Friday, April 7, 2017

EDITOR'S COLUMN

Friends,
So, we are into the new financial year, beginning 1st April, the all fools day. Unlike other years, we have finished with the discussion on annual budget last month itself. Budget proposals can become operative from this month onward. There is lot to look forward to, in the month and the year ahead.
Month that has passed has been a bit of roller coaster with election results causing bit of upheavals among political parties. We are all aware that most political parties are ganged up against the leader of the ruling combine at the centre. When the results started pouring in, it was a minor tsunami. Most political parties were swept off by the gushing BJP. Details are not needed to be repeated here. How this new political arithmetic is going to unravel itself has to be seen.
Month-in-Perspective has been as usual. Many were left uncovered for want of space.
The bizarre issue of former Madras High Court judge Justice Chinnaswamy Swaminathan Karnan is taking weird dimension. As, a writer puts it “It’s a dubious first in judicial history". In recent times, he occupied the print media, often to be ignored, for the funny dimension of the case. The contempt notice served on him, at his present chamber in Calcutta High Court by the Apex Court is the first of such instances of any judge facing a contempt case. The notice was served by a seven-member bench headed by the Chief Justice J.S. Khehar. Justice Karnan appears to be suffering from some strange kind of caste related negative obsession. Way back in 2011, he wrote to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes complaining of harassment and victimization by other judges because he was Dalit. He also alleged that others were trying to belittle him, by giving silly examples like ‘a judges foot touched him,’ because ‘he was sitting cross legged at a social function.’ There were controversies surrounding his judgements too. When he was transferred to Calcutta High Court in Feb. 2016, by the Supreme Court, he stayed the order and remarked “I am ashamed to have been born in India. I want to move to a country without caste system.” Yes as he rightly admitted to “loss of mental balance”, while apologizing to Apex Court his refusal to go to Culcutta High Court. On 31st March he has been asked to be present in the Supreme Court. With this latest development will Jusctiec Karnan will behave?, is the question staring at the apex court. 
Another news of interest is Irom Sharmila losing the election in Manipur by shockingly getting only 90 votes. Irom became an icon when she fasted for some 16 long years for the repeal of AFSPA from Manipur. She suffered the denial of food for so long for the sake of her Manipur people. But when it came to voting, 90 votes are cruelly heart breaking. It was indeed the unkindest cut of all. She wanted to enter politics for the sake of her people. AFSPA has been a bone of contention for a very long time. Picture of nude Manipuri women protesting had invited global attention, similarly the fasting by Irom. But apparently Manipur people did not take it kindly for giving up fasting and entering politics. It is very sad that people in Manipur did not support Irom. Like a writer puts it “To change the system, some pick-up gun. Some choose the ballot. Sharmila picked up the latter and the electorates shot her in the head”. That was to put it succinctly.  
Attacks on Dalits have been an ongoing agenda of a section of our society for as long as memory goes. However, a diabolic murder of a family in Khairlanji, in Bhadara Distt of Maharashtra in 2006 was one of the most barbaric by any standard. The lone survivor Bhaiyalal Bhotmange recently passed away. Although some of the accused have been given life sentence, a final word is still awaited for Supreme Court to decide. We have taken up this inhuman part of our contemporary history under Focus for the issue to come alive into the public memory to tell how bad we Indians are, at least some of us. Do come back with your thoughts on the issue.

J. Shriyan        


MONTH-IN-PERSPECTIVE

Jammu & Kashmir: Judiciary’s actions and inactions have been subject of debates for varieties of reasons. More often they end up giving judgement rather than justice. Judgements depend upon evidence provided. Again there too, it depends what is acceptable to judges, in their interpretation of what constitutes reasonable. Salman Khan was acquitted despite the statement of star witness, because, the star witness had died in the meanwhile and judge in his wisdom thought it cannot be taken on the face value. This was despite the lower court taking cognizance of star witness statement as conclusive evidence, since he was sitting next to the driver Salman Khan. Such judgements forces general public to think that there may be factors at work which help forces working for the accused.
Similar case happened in Kashmir. Three minor girls had accused a self styled faith healer Gulzar Ahmed Bhatt alias Gulzar Peer, of having sexually exploited them at his Budgam Seminary. He was arrested on May 21, 2013, but was released on Feb. 12, 2015. However in the face of public anger, Bhatt was taken into preventive custody. The matter went to Jammu bench of J&K High Court. The court, while acquitting the accused reportedly came down heavily on the J&K police for ‘miserably’ failing to prove the case.
While it is nobody’s case, that, court should hold an alleged accused guilty, even without ‘enough’ evidence, the court, by its very authority as the last resort of justice, has a role that it has exhausted all avenues to explore, to come to reasonable and just conclusion. May be the police have failed, for reasons, best known to them, but the question here is of the sexual exploitation of 3minor girls, and the general public had expressed their anger at the acquittal of the accused. So the learned judges of Jammu bench could have gone an extra mile to know the truth, than just go by the ‘merit’ of the case where, the advocate of the accused appeared stronger than the prosecution backed by J&K police evidence. That police can be accused of questionable management of the case is a known truth and courts cannot be exonerated for taking a ‘rational’ view of the ground condition. Isn’t there scope for improvement!  
 
New Delhi: The observation of the apex court that the “issue of farmers suicide was of extreme importance and paying compensation to the families of such victims ‘post-facto’ was not the real solution” has not come a day too early. It has been a burning issue of contemporary India for a fairly long time.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by Citizens Resource for Action and Initiative for an overhaul of policies relating to agriculture, covering the whole gamut of issues like drought, issue of minimum support price, financial assistance in case of need, so also compensation to families of farmers committing suicide due to indebtedness and crop failures.
Asking the Central Government for a comprehensive road map to address all issues raised in the PIL, Supreme Court expressed its dissatisfaction that governments’ measures like crop insurance is really not enough to help the nation’s food producers in distress and has asked to comeback with urgent steps to ensure that farmers in distress, especially of a financial type, do not surrender to a situation of sheer helplessness with the option of only committing suicide. Every government, which comes to power to serve the people ends-up serving themselves most of the time and only occasionally think of general public and their welfare. Although it is so late in the day for the Apex court to proactively pursue the issue of farmers’ suicide, hope it sends appropriate signal to all governments, both central and state, that it means business, in making these governments accountable to the solemn oath these men who run the government take while taking the office of government.

The other day, an MP from Uttar Pradesh, Giriraj Singh was reported to have stated “I urge you all to take an oath not to cut cake to celebrate birth days, instead offer prayers in the temple to celebrate it. In Indian culture, there is no tradition to cut a cake. These days children call their mother as ‘mummy’ instead of ‘maa’ or ‘maiya’ and father as ‘papa’ instead of ‘babuji’ or ‘pitaji’. The words like ‘maiya’ and babuji have an emotional connection”
 Now this is not something that we are hearing for the first time. We are not wiser. There have been many, with these kinds of thoughts mouthing their angst for decades. There are millions who call their parents as Amma or Appa in the south in this 21st century, equally there are millions who call their parents as Mummy and Daddy.
Those who call their mother and father as Mummy and Daddy have not betrayed the country or sold themselves to foreign culture. They are as good if not better in being patriotic Indians like their country cousins who call their parents as Amma & Appa. This MP, who must be enjoying all modern gadgets, from car to air conditioners to cell phone etc., which are not Indian to begin with, is caught in a time warp when it comes to things like cutting cakes on a birthday. The idea of a birthday especially for small children is to give them joy and to share joy with others. This Giriraj Singh is clearly a kill joy and hence to be told accordingly by the media and his political party. These are personal choices and therefore best left to individuals. Besides, things Indian are very strong by themselves. Pizza could never replace Masala Dosa despite decades of globalization or Donuts could never replace hot crunchy Medu Vada. Let those who like pizza have it. No issue. More the merrier.  These utterances by people like Giriraj neither win votes nor influence people. Instead let him say “Be Indian and Buy Indian” including Indian made cakes. He will be better received.  

Student politics is getting worse. The higher institutions of learning are slowly becoming hotbed of competitive politics. In the name of freedom, it is alright to call for the destruction of the country. And there are media men and political parties, joining the crowd, all to score political points and less to do with any visible denial of freedom.
The recent controversy involving a student of Lady Shri Ram College in Delhi had its usual hype in the media and social sites.
Reportedly she is active on social media. Her father, a colonel, was killed in a militant attack in Jammu & Kashmir in 1999, when she was just six years old. At that age she had even tried to stab a burqa clad lady, as if the lady is from Pakistan, the country of her father’s killers.
So, some 15 years down the line, she releases a video with her picture holding a play card “Pakistan did not kill my dad. War killed him”.
Sure, the war killed him, but who waged the war and as a child of six years this young lady had tried to stab a woman in burqa, thinking she is Pakistani. 'So how did you transform from thinking Pakistan killed my dad to war killed my dad not Pakistan. How, who, and what transformed you?'
'There are appendages who talk about you being a pacifist and therefore hate war. But war does not happen on its own. Somebody forces on you. So, shouldn’t those forces be condemned instead of playing ambivalent to score some political points, because, you are a part of an ideology which promotes Pakistan! My dear young lady, it pays to play straight instead of playing 'maturity' card.'
Among those who criticized the student were wrestlers Yogeshwar Datt, Geeta Phogat, Babita Phogat, Mahaveera Phogat and cricketer Virender Sehwag. Sehwag had tweeted a picture of himself holding a play card “I didn’t score two triple centuries, but my bat did”, which was apt reply to the controversial play card the student had. However sadly Jawad Akhtar had called Virender Sehwag “hardly literate” taking side of the student. That was simply uncalled for from the lyricist.
Of course, whatever she has conveyed in her video has to be handled same way without alleged threat of physical attack of four letter word. This has to be condemned and those who have threatened have to be booked forthwith. Lest, the so-called majoritarianism of ABVP allowed a free run.

“We have a life on our hands” apex court judges Justice Bobde and Justice Nageshwar Rao, are reported to have observed on an application to abort by an expectant mother of a ‘Down’s Syndrome’ feotus.
The feotus reportedly of 26 weeks, instead of 20 weeks allowed for Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP), was not allowed to be terminated on the grounds of exception, of endangering either the mother or the, to be new born.
Surely the world is not wiser, because of the observation of these learned judges. It’s a fact all know, more so the mother. It’s part of her-own self. She would certainly want it to live. But in what kind of a terrible condition it would live, once delivered! All would be most unhappy and suffering, for no fault of theirs. Judges need to put themselves in their position. They also need to ask the genuine response of other parents with ‘Down’s syndrome’ children. In their attempt to be sanctimonious, they ignore the fact of suffering of both the new born child and their parents. A fact court simply cannot ignore. Instead they should have referred to a medical tribunal to decide such cases, since ‘Down’s syndrome’ children tend to have multiple problems. Hope judges stop being know all.

UTTAR PRADESH: Mild face of BJP, the Home Minister Rajnath Singh had observed the other day, in the course of U.P campaigning, that Muslims should have been given some seats by BJP for the U.P assembly elections. This has clearly shown the Amit Shah mindset; probably PM Modi has approved it. Logic put forth for the denial of seats to Muslims was, ostensibly, the winnability. By the same token, it can be asked, are all those who are contesting on BJP tickets going to win?
BSP has reportedly given 100 seats to Muslims, SP- Congress combine have given 74 seats while BJP has given 0 seat. That’s very stark for a party, who want to be a national party No.1.
A senior journalist, during the course of an interview had asked Amit Shah, ‘How will you get any vote anywhere from Muslims in U.P. if you do not give seats to Muslims?’
According to this sr. journalist, Amit Shah was very categorical, “We do not need any Muslim vote”. If this is the mindset, it is not good for the body politic of the country. It is an invitation for polarization and is very divisive. In the planning, the BJP strategists may not be counting on Muslim votes, but there was absolutely no need to say it so. This is not a healthy sign for any political party, especially for BJP to openly alienate Muslims. By admitting it and saying it so openly, Amit Shah made life difficult for all those who are with the party, be it MJ Akbar, Naqvi, or others.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has reportedly stated that “Government is proud of Mohd. Sartaj,” the father of the suspected terrorist Saifullah killed in the Lucknow encounter, for disowning him.
While it is a very positive statement from the Home Minister, why only ‘government is proud’, he should have said ‘the nation is proud of such a father’. In fact Ghulam Nabi Azad of Congress was better when he said “A father has rejected a son for the sake of the nation. My salute.” Indeed nation need to salute such individuals, who have risen above conditioned mindset. He has clearly signaled his unequivocal message to all his fellow Muslim brethren. If there are some who have reservation about his statement and action in refusing to take the body of his slain son, it is not surprising. Mohd. Sartaj is not a fence sitter. Community and the country should recognize it. It is fitting that Members of Parliament cutting across party lines have acknowledged his considered stand. Its people like Sartaj who make Mera Bhaarat Mahaan. Two cheers for him.
It is unfortunate, there is nobody trolling in appreciation of Mohd. Sartaj. Probably they are busy kissing in the Marina in Kerala. If ShivSena was stupid in attacking couples in the beach, these activists are double stupid. As usual, barking up the wrong tree.

During the course of election to the UP assembly there were two reports in the print media. ‘Tejashwi is future CM: Lalu’ & ‘Work is not Modi’s cup of tea, taunts Rahul’
Tejashwi is a son of Lalu Prasad Yadav. He is a school dropout. He was made deputy CM under Nitish Kumar, only because of RJD of Lalu being the party with largest number of seats in the Bihar’s ruling coalition government. Lalu himself a discredited politician with Chaara Ghotala and other scams. If his semi literate son is made the Chief Minister candidate of Bihar, in the next election, wonder even God may not be able to save party RJD, forget about saving Bihar. Rabri Devi, also a semi literate wife of Lalu Prasad had become the CM of Bihar in 1997, after the arrest of Lalu by CBI in Chaara Ghotala Scam. The demand is to replicate UP model were father Mulayam Singh made his son Akhilesh, the CM of UP.
In an India, were dynastic fiefdom is very normal, junior Lalu becoming CM like Junior Mulayam in UP, may happen with the help of India’s ‘great public’. But at least Akhilesh is a qualified engineer and a far better stuff than this Tejashwi. But in Bihar anything can happen. Mercifully Nitish Kumar is capable and a popular CM of Bihar. Hence chances of Tejashwi becoming CM of Bihar is bleak.
For Rahul Gandhi, who so far, has never been tried in any office of ministership, to say ‘work is not Modi’s cup of Tea’ is clearly a desperate attempt at winning some election point, while promising “We will change Uttar Pradesh”. If there is one thing, which PM Modi may be credited, is his work culture. He is probably, the only public servant, if a PM can be called so, who has worked the longest number of hours, day after day for all these past, close to 3 years, of his term as the head of the current NDA government in Delhi. Unlike Rahul, he has not gone on any holiday. Hence Rahul is so clearly off the mark. Of course, it is another matter that his party got a drubbing in the UP election as compared to PM Modi’s party, which ran away with the trophy of Lucknow seat of power with over 80% of seats. As for changing Uttar Pradesh for better, certainly UP electorates are acutely aware of the over 50 years of the Congress rule/misrule in U.P and the result was a clear message to Rahul to ‘Please take a walk’, which means ‘get lost’ in straight language. Hope the present dispensation in U.P provides a government that delivers, to all sections of U.P to make UP a Uttam Pradesh.

U.P always attracted national interest politically, since it is the only state sending more than 70 Members of Parliament with over 400 Legislative Assembly seats. Election to the assembly had drawn huge interest. For the ruling NDA combine, U.P election had very special significance. All parties tried their best to wrest the control of Lucknow seat of power. Result threw up huge surprises, while Congress was reduced to single digit, ebullient Maya could muster only 19 seats and the incumbent SP could get just over 60. Every party had claimed victory. There was an expectation that none would get majority and there could be a hung assembly. In the event, Modi magic worked incredible wonder, getting almost 80% of seats, that is more than 3/4th.
Even BJP was pleasantly surprised at the ‘historic outcome. They, in their wildest dream never thought they could get 312 seats. Reaction across the national spectrum was mixed.
But the latest development, a week later, was most unexpected even to the diehard BJP supporters. In the Union cabinet there is this Manoj Sinha, an IIT alumni, appeared the front runner, after many names making its rounds including that of Rajnath Singh, the Union Home Minister. The selection of Yogi Adityanath, a five times Member of Parliament from Gorakhpur, was least expected. There is an element of unease in the public space on this selection. He is already into the office of CM with over 40 ministers, making right noises of ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikaas’.
Yogi Adityanath has a history of taking wild and divisive public posturing. During the last election, he left nobody in doubt, his programme of building Ram Temple, should BJP come to power. Now that BJP is in power and as luck would have it, he is the boss in Lucknow. Even in BJP central leadership, the unanimity is only for public consumption. All were not in support of him. Hope the high command would keep him in developmental leash.

ASSAM: Young singing sensation Nahid Afrin broke down and said “I am speechless” when, reportedly some 46 Islamic clerics issued a fatwa against her singing in reality TV show Indian Idol Junior.  Probably they were more irked because she sang a bhajan. But the fact is, in her own words, she is a practicing Muslim and the music is not anti-Islamic.
In response to the fatwa of 46 clerics, there was a groundswell of support for the young girl from across the spectrum from both inside the film industry and outside. But sadly what is surprising is, the famous KHAN FOURSOME (Shahrukh, Salman, Aamir, Saif Ali) are strangely tongue tied. They have no response, even from the infamous ‘Intolerant India’ Amir Khan. That is indeed bad and sad.
However this young lady, all of 16, has to be congratulated for her courage to stand-up to this fatwa industry, unlike the Kashmiri girl Zaira Wasim who succumbed to the pressure tactics of her Kashmiri bigots. Nahid needs to be elevated as an icon especially when so-called intellectuals like Prof. Zoya Hasan, Prof. Irfan Habib, Prof Ayesha Kidwai, Dr. Gauhar Raza or even activist Shabnam Hashmi have lost their gumption to stand up to these fatwa jokers. This is tolerance for you, like it or not.
 
MADHYA PRADESH: RSS Pramukh of Ujjain, Kundan Chandrawat, has clearly gone off his head. Offering `1crore to behead Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, was the height of lunacy. He is clearly an aberration to his organization. They have disowned his statement. But they should disown him. RSS should immediately sack him to protect its credibility, or else such idiots will certainly ruin the ‘fair’ name of RSS, being a non-violent organization. Pinarayi Vijayan, is not worth giving this much importance, ask Comrade Achutanandan, he would agree. This mad offer has put lot of Sangh workers in Kerala in embarrassing situation. Yes, fortunately, wisdom prevailed rather soon on RSS biggies and reportedly, this Kundan Chandrawat has been given marching orders. All the noises of those who are anti-RSS has quietly died down.

 Maharashtra: With ShivSena as your friend, you do not need an adversary to make things turtle. All that they crave for is power without accountability. That’s what Bal Thackeray did and his son is continuing. That Shiv Sena is the sole representative of Marathi Manoos has lost its sheen with the emergence of BJP as No.1 party in the country and they have a whole lot of Marathi Manoos supporting them. BJP for sure has its negatives as well as divisive tendencies besides many positives. But clearly the voters have positively supported the party whether others like it or not. This growth of the BJP has caused great discomfort to ShivSena as well , among other parties. Junior Thackeray, unlike his father Sr. Thackeray is brash and crude and doesn’t know the language of finesse and public relation. He is using his tabloid ‘saamna’ for his virulent attack of BJP including the country’s Prime Minister, who happens to be from BJP.
Both these parties, BJP & ShivSena, known as saffron combine, have been together since the time of Bal Thackeray and both enjoyed the fruits of this association. But BJP is a national party unlike ShivSena, which is only in Maharashtra, that too mostly in Mumbai. BJP is bound to grow and it has grown beyond their own expectation, especially after the emergence of Narendra Modi as its national leader. Their growth has naturally won them more seats in their joint venture with ShivSena. This was certainly not to the liking of Uddhav Thackery of ShivSena. Basically ShivSena is a family party of Thackerays, so what he says goes. Since he has a habit of shooting off his mouth, he has surely made more enemies than friends. Thus BJP and ShivSena did not remain together for the last assembly election. Thackeray thought ShivSena would win more seats by going separate, but BJP got more seats. Unlike his father, Uddhav Thackeray is unreasonable and more ambitions. He wanted to be the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. That didn’t happen. He can’t accept deputy CM position, so no alliance. On the day of floor test, NCP saved the blues for BJP. Somehow coalition between BJP &SS came about, to form the govt. From day one, this Thackeray was a pain to BJP. BMC election came, along with other municipal corporations of Maharashtra. Except Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation, BJP won all Municipal Corporations. It was a huge victory for BJP. In BMC too, S.S got just two seats more than BJP, 84&82. BMC is the richest corporation with close to 40,000 crore budget. For ShivSena politicians, this is the only source of income. BJP decided to play the watching game by giving up Mayoral position. Declared to remain within the ruling combine as watch dog. This will make S.S politicians including Thackeray sleepless. Despite tom-toming that they are the single largest party, they are aware that BJP can play its cards to embarrass S.S. As usual UddhavThackeray brags and brags, fully aware of the inadequacies of the declining strength of his ShivSena. But the tiger has to roar, fang or no fang. With the U.P election result going home to make its own political statement, it’s going to be better days for BJP, whether Shiv Sena recognizes it or not. It is for the better of both parties that ShivSena should accept its junior status in the changed circumstances and go along with BJP as a partner. This will serve both parties well, may be, even it would do good hopefully to Mumbaikars as well, if only Uddhav Thackeray tries to read what is written on the wall. By next election, BJP may not need S.S, and then ShivSena would have lost an opportunity for good.

The trend of youngsters leaving their aged parents to fend for themselves is in vogue since quite sometimes in India. Unlike the European countries, the culture of joint family is still living, but slowly becoming a thing of the past. Youth, these days have dreams of making it financially big, in different parts of the world, from Alabama to Adelaide. It is sad but most youth don’t give a damn that one day it may befall on them as well- left alone to fend for themselves, in the twilight years of their life.
Comes this story of Joe Monteiro & June Monteiro, 91 & 94, of Pali Hill Bandra, a Mumbai Suburb. Suddenly their only daughter left them to migrate to Sydney. Neighbour says, Joe was shocked when his daughter left Mumbai. “I don’t know how to explain this pain. She abandoned us.” One needs to be in the shoes of this Joe and June to realize the pain and sadness they were pushed into by their only daughter, who left them to helplessness in search of an El Dorado in far away Australia. Fortunately for Monteiro couple, there is this Pali Hill Residents Association and its very helpful secretary Madhu Poplai who comes around to help them with their knitty gritty of their finance, checking their hearing aids, if its battery is charged or not etc. ‘She is only a call away’ tell the couple and admit that they are blessed with neighbours like Madhu.
‘My daughter abandoned us but we are blessed with good people around us. Madhu and her family members have been doing everything for me and my ailing husband.” was the thanks giving by nonagenarian June Monteiro on International Women’s Day.

How many Indians remember this advertising man Barun Kashyap? It was in Aug 2016, he had gone on FaceBook with a story of some Gav Rakshaks who along with the driver of the rickshaw he was in, allegedly stopped him to ask, ‘if the bag he was carrying was made of cow skin?’ And on sayings that it wasn’t, they had allegedly told him “Ab bach gaya” and let him go. The story had gone viral, and all electronic channels and print media had extensively reported it and had slammed the Gau Rakshaks and their organizations.
However, a police investigation that followed with CCTV verification concluded that it was fake. But not many in print media reported the truth of the investigation and none in T.V. took the trouble to tell the truth to the world, as usual.
Now comes, the news about some relief being granted by the court. Reportedly Bombay High Court has asked the police not to resort to any ‘coercive’ action against him, responding to his plea to quash the case of “attempting to create communal hatred”.
Truly speaking court should not entertain characters like this Kashyap who are enemies of the society, when courts have enough pending cases to spend time on. Hope police actively pursue the case and this ‘intelligent idiot’ gets fixed soon.

KARNATAKA: U.T Khader (UTK) was always perceived to be a responsible and responsive minister. His statement that the bandh organizers are not even fit to be ‘sandals’ of Kerala CM was however most irresponsible.
Pinarayi Vijayan, is a controversial person. Dakshina Kannada does not need lessons in secularism and harmony from him. There was no need for this, so-called Sauharda organizers to invite him. They could have invited probably Sitaram Yechury, a less controversial person. But their intention was not clean and hence invited Pinarayi. This was clearly a stupid act. To make matters worse bandh organizers were two times stupid by forcing the bandh on people of D.K., and causing completely avoidable inconveniences. They could have just ignored his visit, as if of no consequence. ‘Sauharda’ people got publicity they did not deserve.
Under the circumstances for UTK to glorify Pinirayi Vijayan’s sandals was the ‘unkindest cut of all’. If minister UTK thinks highly of Pinirayi’s sandal, he should carry it on his head. May be Sauharda organizers would carry UTK on their head.

 Tamil Nadu: Shooting dead of a young fisherman K Britjo of Tamil Nadu by the Sri Lankan Navy is a matter of deep concern. Fishing within the territorial waters of each country is an internationally accepted covenant. But more often than not, fishermen, inadvertently or due to greed to catch more and big, do cross international maritime border. It happens with fishermen of all countries. Nothing unprecedented. In the normal course, these fisher folks are apprehended and taken into custody and boats confiscated. After usual verification of their persona, their identity, their boat etc are searched and after all legal process completed, they are released, generally without any harm.
But this shooting dead, apparently without any provocation, is a very serious matter. If the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu has accused Sri Lankan Navy of “cold blooded, inhuman, horrific and illegal barbaric killing of a young Indian fisherman from Tamil Nadu” he cannot be faulted. It could have been a shocking incident for the entire fishing community of Tamil Nadu.
Responding to government of India’s ‘deep concern’, reportedly the Sri Lankan Navy has promised a full and a thorough probe. Here it is pertinent to recollect that Ranil Wickramasinghe, the Sri Lankan Prime Minister, had in the past had remarked that “Indian Fishermen poaching in Sri Lankan waters will be shot”. Notwithstanding the prime ministerial hysteria of Wickramasinghe, there was a Joint Working Group in Dec 2016, which has decided that there will be no ‘physical harm’ to the fishermen found poaching in water across the respective borders. Hope Sri Lanka comes up with credible explanation to the tragedy and does everything to ensure that such tragic incidents do not recur.

World: The shooting of Srinivas Kuchibhotla in Kansas in a supposedly hate crime by a U.S. Navy veteran has opened the Pandora’s box of uncertainties of huge magnitude for Indian Diaspora in particular.
Indians are a hardworking lot in the U.S., so they earn better and live better. Some even, may be, showing off. That may be rubbing some Americans, on the wrong side. Racial discrimination in the U.S has a long history. It was always there in some form or the other. But officially there was always legal protection for all legal immigrants and hence life was generally hunky dory with some hick-ups here or there with police taking, at times, a partisan stand. If there was racial hatred, it always more or less, remained dormant. But since the last election of President Donald Trump as the 45th President of the U.S., it has been, a kind of open invitation to chaos. All through his presidential campaigning, he sounded fairly clear that he is generally against immigrants. Hence those who had remained quiet so far, have become more bold, vocal and aggressive. That is how there have been a spate of attacks on Indians, whom, many Americans think, are the ones who have taken away their legitimate jobs. Yes, hate crimes are more open now.
Of course hate crimes against African Students in India is also a fact of life. But the gun culture or the right to carry a gun in the U.S. has far greater scope for mischief and mayhem than probably it is in India. That is the worrying dimension of this latest development in the U.S. India will certainly take up such issues diplomatically to help sort things out. After all U.S. as a whole, is a country of immigrants. Some have come early and some have come late. Hence, for U.S. to remain U.S., it has to keep its door open for all nationalities within its socio-economic and legislative constraints.
Here it is pertinent to quote a young lady Anusha Shankar, a scientist with Stony Brook University “It is sad to hear of shooting anywhere. But the potential of it being racially motivated is upsetting. It seems like it could happen anywhere and to anyone. There is a sense that there is hatred brewing and that it is indiscriminate. As a scientist, I was more worried that this government would attack the environment. But with the travel ban and shooting, the list of things to worry about seems endless.” That has put the concerns in right perspective.

Dalia Lama has always been a thorn in the flesh of Chinese authorities, whether it is right or wrong. Dalai Lama is a global citizen. He is welcome in most countries as a messenger of peace. He has been in India, ever since the annexation of Tibet in 1950s. He is in and out of India at regular intervals travelling to most parts of the world. There are over 100,000 Tibetan refugees in India in different parts of the country. They are also in India’s eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which, at least some parts of it, is claimed by Chinese as theirs. Dalai Lama is slated to visit Arunachal Pradesh to meet Tibetan refugees. But as usual China is upset. This time their irritation at the proposed visit, facilitated by India, appears to be of an extreme kind. According to a press briefing from Beijing the proposed visit “would cause serious damage to peace and stability of border region and India-China ties” and warned New Delhi.
As expected, India dismissed the warning with the contempt it deserved. Reportedly Ministry of External Affairs has reacted stating “The Indian government’s position is well known and has not changed” without being verbose. India needs to stand its ground without being over-bearing.

Whether it is United Nations Organisation and those institutions under this organization besides WTO, GATT etc are there to serve some purpose of international co-operation for co-operative coexistence. The declared objectives of these institutions apparently are to serve some common objective where welfare of all was ostensibly thought about.
But what is the reality? UNO is known to be tooth-less in its attempt to transform things, due to the veto power vested with permanent members and the money clout they wield with donations to UN.
Or look at WTO, it has always been third world countries which took the beating. The dos and don’ts of these organizations may not be loaded in favor of western first world countries, but it has been a situation of might is right. Western governments, especially the U.S has always used unfair means to its advantage.
And comes this news about how United States nixed an Indian plea, along with 11 other South East Asian Countries, on ‘reforms in medicine’.
This block of 12 nations had proposed a discussion on an “Access to Medicine” report by the UN High Level Panel that had recommended reforms in funding of bio medical R&D, which aimed of reforming medical innovation that currently pump up drug prices to unaffordable levels.
Reportedly, a set of documents released by Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), reveals that both U.S and WHO (World Health Organisation) opposed the inclusion of proposal by India in the last (140th) meeting of the Executive Board of WHO. They had obtained the information under the Freedom of Information Act.
Reportedly Jimmy Kolker, Asst. Secretary at the U.S Deptt of Health and Human Services, so also a U.S member on the WHO Executive Board had emailed Dr. Thomas Frieden Vice Chairman of WHO “Access to Medicine- oppose proposal by India”.
Reportedly, this has drawn widespread criticism from Asian Civil Society. According to Leena Menghaney lawyer and access campaigner “The UN report says there is need for an R&D treaty and it recommended reforms in the area of bio-medical R&D. The U.S government has a policy of blocking all reforms that would lead to funding R&D system in a way that it prioritizes diseases that kill millions of people in the developing world. This is consistent with the U.S policy to pressure countries like India to have more IP (intellectual property) barriers while blocking all attempts at reforms”. This is United States of America, the champion of freedom of choice. With Donald Trump in the saddle, can this become more assertive!?

FOCUS

Khairlanji: Shame of a Nation

Story of Bhotmange Family Massacre

Speaking to the nation, on the eve of Independence Day on 14th Aug. last year, President Pranab Mukharji, among other issues, touched upon the “Attacks on weaker sections that militate against our national ethos, are aberrations that need to be dealt with firmly”.He was generally commenting on the status of dalits vis-à-vis the violence perpetrated on them in different parts of the country by members of the upper caste. Some weeks earlier, visuals of four dalit youths in Una in Gujarat, made to stand in line and beaten with sticks and rods for the ‘crime’ of skinning a dead cow, had gone viral. It had greatly disturbed the national consciousness. But then this has always happened for all these post independent years of close to seven decades. Yes, there have been well meaning laws meant to protect disadvantaged sections of our society. Despite legislations, attacks on and suffering of, dalits have continued unabated. What happened in Una was only a tip of the iceberg.Atrocities committed by the upper caste people, whether they are landlords or the ones who wanted to usurp the lawfully owned land of Dalits or denying them right to use common facility provided by governments, be it a community well, piped drinking water or grazing area, instances are far too many. Some are known, some unknown, some referred to police, some are swallowed without demur for fear of physical retribution or other forms of reprisal. The enormous pain and frustration suffered by Dalits in our country must make every sensitive citizen to hang his head in shame.On 21st January, print media carried a news of the death of one Bhaiyalal Bhotmange. He was only 62 years when he passed away at about 3.40p.m at Shri Krishna Heart Care hospital in Nagpur. He was the only surviving member of a family of five. Four of this Bhotmange family were butchered in the most inhuman manner by a mob of high caste hyenas. Surekha, wife of Bhaiyalal, and their two sons- Sudhir & Roshan in their twenties and a teenage daughter Priyanka studying in 2nd PUC. Bhaiyalal who was an eye witness to the massacre, ran away to save himself from a situation of certain death at the hands of those blood hounds.Some 11 years ago, around 6.00 in the evening, on 29th Sept. 2006, this Bhotmange family was attacked by a gang of some 60 people, both men and women, of high caste Kumbi, with sticks, axes, cycle chains, iron rods and knives. The family was living in a thatched house. ‘Rushing into the hut, the women in the mob first dragged out Priyanka and Surekha by their hair, beat them and tore off their clothes. Priyanka was then taken to a nearby cattle shed and she was raped, possibly by many people. It is likely even Surekha also met with same fate. Sudhir and Roshan were meanwhile beaten mercilessly. It is said they were ordered by the mob to rape their sister and mother. When they did not comply, their genitals were crushed and mutilated. All four lay helpless as anyone and everyone did whatever they wanted, to them. It is said the rapes continued even after the women had died. The horror continued for about two hours, when it finally ended, everything suddenly returned to normal, as though nothing had happened. Some people brought a bullock cart, loaded the bodies into it and dumped them, about four kilometers away, in the irrigation canal that fed Khairlaji farmers including the field of Bhotmanges.’‘Bhaiyalal, the father of Priyanka and two boys, who was working in the field sensed something very serious going to happen to his family had rushed to his house earlier on hearing shouts of ‘Maaro salon ko..’ (beat the bastards),only to find his family was under intense attacks by the mob. “He watched for a while helplessly, hidden behind a bush.’‘He could identify a tractor, that carried men, as belonging to one Bhaskar Kadav, a local political leader and some of the men and women in the mob. He was scared to death at their ferocity. After a while he took a byway and ran to the house of Siddharth Gajbhiye, a cousin of his wife, also a police Patil and told him what he had seen. Siddharth called police station and informed them that caste Hindu villagers were attacking the Bhotmange family and requested them to rush a force to stop them. Siddharth has identified the policeman who took the call at around 7.30 that evening as Constable Rajkumar Dongare. The police did not take the matter seriously.’
The PreludeKhairlanji, is a village in Bhandara district, some 125 kms from Nagpur, which is one of the largest city after Mumbai, in Maharashtra state. Bhandara known as ‘rice bowl’ of the state is predominantly agricultural with hardly any industrial activity, except the traditional brassware industry. Wainganga river flows through the district, coupled with extensive tank irrigation network has helped the district to be better off than most districts of Vidharbha region, which is prone to drought leading to an alarming incidence of farmer suicides. Thus the region is relatively prosperous. Most houses in Khairlanji were of tiled roof with painted walls. Externally the village looked neat and organized. It had a primary school with an open-air stage for cultural events.Inhabitants of Khairlanji were overwhelmingly OBC, with just 3 dalit families of Vinod Mesharam, Durwas Khobragade and Bhaiyalal Bhotmange. Reportedly, these three dalit families have always lived in fear of dominant Hindu OBC families. A mysterious death of a youth of 20 years, from Khobargade family on 28 Feb 2006, remained unresolved by the Bhandara police even to this day. He was a 2nd year BA student. His body was found near a canal some 25kms from Khairlanji. There was an air of helplessness.Farming is village’s predominant occupation. Due to facilities of irrigation available, multiple crops, like rice, wheat, pulses are possible. This has brought relative prosperity to villagers. Bhotmange family was originally not from Khairlanji, they moved in only in 1989 due to economic hardship in Ambagad village, some distance away. Khairlanji was the original place of Surekha, wife of Bhaiyalal, and her father-in-law had some land which the family developed over a period. The cultivation of the land was not easy, since caste politics ensured that they can’t get to the irrigation canal, although the land was very close to the main canal.They had to perforce irrigate their land only in the night or early morning before the day break. Although they lived in thatched hut, they accumulated enough money to build a pucca house, the Panchayat, manned by caste Hindus, did not give the permission, hence electricity never came for the brick walled contraption they had built without cement bonding. Drinking water too was a problem to access from the village well.Acutely conscious of the prevailing caste discrimination in the village Surekha had determined to give her children better life of dignity with better education. Besides hardworking in the farm, family would roll bidis to make some extra money. Of the 3 children, Sudhir, the eldest was helping the father in the farm. He didn’t pursue his education, due to partial vision impairment, the 2nd son Roshan was in the college, daughter Priyanka was the best of the lot doing her PUC and was always top in the class. She had a dream of making it to IAS. Both Roshan and Priyanka were commuting to their college every day out of Khairlanji. Surekha even bought a bicycle for Priyanka. They even had a mobile phone at home. Their being better off and fiercely independent was never taken kindly by the surrounding caste Hindus. They nursed a desire to punish them in some form.As luck would have it, the land of Bhotmange was surrounded by the land of caste Hindus, and every time they took their tractor, they would take it straight through the land of Bhotmange, at times even damaging standing crops. Bhaiyalal, being a mild person, would take it lying down, but not Surekha. She would stand up to their tormentors, even complain to police. Thus the undercurrent of animosity was ever present.Sometime in 2004, a 10ft passage was allowed as compromise, through the land of Bhotmanges to possibly end the enmity with the caste Hindus. One Siddharth Gajbhiye, a cousin to Surekha, played an intermediary, to sort things out. But the perceived caste affront among caste Hindus persisted, since allowing the passage by Bhotmanges was taken more as a humiliation than as gesture of goodwill. Harassment of Bhotmanges became more vicious and increased. Gajbhiye being a police patil, became a thorn in the flesh for caste Hindus, since he had some influence and was helping Bhotmanges. Villagers connived to spread stories of Surekha & Gajbhiye of illicit relationship. They even tried to sexually assault young Priyanka. Intervention by Gajbhiye saved the day, but unrepentant villagers wanted their pound of flesh. A group gathered and barged into their household but retreated seeing Gajbhiye still in the house of Bhotmanges.Thus the communal tension between the caste Hindus and dalit family of Bhotmanges persisted. They were not successful in being violent due to the intervention of Siddharth Gujbhiye, who had some clout in the official hierarchy. Thus Gajbhiye also became a target of hatred. Due to his position and land holdings, he had some caste Hindu labourers working for him. One of them was Sakru Binjewar, who came asking for the wage he was allegedly not paid. Altercation had to follow, since allegedly it was stage managed. Gajbhiye slapped Binjewar. That flared into an ambush by the OBC Hindu group which grievously injured Gajbhiye. Probably the crowd would have killed him but for Surekha and Priyanka’s intervention to defend and crowd fled. Rajendra Gajbhiye, the brother of Siddharth complained to the police. After lot of uncertainties and police inaction/action, a complaint was registered at the insistence of doctors who attended to the injuries of Siddharth Gajbhiye. It took some 4 weeks just to charge some 12 accused, with Surekha and Priyanka identifying the accused. The accused were charged and arrested under four sections, which in the absence of bail would have landed them in jail. On the advice of the police on the 29th Sept, the crowd of caste Hindus went to the court and got the bail in less than 3 hours and the crowd returned to Khairlanji to avenge the insult the dalit family of Bhotmanges had ‘heaped’ on them. A meeting in the village followed in its Panchayat office and decision taken, despite their victory in getting the bail in matter of hours, although their arrest took 4 weeks. But the fact that a dalit family had got them arrested was enough to seek deadly revenge. The evening of 29th Sept, 2006, saw the gori end of Bhotmange family.After the mayhem, the village decided not to speak about one of the most heinous and dastardly episode in the history of violence against dalits in contemporary India.Nobody had any idea what had happened to the family of Bhotmange. A police constable who was brought to the scene of the mayhem by another dalit family returned to inform PSI Bharne. No action to save the family was initiated by police despite full knowledge of what was happening. It was only the next day, the naked truth of the naked bodies lying on the irrigation canal came to be acknowledged. Reportedly, Priyanka’s body had no clothes at all with injury marks all over the body including genitals. Other bodies had only undergarments, including Surekha. Police joined in keeping the gruesome happening in low key. FIR was filed with all the mild charges, without the mention of rape and murder. Clearly police had planned to sabotage the investigation. Bhandara SP Suresh Sagar, a dalit himself, took 2 days to visit the village, was a reflection on the official lack of concern for the horrendous crime. Special IGP Pankaj Gupta, reportedly visited Khairlanji after 14 days, and remarked post visit “rape was not part of the lynching.” YASHADA (Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration.) report that followed in Nov 2006, indicted Gupta for having accepted a bribe from the perpetrators of the crime.It was realiably understood that CBI investigation concluded that women were not raped, since police did not mention rape in the FIR. There were allegations of bribery and corruption leading to dereliction of duty, by doctors who performed the post mortem. Reportedly Dr. Manisha Bante, the then Medical Suptt. of Mohadi Rural Hospital, who is a niece of Bhandara MLA Nana Panchbuddhe, was present in the hospital, but one Dr. Avinash John Shende, a  junior medical officer, a former dalit himself, was allowed to do the post mortem on all bodies. Even standard procedures were given go by while dealing with physically abused female dead bodies. A lady doctor had clearly let down female victims of physical assault, probably because they were dalits.It took weeks for the news to percolate, both to dalit masses and to other parts of India, partly because, a different story was allowed to float in the local media Lok Prabha & Lokmat Times. Caste Hindu villagers had circulated a story that Surekha and Siddharth Gajbhiye were in illicit relationship and hence outraged villagers, reacted violently to put an end to it.However, the truth as always, started slowly to creep into the public space. With the overwhelming presence of police in the village, even those responding to the call of conscience, who witnessed the gori happening, couldn’t muster enough courage to talk to activists, who had descended on the village. But the truth of Bhotmanges harassment, their incomplete house, attack on Gajbhiye and the witness to the police by Surekha and Priyanka, the arrest of caste Hindus and their bail in hours, attack on the family to avenge ‘humiliation’, and cruelty heaped on Bhotmanges as seen on the naked bodies found- are all beyond dispute.On 6th Oct, a team from the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS) visited Khairlanji and released a detailed report to the media. The report informed. ‘Surekha and her daughter Priyanka were humiliated, bitten, beaten black and blue and then gang raped in full public view for an hour before they fell dead’. A policeman who asked for anonymity is quoted in the report as saying, the ‘The marauders had pushed sticks into their private parts. Surekha’s sons were reported to have been repeatedly kicked and stabbed, after which the assaulters mutilated their private parts, disfigured their faces and tossed them in the air to fall to the ground until they lay dead’. ‘At dusk the four bodies of this dalit family lay strewn at the village square, with killers pumping their fists and still kicking their bodies. The rage had not subsided. Some angry men even raped the badly mutilated corpses of the two women’. VJAS sent this report to the NHRC, seeking an independent probe into the massacre since all political parties and the local administration were trying to cover it up. It highlighted the fact that until that date, more than a week after the killing, none of Bhandara’s elected representatives had visited the village.A government report on the killings, prepared by the social justice deptt. and YASHADA had severely indicted senior police officials and doctors and an MLA Madhukar Kukade for their attempt to conceal the rape of Surekha and Priyanka and hindering investigation. It recommended, they be made co-accused and booking them under Prevention of Atrocities Act, besides stringent action. The then Maharashtra Home Minister R.R. Patil admitted to the initial lapses in police investigation and said that five policemen suspended have been dismissed. On 15th September 2008 Bhandara session’s court held 8 persons guilty of murder. They were Gopal Sakru Binjewar, Sakru Binjewar, Shatrughna Dhande, Vishwanath Dhande, Prabhakar Maudlekar, Jagadish Maudlekar, Ramu Dhande, Shishupal Dhande. Six of them were awarded death sentence and other two were given life sentence. On appeal by the convicts, Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court commuted the death sentence and awarded to all 8 persons 25 years rigorous imprisonment. An appeal against this judgement is pending in the Supreme Court.Here is a story of horrendous proportion, exposing the gangrenous heart of a part of our society, which not only killed a helpless dalit family in the most inhuman way for no fault of theirs, but also its socio-political and state machinery including the police connived the cover-up the dastardly diabolic crime from being exposed. This has happened in 21st century India. Can you still call “Mera Bhaarath Mahaan!”Now that, Bhaiyalal Bhotmange has passed away, 'will the divided Dalit fraternity take it further or will the Civil Society pursue it to further the ends of justice?' has to be seen. What have we come to Oh Poor Mother India! 

J.Shriyan 


with inputs from the writings of Prof. Anand Teltumbde, a professor at IIT Kharagpur and is a grandson of late Balasaheb Ambedkar, architect of the Indian Constitution.

FEATURE

Happiness is to make others happy.

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


“Happiness is ecstatic as a scientist who had just discovered the key to immortality.”
Susan Fromberg Schaeffer

I needed a house keeper and it was so difficult to get one. In the bargain I ended up telling many of my friends to help me to get one. I have such wonderful neighbours that they keep feeding me when I do not have any caretaker in the house. I was in a Catch 22 situation three days ago. Three of my friends got me servants on the same day. All of them were assured of my job by my friends. I could not afford three servants with my non-pensionable retired life. But I could not have denied any of them a job as they were very much looking forward to a job. If I put myself in their position I could imagine how each one of them was hoping to build his/ her career based on my job.
I chose one of them for my job and assured the other two a job within a couple of days and had all of them with me to eat etc. I have many good friends who are in good positions. One of them, whose late father was a patient of mine, is a big man today. I had helped this boy for some small favour many, many years ago. He is today a big business man in the area of automobiles. One of the boys that I got for my work incidentally had an ITI diploma in automobile engineering but with just pass marks; so he was not getting any job for the last one year. Therefore he had decided to even work as a house keeper. I therefore requested my friend, the auto man, to help this boy with a job. Rarely people remember what you did to them in this materialistic world but this friend of mine was an exception. So today that boy has been appointed on a decent salary in their service station where they service new vehicles. The boy is happy and so am I.
The next pathetic person had to be fixed. He is a very pious and innocent young man wanting a job badly. Another friend of mine is a large hearted IT honcho in Mangalore. When I called him to help this boy he was more than willing and fixed him up in a suitable security job in no time. My boy had no qualification for any other job. Seeing the joy in his face when he got the news of his employment was enough to make my day. Now that I have been able to solve the riddle that I had created for myself unknowingly, I am relieved of all my obligations to the three who were sent to me for employment. God has been kind enough that I could get them jobs so easily was an added bonus, thanks to many of my friends in need. What IS happiness?
Victor Frenkle, an American psychiatrist, who survived the Jewish concentration camp in Germany, in his book, In Search of Happiness, argues that happiness is to have some meaning for life. While I agree with him, I think if that meaning is to be of some use to society that happiness gets an added sheen. Today in the monetary world happiness is getting. Unfortunately that kind of happiness is short lived as it is followed by greed soon after to get more and more, a never ending search for more. In fact, it is a sordid boon. But in giving one gets. The more you give, the more you get happiness. The happiness of getting is described by Victor Hugo as dry happiness: “Dry happiness is like dry bread. We eat, but we do not dine “—Victor Hugo.
In this interdependent world one does not have to search for happiness outside of us. Happiness is there inside each of us and that will be expressed only when we go out of our way to be of some use to society as the latter is the collection of people who, like us, are a part of us as all living beings are but the same universal energy (universal consciousness). Scientifically, therefore, happiness has to be searched for inside us. Jaggy Vasudev, a New Age guru, calls it as inner engineering. I think it is simply understanding ourselves and socialising with ourselves. Materialistic world does not believe in any of these. People socialise with others for their own benefit. It is taking advantage of others for our benefit. True happiness is giving ourselves for others benefit.
My experiments this week have more than convinced me that happiness is giving and not getting. Thena Tyakthena Bhoonjithaha says the Ishopanishad, translated to simpleEnglish it simply means “rejoice in giving.” All religions, across the board, preach the same in different words. How I wish religionists practiced what their religions preach? The world then would be heaven on earth.

“Looking for happiness is like clutching the shadow or chasing the wind”
Japanese proverb

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Taking Chances: Why & How

Washington D.C: A new study has shed light on what’s going on inside our heads as we decide whether or not a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis located a region of the brain involved in decisions made under conditions of uncertainty, and identified some of the cells involved in the decision-making process.
The work could lead to treatments for psychological and psychiatric disorders that involve misjudging risk, such as problem gambling and anxiety disorders.
“We know from human imaging studies that certain parts of the brain are more or less active in risk-seeking people, but the neural circuits involved are largely unknown,” said senior author Ilya Monosov. “We found a population of value-coding neurons that are specifically suppressed when animals make a risky choice.”
Value-coding neurons are cells whose activity reflects the value of a stimulus – in this study, the more juice that was offered to a monkey, the bigger the neurons’ response. However, shortly before the subject made a risky choice, these neurons became suppressed.
The researchers also found a separate group of neurons that signal information about uncertainty after the choice but before the risky outcome.
To study the neuronal circuits of risk taking, Monosov and colleagues gave rhesus monkeys – whose brains are structured very similarly to ours – a choice between a small amount of juice or a 50-50 chance of receiving either double that amount of juice or nothing at all. Over time, the amount of juice received under either condition would be the same, but one option was safe and the other risky.
It turns out rhesus monkeys like to live on the edge. The monkeys chose the risky option more often than the safe option. Moreover, the researchers found that a group of value-coding neurons in a part of the brain called the ventral pallidum were selectively suppressed when monkeys chose a risky option over a safe one. The ventral pallidum plays an important role in controlling levels of dopamine – a molecule that transmits signals between neurons and makes us feel good reported ANI.
“There are no anatomically targeted treatments for psychiatric disorders associated with misjudging risk, such as pathological gambling and anxiety,” Monosov said. “Now that we know where uncertainty is processed in the brain, we can start looking for ways to modulate it.”

ENVIRONMENT

Pollution deaths: China, India leading

New Delhi: Over half of the deaths across the world caused by air pollution were in India and China where 2.2 million people died in 2015, a study said.
Air pollution contributed to 4.2 million premature deaths worldwide in 2015, making air pollution the fifth highest cause of death among all health risks, including smoking, diet, and high blood pressure, the report published by the Health Effects Institute has said.
“The analysis found that China and India together were responsible for over half of the total global attributable deaths,” the first annual State of Global Air Report by the institute said.
“The study also finds that increasing exposure and a growing and aging population have meant that India now rivals China among the highest air pollution health burdens in the world, with both countries facing some 1.1 million early deaths from air pollution in 2015,”
India’s New Delhi and China’s Beijing are the world’s most polluted cities.
Air pollution is one of the biggest problems in the country.
Unchecked rapid industrialisation in China propelled it to become the world’s second largest economy but polluted the air.
China alone burns 47 per cent of the world’s coal. In winter, the coal-fired plants are the biggest contributor to the choking smog in northern part of the country.
Beijing and around two dozen cities were under heavy blanket of smog at the end December 2016.
New Delhi is no less, with dust and diesel-driven cars adding to the pollution woe. Crop burning in neighbouring state is also source of pollution.
“We are seeing increasing air pollution problems worldwide, and this new report details why that air pollution is a major contributor to early death,” said Dan Greenbaum, President of the Health Effects Institute (HEI1), in a statement.
The report also finds that 92 per cent of the world’s population lives in areas with unhealthy air.
“The trends we report show that we have seen progress in some parts of the world – but serious challenges remain,” he added.
The State of Global Air 2017 is the first of a new series of annual reports and accompanying interactive website, designed and implemented by the HEI in cooperation with the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington and the University of British Columbia, a statement said.
Although there are many parts of the world where air pollution has grown worse, there has also been improvement in the US and Europe, the study said.
The US Clean Air Act and actions by the European Commission have made substantial progress in reducing people exposed to PM pollution since 1990.

SPIRITUAL QUOTIENT

Indian Civilisation

The ancient civilisation of India founded itself very expressly upon four human interests; first, desire and enjoyment, next, material, economic and other aims and needs of the mind and body, thirdly, ethical conduct and the right law of individual and social life, and, lastly spiritual liberation; kama, artha, dharma, moksha.
The business of culture and social organisation was to lead, to satisfy, to support these things in man and to build some harmony of their forms and motives. Except in very rare cases the satisfaction of the three mundane objects must run before the other; fullness of life must precede the surpassing of life.
The debt to the family, the community and the gods could not be scamped; earth must have her due and the relative its play, even if beyond it there was the glory of heaven or the peace of the Absolute. There was no preaching of a general rush to the cave and the hermitage. But it is perfectly true that Indian culture has always set the highest value on that in man which rises beyond the terrestrial preoccupation; it has held up the goal of a supreme and arduous self-exceeding as the summit of human endeavour.
The spiritual life was to its view a nobler thing than the life of external power and enjoyment, the thinker greater than the man of action, the spiritual man greater than the thinker.

VISION OF PERMANENCE

The above cheques represent the permanent subscription from 3 more of our readers. While thanking these lady & gentlemen for the trust reposed in the integrity of Issues&Concerns, we most humbly submit that, this amount of `10,000/- is being planned as seed money for a proposed setting up of co-operative society of subscribers. So that readers become the owners of I&C in due course.  As and when it happens, within the next 2/3 years, this amount shall be taken as share capital. The proposal is open to all subscribers.            -EDITOR

HEALTH

Dairy products with Vitamin D prevent bone loss

Boston: Consumption of dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt along with Vitamin D supplements may protect against bone loss among older adults, researchers including one of Indian origin have claimed.
Researchers found that vitamin D stimulates calcium absorption, which is beneficial for building bones and preventing bone loss overtime. The findings, by researchers including those from University of Massachusetts Lowell in the US, could lead to better care for people over 50 years of age diagnosed with osteoporosis, a disease characterised by low bone mass and progressive deterioration of bone tissue.
For those affected, osteoporosis can lead to increased risk of fracture, loss of physical function, decreased quality of life, and even death, researchers said. “This study is significant because in addition to milk intake, it also examined the association of other dairy foods such as yogurt, cheese and cream with bone mineral density and bone loss over time,” said Shivani Sahni from Hebrew SeniorLife, a US-based nonprofit organisation.
“Furthermore, this study clarified that the association of dairy foods with bone density is dependent on adequate vitamin D intake. However, additional studies are needed to confirm these findings using serum vitamin D concentrations,” Sahni added.


MEDICAL FRONTIER

Vision of vision to millions

Los Angeles: Scientists have developed a new eye implant, using arrays of silicon nanowires that sense light and electrically stimulate the retina, which may help restore vision in millions of people worldwide. The advance brings us a step closer to restoring the ability of neurons in the retina to respond to light. The researchers from University of California San Diego and US-based startup Nanovision Biosciences showed response to light in a rat retina interfacing with a prototype of the device in vitro.
The technology could help tens of millions of people worldwide suffering from neurodegenerative diseases that affect eyesight, including macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa and loss of vision due to diabetes.
Performance of current retinal prostheses to help the blind regain functional vision is still limited. “We want to create a new class of devices with drastically improved capabilities to help people with impaired vision,” said Gabriel A Silva, professor at UC San Diego.
The new prosthesis relies on two groundbreaking technologies. One consists of arrays of silicon nanowires that simultaneously sense light and electrically stimulate the retina accordingly. The nanowires give the prosthesis higher resolution than anything achieved by other devices – closer to the dense spacing of photoreceptors in the human retina.
The other breakthrough is a wireless device that can transmit power and data to the nanowires over the same wireless link at record speed and energy efficiency. The new system does not require a vision sensor outside of the eye to capture a visual scene and then transform it into alternating signals to sequentially stimulate retinal neurons.
Instead, silicon nanowires mimic the light-sensing cones and rods to directly stimulate retinal cells. Nanowires are bundled into a grid of electrodes, activated by light and powered by a single wireless electrical signal
This direct and local translation of incident light into electrical stimulation makes for a much simpler and scalable architecture for the prosthesis. “To restore functional vision, it is critical that the neural interface matches the resolution and sensitivity of the human retina,” said Gert Cauwenberghs, from UC San Diego.
Power is delivered wirelessly, from outside the body to the implant, through an inductive powering telemetry system. For proof-of-concept, the researchers inserted the wirelessly powered nanowire array beneath a transgenic rat retina with rhodopsin P23H knock-in retinal degeneration.
The degenerated retina interfaced with a microelectrode array for recording electrical “spikes” from neural activity. The horizontal and bipolar neurons fired action potentials preferentially when the prosthesis was exposed to a combination of light and electrical potential and were silent when either light or electrical bias was absent, confirming the light-activated and voltage-controlled responsivity of the nanowire array. 

SERIAL : 7

THE PERSISTENCE OF CASTE
Beyond Varna: CASTE IN THE 21ST CENTURY
Anand Teltumbde

An Ancient Imperative
At one level, Khairlanji is not unique. It could even be termed an unconscious reenactment of the primordial punishment of the shudras, and, by implication, of the untouchables, ordained in scripture two millennia ago. The crime of the Bhotmanges was simple- they were dalits who dared to assert their dignity. In so doing, they breached a code that ideologizes and rigidifies inequality by divine sanction, with divine wrath following all transgression. Contrary to the image of India as a nonviolent society, violence has always been intrinsic to the Hindu societal structure- it is not for nothing that Hindu gods are depicted in temple sculptures and in popular calendar art bearing deadly weapons and engaged in macabre acts of destruction.
Hinduism’s adherents would argue that this violence is against evil and is reassuring to those who are virtuous. The definition of what constitutes ‘virtue’ and ‘vice’, however, rests on caste ideology. Those who abide by caste are virtuous and those who defy it, evil. So long as its victims internalize the logic of karma determined inferiority(one of the most effective frameworks of social control) and become the system’s willing slaves (and preservers), it does them no harm; indeed, they find it supportive. It is those who rebel who are not spared.
Representing the quintessence of caste, Khairlanji lays bare the arrogance of caste society, and its assumptions about the demands from the subordinated. Khairlanji additionally demonstrates that caste, however oppressive, is essentially a self –regulatory system designed to elicit compliance with its laws (seemingly of people’s own accord). But Khairlanji, paradoxically, also reveals caste society’s vulnerability. Though oppression can be said to be endemic to caste, a caste crime is invariably the result of its victims’ defiance, a disjuncture both despised and feared. In this sense, a moment like Khairlanji represents the breakdown of the wicked equilibrium that has held the subcontinent historically frozen for thousands of years, and that has carried India through centuries of utterly underserved self-attribution with qualities such as ‘tolerant’, ‘nonviolent’, and ‘peace-loving’.
Khairlanji was no one-off, an unfortunate aberration in a globalizing, ‘shining’ India. Every village in India is a potential Khairlanji. If most villages wear a veneer of tranquility, as celebrated in coffee-table books and tourist brochures, this owes to a tacit compromise- and reconciliation- that dalits have made their demeaning circumstances. Nor are Khairlanjis confined to rural India alone. Their manifestations in towns and cities may not always leave behind brutalized, naked corpses to tease middle class sensibilities into transient commiseration. But moments of rupture are ever present. The surface calm persists so long as the compromise operates. Whenever it has collapsed, the inherent violence of this society has reared up in annihilative response.
History underscores this bitter reality. Millions throughout India are crushed and killed in spirit every day; every so often, some are killed in physical fact as well. While India’s unwieldy, malperforming state sector, where dalits are accommodated owing to statutory reservation, has become a virtual graveyard of their aspirations, the corporate sector stubbornly keeps them out. The reason given is worn but unvarying: dalits lack ‘merit’- the word ‘congenitally’ is unspoken yet implied. It is a gross injustice that in cumulative terms is no less grave than what happened in Khairlanji. No dead bodies. No post-mortems for living corpses. Only buried deeper into vapidity and asphyxiation.

Static Without, Shifting Within
If what happened in Khairlanji accords with many of the features of the caste system, it also demolishes several myths and stereotypes around it. The foremost is the conventional understanding of the system itself as operating between 'high' caste tyrants and 'low' caste, or outcaste, victims in a manner unchanged since scriptural times. Although it could be argued that caste society has staved off alteration at the structural, macro level, it has, in reality, undergone much revision in its composition and character, especially since colonialism. This has come through its adjustment to the pressures of modernism, which arrived with the British and was adopted to varying effect by the post-Independent Indian state.
Caste, in its essence, is infinitely divisive. It is not confined to a few hundred definitive castes or the thousands of multiple subcastes. Sociologists and anthropologists have provided laborious ethnographies of jatis/castes, treating them as complete, rounded categories. However, castes and caste-like identities are still being formed, evolving by amoeba-like auto-division. While they tend to contract inward in forming a new caste, they also seek to establish their relative superiority in relation to other castes. Once this external pressure for asserting superiority is released, the castes look inward once again to locate or invent hierarchies within.
In the nineteenth century, however, during the onset of capitalism, subcastes among the dwijas, the 'twice-born, higher castes, tended to collapse amongst each other, perhaps out of solidarity against the new regime, resulting in the formation of a hybrid, non-ritualistic caste identity. This continued during the post-Independence decades as capitalist relations spread into the countryside, and accelerated with their intensification during the globalizing phase. Anticaste constitutional measures also tended to soften the system's ritualistic framework - characterized, in terms of the relations between dalits and nondalits, by a taboo on physical contact and, among the nondalits themselves, by limitations ordained by notions of hierarchy. Today, the classical association of the caste system with the shastras, the Hindu scriptures, may not be fully irrelevant but it is considerably weakened, in the urban scenario, at least. As ritual identities shifted, certain of the differences between dwija and shudra castes have virtually been dissolved, though this collapse has not happened in the same degree when it comes to dalits. Rather, the cleavage between the savarnas (the caste Hindus) and the avarnas (dalits and all other excluded groups) is today caste's most overt manifestation.
This divide is where the continuum of social osmosis breaks. Even classical scriptures and mythologies talk only of varna-based castes and appear to treat the shudra as the lowest in their hierarchy. Avarnas find no mention, being outside this system. Both sides of this divide, savarnas and avarnas, have managed to blur the contours of caste among themselves to a large extent and have a fair amount of internal social osmosis. Yet even today the few inter-caste marriages that happen are seen mostly within the savarnas; marriages between dalits and nondalits are rare. Antidalit prejudice is the general manifestation of this reinforced divide; in the villages, the dens of caste, it is seen easily precipitating into heinous caste crime.

Backward Class Ascendency
It is sheer intellectual inertia to continue blaming the traditionally privileged for caste as it obtains at present. Contemporary caste society cannot be understood, much less dismantled, along the simple dimensions of religion or tradition. It has become far more complex, under the influence of the political economy that characterizes modern India, and the so-called 'secular', 'democratic' politics and 'socialist' policies that the Indian republic has imposed for six decades over an iniquitous social base. Caste as seen today represents an indeterminate outcome of the interaction between the psycho-socio-cultural residue of the past and the strategies the state followed in favour of certain classes that have resulted in the perpetuation of inequity.
While the hegemony of the brahmins and other higher castes over state and civil society may appear intact (given their preponderance in the higher brackets of all wings of governance -judicial, legislative and executive - and in most institutions comprising civil society), it cannot be denied that their influence is steadily loosening. Other social groups have risen to seize their share, while the dwijas, with their initial cultural advantage, have shifted ground to the capitalist, globalizing sectors of the economy. They do not now evince much interest in caste except for its utility in maintaining the status quo and safeguarding their social, economic and political position.
The ascending groups, the traditional labouring castes, on the other hand, are still entrenched in their traditional sectors, not yet divorced from the conventional Indian social structure. Developmental policies such as land reform, howsoever half-baked in implementation, made landowners of these castes - the shudras, classified in state parlance into Backward Classes (BCs), Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and even Most Backward Classes. It is these groups that are predominantly associated with and implicated in caste discrimination and atrocity. There were no privileged castes, brahmins or kshatriyas, in the conventional sense in Khairlanji. The aggressors belonged to shudra castes - kunabis and kalars - listed as Other Backward Classes (OBCs). Here lies another significant shift from the ritualistic caste system, under which only the brahminical castes were the oppressors and the huge mass of shudra labouring castes were the oppressed. Right from the carnage at Keezhvenmani (1968) to the Khairlanji lynchings (2006), through four decades of caste carnage, there has in fact been no direct involvement of the brahminical castes at all. Rather, it can be said that the manifestation of caste violence as atrocity is a post-1960s phenomenon, connected with the rise of the Backward C1asses.
For dalits, modernization's foremost significance has been in the spread of education, helping them avail of employment opportunities in public services through job reservation. Although in direct terms it helped only a small fraction of the dalit population, indirectly it has helped many in elevating their aspirations. A decline in their traditional occupations - partly owing to technological changes, sometimes because of their moving away from the ritually 'polluting', 'menial' professions forced upon them, but largely because of the spread of education - made dalits swell the ranks of agricultural labourers or migrate to informal sectors in urban areas. This led to a marginal increase in their occupational diversity in modern economic activities. However, in the main, says sociologist K. Srinivasulu:
Modernization had virtually no impact on dalits in the countryside and it would not be an exaggeration to say that the impact of the developmental process on the life of an average dalit was extremely marginal and superficial. As far as the dalits' economic conditions are concerned, land reform legislations, developmental programmes and policies, minimum wage legislation and social welfare policies had little influence.
The pervasive contradiction between dalits and nondalits that surfaces so violently in rural areas mostly derives its material sustenance from the opposition between the dalit's role as landless labourer and the shudra's new position as dominant landowner. This dynamic may not be defined exclusively in economic terms, however. The most overriding factor here remains the deep-rooted socio-cultural contradiction between dalits and nondalits, with shudras having assumed the brahminical baton. 
The difference in this changed caste equation is marked, on the one hand, by the sheer numbers of the new oppressors (the shudras) and by the relative progress and associated assertiveness of the oppressed (the dalits) on the other. The phenomenon of caste violence in rural India is directly attributable to this changed equation. If its increase is symptomatic of the rising aspirations of the dalits and their challenge to established structures of socio-economic, cultural and political dominance, then the violence is also an expression of resistance to these aspirations by the dominant castes.




Chinese gender bias

30 million to remain single

Beijing: About 30 million Chinese men will have to look for brides outside China in the coming decades or end up single, a researcher warned.
The number of unmarried Chinese men aged between 35 and 59 will reach 15 million in 2020 and 30 million in 2050, Wang Guangzhou, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said. Poorly educated lower class men are far more likely to end up single, he told state-run People’s Daily. This is because males who only have a primary education or below increased to 15 per cent in 2010.
Yuan Xin, a professor at Nankai University and expert on family planning policy, told state-run Global Times that the number will likely exceed 30 million in 2050, as gender bias in favour of males at birth is still high in China. The national gender ratio between males and females at birth peaked at 121.2 males to 100 females in China since 2000, while the standard ratio set by the UN is between 103 and 107 males for every 100 females. The figure reached as high as 130 males in some provinces, the report said.
In 2015, the nationwide average was 113.5 males against 100 females, the seventh decrease since 2009. Zhai Zhenwu, a sociologist at the Renmin University of China, said the continued imbalance was caused by the development of ultrasound technology in the 1980’s, which aided the traditional family preferences for a son, the People’s Daily report said. “The family planning policy which also promoted late birth had the negative effect on increasing the desire for people to select the sex of their child. Coupled with new, cheap and safe sex determination and selection technologies, this made the existing preference for a son become a reality,” Yuan said.
China bans any testing for gender or selective abortion over gender preference. Data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on January 20 shows that China’s male population reached more than 708 million at the end of 2016, while the number of females was more than 675 million.
China’s sixth national population census in 2010 showed that unmarried Chinese women above 30 years old accounted for 2.47 per cent of the female population – almost two times higher than the figure reported in the 2,000 census. Yuan cautioned that recent trends of more well-educated Chinese women choosing to remain single will exacerbate the situation.
“Besides the marriage issue, a high single male population might also cause many other social problems such as sexual violence, women and child trafficking, not to mention the pension burden they will bring about when they get old,” Yuan said.
The National Health and Family Planning Commission said early this month that China would reduce its sex ratio at birth to 112 boys for every 100 girls by 2020. Already the widening sex ratio prompting rural Chinese men to marry women from neighbouring east Asian countries like Vietnam.

YEH MERA INDIA

Political workers on Private-sector payroll

Mumbai: The Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has been caught in a trouble with social activist Anjali Damania accusing that Thackeray’s driver and domestic workers of ‘Matoshree’ were on payroll of Cambata Aviation. Vinayak Raut, Sena’s Member of Parliament and president of Bharatiya Kamgar Sena (BKS) admitted that the driver and other workers were on the payroll of Cambata. Raut added they too have lost their salaries.
Damania alleged that along with the driver, six other people working at ‘Matoshree,’ the official residence of Thackerays and 15 Sena workers were paid salaries by Cambata Aviation without working for that company.
Damania further alleged, “Initially we did not have a proof. Now we have the salary slips of all these people. It makes me feel sick. How compromised these people are? See the way they talk in their rallies and in actual life, all they do is loot.” She further accused the Sena’s Union of not sparing the innocent, poor workers of Cambata Aviation and their families.
“They tied up with the Management and compromised on all the rights of the workers. I will teach them a lesson,” she threatened. Congress Legislator Nitesh Rane, who is jointly working with Anjali Damania to expose the connection between Sena and Cambata Aviation said, “There was an understanding between Cambata management and Sena’s registered workers union BKS that is why Sena has kept mum even though 2700 bhumi putras (Marathi spoken local workers) lost their jobs.”
“The management and BKS had signed an understanding with which the workers lost their jobs. We will raise this issue till the workers will get justice,” said Rane.

Handicapped dreams to become an IAS

NASHIK: Laxmi is an average teen with ambitions of becoming an IAS officer. Presently she is appearing for her 12th standard exams from Solapur. The only thing extraordinary about her is that she writes with her foot – you see, she was born without arms.
“I am normal”, Laxmi told confidently. “I can write well, turn the pages of textbooks and notebooks, use the computer keyboard and use the TV remote with my feet,” she said.
She suffers from Congenital amputation – which means born without limbs. Hence, she does not feel much difference in her life compared to a non disabled person who loses a limb or limbs and cannot fend for themselves.
Her father Sanjay Shinde and her family were reluctant to send her to school fearing a negative reply from the school and fear of other students. Nearby was a zilla parishad nursery. Laxmi wanted to go and explore inside the school. Not being a student she used to sit under a tree near the school and watch the children studying and playing.
“I longed to study and play with other children but the schools didn’t accept me. So I used to sit outside the school for hours and listen to and sing songs or pretend I was studying,” she said.
Struck by her stubbornness, Sanjay Shinde appealed the nursery headmaster to admit her but was refused. He continued to pester the headmaster. Finally the headmaster agreed to admit Laxmi, putting all responsibility on the family. Thus began her journey. She got 47 percent in SSC and 52 percent in 11th. When told that she would have to increase her grades if she wanted to make it to IAS, Laxmi said that her grades were improving. “I am studying really hard…I’ll make it,” she asserted.


Workers die- cleaning septic tank

Mumbai: Three labourers died of suffocation while cleaning a septic tank near Zarimari area of Malwani. The victims have been identified as Murti Harijan (30), Maya Harijan (26) and Kashi Harijan (45).
The senior inspector of Malwani police station, Dipak L Phatangare, said, “The trio were daily wage workers. Two of the labourers died on the spot and the third victim Kashi died while being taken to Kandivali-based Shatabdi hospital.” The incident took place at around 9.30 am, said Phatangare. “There is a common toilet in the vicinity. The contractor hires labourers to clean the tank and doesn’t provide them any safety gear,” said Ramesh Kalia, a local.


11 years in jail for no fault!

NEW DELHI: “If you are in jail for more than 11 years for a crime which court finds you have not committed, you must be sick of the system. I try to imagine the mental states of two persons arrested for 2005 Delhi blasts, who spent 11 long years in jail and now the court clears them of all charges, one wonders the type of policing we have, the type of criminal justice system we have where innocents can be made to spend as much as 11 years in jail.”
This is a Facebook post on Mohammad Rafiq Shah and Mohammad Hussain Fazli, two youths from Kashmir, acquitted on February 16 by a Delhi court that ruled the evidence against them was “fabricated and flimsy.” They were implicated in the pre-Diwali blasts in Delhi in 2005 that killed 67 people.
The post would have been dismissed as one more from the human right activists but for the fact that it has come from Satyendra Garg, a senior IPS officer currently joint secretary in charge of the Northeast in the Home Ministry.
It is also for the first time that a serving police officer as senior as Garg has spoken about the two youth implicated in terror cases by police.  Rafiq was in college in Kashmir attending classes at the time the police accused him of planting a bomb in a bus in Delhi. Fazli was a shawl vendor in Srinagar.
Garg said that like any right-thinking citizen, he was deeply disturbed by the realisation that two lives had been destroyed by wrongful arrests. “The court acquitted the two youths who were booked by Delhi police for terror without evidence. It is very disturbing and a serious issue… a sad commentary on the criminal justice system and the way national security is handled,” he lamented in an interview to a newspaper.
“If innocent people are booked on wrong charges, there is a dire need to correct this system. The security officials who investigated these cases should be made accountable. Inspector-level officers probe the cases, but they report to their superiors.”
Garg flagged how the families of the 67 victims had also been denied justice. “They have lost family members but have been denied justice. The perpetrators of the crime are still at large. Who is accountable for that,” he asked. A third accused, Tariq Ahmed Dar, was convicted. But he was found guilty of being a member of the Lashkar-e-Toiba and providing support to it, and not of masterminding the attack as alleged. Dar had already spent more than 10 years in jail, the maximum punishment for his offence.
A Home Ministry official criticised the special cell of Delhi police cell that probes terror cases for making arrests in “haste” to please their bosses and grab gallantry medals. “The government should order an inquiry against the investigators and their superiors in the intelligence agencies for implicating the two innocent youths without any evidence. The guilty officials should be criminally prosecuted,” he said.
Two years ago, the Jamia Teachers Solidarity Action, a rights group made up of educators, had prepared a dossier highlighting how the Delhi police cell had framed 16 Muslim youths in terror cases and how they were later acquitted by the courts.


BMC Poll: Lottery Draw Questioned in Court

Mumbai: Though the results of Brihanmumbai Mumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) are out, the fight for wards continues.
Shiv Sena aspirant Surendra Bagalkar who was contesting elections from Colaba lost the lottery draw against Atul Shah, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate.  Therefore, he has moved the small cause court in hope of justice. The applicant (Bagalkar) has requested the small cause court Judge P S Deshmukh to disclose the five tender votes.
As both the leading aspirants got a tie, BMC commissioner Ajoy Mehta took a lottery draw as per the legal provision 28(H) of MMC Act in which Atul Shah of BJP won. Seeing the lottery result not in his favour, the aspirant who lost has moved the small cause court.
Speaking to the press, Bagalkar said, “In my ward, there are five tender votes, but before the lottery I was not aware of it and so I did not oppose the lottery draw. Also there was no question of my opposition to the lottery system as there is a provision in BMC act and whatever the BMC commissioner Ajoy Mehta read we followed. But I’m strongly against the lottery system as it kills the democratic value which every candidate has. If we have to decide by lottery system only, then why do we spend so much of money in elections. Let’s decide all candidates by lottery only.” He further added, “I hope after clarity on these tender votes it can change the results entirely.” Bagalkar is a two-time corporator from Sena from Mumbadevi constituency while he contested the elections from Girgaum for the first time. The winning candidate Atul Shah of BJP remarked, “I have full faith that in the legal battle too I will get the results in my favour and I’m ready for the legal fight also.”
What does a Tender vote mean?
On behalf of a valid voter if someone does a bogus voting, then the electoral officer after taking cognizance and proof of identification of concerned voter gives the valid voter an opportunity to cast his vote on a ballot paper. However, this vote is not counted while vote counting. However, if such situation appears then this tender vote becomes helpful.