in Mumbai, was destined to be a failure.
IJTIHAD, is a Quran inspired principle of questioning. This is an example for all humanity. But, except Muslims, all follow this principle. There is an element of freedom of thought in most theologies, unlike Islam. Hence, any change should be kept to their practitioners. This Trupti Desai simply had no business to go to Haji Ali Darga and try to forcibly enter. The best she can do is to help Muslim women, who want to fight for their rights, provide a platform. Don’t try to fight someone else battle. You are bound to fail. And that’s what happened.  

When it happened almost 5 years ago on 20th Oct 2011, whole of Mumbai, nay whole of India felt extremely shocked at and sad at what happened outside the Amboli Bar & Kitchen in the Mumbai suburb of Andheri.
For having protested the humiliation and molestation of their female friends, two young men, Kenan Santos (24) and Reuben Fernandese (29) were reportedly stabbed by goons while their female friends screamed for help in full public view and no help came with lot of people and shops open around. The duo succumbed to grievous injuries.
Four goons were arrested and case filed. It took more than 4 years to come to some concluded state. Reportedly on 5th May the Judge of the Special Women’s Court delivered a judgement that would keep all 4 accused in jail for the rest of their life. Indeed they deserved to be kept in jail until their eventual death, or else they would become a threat to the family of the victims and even to society at large. While capital punishment could have been an option, the crime couldn’t have been considered ‘rarest of rare’. Of course the accused has an option of challenging the order of conviction. However, it is hoped higher courts shall also look at the issue fairly to dismiss the appeal.
Looking back, a disturbing question that crops up every time an attack takes place, victim suffers or even dies, and we the onlookers, are either apathetic, helpless or suffer from ‘it’s not my problem’ attitude.
Is there any way, there can be an effective intervention in such situations? It is a question, free India must debate, involving school and college students including members of civil society. Hope some response develops.  

Among the many shames that the Indian society has endured are the non acceptance of achievements of usual have-nots of the society. Of course, media at times, do publish some stories of personal valour of these unfortunate victims of times and circumstances. And comes this story of 36 years old Sunil Yadav who is employed by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM). Yes, he works as a sweeper and reportedly he has just been awarded an M. Phil by Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS). He got this job in replacement of his father being declared mentally unfit for the job. Despite his humble background, his ardent desire to improve himself was not reciprocated by his employers, the MCGM. During the over 16 years of his association with MCGM as a sweeper, he completed his HSC, a B.Com, a BA in Journalism and a Master in Social Work by 2011. He added this latest feather of M. Phil to his cap. Surely his bosses at MCGM may not be even half qualified as this humble sweeper. He shares his difficult years with the conservancy department of MCGM when he was made to struggle to get leave for his exams. He was allowed to go to South Africa as a part of his thesis, only on the intervention of TISS. Isn’t Mother India poorer with such humans manning positions of power, where they not only have the pettiness of ignoring the mute cries of ones like Sunil Yadav and deny them a rightful place under the Sun but also make them suffer for their achievements?! Please join in wishing a bright and useful future for this unsung hero SUNIL YADAV.

KERALA: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is undoubtedly a great leader by his own right. A powerful orator. But, at times it will only help him, if he checks himself in his no-holds barred attack on political opponents. Many a time, boorish observations will not only not win friends and influence people, it can also be completely counterproductive.
The latest barb, comparing Kerala to Somalia, is not only in bad taste but also displays his arrogance or ignorance or both. PM Modi need to recognize that Kerala’s HDI is far better than that of Gujarat, where he ruled for 3 terms. This can be called intolerance of the opponents.
So please PM Modi, kindly do not kill the truth and control yourselves in the interest of larger pan Indian picture.

WORLD: In India any restriction in College or hostels as to the dresses is always challenged by a section of Indians, in the name of freedom and democracy, whether it is right or wrong. For them, a budding lady lawyer, coming to attend her law classes in shorts is an expression of freedom.
University cannot stop it. It is another matter, that another regular champion of freedom, Bar Council, has taken umbrage at this irresponsible bahaviour of the lady student and have insisted that law students must keep the dignity of the legal profession by dressing properly.
However, these sentinels of freedom are nowhere to be found when mosques or the Fatwa industry issues edicts, especially on Muslim females. In a latest from London, many mosques in the U.K have instructed their women folks to delete their Face Book accounts, not to wear trousers and not to leave the house without permission of their Fathers/ Husbands, as the case may be.
Idea of burqua is to cover fully, so what is wrong in trousers? Trouser too covers the lower portion of the body fully. So why ban it? But unfortunately there are nobody taking cudgels on behalf of these women folks who want to wear a trouser or chat in FB, but cannot.
Like Chinese, it’s my way or highway. Take it or leave it.

There was this small report “Sri Sri Gets into Nobel Prize Controversy” in the print media. He had reportedly remarked “We should always honour only to those who deserve it and I am totally against honouring Malala Yousufzai”.
Nobel Prize is given by Alfred Nobel Foundation. They have a team of intellectuals who select a recipient of this award, after due deliberations. It could be, there were better qualified, sometime getting overlooked. Such things happen all over the world. In case of Malala, by any stretch of imagination, if what is available in the public space is to be taken on face value, she is an iconic personality at so small an age. Nobel Committee thought she deserved it, and she was awarded. Except Pakistan, most of the world celebrated it, including India. It’s already close to 2 years, and for Sri Sri to mouth his prejudices, a wee bit too late, is rather very unkind. Prima facie, he has no business to react so harshly & negatively. If what is attributed to him is true, then it is in bad taste and simply uncalled for. He is duty bound to explicitly state why he thinks he is against honouring Malala, and then make amends to the damage he has caused.

South China Sea is slowly emerging as a flash point among the claimants to its ownership or claims. Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan are the other claimants as against the sole claimant China. By nature, China has always been assertive. Now it is even challenging the verdict of U.N Tribunal on Convention of law of Sea (UNC LOS). There are indications that the Tribunals verdict is likely to go against China for the absolute clarity of the case.
A water body surrounded by many land masses belonging to different geographical entitlement should necessarily be shared by all those geographical entities. This goes without saying. One can have some basis of sharing like the length of coastline etc. but it simply is not available for unilateral usurp.
Unfortunately with the money power it gained during its open investment policy and its controlled labour cost, has gone to the head of Chinese leadership. World need to take note of this arrogance of money power and develop measures to counter it. It has clear ambition of being a Super Power ready to brow-beat United States. Of course any country is entitled to pursue a course of least resistance to become Super Power. But it can’t ride rough-shod with all and sundry in its journey towards the Super Power status. The principle of Live and Let Live has to be the mantra of international relation. Period.

It is a matter of joy for the entire Indian sub-continent that Sadiq Khan, a Pakistani migrant’s son has become the first Muslim occupant of a Mayor’s chamber in one of the most prominent western cities. Son of a bus driver, born in Pakistan, migrated when he was only 4 years old, Sadiq is the latest mayor of London. A first for any European Union capital. 45 year old Khan is a former human rights lawyer and an MP from Tooting, East London since 2005. He has been an active Labour politician and was part of former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s cabinet. As a working class representative his roots with his electorates were strong. He won against the brother of Jemina Khan, the billionaire former wife of Pakistani cricketer Imran Khan. Oxford educated Zac Goldsmith from conservative party tried to win over Indians by circulating the photograph of him shaking hands with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his last visit to England. But, Sadiq’s grassroot contacts with the people of Indian sub-continent carried the day for him. He appears to be an open minded liberal, despite his controversial remark on moderate Muslims as “Uncle Toms”, which he is reported to have recanted in a recent BBC interview saying “I do regret using the phrase and I am sorry”.
It is hoped that his liberal and modern outlook will help in creating a safer London. From bunk bed sleeping until 24 years of age to the office of Mayor of London at 45 is a fairy tale journey for a humble bus driver’s son. In his acceptance speech, he was reported to have remarked “I want every single Londoner to get the opportunity that our city gave, to me and my family, the opportunity not just to survive but to thrive.” Hope he tries his best to translate his vision during his ensuing 8 years term.  

FOCUS

KASHMIR & PAKISTANI PERFIDY

Two things happened since 31st March 2016. India lost to West Indies in the T20 cricket Semi Final in Wankhade Stadium in Mumbai. All over India, there was a feeling of little sadness, at least among cricket loving section of Indians, over this loss to the Caribeans. Indians were clear favourites for varieties of credits in their favour. But then cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties and as luck would have it, men in maroon pulled it off to the utter chagrin of Indians. It was a magnificent team effort. Hence the sadness of Indians, certainly the Indian team, was clearly palpable. In contrast to what happened in India, a group of students in NIT Srinagar, celebrated the Indian defeat rather than the victory of West Indies. They appeared to be clearly relishing the Indians loss. Why were they celebrating the Indian defeat? Do they also want India to lose in other spear as well? Do they also want India to lose to Pakistan, not just in Cricket, but in all other spears including may be even a war? Indeed this celebration by the youth of NITS, of Indian cricket defeat, has thrown up quite a few uncomfortable questions.
Controversy had not completely died down, a young college girl in Handavara was reported to have been molested. She claimed, it was two boys who attacked her persona, one of them being in school uniform. But a section of Kashmiris insisted that it was an army sentry who attacked the girl. Her mother went to the town to say that it was indeed an army personnel. It was however, to the credit of the young girl when she was called upon to testify before the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Handavara. She insisted on the two boys story rather than any army man doing the despicable act. Clearly it appeared that the mother of this young girl was under pressure from anti-Indian elements, which may be even Pro-Pakistani or even Pakistani elements masquerading as Kashmiris.
Clearly there are visible signs of strain, and this is after close to 69 years of Kashmiri leadership having formally accepted India as a nation of their choice.
August 14th 1947, saw the creation of Pakistan as a separate nation from India. Country was divided on Suspicion, lived with Suspicion and there appears to be no hope that Suspicion will go away. Kashmir was offered to make its decision to either join Pakistan or join India. Maharaja Hari Singh had signed the ‘Standstill Agreement’ with Britishers. But obviously Mohd Ali Jinnah’s Pakistan had no patience. On the night of 22nd Oct 1947, Jinnah decided to send Pak army in the garb of Pathani tribals and the history of Kashmir was unilaterally altered forever.
The issue of Kashmir going with either India or Pakistan was still on the negotiating table. It was a reflection of things to come. Yes, Pakistan at the very first instance proved that it cannot be trusted. For all the 69 years of freedom from the colonial yoke and Pakistan became an independent nation, their untrustworthiness was on continuous display.
The tribals came into Kashmir, left their leaders on the way and entered Muzaffarabad only to loot and cause mayhem. Hari Singh, disappears to Jammu. Both Sheikh Abdulla & Hari Singh appeal to New Delhi to save Kashmir. Prime Minister Nehru refuses to interfere without formal accession treaty. Left with no choice, with the Pakistan exposed of its treachery, Hari Singh gladly signs the accession treaty and as the chiche goes ‘rest is history’.
Kashmir physically remained with India, with mind torn among India, independence and Pakistan triangularly, and Pakistan being what Pakistan always was, an untrustworthy friend and neighbour.
Kashmir valley was once upon a time a tranquil lake inhabited by ‘Nagas’ or snake people, informs the legend around the land where snow never seem to melt. Due to the influence of sage Kashyap, the valley was scattered with shrines of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. Kashyapamar, a name this land mass acquired, slowly over a period, became Kashmir. From emperor Ashoka to Britishers, the land of Kashmir was ruled by different authorities. It was Ashoka who established the city of Srinagar. It was during the raid of Mangolian descendent of Chengis Khan that Kashmir was really battered. Sahadev, the then Hindu King left the scene for the Tibetan refugee Prince Ranchina, who was a Buddist. He thought of becoming a Hindu ruler, since large majority of Kashmir were Hindus. But due to the caste contradictions of Hindu social system, Prince Ranchina could not become a Hindu. MJ Akbar in his ‘Kashmir Behind the Vale’ writes “Kashmiri Pandits informed Ranchin, solemnly, that he could not become a Hindu because they could not decide which caste he should join on conversion. Ranchin became a Muslim and a sequence of Muslim dynasties began to rule over Kashmir.” It was around 1320.
It always happens, ‘Yatha Raaja Thathaa Prajaa’. Slowly the Hindu population of Kashmir converted to Islam. Could this eventual metamorphosis on religious line become the ‘cause celebre’ of the Kashmiris, not to throw their lot with the Hindu majority, but secular, India!?
It was post 1585, that Kashmir came under the rule of Mughals. Jahangir, a Mughal descendant had on seeing Kashmir for the first time famously remarked on the beauty of Kashmir, ‘if there is a paradise, it is this, it is this, it is this.’ “As far as the eye could see, flowers of different hues were blooming and in the midst were streams of water flowing; one might say it was a page that the painter of destiny had drawn with the pencil of creation” he had written in “Memoires of Jahangir”. According to Europeans “The whole Kingdom wears the appearance of a fertile and highly cultivated garden, meadows & vineyards, fields of rice, wheat, saffron and many sorts of vegetables among which are mingled trenches filled with water, rivulets, canals and several small lakes vary the enchanting scenes”. Such beautiful place was Kashmir. No wonder Pakistan wanted to have it at all cost. Of course Afghans, post 1750, dethroned weak Mughal governors, and plundered Kashmir for 70 long years, ‘destroyed without pity and stole without mercy’.
However the reign of Ranjith Singh after Afghans, did not bring much of happiness to plundered Kashmiris. Exploitation of people continued, may be without violence. It was only post 1947 that things changed for better. In the meanwhile, Kashmir had changed hands to Dogra dynasty. Around the same time, a stormy petrel, Sheikh Mohd. Abdullah, had emerged as a powerful voice of people. Born in 1905 to an enlightened mother whose father was born a Hindu Pandit, young Abdullah pursued education into Aligarh Muslim University and completed his M.Sc., a very high qualification for those days. He tried for a civil service opening with Maharaja Hari Singh’s government in Kashmir.
Unfortunately, Hari Singh did not give him a job. He ended up being a teacher in a government school in Srinagar. Would things have been different, if young Sheikh Abdullah was employed by the Hari Singh Government? After 60 years of upheaval in Kashmir Valley it’s a moot question.
But it is indeed true that there have been incidents and decisions, which could have been avoided by all stake holders to the future of Kashmir as a peaceful but integral part of India. Therefore blame can be on all starting from Hindu Pandits to Rinchana to Hari Singh to Sheikh Abdullah to Nehru to Indira Gandhi, and of course Pakistan and Pakistan inspired militancy. 
All followers of Kashmir affairs are privy to the knowledge that, besides Pakistanis it was not merely the uncertainty of Maharaja Hari Singh, but also the ambivalence of Sheikh Abdullah, added with political machinations from New Delhi have contributed to the problems of Kashmir.
If Indian political decision in 1948, post-Pakistani attack in Oct 1947, to take the issue of Kashmir to U.N, against Indian Military advice, was a mistake, it has given on a platter to Pakistan, to pin-prick India for all these years. In 1965, Pakistan launched a full scale war on India. Lal Bahaddur Shastri the then Prime Minister ordered an all out retaliation on Pak army in the Chamb sector of Jammu. Pak army crumbling under intense Indian attack cried for international help and no help came. Pakistan lost. In 1971 Bangladesh was born and Pakistan broke into two, due to the atrocities committed by Pakistan army. Sheikh Abdullah was convinced that Kashmir cannot go with Pakistan. However death of Sheikh Abdulla in 1982 was a serious setback in the Indianisation of Kashmiri mindset. As such Kashmir was already divided as Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and J&K of the Indian side. Pakistan, for record, called it Indian Occupied Kashmir and had never accepted the Treaty of Accession to India. Political machinations from New Delhi, post Janata Party fiasco, led to emergence of militancy, especially after the death of Sheikh Abdullah.
Since then, it has not been same for Kashmir and Kashmiris. In 1971 Pakistan again attacked India, thinking India may not be able to handle from both East Pakistan side and from west. In the event Pakistan rather lost it badly. 1980s brought Zia-ul Haq as the ruler in Pakistan. He gave for the first time, unhindered Islamic thrust into Pakistani politics. Zia-ul-Haq’s policy of bleeding India with thousand cuts, started taking toll in the tranquil Kashmiri Valley.
In 1998, the then army Chief Pervez Musharraf engineered the Kargil incursion without the knowledge of political leadership, despite there being an understanding only 3 months earlier, between Atal Behari Vajapayee and Nawaz Sherif. Here too Pakistan lost. Having lost five wars on Kashmir, Pakistan resorted to hit& run border skirmishes, sneaking in either army personnel or militants through the border areas. These militants then join hands with forces inimical to India and try to create unrest and keep the security forces busy and occupied. At this point we need to remember the policy of thousand cuts of Zia-ul-Haq, which was kept alive by all succeeding Pakistani leadership, whether Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif or Pervez Musharraf. Of course it was the Pakistani military and their Inter Services Intelligence which were behind these irritants on India. These covert operations by Pakistan with the help of separatist forces in Kashmir was always at a heavy cost to India, in terms of men, materials and money.
Then comes the season of stone pelting. For quite some time, this stone pelting was a lucrative business funded from across the border. It was providing jobs to unemployed youth offering these stone pelting services for a price. Reliable sources informed that several youth were also operating stone pelting cartels funded by Pakisatani sources routing it through separatist organizations and some political parties like PDP. Separatist groups owing allegiance to Pakistan-terror outfit Hizbul Majahideen and Lashker-e-Tayiba were alleged to have formed several groups for the purpose. These groups were paid hefty amount ranging between Rs 5 to 8 lakhs, part of this money was paid to another group known as ‘initiators’, who collect stones and target Police and paramilitary forces. On any kind of issues they get worked up mostly for wrong reasons. Reportedly overall funding ran into crores.
Special Director General of (SDG) CRPF in J&K had gone on record that ‘a new form of gunless terrorism in the shape of stone pelting had emerged in Kashmir’. According to him, it is being funded by Pakistan and its agencies through hawala or men sympathetic to Kashmiri militants. There are large number of instances of unprovoked stone- pelting by hostile mobs on CRPF that has left some 1500 jawans and close to 400 vehicles damaged, the SDG had quoted.
Thus, the policy and practice of inflicting thousand cuts has been going on unabated. Comes 2010, larger conflagration between security forces and Pakistan backed militants became the order of the day.
However in June 2010, an unfortunate killing by Indian Army soldiers, 3 civilians as Pakistani infiltrators, led to series of violent protest that led to widespread unrest in the valley. Taking advantage of the incident, Pakistani intelligence agencies started to send its men to support the protesters and Kashmiri militants. According to reports, a meeting was held in Muzaffarabad in the Pakistani Occupied Kashmir, chaired by then ISI Chief Hamid Gul, United Jehad Council called for reinvigorated jihad until Kashmir was free of Indian occupation. As a result large number of militants had setup camps in the border areas with plans to crossing into Kashmir valley, locals had reported.
In the protest after the June 2010 incident of 3 civilian deaths, there has been large scale deaths among protesters. Protesters had even burnt down a Christian Missionary School, a Church and some government buildings.
Of course, it was the mistake by the army sentries without the knowledge of the army higher-ups. It led to large scale involvement of Pakistani elements only to foment trouble for India and Indian army. Those who are aware of the Pakistani intransigence are aware of the mean Pakistani mindset when their men in Oct-1947 had looted, assaulted Kashmiri women folks and even murdered both men and women. Hence, there was no love from Pakistanis towards Kashmiris. It was the Kashmir that Pakistani leadership wanted to usurp by means foul rather than by fair means.
Of course, as for India, its leadership acted with responsibility over the wanton killing 3 Kashmiri civilians. Army convicted seven soldiers, including 2 officers and sentenced them to life imprisonment over the staged killing for personal rewards. This act was certainly a positive development to soothe the frayed tempers. Of course, the local population, divided as it is, was not really impressed, especially the section influenced from across the border.
It is indeed true that despite continuous efforts by Pakistan, the status of Kashmir has not changed. And it is not likely that it will change with the way things are. Also, it is unlikely that Pakistan will stop meddling in the affairs of Kashmir in the foreseeable future. And as it happens, Indian Defense Review informs that Pakistan of late launched a campaign to attract Kashmiri youth towards terrorism. This campaign by one Burhan Muzaffar Wani, a terrorist aligned with Hizbul Mujahedeen (HM) is being supported with stories of policemen running away from the force to join HM. They even planted stories through their agents in Kashmir, of some 60 youth, mostly educated, joining HM after being motivated by this Wani. This was also circulated on the internet. In a video, this Wani was seen exhorting police personnel and special Police officers of Kashmir to leave service and join the ranks of the HM to ‘fight for their land’. Such campaigns, although has not helped in attracting large number of youth, some misguided youth have joined the terror rank. But what these youth have not tried to understand and appreciate, is that those misguided youth who left India to POK have remained stuck there, are not in a position to return and are feeling bad. Somehow this harsh truth is not dawning on them. But the stories of disillusionment among their elder generation who crossed over to POK is percolating down. Hence, Pakistan is experiencing a low turnout from Kashmir for their cause. Obviously they are desperate. Hence trying to infiltrate institutions of higher learning like NITS to fan hate mongering. Almost 69 years have gone, since India’s independence and the J&K formally becoming an integral part of India. Pakistan has tried every trick in the book for this almost seven decades to sway Kashmiris towards Pakistan. Truth is while there are elements in Kashmir, like Andrade and her ilk, Kashmir is unlikely to go all hog to Pakistan, since there is a huge trust deficit towards Pakistan, among majority of Kashmiris. This is the saving grace. Hope this stays.
J. SHRIYAN

FEATURE

Quantum World View

Prof. B. M. Hegde,
hegdebm@gmail.com
Science is the biggest enterprise that man ever created. Of all the living things on this planet man is the only one that seems to have started thinking about how this world works. To understand that he started this new adventure, called science, which was originally meant just to understand how this world works. Some exceptionally brilliant minds did accidentally tumble upon some understanding of the world’s laws, like gravity, buoyancy, and others. Next step was to find out how the world works by doing some experiments. That was the stage the western churches started obstructing their work as this kind of scientific enquiry, they thought, might interfere with the religious belief. That is where the first conflict between religion and science started. The fall out was that the scientists subconsciously developed an aversion to the God concept in religion and thus God was kept out of the scientific realm.
Now that has become a fad and fashion with the young budding scientists to be atheists. To cap it a young brilliant mathematical brain of Rene Descartes assumed all power to himself by declaring “Cogito ergo sum” (I think, therefore, I am) If he were a lot more experienced and wise, he would have realised that was his perception and not the world view. There is no perception without a perceiver. In short, we do not have a universe but a multiverse of perceptions, otherwise called the concept of biocentrism. Each one of us, including animals, has his or her own perception which is different from others. The world does not run because of that. The real thing should have been “I am, therefore, I am able to think. Let us therefore, think from hereafter.
More and more people started dabbling in science as the world had enough to eat and exist. Finding one’s next meal was not that difficult. Science then was more of a hobby for the well to do. The leading lights of that generation were Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. There were a host of others but less illustrated than the above two and so are not mentioned here although some of them like Werner Heisenberg were wiser. Newton’s Laws of deterministic predictability and Einstein’s laws of relativity together founded a world view of “space-time”constraints where everything else out with this space time module was rejected. They along with others tried to split an atom to study the subatomic particles, which in itself was another big business resulting in the atomic bomb! I still remember the words of Max Planck following the bomb blast. “I am proud of my students’ cleverness in splitting an atom but am wondering if that atom that they have split might tech mankind a bitter lesson one day which might be too costly for mankind” According to the Space Time world view the speed of light should be the fastest.
When this group had some confusion they would call for a Copenhagen Conference where the problems would be discussed and “settled”! They did not look beyond their noses. They patted each other’s back either by their Nobel Prizes or their Fellowships of Newton’s Royal Society.Buoyed up by the successful technological advances of their initial scientific laws like the aeroplane, communications’ facilities, infrastructure, industrial growth, atom bomb, space travel, weapons of mass destruction etc. scientists also became money wise. Money spoils man. This scientific world view makes man to be arrogant with some scientific authority. They are bound to sell their souls, which in fact, is a sordid boon they embarked on some funny experiments to split the particles further by colliding them at the speed of light in large submerged reactors at an enormous cost like the CERN scientists. Along with particle physics other natural sciences like chemistry and biology also adopted this reductionist mind set. Evolution was said to be genetic based on Darwin-Mendel hypothesis forgetting the vital role the whole environment plays on evolution, initially put forward by Lamarck. New Evolutionary biologists like Elisabet Sahtouris have tried to revolutionise the field of evolutionary biology where the world view in totally new.
Some thinking physicists started wondering about the behaviour of subatomic particles not confined to the Space time constraints. The particle wave distinction also died down gradually when they could easily discern that both the waves and particle are but the two faces of the same coin. In his article for lay people Hans Peter Durr, a former Emeritus Director of the Max Planck Institute, wrote “my job was to look at matter at its subtlest level and going down the line at one stage I found that there is no matter at all. Was I surprised-not at all? I expected that!” Starting from Max Planck, de Broglie, Paul Derik, and many others went ahead with the new ideas and have now we have reached a stage where physics took a quantum jump into this new field of quantum physics which has created a new world view which looks closer to reality than the old “Space-Time conundrum.” For a novice it is a bit confusing as this new world view is more of a possibility than actuality. This comes into view when we look at it and we do not know what happens when we do not look. However, no more doubt remains as most of the new concepts are proven by experimentation.
Experimental physicists have shown that a particle, like in the double slit experiment could be directed to go through the path that the experimenter wants it to take-mind at work! Non-locality, a concept that Albert Einstein did not agree till his last breath, is a reality now. Einstein called it “spooky action at a distance-God playing dice” etc. This reality was a well know entity in Eastern philosophy, especially Indian Vedanta. Teleportation, transfer of knowable or known entity from one place to another without loss of time, and with no communications facilities, has brought spirituality closer to science. When one tries to understand the new quantum physics one is struck by the existence of a superior intelligence (consciousness) at work in this world. Consciousness has now become a scientific concept and has revolutionised medical science in a big way. That is why I am into this field. Non locality brings in telepathy, a well know concept in Vedanta. Non locality shows that there is the possibility of a particle having its counterpart active at a distance simultaneously.
The earlier science gave an impression that man is the one who can make this world run as per the laws of deterministic predictability within the constraints of space time. Quantum world view teaches us that we are all the same wave energy and, therefore, interconnected. Once this world view gets currency all negative human thoughts like hatred, anger, jealousy and greed will have to be replaced by universal compassion making wars and terrorism look foolish and non-productive. When we harm someone else whom are we harming but ourselves? Diseases take a back seat as all of them start in the human mind in negative thoughts. The human mind was confined to the human brain in the earlier world view but quantum world view brings it out in the open as a part of this big universal wave (consciousness). The world can now be compared to the wide sea where we, as individuals, are but a small wave. We ARE a part of that sea. Makes man humble. The earlier world view with all its prizes and awards used to make man arrogant and sick. “Proud man; his glassy essence like an angry ape, performing such fantastic tricks against high heavens that makes even the angels weep.”The word “I” used to dominate (starting illness). Now the word is WE (meaning wellness). In the Quantum world view your award is your capacity to be compassionate. This new science opens the flood gates to quantum healing, a limitless field. This also leads to the inner development of man for the good of mankind.
That said, I must hasten to add that there will not be many to buy this truth as this is not a good business proposition and might not allow us to make money like the reductionist world view of the past. My hope is that this scientific truth of quantum reality should bring man and man together "To Give Without Remembering & Receive Without Ever Forgetting."

Kanyashree Prakalpa- An imaginative WB govt. scheme

SAADIA AZIM

Two years ago, Anu Nayak’s elder sister dropped out of school and last year, it was the turn of the ninth grader from Midnapore town in Paschim Medinipur District in Bengal. Every rainy season, Nayak’s family falls into bad times financially because her father, a municipal sweeper, struggles with his job. With an exponential increase in his work load, he slogs all day but come nightfall he squanders his earnings on alcohol. Consequently, there is hardly any money left to keep the kitchen fires burning let alone fulfill any other need.
Being the daughter of a sanitation worker, who belongs to one of the most backward and outcast communities, depravation and discrimination have been a part of the 16-year-old’s life for as long as she can remember. So naturally, she was ready to give up the ‘perk’ of schooling after which she knew her parents would start talking about an early marriage. “What difference would it have made anyway? As it is our classes have been quite erratic because of the constant threat of extremist violence in the region. There have been so many times when I have not been able to attend school due to some incident. Last year, my sister had to drop out of school because my mother could not find work pay for her education. And moreover, in my community girls do not study beyond Class Five. Why would my situation be any different?”
Resigned to her fate, Nayak was mentally preparing herself for the bleak future that awaited her- till she heard of something that has given her a reason to hope. Across Bengal, today, millions of girls are getting back to school and those at the verge of being pulled out are able to continue their studies thanks to a state scheme that is providing cash incentives to promote girls’ education and deter early marriage.
The West Bengal government’s Kanyashree Prakalpa Scheme, which was launched in October 2013, promise a one-time grant of Rs 25000 to girls 18 years and above, who have remained unmarried to pursue an education or professional training. Moreover, the initiative extends to all unmarried girls between 13 and 19 years with the State Department of Women & Child Development and Social Welfare providing them an annual scholarship of Rs 500.
“Recently, when my mother heard of this scheme she not only got my sister re-enrolled in school but now she doesn’t want to pull me out either. My grandmother who, till a few months back, was insisting upon her marriage has dropped the idea altogether. She knows that way we would be entitled to the cash benefit being given by the government. These days, my sister Bharti and I both go to school regularly. Once Bharti turns 18 next year she is hopeful of getting Rs 25000, some of which will enable for her to do a course later,” says Nayak with a wide smile.
The conditional cash transfer scheme is exactly what young girls in Bengal need fully enjoy their childhood and also secure their future. After all, neither the odds nor the statistics paint a favourable picture. According to government data, out of the total number of 17.3 million adolescents (10-19 years) in the state- incidentally, they make up 20 per cent of the population- 83 lakh, or 8.3 million, are girls. While children in the age group have a tremendous potential for physical and mental growth, they are also considerably vulnerable to falling victim to harmful social practices, particularly child marriage.
According to the third District Level Household Facility Survey (DLHFS), Bengal ranks fifth among the Indian states with a high prevalence of child marriage. In fact, around 55 percent of married women between 20 and 24 year have been pushed into matrimony before they turned 18. Under-age marriage is significantly higher in the rural areas where high dropout rates and the threat of trafficking feed the unfortunate reality.
When the Kanyashree Prakalpa Scheme was being conceptualized a couple of factors were taken into consideration. It was felt that the greatest obstacle to girls’ education was child marriage, domestic responsibilities and early pregnancy. “So, if early marriage could be discouraged then it would automatically mean a better life for them later on. We felt that keeping girls in school was the best way to deal with this grave problem. The Kanyashree scheme has become immensely popular. Even as the beneficiaries get a small sum annually as an incentive to go to school it’s the expectation of the one-time sizeable grant of Rs 25000 that keeps them there till they turn 18. Moreover, from this year on, August 14 will be celebrated as Kanyashree Diwas,” elaborates Farzana Alam, deputy mayor of Kolkata Municipal Corporation.
Reveals Toton Saspillya, ward councilor of Midnapore Municipal Corporation, “In the first year, more than 16 lakh girls in the district have registered under this scheme. The response has been phenomenal.” At the village level, it’s the gram pradhan (village head) who works in tandem with the block development officer, to provide an income certificate- monthly earnings of not more than Rs 10000- which is one of the key criteria for registration. The municipal corporation councilor through the district administration does the same in towns.
The head teacher of the nearest secondary/ higher secondary schools have been instructed to help applicants in the process and facilitate the opening of a bank account. At the same time, banks have been directed to open the accounts by setting up camps in schools. The Kanyashree application and the account opening form are submitted at school.
“Although girls covered under the scholarship scheme get small annual support of Rs 500, for families whose annual income is not more than Rs 50000, even this is a big support. In addition, the child feels empowered as she gets a bank account in her name,” observes Tafajjal Hossen, pradhan of Bankibandh Anchal Village in Salboni Block, which is a hotbed for Naxal violence.
Rummi Jasmin, 14, a Class Nine student of Nandari Sastri Smrity Vidyapith in Satbanki Village of Salboni Block, is a trendsetter in her family, where no women either studied beyond Class Five or managed to bring in money. “My mother always wanted me to study but my father, a small time lottery ticket seller, was keen on getting me married. Many of my peers in the village have already tied the knot, but somehow I have escaped it till now. At present, however, my parents have abandoned the idea of my marriage,” she says happily. It was at the behest of their pradhan that she applied for the scholarship. “These days, I see girls going back to school so that they can also get a bank account and scholarship,” she adds.
“It’s my dream to become a teacher,” shares Sutapa Hati, 15, another youngster from Satbanki, “Earlier, it seemed impossible for one to pursue studies. Sometimes the school would be closed and sometimes my parents would fear for my safety, which is generally a matter of concern for most families in the area. They don’t want to take any risk of abuse or assault so marriage looks like a better option. Of course, with this support coming in my resolve to have a career has only gotten firmer. I will definitely complete my education.    

North India’s Demographic time-bomb

In an insightful document that Ambit Capital brought out on 5 April this year, (on Sizing India’s demographic bomb), the authors highlight a stark reality that confronts India.
It talks about the ticking demographic bomb that North India has become.  North India houses a population that has little education, and has fewer women and jobs than most other parts of the country.
In fact, this is precisely what a senior World Bank (WB) representative told a group of Indian industrialists in Mumbai almost ten years ago.  At a gathering, one of the industrialists waxed eloquent about the demographic dividend that India enjoys.  The representative shook his head and softly murmured, “Do you remember Iran.  Just before Ayatollah Khomeini assumed power, Iran was supposed to enjoy a democratic dividend.”
But Iran then had few jobs for the youth.  And it had focused very little on good primary and secondary education. Good education allows people to climb the economic ladder.  Its absence can make the situation explosive.
But Iran, after the revolution, had two good things going for it.  First, the new regime — even though it was called fanatical by Western powers — never forgot the need to provide soft infrastructure. It focused on education, the need to dispense justice quickly, economically and efficiently, and to create enough facilities for good healthcare.   India, in contrast, has slipped on all the three fronts.
Second, Iran focused on affordable housing for young couples who would need them.  It did this also to overcome the crippling economic sanctions imposed by the west. Affordable housing required little foreign capital, and depended largely on locally available raw material and labour. Iran survived and thrived.
Now it is time for India to find its own solutions quickly.
Consider education.  Compare literacy levels against the national average and J&K, Rajasthan, UP, Bihar, Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh begin to flash warning signals.
Also do bear in mind that the national literacy level of 74% is an illusory number.  In India literacy is defined as anyone who can read and write the letters of his or her name. So if you can spell Ram and write it too, you are technically literate.
Moreover, as study after study has pointed out, the quality of education in Indian schools is crumbling to the point of being pathetic. The actual rate of literacy would thus be less than 20%.  The Northern states would sport the worst numbers.
Ask the students of Std VIII or IX to do simple multiplication, division, or write a single sentence grammatically (in any language). Give them questions that bright Std III students can answer.  Chances are that barely 30% of the students would be able to give the right answers to any of them.  Linguistic and mathematical literacy levels have plummeted – more in the north and east, than in the west and the south.
That is why it is good that the HRD ministry has recently moved an amendment (to end the policy of automatic promotions) to the Right to Education (RTE) Act. The automatic promotion policy mooted by Kapil Sibal, the former union minister for education, would have hobbled primary and secondary education further.  Repealing of this clause could still hold out a ray of hope.
There is also a desperate need to upgrade teachers.  Linking incentives to good teaching could be one way.  Another way would be to restrict financial grants for schools that do not improve on the scores of children who have scored good marks in an earlier class. Taking away a school from an existing management (if it underperforms on objective evaluation parameters) and handing it over to a management that does a good job of educating children could be a final step.  But unless one addresses school education, you will continue churning out students who appear literate, but lack the competence to be useful to any profession.
There is an urgent need to roll back the Nehruvian vision of focusing on the large.  Instead, there is a need to focus on basic schooling.
And that is where the second decision the HRD ministry took last week, of allowing IITs to raise fees, is a good sign.  The government wants to focus on subsidizing school education.  Higher education may have to learn to finance itself a bit more than before.
But beware of the electoral compulsions in the North. Politicians have a way to inflame the passions of a restless youth — largely jobless and without the required education.  Rent-a-mob practices could become endemic here.  And it does not take much to transform a restless, angry crowd into a mob.  Can this government keep mob fury under check?
Can educational standards and the sex ratio be improved in the Northern states?  Or will they be allowed to implode with raucous cries supporting little understood causes — religion, ban on cow slaughter or conversions — none of which help boost economic productivity.  Watch how the sex ratio has worsened in the 0-6 year category for the states of Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Rajasthan, UP, Bihar, Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.  These are also the states (excepting Delhi and Chandigarh) where the quality of education in schools is terrible.
If India can change these numbers, there could be cause for celebration. Else expect trouble and violence to rack North India. This could soon spill to other states, and even stoke secessionist fires. If not handled carefully and quickly, the north could actually destroy India.


Technology

Milk adulteration may be thing of the past

NEW DELHI: The number of those adulterating milk in India, endangering lives of lakhs of children, are over. The Central Electronics Engineering Research Institute (CEERI) at Pilani in Rajasthan have developed a portable instrument that automatically scans milk samples within 45 second to detect detergent, urea, soap, soda and salt without the need to employ technicians.
The scanner costs Rs 1 lakh and can detect the contaminants at a cost of less than Re 1 per sample. So far the milk samples were routinely tested through a range of commercial instruments that typically cost Rs 4.5 lakh and require technicians with chemistry skills to assess milk quality.
The government has already put the new instrument in market with the help of a Jaipur firm. It was designed by CEERI as a challenge thrown up by the Niti Aayog (from Planning Commission) to the Indian scientists to develop a way of detecting adulteration in milk within three minutes at a cost of less than Rs 4 per sample. “Our instrument fits those requirements,” said Poonam Chand Panchariya, the senior principal scientist at the CEERI who led the research.
   The new instrument will allow samples to be screened during procurement at milk collection points, said Girish Sahni, director-general of the government-run Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the agency that supports CEERI and 38 other laboratories.
A snapshot survey by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India in 2011-12 had found that 1,225 (65 per cent) of 1,890 samples of milk from across the country were contaminated. A third of the samples had detergents with other substances. “Urea, detergents, soda, and salt are commonly added to increase the solid non-fat content of milk,” Panchariya said.
 India is the world’s largest milk producer and generated about 146 million tonnes during 2014-15. The researchers worked with a Jaipur-based company to commercialise the instrument. About 40 scanners are being used already at milk collection centres in Gujarat, Goa, Punjab and Rajasthan, and scientists are hoping that more dairies will take up the instrument.
“Given the scale at which we need to test milk in India, this is the best solution we have,” science and technology minister Harsh Vardhan told a Press conference here last week.
He also announced that the Central Food Technology Research Institute (CFTRI), Mysore, had developed a portable instrument to detect a key micro-nutrient called beta carotene in milk. Expected to cost Rs 5,000, the instrument will allow farmers to alter the fodder they provide to cattle to increase the beta carotene content of milk. “Increasing the amount of green fodder can raise beta carotene in the milk,” said Arun Kumar, a CFTRI scientist. Beta carotene, however, tends to get degraded by the heat during the pasteurisation process. “We’’re independently trying to develop a cold pasteurisation process,” said Ananth Ramakrishnan, another CFTRI scientist.
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MEDICAL FRONTIERS

High-dose statin treatment can help restore sight

London: A common cholesterol-lowering drug statin can restore vision in the patients with a hard-to-treat version of the leading cause of blindness in the developed world, according to a new research, reports ANI.
Researchers at Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Harvard Medical School and the University of Crete have conducted a phase I/II clinical trial investigating the efficacy of statins for the treatment of patients with the dry form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
The researchers found evidence that treatment with high-dose atorvastatin (80mg) is associated with regression of lipid deposits and improvement in visual acuity, without progression to advanced disease, in high-risk AMD patients.
Their findings not only further the connection between lipids, AMD and atherosclerosis, but also present a potential therapy for some patients with dry AMD. Researcher Joan W. Miller said that they found that intensive doses of statins carry the potential for clearing up the lipid debris that can lead to vision impairment in a subset of patients with macular degeneration.
Miller added that the researchers hope that this promising preliminary clinical trial will be the foundation for an effective treatment for millions of patients afflicted with AMD.

BELIEVE IT OR NOT

Indians Understood Shakespeare Better Than United Kingdom

London: William Shakespeare is understood far better in India than his birth country and the iconic playwright’s popularity in the emerging economies exceeds his fame in the UK, a new survey released recently has found.
The YouGov poll for the British Council covered 18,000 people across 15 countries to mark the 400th death anniversary of the Bard this month.
According to the report titled “All the World’s”, as many as 83 per cent of Indians said they understood Shakespeare, compared to just 58 per cent of Britons.
The iconic playwright proved more popular in almost all emerging economies than in the UK.
In Mexico, 88 per cent said they liked Shakespeare, compared with only 59 per cent of British people and 84 per cent of Brazilians said they found him relevant to today’s world, compared with just 57 per cent in the UK.
More than a third of people questioned said Shakespeare made them feel more positive about the UK in general, with the figures highest in India (62 per cent) and Brazil (57 per cent).
Of those people, 70 per cent were interested in visiting the UK as tourists. This has led the British Council to conclude that the popularity of Shakespeare in emerging economies, such as India and Mexico, would have a “direct impact on the future stability, prosperity and influence of the UK.”
The report’s wider conclusions are that Shakespeare is good for the British economy and has a positive impact on Britain’s influence in the world.
“Four hundred years after his death, Shakespeare’s work continues to play a vital role in educating and entertaining people around the world,” said Rosemary Hilhorst, director of Shakespeare Lives for the British Council.
“As well as bringing pleasure to millions of people, his works make a valuable contribution to the UK’s standing in the world and the economy,” Hilhorst said.
She also pointed out that most Britons were taught Shakespeare in his original English while abroad there were often translations which used a more contemporary, accessible language. The report was prepared as part of the British Council’s Shakespeare Lives programme, aimed at taking the Bard’s works to more than 140 countries.


SERIAL : 36

INDIAN IN COWBOY COUNTRY

THE HUNT

Satish felt like a stranger on the campus where he had spent over ten years. Familiar security guards who a few months ago had waved him through now checked his credentials and called Billy’s office to ensure that he had an appointment. Though his visitor badge said that he needed to be escorted, in his case, they made an exception.
He did not meet with Tim before his meeting with Billy, saying that he had a tight schedule. He told him that he would be happy to visit with him after his meeting. Tim offered to fill in the details on the telephone, but Satish politely declined to hear anything about it, saying he preferred to hear the details from Billy.
Tim told him that he had just snubbed his best friend at Clark.
“Never thought I’d see the day when you were so sensitive, Tim. I’ll see you as soon as I finish with Billy; that is, if you want to see me,” Satish replied.
Tim bit his tongue and said, “Yes. Come by as soon as you are done. I’ll wait.”
This time the walk down the hallway to mahogany row felt different. The carpet did not seem as plush as before. The hallway appeared dark and dingy; it needed brighter lights. The portraits of the founders had to go-they were just too grim and depressing to look at. He had been too many corporate offices, and Clark’s, he mentally noted, fell in the bottom quartile.
When she saw him, Liz stood up and said, “Hello, Satish. My, you’re looking good. And how is your family doing?” She guided him to Billy’s office, this time to his desk rather than the conference room.
Billy rose from his high-backed leather chair behind the mahogany desk that Pete had used. He came up to him, shook his hand warmly, and led him to his personal, circular conference table.
“It’s good to see you, Satish. I am glad you could make it. I hear that your calendar is pretty full,” he said.
“Yes, it is, but never too full to see my old friends at Clark.”
“I am glad that you see us as your friends, Satish, because we are your friends.”
“Of course. So, how can I help you, Billy?” he asked, wanting to get down to business.
“First of all, let me tell you that we are very appreciative of you not meeting or visiting with any of our competitors. We heard that several of them tried to contact you and you turned them down flat. I’d like to thank you for that. It takes great courage to do that when you are looking for a job. It also reflects your principles, which, of course, we never doubted.”
“Of course,” Satish said. “I had no intention of working for a competitor, and there was no reason to meet anyone from the dark side,” he said smiling.
“Yes, it is us versus the empire,” Billy sighed, extending the Star Wars analogy. “And we need your help in fighting the Empire.”
With that, he stood up and started pacing. He said, “Last week I was having lunch at the Petroleum Club, where I met an old buddy of mine. We’ve been friends for a long time; he and I were roughnecks on the same crews. He is now president of a company, and you met him a few weeks ago. I am not going to tell who it was, but he told me that he was very impressed with you, and had made you an offer that you were considering. He asked me about you, and I gave you nothing but the best reference a man could ask for. Then he said I was crazy to have let you go.”
He paused and looked at the carpet for a moment. He went to his desk and brought back a cup of coffee. “Pardon my manners, but would you like a cup of coffee?” he asked.
“Yes, please.”
“How do you take it?”
“Just black, thank you.”
Billy stepped out of the office and asked Liz to bring him some coffee. He then continued, “First things first. I have to apologize on behalf of Clark and myself for having laid you off. We did not know that we had a diamond until others saw it. I am truly and deeply sorry for what I have put you and your family through for the last six months.”
Moved by Billy’s mea culpa, Satish said, “No apologies necessary, Billy. It was a good experience for me, and gave me an opportunity to improve my self-awareness.”
Billy said, “My buddy at the Petroleum Club clobbered me for our bad decision. He and I are very good friends, like bothers; he takes care of me and I take care of him, and we are not afraid to call each other out when we make mistakes. There are seven of us in our band of brothers, and we visit with each others at least once a week.
“I found out that you stayed away from my brothers at our competitors, even though they repeatedly called you to meet them. You talked to only four, who were not competitors. They too clobbered me for having screwed you for all these years. Every one of them would rather have me fix things and do right by you than have you join their firms. They said I should make you an offer, rectify things. If you accepted it, they would not think any less of you.”
Satish did not interrupt the older man. He listened as Liz came in and gave him coffee in the finest china, rather than a familiar disposable cup. He took a sip and waited for Billy to continue.
“So here’s the deal,” he said, as he read from a sheet of paper. “There are a lot of details, but here are the main points. I want you to come back as a vice president of engineering at Clark’s corporate office.
“You will have a three-year contract, renewable, and if it is not renewed, you get a year’s severance package. Your compensation will be the midpoint cash compensation of all vice presidents at Clark, a year’s salary signing bonus, an annual performance bonus at a minimum of 15 percent, a stock option grant of a million shares, vesting over ten years with new bonus options every year depending on our performance but with immediate vesting if we get acquired. Four weeks vacation, company car, and an office two suites down from mine.
“And I know how much you like to travel to India every year, so I have included one expense-paid trip to India for you and your family per year, including business class airfare and the best room and board. Oh, by the way, all our vice presidents are automatically members of the Petroleum Club, and have a choice of a country club membership.”
Satish was overwhelmed. The other offers he had received were nowhere close to this one. He sat silently, pondering how Monica would react to the offer after her recent outburst.
Billy asked, “Anything bothering you” did we miss anything?”
“No, nothing. I am actually very pleased with it, but I have a minor problem on the home front. I would have to convince my wife that it’s a good idea to come back to Clark.”
“I understand, Satish. Once bitten, twice shy. If I were in your shoes, my wife would have the same problem. So why don’t we do this? Why don’t you and your wife join my wife and me over dinner at the club?”
Satish smiled, sipped his coffee, and said, “That’s mighty generous of you, Billy, and I am sure I can convince her to join us, but she is a vegetarian. She’ll just eat salad at the club.”
“I’ll tell you what. Why don’t you recommend an Indian restaurant and give the name to Liz? She’ll take care of the reservation. I’ve always had a hankering to taste some Indian food and curry.”
A week later, the foursome had dinner at Tandoor Palace, the fanciest Indian restaurant in town, where the two men charmed each other’s spouses over spicy food. It was an exotic atmosphere: soft sitar music in a faux Taj Mahal draped in colorful silks.
On their way home after dinner, Billy’s wife, Frances, chided her husband for losing such a rare, principled young gentleman. Satish was tense on his ride home, until Monica conveyed to him that she liked Billy and his wife. She was surprised to see that both were in their late-sixties. She was touched when someone older than her father apologized to her personally for having “put such a beautiful young woman through so much anxiety.”
The next morning, a hefty offer letter and contract was couriered to their home, and they pored over the legal document. Satish had worked on customer contracts before, but this one was different. Since he was the product being purchased, he could not be objective in his evaluation. He called Jeff, who had been his attorney and legal advisor since his first confrontation with Clark, who asked him to fax the document and come to his office immediately.
Jeff was amazed at the generosity of the terms, and he suspected the motives behind the bigheartedness. Over the year, he had taught Satish to look beyond the “stated reason” for the “real reason.” But as he read the contract to appreciate the source of the magnanimity, he applied two more concepts, the “moral reason” and the “right reason”. Jeff found the contract acceptable on all four counts, and suggested a few minor changes for “legal reasons”. He congratulated Satish on his good fortune.
Satish had one more stop-to check in on his Lunch Bunch. When he arrived at the outplacement center, he caught them just as they were stepping out to meet Clyde at his favorite barbecue place nearby.
All congratulated him on his offer while they stood in line for their food, which was served cafeteria style. The rustic restaurant was packed with people, so they decided to eat outside, where wooden picnic tables were set up under a covered patio in the oppressive August heat.
There was an assorted spread that would have pleased any carnivore with a penchant for spicy food. The artery-clogging, cholesterol-packed smorgasbord included barbecued beef brisket, Czech sausage, pork ribs, and chicken. Everything was smothered with a piquant and sweet barbecue sauce. Sides included thickly sliced jalapeno cheese bread, onions, jalapenos, potato salad, coleslaw, and beans. There was chilled beer to relieve the patrons from the heat of the food and the day outside.
The men focused on their food and ate silently, speaking only when they needed someone to pass some food around the table or excusing themselves for an untimely burp. As waiters cleared the table, leaving behind only bottles of beer, Dan turned to Satish and asked, “Did you have an attorney look at the contract?”
“Yes, I did. I just came from his office. He suggested a few changes, but overall, it’s fine,” he responded.
Darrell asked if he could see the contract, and Satish enthusiastically gave it to him. After glancing through it and seeing the salient sections, he returned it and said, “That’s a terrific offer. It’s all in your favor. They want you real bad.”
He nodded, and before they could ask for a celebration dinner, suggested, “Hey guys, why don’t you and your families come to my place over the Labor Day weekend? We’ll have some barbecue.”
Clyde was the first to jump in. “Love the idea. I accept the invitation, but you know what? I’d rather have some home-cooked Indian food. I can have barbecue any time, but genuine Indian food? Now that’s not something you see every day.”
“Okay. Fair enough. Indian food it’ll be. Bring your families. Except you, Dan. There’s a limit of one family per person,” he kidded.
“I might surprise you. I’ll bring a date,” he said. He smiled when he added, “I don’t know who my date is going to be. If she has a child, that’ll be my family.”
Darrel and San said that their children were too old to hang around with their parents.
“So it’s settled. Labour Day at my place. Here, let me give you my address.” While Satish was busy writing directions to his home, Clyde went into the restaurant, brought back a large pecan pie, and placed it in the middle of a table.
“This is from all of us, for one helluva sweet guy. Congratulations, Satish!” he announced as he threw down forks, knives, paper plates, and napkins.
“Thank you, Clyde. Thank you all for everything. I do appreciate your help during the last six months.”
“Shut up and eat. When your mouth is full, you can’t talk,” Clyde said as he took a gigantic mouthful.
Satish dug into the most delicious pecan pie he had ever tasted. He finished his slice and said, “I gotta run. I want to see Scot at the office and get home before traffic builds up.” He excused himself from the table. “See you on Labour day,” he said. He went into the restaurant and got another pie, for his wife and daughter.

YEH MERA INDIA

Story of a sweeper- B.com, MA, M. Phil

Mumbai: Beating all odds, a street sweeper employed with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) swept his way to success by securing an MPhil degree.
After being awarded the degree from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), 36-year-old Sunil Yadav, who is deployed at Nana Chowk in Central Mumbai for the cleaning job, now aims to pursue a PhD degree to understand the problems plaguing the sweeper class and wants to find solutions to it. "I am elated on securing my MPhil. By doing PhD, I want to deeply study the social system that has marginalised our (sweeper) class in the society," Yadav, who secured seventh rank in his post masters' degree with 'Globalisation and Labour' as the subject, said.
Even after securing a good rank, Yadav wants to continue with his job as a sweeper.
Chronicling his arduous journey, Yadav said, "I got sweeper's job on compensatory grounds as my father, a BMC employee, was declared medically unfit for the job. I was 10th fail and my family was struggling to make ends meet. I then realised there was a hunger inside me to pursue my education. I lived in a slum in Mahalaxmi where gangsters were common place. That played havoc on my studies but I did not budge and continued," said Yadav, a father of two school-going daughters.
Yadav, who has now settled in Chembur said that after passing SSC and HSC, he did his B Com and followed it up with a bachelors degree in journalism and masters in social work simultaneously in 2011.
But all this was not a cakewalk as he had to face departmental hurdles when he decided to go for higher education.
"My seniors denied me any sort of leave that I was eligible to get for higher education. When I had to visit South Africa as part of my course, I was refused to go without an appropriate reason. Thankfully, TISS authorities intervened and brought my case to their notice and then only I was granted leave," said Yadav, adding nothing has changed in the society as far as behaviour towards down-trodden was concerned.
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382 Indians die every day in accidents on road

New  Delhi: The viral video of a 32-year-old man, Siddharth Sharma, being mowed down by a Mercedes car driven by a teenager in Delhi has generated a lot of outrage, but Sharma is one of 71 Indians who, on an average, die every day in accidents involving cars, jeeps and taxis, according to an IndiaSpend analysis of government data.
As many as 139,671 people lost their lives on India’s roads during 2014, which means 382 died every day, IndiaSpend had reported. The data reveal that Delhi is India’s deadliest city: 1,671 died in road accidents that year.  Sharma’s death sparked questions about growing lawlessness on Delhi’s roads, which have witnessed a 24 percent rise in road accidents over three years.
In December 2015, the Delhi Traffic Police complied with the Supreme Court’s recommendations of enforcing stricter traffic rules, such as suspending the driving licences of violators for three months.
“Seizing and suspension of driving licences, even for the first offenders, will take place for jumping red light, drunken driving, over-speeding, using mobile phone while driving, and carrying passengers in goods vehicles,” Muktesh Chander, Special Commissioner (Traffic) told the DNA. As the incident video shows, Sharma was a pedestrian trying to cross the road when he was mowed down: 12,330 pedestrians were killed in 2014, accounting for 8.8 percent of the total deaths.
The car was being driven by a 17-year-old, who was with seven friends, according to a Times of India report, which means he did not have a driving license.
The minimum age to get one is 18.  Further, the accident happened around 8:45 pm, during an accident-prone period: 17 percent of accidents occur between 6 pm and 9 pm.As many as eight percent of road accidents involved drivers without a license.
The juvenile was a repeat offender, the police found.
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Civic problems: BMC & Corporators are disconnected

Mumbai:  There is a “total disconnect” between the people’s representatives, municipal administration and the citizens over Mumbai’s civic problems, a city-based NGO claimed.
Praja Foundation, which works on civic issues, released a report on the complaints filed by the citizens and corporations’ evaluations in all the 17 ward committees, during the period of March 2012 and December 2015.
“On the basis of figures that we obtained through RTI queries in the departments concerned of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), we found that there is complete disengagement between the people’s representatives, civic authorities and citizens and this is because representatives don’t care for commom man,” said Nitai Mehta, Managing Trustee of Praja Foundation, said.
“This report card reveals that there is a missing link between the work of the elected representatives and the quality of governance in Mumbai. The recent Deonar dumping ground fire is a live example of what is going on in our city,” he said.
The report also said that the number of complaints regarding roads and potholes were maximum during this period, followed by those pertaining to drainage and water supply. The report, however, showed that there was improvement in some areas of civic administration as the average days taken by the BMC to resolve the complaints came down to 13 days in 2015 from 17 days in 2014. “This is not bad at all and the civic body is definitely improving in many ways,” Mehta said.
On the ‘point of order’ questions asked by the corporators, he said, “The average number of days taken to answer such questions have been 128 days in the last 4 years.
While 91 per cent of the corporators asked less than 10 questions in ward committee meetings in the last four years.” Seeking a proper channel for people to raise their civic issues, another senior associate of the Foundation, Milind Mhaske said, “Functioning of ward committees needs to be seriously improved. Councillors need to study civic issues pertaining to their constituency, then prepare agendas and push these in the committee meetings in a planned manner.”
The administration also needs to start taking point of order questions seriously, and answer them prominently, he said adding, “For there to be some concrete change, the administration needs to change from within, which can only happen when it becomes pro-active and embrace good governance practices.” 

'RTIs, PILs a ‘big problem’ for the country': MP

New Delhi: Members in Rajya Sabha termed RTIs and PILs as a ‘big problem’ for the country; with Samajwadi Party member Naresh Agrawal alleging that the Right to Information (RTI) Act was passed “under US pressure”.
As some other members also joined in expressing concern during the Question Hour over the misuse of RTI, Government expressed readiness to look into the issue of “misuse” of RTI. Calling it a law “passed in a hurry”, Praful Patel (NCP) said that there is no locus of people seeking answers under RTI. “Some ‘panwadi’ (betel leaf seller) or ‘chaiwala’ (tea vendor) can also ask who made a missile programme or anything on international relations,” he said. Seated in the treasury benches, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has frequently referred to his modest origins as a tea seller, began laughing at Patel’s reference to tea vendors. Leader of the House Arun Jaitley, who was seated next to Modi, also smiled.
Patel soon sought to make amends by saying he did not make this remark keeping Modi’s origin in mind. “There is no disrespect to the Prime Minister. Rather it is an honour,” he said. Under this law, anybody can pay Rs 10 and seek information about missiles, he said and asked “is the government willing to consider amendments in this Act.”-PTI

I.T assessees just 1%

New Delhi: The number of effective income tax assessees has risen to nearly 5.17 crore in 2014-15, from 4.72 crore in 2012-13, a year in which only 1 per cent of India’s population filed I-T returns, according to official data.
Income Tax department had over 4.72 crore “effective assessees”, including people who filed ITRs, and who paid TDS but did not file returns, in 2012-13. However, individuals who filed return of income for tax paid accounted for 1 per cent of population that year.
In 2012-13, as much as Rs 2.10 lakh crore was garnered from TDS, as against total income tax collection of Rs 6.36 lakh crore.
The total number of effective assessees has risen from 4.72 crore in 2012-13 to 5.20 crore in 2013-14. In 2014-15, the provisional data stood at nearly 5.17 crore.
As regards filing income tax returns, a total of 2.87 crore individuals filed income tax returns for 2012-13, but 1.62 crore of them did not pay any tax. This left the number of taxpayers who filed ITR at just about 1.25 crore which was close to one per cent of the country’s total population of about 123 crore at that time.
The tax outgo was less than Rs 1.5 lakh for a vast majority of nearly 89 per cent taxpayers (over 1.11 crore). Their average tax payable was just about Rs 21,000, while the collective amount stood at over Rs 23,000 crore. The three individuals in the top-bracket of Rs 100-500 crore paid a total tax of Rs 437 crore — resulting in an average tax outgo of Rs 145.80 crore.
As part of a transparency drive, the government has made public direct tax data for last 15 years. Data for individuals has been published only for 2012-13 assessment year, which shows taxes for income in financial year ended March 31, 2012.
As many as 5,430 individuals paid income tax of over Rs 1 crore. Out of this, the tax range was Rs 1-5 crore for more than 5,000 individuals, resulting in a total outgo of Rs 8,907 crore.
As per the overall data, total income tax collections rose nine-fold to Rs 2.86 lakh crore in 2015-16, from Rs 31,764 crore in 2000-01. The data further showed that the bulk of individuals who filed returns for the assessment year 2012-13 earned an annual salary between Rs 5.5 lakh and Rs 9.5 lakh.
Six individuals fell in the high-end earning bracket of Rs 50-100 crore of salary income. In the salary range of Rs 1-5 crore, there were as many as 17,515 individuals.

School bags distributed, but no school to go to

Mumbai: Children and adults alike stood with small boards in their hands which mentioned their full names, number of members in their family, the village they came from and their tent number. The queue was for rice, dal, clothes, medical kits, school bags and whatever anyone was ready to give them.
There are over 1200 people living in the Marathwada Dushkalgrashtha Camp which is spread over a small area adjoining a local playground in Barve Nagar area of Ghatkopar.
Over 300 families from drought-affected regions of the state have set up camp here this year. “Usually some 50 families come during summer, but this time due to the drought the numbers are huge,” said Sudhir Rane of the BJP who was distributing these basic necessities to the people on behalf of MP Kirit Somaiya. The MP has been taking care of their food and water needs for a month now, Sudhir says.
A van arrives with bedsheets, soaps, pencils and notebooks and half the people from the long queue run to the van. The van is from an Andheri-based jewellery company which read about the camp in a newspaper. While their benefactors shout that only children should stand in the queue, adults jostle with each other and push children out of the queue.
“These people won’t change, how much ever they get, they want more,” says one of the organisers to his friend.
There are over 150 children in the camp, over 450 women and not a single toilet or bathroom. Many of the families have been residing in the camp since February. They are living among pigs and filth. Pigs can be seen merrily running around and napping alongside their tents.
The BJP is claiming credit for ensuring that these people are not forced to move out of the ‘camp’. “We gave a clean place for them to live, they don’t know how to keep it clean,” said another organiser of the distribution drive.
100 bags collected from college students were also distributed to the children. The irony was that they had neither a school to go nor a proper roof over their head.