Thursday, November 17, 2016

EDITOR'S COLUMN

Friends,
Can we say, we are euphoric? In a way yes, but in many ways it’s profoundly mixed. We have just completed this October our 16th year in print journalism, but it’s also our 200th edition, as we begin the journey towards the 17th milestone. So, there are reasons to feel satisfied. But it’s a struggle all the same.
Looking back, it has been a trying journey but satisfying as well. It has seen its share of ups and downs, of rising cost and of not equally rising circulations. Of course, there are concerned individuals who want to see I&C growing. Hope their wishes turns out better in coming days. ISSUES&CONCERNS is a movement, more the participation, the better for all stake holders.
Some of the souls and institutions need to be remembered as we look back in perspective of the distance covered. Late Dr. M.V. Kamath, a Padma Bhushan awardee, has been a pillar of strength for all the 14 years that his spirit was around. We remember his soul with deep reverence. Prof. B.M. Hegde, another Padmabhushan, has been with us for all the 16 years like a rock. I&C readers have been greatly benefitted from his incisive exposition of theories he greatly believed in, to him too, we bow in reverence. It will not be out of place to remember some institutions which have been of support in our march ‘towards a purposeful regimen’.  Nitte University at Deralakatte, Mangalooru, Ramco Group, Lome, Togo, West Africa, BASF, Mangalooru, Karnataka Agencies, Mangalooru, Karnataka Bank, Corporation Bank are some of the names that comes to mind, who have been some of the supporters, who stood by us. We deeply appreciate their unstinted support through these last many years. So, it’s a big THANK YOU, to all who reached out to us at regular intervals and helped us keep going, to reach this 200th milestone.
The month that has gone by has been eventful, with the surgical strike across our border in J&K blurring everything else. For far too long India suffered at the intermittent violence by Pak forces and some of the terror groups operating in Pakistan. It was clearly payback time. Situation at the border and India’s relation with the western neighbor shall not remain the same from now on. Kashmir issue, which is at the core of all the trouble that India had for all these years, remains as contentious as ever. Will it ever be solved is a question staring at us. In Focus, we have tried to discuss the Kashmir imbroglio with all the options and a plausible breakthrough.
Month-in-Perspective has been as usual. There is this battle royal between the Supreme Court appointed Lodha Committee and BCCI. Its time this cricket body which wants to take all the advantages of the system simply does not like to come under the system. They want to have the cake and eat it too, perennially. If only Justice Lodha does not make it too difficult to be practical, then chances are BCCI may have to fall in line within the system of accountability. Hope it happens for the larger picture. Rest as usual. Do revert with your inputs.

J. Shyiyan      


MONTH-IN-PERSPECTIVE

JAMMU & KASHMIR: In the latest issue of the Sunday Magazine section of THE HINDU, there appeared a stunning piece of writing by Ashish Kaul, a media veteran. The title “The Stone Warriors” says it all.
Quoting a 19 year old Shaheen Khan, a high school dropout from a village in West Kashmir, he writes “Every night we pray that there is no dawn. Lord, keep the Sun in your arms so that innocents are given another day of life. It is written in Kashmir’s destiny that peace be found only in darkness”.
Indeed, it is a very poignant remark from a 19 year old youth, about the feeling of resignation to their fate in the ongoing restlessness in the valley.
However, what debunks the theory propagated by Pakistan, Kashmiri separatists and of course by some Indian media men and women, is the statement of another youth, ‘villages in the valley march on the orders of terrorist leaders to throw stones and chant ‘azadi’; they risk their lives at the hands of security forces when they do and when they don’t, they risk a brutal death at the hands of militants.’
Basharat Khan, a resident of village Nai Basti, in Anantnag, which is renamed by terrorists as Islamabad, adds “They keep a list of residents and maintain record of those who follow orders and more specifically of those who don’t. If we don’t follow orders, they attack our houses. My car was attacked and the glass smashed by a bunch of boys barely out of school”.
Sajad Ghani, a garment trader, on the Srinagar national highway, had another kind of story to tell, “Militancy is the biggest trade in the valley. Most trade is controlled by businesses that have muhim (agitation) leaders as invisible partners”. According to him ‘On street militancy has quickly emerged as a career option for a breed of Young Kashmiris born in the shadow of guns and terror.’
And comes Shabnam Mir, 17, “These young boys also harass women who want to study and work towards a progressive life. Women are often threatened and molested in the name of muhim”. Shabnam dropped out of High school in Sopore after she was publicly abused.
Thus, while there cannot be any justification for the wrongs, if any, by the security forces, it is the general atmosphere of violence perpetrated and sustained by separatists and their benefactors from Pakistan which is the causa proxima of the upheavals happening in Kashmir. While there has to be sincere and concerted efforts by the state to rope in and look after ordinary law abiding citizens, measures must be put in place to contain and eradicate militancy in the valley. Only then there can be a hope for peace in Kashmir. Hope it happens.  
     
HARYANA: There was this report  in the print media, regarding the ‘conviction of Ex DGP of Haryana SPS Rathore in the Ruchika Girhotra molestation case upheld’, but truly speaking it was upheld only in letter and not in spirit. Many a time, the judgement of courts, including that of the highest court of the land leave much to be desired. In this particular case, Rathore became notorious for misusing his power as a DGP/ former DGP with a hapless girl and her family. That it took 27 years for the final disposal of the case is a serious reflection on our justice delivery system, is another dimension of our democratic polity.
But the fact remains, that the honourable judges in their wisdom, while upholding the conviction, reduced the quantum of punishment, which was truly speaking already so low. Rathore was awarded with just 18 months in jail, which was very less considering the terror he unleashed on the family and the young girl Ruchika committed suicide only to save the family from further harassment.
That the court upheld the conviction but reduced the quantum of punishment to equal what he has already undergone, is totally unjustified, for the simple reason, he had challenged his conviction while undergoing his jail term and was granted bail after 6 months of his being behind bars. Thus the latest conviction by the apex court lost its meaning, when he does not have to undergo any more jail term after he challenged the conviction. So, clearly he succeeded in not getting any more jail term which he really wanted. He should have been, at least for a period of 3 months as token, put behind bars, while granting him 9 months remission. Then primacy of the law would have been respected, upheld and established. Or was it because he was ‘high & mighty’ a senior police officer that the court went soft!?

  NEW DELHI: The expression of Supreme Court’s concern regarding the inhuman and insanitary condition of our jails across the country has not come a day too early. The report “SC distressed on inhuman condition in jails” in the print media has only confirmed the rot. It has been a fact in the public space for a long long time.
All those Indians privy to the news in public space are in the know of the overcrowded jails in just about any city in India. While it can be a reflection of our ever growing population, as the second most populous country in the world, it is also true that the police department is apparently apathetic towards the jail inmates and their well being. The view- after all they are criminals, whether under trials or convicted, they get what they deserved, tends to make the department unconcerned and sometime even sadistic. Police in third world countries, including India, look at prisoners as less than human and therefore think that they do not deserve a humane treatment.
The idea that all prisoners, under whatever circumstances they were convicted or jailed to be under trails, until conviction or release, are human beings with their own human rights, is rarely appreciated by the police, at all levels, from constable to the highest levels. Fact is the adverse circumstances of a prisoner simply cannot deny him the legitimate human and fundamental right he is constitutionally entitled to.
It was way back in 1966 that Supreme Court had ordered to look into the living condition of prisoners. Thus since last 50 years, repeatedly apex court has been reminding the executive to improve the conditions inside the four walls of jails across the country.
Distressed at the poor conditions of rooms and other facilities provided to prisoners, Court has asked both the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Women & Child Development to obtain a status report of all prisons in the country so also for the preparation of manual for juveniles in the custody within a fixed time frame.
There is always a complaint from the executive regarding the judicial activism. But court comes in suo-moto, when the executive has failed. Hope executive always remain alive to the role, it is expected of.  

There was this report in the print media some weeks ago “IOC, GAIL to take 49% stake in Adani Group’s Dhamra LNG project”. Read again. Do you smell any dead rat!
Gautam Adani of Adani group is a known friend of Shri Narendra Modi, who also happens to be the Prime Minister of India, under whom the petroleum ministry functions.
Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) & Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL), although autonomous, is under the control of the petroleum ministry.
Both IOC and GAIL are cash rich and are known to be Navarathnas of India’s public sector undertakings (PSU). They have a performance history and have enough managerial talents to manage huge enterprises.
So why join hands with a private sector entity, whose credibility is yet to be established? That too giving the controlling management in the private hands! Adanis will be having 50% IOC/GAIL combine shall have 48% with 2% given to financial institutions.
Reportedly, the 5 million ton per year LNG import terminal, targeted to be built by 2020, shall have 4.5 million inputs from IOC & GAIL itself, so why do you need Adani?
So, the PSU is giving both the capital and revenue generation to a private sector in a platter?!
When asked why the state owned firms dumped their own projects and chose to go with a private firm, Minister Pradhan reportedly remarked “their individual plans were not viable and so, the two decided to join hands”. There is more to it than what eyes can see, not withstanding what minister had stated.

What is ailing former Karnataka Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda? Or else, why is he being removed or divested of responsibilities in the Modi Government?
There was this report “Smrithi, Gowda out in Inter-State Council Shake up.” Former HRD minister was somehow not accepted by many as the HRD head, so lost it to become the innocuous Textile Minister. Of course in every ministry there is scope for making it vibrant. But Gowda, on the other hand supposed to have a positive image and this landed him in the very heavy Railway Ministry, the highest employer of Indians with a huge sector of its own. But lost it pretty soon, unlike Smrithi who lingered. Gowda was given Law Ministry. However in the last reshuffle among others Smrithi lost her HRD, as expected, but Gowda also lost his Law Ministry, to become a kind of insignificant, Minister of Statistics and Programme Implementation. So in less than 3 years, he is into third ministry. Now comes this report that both Union Minister Smrithi Irani and D.V. Sadananda Gowda have been dropped from Interstate Council too. This council is a nodal body between Centre and State for the better management of resources of the country for the greatest good of greatest number.
So, isn’t it natural to ask what’s the problem Mr. Devaragunda Venkappa Sadananda Gowda?

Report that a bunch of Muslim intellectuals including Prof. Irfan Habib, Prof. Ayesha Kidwa, Dr. Gauhar Raza, Prof. Zoya Hassan, and activist Shabnam Hashmi, have rejected the triple talaq and opposed the AIMPLB stand has not come a day too early. In fact, it can well be said that, it should have come many decades earlier.
While their express public stand is welcome and will only make the cause of Muslim women activists so much stronger, their reported distrust of the central government of the day is plain and simple red herring.
This country has an elected government for all its 69 years. For all these 7 decades issue of Single Civil Code for the entire country was being discussed. But no government took the initiative to address the anomalies within the personal law of Muslims, which includes even triple talaq. In fact Shah Bano case involving the Rajiv Gandhi govt. was a shameless endorsement of communal politics. These intellectuals need to recognize that of 69 years that have gone by only about 9 years belong to NDA, and the remaining 60+ years, it was the governments of only Congress for about 45 years and 10 years of UPA I&II, led by Congress and Janata dispensation, and at no time these thinkers of the community so openly expressed their view and had no occasion to suspect the intention of the government, since these governments had no intention at all, to address the issue of injustice to women among Indian Muslims.
This government need to be commended for its clear stand in expressing its complete disapproved of Triple Talaq, Polygamy and Nikah Halala. It’s only then these intellectuals mustered enough courage to express their long held view but still vary of complimenting the government of the day.
This group of intellectuals never stood by bold people who tried to speak about issues of concerns in practices of Indian Muslims. The bold film ‘Beary’ by a young Mangalorean Muslim T.H. Altaf miserably failed in public space because of not only obscurantists within the community but also because of these intellectuals. Of course less said the better of our secular brigade both in the media and public space who are never even handed in their opinions.
In any case, better late than never, Muslim women, especially in the younger group, can look forward to better social atmosphere, like this 18 year old Arshiya Bagwan of Baramathi, Pune, who was divorced within 2 years of her marriage, writing to PM Modi to bring about the Uniform Civil Code.
Indeed there is a need for open debate for Common Civil Code by involving all sections of women, who are truly the affected party in this whole struggle.      

BIHAR: The Patna High court order quashing the notification banning consumption and sale of liquor in Bihar was on expected lines. Notwithstanding the Supreme Court intervention at a future date, it can safely be said that such banning, necessarily need to take into a/c, the freedom of choice enshrined in the constitution. An executive, as state government, can impose restrictions for public good, but cannot ban right of choice. The government, in its wisdom can impose heavy duties and taxes to make it as difficult and as expensive as possible to deter people to buy liquor or any product to protect people. We all recognize that consumption of liquor, beyond a limit, is not good for a country’s physical, social and financial health of its individuals and the society at large. Unlike any other practice, the consumption of alcohol can be highly habit forming. For an economically poorer section of society with a family to support, in many cases with number of children, habit of daily liquor consumption can be ruinous. Therefore any logic of the state to make it prohibitively expensive for people to buy liquor can be accepted. But to deny it completely is untenable. There must be flexibility, if the buyer of the alcohol wants to buy at least by paying higher price.
This way, you neither infringe his fundamental right to choices, besides making revenue for the state, so also to a fair extent the menace of heavy drinking among the poorer section of the society could have been controlled.
Here the problem with Bihar government is the draconian measures included in the notification, of arresting just about anybody who is connected to the violator, including his family. Surely Supreme Court shall take the call to ensure that law in its sanity should prevail over the insanity of executive orders.

Bihar is not one of those states which makes lot of nationally relevant news. It does make news mostly for wrong reasons.
‘Sarkar is out of jail’ was the slogan, which rent the air outside Bhagalpur jail in Gopalgunj, Bihar. Reportedly there were 40 MLAs of ruling RJD party and 4 cabinet ministers of Nitish Kumar government with hundreds of supporters in their 300 vehicles, all RJD supporters. Mohammad Shahabuddin was released on bail after being inside for 11 years in jail. When he came out of the jail, all senior police officers of Bhagalpur Central jail were present to see him off and escort him to the waiting SUV.
He was driven in a procession to Gopalgunj, a distance of 400km from Bhagalpur, with some 1300 vehicles, with RJD leaders greeting him with garlands and bursting of crackers on the way in different places on the highway.
This man Mohammad Shahabuddin was elected to Bihar Assembly twice and four times to Parliament, is known to have 49 cases of heinous crimes, including murders, loot, extortion and assault of district Superintendent of Police. Varieties in the case included bizarre acid bathing of two brothers and later killing another brother who witnessed it. There may not be many appropriate words to describe the amount of atrocity this man has caused to the people in and around his constituency. Indeed, it appeared, every inch his 'Sarkar'.
However, while it was crass negligence on the part of the Bihar government of Nitish Kumar to have failed to oppose the bail, what happened in Patna High Court that led to the granting of bail to this multiple murderer is best left to the imagination on the serious moral decay in the portals of justice. However it is to the credit of Supreme Court to have acted fast in getting the bail scrapped and send this friend and benefactor of RJD and its Supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav back to Bhagalpur Central Jail.
He had come out of jail with the roar of the lion with 1300 vehicles honking its way from Bhagalpur to Gopalgunj. He went back after 21 days of freedom without even a whimper of a cat under police escort.
Thank God, there is some remnants of  judicial optimism that has survived in the otherwise decaying standard of the justice delivery system. At least the parents of those 3 brothers killed by this criminal and his henchmen and the wife of journalist Swarup Rajan who was murdered only a few months ago on the orders of this Shahabuddin from inside the jail, would breath little easier since the ‘Sarkar’ is back where he should ‘insha allah’ remain for the rest of his life.                  

MAHARASHTRA: Maratha strongman Sharad Pawar has reportedly stated, post Maratha protest, in Maharashtra “Govt. responsible for discontent among Marathas”. Indeed for every protest of people, in someway, the government is responsible. But he was not accusing any of the past government in the Mumbai Sachivaalay. He was blaming the present government led by BJP. But BJP is in power for a year or so. During the last 70 years of managing Bombay first and then Maharashtra later, it was the Congress party which ruled the state. Sharad Pawar was part of the Congress and was also part of the government subsequently as the breakaway NCP Supremo. He was even Chief Minister, a Maratha himself. So the blame has to be at the door of Sharad Pawar and his family. He and his family has made enough and more for themselves. At that time, Marathas never complained, since he kept the leaders happy. Ajit Pawar was in the news for all wrong reasons. Hundreds of crores of Irrigation funds have vanished without irrigating the land. Why did Marathas keep quite? Lavasa development has made his daughter and son-in-Law richer. There are other scams including his connection with underworld fugitive Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar. No Maratha has complained. For sure BJP is not a model alternative for governance. But, they were hardly in power. Besides as a community, like Patels in Gujarath or Jats in Haryana or Rajasthan, they are well off than most Indians. They are only flexing their muscle for political points against the ruling BJP. Therefore if Congress and NCP are blamed for this Maratha protest, the accusation may not be wrong. It’s not empowerment, its politics. But the truth is, all political parties are opportunists. Its question of who is less bad among all bads.

Except film buffs, not many would have known bollywood film maker Anurag Kashyap. Now more Indians will know him. There was this report in the print media “Anurag Kashyap locks horns with PM”, and reportedly, AAP and Congress have supported him.
Arvind Kejriwal became more famous in India and outside India, mostly for his no holds barred attack on Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India. Kejriwal even called Modi “a psychopath”.
Whether anybody likes it or not, Modi has been elected democratically as Prime Minister by his own strength. There is still more than 30 months to unseat him, if possible, in the next election due in 2019.
This Kashyap is upset that some of the bollywood films have been banned due to some Pakistani contents. Film has been banned by theatre owners and some film maker’s organization, due to heightened tension between India & Pakistan.
What has Modi done?
This Kashyap is asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to apologize for his Lahore Trip. PM Modi had gone to Lahore in perceived national interest and many in the civilised world appreciated it. How are bollywood films comparable to it?
Is this Kashyap thick headed?
Of course, no marks for guessing why AAP and Congress supported this Kashyap.
Kashyap reportedly also remarked “Narendra Modi, you actually diverted your trip on our tax money and films banned were shot on money on which someone here pays interest.” If you borrow, you have to pay interest. And if you are a Prime Minister of the country, his travel on official work has to be paid by the exchequer, having the tax money at its disposal.
Is it some great intelligence to say this, except to make news in the public space, that you are ‘a bold’ Modi baiter like Kejriwal?!
This Kashyap has made himself a laughing stock, like some other big mouths in Bollywood.

The report “Now, Pak Singer Blasts Uri Attack” had appeared in a Mumbai based news paper. Shafqat Amanat Ali, a Pakistani Singer is the first person from the western neighbor to condemn the Uri terror attack. So, there are Pakistani artists who do condemn actions of his countrymen! In India, we routinely do so in the public space. So what prevented the likes of Fawad Khan, whose film was stopped by MNS and cinema theatres owners in India to express similar sentiments? This Karan Johar and his ilk in the bollywood could have asked this Fawad Khan to condemn the Uri attack instead of asking the likes of Kashyap to demand apology from the Prime Minister of the country for his Lahore visit. These jokers do not have a sense of proportion. They think in the name of freedom of expression they can bark anything they like. They need to recognize that, if these Pak actors have refrained from condemning the terror attack on India by Pakistani inspired groups, either now or in the past, it’s only because, either they are too patriotic Pakistanis or they are mortally scarred to say so. These Pak artists realize at their own perils that they will not survive in Pakistan, with their freedom of expression. Not only the authorities will hit them but also likes of Hafiz Saeed will kill them. So they want to have their cake in India and eat it in Pakistan. Hell with Indian concerns!
This aspect, our Indian jokers among artistes, does not recognize. And then you have characters like Anurag Kashyap making himself a joke. Of course, outfits like Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) is only trying to get some political advantages, which it will not get anyway. Its umbilical cousin Shiv Sena is smart & therefore discreet. But this is Indian politics.

The ongoing controversy on films with Pakistani actors do not seem to die. Mostly because, it is hurting the financial interest of one film maker Karan Johar. So he releases a video and our media laps it up to discuss it in PRIME TIME television viewing. Not to lag behind, even print media too have joined the mêlée. And comes our “India’s National News Paper since 1878, “THE HINDU”. Of course it does not represent Hindus. Also it does not represent the TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT TRUTH. It publishes what it thinks as right. Doesn’t matter it is so much loaded in favour of one against the other, but rarely fair and even-handed in its interpretation of events happening in a complex country like India.
To-day it had its editorial titled “A closure of Indian Mind.” Probably the editor thinks, unlike his readers, he has an open mind. Be it as it may, the editorial refers to “a wider audience currently consumed by a low grade intolerance of anything Pakistani”. Mark its words ‘low grade intolerance’.
He was writing on the alleged ‘outright capitulation’ by Karan Johar to the satisfaction of MNS mob & the general public which editor refers to as “a wider audience”. Karan Johar is not in love with Pakistani artists or freedom of expression, he is interested in screening his film because he has financial stake. But, we all need to recognize that we are Indian citizens first and what we are in our professional life comes later.
For 30 long years, this ‘thousand cuts’ strategy of Pakistani army-driven-politics, has bled this country enormously. So, it is but natural for Indians of all hues to look at Pakistan with suspicion not just Sangh Parivar affiliates or MNS/Shiv Sena types. So, if Indians in general have demanded that Pakistani artists, at least condemn the latest terror attack, they cannot be branded intolerant, in the absence of such condemnation from Pakistani artists. After all these artists are privy to what is happening in their country and what their countrymen have done to India. Their agenda should not be only to enjoy Indian women on screen and then also to make good money from India, which Pakistani producers do not pay to Indian artists acting in Pak films, according to Anup Jalota.
Anup Jalota is a well known Gazal Singer and a member of Prasar Bharati, he had complained some thirteen years ago under the banner of National and Public Interest Society about this unequal treatment.
Jalota, along with Shakti Samanta and singer Abhijeet had demanded in 2003 that “Pakistan should treat Indians the same way as India treated artist from that country”. They questioned the “wisdom of the Pakistani actors earning lakhs of Indian rupees while the same was denied to Indians”. And look at what the Editor of THE HINDU writes “Do we use India’s incredible soft power to win over Pakistanis and others to the ideals of democracy, liberalism, secularism, syncretism for the greater good of the neighbourhood? Or do we reduce all people-to-people contact to unrelenting enmity?”
But then ‘it takes 2 hands to clap’ Mr. Editor.!      

TELANGANA: This, our Mera Bharath Mahan is full of fundamentalists. We blame Muslim for fundamentalism. We blame Sikhs for fundamentalism. Of course, there is a huge section among Hindus too who are fundamentalists.
Now comes this so-called peace loving community of Jains. The report informing the extremely sad demise of 13 years old Aradhana of Hyderabad is a confirmation that a section of even Jains suffer from this mindset. Forcing this young child, or to even allow her to carry on fasting because ‘she wanted’ to, for as long as 68 days, is a crime.
Irom Sharmila was booked under IPC criminal code, jailed and force fed, because of her intention to ‘fast unto death’. She was accused of committing suicide. Why the same principle was not applied in the case of this child? Is it because Jains are an influential community?
Statement of her parents, that her earlier fasts of, from 12 to 21 to 41 days have brought prosperity is good enough reasons to book them under different penal laws of the land. Why police has not acted and saved the life of this young child? We don’t need dead Tapasvis, we need living legends. She could have been one, if only her parents had not pulled it so far!

KARNATAKA: It was reported in the print media that “Deve Gowda objects to Uniform Civil Code” (UCC) while speaking to press in Mangalore. JD(S) supremo who also happens to be a former P.M, spoke on 3/4 issues. But the press decided to caption it as above. They too have their priorities.
JD(S) chief was wondering why the NDA dispensation had to rake this issue of UCC when the country is embroiled in series of problems. Sure. There are any number of issues India is facing at any given time. But then it has always been like that. For all the 70 years of post independence period, the country had problems of all kind, so is this issue of UCC.
Every government in the past swept it under the carpet, for its own political compulsions. NDA led by BJP too may be having their compulsions. But then the UCC issue has persisted. It needs to be addressed for the sheer scale of injustice towards the females in our male dominated society.
Deve Gowda, in his wisdom thinks of only one religious group.  In reality that is not the case. Idea of UCC is its application to all citizens of India pari passu, devoid of group and sex. It does not matter, if its male or female, it has to be applied in the spirit of equity and equality. When we talk of freedom it should be available to both men & women in the same scale.
There is a case for justice to our mothers, sisters, daughters, daughters-in-law across the religious divide. Therefore every Indian male must support it, without being dogmatic, including Haradanahalli Doddegowda Deve Gowda.
I am not sure, if Deve Gowda understands this logic. A lot can be written scathingly about his politics, about his premiership, about his dynastic practices, trading in MLC and Rajya Sabha seats etc. Not sure, how many Indians remember that Lalu Prasad Yadav had called him once ‘nikamma pradhan mantri'.
He, in his fading years needs to understand the implications of what he is saying. It has to be measured and responsible.

GOA: Goa is an active place in terms of travelling, but does not make much news. However a recent news from the judiciary in Goa was the most disappointing.
Over eight years ago, on Feb. 19. 2008, on Anjuna beach a body of a young British girl of 15 years was found in semi-nude state. Her name was Scarlett Eden Keeling. Her mother is Fiona Mackeown. They were on a holiday in Goa, and left the teenager with a Goan family and proceeded to Karnataka.
Reportedly, according to the police, the young girl was first drugged and then sexually abused and was left on the beach to die. Goa police was accused of trying to hush-up the case, by dismissing it as a case of drowning. It was only after the mother of the victim, a British national, insisted on a second autopsy, which found that the girl was drugged by alcohol and cocaine and then sexually assaulted, the police registered the case as culpable homicide.
Father and Son duo of Placido Carvalho and Samson D’Souza were charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder. Father was accused of drugging her and son of sexually assaulting the teenager.
Recalling her struggle to get an FIR, the mother of the victim, was reported to have said “It took a huge effort for me to get even a police complaint registered.”
CBI, which took over the case upon the insistence of the family of the victim, submitted its charge sheet, accusing Samson of assault and Placido of providing narcotics to her.
After over 8 long years, Fiona Mackeown, only to be present in the Goa Children’s Court for the final verdict, travelled all the way from Devon in UK. She was reportedly devastated by the judgement. Goa Children’s Court Judge Vandana Tendulkar had acquitted both the father and son duo, of Samson D’Souza and Placido Carvalho, of all charges.
Reportedly, Goa Chief Minister had termed judgement “unfortunate” and “heart breaking”. According to him “such an outcome of the case needs to be challenged in the higher court”.
Fiona Mackeown feels CBI ditched her. High hopes she had, when CBI took over the case from Goa police, were dashed. “Either they are incompetent or corrupt” adding “I don’t believe they are incompetent” reportedly Fiona had remarked, indicating the corruption angle.
Clearly Goa police and CBI have lot to answer for the unfortunate killing of the teenager and that nobody has been convicted, despite CBI charge sheet to the contrary. They have clearly botched up the case. After 8 long years it is very sad, both investigative agency and the judiciary have failed to give justice to the mother of the young teenager. It was not merely justice delayed but also justice denied.
No wonder, killers and rapists are getting bolder to continue their criminal acts on helpless women. It was clearly in insincere attempt to fix the culprits, influenced by all concerned -the drug mafia, the police and of course the judiciary- to derail the wheels of justice.
   
TAMIL NADU: Speaking at a function in Chennai, Chief Justice of India had dismissed the Union Law Ministry’s statement that “shortage of judges is not the sole reason for increasing pendency of cases”.
Report “Judges’ work exemplary, pile up due to high litigation: CJI”, attributing to CJI T.S. Thakur, when he had praised his fraternity “Performance of judges in India is exemplary, is very commendable”.
With due respect to the Chief Justice of India, the observation by the Union Law Ministry is eminently tenable. It is an accepted fact, that India is not a model state in any respect. Our problems are myriad and our politicians can be funny and grossly unaccounted. However, it is nobody’s case that other sectors of our system are blemishless. The legislature, represented by politicians, Executive represented by the bureaucracy, ministries and police, and Judiciary represented by the legal fraternity of both judges and lawyers, are all contributors to the national mess.
The national mess includes even the pendency of cases in all levels of courts across the country. The CJI cannot escape the accountability of judges and lawyers in the mostly avoidable procrastination of the legal processes in the country. All of us are privy to the adjournment disease the courts suffer from, so also the problem of short duration each judge spends in the court and unannounced leave and absenteeism among judicial officers in different forums of dispensing justice.
Thus, while, it is true that the increase in number of judges in every court of the land shall certainly go a long way in expediting pending cases, other issues involving all stake holders are also need to be seriously looked into for a better picture of dispensation of justice in the country. Hope all concerned take the call, when called upon to do so.

WORLD: There are 3 groups of people in the world.
Those who make things happen- a small one.
Those who see things happen- a larger group.
Then there are those who are simply wondering without the idea of what is happening- the largest number.
The reaction of Pakistan, after being militarily snubbed by Indian force is in the last group. They are just wondering how it all happened and are groping for sensible response.
For far too long, Pakistani leadership thought that they will get away with their Gen Zia Ul Haq’s state policy of causing ‘thousand cuts’ to India. What India did on 29th Sept. early morning was on an invitation from Pakistan. “Aa bail Mujhe maar, agar thum mein dum hai tho’.
The Uri attack, was the ultimate proverbial last straw that forced the hand of India under Modi’s leadership. India under Modi gave probably the longest rope to Pakistan- invite to attend the swearing-in-ceremony, meet at Ufa in July 2015, unscheduled stopover at Lahore to greet Pak PM Shariff on his birthday, were all paid back vide Gurdaspur strike, attack on Pathankot airbase, and now Uri- the cup of bitterness spilled over on 18th Sept at Uri, with the killing of 19 soldiers. While everybody condemned the Pak attack, all asked for restraint. But how long!
29th Sept had to happen, for Pakistan to realize rather painfully, that what you do to India can come back with compound interest. For once Pakistan was completely at loss of words, except telling stories to the world and trying to prove India ‘a liar’.
Domestically, this strike by Indian forces will certainly rub on the ‘strong leader’ image of Modi. After Lal Bahadur Shastri, Modi is the only Prime Minister, who was upfront in dealing with the chicanery of Pakistan. Hope BJP does not over-play this to take political advantage. Of course they are entitled to bask in the glory of their leader to an extent, but not over do it. Also those, who spoke unduly critically of the man, will be restrained from now on.

So, Bob Dylan continues to make news. First, it was the announcement by the Swedish Nobel Committee that they have selected to confer on him with this year’s Nobel Prize for literature. Suddenly Bob was the global cynosure. It was, for the first time that a musician has been conferred with Nobel recognition of greatness. Jon Pareles asks, of the Nobel Committee, in The New York Times “what took them so long?”. Arguing that he is one of the very few who wrote his own song and composed the music. And he has been around for over 50 years. Indeed, the Nobel Committee was rather late in recognizing the maestro.
Now comes, another news, from Stockholm. A member of the Swedish Academy that awarded the Nobel 2016 to Bob Dylan, Per Wartberg has called Bob “impolite and arrogant”. Ever since the announcement of the award and its communication to the singer, Bob had remained incommunicado with the Swedish Academy. So, is Bob Dylan spiritually a great soul that he does not get carried away by, even the Nobel, worlds ultimate recognition of excellence? Or is it his ego that goads him into silence to such a vibrant news that spurred Jon Pareles to ask, ‘why they took so long, when his greatness and uniqueness was established long ago?’
Either way, it makes Bob Dylan, very exclusive, one of a kind, Poet Singer that the literary world has produced.
Yes, for the sake of elementary courtesy, he must respond to the Swedish Academy and go to Stockholm to receive the award in person on the 10th Dec. 2016. Hope he rises to the occasion to show his greatness. 

What They Said

Focus (I&C- Oct. 2016) "RIO, DHYAN CHAND &TENDULKAR" The article is very good.         Ronald A Fernandes, President, Press Club, Mangalooru, Via Email

In the article Rio, Dhyan Chand & Tendulkar in the latest issue of ‘ISSUES&CONCERNS’ the writer has rightly pointed out the politics of favouritism. It is everywhere in politics, sports, literature and other intellectual fields. It is due to this that hockey wizard Dhyan Chand, the unsung hero, died penniless while Tendulkar got all accolades with money and fame, besides the highest civilian award Bharath Ratna. What else he wants?    

K. Sharada Bhat, Udupi.

My comments on ISSUES & CONCERNS Quote- “I have been keenly reading the Magazine for few years. I find articles focused on the current burning issues affecting the nation. The presentations are frank, factual and forthright. In my opinion, the burning issues affecting the country, in order of priority, are population control, Women’s Education and Corruption which need to be tackled on war footing. Please keep up your good work.” -Unquote.                                             
Capt. N.S.C Bhandary, Mumbai.
Sir, we thank you for taking time to write to us. We also thank you for the contribution of Rs. 10,000/- towards our reach-out initiatives. We acknowledge the receipt of another Rs. 10,000/- as Permanent Membership. We deeply appreciate your patronage and the trust reposed in us.
EDITOR

Referring to your Sept. 2016 issue highlighting therein the “Violence against Dalits”-
Your presentation has made one’s heart bleed for the simple reason that in our independent India, still such arrogant ill-treatment continues without any break. You have done a wonderful job. You deserve appreciation. While narrating the types of functions of CMs of Rajasthan & Maharashtra states a small reference of George Fernandes was made quoting therein his statement –‘All are bad but its choice between bad & less bad’.

It is an apt quote from an apt man, whom the present younger generations do not know. He will be remembered for Konkan Railway, which started construction as a corporation under his visionary leadership.                                                                                                             S.M Suvarna, Udupi 

Hardly we find people who want to work for poor and underprivileged. And you are one among them. Though you are leading a comfortable life, you help others, even you can think that its none of my business, let them suffer. But you don’t, your social concern that makes you special all the time. Hats off to you sir.

First of all publishing a journal is not an easy task and cannot be expressed in words, the pang only you know. We can see the dedication in your work. To be frank I am a deeply satisfied reader of I&C and I am happy/ proud about it. Your writings are direct and bold. The articles by eminent writers like Prof. B M Hegde sir, Dr. MV  Kamath gives it more meaning, makes us fresh everytime we read it. Prof. B M Hegde sir's articles are always classic. I don’t miss any. We should surround ourselves with good friends, yes I&C has been my good friend, the only journal I carry with me everytime wherever I go. I learn a lot everytime I read it. It never makes me bored because the articles are of high standard. Hearty congratulations on reaching the 200th milestone.                           
Chaitra Padukone, Nitte, Via Email.

From the past few years, I am a silent admirer of ISSUES&CONCERNS. After the completion of sixteen years of dedicated work now you are bringing out its 200th edition. You are tirelessly raising issues that concern us all. We appreciate your impartial view on various topics without any antagonism. In this world of words verbal encouragement and appreciation is necessary. So once again congratulations on your completion of 200th edition and all the best for all your future endeavours.

Shyamala Kenjoor, Surathkal


It s my pleasure to patronise the effort in bringing up this  meaningful  English monthly Issues & Concerns. Keep up the good work. And with pleasure I enclose my cheque for Rs.10,000/- as a permanent member.                                                                   B. Divakar Amin, Mangalooru.
Sir, Thanks for time taken to write and the contribution towards permanent membership.           EDITOR

As  you rightly said in your write up "An Invitation", sent along the  198th issue of "I&C", it is really a monumental effort of the Publisher/ Editor along with the Editorial Board members with the support of readers and patrons of I&C to endure the test of time for 16 long years. The idea of corporatisation of I&C  by collecting Seed money cum Share capital is a wonderful idea whoever conceived it, so that the future of this unique magazine is secured. Wishing "I&C" a Very Bright Future.                          S.K Punja, Bengalooru, Via Email

Soon, on 12th instant, you will be celebrating 17th birthday of your single-handedly raised brain child “Issues&Concerns”. What a difficult task it must have been! Please do accept my hearty congratulations on this feat achieved. I admire your honest efforts, dedication in publishing a socio-politically oriented periodical in the environment not ripe for one. I envisage the nerve and the brawn you must have put in the mission. Your selfless nature nurtured your brain child. You also garnered great thinkers, writers to make it a wonderful read…an uphill task indeed!  “Issues&Concerns” has sure overcome its teething phase.  I am sure with your vision you will take it to great heights. Our best wishes are always with you. Once again my congratulations! I wish I could personally attend the function.                  

Dr. Pradeep Patkar & Family, Panvel, Via email

I know  Shree  Shriyan for a few decades, whose heart is for right things which  melts like an infant  and brain still acts like an ant trying to carry ten times more than its own weight.
His wise ways of expressions are not fitting into 'nice' ways for those present in our society.  But he cannot camouflage and compromise for fake surroundings.
As ever, going through the Issues &Concern every month is rewinding and remembering the parturition pain or the birth pangs. Remembering the suffering and discussing it makes the suffering more acute.
There are so many important issues that bother the patriotic individuals at large which either hurts or irritatingly rubs many sensible futuristic optimistic readers. October issue has something more to it, unearthing the forgotten hero Dhyan Chand of Indian hockey. But in India, cricket appears to be the only sports. But how long??? Hockey, in spite of being a national game, the support given is nauseating and no wonder the players are badly supported or taken care of. You have aptly put it in editorial. Money matters. Yes ours is a society of contrasts. But we can still stay united and patriotic during national crisis- the surgical strike for example. We fail to remember, with the same zeal, after the initial celebration. Somewhere once I read: The special best  become professionals, the next best go for administrative careers  and the next filtered  nerds become politicians The worst of all become underground dons who control all the other three.  Think about it. All over the world it looks similar and India is no different.
Dr. Kamath’s Basava article is quite encouraging and many have lived upto that.  Prof. B. M Hegde’s Cancer-cause and cure-as always, has been acceptable to sensible but bitter to many in the medical field. I was at ease when I read about the dental paste DANT KANTI, is more value for money.  All three varieties work wonders with teeth, gums and in total mouth care.

Our glorious past has to come back. Kudos to ISSUES&CONCERNS for the “squirrel’s share” of making small but intense contribution and influencing changes in a few amenable minds. I congratulate I&C for the sustained progress as it reaches one more mile stone. God be with you.         Dr. J N BHAT, Via- Email




FOCUS

KASHMIR

A QUESTION WITH NO ANSWER!

JAYARAM SHRIYAN

Mr. Veerappa Moily, a former Law Minister in the UPA II, wrote in Deccan Herald of 27th Nov 2002, an article “Beyond Democracy’s Moment of Glory - Keeping Promises in Kashmir”. In a moment of ‘introspective enlightenment’ he had this to say, “The Congress leadership right from 1947, has always surrendered its ego and shunned narrow political opportunism  in providing stable governments in J & K. This objective approach and display of sagacity are absolutely in tune with the legacy of the Congress Party right from the days of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. Sonia Gandhi has to be commended for her enlightened and statesmanly approach, inspired by national spirit, in lending her support to heralding a vision of Kashmir”.
Indians, in the know of things, recognise that Moily is a diehard Gandhi family loyalist (not to mistake with Mahatma Gandhi). That is how, he remembered to exclude Lal Bahadur Shastri, in his no holds barred praise of Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajeev Gandhi and of course Sonia Gandhi in the above referred piece in Deccan Herald. Lal Bahadur Shastri was the Prime Minister of India during the intervening period between Nehru and Indira Gandhi. Moily conveniently forgot the decisive role this, ‘Soft, little man of India,’ played in the 1965 conflict with Pakistan. Prime Minister Shastri, taking an unusually aggressive posture had ordered a full scale retaliation on Pak army in the Chamb sector in Jammu in Sept. 1965. Pak army crumbling under intense Indian attack cried for international help and no help came. Pakistan lost. UN brokered ceasefire came into force on 22nd Sept. 1965.
A situation of this kind, as experienced by PM Shastri, was not experienced by his predecessor PM Nehru. But PM Nehru too had his share of involvement in conflict situation with Pakistan, when in Oct. 1947, Pak Army, in the garb of Pathani tribals entered Muzaffarabad in Northern Kashmir and started looting, the leadership of Kashmir consisting of Hari Singh and Sheikh Abdullah appealed to India for help. But Nehru insisted on a formal accession treaty, and Hari Singh having tasted the Pakistani crookedness readily signed the treaty. Thus on 26th Oct. 1947 Kashmir became an integral part of India. It took 14 months for the Indian Army to drive away Pakistani Army of Pathani tribals into the waste land of North West Kashmir. But Prime Minister Nehru despite the recorded advice of the then army leadership, referred the matter to U.N. Thus, a bilateral issue, between two neighbours became an international issue. Having gone to the UN, we have probably got badly stuck, due to the machinations of super powers, which wanted to use Pakistan to keep a watch on the then USSR and China.
In a recent remark, Chief of Air Staff Air Marshall Arun Raha, was categorical and candid that P.O.K (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) would have been India’s, had the country gone for a military solution rather than taking a moral high ground and rushing to the UN for a peaceful solution.
However, Prime Minister Shastri, who took charge of the national affairs on 9th June 1964, after the demise of Nehru on 27th May the same year, unfortunately did not live long. He passed away in Tashkant under -yet to be- explained circumstances on 11th Jan. 1966, after signing the Tashkent Declaration with Ayub Khan of Pakistan. Nothing came of the declaration.
His term as Prime Minister lasted only for 1 year and 217 days. He was the cleanest politician free India ever had. He was cleanest in every sense of the term. He was also very decisive and fair and therefore, a solution to the issue of Kashmir could have been a possibility. But that was not to be. 
Post Shastri era, Indira Gandhi became the Prime Minister. If Nehru had ruled India for 17 long years, his daughter ruled India for another 16 years. Although Nehru didn’t groom Indira as his successor, hoping the ‘gungi gudiya’ can be managed, the then leadership of Congress made her the Prime Minister for their own selfish reasons. In the event, she proved more than a match to all men in the Congress to earn a sobriquet ‘the only man in the cabinet’. She broke the Congress Party to become the Supreme boss of both party and the country. Rest as the cliché goes, is history.
Since those days, the Indian National Congress was the only political party with national presence. Under Indira Gandhi, it wanted a role for itself in J & K as well. Usual machinations were tried and resorted to, for breaking the ruling party in Kashmir by means both foul and fair, more often foul. Situation became murky. Of course prior to Congress machination it was the titular head of Kashmir, Karan Singh, who had dirtied the tranquil lake of Kashmir, by engineering split in the National Conference and sending Sheikh Abdullah to jail on trumped up charges of conspiracy with Pakistan. Even Sheikh’s own deputies accused him of duplicity of not being sure of himself in wanting to join India. So also his “agonizing search for alternatives to Kashmir’s accession to India, including independence of a truncated state which shall have only Kashmir valley”.
Thus there was a broken leadership with broken following even among the members of the main political party, the National Conference. Unfortunately, Sheikh Abdullah spent many years in jail, undeservedly on flimsy charges, only with the purpose of keeping him out of the state political processes of government forming by electoral means. But Sheikh Abdullah did not harbour any ill will towards Delhi. In the meanwhile Pakistan tried its best to wean him away from India, by inviting him to Pakistan, offering him Pakistani passport etc. Sheikh Abdullah did not bite any of these baits. What Pakistan never realised was despite Kashmiris unhappiness with India, they were not interested in Pakistan either. However what strengthened the desire of Sheikh Abduallh to go for India was the Pakistan’s treatment of East Pakistan, which broke away to become Bangladesh after a bloody war in 1971, where India played a decisive role in helping Bangladesh to secede from Pakistan.
In 1972, Simla pact was signed between India and Pakistan recognising the Line of Control. This effectively partitioned Kashmir. Further political developments in India led to the fall of Indira Gandhi and the emergence of Janata Government in New Delhi. 
The fresh election in Kashmir with Janata rule in Delhi, ensured the fair election in the valley and that gave full power to National Conference once again. However in 1982, Sheikh Abdullah, while still being the Chief Minister of J & K, died on 8th Sept. The whole of Kashmir had congregated to say good bye to the soul of their revered leader irrespective of their moorings. The body that was laid in state at the Srinagar polo ground was draped in Indian tricolor. Sheikh Abdullah had died as an Indian and Pakistan had no comment to offer.
The Janata Party which came ushering a hope of better governance folded up within 2 years and 4 months, due to its own inherent contradictions and the petty inadequacies of its coalition partners. Indira Gandhi came back with vengeance. 
Indians are witness to the changing fortune of political parties in Kashmir. All had their political agenda, but maintained it to be within the constitution of India. However separatists, who over the years, grew more and more assertive with the covert support of Pakistan, had their own agenda. There were proposals in the past to make LOC as border for both India and Pakistan. But Pakistan wanted all of Kashmir for itself.
Thus, there are three claimants to Kashmir. India does not mind to settle with the eastern part of the L.O.C. Pakistan wants the whole of Kashmir. And separatist want India to leave Kashmir to Kashmiris. Separatists are not demanding the return of POK. May be separatists want to go with Pakistan once India leaves Kashmir, which is unlikely. Therefore, how the Kashmir tangle can ever be solved?!
Hussain Haqqani published a book “India Vs Pakistan: Why can’t we be just friends?” He was a former Pakistani ambassador to the U.S., so was advisor to four Pakistani Prime Ministers. Currently a director with Hudson Institute in Washington. He writes (P/46) “If the rationale of Partition was to create a Muslim majority Pakistan and a Hindu majority India, then Pakistan cannot accept J & K, with its Muslim majority, as part of India. Kashmir must be part of Pakistan to fit the contours of the two-nation theory”.
Clearly this is the policy of Pakistan. Kashmir is Muslim majority and therefore should be part of Pakistan. Well prima facie, there cannot be any argument in this demand. But you wanted to take it by force in 1947 itself, but failed. India drove you out. The then king of Kashmir Harisingh and Kashmir Muslim leader Sheikh Abdullah didn’t want you. They opted for India and signed the accession treaty. But it was the wrong decision of the then Indian political leadership to go to the U.N. that got India entangled with POK.
So, the problem of Kashmir has the same length of history as India’s independence. The article 370 in the constitution giving Kashmir a special status, is another highly debatable decision, which neither helped Kashmir politically, nor economically. Clearly there is an impasse. How do we go about the resolution of the conflicting positions?
Come summer of discontent. Kashmir Valley has erupted once again. On July 8, Burhan Wani, 21, was killed, along with two others. He was the commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen in Kashmir. He was a kind of hero to the youth of Kashmir. Massive protest erupted. During the over 3 months standoff between security forces and protesters, some 100 died, hundreds were injured in their faces by the pellets fired by Army. Good number of them, young children, forced by separatists and funded by Pakistan. In fact Pakistan had created a stone pelting industry in Kashmir. There have been lot of talk about excessive force by army. But why does an army use force, if there is no violence, if there is peaceful protest! Use of force becomes necessary when protesters attack security forces, burn public property, even kill security men. A policeman drowned to death, when protesters pushed his vehicle to Jhelum river in Anantnag. Of course some excess by the security forces may not be ruled out, in the face of extreme provocation. 
It is true that there have been mistakes on the part of both the governments of the day and the Kashmiri leadership for decades to sort out issues of autonomy. Unfortunately, relentless interventions by Pakistani inspired militant groups have made things very complicated. The periodic eruption of violence has become a kind of regular feature in Kashmir.
And Uri happened, could it be a tipping point in our Pak Policy! India need to stop Pakistan using terrorism as an instrument of state policy. Diplomatic isolation, MFN status withdrawal and Indus Water Treaty dilution, are all options that may have its effects, but Pakistan being Pakistan is unlikely to change its stripes. As a former army chief Gen Bikram Singh said “It is time Pakistan and its army that have blatantly pursued asymmetric warfare against India were subjected to unbearable pain through an assertive and aggressive policy. Pakistani army, the brain behind Pakistan’s India policy, must be given a taste of its own medicine and made to bleed by a thousand cuts.” Can this be an option!
And come 29th Sept. Surgical Strike happens, just as Army had reacted on Uri. “We reserve the right to respond at a time and place of our choice”. This had to happen. For 30 long years, India has been soft peddling Jehadi attacks from across the border. It has, at long last, decided and hit back where it has hurt Pakistan both physically and mentally. Modi government has also shown the gumption to let the DGMO to speak to Pakistani counterpart giving them the details of the strike. Of course as usual Pakistan went to the market in its trademark denial mode to tell the world that India is lying and there has been no surgical strike. But, it’s not going be normal anymore at the border and India’s relation with the troubling western neighbor. This latest action by Indian forces across the LOC is bound to have its sobering effect on the Pak inspired troubles in Kashmir Valley.
The government took care to brief the diplomatic community posted in New Delhi. Thus took them on board as a measure of confidence building. It seems to have gone down well with international community including China. So, in this evolving scenario how Kashmir issue can be tackled, gets the centre stage.
Opposition parties, initially having supported the army action and congratulating the government, U turned to attack NDA leader BJP, its leader Naredra Modi and started making the Kashmir scene little more murky. Of course BJP, in its wisdom, allowed its cadres to claim the surgical strike as its own with posters appearing in poll bound Uttar Pradesh. It is sad, but an ugly reality of Indian politics.
Coming to Kashmir, it is very clear, the solution as per the wishes of three parties to it, is not possible. Pakistan wants whole of Kashmir, Kashmiri separatist wants freedom from India and for India, both are anathema.

So what are the options before India?
It was Arthur Moore of The Statesman who proposed a triangular confederation. Both Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru were positive about it. But both of them are not in the picture. It could have been a possibility then. But Pakistan was simply not interested. Can India give up Kashmir, because Pakistan demands it and fought 3 wars with India and lost them all?! No, that will not happen.
It is true that the then ruler signed the accession treaty with India, because Kashmir was attacked by Pakistan. So Pakistan cannot be trusted. Kashmiris can trust India, but the Muslim majority factor is the stumbling block. Can India give up Kashmir, because the Muslim Majority is demanding it? India is constitutionally a secular country, if it yields to the theocratic demand of separatist Muslims, India can balkanize. India is a mosaic of many faiths with Hindus being almost 4/5th of its total population. But Hindus speak far too many languages and India was divided as states on linguistic basis. Therefore any concession to Kashmir, on religious basis can have serious implications on the body politic of India and the concept of Idea of India may be destroyed.
It is true, Kashmir has been mollycoddled for far too long. While it is also true that article 370 has given them an identity separate from other parts of India, it has not helped it economically. New Delhi has to reassess its socio/political alignments and take into confidence some sections of Kashmir to see the logic to revisit article 370, in the larger developmental paradigm, so that the rationale of peace with stability leading to all round economic development of Kashmir can be the clear vision for the youth of Kashmir. Of course, the Pakistani factor will be ever present. But if Kashmiris are convinced like Sheikh Abdullah that Pakistanis cannot be trusted -whether it is the Pathani tribal attack of Oct. 1947, or the treatment of East Pakistan, by the West Pakistan, despite both being Muslims, then leading to break-up of Pakistan and creation of Bangladesh. The point can be driven home. Besides, if the Kashmir valley can be won over with appropriate socio/economic visions, articulated by New Delhi, Pakistan’s influence can be curtailed, and it can become so much easier for New Delhi to manage Pakistan. Of course, all these are easier said than done. But nothing is beyond hope.


THE STONE WARRIORS

ASHISH KAUL

“Har raat khuda se dua mein bas yahi mangtey hain ki sehar na ho; Allah, kisi tarah se aftaab ko apni aagosh me rok lo taki kuch aur masoomon ko zindagi aur mazloomon ko rahat mile. Kashmir ki takdeer mein raat ke andheron mein hi sakoon milta hain,” (Every night we pray that there be no dawn. Lord, keep the sun in your arms so that innocents are given another day of life. It is written in Kashmir’s destiny that peace be found only in darkness) says Shaheen Khan, 19, a high-school drop-out from a village in west Kashmir.
“Every morning, we are required to leave home and join the protests. We are damned if we do and doomed if we don’t." Khan, who speaks fluent English, Urdu and Kashmiri, represents thousands of Kashmiri youth who find themselves torn between their dreams and the realities of a harsh land.
The Valley has been held hostage to sanghmar or stone-pelters who ironically chant ‘azadi’. While young men play to the media gallery, there is a dark side to the streets. As the sun rises, Magam’s residents march out to block roads to the city as part of their daily drill. They march out, pelt stones, and return to their homes, thanking Allah for one more day of life. Rafiq Qureshi, 23, who scored 73 per cent in the Class X examination, has laid his future to rest next to the grave of his elder brother, who was claimed by the ‘muhim’ or movement. “My brother was shot in the crossfire between protesters and armed forces,” says Qureshi. That, however, is the official line. Magam and many villages in the Valley march on the orders of terrorist leaders; they risk their lives at the hands of security forces when they do, and when they don’t, they risk a brutal death at the hands of militants.
Far south of this village lies Anantnag, now rechristened Islamabad, a sleepy town with a rich cultural and religious heritage, which lies on the route of the annual Amarnath Yatra. Anantnag is also the first major town as you enter the valley from Jammu. Today, an eerie silence cloaks the town. “They keep a list of residents and maintain a meticulous record of those who follow orders and, more specifically, of those who don’t,” says Basharat Khan, a resident of Nai Basti. “If we don’t follow orders, they attack our houses. My car was attacked and the glass smashed by a bunch of boys barely out of school.”
Khan talks of an earlier age. “We grew up in an era of brotherhood with Hindus, a minuscule minority, but a community that lived in an aura of religious and social tolerance, which is long gone.”
Irfan Kashmiri, 20, is on the streets almost every day with stones in his hands. “Politicians asked for votes in the name of representing the people involved in muhim, now they are the ones targeting us.” He represents a generation for whom stone-pelting is not only a means of venting anger but a means of survival and sustenance in a tumultuous valley.
Sajad Ghani is a readymade garments trader from Sangam village on the Srinagar National Highway. He says, “Militancy is the biggest trade in the valley. Most trade is controlled by businesses that have muhim leaders as invisible partners.” People like Ghani symbolise the new-age micro-economics that has come up in the Valley where the economic divide is splitting the society into haves and have-nots. On-street militancy has quickly emerged as a career option for a breed of young Kashmiris born in the shadow of guns and terror.
Zaffar Khan, 50, is the son of an eminent academician in Anantnag. He says, “We grew up with Hindus and celebrated Eid with as much fervour as we did Diwali. We played together and ate from the same plate; Kashmir in the pre-90s era was an epitome of brotherhood, tolerance; a truly secular fabric that reflected the ethos of being Indian. But this generation has seen nothing but fanaticism, hatred and curfews.”
There is another shade of grey looming on the valley. The stone mujahids have realised that the closure of the establishment means closure of schools and colleges and hence a good reason for a weak political class to exert pressure on the government to promote students without examinations. Freebies like this are an intoxicating drug for these young minds who have found in stone-pelting a vocation, and escapism, and perhaps a way for the voiceless to exert power in a society ruled by the gun.
“These young boys also harass women who want to study and work towards a progressive life. Women are often threatened and molested in the name of muhim,” says Shabnam Mir, 17, who dropped out of high school in Sopore after she was publicly abused.
Rubina Ali, 43, a social worker from downtown Anantnag, talks of the “business of terror and a generation of young Kashmiris as consumers crushed between the muhim and the state. “Even social media is watched. Anything we say about the current state of Kashmir draws flak, especially if we express dissent against militancy.”
Modern Kashmir is fast forgetting its legends and history. “How many Kashmiris today even know of Tahir Ashai or Ghani Kashmiri, a legendary Persian Kashmiri poet whose work is prescribed study for scholars in Iran but who lies in a forgotten and dilapidated grave in the Rajouri Kadal area of Srinagar,” asks Bilal Rather, a professor at Kashmir University.Do they remember that Charaka, famous for the medical treatise, Charaka Samhita, was from Kashmir?
Even as the mainland rewrites its history, the militants in the valley are writing a new history of Kashmir that sees Islam and terror as the only stakeholders.
(Names and locations have been changed to protect identities.)

FEATURE

Knowledge Advances by Refuting False Dogmas

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


It was Karl Popper, a great thinker and professor of science philosophy at the London School of Economics in the 1950s, who wrote that knowledge advances NOT by repeating known facts but by refuting false dogmas in any field. In my field of medicine there are more dogmas than facts. So I deem it my duty to point out those dogmas which are false. I have been doing that for nearly five decades now almost from the time I started there. Many people are not aware of my quiet work over the decades even when I was in active practice. In fact, whenever I used to lecture in England, they used to label me as a therapeutic nihilist. Many of my patients would testify to that effect. So my recent label of vriddha Nayari pativrita does not fit me well. This is for those friends of mine who have given me that label.

I was in Mumbai. One of my very, very dear students, Ratnakar, a consultant here called me to say that some doctors in Mumbai do not like me and they are bad mouthing me behind my back. I could make out that he was hurt by that from this sentence in his note "my dear professor does not deserve this for all he does." I cannot thank him enough. I must give out some facts here to set the records straight. It is true that an article purported to have been written by me is making rounds still virally on the internet on corruption and malpractices of Mumbai doctors. Although the contents were 100 per cent true, I had no clue as to who wrote it. One day I got a request from Ms. Sucheta Dalal, the editor of Moneylife for permission to reprint that article in her paper. I wrote to her that I did not write that article. She promptly got her team of investigative journalists to work on that and soon enough the truth came out.

The said article was written after two years research by a good journalist in Mumbai (name withheld) who published it on line in a blog. It was not being read by many. Somebody, the team was unable to find out till now, changed the author name to mine and republished it on line. Then it went viral being read all over. So naturally the Mumbai doctors whose nefarious activities were exposed in this article are obviously angry with me. Sujata then wrote a detailed article about her investigations and the real source of the article in one of her issues. However, the anger against me (I had not even dreamt about that article) continued unabated. I am helpless here but do not know how to get rid of that stigma on me. I have been at the receiving end of their ire ever since.

I have not written any article against any individual doctor, hospital or any organisation about their malpractices as I do not have the time and energy to go into it. I do not hate any doctor or, for that matter, any mortal. My life philosophy is universal compassion and I forgive even those that seem to hate me. That is for sure. Trying to demolish the false dogmas in the area of western medicine, its non-science, and the false dogmas of our present medical education based on a shaky foundation are and had been my motto in life which I will have to continue to save mankind from mis-treatment, under-treatment as also over treatment and from the disease mongering efforts of the medical corporate monstrosities. That should not be construed as something against doctoring. Doctoring is not a business; it is a calling, and a sacred duty of every doctor. We should not try to make big money in a sick room. Our share of the remuneration will automatically come. I have been a strong believer in that philosophy from day one of my work.

I am happy that I have been single handedly responsible for demolishing some of the deadly myths which have now been realised even in the west in the last forty years. To list a few:

u Cholesterol is not a disease
u Coconut oil is not poison but a lifesaving fat
u The so called normal BP should be around 160/100 in adults. And 140/90 in diabetics.
u Old age should not be a place for mindless polypharmacy
u Calcium, vitamin supplements are dangerous
u Step down treatment and less drugs are better than more the merrier.
u Adverse drug reactions annihilate mankind.

All these have now been accepted by the powers that be in western medicine. I have also been fighting against using reductionist science in understanding the human physiology and diseases. That gives me greater joy than all the happiness in this world. There are still many more myths to fight against in medicine and hope to continue my fight aslong as God gives me permission. My thanks to my student, Ratnakar, for his love. Let me assure him that those who abuse me are doing it because I am doing something that is important. Truth is bitter and can influence only half a score of men in a century while falsehood and misery will drag millions-by the nose.

"There have been countless examples of the manipulation of published research at the hands of pharmaceutical companies in recent years. This is why Harvard Professor of Medicine Arnold SymourRelman told the world that the medical profession has been bought by the pharmaceutical industry. It’s why Dr. Richard Horton, Editor in Chief of The Lancet, recently stated that much of the sceintific literature published today is simply untrue. It’s why Dr. Marcia Angell, former Editor in Chief of The New England Journal of Medicine, said that the “pharmaceutical industry likes to depict itself as a research-based industry, as the source of innovative drugs. Nothing could be further from the truth.” And it’s why John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine, published an article titled “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False” which subsequently became the most widely accessed article in the history of the Public Library of Science (PLoS)," to quote a friend of mine. The so called scientific research is only an advertising gimmick and nothing to do with science. To get out of this mess is not very easy as the industry is very powerful. If we do nothing about it the hapless patients suffer. We are between the devil and the deep sea.

FEATURE

Reaching out to those in trouble

Sarada Lahangir

Clad in a plain sari and ordinary rubber slippers with a cloth bag slung over her shoulder, Anna Kujur, 47, from Sunajor village has spent nearly a decade spreading awareness among the forest-dwelling communities in the region about their legitimate claims on forest resources. It’s routine for Anna-di, as she is known in these parts, to traverse around 25 kilometres on her cycle everyday talking to people about land rights and facilitating them in securing their own ‘patta’ (title deed) for cultivation.
In Sundergarh, the scheduled tribes make up 50 per cent of the total population of the district. For sustenance and survival, these poor, largely illiterate folks either turn to the forest or resort to some minor agricultural activity. Since the verdant greens have always provided them with forest produce, water, grazing grounds and habitat for shifting cultivation for generations, they have not only been staying in and around forest lands but have also guarded and conserved them with a lot of love and care.
However, this integral and close-knit relationship between the tribals and the forests has rarely been recognised by the authorities. In fact, under the laws that govern forests in India – the Indian Forest Act, 1927 and the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 – the rights of people living in or depending on the area declared as a forest are to be “settled” by a forest settlement officer, which makes them vulnerable to exploitation as well as eviction. Although the Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006 does restore the rights of the forest dwelling communities – and provisions for making conservation more effective and transparent – the reality on the ground has not changed much.
Anna is no stranger to tough times. As a child, she witnessed her landless parents work day-and-night to make ends meet. When she got married, her problems only seemed to multiply. Nursing a burning desire to change her own fate and that of others like her, she had always wanted to make a difference. She elaborates, “Even as a child I had wanted to serve my people and fight the injustice I saw around me. In 2000, I set up the Athkosia Adivasi Sangathan and have been agitating for their rights under this banner. In 2003, I connected with the Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), a national platform of tribal and forest dwellers’ organisations, and participated in a three-day training workshop on the rights of the forest dwellers. This gave my own activism a sharper focus. Then when the Forest Rights Act 2006 came in place, it became slightly easy to achieve my goal. Being at the helm of organising awareness programmes among the forest dwellers of around 148 villages, I mobilised them to join forces and demand their land rights.”
It was indeed a challenging task to pursue files in various offices for the land ‘patta’ but with the help of CSD activists, she was able to move forward. “Today, it gives me immense pleasure when I see the people who got their land ‘patta’ and are cultivating their land,” she adds.
So far, Anna has helped about 2,000 tribal people obtain their rightful ‘patta’. Sugal Ekka, 44, from Gothbandha village, is one of them. Says the mother of three, “We are small farmers who are dependent on the forest. Unless we cultivate land, we have nothing to eat. Earlier, it was routine for our landlords, who are generally non-tribal, to threaten us and even destroy our crops. However, with the support and guidance of Anna-di, we applied for the ‘patta’ and got it in 2008. After obtaining the right over our land our life took a turn for the better. Nowadays, we grow vegetables and seasonal crop.”
Malti Balka, 40, from Buda Jharana, too, openly acknowledges Anna’s contribution in making her life better. She says, “Till we got our land ‘patta’ in 2008, we used to toil away as daily wage labourers. Since work was not always available here, it was extremely difficult for us to feed our children. We used to go into the nearby forest to collect minor forest produce but time and again we were threatened by the forest officials. It’s a shame that even though our families have been residing here since generations, we are still branded as encroachers. Under Anna’s leadership, we learnt to raise our voice for our rights over the land. After years of struggle, we have succeeded. Everything has been possible only because of Anna-di, who has braved all odds for our sake.”
Of course, while Anna was stepping out of her home, leaving her four children behind, for the betterment of others, she did not receive much support from her family, particularly her husband. Nicholas felt she was neglecting her household duties to do “social service”, which, incidentally, was not bringing any money home. Often, to dissuade her, he would beat her up. Yet, Anna never gave up; instead, she found a way to get through to him. 
One day, she convinced him to attend a public meeting she had organised. When the duo arrived, not only was Anna showered with high praise, but, much to his surprise, people walked up to him and thanked him for letting Anna do this good work for everyone. In that instant, Nicholas realised his mistake and made up his mind to not just stand by her but also actively campaign for his people.
“I was giving her a lot of pain. I have understood that her work and her struggles are not limited to the family; it is for the larger community. I also know that what she does requires a lot of patience and guts that most women do not possess. She is the strength of my family,” says Nicholas with a great sense of pride.
Over the years, Anna has shown tremendous strength and fortitude in reaching out to those in trouble. She figured out early on that corruption by the forest officials was going to be one of the major obstacles in her way. In order to get bribe, the petty officials did not hesitate to perpetrate atrocities upon the forest dwellers. Anna wanted to put a stop to all this. She got her chance in 2011, when she exposed the corruption and forced a Ranger to be suspended for taking bribe.
Banmali Bek, a tribal from Bhalubahal village of Tangarpalli block, had been asked by the Ranger of Sanpatra Palli Forest Range to pay Rs 2,000 to get an approval on the joint verification report for his land ‘patta’. It was a demand that Banmali couldn’t have fulfilled in any way. So he met with Anna to find a solution. She immediately asked him to inform the Vigilance officials. Bek followed her advice, as a result of which the Ranger was caught red-handed.
Today, thousands of tribal forest dwellers in Sundergarh believe that the implementation of the Forest Rights Act 2006 has become a great success only due to the selfless and dedicated work of Anna. They now produce different kinds of seasonal crops and live without fear.
“There is no doubt that the Forest Rights Act 2006 gives us back our customary and democratic rights over the forests. But equally true is the fact that we would not have been able to speak up had Anna-di not guided us, pushed our cases and stood by us. We wish there were more people like Anna Kujur in every village,” sign off Lundu and Sadhu Tikka of Sunajor village.

INHUMAN DIMENSION !

Woman dies with dead foetus

Korba (Chhattisgarh): In an appalling incident, a 22-year-old pregnant woman, carrying a dead foetus, died of infection in Chhattisgarh’s Korba district allegedly after doctors at various private hospitals denied to attend to her as she was unable to pay their fees. As the issue came into light, Korba district Collector P Dayanand constituted three-member team to probe the incident.
The woman identified as Saraswati Mahant died at a private hospital here at Rajgamar road, the Collector said. A native of Podibahar village under Rampur police station, Gulabdas Mahant had taken his wife Saraswati to Jamunadevi Memorial Maternity private hospital after she complained of severe pain in her stomach.
The woman was told at the hospital during a scan that her eight-month old foetus had died. “Doctors at Jamunadevi hospital advised to get the foetus removed and asked for a fees of Rs 10,000. Besides they also asked to arrange blood for my wife,” Gulabdas said.
“Doctors stopped her treatment when I told them that I am arranging money. Even after my request they refused to treat her,” he said holding the doctor responsible for the death of his wife.
According to Gulabdas, he later took her wife to atleast three private hospitals in the area but nowhere doctors agreed to operate upon the lady. Finally at Srishti Medical Institute hospital, doctors said that they would operate on the woman next day but she died at around 11:30 night.
As the issue was raised by local media, Collector P Dayanand ordered a probe into it. A three-member team headed by Additional Collector Heena Netam has been formed to investigate the incident, the Collector said. Korba Chief Medical and Health Officer Dr P S Sisodia and District Family Welfare and Health Officer Dr B P Kurre are other members of the enquiry squad.

Crazy upper cast principal of Mumbai school

Mumbai: Sujatha and Umesh Gangurde have been running from pillar to post from the past eight months to get admission for their son into Junior KG in a Chembur school.
The school, General Education Academy, however, has been refusing admission to the child because he belongs to the Scheduled Caste category. As a result, their son, Kabir has still not started going to school.
The school’s management has been asking them to apply for the 25 per cent seats under the Right To Education Act. “We don’t need the free seat provided under RTE as we are able to afford the fees,” said Umesh, who works as a senior engineer in a private firm. “We have told them we will give them the full year’s fees at once if they want or even pay a donation if that is what they want,” he said.
The couple are keen on General Education Academy since besides being close to their home, their daughter also studies in the same school in Class II.
Since the school insisted that they will be given admission only through RTE, the family applied for it. But they did not get an allotment in the RTE lottery. In fact, this year, of the over 6,000 children who applied only 2,500 got admissions.
Since under RTE 25 per cent admissions, a school is allotted through a computerised system, they could not be sure they would get the school. “We are not the only low castes who have been turned away. The school did this with many other families. But we are the only ones fighting for a seat in the school, since our daughter studies there,” said Sujatha.
V L Shanbag, principal of the school defended the school’s actions. “When 25 per cent seats are reserved under RTE Act for socially and economically backward castes, they cannot claim a right in these remaining 75 per cent seats,” he said.
The law however, does not prohibit low castes to apply for the remaining 75 per cent seats, for which they have to pay fees. “The law does not say it is meant for open category. But that’s how we interpret it. I am ready to go to court if needed,” said Shanbag, an upper caste. He said though, that he does not affiliate with any caste.  “In my school, we give admissions in the remaining 75 per cent seats only to OBCs and open category,” he said.
Umesh says that though the Deputy Education Officer of the BMC had given a letter asking the school to give admission to the child, the principal refused to follow the order.


ECO FRIENDLY

Wooden Prefab Building: World’s tallest

Toronto: The world’s tallest wood building with 18 storeys and measuring about 174 feet in height has been constructed at the University of British Columbia in Canada, four months ahead of schedule, the varsity said.
The mass wood structure and facade has been completed for University of British Columbia (UBC)’s Brock Commons student residence.
The structure, showcasing the advantages of building with wood, was completed less than 70 days after the prefabricated components were first delivered to the site.
Construction will now focus on interior elements, with completion expected in early May 2017, 18% (or four months) faster than a typical project. The building is expected to welcome more than 400 students in September next year.
Brock Commons is the first mass wood, steel and concrete hybrid project taller than 14 storeys in the world. The building has a concrete podium and two concrete cores, with 17 storeys of cross-laminated-timber floors supported on glue-laminated wood columns.
The cladding for the facade is made with 70 per cent wood fibre. “Wood is increasingly recognised as an important, innovative and safe building material choice,” said UBC President Santa J Ono.
The project is expected to cost about USD 51.5 million. Wood is a sustainable and versatile building material that stores, rather than emits, carbon dioxide, the university said in a statement.
By using wood, the impact is a reduction of 2,432 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide compared to other construction materials, the equivalent of taking around 500 cars off the road for a year, the statement said.
The building is targeting LEED Gold certification, a rating system that promotes environmental responsibility for building owners and operators. It will exceed required fire ratings and standard seismic safety requirements.

CRAZY NRIs

She starved & battered her step-daughter

New York: An Indian-origin woman, found guilty of brutally abusing and starving her 12-year-old step-daughter for more than a year and half, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison in the US.
Sheetal Ranot, 35, of Queens, was convicted by a jury in July this year of first-degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child. Queens Supreme Court Justice Richard Buchter sentenced Ranot to 15 years in prison. Sheetal’s stepdaughter Maya was repeatedly denied food and so severely battered on one occasion with a broken metal broom handle that her wrist was sliced to the bone and required a lengthy hospitalization and surgery.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Sheetal was the “epitome of an evil step-mother”.
Not only did she refuse to provide basic nourishment for the child but also “wantonly beat and abused the girl inflicting pain still evident by the scars that mark her body today. The youngster, at 12, weighed just 58 pounds. No child deserves to be treated in this manner.”
Maya’s biological father Rajesh Ranot is also charged with assault, unlawful imprisonment and endangering the welfare of a child and will be tried at a later date.
Sheetal repeatedly hit her stepdaughter on her body and face, causing bruising and severe pain. Between December 2012 and May 2014, she even locked the youngster inside her bedroom and for extended periods of time refused to feed her. In one instance, Ranot kicked the girl in the face while wearing footwear, causing bruising, swelling and substantial pain about her eye and face.
On another occasion, she struck Maya in the face with a wooden rolling pin causing a laceration, swelling and pain to her left cheek that required the girl to be treated at a local Queens hospital, where doctors found Maya to be underweight and thin.
In a third instance, Sheetal hit Maya with a broken metal broom handle. The blow caused a deep laceration and bleeding of the youngster’s left wrist and right knee. When medical personnel arrived at the family residence, they found Maya lying in a pool of blood in the kitchen with the tendons of her left wrist exposed. The young girl had to undergo surgery for her wrist and received stitches to her knee.

NATIONAL TRAITS

Smile a rarity among Russians

Panaji: Why do Russians rarely smile or why lighting agarbattis (incense sticks) is not welcome in hotel rooms in Moscow or St. Petersburg? Keen on upping tourists footfalls to Russia, a specially published do’s and dont’s handbook has attempted to decode such socio-cultural mysteries for Indians travelling to Russia.
“Smiling to strangers is not a part of Russian culture. Russians are polite and professional, and they do smile wholeheartedly after they come to know you — which often takes time,” says the booklet which was released last week by the Mumbai-based Russian Information Centre, based on the inputs of the Consulate General of Russian Federation.
“Please do not light up your favourite agarbatti in the hotel room. This is an absolute no-no because of the other International tourists who complain about the fragrances or have allergies to strong fragrances. Do pray, but hold the agarbatti for a few days,” the handbook says.
Speaking to IANS, the Centre’s head Ekaterina Belyakova said that the list of do’s and don’ts were evolved, based on cultural misunderstandings which were logged with the organisation over the last couple of years.
The handbook also delves deep into the Russian psyche, while it accounts for why Russians overtly dig in their heels and defend beliefs related to Russian history and culture.
“Revolution and two world wars, dramatic political changes of the past century have a clear bearing on every Russian’s mind. Hence, Russian people think very deep while they generally look forward to a secure and prosperous future. For the same reasons, Russians can be protective about their culture, language and the country sometimes to the point of fiercely defending their beliefs,” the advisory says.
Food habits account for a biggish chunk of the handbook. While Russians and Indians love their ‘chai’ (Russians like it without milk, it says), the handbook advises Indian tourists to keep their spices handy and fret less about availability of Indian food in major Russian cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg.
“Russian food contains almost no tropical spices and is generally prepared with less salt… If you are an Indian spice lover, do carry the needful quantity of Indian pepper or garam masala or whatever that fancies your taste buds. These spices are not easily available (and) can be very costly,” it says.
“Many dishes like borsch are quite like Indian soups and can be had with or without meat; other dishes common are cutlets, puffs… Cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg have adequate number of good quality, pure Indian restaurants, with vegetarian food being normally served,” the handbook further advises.
The advisory also draws parallels between Russia and other Western European countries vis-a-vis the culture of tipping and pricing of water, which is often more expensive than beer.
“Drinking water is not free anywhere, like in other parts of Europe. You will have to buy small quantities which is expensive or stock up five-litre cans available in product shops or hyper markets,” it says, adding that while Russia has a liberal drinking regime, boozing on the country’s streets is banned.
The do’s and don’ts exercise also advises on how best to deal with Russian immigration officials, most of whom are not well versed in English, a handicap which sometimes leads to unsavoury episodes at immigration check-points.
“They may ask you to wait by using sign language. There is no reason for panicking or having an ego about it… Please do not raise your voice or argue unduly or take any pictures as they are strictly prohibited,” the advisory states.
Out of 18 million Indian outbound tourists, nearly 30,000 visit Russia annually and with our outbound tourism growing faster than China, the South Asian giant is an obvious target for Russian tourism promoters, says Paresh Navani, managing partner of the Russian Information Centre.
“Russia has a lot to offer for Indian tourists, and it is not only beautiful nature or cultural heritage, but the warmth of Russian ‘chai’ and Russian people too,” Navani assures.