Saturday, August 6, 2016

EDITOR'S COLUMN

Friends,

We are well and truly into the monsoon season. It’s wet all over. It just didn’t rain, it poured in many places. Whole of Maharashtra including Mumbai was inundated with some making a fun on the submerged Suburban railway tracks as “India is the only country in the world to have trains running on water.” Arunachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh Deccan Plateau including parched land of Latur had more and plenty. But it’s been erratic. Hopefully farmers should have no complaint of water shortage. The Met men’s prediction of more than normal rain may after all come true. According to them some 90% of the country has received normal and excess rainfall, 26% being excess and 63% area of the country having received normal rainfall, rest of 11% being deficit.

We are in August. If nothing else, at least the 15th Aug is the reminder of the event that happened 69 years ago. As a politically free country we are 69 years old. Looking back, how has been the journey of our Meraa Bhaarath Mahaan? There used to be a cynical observation “Sau mein ninyanave be-imaan, phir bhi Meraa Bhaarath Mahaan”, that is ‘out of 100, there are 99 dishonest, still my Bhaarath is the greatest’. Somehow the last two years of NDA under Prime Minister Modi, has been somewhat better with the corruption quotient. There has been no known cases of big time corruption and a published corrupt senior politician and a senior and powerful minister in Maharashtra was given a marching order for big time financial irregularities. This is a good sign. If India has been cheated of more development, corruption in high places has been the single most important reason. However, same cannot be said about appointment to senior positions, like CMD of Banks, directors to NITs etc. where influence peddling and questionable characters being appointed over more transparent and competent persons have been given a go by. Hope the incumbent NDA at the centre can turn the corner in the development paradigm of the country. And Prime Minister Modi must be more than keen to present his report card on the ramparts of Red Fort on 15th Aug. 

Month-in-Perspective has been as usual with our take on multiple happenings in the country. We have covered as much as we could, within the pages available for the M-i-P.

July 11, was the World Population Day. It is one of the most crucially important day, the United Nations Organizations, had decided early on, to be observed the world over. The idea was to make all policy makers and nation’s stake holders to understand the gravity of ever increasing population. While Europe and Japan has been able to stabilize and even reverse the increasing trend, good part of Asia, Africa & Middle East and Latin America has witnessed rise in its population to uncomfortable levels. We have tried to write about India’s rising numbers, which is increasingly suggesting that it is likely to beat China, as the country with largest population, sooner than expected. This is a distinction, we should try, not to live with. In Focus we have tried to talk about the absence of a coherent national population policy. Hope readers will find it interesting. Do revert with your inputs.

MONTH-IN-PERSPECTIVE

NEW DELHI: Every government, whether state or centre has its own programme of expansion of ministries or changing of portfolios or elevating, demoting or even outright dumping is the done thing. Hence, there need be no surprise or unwanted reactions when the present NDA outfit decided to have this exercise.
Biggest change has been that of shifting of HRD minister Smriti Irani to an innocuous Textile Ministry. The new face at HRD, which will also oversee the higher education scene of the country, is Prakash Javadekar (PJ). At least PJ is a B.Com, unlike his predecessor a mere XII pass. Of course, more than her educational qualification, it is the ministership that went into her head that cost her ministry. There are lots of people, who become arrogant on acquiring some power, of course, given by someone else. But if there is a background of achievement, either by way of educational qualification or any other accomplishment, arrogance may escape scrutiny. But, Smriti didn’t have any to boast about except a TV serial and was arrogant of the new power that Prime Minister gave her. A certain amount of humility would have saved her, which the present incumbent has in good measure. PJ is a conciliatory personality.
Despite being only degree holder, his ability to deal with issues and people and taking them along would pass the muster, as the HRD minister, dealing with higher academia. Of course the rest of changes or addition etc., are of only academic interest. Hope PJ delivers.

For quite sometime now, this Muslim televangelist Zakir Naik has been in the news. Lot of Indians were unhappy with his talk. After the terrorist attack in Dhaka in Bangladesh focus has significantly shifted on this Muslim preacher.
While he kept saying, like most people who agree with him, that Islam is a peaceful religion, he has advocated violence as a form of ‘retribution’, and he made no-bones about it. Besides he was clearly insulting other faiths in his talk. In a country like India, with its multi-religious citizenry, kind of talk by this Naik hurting the religious sentiments of non-Islamic population is an absolute no-no. He and his Peace TV Channel should be stopped before he does more mischief.
Of course there are supporters from some section of Muslim Society. Prominent among this group is Indian Union Muslim League, a Kerala based political party, who were partners with Congress in the last state government.
Right now, the central government is seized of the issue and therefore hopefully a last word might emerge on the issue, since Zakir Naik is already banned in the U.K, Canada, Malaysia and now in our eastern neighbourhood Bangladesh. But, BJP being the dominant part of the Central govt., media and opposition is likely to have its own take to interpret action by New Delhi. Hope politics is not mixed with terrorism and national security.

For quite sometime, we have been reading on issues involving marriages of Indian women to Indian men living abroad. Non Resident Indians or NRIs were in demand in early days. But in recent times the attraction has come down, mainly because a chameleon dimension of these men settled abroad, especially in the U.S. There were men who harassed their wives for dowry and more dowry, then you had those who are already married in the U.S and get married to an Indian woman concealing the already married status. Another kind is, after getting married and taking the Indian wife to the U.S, get married again to another.
One important common dimension of those men is, they are all professionally well qualified and well placed, fully aware of their actions backed by their mean intentions. So what kind of a crooked mind they have? Generally they are from better off background. So what drives them to commit such completely avoidable crime of causing lifelong trauma to another individual, a female at that, whose only fault is the trust that the lady and her parents reposed in the NRI man?
Of course, all time consuming, long drawn out legal options follows leading to divorce, settlement etc. However, there was no specific law dealing with such bizarre situations. And comes this report “Ray of Hope for distressed women in NRI marriages”. Reportedly a law enacted in 1969 seems to offer hope to these wronged women, so says the Union Ministry of Home Affairs in its communication to the Parliamentary Panel on Petitions. There are no details available of the said law, and members of the panel too expressed their surprise at the existence of such a law. Hope, these errant NRIs are warned by this law not to indulge in their nefarious designs on innocent Indian women.

Various Central government employees are threatening to go on strike. The reason, the minimum salary proposed by the 7th Pay Commission is not enough. The Commission had recommended Rs. 18000/- as the minimum pay, from the present four digit salary of Rs. 7000/-. That by itself represents more than doubling of the minimum. By any stretch of imagination minimum starting pay for a lowest staff is pretty high, if one compares with the pay offered by other sectors of the economy, be it banking, insurance or even I.T sector.
But the demand from the trade unions representing central government employees, is to peg it at Rs. 26,000/-, almost 50% more than what the Pay Commission proposed, that is almost 4 times the existing pay. As such the proposal of 7th Pay Commission would need over a lakh crore of rupees and the demand from unions will push it close to 2 lakh crore, which the present state of the economy can ill afford.
However there is one aspect of the issue which neither these Unions propose nor government thinks, should be done, is to cut down the useless unproductive labour force within central government agencies and departments. Every Pay Commission, while recommending pay rise, had also recommended that, staff number has to be pruned. But no government took the decision to save itself from possible blues. But it is a well known fact that over 50% of the government staff are a waste, unproductive burden on the exchequer. Government has got to be tough with these unions while negotiating the pay rise. After all it is not the government's money, it is the people’s money that government pays to their staff. What kind of effect, the huge pay out going to be on the economy, is another question that is still to be looked into.

There was this good piece of news coming from the HRD ministry of central government for students suffering the diktats of coaching classes. In an unprecedented initiative Prime Minister will be launching on 15th Aug. online coaching to engineering aspirants through four DTH channels.
Professors of six IITs have been already, reportedly, lined-up to create study materials. The video lectures are to be compiled by top professors of IITs of Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Kharagpur, Kanpur and Guwahati. Reportedly the Department of Space will be allocating two transponders on a GSAT series satellite to telecast the lectures across the channels. Professors are expected to cover the entire syllabus of joint entrance examination (JEE).
It is likely to be free of cost through Doordarshan’s DTH platforms with only cost of set-top box to view these channels, being on students.
This initiative, as and when becomes operational, shall greatly reduce the dependency on coaching classes besides, it can greatly help students from rural areas and small towns who can’t afford high fees for crash courses.
Reportedly, all arrangements have been already made by the HRD ministry with IIT Delhi being the nodal link to the entire exercise, so also there will be a link to YouTube too.
Surely this path breaking initiative will bring broad smile on the face of student community in general and rural students in particular.
                     
UTTAR PRADESH: It is becoming usual that UP is slowly emerging as a state in continuous news for all wrong reasons.
A female child of mere 7 years, was not only physically assaulted by a 14 years old boy, fearing the medical examination of the tender child for the heinous crime, the family of the boy has reportedly killed this student of II standard.
Not only the family exonerated their criminal teenage son, but compounded it by eliminating the tender victim of the atrocity.
According to the report, it appears that, the girl was to be medical examined after a few days of the incident. In the meanwhile the boy was arrested and sent to remand home. Fearing the worst, the family of the accused reportedly snatched the girl away and brutally murdered her at a farm some kilometers away.
It’s still not clear if those killers of the traumatized/ brutalized child have been arrested despite public protest. Rape is an adult crime this 14 year old committed, with the full knowledge of the consequences, and hence the boy should be treated as adult criminal and not under Juvenile Justice Act, and his killer parents and relatives should be given life imprisonment. Only then the message, that others' life too matters, can go down for, hopefully, a better tomorrow.   

WEST BENGAL: Mamata Bannerji of West Bengal, is a mercurial leader by her own right. Like Narendra Modi, she too is personally clean, and no visible distraction of men and money.
Of course, as politicians and leaders in public space, their personalities otherwise differ widely, as it has been on public display.
However, when it comes to commitment to her people, she may be even better than Modi. That she has won for the second time with increased seats only confirms this.
Despite there being many scams involving chit funds she held her fort and displayed her hold on the electorate. Like in Tamil Nadu, so is in West Bengal, corruption as a vote plank did not work. Probably most Indians have accepted corruption as a necessary evil, or as one of those things, that doesn’t really affect their lives. You take some pro-people measures and distribute some freebies, your vote is assured. It is true that unlike Jayalalitha, Mamata has not enriched herself and her simplicity is stark and that too has won people to her side.
The recent statements of U.S Under Secretary for Political Affairs Tom Shannon has only enhanced her stature as a person with clear vision. He is reported to have remarked “I was very impressed by the Chief Minister. She is a strong leader and she has got a very clear vision about what she wants to accomplish.” He appeared to be very profuse in his admiration of Ms. Bannerjee. He even invited her to Washington to scout for investment.
Media and civil society, should always be upfront in recognizing the leadership of even those with whom you may not break bread. That’s public decency. Period.     

We had heard of the spat between cricketers of yester years Saurav Ganguli and Ravi Shastri regarding the coach selection to the Indian Senior team.
The disappointment that Shastri experienced is certainly huge. He was out and out an establishment man, always politically correct on the side of the Chairman. He was not a physically fit person, if his bulge is any indication. But as luck would have it, he managed. And he could have managed it, until, Anil Kumble, the dark horse, entered the scene. To be coach, all that is needed is the experience on & off the cricket field. Anil had it in abundance, besides his own personal equation with all players. There is something very pleasant about Anil Kumble and all had the impression that the selection committee, all his juniors, but rounded cricketers all the same, had no hesitation in plumping for the lanky from Bangalore. His credentials were impeccable, so what he was never a coach! All have to begin somewhere.
Notwithstanding the repartee of Ganguli against Shastri’s outbursts Shastri must accept, Kumble is a better choice. For him it was an honour of recognition, but for Shastri it was only a money spinner. That is the outlook he had.
In that respect Rahul Dravid, should be model to all. He was offered the position, even before this contest. But he politely declined, despite bigger money, bigger name and fame, and bigger challenge, wanting to continue with 19 year olds as their coach.
Temperamentally both Dravid & Kumble (D&K) are definitely better placed than many of their contemporaries. Indian Cricket is now in capable hands of D&K combine. They are sure to take Indian Cricket to greater heights of commitment to the English man’s game.     
    
RAJASTHAN: Rajasthan generally do not make news in the national perspective. But a recent report about some members of the state Women’s Commission did make some relevant news, although for wrong reasons.
Saumya Gurjar, obviously a qualified and influential lady, a member of the Rajasthan State Commission for Women, has reportedly resigned. She tried to bask in the short lived ‘glory’, or at least that’s what she probably thought. Wanting to be in a bit of sun-shine, she reportedly had selfie clicked with a rape victim, but for her bad luck the media present on the occasion uploaded her action on to the WhatsApp. And naturally it went viral.
Fortunately, to save the situation, the CMO in Jaipur asked her to quit and Ms. Gurjar had to oblige.
Reportedly, Ms. Gurjar along with her Chairperson Suman Sharma, after the completion of a rape victim’s hearing in the Mahila Police Station in Jaipur, appeared in a cheerful mood, which otherwise had to be sombre, and Ms. Gurjar nonchalantly clicked the selfie, which clearly became her undoing.
Rajasthan government should be commended for not advancing any alibi and took the action impromptu to send the message “Behave properly in sensitive cases or pay the price”. Two cheers for Vasundhara Raje Scindia’s timely action.

This news is nothing to do with the state, but, an event where cine actor Irfan Khan got embroiled happened to be in Jaipur. Among all Khans in the Hindi film world, this one is clearly a no-nonsense type. He has always carried himself with abundant dignity. His roles also displayed his seriousness with which he probably looks at life. Thus, when he walked into an uncharted sea of his own religious moorings, it did surprise. But what he said, not withstanding his critics in the Islamic Seminary, appears to be loaded with logic.
Of course, it is purely an internal matter within the co-religionists and hence, we better not usurp the role of interlocutor. But, the spirit of inquiry, or spirit of questioning is inherent in Islam, as the word IJTIHAD suggests. The question is why clerics or those who lord over the theological interpretation do not like being questioned. All homosapians should recognize and accept the fact that these religions which we all practice & profess are all manmade and therefore imperfect. They were created at a time thousands of years ago. They could be relevant then. But over a period man has evolved so are women and therefore these religious beliefs and practices too should evolve. That is all Irfan is asking. Why does the clergy think, he should mind his own business of acting? And where is media and civil society in support of him?  
   
GUJARAT: Television visuals of five youth, reportedly belonging to Dalit section of the Ahmadabad Society, being beaten black and blue depicted the most inhuman part of our Meraa Bharath Mahaan. They were tied to a vehicle. Beating reportedly went on for some half an hour. Their crime was they were in possession of some meat, allegedly cow meat.
Reportedly they were cutting a dead cattle. But these barbarians called cow protectors just wanted to punish them and reportedly dragged & handed them over to police. Strangely these protectors of law did not question these barbarian cow protectors as to how these boys are bleeding in their backs and who beat them up? It was only after a crowd gathered outside the police station and blocked national highway that police registered an FIR against those six barbarians and sent those dalit victims to the hospital for treatment. This is intolerance of worst kind. Beating those poor men for a crime they have not committed is a worst kind of social behaviour, especially when these criminals have the support of both police and the political establishment.
We claim ourselves as a peace loving nation, but for a large part we are an unfair society, heavily loaded against poor and the powerless. After 69 years of political freedom this is an unmitigated tragedy.
Oh poor Mother India..   

MADHYA PRADESH: Narendra Modi as Prime Minister has been around over two years at the centre. There are millions who do not like him, for varieties of reasons, but many among them suffer from unmitigated bias. That every Prime Minister and his government shall do some good and fail to do some, is nobody’s case. It is an universal truth. Thus is the case with Modi and his government. His best ‘bhakt’ (devotee) will not honestly give him 100% marks, similarly those who have this pathological dislike of the man can honestly dump Modi and his govt. as 100% failure. Therefore we all must be civil to accept those which are good, positive, progressive etc. They have to be accordingly hailed.
Among his many initiatives some of them have been path breaking and pioneering. His undeclared dumping from ministerial or action packed roles of those TIRED BUT NOT RETIRED politicians beyond 75 years appears to be having cascading effect.
A report coming from Bhopal informs that two senior ministers who crossed 75 years of age have been quietly dropped without too much noise. This is a very positive development and shall hopefully be replicated in all BJP ruled states, if not in states where BJP is not the ruling party. Similarly when it comes to serious corruption charges BJP government both in centre and states are beginning to have Modi’s ‘eyes and ears’. That’s how, the most powerful minister in Maharashtra Eknath Khadse was asked to put in his papers. Yes, it’s happening. Give Modi, the marks where it is rightly due, don’t grudge. Amen.          

MAHARASHTRA: After all who is Salman Khan? A mere cinema actor! Yet, in a world, where money is the power, he is clearly showing it off. Or else what could be the reason for his refusal to say even ‘sorry’ for that stupid remark on women?
He had reportedly remarked that the grueling workout for the film had left him feeling like a “raped woman”. How, in the right sense, he could make this callous remark. He has condemned the entire womanhood by this extremely poor and outlandish statement. He has to tender an unconditional apology. Instead his lawyer replies to the notice of National Commission for Woman (NCW) probably giving some cock-n-bull explanation.
The entire nation is witness to the history of wrong doing by Salman Khan, which stood exposed despite the battery of costliest lawyers running around to protect him from the law of the land. Whether it is the Rajasthan Black Buck case, or his officious remark on 26/11 Pak inspired attack in Mumbai or the Hit-n-Run case of 28/9/2002 which is now in Supreme Court, there are any numbers of instances of his brush with the law enforcing authorities. NCW must take a tough legally sustainable stand and make this arrogant Khan to let him know his place among all law abiding citizens of this country.

HYDERABAD: Live burning of 3 puppies just two months old, and pushing them back into the fire when they attempted to escape the burning and keeping them pressed under fire, is probably the most sickening & blood curdling sight of any human doing it. That boys are aged between 5 & 10 makes it all the more macabre. What kind of a parentage or the society they come from? If there is any sense of proportion, the section of society these boys come from, has a huge moral responsibility. What can happen when they grow-up, if this is the level of their cruelty?
How is the juvenile home going to correct them? Do we have any monitoring agencies to vouch for the efficacy of these juvenile homes? The questions are far too many, making round for appropriate answers. In some of the social dimensions, are we lost as an evolving society?!        

KARNATAKA: There was this report about Social Welfare Minister not suspending a lady officer in Social Welfare department in Kalaburgi, in North East Karnataka, despite instruction from CMO.  
Regional Commissioner in Kalaburgi had reportedly apprised the Chief Minister about the alleged misuse of office by the lady officer concerned and had also ordered for an FIR to be filed. CM Siddaramaiah in turn had reportedly directed the minister to suspend her.
Report is titled “Anjaneya flouts CM’s order,” informing that the minister, instead of suspending the lady officer, defended her accusing the Regional Commissioner (RC), a senior IAS officer, of not doing his home work properly. 
According to the minister, RC should have first served a notice to the officer concerned and asked the department to look into the matter; therefore the action by RC is arbitrary.
Now there is this sensational news “Minister flouts Chief Minister’s order”. Naturally it is just not done! What CM says, goes! A senior IAS officer, as is the norm, is not likely to jump the gun of reporting the matter to the Chief Minister without doing his preliminary investigation. Report is not clear what is the status.
Besides, a junior officer in far away Kalaburgi cannot have a direct access to the minister, unless she is connected to some higher ups in Bengalooru.
The media has sold the news on sensation quotient, but what is the truth? Who is right and who is in the dock, is not clear. Shouldn’t, the reader and therefore the citizen, know the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth?!
But in our India, in our Mera Bhaarath Mahaan, with connections of permutations and combinations and media with its own idea of what constitutes ‘news’, the reader and by extension citizen is left with only night (read darkness) with day light having been usurped by the powers that be. This is Yeh Mera India. 

“Civil Code: BJP’s motives suspect” (Deccan Herald 5th July) has let the cat out on the motives of the editor. Of course, for most part of the media BJP is a bad boy. But all political parties have this baggage of convenient grand standing.
UCC is an original intention of Constitution makers. Constitution is in force since 1950. So it’s over 65 years and we are still talking about it without any sense of direction. All think that UCC is desirable, especially in the context of women’s rights in a male dominated world. It’s indeed very sad that it’s the pettiness of the man which is at the core of the issue. Media need to address this aspect without the spurious mix of outdated religious practices. As editor rightly pointed out “They militate against the very essence of democracy and basic human rights.” Clearly it is nothing to do with the religion. A system which cannot protect the weak and vulnerable has no right to be called civilized.
Therefore it is incumbent upon the responsible media members like Deccan Herald to have issues based approach rather than highlighting convoluted political angles.

TAMIL NADU: One may have many right and wrong reasons to portray Chief Minister J. Jayalalitha of Tamil Nadu negatively, but this one was a brilliant move to be commended positively.
For a mere Rs. 1 crore plus Jayalalitha gave 250 high-tech bicycles, and 100 high-tech motor cycles with helmets to the Tamil Nadu policemen and policewomen.
Reportedly the bicycles were fitted with powerful LED lights and siren. TN government also introduced hand held machines to fine traffic violators on the spot, the report informed.
All these initiatives were not only inexpensive, but also imaginative. They are going to improve the quality of life, for both the citizens and police personnel. Hope other Chief Ministers will take a leaf out of this brilliant initiative. Two cheers to Ms. J. Jayalalitha and her government in Chennai. Media and civic society must compliment where it is honestly due.

It is sad that Tamil Nadu made news for an eminently wrong reason. Nothing to do with the Jayalalitha government. But, believe it or not, of all the people, 2 medical students were arrested for throwing a dog from the terrace of a 3 storey building. Can this be called height of mental sickness? Not only one of them lifted the animal and flung it down but his friend video graphed it, ostensibly to record how the falling dog would cry. It could be at least 50ft high building.
It’s a miracle that the dog survived with broken hips. However what was most disturbing was the grant of bail to those two maniacs. They not only did the most inhuman act of throwing the dog, they uploaded the video on to the Face Book.
However by giving the bail to these two mentally sick criminals, in half an hour of their being arrested, is a reflection of a sorry state of judiciary to appreciate the cruelty of their action. Mercifully the college acted immediately to suspend both these lunatics from their medical college. Hope some sense will dawn on their thick head, what it means to attempting to kill animals which cannot hit back.

WORLD: News coming from Jerusalem about the visit of Sameh Shoukry, the Egyptian Foreign Minister to Israel to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has really warmed the global peaceniks.
On its own initiative, for Egypt to kick start the stalled peace process is a commendable move. The issue of Palestine has been a thorn of contention between Islamic world and the West in its attempt to always stand by Israel, right or wrong. The issue of Israel having been forced into Palestine territory has been around since India’s independence. Completely encircled by unfriendly and hostile Arab countries, for Israel to survive for so long, has been a story of sheer guts and valour. However, having usurped a part of Palestine with the help of international community of the West, Israel has not been fair with Palestine to give their legitimate agreed and accepted dues. PM Benjamin Netanyahu in particular has been rather very hard on issues of Palestinians.
In such a situation for Egypt to act upfront, “in continuation of Egypt’s long standing sense of responsibility towards peace in the region” as Foreign Minister puts it, is indeed very praise worthy. Reportedly such visit by Egypt is the first in 9 years. Hope international community in the west, and Arab nation around Palestine, support Egypt’s initiative for the cause of peace in the region.

Ramzan or no Ramzan, holy month or no holy month, the issue of Sunni & Shia has been an explosive one since bygone era. They both are Muslims, with some differences on Prophet Mohammed. But how killing of each other can provide an answer to the difference between them has never been debated in the Muslim world.
Iraq has been an epicenter of such attacks. Iraq is a Shia majority country, but was ruled by Sunni Saddam Hussain. The general public did not have many such problems. However ever since Saddam has been dethroned, may be wrongly, by the U.S, there is this change in the regime. There is a government headed by majority Shias, and Sunnis are unhappy with it. This ISIS, is Sunni inspired and therefore, they want this Shia government out.
In the first week of the July during the holy month of Ramadan, reportedly some 119 people were killed in two bombings including 86 people and injuring some 170 in a central shopping district, after the iftar.
Claiming responsibility, the ISSI had posted, an online statement, reportedly saying that they had deliberately targetet Shiite Muslims. Can their Allah forgive them?

Taslima Nasrin had told in the past and she repeated that the growth of homegrown terrorism in Bangladesh has been going on since some years and that successive government in Dhaka have failed to take it seriously. And right enough it struck on Friday night, killing some 20, mostly foreigners.
Holey Artisan Bakery, is an up market cafe in the diplomatic zone. Expectedly there were many foreigners. Homegrown Islamists, probably supported by the Pakistani ISI, had a clear plan to kill only non-Muslims, who couldn’t recite verses from Koran. They succeeded in their plan and kill their 20 hostages by slitting their throat. It must have been a ghastly sight. Rapid Action Battalion of Bangladesh, who acted instantly on receiving the information reached the cafe and killed all six terrorists. In the crossfire 2 policemen too died. Thus it was 28 deaths due to the inspired madness of some lunatics.
This was the first time that an attack of this nature and scale took place in Bangladesh. Sheik Hasina, the PM, has promised tough stand on this emerging serious threat. With opposition in cohort with divisive forces, it is premature to say, how successful she will be. Of course Pakistani ISI is the eternal villain in the sub continent. They need to be nailed.
Reportedly India has offered help in sharing intelligence for an effective handling of such situations. Hope some kind of a permanent arrangement is put in place so that both government can prevent any future terror attacks by these blood thirsty barbarians.

We are living in a strange world.  You help somebody, and that somebody pays it back by being an attacker on your persona. Is this the height of ingratitude? How would the helper, the one who helps, shall help again to another in need of help?!
The report datelined Berlin, informs “Germany toughens rape law”. The German parliament recently passed a landmark “no means no” rape law broadening the definition of sex crimes and making it easier to deport migrants and refugees who commit them.
Following a rash of sexual assault in crowd on New Year’s Eve in the western city of Cologne, which was largely blamed on Arab and North African men, the legislation apparently became inevitable.
The current legislation takes a tougher view of different dimension of physical trespass to enable the law enforcement authorities to deport migrants and refugees, who commit this trespass, more easily, than it was previously possible. Hope German women would breathe more easily. So also, immigrants would be more law abiding and more respectful of women of the host country.
J.Shriyan

FOCUS

POPULATION: NOT AN ISSUE FOR INDIAN POLITICIANS

Talking to THE INDEPENDENT, famed British physicist Stephen Hawking had stated the other day “We are in danger of destroying ourselves by our greed and stupidity”, he was recollecting his interview of 2010 with a U.S television channel, while talking about the population. He is reported to have stated “Population had grown by half a billion in six years with no end in sight. At this rate it will be 11 billion by 2100. The resultant environmental pollution shall be the biggest threats to mankind globally. More than 80% of inhabitants of urban areas are exposed to unsafe levels of air pollution. People should be careful, mankind is in danger of destroying ourselves", he is reported to have stated. 
11th July, World Population Day came and went into national amnesia, as if it was another day in the calendar. Customary government advertisement in the news papers too was not there. Country’s leadership, both at states and centre lost their sense of proportion in not recognizing that the increasing population is an issue of serious concerns. The International Institute of Population Studies, in Mumbai had put outside their office in Deonar near Chembur, 1,333,441,253 as the population recorded for India on 11th July 2016. This represents an increase of close to 60 million rise, indicating some 50 lakhs average growth per month.
While it is true that there is a small reduction in the overall growth but an average 50 lakhs per month is still a huge growth challenging the resource availability and mobilization for the growing numbers. Thus, controlling this number is of paramount importance. Over 30 years ago, China adopted a policy of ONE CHILD, and in thirty years they could prevent the birth of some 400 million. Thirty years ago China was paying $25 per week, now due to reduction in excessive supply of working men & women, the salary per week has increased to $500/-. Thus it is very clear, that there will be better employment opportunities and therefore reduction in poverty levels, better availability of housing, less pressure on infrastructure and much less population levels.
Of course, the issue of population is multi dimensional and hence we have requested some of our readers to share their thoughts on the subject, which we have published as follows.
-Editor

High time to Revisit Population Development Strategies

Dr. K. Shivashankara Bhat
Understanding the demographic changes that are likely to unfold over the coming years as well as the challenges that they present for achieving sustainable development is important to have sustainable framework on development strategies.  The world population reached 7.3 billion as of mid-2015.  China (1.4 billion) and India (1.3 billion) remain largest countries of the world, both with more than 1 billion people representing 19 and 18 percent of the world’s population, respectively.  In India 26 million babies –the population of Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland combined-are  born every year.  350 million people were added to India’s population in a decade, compared to China’s rise by 210 million in the same period.
This dramatic growth has been driven largely by increasing number of people surviving to reproductive age, increasing urbanization and accelerating migration.  By 2050 about 66% of the world population will be living in cities.  Average global life spans have risen from 64.8 in the yearly 1990s to 70 years today.  India, the second largest populated country in the world, supports 18% of world’s population with meager 2.42% of world’s land area and 1.5% of world’s income.  According to Census Research 2011, India’s population was 121 crore and it grow at 1.8% per annum.
In 2050 India’s population is projected to be 1.69 billion – China’s will be 1.31 billion.  India added 1.81 billion people to the world between 2001 and 2011, slightly less than entire population of Brazil.  But 56% of India’s population lives on less than us $ 2 per day.  India ranks at the bottom of the pyramid in per capita level consumption indicators.
Much of India’s population increase had occurred among the poorest socio-economic percentile.  Relatively socio-economically advanced Indian states had a fertility rate of less than 2.1 in 2009 less than the level needed to maintain a stable population.  But in poor states like Bihar fertility rates were nearer to 4.0.  In India, fall in death rate is greater than fall in birth rate leading to population explosion and lower standard of living.   In advanced countries, there is rise in standard of living, children ceases to become an economic liability, instead they become an economic asset.
The present pattern of population growth in India is uneconomic and inimical to the economic health of the nation.  Further, the size, density and rate of growth are all unfavorable to economic progress.  These megatrends have far reaching implications.  They affect economic development, capital formation, employment, income distribution, poverty, maintenance investment and social protections and development very badly.  They also affect efforts to ensure universal access to healthcare, education, housing, sanitation, water, food and energy.
What have we achieved in the population front since independence?  Life expectancy at birth in India has gone up from 32 years in 1947 to 68 years in 2015, as against 78 years in U.S.A and 77 years in China.  The skewed facts reflect the distressing truth that life expectancy at birth, a basic measurement of health inequality varies from 77 years in rural Kerala to 64 years in rural Assam over the 2009-13 period.  Similarly, the child mortality rate among mothers with no education is more than 10 times the child mortality among mothers with 12 years of schooling.  Besides this, do we know and address issues like:
What is the life expectancy gap between a high caste woman in a well-off family in urban Kerala and a woman from a deprived caste and poor family in U.P?
What are the causes of death among the urban poor in India?
Does the burden of non-communicable disease fall disproportionately across different socio-economic groups in India?  Unfortunately, after 69 years of independence, these basic questions remain unanswered and unattended.
Healthy growth presupposes the existence of healthy and educated population consisting of both men and women.  But due to population explosion we find several kinds of inequalities between male and female population.  This is a true case of gender bias.  Parameters of gender bias like low sex ratio, health profile, education profile, work participation rate etc. reflect wide range of discrimination between male and female population in India.  Sex ratio in India is very low.  It was 940 in 2011 as against 1029 in USA, 1140 in Russia and 1041 in Japan.  Infant mortality rate of girls is much higher than the death rate among the boys.  It is 72 and 25 per thousand respectively.  Gross enrolment ratio of girls at the primary level is 85% and at middle level it is 49% whereas among boys this ratio is 96% and 68% respectively.  The work participation rate is just 12% in urban areas and 25% in rural areas which for the men it is 55% both in urban and rural areas.
Hunger remains number one problem in India and it persists.  The prevalence of under weight children in India is among the highest in the world.  As many as 44% of population of underweight children live in India as against 3% in China and 9% in South Africa.  As much as 48% of children under the age of five in the country are stunted.  Malnutrition is higher among kids whose mothers are uneducated.    According to Global Hunger Index, India was ranked 63rd out of 76 countries in 2013.  India’s ‘hunger belt’ covers both rural underdeveloped areas and heavily populated urban ones.  The child sex ratio has slipped from 945 to 927 girls for every 1000 boys.  33% of our population has no access to sanitation.  There is poor healthcare system in India.
The runway population growth in India has created vast ranks of restless young men. Their frustrated ambitions resulted in mounting illegal and unethical practices in the society.  As India grapples with what seems like a constant barrage of shocking acts of violence against women, one should raise a question: why is this happening?  The answer is India’s gender ratio, distorted by the practice of sex selection in favour of baby boys.  Gender imbalance caused by marriageable women, results in higher rates of crime, including rape, committed by young unmarried men and also married men.  Certainly violent crime against women increases as deficit of women increases.  Violent crime in India rose nearly 29% from 2007 to 2011, while kidnapping of women increased 74% in that period.  The annoying fact is that, of all the people arrested for rape crimes, almost 60% were men between the ages of 18 and 30 years and nearly 30% were men between the ages of 30 and 45 years.  It is time to create an atmosphere where young people have to make choices at a much younger age not only with regard to their profession, their friends, their clothes and hairstyles, but more importantly with regard to their sexual behavior.
As population and consumption grow, threats such as climate changes, decreasing biodiversity    emerge.  Concrete jungle is mounting up.  Crucial local environmental problems – including shortage of safe drinking water, arable land, mounting wastes of all kinds, air, water and noise pollution affect health and threaten the expansion of food production required to feed more mouths.
Countries would be better off with lower population growth and birth rates.  This is exemplified by the east Asian ‘tiger’ economies, including South Korea, and Taiwan, that in recent decades, have seen rapid increase in per capita incomes as birth rates declined.
Where will we be?  It is a matter of contentment that the theme of World Population Day 2016 being ‘Investing in Teenage Girls’, huge  investment should be made to mitigate gender bias and  to increase human capital formation by increasing the knowledge, the skills and the capabilities of all sections of the people in the country.  It should include adequate amount of investment on health, education and social sectors.
Think of population growth as a speeding train. When driver applies the brake, train doesn't stop immediately.  Momentum moves it forward to considerable distance before it finally coming to a halt.  It is high time to revisit population development strategies in India.  The point of population stabilization is to reduce misery.  If we do not halt rapid population growth with justice and compassion, it will be done by the nature brutally.
( Author is a Professor and HOD of Economics, Govinda Dasa College, Surathkal)

Population: An urgent policy needed

Agumbe S Nataraj
India's population has reached a breaking point. It is now 125 crores and may surpass the Chinese population by 2020.
The limitless burgeoning of population growth has affected the lives of Indians in every aspects. It has affected them in every sphere of lives as shown in the figures provided below.
1) In the health and welfare sector, India now records the planet's highest number of HIV-positive cases. It has surpassed South Africa as having the world's highest number of HIV-positive cases, there are currently 5.7 million reported cases in India. Sex workers, truck drivers and intravenous drug users also fall into the high risk category. There are believed to be at least 12000 sex workers in MUMBAI alone who are suffering from this disease.
2) India is declared as the capital of Diabetes kingdom. People having diabetes have reached 75 million and is steadily raising.
3) Indian farmers are always in debt. With innumerable dams built across various rivers, agriculture is still a gamble in monsoon in India It is reported that India's agricultural output is lost due to soil degradation from over farming, rising soil salinity, loss of tree covers and poor irrigation .The heart rending human tragedy of the farmers suicide occurs on a daily basis here due to the crushing level of debt and poverty.
The list is endless .The problems faced by the people are many.
But lurking behind all these various problems faced by the Indians is the basic Malthusian truth: There are too many people in India for the country to support at its current level of development.
To eradicate poverty, to give schooling, health care, housing, above all jobs for everyone is a herculean task for any elected government to carry out successfully.
Being highly selfish, without caring for others, adopting unethical method of earning quickly through corruption, Indian's have stooped to the lowest level in morality. Perhaps we are the only people in the whole world to worship the Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth without earning it.
Dr. Ambedkar rightly said that unless Indians worshiped these three Gods: Knowledge, Morality and Self respect, there is no hope for Indians to overcome their present state of helplessness, acute poverty and moral decency.
(Author is a retired banking profesional and have over half a dozen books in English & Kannada to his credit.)


Population Policy

Dr. G. R. Krishna

India will be celebrating her 69th birthday of her independence in the coming August 2016. By the August 2017 she will be aging to her 70 after the Independence.
Seven decades are good enough to assess and estimate a nation's progress and the direction in which she travels.
Of course, we could boast of many achievements after independence : Our technology development, our infrastructure development, our defence capability and our revolution in information technology.
Our present govt. feels that 7 point plus growth rate is a good index of growing economy. However this is drastically nullified not only by inflation and price-rise but also immensely by the unchecked spiralling population. As a result we witness a strange and bewildering social and economic scenario in the country.
The Indian economy is growing on one hand, but the disparities in the income levels is so widening between the rich and the poor. This is not a healthy sign for the stability and unity of the country. The precise reason for this contradiction is the exploding population, and the lack of uniform population policy for the country.
The argument that India with her huge population could be a back-office for the whole world, is untenable if not an illusion. Uncontrolled, and unplanned population who are illiterate, unskilled and unhealthy cannot be the back-office but only a back-ward office to the world.
For the problem of exploding population, only solution is the adoption or a national policy of one child norm (for a family) and strict implementation of it. Of course, one child-uniform population policy for all the castes, religions and regions in the country is the only practical solution. 
If China could succeed in the implementation one child norm, there is no reason why India should hesitate / fear to do so.
 Unfortunately, the issue of population is shrouded in emotions in our country. Heads of some of the religions are misquoting and misinterpreting the scriptures to discourage/ de- motivate family planning, family control and family regulation.
Of course, in a democratic country like India, coercion is not the only way for implementing the population policy. Persuasion, convincing, motivating, training and incentivising are equally effective methods. For this, the central govt. at Delhi and state govts shall take a firm stand for the adoptive and implementation of the uniform population policy. We must have a political will and courage for doing this particular plan of action in view of the need for sustainable development and the welfare of the future generation.   
One child families must be given high incentives like subsidy and freebies in the ration, LPG Supply, toilet construction, employment and free marriage allowances / providing expenses for single child promising families. More than this, single child in a family must get total subsidy for free education throughout the school and college and priority in employment.
Two children families may get subsidies, freebies, discounts and welfare measures in a reduced measure when compared to one child families.
Families with more than two children shall be outside the eligibility criteria for all govt welfare measures and entitlements. For well to do families or more than two children higher taxation slabs must be adopted and implemented.
The country of India’s size with all her contradictions, castes and religions may need sometime to understand the immense importance and urgency of the one child family norm. However this is the only way and only measure to make India rich and powerful in the today's world scenario. Rich  here does not mean vulgarly rich for the few and privileged but a comfortable and decent life for vast masses of people,  One child norm for the family is the only modus operating to ensure progress, stability and unity in our country.
Now, our priority is not only 'Swatch Bharath' but also 'Kousalya Bharath' (Skilled India) and 'Kalyan Bharath' (prosperous India).

(Author is a well known Commnetator on Social and Political affairs)

Demographic Imbalance in Population - A missing link to be addressed:                                                  

                                                                                                        K. Laxminarayana

Added to the existing socio-economic ills of society, the huge "Population explosion" in India is a root cause for much of our problems. The limited resources of the land-mass and the ever growing consumers make it difficult to have India at balance in its consumption and production and availability of resources. Hence we need to now rely on the awareness initiatives, family planning and basic education to all.  It’s time that we need to relook into the implementation of the policy "One family at the max 2 child policy". The policy can be executed by controlling the subsidies being provided to a family; if number of children in the family exceeds 2, then all the subsidies provided to them would automatically be removed and the person will no longer be entitled to any subsidies.
A national population policy that will apply uniformly to all citizens and redress the "problem of demographic imbalance" and preparation of a national citizens' register is the need of the hour.
It is to be noted that although India was among the first in the world to announce a population plan way back in 1952, it was only in 2000 that a commission was set up which went on to draft a "comprehensive" population policy. Measures taken to control the population of the country have yielded result, but the Census has brought to the fore so many shocking revelations. We need to see how much population we can feed in the coming years with quality life.
A new report shows that a considerable portion of India’s population has aged in the last sixty years, and experts are saying that we must find ways of gainfully engaging senior citizens in the economy. The country’s demographic dividend is such that 356 million of population is between ages of 10 and 24, the highest of its kind in the world. This can chauffeur the Indian economy to desired goalposts, provided the people in this age bracket are given adequate skills. The fact that India will become the world’s youngest country by 2020, with a median age of 29, has prompted the Government to set up the Ministry of Skill Development, which has become the nodal Ministry of flagship initiatives like Skill India. Launched in July 2015, it is aimed at training 500 million youth for various employment opportunities by 2020. This is an extremely ambitions goal post.
However, data provided in a recent report by the Government shows that even though India may have the “demographic gift” of a young population, the bigger picture is more complicated when one takes the rise of the country’s elderly population into account. The report titled Elderly in India: Profile and Programmes 2016 was put together by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI). A dip into the data shows that the share of the elderly in the population as a whole has risen from 5.5% in 1951 to 8.6% in 2011. Between 2001 and 2011, there has been a 35.5% increase in that bracket (from 7.66 crores to 10.38 crores). By 2021, this figure is likely to jump higher, according to the 2014 State of Elderly in India report released by Help Age India.
According to a UN study of last year, India will surpass China as the world’s most populous country in 2022. This should not make us think that a population larger than China will invariably be an advantage for us. Instead we should see how much of it will become non-productive by that year. Considering that there has been no plan in place to gainfully utilise the senior citizens who are in good health, it will not be that easy for India even if it wins the tag of the world’s most populous country from China. Therefore the first corrective measure should be to recognise the problem. Secondly, we should find ways to make this large chunk of the population economically viable. This section of people can certainly bring more dynamism to the Indian labour market, a factor which is often overlooked even by economists. Hence we should concentrate on training the youth but should also impart skills to the retired so that they do contribute to the economic growth instead of becoming a burden for the country in the future.
The indications are that India is indeed in the early stages of a major economic inflection point, driven by a strong push for structural reforms by the Government.  Among emerging markets, India has a unique combination of attractive long-term assets.  The most obvious asset is its large, young and growing population.  The country also has plentiful natural resources which to date have not been adequately exploited.  No other country in the world has this unique combination of assets on this scale.  Clearly, the value of these assets is a function of how well India demonstrates that it can utilise them.  A functioning democracy, a young and plentiful labour pool and a surfeit of resources, if not utilised, can also be a combination for unrest and a harsh political backlash.
The recent signs however are positive with a sharp increase in foreign investment, a decline in inflation and an increase in GDP growth.  While some of this improved performance can be attributed to external or cyclical factors such as the sharp fall in global oil and commodity prices, considering the overall global slowdown which is now underway and the slowdown in all the other “BRIC” countries, India’s economic resurgence stands out as a bright spot.  The reform momentum has also resulted in greater optimism about the recovery (with the sovereign credit outlook also being upgraded).  The most noticeable change of course has been the sentiment, evidenced in the stock market index which has increased over 30% in 2014, propelled by strong foreign investment inflows.  If the Indian economy can achieve the near-term market expectations outlined above over the next one year, then it will clearly be on the path of a rapid and robust recovery, however achieving them will require both adept economic policy management and a continuation of the government’s reform agenda.
Finally, from an intellectual standpoint, the reforms required to help accelerate India’s growth and address many of its long-standing human development issues are well-known. Many of these policy challenges have been attempted to be addressed such as labour laws, governance, energy policy and privatisation.  Additional focus will be required to see many of these reforms through their conclusion, along with initiation of other key reforms such as liberalising education.
While the reform and policy agenda is clearly aimed at setting India’s growth first back to the 8% range and very soon thereafter to double digits which would allow it to achieve per capita income levels which are 1.7 X higher than the current baseline estimate by 2025 and 3.7 X higher by 2040, however doing so will require the desire to make “India Wide Open” concurrently working in many areas – including its people (Population explosion), its resources, its government and its entrepreneurs.

(Author is Group General Manager, MRPL, Mangalore)

Friday, August 5, 2016

FEATURE

Diets, diets and diets galore!

Prof. B. M. Hegde,
hegdebm@gmail.com
“The only way you get that fat off is to eat less and exercise more.”
Jack LaLanne

Our so called civilised society and our literate masses have an obsession about their body weight. Their role models in the film world show them the need for size zero to be acceptable! This combined with a sudden spurt in youth income, thanks to the IT Czars in India; we have an epidemic on hand. This seems to be one of the few diseases that does not bother the illiterate poor village masses! If on top of all these obesity in a girl gets further complicated by an English educated sophisticated doting mother result is chaos in the home. I call it as the new age malady. Other times obesity results from Mall nutrition, nutrition coming only from junk food and sugary drinks marketed by rich women in the shopping Malls, again a disease of affluence! Philosophically it is money, too much or too little, that causes malnutrition-protein calorie sub-nutrition in the poor and Mall nutrition in the rich.

Be that as it may, let us look at our response to obesity. Obsessed with the thin body mania we try to do everything to lose weight. A new disease was born thanks to this mania-bulimia. Weight loss industry is another growing money-spinner. Fitness centres, gyms of all hue and colour, and diet gurus of all shades rule the roost in this arena. My good neighbour called me the other day to tell me about her newfound diet that looks too good to be true. Two eggs in the morning, and oats. Salads, lean fish with buttermilk for lunch and green tea for evening and finally close the day with salads again with an occasional serving of white meat-no cereals, no sweets, no milk.

I saw a friend who was diagnosed with diabetes recently. His doctor was very strict about diet. He is told not even to look at rice by mistake! He could have as much of proteins by way of millets like ragi, eggs, chicken, fish and fats like butter and an occasional fruit. I have a good friend, Dr Khader Ali who treats diabetics on millets only. I have many sophisticated friends that want apples from Australia, olives from the Mediterranean, figs from Scotland, cooking apple from England, plums from California, dates from Arabia but do not like local mangoes and hates the best fruit available this season here, the jackfruit. Many of us have a misconception that rice is pure carbohydrate but wheat is all protein. Even some doctors ask their diabetic patients to switch from rice to wheat! The last advice is good for diabetic pill industry as wheat can maintain diabetes permanently by damaging the pancreatic beta cells with its gluten. While the protein content of wheat and rice is marginally different, rice, especially brown hand pound rice, contains too much dietetic fibre and also the bran contains a very powerful Vitamin D3 receptor stimulator called metadichol. The latter boosts the human immune system to prevent most illness very powerfully.

One other important point about diet is that man is meant to eat what grows in his vicinity and what grows at what season. Fruits plucked from the tree will lose the essence every day and fruits imported from far will have nothing left in them. Local fruits are the best and that too as fresh as is possible. A word about meat eating next. If one goes into human physiology man is not a meat eater. Our legs, our stomach, our small intestine length, our molar teeth, our jaw with its temparo-mandibuar joint not being in line with the lower jaw like meat eating animals, and our mouth and jaw not favouring eating into animal meat all tell us that we are built to be vegetarian. Meat eating animals eat raw meat while we eat cooked meat.

Animal milk is not a good food as it is foreign protein but if we can denature the protein by fermentation as obtains in curds we have an added benefit of millions of good gut germs in it giving us additionally vitamin B12 also. This vitamin is not available in animal meat but is generated by germs which are plenty in our environment. Curds, butter milk and above all ghee (clarified butter) are super foods. Vegetarians do not lack special strength. If one does not believe in this statement s/he has only got to fight to win with a pure vegetarian-our elephant.
All crash diets are not only not good and do not lower your weight consistently; they could be evendownright dangerous due to various reasons which I do not intendto go into in this short paper. Many such diets have come and gone and have also killed millions in the bargain. Ideally one is safer to eat what his/her ancestors have survived on but the essential part of good health is not the kind of food that one eats but the quantity. Unless one never over- eats and does not eat when not hungry, any food is as good. If one does not have any endocrine or other causes for obesity losing weight is simple in that one just has to eat half of what s/he has been eating when coupled with hard work and/or regular walking exercise. Running and jogging are also alien to human physiology as we have inherited the four legged animals knee and ankle joints without having any support for our centre of gravity when we run, we are not built to run.
In conclusion I must admit that nature provides some super foods which are otherwise called functional foods in every part. I know about this part of tropical south India. Our brown rice has been already shown to be functional (food that has additional functions other than giving calories like metadichol in rice husk) food. Our mango has some special medicine to control diabetes. If eaten in small quantities it is good for the treatment of diabetes! Our jackfruit is a super food. It has everything in it. The raw jackfruit is a very powerful anti-diabetic medicine. Ripe jack fruit is such a good food that it can be eaten even by diabetics as it has plenty of fibre which will help take away extra calories in other foods to the toilet the next morning. It has all the necessary vitamins excluding the fat soluble ones. The seed inside has almost a full meal in it. It is very rich in magnesium, a vital element for cell membrane health, including the heart muscle cells. This was the life saver for the poor during the II World War when rice, our staple diet, was very scarce. The poor lived on this King of fruits.

Let me reiterate that crash diets and crazy size zero diets are dangerous to say the least. Do not experiment on any new ideas about your health without knowing its history. It is not what you eat that kills you, it is what eats you ( your negative thoughts) that usually kills you! Moderation in food is the secret of good health. Periodic fasting is too good like exercise. Marginally overweight people live longer than the absolutely normal weight people. Reasons are far too many to go into here. Even obese people could remain healthy all their lives if they are really active.

“Want to learn to eat a lot? Here it is: Eat a little. That way, you will be around long enough to eat a lot.”
  Tony Robbins
***************************


Decisive Leadership and Geopolitics at its Best: Two years of Modi’s Foreign Policy

Prof P M Kamath
The NDA government led by Narendra Modi has completed two years in office. We have invited some prominent thought leaders of the country to assess its performance in three areas – defence, diplomacy and economy. For the assessment of the foreign policy of the Modi government, we present two different perspectives by Prof P M Kamath and Amb Amit Dasgupta in this issue.
When you look at Modi’s achievements under the NDA II government during the last two years, what is strikingly evident is that Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has provided the nation decisive leadership and has demonstrated his astute abilities in the use of geopolitics and geoeconomics at their best, to sub-serve the Indian national interest. Nowhere else have these two admirable qualities — leadership and use of geopolitics and geoeconomics – have manifested so well than in India managing relations with China under him. These qualities shine extremely well when contrasted with handling of a similar situation by the former PM, Manmohan Singh during his lackluster handling of India’s relations with China.

Decisive Leadership
Discerning observers had a clue even before Narendra Modi became the nation’s PM. During campaigning in Arunachal Pradesh in February 2013, candidate Modi had clearly asked China to give up its “mind-set of expansion” and work with India to avail fruits of “development and prosperity” for both nations. As far as its claim on Arunachal Pradesh goes, Modi warned China that “No power on earth can snatch away Arunachal Pradesh from India.”
This was clearly demonstrated in Modi’s planned approach to China. In September 2014, soon after taking over as the prime minister of India, he had invited the Chinese President Xi Jinping. Jinping was given a rousing reception in Ahmedabad before he proceeded with Modi to an official engagement in New Delhi. While the two were having unofficial confabulations in Ahmedabad, PLA as in the past, intruded in Ladakh. But demonstrating clear leadership, Modi informed Jinping that economic relations cannot go on as usual if such incidents on the border continue to occur. Since the Ahmedabad warning was not fruitful, it was repeated in New Delhi once again. These signals were effective as China pulled back after eight days in Ladakh. Jinping, while departing, publicly expressed that he was sad about the tension between armies, which “cast a shadow” on his visit. But such incursions have not occurred again.
Earlier, Modi had shown similar decisive qualities of leadership against Pakistani tantrums. After initial bonhomie with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the occasion of his swearing in as the PM in May 2014, his government cancelled a scheduled meeting of foreign secretaries of the two countries on August 25, 2014 on the grounds that government of India cannot accept the fact that while bilateral talks are to be held, Pakistan holds meeting with the separatists who are challenging Indian integrity.
Geopolitics & Geoeconomics
In Modi’s conduct of foreign policy, he has achieved an inseparable admixture of geopolitics and geoeconomics — one aiding the other. This became clearly evident in changing approaches. The Manmohan Singh led UPA government was undoubtedly aware of the geopolitical significance of bilateral relations with Vietnam. However, in awe of China on many issues, the Manmohan Singh government was unable to publicly express our concerns on Chinese policies Vietnam. We only claimed to have privately conveyed our concerns to the Chinese. It was a policy of extraordinary deference to China. In all fairness to the former PM, he only continued the policy of Congress governments since Rajiv Gandhi and PV Narasimha Rao’s time.
Thus, in November 2011, during the East Asia Summit, China publicly warned India to keep off South China Sea on the grounds that it was a disputed territory, where Vietnam had awarded a block on contract to ONGC (Videsh) to drill for oil. This was despite the fact that the day before this public warning, India had claimed to have privately explained to China that Indian interests in the South China Sea were purely commercial and China should settle all issues of sovereignty according to the principles of international law and practice. But then the UPA government never demonstrated firm leadership or had the nerve to ask Chinese leadership: How could it build roads or invest in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), which too is a disputed territory?
Look at the manner in which India under Modi has deftly handled the issues in relation to Vietnam and Iran. When PM Modi was holding his high level meetings with Jinping in New Delhi in September 2014, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee was in Vietnam as a part of regular exchange of visits. Later, on October 28 2014, Modi held high level talks with the Vietnamese prime minister, Nguyen Tan Dang, on strengthening strategic partnership and as a part of growing understanding of importance of bilateral relationship, India agreed to sell military hardware including BRAHMOS missiles, naval vessels. And Vietnam offered two more blocks to India for energy exploration within its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea!
China is a dictatorship that understands only the language of power; when it uses its power, India too needs to demonstrate its willpower to counter it powerfully. That is the only way to get substantial results from Chinese leaders. We need not and cannot think of matching China in every respect, as Indian economy is only one third of China’s. But Indian power deficit can be balanced by cultivating likeminded friends on the basis of shared interests without compromising national interest. Nations make friendship not only on the basis of their perceived congruence in their national interests but also based on their geographical location, perceived specific economic interests in conjunction with geopolitical interests.
Geopolitics and geoeconomics at its best was demonstrated by India as a gift to people to celebrate completion of two years of its superb conduct of Indian foreign policy. Demonstrating a clear vision of future of Indian foreign policy compulsions, PM Modi signed two agreements in Teheran on May 23; it was a commercial contract with Iran for development the of Chabahar port and a trilateral agreement between India, Iran and Afghanistan on trade and transit. This effectively links India through Iran to Afghanistan from where it is connected to major cities of Afghanistan like Herat, Kandahar, Kabul and Mazar e Sharif through Garland Road.
Chabahar port development agreement is a smart geopolitical and geoeconomic answer to Chinese controlled Gwadar port in Pakistan at a distance of one hundred km west of Chabahar. When fully developed, the Chabahar port will provide easy access to India to Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan. And through Afghanistan to energy rich Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and other Central Asian nations. Though Iran had offered the development of Chabahar to India in 2003, Modi government signed a MoU in May 2015 and agreement in May 2016. It should adhere to complete operationalisation of the port facilities by December 2016 to free Afghanistan from over-dependence on Pakistan for access to the Indian Ocean. This move on the part of India will also enable it to play a stabilising role in the Gulf region as well as in West Asia.

Conclusion
Indian pursuit of geopolitical strategic partnership with Iran and Vietnam is likely to be extended with moving times as there are clear signs of it. Japan, which shares India’s concerns about China’s growing assertiveness, has indicated to India its willingness to financially participate in the development of Chabahar port. The United States, another strategic partner, has also extended its support to the Indian project to develop modern port facilities at Chabahar. Similarly, the US’ lifting of economic sanctions against Iran, after the nuclear agreement, is also likely to share Indian concerns behind its efforts to develop the Port of Chabahar in Iran. India could play a role in bringing Iran and the US closer to promote a win-win situation amongst the partners.
Another recent development is President Obama’s visit to Vietnam and worth a mention as part of a larger geopolitical operation. Was it by design or coincidence that Modi was in Tehran and Obama in Vietnam on the same day — May 23? We may get clear answers after the Modi-Obama meeting which is scheduled to be held on June 7 in Washington, DC. But as much as India shares US’ concerns against the growing Chinese security threat in Southeast Asia, it also shares deep concerns with Vietnam and other members of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) over the Chinese claim of sovereignty over the entire South China Sea which also washes the borders of ASEAN countries. It is this concern, which led the US to speak of ‘Asian Pivot’. It is this concern that led Obama to lift the arms sale embargo on Vietnam after his recent visit.
There is thus a message to the Congress Party in India: Do not criticise geopolitical cooperation between India and the US on the ground that “PM Modi and his government” are pushing “India into a closer, deeper military alliance and become the part of the larger operational designs and requirements of the US in Asia, in Pacific and South China Sea” in response to the government’s in principle, agreeing on military logistics support agreement. It is not intrusive and doesn’t affect India’s nonaligned status. Anyway, non-alignment in its Cold War sense is dead when Manmohan Singh asked the US to stay put in Afghanistan even after December 2014. What now prevails as PM Modi has said is: Congruence of national interest of US and India. I may add that Non-Alignment (NA) has become National Interest Alignment (NIA)!

Author is formerly Professor of Politics, University of Bombay and currently Hon. Director and Chairman, VPM’s Centre for International Studies (Regd.), Mumbai and Adjunct Professor, Department of Geopolitics and International Relations, Manipal University, Manipal.
************************


SERIAL : 38

INDIAN IN COWBOY COUNTRY

LABOUR DAY

“Brahmarpanam literally means ‘offering to God,’ and the Sankrit words mean:
The offering is God; the act of offering is God,
Offered by God in the sacred fire that is God
He alone attains God,
Who in all his actions is fully absorbed in God.
I am the all-pervading cosmic energy,
Lodged in the bodies of living beings.
United with their ingoing and outgoing life breaths,
I consume all the various foods.”
Satish added, “Before the Brahmarpanam, what we had in front of us was food. After we say it, it becomes consecrated food.”
“We don’t need to say formal prayers, just a sincere prayer from our hearts, thanking God and asking God to bless the food,” she said.
Pauline said, “Honey, it is so deep, it brought tears to my eyes.”
“Yes,” conceded Miriam, “It was beautiful.”
Susan and Serena joined in to praise Monica’s rendition when Clyde jumped in and asked, “When are we going to eat?”
Satish stood up and described all the dishes on the table. Monica added, “I apologize if you find it too hot and spicy.”
“Don’t worry, honey,” Pauline said, “I’ll eat anything as long as I don’t have to cook!”
“Bon app├ętit,” declared Darrell as he served Serena a spoonful of mutter paneer.
“This smells delicious. Can you pass me some naan bread?” Susan asked as she served herself some chicken curry, aloo gobi and raita.
Miriam and Dan focused on the spicy vegetable biryani rice and the chicken curry combination.
“This Tandoori chicken is delicious. Best barbecued chicken I’ve ever had,” Clyde said, as he bit off a mouthful.
“But, I thought you were a vegetarian, Monica,” Dan said.
“Yes, I am,” Monica confessed. “Satish made the meat dishes. I made the vegetarian ones.”
Instantly, all the wives turned on their husbands and began to reproach them for their lack of culinary skills.
For the next two hours, in an atmosphere of banter and camaraderie, these five couple sat at the table, enjoyed each other’s company, and learned about how each pair had met.
“I met my wife at a honky-tonk in Pasadena,” volunteered Clyde. “She was the purtiest girl on the floor. I asked her if she would dance with me, and we’ve been dancing together since then.” He then took Pauline’s hand and kissed it.
She said, “He’s so romantic.”
All the men in the room knew that Darrel had met Serena during one of his trips to Houston, but he had not divulged the details. The attractive spouse volunteered, “I met him on a delayed, late-night flight to Houston. He sat next to me, and during the entire three-and-a-half-hour flight, he ignored me. He had a window seat and, alternatively, he kept reading some kind of a journal and sleeping.
When we landed, he helped me with my hand luggage. He said nothing as we both waited at the baggage claim belt, when we discovered that our luggage had been lost, and when we stood in line to fill out the airlines forms.
“He was ahead of me in the line, and after he finished filing his claim, he left. However, when I left the counter and turned around, I found him standing there. He asked me, in a most understated way, if I wanted a ride to a hotel or something.
“It was past midnight and I was not sure if it was safe to take a cab. He looked decent and respectable, so I accepted. We were staying at different hotels that were close to each other. During our half-hour ride, he said almost nothing.
“Then, when he dropped me off, he asked me if I would join him for drinks the next day. I was inclined to say no, but then something told me that there was perhaps another side to this man. I said yes. He swept me off my feet the next day, and we were married in three months.”
“I had allergies and I was loaded with antihistamines,” Darrel explained.
“That is such a great story, and so romantic. Somebody ought to make a movie of it,” Pauline said. “Susan, how did you and Sam meet?”
“I was his student,” Susan said. “He was an adjunct professor at U of H, where I had come to do my masters in accounting. He taught me during my first semester, but for a year and a half after that, he ignored me. When I was about to graduate, he came for campus interviews, to hire accountants for his firm. Instead of hiring me, he referred me to another firm, and then asked me out on a date.
“Both of us knew that we were right for each other but we vacillated for two years whether we should get married. You know how it is; he is an African American and I am a Singaporean. We are from different worlds but we could not live without each other. So the last time he proposed to me, I accepted.”
She took Sam’s hand and held it. He turned to her and said, “Love you, babe.”
“Who’s next?” asked Serena. “Monica, Dan?”
“Let me go last,” Dan requested.
Serena turned in the direction of her hosts and said, “Well?” Monica nudged her husband to tell the story and he complied.
“Ours was an arranged marriage. We got married within four days of being introduced to each other,” Satish said.
There was silence at the table. They were waiting for Satish to say more. When nothing was forthcoming, Monica jumped in. “He is always so matter-of-fact,” she said in the direction of Susan and Serena, who were seated across from her.
“Satish and I knew each other as children. His father and my father are friends. When we were children we met quite often, but when he became a teenager he stopped coming to our home, and I lost touch with him for more than fifteen years.”
I used to be a stewardess for a European airline. After my mother, God bless her soul, passed away, I decided to quit my job to be with my father. Satish was a passenger on my last flight.”
“He was like you, Darrell-sleeping, silent, or looking out of the window most of the time. I did not recognize him at that time, even though his name was on the passenger manifest. He had a drink or two, and he hardly touched his food. He was polite, courteous, and not flirtatious. I noticed these over a nine-hour flight. I said to myself that he was the kind of man I’d like to marry.
“I was married before. My first husband died in a motorcycle accident six months after my mother’s death, and it took me a long time to get over it. Satish was the first man I saw who made me want to get married again.”
She stopped, and when cajoled to continue she said, “Let my husband tell the rest of the story.”
“I did not recognize her on the flight, either. She looked familiar, but then I knew her by her pet name. She was called Mona when she was a kid. I did not connect Mona and Monica.
“I was on this two-week trip to Mumbai to visit my parents, and during those two weeks my parents and sister had me visit with six women, often with their families. It was very depressing. I did not feel comfortable with any of them.
“On the day of my departure, she and her father came over around lunch time and I met her again. She recognized me from the flight but I did not. Within minutes of meeting her, I knew that Mona was the one.”
Monica jumped in. “Even after he talked with me for over two hours, he did not recognize me till I told that I was the stewardess on his flight home. He then asked my father’s permission to take me to a restaurant to talk some more. “I thought he was taking me to a restaurant at a five-star hotel. Instead, he took me to an airline ticket office at the hotel. There, in front of my colleagues and friends, he asked, “Will you marry me? I will postpone my trip right now.” I said yes, and we got married four days later in my home.”
Pauline was weeping. She dried her tears with her napkin and sobbed when she said, “That is the purtiest story I have ever heard. Don’t you think so, darlin’?” in the direction of her husband.
Clyde nodded and said softly, “Kinda gets you here,” pounding his fist to his chest.
Susan reached out to her hosts, held their hands, and said, “It’s wonderful when everything works out, isn’t it?”
Serena lifted her glass of wine and said, “Wish you the very best in life.”
Miriam raised hers and said, “That’s very sweet.”
While everyone raised their glasses and toasted their hosts, Dan asked, “Hey, do I get my turn or not?”
“Sure”, conceded Clyde, and asked him to take center stage.
He cleared his throat and said, “But, before I start, I’d like Liya and Seeta to be here.”
Monica left the table to fetch the children. As soon as the two-year-olds were seated on their mothers’ laps, he said, “I met Miriam at a synagogue.”
Clyde choked mockingly and said, “You, Dan, in a synagogue?”
Miriam jumped to his defense, “He is religious, Clyde. The rabbi told me that he was a regular.”
Clyde apologized and Dan, unperturbed, continued.
“I met Miriam and Liya, at the synagogue I attend. She was visiting her cousins in Houston and was on a four-month holiday, visiting form Israel. Liya’s father was in the army. He died more than a year ago.
“I have been seeing her and Liya since the first week she has been here, and she is returning to Jerusalem next week. But I don’t want her and little Liya to go back, so I have a proposition for both of them.”
With that, he pushed back his chair, got on his knees, and said, “Beloved Miriam light of my life, will you give me the honor of being your husband, and a father to Liya?”
Tears welled up in Miriam’s eyes. She held her daughter, and, trying to hold back her tears, she nodded. “Yes,” she said, and placed her right hand and her daughter’s right hand in Dan’s extended hand. He placed his other hand on theirs and held them and said, “I promise to honor, protect, and love you for the rest of our lives.”
He pulled two rings from his pocket and placed one with a large solitaire diamond on Miriam’s finger. Kissing Liya on her cheek, tears in his eyes, he slid the smaller ring on the little girl’s ring finger.

MEDICAL FRONTIERS

Relief with new generation stents

Mumbai: The new generation of stents that are being used to treat heart patients has brought major relief to them with the incidence of re-blockage of the vessels coming down by a significant amount.
Medical sources said that stents are being increasingly used in treating heart patients who have a blocked vessel that needs to be opened up. While the earlier stents were bare metal ones that merely served the purpose of keeping the artery open, the recent generation of stents also have a drug coating on them that was useful in treatment of the heart condition.
According to Dr Lekha Pathak, director of cardiology, Nanavati Superspeciality Hospital, the new generation stents have a special kind of drugs coated on them that prevent the same artery from getting blocked again. “This is important because the incidence of re blockage – also known as restenosis – is quite high among the high risk patients. These are the patients who are suffering diabetes, hypertension, high lipid profile, smokers or even those suffering from severe stress,” she said.
The cardiologist explained that another advantage of these new generation stents is that they get absorbed in the body over a period of time. “This is another factor that makes these stents the choice of treatment among the young generation since they may not want the stent to be seen through an angiography at a later stage,” she pointed out. However, there is a likelihood of about five percent of the patients getting stent thrombosis and which is mainly seen in patients with diabetes.
Medical sources said that around 20 % of the heart patients today are under 40 years of age and a lot of women are also getting affected by this condition. “The reason for increasing heart conditions among women is that that they are also now exposed to same stress and strain of modern life and there are many who are regular smokers and also consume alcohol,” a senior doctor said.  It has also been seen that every third patient coming with a heart problem is already suffering from diabetes. This makes it crucial to make important lifestyle changes so that these conditions can be prevented to some extent, sources said.
With the increase in heart disease in the population, it has now become crucial that a patient must reach a cardiac institution within three hours of the episode, Dr Pathak said. “It is for this reason that we have set up a 24 hour emergency centre at Nanavati Hospital for the patients so they can be taken up immediately for the necessary procedure,” she explained.


New method can wipe out
cancerous cells in two hours

New York: An experimental method that can kill up to 95 per cent of cancer cells in two hours and may tremendously help people with inoperable or hard-to-reach tumours, as well as young children stricken with cancer, a study suggests.
The newly patented method to kill cancer cells has been developed by Matthew Gdovin, Associate Professor at University of Texas at San Antonio. The new treatment involves injecting a chemical compound, nitrobenzaldehyde, into the tumour and allowing it to diffuse into the tissue.
He then aims a beam of light at the tissue, causing the cells to become very acidic inside and, essentially, commit suicide. With this method, Gdovin estimated, up to 95 per cent of the targeted cancer cells die withing two hours.
"Even though there are many different types of cancers, the one thing they have in common is their susceptibility to this induced cell suicide," Gdovin said.
Gdovin tested his method against triple negative breast cancer, one of the most aggressive types of cancer and one of the hardest to treat. After one treatment in the laboratory, he was able to stop the tumor from growing and double chances of survival in mice.
Gdovin hopes that his non-invasive method will help cancer patients with tumors in areas that have proven problematic for surgeons, such as the brain stem, aorta or spine. It could also help people who have received the maximum amount of radiation treatment and can no longer cope with the scarring and pain that goes along with it, or children who are at risk of developing mutations from radiation as they grow older.
"There are so many types of cancer for which the prognosis is very poor," he said.
"We're thinking outside the box and finding a way to do what for many people is simply impossible," Gdovin said.