Monday, June 12, 2017

EDITOR'S COLUMN

Friends,

We are into the month heralding the inset of monsoon. Hope as you read this, rain God must have arrived in the coastal district with his usual grand entry full of sparks and noises followed by torrent from the heavens. Met men have predicted ‘Normal to Excess’ rainfall all over India. Parched land in the Deccan is waiting to be quenched of its thirst. Hope, we do not have to wait for long, it comes soon and in plenty.
NDA led by BJP and its Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has completed 3 years of its 5 yeas term on 26th of May. Hence, it is but natural for a balance sheet to be presented to the nation, although it’s more than half of its period, it is still too early to pass a judgement. There have been many initiatives, which is not likely to yield result yet. May be just before the completion of 5th year, a balance sheet of achievements and failures is in order.
However looking back, it is possible to have list of positives and negatives of this 36 months of Modi government.
‘Abki baar Modi Sarcar’ had come with a promise of cracking down black money and of course the promise of 15 lakh in every Indian’s bank a/c and Achehe Din too. Looking back Achche Din, may be coming, although it is still to come, burre dins have not come. Yes it is true that cow vigilante inspired violence by some outfits claimed to be part of Sangh Pariwar has made life difficult for those who deal with cow, especially Muslims. Similarly Dalits have become fodder for attack by upper caste Hindus. Whether BJP likes to accept it or not, every time the party did better electorally or come to power, some fringe elements have taken the law in their hands and have resorted to violent enforcement of what they think as right. It is also true that authorities have not been very firm in dealing with these elements although it kept making right noises of condemning such violence. Clearly, enough is not being done to reign these anti-social elements. It is true there have been many initiatives, which can be classified as work-in-progress.
There has been concerted efforts to control black economy and flow of black money which is slowly showing result. Claiming phenomenal success in fighting Black Money, CBDT has reportedly detected `1.37lakh crores tax evasion. Job creation is an important area where NDA led by Modi couldn’t succeed as it hoped.  Its very own, an RSS affiliate Swadeshi Jaagran Manch has complained to this effect, just the other day.
It’s also true that the growth story, the spokespersons of NDA talk about, has to tell Indians whose growth they are talking about, Ambani-Adani & company or the aam aadmi!
However what is important in public space is, if the authorities both in centre and those states ruled by BJP take tough and decisive actions on violent fringe elements, the message will go that BJP can be a better alternative, since there has not been any major scams involving NDA or BJP. Hope Prime Minister Modi, gets tough with these in-house violent groups.
Month-in-Perspective has been as usual. The recent ruling of Supreme Court banning liquor vending within 500 mtr of national and state highways has caused expected tumult, among all stake holders. We have taken it up under Focus, for its multiple dimensions. Hope readers will find it interesting. Rest of the contents are as usual. Do revert with your inputs.

J. Shriyan

MONTH-IN-PERSPECTIVE

 JAMMU&KASHMIR: The report in The Hindu, “Valley seethes at officer’s killing”, conveyed it all. Similar selective outrage has been the problem with Pakistan handling of its own terror groups. It is a case of ‘chicken coming home to roost’.
Leadership, which is orchestrating the Valley’s response to unrest there, is learning it the hard way. Terrorism cannot be condoned if you think it helps you.
The story of Valley supporting separatists and their hobnobbing with Pak based terror groups like Hizbul Mujahideen and LeT will come back to haunt them.
Valley has been always selective in responding to security forces by pushing small children and its youth, and now college girls, to pelt stones at security forces. Now that one of their very own has been gunned down in their own midst by the same people they supported, will haunt them forever. Valley did not react when Pakistan made Gilgit Baltistan part of POK as Pakistan’s 5th state. Clearly it has shown the Muslim dimension of the Valley’s India centric resistance. They did not mind Pakistan usurping POK as their own but resist India’s claim, which, prima facie, is legal. Yes, Valley must decide whether they want to go with India or with Pakistan.
And those politically oriented supporters in India including some media houses and of course their friend Arundhati Roy must look within, that their support to Kashmiri cause is sinister, not based on humanity and truth. There has to be realistic development, so that Kashmir and Kashmiris can be saved.
For all those years, before Pakistan decided to take on its homegrown terror groups, they allowed these groups free run since they were only attacking India & Kashmir. Terrorists are a law unto themselves and Pakistan experienced it first hand at a heavy price. Only then they decided to take them on. But have still allowed it in Kashmir. It is for Kashmiris to recognize this danger. They too allowed it, and their very own officer has been killed in their own neighbourhood. Yes, chicken has come home to roost. Take it or leave it.

Punjab: Being critical of the government should not be the only objective of journalistic writings. The ‘power point’ by Sachidananda Murthy- ‘A mixed message’ (THE WEEK- 30/4/17) surely has a mixed reaction. The remarks by the writer on the Canadian Defence Minister’s visit, mentioning that Khalistan movement was crushed 25 years ago may not truly pass the muster. Khalistani elements are there among Sikhs- both in India and in Canada. How can the writer forget the horrendous Kanishka Bombing, where 329 perished off the Irish coast in the Atlantic! It was the war on India by Khalistanis of Canada. It reflected the poor security checks by Canadian authorities. Sikh Sardars involved in planting the bomb in Kanishka were, not only not punished but even witnesses were murdered. None of the Sikh Canadian organizations have apologized for this horrendous crime they have committed on absolute innocent air travelers only because it was Air India.
Did this Harjit Singh Sajjan, the Canadian Defence Minister who is presently embroiled in a controversy of self promotion, touch on this macabre event and apologized for this dark episode in the contemporary history of this civilized world? There is a need for the last word to be said on one of the greatest aviation tragedy orchestrated from Canada by the Sikhs of that country.

New Delhi: In his keenness to score brownie points, Kapil Sibal, the advocate for All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has waded into uncharted currents.
He said, “Triple talaq is a matter of faith like Lord Rama’s birth place in Ayodhya and it cannot be interpreted or changed by any court of law”. By this argument he not only made the work of those seeking Shree Ram temple in Ayodhya easier, he also compared triple talaq with the Christian faith of virginity of Mother Mary.
This is bad logic. Nobody came forward to claim suffering due to either of the claim of adherents to Hindu myth or Christian myth. But there is a whole lot of Muslim women in India who have suffered physical, emotional and financial pain immensely due to triple talaq. There is a whole lot of evidence in support of banning triple talaq from among the Muslim faithfuls, both common people and intelligentsia. Besides, there are many Muslim Countries who have banned this archaic practice of triple talaq in their society.
‘Have these countries gone against the tenets of Islam Mr. Sibal?’
Don’t be opportunistic, since it helps you professionally and the vested interest of those from AIMPLB, who, truly speaking do not represent the entire Islamic faithfuls of India. Besides, do remember that you belong to the political class that supported the same group against Shah Bano. So are you doing party work at the court?!

What is wrong with this Congress party? At times it looks as if the leadership has mortgaged its sense of proportion. It is not just Digvijay Singh or a Manishankar Aiyar, with foot in mouth syndrome, it’s the leadership itself.
Or else, how would they go to town and attack the govt. for going to International Court of Justice (ICJ), when the entire country is happy with the ICJ staying the death sentence of Kulbhushan Jhadav?
Accusing the NDA government of internationalizing the issue of K. Jadhav and suggesting that this would make Pakistan approach the ICJ with Kashmir issue, this Congress has unwittingly committed a political hara–keeri. Not only it gave the idea to Pakistan to go ICJ but also gave an impression that saving Jadhav from gallows need not be a priority for the nation. This is bad and stupid politics. Whoever is the architect of such a stand simply does not know what they are doing. It is clear that Congress wants to oppose anything and everything that this NDA government does.
As for Pakistan taking the Kashmir issue to ICJ, surely Pakistan need no lessons and they are quite competent to look after their political interest.
While on the subject, it is important to note that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran, and what is the explanation the Iranian government or the police have on this abduction of an Indian from inside Iran by Pakistani agencies? There have been no inputs from Indian authorities on the role of Iran and its agencies, before, during and after the kidnapping. Govt. must come clean on this.

Appointment of Lokpal has been eluding Indians despite there being a law in place. The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act 2013, which came into effect on 16th Jan 2014 to inquire into allegations of corruption against public functionaries has, kind of, remained in a limbo.
The law aims to check corruption under this independent body at the national level, for receiving and processing complaints relating to corruption against government servants, to ensure that they are properly investigated and if found guilty initiate prosecution against such officials in a time bound manner.
UPA, which enacted the law, while in power, lost power in early 2014. NDA combine led by Narendra Modi, on the plank “abki baar Modi Sarcar” came to power. It won the election after declaring “Brashtaachaar Nirmoolan”. It’s been in power for the last 3 years, but strangely did not push for Lokpal, apparently for its own political compulsions.
It’s alright to talk about eradicating corruption as election rhetoric, but to see that concrete steps are taken to this end is a different ball game. Talk about Lokpal started in the 1960s, it took over half a century for our political class to pass a law in 2013. It was clearly under duress, post Anna Hazare led movement that the then UPA government buckled to enact a law to create Lokpal, on 16th Jan 2014.
Fact is, no government is clean, and has more often than not, crossed the proverbial Laxman Rekha, at times or many a time. Only difference is the degree of muck and the number of instances an elected government got involved in sleaze. So the fear of the ombudsman was always there, and every government pushed it for another day.
Now that UPA after all did enact the law, but the NDA that came in May 2014, like all earlier governments, did not push it hard enough. They had a handy reason, no LOP, or Leader of opposition. Under the law to appoint a Lokpal, there has to be a committee, of 4 functionaries, like Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India or his nominee, Loksabha speaker and LOP, who in turn shall select a 5th Member, who is a jurist of repute. But no where it was mentioned that without LOP you can’t elect this ‘Jurist of repute’. As they say, ‘where there is will there is a way’. Narendra Modi, did not have Lokayukta in Gujarath, he appeared not so keen in the centre either, to go for Lokpal.
Indians are privy to the ‘righteous indignation’ of BJP when it was in opposition. During the Anna led movement in Jantar Mantar, BJP’s Sushma Swaraj had reportedly responded saying “Anna’s call is an appeal to our collective conscience”. Where is this “collective conscience now”! Got lost in the corridors of parliament!
Acting on a plea by NGO Common Cause, the highest court of the land has asked the central government to pull up its socks and not to drag its feet. Hope NDA led by Modi acts sooner to protect its own credibility. Yes country needs to have its first LOKPAL.

Chhattisgarh: Varsha Dongre, the deputy jailor had alleged in a social media post that she ‘had seen tribal women being stripped at police stations in Bastar and tortured by giving electric shocks. This is inhuman. Our laws and systems should not allow such practices. It is time to introspect?’ Reportedly, this was after the Maoists attack on CRPF in Sukma.
If true, NHRC has to take up suo-moto this issue of torture of innocent tribals just as they issued notice to UP for denial of ambulance to a labourer to carry his teenage son’s dead body. But she was rewarded by way of ‘suspension’, by the DGP of Chhattisgarh, ‘since her conduct was in violation of service rules’.
Surely Indians remember that jawan posting pictures of watery daal and roti and complaining about the poor quality of food. He too was sacked after the inquiry. People at the bottom, especially in police, army and other security forces getting a raw deal is more a norm than an exception. This time it has gone higher to the level of deputy jailer, may be a senior inspector grade.
It is true that there are forums and levels for making complaints. But for the fear of victimization it is not largely resorted to. Does this mean, truth should die, even before its natural death?! What is the alternative to expose these dark spots of our evolving democracy?!

Maharashtra: Some weeks ago bollywood singer Sonu Nigam had hit the bulls’ eye with his take on the use of loud speakers for Aazaan, the Muslim call for prayer. He was written about, both in praise and in criticism- some called him right and some called him petty and not fit for secular India. It is another matter, that the word ‘secular’ has its varied interpretation in India for obvious reasons, and is highly misused.
Of course all is quite after the initial outburst, where even a fatwa was issued by a West Bengal cleric to shave Nigam’s hair off his head etc.
But strangely nobody reacted when Babu Bhai, went to court much before the noise by Sonu Nigam, demanding the stoppage of use of loudspeakers in Masjids. Of course some have more noise and less content, while there are those who have more content and less noise. This is how all public discourse is.
Mumbai based, 66 year old Mohd. Ali alias Babu Bhai, had challenged in Bombay High Court the practice of using loudspeakers during early morning aazaan.
According to him, there is no harm if the use of loudspeaker is stopped and he claims it to be anti-Islamic. Reportedly he even succeeded to get seven mosques to stop the use of loudspeakers. He tells “Islam is over 1400 years old and loudspeaker was invented not even hundred years ago! Islam is strong enough and does not need any support of parasite like loudspeakers.”
While challenging the practice of using loudspeakers, he has reportedly collected 64 fatwa from maulvis in support of his stand. So also the court has already passed its order sometime in Aug 2016, on the suit filed by Babu Bhai, that loudspeakers cannot be used between 10PM & 6AM, and any violation shall be punishable with both fine and imprisonment.
But strangely most of the public space is unaware of this development. This needs to be pursued to its logical end. Do you hearken: Sonu Nigam, you already have a peer!

IPL 10 has come and gone, - Kings XI Punjab, Delhi Dare Devils, Gujarat Lions and the Virat Kohli led Royal Challengers Bengalooru (RCB), these four teams were out of reckoning for the knockout stage, with RCB at the bottom. It’s a star studded batting side, with lineup of bating greats, like Kohli himself, Chris Gayle and others. But they were credited with the lowest score of the current IPL series, at less than 50 all-out within 8 overs, with batting average of minus 1.299, the lowest of all 8 teams. Of course cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties, unsung can sing to glory and top notch biting the dust, more so with IPL with its entertainment dimension of hit out & get out. Or else, there is no way Kings XI Punjab, with the highest score of 237 in the last but one match is out of reckoning. And Rising Pune with average of just 0.176 is the 2nd in the ladder of playoffs.
Winning and losing is a part of all games, be it cricket or any other. But the number of defeats, and the way one has lost has lot to say on the leadership. Does this mean Kohli has failed as a captain!? If he is not good for IPL, can he be good for Tests, 50 over matches, & T20s?
Rahane is the vice-captain of the Indian team. He led the team in the absence of Kohli in the last and the decisive test against Australia. He had shown immense character and maturity in that match. And India won it and the series with that win.
Praising Rahane with the way he captained the Indian team, former Australian captain Ian Chappel had observed post the last Test “India are very very lucky to have a captain like Rahane. I thought he did a fantastic job. They (Kohli & Rahane) do it totally different. But I thought Rahane did a good job and the team right behind him because of the way he captained.”
Coming from a former Australian captain is a tribute to the ability of Rahane, but look at what Aussie media had to say about Virat Kohli, titling it “Aussie media labels Kohli ‘Classless’ and ‘ego maniac’, while Mark Taylor, the legendary batsman had observed ‘Kohli should grow bigger’. Many former cricketers also felt that it is wrong to hold grudges against players off the pitch for some stupid behaviour on the pitch. After all it’s just a game; you have to be bigger than that. “Virat Kohli had to shake hands and move on after series win. But he acted like a child”. After the series loss Aussie capt. Steve Smith called the Indian Team for a beer and Kohli had declined the offer. That was very unsporting. For the captain of a No1 cricket team, these comments reflect poorly. Certainly there appears to be room, for him to be a better model. Selectors do you hearken!

Karnataka: When will Indians ever learn to be people centric in their approach to development? Why do we suffer from this ostrich mentality, not wanting to see things in proper perspective?
“Drop Pourakarmikas’ Singapore trip plan, provide facilities”, was a news datelined Bengalooru. Ascribing to the President of the Karnataka State Pourakarmika’s Association(KSPA), report had informed accusing the state government of wanton waste of public money in sending 1000 pourakarmikas or conservancy staff to Singapore, ostensibly to “make them learn civic responsibilities.” What an incredible objective of Brihan Bengalooru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP)! and we have a joker from Environment groups in public space remarking “I am happy that Pourakarmikas will be going to Singapore as they deserve”. These pourakarmikas, who work under trying unhygienic conditions, with no protective boots, no protective hand gloves and masks, deserve so many entitlements and not trip to Singapore. Listen to Lalithamma, “We have to lift garbage with bare hands since no gloves are provided. We are being provided with mid-day meals and we have to eat our meals standing as there are no rest rooms and neither there is toilet. We will benefit more if the government focuses on these instead of arranging a trip to an unknown place”. Surely this pourakarmika Lalitamma has got more brain than BBMP commissioner N Manjunatha, who was reportedly unavailable to comment when media approached his office.
Tragedy is the complete unimaginative and insensitive approach of political class and their bureaucratic advisors, who didn’t blink at the fact that in Singapore authorities will not explain things to these workers in Kannada, with hardly any among these 1000 workers with any knowledge of English. And these workers from the municipal corporations across Karnataka would be shocked to see Singapore conservancy staff in full protective clothing and their handling tools comparing themselves to the stone-age traditions and man management practices of BBMP. Bengalooru, one of India’s top cities, still caught in the time warp.
Asking the government to provide better facilities with the fund instead of the trip the president of KSPA has charged that “CM announced revision of workers’ wages many months ago, which is still to be implemented” while demanding regularization of contract workers. It is a sad reflection of our ruling class or can we call them managing class’-politicians & babus-serious lack of a sense of proportion. There have been innumerable number of trips by MLAs and ministers going abroad on so-called study trips, visiting night clubs etc., and coming back with no-learning. When will we truly learn, so that we can truly develop!

The report “Traffic Police may come home to collect fines” is the most positive news from police in Bengalooru. Indians are the most indisciplined road users. Road rage and traffic violation of all kinds is fairly normal. Heavy fine is one of the strong deterrent. The recent amendment in the related act to heavily fine is a welcome measure.
The report informs that Bengalooru Traffic Police (BTP) has collected information of 500 repeat offenders to follow up till all the fine payments are made, tells lot about the commitment of the traffic police. Reportedly there are 22376 cases against these 500 vehicles- 4 wheelers, 2 wheelers and auto rickshaws-indicates the gravity of the issue. Although maximum number of violations are by motorcycles, one particular auto rickshaw tops the list of repeat offenders with 123 cases and a private car with 36 offences. This is staggering to say the least. Not only the entire fine due should be collected from these traffic violators, the license of the auto rickshaw driver and that of the private car driver should be suspended, at least for some years. Only then the message will go across that police means business. Hopefully some semblance of discipline shall come about. In any case, two cheers to BTP.

Most students of history of Karnataka know this Tipu Sultan. Writing on his death anniversary, yesterday the 4th May, one Shakira Khanum writes with a title ‘Tipu, a hero denied his place in history’. Quoting Mahatma Gandhi “Tipu was an embodiment of Hindu Muslim Unity”, the writer had gone on to praise this bigot called Tipu, left-right and centre.
If anything, as some writer had put it, Tipu was indeed “a divisive historical character, some even called him Aurangzeb, the tyrant. But there are vested interest vote bank politicians like Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah elevating this Tipu as a ‘true patriotic nationalist leader’. His party was in power in Karnataka for over 50 years, they never thought Tipu ‘true patriotic nationalist leader’. Siddu himself is there since last 4 years, as the CM of Karnataka. For the first 3 years, Tipu was nowhere around in the scheme of things. So surely, something or somebody had prompted Siddu to act to celebrate Tipu Jayanthi last Nov. He could have been a brave soldier; he could have been a good administrator. But there are enough people saying he killed both Hindus and Christians in thousands and forcibly converted many of them to Islam from all across Kodagu, Malabar and Mangalore. Anybody who uses cruelty and force against vulnerable sections is not fit for any tribute, let alone celebrating his ‘Jayanthi’.
And this writer, who writes on his death anniversary as tribute need to circumspect, despite her social proximity to Tipu. And she has, -kind of- no holds barred, indulged in praising the despot, while concealing if Haidar Ali, who was only a Dalvai, or chief of an army unit, usurped the Mysore Kingdom from Wodeyars?! Recorded history of Wodeyar dynasty is from 1399 to 1947, broken by a period from 1761 to 1799. This was the period Haidar Ali and Tipu ruled Mysore. How did this snap come about? So is this Tipu hero or villain?!
What is important for historians is to tell the truth and not cover it by our prejudices. History must help create better human beings leading to better civilization and not help sustain untruth masquerading as truth.

World: The news report that “Hafiz Saeed will remain under house arrest for 90 days more”, has to an extent conveyed the seriousness with which the authorities in Pak looks at this walking danger.
Pakistani government had on 30th January put Saeed and his four followers, Prof Malik Zafar Iqbal, Abdur Rehman Abid, Qazi Kashif Hussain and Abdullah Obaid- under house arrest, ostensibly for their involvement in activities prejudicial to peace and security. It was reported that it was the warning by the Trump administration to act against JuD chief that prompted Pakistani action. However Indian media reacted to this January 30 detention as an eyewash, dismissing it as Pakistan has always took such action only for public consumption and hence need not be taken seriously for India to feel comfortable.
However the latest extension of the detention has tried to convey the seriousness of the government at Islamabad. It had considered and listed the JuD chief under terrorism law and that he can pose a ‘serious threat’ to the nation. Reportedly, the acknowledgement of danger, about the Mumbai attack mastermind came from the Defence Minister Khawaja Asif of Pakistan during his interaction with the audience at the Global Security Conference held in Munich, according to the Pakistani news paper ‘The Nation’.
Prior to his house arrest, this Saeed Hafiz was put on Exit Control List, barring him from leaving Pakistan.
It has to be noted that, this action on Saeed Hafiz came in the wake of around ten terrorist attack inside Pakistan in January 2017 alone, where hundreds died, including the attack on a famed Sufi Shrine near Karachi, which claimed some 90 lives.
So at long last, the Pakistani politicians and the army have realized and recognized that ‘chicken has come home to roost’, that those who can kill others for no reason, can kill us as well.

Is it a purge or there is any method in madness! Trump, and there are many in the U.S., who do not like Barack Obama for whatever reason. Is it because he is a Democrat and not a Republican, or is it because, he is coloured or both. For whatever reasons, Trump is undoing all that Obama administration has done, whether it is some legislation or appointments made during the Obama Presidency. It was true that Obama administration had appointed many accomplished Indian professionals in some very senior positions in the government for their acknowledged contribution to the U.S economy and society.
Caught in the latest purge is Dr. Vivek Murthy who was appointed by Obama as Surgeon General. The 39 year old, Murthy was the first Indian to occupy this position of Leader of the U.S Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. He was appointed in Dec 2014 for a four year term. He was asked to resign sometime in April 2017 and asked to handover to Sylvia Trent Adams, a professionally qualified nurse, older than Murthy by some 12 years. A Super Power, supposedly the most powerful country in the world, strangely asks an MD in Medicine so also a faculty in Harvard Medical School besides being a practising physician in some top American hospitals, to resign and appoints a nurse, of course very well qualified and experienced, as the acting Surgeon General. No doubt Ms. Adams holds a ‘master in nursing and health policy’ besides a Ph.d from University of Maryland, but she is a nurse! She is simply not qualified to become the Chief of U.S Public Health Service. It would be like 12th class pass, Smrithi Irani lording it over Vice-chancellor of Indian Universities. It may be that Ms. Adams is only temporarily holding the fort, until someone else is appointed. But what was the tearing hurry to replace the incumbent chief except that he is an Indian and an Obama appointee!?
Strange are the ways of Trump. While demitting the office, Vivek Murthy had reportedly wrote in a FaceBook post “For a grandson of a poor farmer from India to be asked by the President to look after the health of an entire nation was a humbling and uniquely American story”. For this fetish of ‘America the greatest’, is Trump reversing American story?

Unlike low-key Barack Obama, Donald Trump is a high profile U.S. president. He wants to tell it and tell it loudly that he is the U.S president and ‘better take me seriously’. So, blasts Muslims of the world on his election as the President and then makes a state visit to Saudi Arabia. Saudi monarch receives Trump in a ceremonial welcome. Trump clinches an arms deal worth over US $ 110 billion. Goes to Tel Aviv and tells them that he is with them, warning Iran from Israeli soil for their contribution to terrorism, while not mentioning the Sunni terror of Saudi led combine. In fact, more than Shia terror, it’s the Sunny terror which has created the problems for the wide world. If Palestinian issue is solved, more of Shia terror would likely to stop. Talking to Mohmoud Abbas of Palestine, President Trump had categorically supported the idea of Palestine leader ‘of a negotiated settlement of all issues, for it to usher in long term peace and stability between Israel and Palestine and offered himself as ‘mediator, arbiter or facilitator’.
So, Trump is making it clear to all ‘what I say matters’. Recognize me as the ‘numero uno’ and wants to say it unabashedly. No qualms about it. Yes ‘U.S. is the greatest and I am its president.’ Like it or not.
It is true within his own country, the U.S., his countrymen are beginning to dislike him. They disliked him earlier too but now they even hate him. A Professor from California had even tweeted “To save American democracy, Trump must hang. The sooner and the higher the better.” But he is not perturbed. It was disturbing that majority of U.S. citizens supported him in the presidential bid. Fortunately there are Presidents of Iran and France who have just been elected by majority Iranians and majority French. They are both centrist reformers. They have a more egalitarian view of the world. While there are few extreme right leaders emerging causing disquiet, there are also moderates emerging too. Hope, between them world survives the looming crisis the world over.

J. Shriyan

What They Said

As usual 'Focus' in Issues & Concerns (May Issue) is both entertaining and informative. Your assessment of the likely Presidential candidates is balanced, detailed and dispassionate. And, I for one, wholeheartedly endorse your choice of a Technocrat in the person of Azim Premjee, someone who is eminently qualified and capable of providing the Government balanced and farsighted advice whenever compulsions of populist politics overtake long term interest of our nation.     
-Norbert Shenoy, Mangalooru, Via Email



I have been reading your English monthly “ISSUES&CONCERNS” regularly since more than about a decade. Since then it is my observation that the magazine has been maintaining the same standard quality with its issue based articles and other news bits. For a enthusiast reader it is like a tasty meal with many mouth watering dishes for a hungry man. ‘Long Live ISSUES&CONCENS’-   
K Sharada Bhat, Udupi

I am an avid reader of “Issues & Concerns” published from Mangalore under the able editorship of Mr. J. Shriyan.  Mr. Shriyan who is from a banking background having been the Chairman of Mahalakshmi Co-op. Bank Ltd., has varied interests and concern about the social problems  apart from editing  “Issues & Concerns” for the last 17 years.  He has shown keen interest in  publishing Health & Education issues which are fundamental to Good Governance.  Wherever Governance has failed, he has successfully solved the problems of the victims of mal-administration like failure of proper facilities to school children. He has generously contributed for the distribution of nutritious food  and supply of purified water and other needs of the poor students which is a noble deed indeed.
I whole-heartedly appreciate the work of Mr. Shriyan as also publication of “Issues & Concerns” and the values Mr. Shriyan stand for.
I wish Mr. Shriyan and “Issues & Concerns” all the very best.
Retd. Justice N Santosh Hegde, Former Lokayukta, Karnataka

NB: Have separately sent a chque for `10,000/- as permanent membership.


We deeply appreciate the time taken to write the letter of appreciation. So also your participation as a permanent member. The receipt of `10,000/- is hereby acknowledged. 
                                                                                           Editor

In the May, 2017, I&C, I feel “Thou Art That” in the ‘MUSING’ column is simply wonderful. It is a wip of fresh air, though various other contents in Focus, Month-in-Perspective and serial etc. are also interesting as usual. –Dr. Rohit, Chennai

Your focus "Khairlanji: shame of a nation”. (I&C April) made a very disturbed reading. Sir the world is very cruel. It is not as real as visible. It has got so much cruelty that nobody can imagine. Rarely we read such kind of ill treatment towards untouchables.
It was difficult to see those images. My senses became blank. How tragic is the fate of Dalits in India. When will this change, if ever?
‘Happiness is to make others happy’ by Prof B.M Hegde is a wonderful article. I was very happy to read the article, since it taught me lot of things. Rarely we find people who think, living for others is a way of life. It’s a great job to bring smile on others face and see them being happy.                                     – Chaithra Padukone, Nitte

FOCUS

From One for the Road to None for the Road:

A case of Judicial Overreach!

J. Shriyan

Disposing off petition to ban liquor vending on highways, the Supreme Court on 15th Dec. 2016, passed an order of around 8000 words running into 21 pages, while taking into account the unexpired period of vending licences. Quote “The states apprehend that premature termination may lead to claims for refund of licence fee for the unexpired term, with large financial implications. Hence we would direct that current licences may continue for the existing term but not later than 1 April 2017.
We accordingly hereby direct and order as follows:
(i) All states and union territories shall forthwith cease and desist from granting licences for the sale of liquor along national and state highways;
(ii) The prohibition contained in (i) above shall extend to and include stretches of such highways which fall within the limits of a municipal corporation, city, town or local authority;
(iii) The existing licences which have already been renewed prior to the date of this order shall continue until the term of the licence expires but not later than 1 April 2017;
(iv) All signages and advertisements of the availability of liquor shall be prohibited and existing ones removed forthwith both on national and state highways;
(v) No shop for the sale of liquor shall be (i) visible from a national or state highway; (ii) directly accessible from a national or state highway and (iii) situated within a distance of 500 metres of the outer edge of the national or state highway or of a service lane along the highway.
(vi) All States and Union territories are mandated to strictly enforce the above directions. The Chief Secretaries and Directors General of Police shall within one month chalk out a plan for enforcement in consultation with the state revenue and home departments. Responsibility shall be assigned inter alia to District Collectors and Superintendents of Police and other competent authorities. Compliance shall be strictly monitored by calling for fortnightly reports on action taken.
(vii) These directions issued under Article 142 of the Constitution.
We dispose of the appeals and transfer petitions in the above terms. There shall be no order as to costs. – CJI (T.S. Thakur) J (Dr. D. Y. Chandrachud) J. (L.Nageshwar Rao)
New Delhi- Dec. 15, 2016
In one stroke, the apex court dealt a death blow to a commercial activity that employed at least a million people across the country and put thousands of outlets out of business worth hundreds of crores every day. So also the huge revenue that states were earning. Naturally appeal and petitions came up and heard. But court insisted saying “Highway liquor vends must close”, on 31st March 2017, as the apex court was disposing the PIL of Chandigarh based activist Harman Sidhu.
Clearly, the authorities in respective affected states had some three and half months to plan their action to save themselves but they thought, a petition to the highest court of the land shall have the desired result. But that did not happen.

Why did the Supreme Court do it!
Its arguments are quite cogent. The backdrop to the case is the alarming statistics of death and injuries due to the on-road accidents involving vehicles, 2 wheelers to 4 wheelers and to even 6 wheelers. It has to be recognized that, in terms of personal suffering caused to individuals and families as well as in terms of deprivation caused to society of its productive social capital, road accidents impose unacceptable costs. Thus according to courts, facts of the case are certainly not in dispute and therefore becomes foundation for any policy initiative to regulate and control those causes which leads these avoidable accidents on the roads.
According to the statistics available within the ‘fault of driver’, persons killed in accidents ‘exceeding lawful speed accounted for 61% of all deaths (106,021) due to road accidents of which due to intake of alcohol/drug accounted for 4.2% and 6.4% respectively.
Available information from road transport sources the world over, informs that India has the highest rate of road accident casualties in the world. Local sources inform that India’s national highways and state highways share a common experience of an unacceptably high number of accidental fatalities, are largely due to drunken driving.
The concerned central government over these avoidable deaths due to alcohol consumption related road accidents, way back in 2004, constituted National Road Safety Council, which unanimously agreed that licences for liquor shops on highways should not be given. Accordingly Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MRTH) issued a circular to all state governments advising them to remove liquor shops situated along national highways and not issue fresh licences.
Thus, the move to regulate liquor vending along the highways has been there since some time. But then we Indians act only when we are cornered, always hoping for the best, that situations can always be managed. So despite advisories from central government, states didn’t take any action or had any road map about the regulation of liquor vending along the highway. And businessmen, being what they are, always find shorter and lucrative ways of making money and more money, kept on getting licences and kept on opening liquor bars and shops along the highways, which provide ready buyers and consumers, round the clock/round the year.

Come 1st April, its curtains down! But is it really so!
So suddenly the state governments and even central government are waking up to a new reality. Maharashtra government is toying with the idea of changing names of both Western Express Highway (WEH) and Eastern Express Highway (EEH). WEH, which runs from the suburb of Bandra in Central Mumbai to Dahisar in the North, is likely be renamed as Western Urban Road, and EEH which starts from city centre at Victoria Terminus or Chatrapathi Shivaji Terminus to Thane, a suburb in the north, shall be called Eastern Urban Road. Both these roads have been handed over to Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) for maintenance. Similar actions are being planned by all states, which earlier did not have prohibition. Besides, the local bar owners, liquor shops, restaurants selling liquor, all found different ways to remain in business, some overt-some covert. Hence truly speaking, did the Supreme Court order change things! Prima facie, it is appearing to be status quo on the ground.
While, there is no doubt that apex court had its noble intention, what about the experience of some of the Indian states which have prohibition in place? What about the experience of other countries where prohibition was tried and given up? Besides, regulation of sale and consumption of liquor is purely a governance issue, how the apex court in its wisdom thought that it is right for it to take the call!
Questions are many and we at I&C thought of finding some answers from the public space.
According to one writer, “The court may seem to believe that acting in public interest, as guardian of people’s rights, its powers are unfettered. However such outright overreach can prove to be highly problematic for the entire system of governance in the country”. Although this particular order is well intentioned, it is a breach of basic constitutional principles of separation of powers among the three pillars of our democratic polity- Legislature, Executive and Judiciary. What the court has done is, they made a law, which is truly the function of legislature.
Besides, court did not take into consideration, the huge loss of revenue for states and employment of lakhs people who were dependent on those vending joints. There has been no alternative model proposed for revenue. Similarly no proposal to absorb the people rendered unemployed by this closure of highway vending joints, has been put in place.
What probably should have happened is to give notice to the Central government that instead of advisories, come up with some effective legislation that would try to address the public interest concerns. This would have given an opportunity for the government to come up with some alternative model without being as painful as it is now.
Of course, the considered stand of the court has been, that despite years of advisories, the central government could not do the job, hence this intervention became necessary for safeguarding the fundamental right to life. But, asks a constitutional expert, “Does this give licence to courts to go into legislative overdrive at the expense of constitutional principles?!” It’s a good question.
Coming to the experience of other Indian states or the other parts of the world, there are enough material to learn from their experience.
In India, officially there is complete prohibition in states of Gujarat, Nagaland, Lakshadweep. Some parts of Manipur and Maharashtra too has this ban. Kerala has a phased banning of liquor vending since 2014. Mizoram and Haryana had imposed prohibition but later have lifted it.
Gujarat is officially a dry state since the formation of the state in 1960. But, it is a well known fact, that with right contact, getting booze is no big deal. Those with no contact have to travel to Abu Road in the north and to Silvassa, Diu and Daman in the south, to have a kick.
However what is important and therefore needs consideration is, prohibition has never stopped liquor consumption. Not only states have lost thousands of crores of revenue for the state, it has also encouraged manufacture of illicit and spurious liquor, which played havoc with the lives of ordinary people. In fact Mizoram lifted the prohibition for exactly the same reason in 2014, after 18 years of failed experiment.
Recently there was a story in the media, datelined Nashik in Maharashtra, “Killer Hooch brewed in govt. hospital canteen”. There was a ban during Zilla Parishad electioneering in Ahmednagar district. But then, those who are addicted to drink, will somehow manage to drink. And bootleggers know that whatever is concocted in the name of liquor will be sold. Reportedly close to a dozen have succumbed to the killer brew. If for some brief temporary period, the ban cannot be enforced fully, how the permanent ban can stand the test!
Illegal concoction, the killer hooch has killed some 140 people in Gujarat in July 2009. Like Gujarat, Nagaland too has been a dry state since 1989. Assam being at the border, has kept the uninterrupted flow of alcohol into the state. Just outside Dimapur, inside Nagaland, there are rows of liquor shops and make-shift bars on the Assam side. Inside Dimapur too, reportedly it’s not difficult to find hidden pubs in residential complexes. In Bihar too, people are crossing over to Nepal or to Jharkhand to quench their thirst.
Banning the sale and consumption of alcohol has, in this country’s experience, not been an effective check against its use. It has only criminalised the activity, with disastrous consequences for individual health, the economy and the administration — these include besides bootlegging, liquor mafias, spurious liquor, a complicit police too. It also deprives States of an important source of revenue. For instance, in Tamil Nadu nearly Rs.30,000 crore, or over a quarter of its revenue in 2015-16, came from taxes on the sale of alcohol and excise on manufacturing spirits. This income has enabled successive regimes from 2006 onwards to splurge on social sector schemes, especially the trademark programmes to supply free rice to nearly all ration card holders, distribute consumer goods and maintain its pioneering nutritious noon meal scheme for all children in government and aided schools and anganwadis. Certainly, alternative sources of revenue must be found if prohibition can virtuously, magically transform society. That case has, however, not been made, in argument or by experience.
It is a fact that Gujarat, Nagaland and Mizoram are examples of how prohibition gave rise to bootlegging, corruption and crime.
If Indian experience is bad, when it comes to prohibition, the experience of America was equally bad. A policy analysis by economist Mark Thornton, “Alcohol Prohibition in America was a failure”, reportedly mentions that, ‘prohibition was undertaken to reduce crime and corruption, solve social problems, reduce tax burden and improve health and hygiene in America’. Instead, he says, ‘it was a miserable failure on all counts’.
In fact it may not be wrong to say that criminalization of American society was, for a fair measure, was due to illegal production, distribution and consumption of liquor post prohibition, which also led to the emergence of underworld mafias like Al Capone and others.
Thus, it is nobody’s case that, while the positive expected impact due to the court order may be marginal, as the Times of India says “the ban puts thousands of valid business employing lakhs of people at risk”. Besides loss to the government by way of excise duty running into thousands of crores which in turn was available for government welfare schemes or even development projects.
Thus, the long and short of this entire debate is, the ban is not only not expected to deliver, it can truly disturb the life of a large section of citizens, directly or indirectly and make life difficult, at least for a good chunk of citizenry.
So, what is the solution to the deaths of thousands due to alcohol triggered accidents?
In the immediate short run, state government must increase its budget outlays for policing, drunk driving monitoring and more importantly courts must act with honesty, purpose and speed to dispose off drunken driving related cases. Do we remember the Salman Khan’s Hit & Run case of Sept 28, 2002! It’s now 15 years and no final words have been said. It was an open and shut case. Both political class and legal fraternity including judiciary helped this film actor remain free, while he should have been inside the jail for at least 5 years since 6th May 2015. It was purely money that played its role. Come to another spoilt brat Alistair Pereira, who got 6 months jail for killing 7 people under his limousine on the night of 12th Jan 2006. The session court punished him with 6 months in jail. Not even 1 month per person. While he deserved 10 years under culpable homicide. Then the infamous Sanjeev Nanda case, the political connection and money power put paid to his legitimate imprisonment. Yes, a positive  change is possible only through the prism of governance, where everyone plays his role as expected and duty bound within the four walls of law, applicable pari passu to all and sundry.   

WHEN BUCK STOPPED

Black buck stops and makes it her home

Nashik: You cannot miss the cute, little animal. She moves round the village, in a care-free manner, without fear of poachers. For the past few months, a blackbuck has made Mamdapur village of Yeola tehsil in Nashik district her home.
And the villagers zealously guard the blackbuck like any other pets. They feed the animal and keep a watch on its activities, lest the deer strays out of the hamlet. “Blackbucks are easy targets for poachers and the villagers ensure that the deer is always around,” said social worker Prakash Gudaghe.
Blackbucks are routinely poached in and around the area. One such case was reported in 2009. It was the villagers who caught the poacher and handed him over to the police.
So, how did the deer land up in the village? Yeola tehsil is a drought-prone region and wild animals and birds come here in search of water. This deer came to the village a year back and has stayed put ever since. Farmers feed the animal and have even built a small tank for the blackbuck. At night, the deer returns to its flock in the nearby forest.
Yeola has around 12,500 hectares of forest land while the Mamdapur Conservatory Reserve stretches over 5,500 hectares. The forest is home to over a thousand blackbucks according to forest officer Ashok Kale.
Kale said blackbuck numbers in the region are increasing due to the conservation efforts of the government, which includes building water holes and strict patrolling.
Mamdapur sarpanch Gorakh Vaidya said villagers are used to seeing blackbucks and this particular one has become a part of the village family. “Even the stray dogs don’t harass this deer. Mamdapur village has 534 families,” he said.




FEATURE

Does baby aspirin bring on heart attacks?

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

  “OF the terrible doubt of appearances, Of the uncertainty after all-that we may be deluded, That may-be reliance and hope are but speculations after all.”
Walt Whitman

It has been a fashion to prescribe baby aspirin (50-75 mg) daily in healthy people above the age of 30 for preventing a heart attack. A couple of decades ago Professor Cleland, cardiology professor at Southampton University had analysed the data and had clearly shown that while aspirin might or might not prevent non-fatal heart attacks, it definitely increases fatal cerebral haemorrhagic stroke in them by ten per cent! This did not deter the drug industry from coming out with their infamous “poly-pill” with the same aspirin in addition to rat doses of many other drugs in a single pill with lots of fanfare and propaganda claiming that a daily pill of this cocktail will keep death at a distance from the consumer. Thank God that poly-pill remained a non-starter. Man is dreaming of immortality always and the industry caters to that dream despite the fact that George Bernard Shaw in his classic, Doctor’s Dilemma, did emphasis: “do not try to live here for ever, you will certainly not succeed.”
“Knowledge advances not by repeating known facts but by refuting false dogmas.” A recent excellent study from Southampton University in the U.K. and the Maastricht University in the Netherlands found that daily aspirin intake may lead to increased odds of heart attacks by 190%! The study also revealed that a class of drugs called direct oral anticoagulants were also tied to increased odds of heart attack in patients with atrial fibrillation. The results were published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.The findings echo guidance issued by NHS watchdog NICE in 2015 which said aspirin does more harm than good for AF patients.Atrial fibrillation affects up to 900,000 patients in England and causes their hearts to beat very fast and irregularly, greatly increasing the risk of stroke and early death.But as many as one in seven - up to 120,000 patients - are taking aspirin even though it isn’t very effective and may itself cause a stroke
Look at this irony. An earlier study in 2016 did say that aspirin is a panacea for elderly people to live longer!Older Americans who take a low dose of aspirin every day will drastically cut their risk of contracting heart disease or cancer, a new study claims'Although the health benefits of aspirin are well established, few people take it,' said lead author David B. Agus, a USC professor of medicine and engineering. The authors of this study claim“multiple health benefits and a reduction in healthcare spending from this simple, low-cost measure that should be considered a standard part of care for the appropriate patient.” 
The long-term benefits of low-dose, daily aspirin were questioned this year after conflicting guidelines were published by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), a government-backed panel of experts, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.The USPSTF issued updated aspirin guidelines that declared the clinical benefit of aspirin. However, the FDA is concerned that some patients, particularly those 60 and older, face an increased risk of stroke and bleeding - both gastrointestinal and in the brain - if they take aspirin daily. However, this much publicised study was not a prospective one and was derived from observations done by different sets of examiners at different times and with different entrycriteria and is not as reliable as the Southampton study detailed above.
There was a more detailed study from Scotland published in 2010 in the JAMA which did show aspirin in bad light.Another study revealed that regular aspirin intake did not decrease the likelihood of suffering heart attack in at-risk patients. Scottish researchers found that high-risk patients who took aspirin on a daily basis had a similar stroke and heart attack rates as those who were on placebo treatment. The results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. About three years ago, Bayer AG requested to label aspirin as a heart attack prevention drug. This was later denied by the FDA, basing its decision on the 2010 Scottish study. The FDA has also cautioned patients taking aspirin with blood thinners.Other serious adverse effects associated with aspirin intake include internal bleeding, peptic ulcers, asthma, and kidney disease.
Although there are many more studies on aspirin these three give an idea to the reader how medical research throws up uncertainty as its only certainty. A lay man would be simply floored by this kind of reductionist research. Before one relies on these studies, especially the ones that support a common drug for uncommon indications one has to be careful to see who funds that research? Of these three studies the Scottish and Southampton studies were prospective done on NHS patients and not much money changed hands but the American studies are all money based studies where research simply means getting more funds, writing more papers and, fattening their CVs. Even if one goes by the democratic principles there are more reliable studies that show aspirin in bad light vis-à-vis studies done to show aspirin as good. Even the much hyped poly-pill did not make it to the market very well because of side effects.
I would be happy to accept the Southampton study for the time being as the best guidelines for aspirin treatment. I would go one step further to warn doctors to be very parsimonious in prescribing NSAIDS for simple upper respiratory infections as the latter in the long run could precipitate a stroke or heart attack. Many young people get a heart attack probably due to NSAID use earlier, even as far ago as five years prior. There were some studies suggesting inflammation as the cause of vascular diseases, the new target for new drugs from industry. I have a hunch that it is the NSAID s that must have connected the two. One cannot get better with reductionist thinking in a holistic human being with his mind in the driving seat. In the medical field where wise people insist on evidence base we do not have a scope to gauge the human mind (mindoscope). Until then all our reductionist studies remain only tentative, but caution is our wiser bet. Logically chemical drugs cannot be used for preventing any disease when they have potentially dangerous side effect. Using them for treatment in a desperate situation is logical but not for prevention.

“To be, or not to be, that is the question”  
William Shakespeare

Achievement under extreme hardship

Achievement under extreme hardship

Harihara: She is Sushmitha, scored 90.5% in PUC science section. It’s been 13 years that she lost her father. They stay in a rented house in Vijayanagara and her mother Nagarathna has been everything to her. Though lost her husband, without losing her confidence gave good education to her two daughters, never making them feel the lack of love of their father. She is determined to give them higher education to make them stand on their feet.
She prepares phenyl at home and sells it, whatever the money she gets out of it spends it for her daughters' education. Sushmitha, studied at Vidyadayini Institute. By studying hard without any tuition, her achievement is great. Sushmitha has written CET and NEET and would like to take up medicine if financial condition permits. ‘Everything up to mother’ says Sushmitha.                  Full Name: Sushmitha GM

Son made his father forget the hard labour

Kunigal: The father who sells chips for living has become the backbone in his son’s life. The boy seeing his parents’ plight took education as a challenge and studied with strong determination. Prakash is a student of Jnanabharati PU College. He is the son of Ramesh and Bhagamma of Beesegoudanadoddi of Hiliyooru Durga gram. Though Prakash studied his SSC in a Kannada medium Sidharth High School, he took up PUC Science (PCMB) in English and scored 91.05%. His father owns small land and agriculture has been their source of income. Just for the sake of his son’s education Ramesh has taken a room for rent in Kunigal town. For some time Ramesh worked as a watchman in a shop, and has been selling chips at bus stand for two years. Even Prakash helps his father in his work when free. “Seeing my father taking lot of trouble, I had determined to work hard. Despite the language difficulty with the help of faculty I have overcome the English phobia. Attending special classes in the night by college faculty has helped. I have a desire to become agriculture scientist” says Prakash.                    
Full Name: R. Prakash

Orphan’s proud achievement

Belgavi/Sankeshwara: Praveen lost his father when he was eleven month infant. His uncle took care of him during growing years. Now in 2nd PUC scored 95.67%.Praveen hails from Hukkeri Taluk of Bellada Baagevadi Gram, scored 97 in Kannada, 86 in English, 95 in Chemistry, 99 in physics, 97 in Maths, 100 in biology.
Praveen studied at Majalatti Govt Pre University College. Praveen’s uncle passed away two years ago. Now his son is taking care of Praveen. His uncle’s son works in other’s field, along with his family he is helping for Praveen’s education too.
Praveen wants to become a doctor. Already written NEET. They think that through bank loan or donation from people his education has to continue. He has been supported by his aunty and her son. Lecturer’s guidance and his late night study made him get highest scores, said Praveen.
Full Name:Praveen Anil Patil


Despite running 38 kms scored good marks

Yelaburgi/ Koppala: Hanumesh has scored 570 out of 600 marks (95%) in PUC science section. He is the son of a labourer Sannaningappa and Neelamma. He used to commute to college by bus, 19 km away from his house. He studied in Koppala Gavi Siddeshwara College. Whatever was taught to him at college he used to study the same day in leisure. He used to work in a small shop and was helping his family. ‘Working as labourers we will support him to pursue his studies to make him a doctor,' says his father Sannaningappa. The son through this result has made his parents proud as reward to their hard work.
Full Name: Hanamesh Sannaningappa Malekoppa 

Sister's achievement in brothers labour

Belgavi: Without being able to continue his studies, he stopped at SSC. Father less, he put his sister in hostel and gave education. She has got 94.16% in PUC science section. 
Sushmitha Ninganoore hails from Umarani gram of Chikodi Taluk. Because of poverty she had to leave her home and joined hostel when she was in 7th std. Without attending any coaching she scored 94.16%. 
"My sister's achievement has given me immense pleasure. I feel proud when people appreciate my sister. I will do my best to educate her” says her brother Shrinath Ninganoore.
Full Name: Sushmita Ninganoore 

Orphan girl gets first class

Hosapete: An orphan girl from Premanagar who passed her PUC with flying colours. Suma is a student of Theosophical College; did a great job by scoring 534 out of 600 in arts section. She became an orphan at 3 and was looked after by her aunt Sharadamma, who is a street vendor selling vada, dosa on the streets. Suma’s brother runs an auto. Poverty didn’t become an excuse in her achievements. She has scored 89% and is ready for higher education. She scored 468 in SSC. Despite poverty Suma is determined to pursue her higher education. Both family & neighbours are supportive of her determination.             Full Name: Suma 

Mother’s hard labour pays

Dharvad:  Seeing paralysed father and labouring mother, son discontinued his education. But mother mortgaged ‘mangala sutra’ in the bank and took `50,000/- loan to enable Sachin to continue his studies. He made his mother feel proud by scoring 95.5% in PUC science section. This is great achievement by Sachin Fakirappa Uppina from Talluru Belgavi. Sachin is a student of Dharavada Annageri College. Mother runs a tea shop to manage the family.
In SSC Sachin has got 92%. Being a Kannada medium student failed in the 1st PU midterm exam but in the 2nd PU final exam he scored more than the English medium students. 'I have understood poverty. Already I have written NEET. If I get a merit seat I would do medicine. Or else I will look for some job and will help the family' says Sachin.
'Tea shop is the only source of income. I am dependent upon whatever I earn from the tea shop. Sachin’s father is physically incapable. His medicine costs 4-5 thousands per month. I put my chain in bank and took loan, but I am happy it was worth it’ says Neelavva Uppina, Sachin’s mother.
Full Name: Sachin Fakirappa Uppina

Shruti want to be a Deputy Collector.

Harappana Halli: Shruti Valekar who got 7th rank in the state is a student of SUJM College. She scored 96.05% in PUC Arts stream. There is no transport facility, had to go from her village Kannihalli by foot, a distance of 2km, then travel by bus to Harappana Halli, where her college is.
Shruti is from a family of labourers from Kannihalli of Hagaribommana Halli Taluk, Bellari. Her father Venkatesh had passed away in youth itself. The mother has 4 daughters. Though she had 4 acres of land it didn’t come to any help since it was a waste land. Hence being labourer she gave a little education to her two elder daughters and married them off. Other two are studying. Shruti has finished her PUC ‘I am happy, despite poverty and mother being a labourer and travelling from my village, 60km to and fro college with great difficulty I studied. I would like to do BA and write competitive exams and want to become a DC’ says the 7th rank holder in the state.              
Full Name: Shruthi Valekar

Despite Physical handicap scores 87.33%

Kudach/ Belgavi: On the one hand poverty stricken home and handicapped body on the other made him completely dependent on others. Raju Gongadi of Chinchali town Rayabaga Taluk of Belgavi studied hard and scored 87.33% marks in PUC Commerce. Raju was born with leg impairment and could walk only with the help of supports. Despite being labourers, with little money his parents gave him education. Poverty has become their drawback and its stopping them continue their son’s education. Because of financial problem the parents are worried about the further education of their son. However, they are determined to give their son all support to pursue his degree, come what may.
Full Name: Raju Basappa Gongadi

Illiterate father’s concern & Son’s achievement

Belagavi: 'Being labourers we would come home tired. But today we felt as if we drank mug full of milk on hearing from our master the news of our son’s achievement. We work in other's field. When master informed us that our son got a rank in state we were overwhelmed. We will do everything to fulfill all his educational desire.’ said father Bhimanna sharing his joy.
He is from Devalapura of Baiahogala Taluk of Belgam, studied at govt PU College and scored 96% in science stream. My parents are illiterates and they work as laborers but they never asked me to help them in their work. I used to read a bit more at night and that helped me. I love animals hence would like to become a veterinarian says Hanumant B Karigar.
Full Name: Hanumant B Karigar 

This is the English reproduction of stories in Vijaya Karnataka (VK). Inviting participation to financially support these students. We at I&C have planned to sponsor `10,000/- per student. Readers are welcome to participate by issuing cheques in favour of individual student.- EDITOR



TECHNOLOGY

Building home quickly

Boston: MIT scientists have designed a new robotic system that can 3D print the basic structure of an entire building, an advance that would make building houses a faster, less expensive process. 
The building could also be completely customised to the needs of a particular site and the desires of its maker. Even the internal structure could be modified in new ways, researchers said. 
Different materials could be incorporated as the process goes along, and material density could be varied for optimum combinations of strength, insulation, or other properties. 
"Ultimately, this approach could enable the design and construction of new kinds of buildings that would not be feasible with traditional building methods, said Steven Keating, from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US. 
The system consists of a tracked vehicle that carries a large, industrial robotic arm, which has a smaller, precision-motion robotic arm at its end. Unlike typical 3D printing systems, most of which use some kind of an enclosed, fixed structure to support their nozzles and are limited to building objects that can fit within their overall enclosure, this free-moving system can construct an object of any size.

Etcetera

Vaastu in IIT curriculum!

Kolkata: Believe it or not, IIT-Kharagpur, one of the premium scientific institutions in the country, has plans to introduce Vaastu Shastra in its curriculum soon.
“We wish to introduce Vaastu in our architecture syllabus so that it can be taught in classes,” the institute’s Ranbir and Chitra Gupta School of Infrastructure Design and Management (RCGSIDM) head Prof Joy Sen said.
Vastu Shastra had its beginnings in the Rig Veda. “The science of Vaastu is the science of mathematics. Today, the whole world is looking at the concept of Vaastu which talks about the synergy between nature and civilisation. We want to make young generations aware of that,” Prof Sen added.
Sen, who is also a professor in the department of architecture and regional planning of IIT-Kharagpur, said across the globe there is renewed interest in ancient Indian science. “So we are bringing up these theories before our students in class room lectures already. But we wish to formally introduce the subject in the institute’s curriculum in the near future,” he said, adding that Vaastu study can be introduced in graded modules to undergraduate architecture students who are taught courses like basic design and architecture. 

DIASPORA

Despite Political Power Sikhs are racially discriminated in Canada

Toronto: A Sikh police officer in Canada had been denied a promotion into the senior ranks because of his race and cultural background, a media report has said.
Staff sergeant Baljiwan Sandhu, a decorated officer with 28 years of service on the Peel police force, had sought a promotion to inspector in 2013, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported.
The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario said that not only he had been denied a promotion but that Peel Regional Police did not consider the portion of work in diversity relations as “real police work.”
The tribunal found that the officer’s cultural and linguistic background resulted in his superiors routinely seconding him for assignments involving the South Asian community.

FEATURE

Who will be the Next President of India?

P M Kamath

Who will be the next President of India? As long as the question is in the realm of speculation, any name is good enough to be considered. Constitution of India prescribes only a few qualifications to be a President. From the point of view this piece, first, he (wherever he is used, invariably it also means she), is to be a citizen of India. Unlike the American Constitution, it doesn’t prescribe him to be a ‘natural born’ citizen. Second, he ought to be 35 years of age and third, he needs to be qualified to be elected as a member of the Lok Sabha.
So formally, very simple qualifications have to be fulfilled by any aspirant to be the next President of India. There is thus, no academic qualifications prescribed; as an example, late Gyani Zail Singh though a non-matriculate, became the President of India. According to Indira Gandhi’s Private Secretary, P C Alexander, Mrs Gandhi chose him for his loyalty to her; he had publicly said that if she asks him to sweep the floor, he will ungrudgingly do it. Additionally, as she was facing a political crisis in Punjab, as a Sikh, she thought it will help her to overcome Sikhs’ anger against her.  On the other hand, there have been scholarly persons like, Radhakrishnan, or Zakir Hussein.
Though, I fulfil all necessary qualifications, I, in the larger national interest, opt out from the race. Then whom will I recommend? First, let me state that it is the prerogative of the Prime Minster (PM) to finally select a person of his choice. Second, PM can select him from a vast and highly deserving list of qualified, highly educated, men committed to public service; names like Mrs. Sudha Murthy of Infosys Foundation or Azim Premji of  Wipro have been mentioned. 
Thus, the field of public service has of course provided in recent times a popular and peoples’ president when Rashtrapati Bhavan was occupied by Late APJ Kalam. But for the men from the field of public service, I was and I am of the opinion that such men should begin first as Vice President of India before they are appointed to the highest position of President.  Then these excellent human beings would get an insider’s knowledge of difference in meaning of politicking and politics. The first term refers to pursuit of political goals for personal gains while politics is seen in the sense of ‘authoritative allocation of values’ in the society. I had written a piece then in June 2002 raising the question: Can Kalam as President Guard the Constitution?  After Dr. Kalam became the President, since I knew him, I sent a copy of my article to him. He wrote back that he had read it. 
Similarly there is a proliferating political field from which PM can pick his choice. Hence, majority of PMs tend to choose a politician for the job since tribal loyalty within the profession of politics is very strong as academics; no academic will prefer a military man appointed as Vice-Chancellor! Thus, assuming that PM will select a person from within the BJP family as they have maximum votes needed in the indirect election to get the next President elected, might, apart from loyalty factor mentioned above, give consideration to caste or region or both.  
Mention of caste reminds me my interactions with K. R. Narayanan whom I had known from the days he was Indian Ambassador in Washington, DC. I never knew that he belonged to SC category. It wasn’t necessary at all as he was a good qualified person to interact with! But his caste was highlighted to make his candidature acceptable to political parties first to the post of Vice President and then to Presidency. I wrote an article carried by more than one newspaper, on “Narayanan for President” in June 1998, criticising highlighting of caste and reducing him from the broad perspective of national president to narrowly as a caste president.
Then whom the BJP will select? May be if BJP says let’s limit the choice to those who have served our party well, will PM choose L K Advani? He built literally the BJP as a strong national party, by taking its strength from two in 1984 to 182 that enabled Vajpayee to become PM in 1998; had been Home Minister and Deputy PM under A B Vajpayee. He had represented Gujarat in Lok Sabha and according public sources he had protected Mr. Modi when he was Gujarat CM from being removed under the concept of Raj-Dharma, soon after the Godhra Massacre and Gujarat riots in 2002. If Advani is made the President, not withstanding pending court cases, PM will be paying back the debt he owes to Advani. Another name he may go for Venkaiyya Naidu, keeping an eye on the BJP’s big push into Southern India or Ramdas Athavale to consolidate alliance with Dalits.
Before I conclude, I wish to add two caveats. First, I must publicly declare, to avoid a charge of conflict of interest that with all these three candidates I have interacted and shared public platforms. Second, I think it is high time India give up Titular Presidency in favour of an Executive Presidency. Of course, if India switches over to Executive Presidency, any one of the three of my names might go down in the history books as the one who presided over such a switch! But the nation will enjoy political stability; avoid wastage of scarce resources, become capable of providing good governance with democracy and gain the advantages of one nation one election and a nationally a strong foreign policy.

Dr. Kamath is former Professor of Politics, Mumbai University and currently, Chairman and Hon. Director, VPM’s Centre for International Studies (Regd.), affiliated to Mumbai University. He is also Adjunct Professor, Department of Geopolitics and International Relations, Manipal University, Manipal.

SERIAL : 9

THE PERSISTENCE OF CASTE

The Political Economy of Atrocities

The Shaping of The Macabre Spectacle

Anand Teltumbde

After the transfer of power from the British to the Indian nationalist elite in 1947, the bourgeois-landlord state that came into being represented a compromise between the interests both of the bourgeoisie in undertaking modernization and of the landlords in preserving their control over rural India. Although under the stewardship of India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, the state gained an overridingly modernist character, it could not disturb this balance beyond a point. A modernist constitution provided it a distinct vision for establishing an egalitarian order but was restrained in implementation by the imperatives of power dynamics. Capitalism, which elsewhere catalysed the fading of feudalism, had in India adjusted itself with pre-capitalist institutions such as caste, religious bodies and tribal custom - rather than confront them, it put them skillfully to use. While it made significant inroads into the countryside - piggybacking on state policies like big dams, farm subsidies and the Green Revolution - it left pre-capitalist institutions untouched. The state’s emphasis on the spread of modern education, urbanization and industrialization had its impact but only in modifying feudal structures, not in dismantling them. These institutions, particularly caste, could thus comfortably coexist with modernization. And caste did.
Sectors less accommodative of the processes of modernization have been the traditionally subaltern caste occupations, such as weaving, pottery, leatherwork, rope-making and toddy-tapping. These were undermined and marginalized, rendering the subaltern castes vulnerable, even as capitalist development strategies like the Green Revolution empowered landowning castes, both shudra and the traditionally elite. Not only did development generate huge surpluses for these groups, it also commoditized the rural economy and, by facilitating the migration of the modernizing rural elite to urban areas, left the villages in the control of the shudra neo-rich. In the absence of any provision for protectionism in the state's development policies, these nonbrahmin, nondalit groups tended to take advantage of old and already-eroded village production relations, without meeting any of the obligations required by the mutuality on which these were based.
The ancient ideological framework of caste had been materially supported by the organization of production in the form of an interlinked two-tier structure of land relations - a framework that survived through history in all its variations. Its economic content lay in the institution of serfdom, where peasants were attached to the soil held by landed intermediaries placed between tiller and king. Of the two tiers, the upper was composed in medieval times (the earliest these relations are found detailed) of various ranks of landowning nobility - deshmukhs, mansabdars, jagirdars, etc. - going up to the Mughal emperor or regional ruler, and all standing above the village system. The lower tier, which determined intra-village relationships, lay in the balutedari (also known as the jajmani) client-patron system, under which labouring groups were assured a steady supply of work with payment in kind, usually grain, rendered in return for the produce/fixed hereditary service each caste was expected to provide to those higher in the caste order.
This system was structurally threatened by the change introduced by the British colonial regime in land administration. The British knocked off the top half of the two-tier structure and in its place either institutionalized the zamindari system of revenue-collection through landlords, or, as in the Deccan south, inaugurated the ryotwari system, wherein the cultivator paid revenue directly to the state. Land was no longer owned by the village as a whole but by individual landlords. Firmly tied to their piece of property with no obligation to the village community, the new landlords were bound to develop a worldview that saw the previous jajmani interdependence as parasitical upon agricultural produce.
This structural change coupled with the absorption of surplus rural labour (mostly of the lower shudras and untouchables) into capitalist production in urban centres shook the traditional caste system to its roots in colonial times, affecting both caste relations and conflicts. The nineteenth-century rise (discussed in the Introduction) of the shudra-led antibrahmin movement and the anticaste movement of the dalits can be traced to these developments. In postcolonial times, the zamindari system was abolished, but caste antagonism was left intact by the developmental paradigm operated by the bourgeois-landlord combine running the state. Srinivasulu captures this post-Green Revolution moment well:
The political economy of development in the post-Independence period... brought about a perceptible change in the physiognomy of social class-caste structures, giving rise to a new class of rich landlord and peasant landowners, who replaced the old zamindar class. A new generation of market-oriented upper caste and backward caste landed peasant proprietors thus emerged in place of the old upper caste landed gentry.... This broad generalization, with slight variations, captures the picture of socio-economic change in different parts of the country.
Since the 1960s, prominent cases of atrocities have involved organized attacks on dalits by caste Hindus mostly of the shudra category, mobilized on caste lines to attack specific dalit groups. These atrocities were overwhelmingly committed by neo-rich, landowning, Backward Class (BC) castes, their mainly agricultural wealth directly traceable to state land reform policies, the Green Revolution and the concomitant processes leading to commodification and a money economy in the countryside. In many places, the occurrence of atrocities appears to contradict normal sociological expectation that the countryside undergoing capitalist transformation of its production base correspondingly displays capitalist relations - and certainly does not manifest as the exemplar of intense feudal expression. In Andhra Pradesh, atrocities have occurred in the relatively prosperous deltaic districts of Prakasam and Guntur, not in the poorer, dry-land region of Telangana. In Haryana, likewise, the Jhajjar-Panipat-Sonepat belt, where five dalits were lynched in 2002, is notable for its capitalist agriculture and upcoming industry. Even Khairlanji happened not in the dry land belt of the districts of the Vidarbha region, famous today for crop failure and farmer suicides, but in the relatively prosperous Bhandara district, known for its flourishing irrigation network. It appears therefore that it is the prosperous sections of the countryside - which had witnessed agrarian transformation over the course of a century - that have become the site of barbaric antidalit crime.
In order to understand this phenomenon, one has to understand the dynamics of the specific processes at work during this transition. As analysis clearly shows, there has been a massive growth of commercial agriculture (very visible in the case of coastal Andhra Pradesh and Haryana, and to a lesser extent in Bhandara and elsewhere), leading to an increased marketable surplus in the region. This found its way into a variety of economic activities in nearby urban centres, creating a surplus-seeking class of the rural neo-rich who have also acquired a new urban face as entrepreneurs. While the processes of agrarian development have thus enriched a section of the landowning rich, the benefits of agrarian prosperity have not percolated to the landless agrarian poor. Indeed, the economic conditions of most labourers worsened, with wages remaining lower than those legally prescribed and the terms and conditions of tenancy and large-scale indebtedness to landowners playing a crucial role in keeping lower agrarian labour in a state of bondage.

Identity Politics and the New Oppressors
The afterglow of the Congress party's prominence in the Indian freedom movement carried it through three uninterrupted decades in power at the centre, although the aura had begun wearing off much earlier, in the mid-1960s. The rhetoric of building a new India had initially enabled the party to maintain political hegemony over all oppressed groups. This however was threatened as the party's insufficiently sincere, half-heartedly implemented policies in favour of the underprivileged rendered hollow such slogans as Garibi Hatao (Eradicate Poverty) and its promises of an egalitarian India. Unrealized aspiration and increasing crises created general resentment, which gave rise on the one hand to new, regional political parties composed of emergent classes from within the shudra groups, and, on the other, to movements such as naxalism and the Dalit Panthers. These developments brought the state under increasing pressure, to which it responded with totalitarian suppression whose culmination was in the Emergency of June 1975 to March 1977. This backfired for the Congress, for resistance widened the political sphere, and politics became more competitive. Given caste's centrality to Indian society, however, politicians began to rely for votes on identities more than on ideology or proposals for development alternatives. An entirely new use was found for caste, now imparted an infinite manipulability. In the first-past-the-post system, even small caste groups could have a disproportionate impact on electoral results - especially if they vote as a bloc, as it often happens in India, whether freely or by force.
The process of shudra consolidation occurred over two decades until the 1970s as the economic empowerment of the landowning shudra castes slowly raised their political aspirations. These castes did not have as much of a ritualistic hierarchy among themselves as the higher groups did and, propelled by economic empowerment, were able to consolidate themselves into a peasant-proprietor constituency, bracketing together all BC communities across the country. These groups saw that the ruling Congress was dominated by the pre-Independence-era privileged castes (brahmins, trader banias, land-owning thakurs). They thus shifted allegiance to anti-Congress, regional political formations and became their support base. In the north, the newly empowered and numerically dominant BCs - yadavs, kurmis and koeris - grew into a formidable social force, found today in the many variations of the erstwhile Janata Party. In the south, too, the emergence of similar blocs could be noticed in Andhra Pradesh (the Telugu Desam Party) and Tamil Nadu (the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam). In Maharashtra, they were represented by maratha power (Nationalist Congress Party and Shiv Sena).
From the 1970s, shudra aggregations have wrested political power in almost every Indian state and brought the hitherto Brahmin-dominated parties to their knees. This they did either through their own 'regional' outfits or by taking over the major political parties (the Congress and subsequently the Bharatiya Janata Party, the latter dominated today by Backward Class individuals like Narendra Modi in Gujarat and B.S. Yeddyurappa in Karnataka). Soon, their success reached the centre through coalition rule - an amalgam, in fact, of various shudra groups. Shudra power was inaugurated with the formation of the Janata Party that dealt the Congress its first national-level electoral defeat at the end of the Emergency in 1977. They have not looked back since.

DISCOVERY

Zealandia, the new continent!

Melbourne: A hidden realm as big as the Indian subcontinent that is submerged under the Pacific Ocean deserves to be recognised as a new continent ‘Zealandia’, according to a new study released. The 4.9 million kilometre region of the southwest Pacific Ocean is made up of continental crust, researchers said.
The region is elevated relative to surrounding oceanic crust, has diverse and silica-rich rocks and a relatively thick and low-velocity crustal structure. Its isolation from Australia and large area support its definition as a continent – Zealandia.
Today it is 94 per cent submerged, mainly as a result of widespread Late Cretaceous crustal thinning preceding supercontinent breakup and consequent isostatic balance.
According to researchers including those from Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand and University of Sydney in Australia, the identification of Zealandia as a geological continent, rather than a collection of continental islands, fragments, and slices, more correctly represents the geology of this part of Earth.   Zealandia provides a fresh context in which to investigate processes of continental rifting, thinning, and breakup.
Earth’s surface is divided into two types of crust, continental and oceanic, and into 14 major tectonic plates. In combination, these divisions provide a powerful descriptive framework in which to understand and investigate Earth’s history and processes. In the past 50 years there has been great emphasis and progress in measuring and modelling aspects of plate tectonics at various scales.
There have also been advances in understanding of continental rifting, continent-ocean boundaries (COBs) and the discovery of a number of micro-continental fragments that were stranded in the ocean basins during supercontinent breakups.
However, continents are Earth’s largest surficial solid objects and it seems unlikely that a new one could ever be proposed, until now, researchers said. “The area of continental crust is large and separate enough to be considered not just as a continental fragment or a microcontinent, but as an actual continent – Zealandia,” the researchers wrote in the study published in GSA Today.
“This is not a sudden discovery but a gradual realisation; as recently as 10 years ago we would not have had the accumulated data or confidence in interpretation to write this paper,” they said.
Zealandia once made up nearly five per cent of the area of Gondwana. It contains the principal geological record of the Mesozoic convergent margin of southeast Gondwana and until the Late Cretaceous.  Thus, depictions of the Paleozoic-Mesozoic geology of Gondwana, eastern Australia and West Antarctica are both incomplete and misleading if they omit Zealandia.
The importance of Zealandia is not so much that there is now a case for a formerly little-known continent, but that, by virtue of its being thinned and submerged, but not shredded into microcontinents, it is a new and useful continental end member.



YEH MERA INDIA

Coast Guard caught not guarding

Mumbai: A globe-trotting Russian couple on a yacht successfully dodged the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard and dropped anchor barely 500 metres from the Gateway of India. All this at a time when Mumbai has come under attack several times from the Arabian Sea and the authorities have been making tall claims that the city coastline has now been secured. The couple — Orlov Demitry (45) and Orlova Elena (39)—were on an adventure mission, but this is the same manner in which Ajmal Kasab and Co. landed in Mumbai in 2008 and butchered over 150 people.
“The Russian couple claims to have contacted the Indian Navy as well as the Coast Guard before entering Mumbai waters. But they did not get a reply from either of these two agencies,” said Vijay Raghunath Dhopavkar, senior inspector of Colaba police station. It was local fishermen, who are now the eyes and ears of the security agencies, spotted the Russian duo and informed the Colaba police. The couple had left Russia around a year back and their last port of call was Daman and Diu.
The Colaba police intercepted the yatch called ‘Scanp’ and immediately informed officials from the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), the Crime Branch, the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard. “But the Indian Navy and Coast Guard officials did not come to the spot,” said a senior Mumbai police officer requesting anonymity.
“We reached where the yatch was anchored and searched the vessel. The couple did not have Indian visa stamped on their passports. They did not have legal permission to enter the Arabian Sea, but they had the permission to enter the Indian Ocean,” said Dhopavkar.
Local fishermen, called mitras (friends) by the coastal cops, are entrusted with the job of spotting suspicious movement of vessels and report them back to the police. But how did the yacht, a foreign vessel, manage to evade the coast guard and the navy? When questioned, Chief Public Relations Officer (Defence) Rahul Sinha said, “No comments from Indian Coast Guard. The matter is being investigated by the police.”

Minor ‘helps’ helpless father by ending his life

Chandigarh: A 16-year-old boy from Punjab, who wanted to study further but realized his father could not afford his education, committed suicide.He wanted to “relieve his father of the guilt” of not being able to fulfill his dreams.The tragic incident has once again brought to the fore the predicament of debt-ridden farmers in Punjab. Gurjinder Singh hung himself at night in the village of Nagla in the Talwani Sabo district of Punjab.
Only Son: Gurjinder was the family’s only son. His parents wanted him to grow up and help them get out of the family’s debt and poverty. They said all their hopes have come to an end.
Gurjinder had passed his class X examination and wanted to join a private school to study further. Apart from his interest in studies, Gurjunder was ready to sweat it out along with his father during the cropping season. Over the years, his father’s debt had risen to over Rs. 5 lakh. Gurjinder spoke to his father his plans to study further, but the father’s helplessness was often writ on his face. Soon, Gurjinder stopped asking questions about his education, even though it was very hard for him to give up on it. Eventually, his dilemma became unbearable, and this led to the decision to end his life. The growing insustainability of agriculture and mounting farm debt have been leading to the suicides of farmers and farm labourers in Punjab. The average Punjab farmers is in a debt of about Rs. 8 lakh. The Congress government, in its manifesto, had announced a complete farm debt waiver. The Amarinder Singh-led government has set up a three-member expert committee to suggest an action plan for debt waiver in the next 60 days.

Wife sings in public: Upset husband tries to kill self

Andhra Pradesh: A man immolated himself in Gooty mandal of Anantapur district in after his wife sang qawwali with others against his wish as part of Ugadi celebrations. Gooty Sub Inspector Chand Basha said Shaikh Basheer asked his wife Sadika Sanjari- a singer- not to participate in the Telugu New Year celebration.
Sanjari, however, not only participated in the celebration but also sang qawwali with others. A miffed Basheer, who was among the audience for a while, poured kerosene over his head and torched himself while the qawwali session was on.
Onlookers doused the fire by pouring water on Basheer who suffered 70% burns and is battling for life at a local hospital.


Inter ministerial fight, an Indian dimension

New Delhi: A 800 crore bill raised for providing Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) cover for airports has pitted the ministries of Civil Aviation, Home Affairs and Finance against each other over who will settle the bill.
The ministry of finance suggested that the burden should be passed on to fliers though Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) vehemently opposed it and the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) suggesting that it should be footed from the Consolidated Fund of India.
The differences of opinion cropped up during a meeting on unified security architecture for aviation sector and consolidation of security of airports attended by Ministers of State Kiren Rijiju (Home), Jayant Sinha (Civil Aviation) and Arjun Ram Meghwal (Finance) and top officials.
Sources said with non-reconciliation of differences persisting, the matter may now go to the Prime Minister’s office for a final decision.
The MoCA was of the view that the bill should be settled from the Consolidated Fund of India, an idea which was opposed strongly by the MoF.


Students spitting in Public: AICTE direction

New Delhi: The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has asked institutes under it to stop students from spitting on their campuses to ensure that they do not spit in public in the future.
The move is part of the Swachh Bharat (Clean India) campaign rolled out by the Centre on October 2, 2014. 
“The flagship programme of the Government of India has received enormous support from all technical institutions and is successfully being implemented,” AICTE chairman Anil D Sahasrabudhe noted in his letter to the principals and directors of engineering and other institutions offering technical programmes.
However, the practice of spitting in the open on the roadside “is still prevalent,” he noted. 
“One has to ensure change of the mindset and take preventive steps to stop this practice,” he said, asking the head of the institutions to take necessary steps in this regard.
The AICTE chief suggested that the heads of the institutions involve volunteers from the National Services Scheme, National Cadet Corps and other groups to start a campaign on their campuses against “the practice of spitting in the open.”
 “I am looking forward to your cooperation and support in creating mass awareness to stop this practice on the campuses,” he added.
A total of 10,330 technical institutes are functioning under the AICTE with more than 6.99 lakh teachers and 20.39 lakh students enrolled in various undergraduate and post-graduate programmes in engineering, management and other technical streams.

Girl students stripped to check blood in bathroom

Uttar Pradesh: Furious over blood stains in the bathroom, the warden of a residential school forced around 70 girls to strip to check who among them was menstruating. The incident occurred at Kasturba Gandhi Girls Residential School at Tigri village in Muzaffarnagar. The matter, however, came to light, when the girls staged a demonstration inside the campus, demanding that action be taken against the warden, Surekha Tomar.
Sources said the warden flew into a rage after she saw blood stains in the bathroom. Around 70 girls were taken to a classroom where they were forced to strip. One of the students said the girls kept pleading with the warden to stop the inhumane treatment, but she did not relent. 
The ordeal went on for several hours, during which the humiliated girls watched each other being checked. “Surekha has been suspended after being found prima facie guilty in the matter,” said district basic education officer Chandrakesh Yadav. The state government has also ordered a probe into the matter. “It is a shocking incident... we will ensure stern action against the warden if she is found guilty in the probe,” said a senior government official.
Surekha, however, denied the incident and pleaded innocence. She claimed that none of the girls were stripped and termed the allegations a “conspiracy” against her. Some of the students were taken home by their parents after the reports of the harassment surfaced. The parents also protested and demanded action against the warden.