Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Code of Ethics?

Today, I read with interest the following news:
Like doctors and lawyers, teachers may soon be subject to a “code of professional ethics”, which includes clauses for disciplinary action over corporal punishment, private tuitions and other “anti-community” activities.

This led me to think not about the teaching profession but about the other two professions which are already under the “code of ethics”. Are our doctors and lawyers always operating with ethics? Has this code done any good? If this code of ethics was a deterrent factor how did our CJI get embroiled in the current scam?

Trouble is brewing for former Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan, with allegations of amassing of property worth crores of rupees sufacing against his son-in-law and former Supreme Court judge V R Krishna Iyer today demanded a judicial probe into it.



What is professional ethics?


Professional ethics concerns the moral issues that arise because of the specialist knowledge that professionals attain, and how the use of this knowledge should be governed when providing a service to the public.


The professional carries additional moral responsibilities to those held by the population in general and in society.



One of the most far-reaching recommendations of the code is setting up of a professional body like the Indian Medical Association or Bar Council of India, which applies to professionals in their respective fields and imposes penalties in case of reported violations of ethical practices.

As stated above, is it because violations are not reported?



I guess, in the end it all depends on the individual when it comes to integrity and honesty. No amount of “codes” can make one perform ethically if one puts more value to money and power above “professional ethics”.




Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Professional_ethics http://www.indianexpress.com/news/scams-embroil-top-exjudges-balakrishnan-and-krishna-iyer/729883/1 http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-professional-ethics.htm

Monday, December 13, 2010

Honey, it is just money

It was not very long ago that Amazon.com upheld the right of their customers or their right to choose within the world's largest democracy by the following statement:

Let me assure you that Amazon.com does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts; we do support the right of every individual to make their own purchasing decisions,"

And if some of you missed this news and failed to see the kind of privilege/freedom it offered  to it’s valuable customers,

It was the following electronic book,

"The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: a Child-lover's Code of Conduct," by Philip R. Greaves II, went on sale on Oct. 28 and cost $4.79 to download.
But sane customers were quick to lodge their protest:

The book quickly sparked a massive protest online, with thousands of Twitter users and Amazon customers calling for Amazon to remove the book, and some threatening to boycott the company altogether until it did.

Even if Amazon.com was not forthright in its intention, the author was, since he did not mince his words:

"I can see where they would come to that kind of conclusion and to a certain extent I wanted that kind of notoriety to affect the book. ... I wanted it to effect sales," he said.

But I am glad that this world still is still sane since only one book was sold.

Not sure if those aspiring pedophiles were scared to download fearing watchful eyes, but it seems before Amazon pulled the book, it apparently shot to #96 on Amazon's Top 100 list.

And now Amazon.com has chosen to block wikileaks and  most of it's sites are under attack by hackers.

Source:

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/amazon-removes-pedophilia-book-store/story?id=12119035&page=1
http://www.dailypioneer.com/303373/Amazon-sites-down-after-WikiLeaks-supporters-threat.html

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The leaks...

Against the backdrop of wikileaks and after reading the following from Pioneer, thought I would re-post what I had posted earlier.


Secret cables, which were leaked by WikiLeaks, show that US diplomats and spies believe Pakistan army and its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) continue to quietly back four militant groups -- the Afghan Taliban, its allied Haqqani and Hekmatyar networks on the western Afghan frontier, and LeT on the eastern border with India.


Some ISI officials "continue to maintain ties with a wide array of extremist organisations, in particular the Taliban, LeT and other extremist organisations," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote in December 2009.

Resolving the 63-year-old Kashmir conflict "would dramatically improve the situation", Patterson said.
Click to read the full article.

As for wikileaks, I continue to believe that nothing new has been revealed. Whatever is in black and white now has been leaked earlier in the media. Some believed while some did not. And now one can either take the stand of Mrs. Clinton and call them terrorists or one can call them a whistle blower. But even if it is late, America can now publicly acknowledge what they really think of Pakistan and it's leaders.

I also believe that the ones on the banks that are yet to come may be of help to the US citizens themselves. Are they not interested in knowing how the financial crisis came about and how those who are responsible for it are still being protected? As an Indian citizen, I would love to have the same leaks on my own government especially after the recent scams.

The following was a comment from my friend when I posted on FB that if US has done nothing wrong then why they should fear the leaks. 
That is very easy for you to say. It is like you having a frank, private discussion with your husband about all your neighbors and then find out that someone has recorded the conversation and given it to the whole neighborhood. The point is that the cables are and were meant to be confidential communications and diplomatic missions require such internal information to function well.
I did respond thus and further chat did not reach anywhere
Well, you can put it thus if you think you have been given the moral right to control every neighbour that lives around you..



nd feels it is right to maintain diplomacy/silence as you deem, even when you know that one of your neigbour is s...ending a dagger right through the heart of the other :)
___________________________________________________________________________________
My earlier posts on US's obsession with Pakistan and Kashmir.

For the carrot - dated 2-Feb 2010

Thus blogs the great enlightener of the masses..


Wow!

Nd why in the world should India be obsessed with Pakistan?

Oh yes… they have an answer to that too.. The much coveted seat in the great UN besides the great US.

And hence, US is dangling this carrot and sweet talking to India so as to end its stand with Pakistan since the great citizens in the US thinks and is made to think that all the problems in Pakistan ( Afganisthan , Bin Laden, Islamic terrorism) is only because of Kashmir (India). Literally speaking, every Pakistani wakes up in the morning and was waking up since Pakistan’s independence and thinks and was thinking only about Kashmir and the myriad ways to save the multitude of suffering souls in Kashmir. And now it seems US is also thinking along these lines!

And it is only we stupid Indians who is yet to realize this great truth… but let us not be discouraged since our government has realized it too..

Did anyone say that Bombay.. sorry Mumbai was attacked?

Another one posted on India Tweets

What an idea! (Dec 14, 2009)


Pakistanis should thank their government for their brilliant idea of nurturing terrorists; if their soil had not bred them would the US part with so much money?

Would their houses light up and would their thirst be quenched if not for the terrorists?


WASHINGTON - Electricity and water projects will be an early priority for nearly $1.5 billion a year in new U.S. non military aid for Pakistan expected to be passed by the Senate on Sunday, senior U.S. officials said.

The aid is included in a $7.5 billion, five-year package proposed by President Barack Obama as one tool to combat extremism in Pakistan. He has called the region the "epicenter" of violence and Pakistan is seen as critical to U.S. efforts to fight the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Kasab can have a few friends.. if not Biriyani or the noose.

Tomorrow would be yet another anniversary of that terrible day in November.


All is well, says State home minister R R Patil and opposition leader Eknath Khadse who visited Kasab yesterday. His mood swings continues to keep the media engaged. If one day he lunges at the camera, another day he complains of the food served to him and was heard asking for mutton biriyani. Yesterday he seems to have said “I have reaped what I sowed.”

But then, he was only a petty criminal willing to kill for a few more dollars. He had already made his pact with the devil. But now I am glad that he survived, else like many other confused Indians, it would have been hard to believe he was not made in India.

I know I am blabbering, but hasn’t the events that unfolded the last 2 weeks reduce us Indians to blabbering fools. What else should we call ourselves when we are robbed of Rs 1,76,000 crores! (not including the CWG, the flat and now the Mumbai land scam) Like a swishing sword, scam after scam has wounded us left and right and one has never felt so low in life. Should we continue to believe in our honest Prime Minister when he is more interested in being meek? The Congress needs to go, along with the Sonias and Rahuls even if the next could be BJP with the Yedurappas, Reddy’s and Modi’s. But let it be so. The country badly needs a change. But before you step down, if you still believe you are a man of integrity, please clean up the mess. Mess would be a mild word, with the media and even the judges now being implicated.

"With the CVC headed by former telecom secretary P J Thomas non-suited to supervise CBI in 2G spectrum scam, the SC should choose an officer of unimpeachable integrity to monitor the probe," he said. Upset at his offer being spurned, senior advocate K K Venugopal said he would rather argue for dismissal of petition than make any further concession.


You may bring back a few crores if you can, but more than that, it would heal the wounded nation if one could see a few give Kasab company. Kasab murdered Indians in cold blood while the elected leaders have killed the spirit of millions of Indians.


Edited to add the following:

Corrupt India: $462 billion illegally transferred overseas between 1948 and 2008



The poor state of governance is reflected in a growing underground economy which in turn has fueled more transfers of illicit capital from India. This analysis is cast in terms of a pre- and a post-reform period spanning a total of 61 years since independence.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Gender Gap

After the CWG fiasco here comes another disheartening report which should wake us up.

The Global Gender Gap report by the World Economic Forum.



The Index benchmarks national gender gaps on economic, political, education- and healthbased criteria, and provides country rankings that allow for effective comparisons across regions and income groups, and over time. The rankings are designed to create greater awareness among a global audience of the challenges posed by gender gaps and the opportunities created by reducing them. The methodology and quantitative analysis behind the rankings are intended to serve as a basis for designing effective measures for reducing gender gaps.
As always, curiosity made me look into the report, to try and understand what I can.

India has been ranked 112 (out of 134 countries).

Also, like many I wondered why India went below Philippines (with rank 9 and highest amongst the Asia and Pacific countries) and also Kuwait (women were given voting rights only recently) and UAE, specially when India has a woman in three of the most important positions, namely Sushma Swaraj of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and currently the Leader of the Opposition, Sonia Gandhi, President of the Indian National Congress and Prathiba Patil the Indian President. Sonia Gandhi was also ranked 13th in the Forbes most powerful women in year 2009, although they have not ranked her this year. But the report has taken into account this factor and hence India ranks 23rd in the political empowerment. Yet, this seems to have made no impact on other crucial areas namely, Literacy Rate, Infant Mortality, Maternal Mortality and even Wage Equality for Similar Work.

Now if you are wondering why this should bother us:

For instance, the United Nations estimates that, only in the Asian region, about $47 billion of yearly output are lost every year from a lack of female participation in labour markets, as reported in United Nations (2007).
Gender discrimination has widespread ramifications and clear economic and social costs. The Asia-Pacific region has made good progress in reducing gender discrimination in recent years, but appalling disparities remain. The region is losing $42-$47 billion per year because of restrictions on women’s access to employment opportunities – and another $16-$30 billion per year because of gender gaps in education. Those are just the economic costs – added to them are social and personal costs.
In some countries, one in every 10 girls dies before reaching the age of one, and one in every 50 women dies during pregnancy and delivery.
India and also Philippines falls under the Lower Middle Income Group of countries and this may be one reason why India (with a larger population) lag behind countries like Kuwait and UAE who are grouped under the High Income.  Sri Lanka has retained it's position and is doing well despite the turmoil it went through. And these countries are much ahead when it comes to educating their females. And education seems to be the crucial factor. In terms of literacy, India has only 51 females (out of 75 men) while more women than men gets the basic education in Philipines (95 female and 93 men). Even China's literacy rate is excellent 91-97. Sadly Pakistan is ranked the lowest in the Asia and Pacific region and those dollars which came in has not done it any good and for that matter it may go down further if the Taliban get's it's way.


There is also one more interesting fact that I noted; if one assumes that there are smart men and women who are equally good at their jobs, then when lesser women are getting educated, some jobs are being filled up by the not so smart men :)  We are aware of some of those women who are doing very good.  Indira Nooyi  who is ranked 6th  in the latest report (Forbes most powerful women)  maybe ignored since her field is not India ( situation is not favorable ?) but yet there is still Chanda Kocchar  who runs ICICI, India’s second largest bank and she is ranked #92. I am sure she deserves a better rank since this bank seems to be standing up quite well when others elsewhere keep tumbling down occasionally. (103 failures in the period Jan-Jul 2010). Now I am not sure if women are better or worse  in jobs, although my blogger friend seems to have an opinion on them. I think it is because they need time to get used to the idea. But there are international companies who have made it a policy to hire 50% of women since it works better for them.  PWC is one example.

Klaus Schwab, the chairman of the WEF, said: "Low gender gaps are directly correlated with high economic competitiveness.


"We still need a true gender equality revolution, not only to mobilise a major pool of talent both in terms of volume and quality, but also to create a more compassionate value system within all our institutions."

Many analysis shows that gender inequality in education prevents progress in reducing fertility and child mortality rates, thereby compromising progress in well-being in developing countries.

First, gender inequality in education and access to resources may prevent a reduction of child mortality, of fertility, and an expansion of education of the next generation.

Greater education increases her health knowledge which improves her ability to promote the health of her children (World Bank, 1993), and greater bargaining power increases her say over household resources which often leads to greater allocations to child health and nutrition, compared to their husbands. For example, Thomas (1990) found that the impact of unearned income on child survival was 20 times greater if the income was brought in by the mother than if it was brought in by the father.


And, gender gap can also affect the Total Fertility Rate.
Total fertility rate


The total fertility rate (TFR) is an important determinant of development because the resources available per capita are fundamental to the development process. A high TFR squeezes resources (per capita) within a household, as well as at the national level, diminishing the health and education of children and the wellbeing of families. High fertility leads particularly to poor health and education of women and children, creating
a vicious cycle. A low TFR, however, enables countries to spend more on health and education, leading to improved social welfare.


There is a high correlation between TFR and per capita income, with higher TFR leading to lower incomes figure 3.10). The TFR is also a good indicator of women’s control over their reproductive rights and  health, of progress in gender relations, and of education, particularly that of women.

Now, to reduce population some may want to go the Sanjay Gandhi way (though it may have appealed to at least a few if he and his brother had set out an example themselves!). But if educating the female population can indeed bring down the overall population and much more, then it is time India spend more money on this than affairs like CWG's. CWG did give us Indians a high for a few days but I do not think it has done much for the long term.

Source:
http://www.weforum.org/pdf/gendergap/report2010.pdf
http://www.unescap.org/pdd/publications/survey2007/01_Survey_2007.pdf
http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTGENDER/Resources/wp7.pdf
http://www.pwc.com/en_GX/gx/women-at-pwc/assets/closing_the_gender_gap_companion_guide.pdf

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Of roads, cars and faith..

This time I travelled up and down the MC road (Main Central Road) or the alternate road to the NH 47. The road is too good after it was repaired and at times it looked like an airport runway! I also discovered that the Ambassador car which once proudly owned the Indian roads have now become a rarity. I couldn't spot one even among the taxi stands. This old and trusted friend just couldn’t keep up with the changing times and I think have lost the race to the racier, sleeker ones.

Having seen almost all models of foreign cars here in Kuwait, it was easy to spot the same in Kerala too. And I think this time I spotted many of them. Yes, luxurious cars have always been a weakness to many. For the rich it is another status symbol and one which can keep them apart from the ordinary folks. I remember how my very earthly cousin brother used to tell us that his dream is to drive a BMW. I am sure he is driving one now since he holds a very good job in the UK. He deserves it since he did burn much midnight oil for his earthly degrees.


Anyway this is not really about cars or roads. This time we saw a beautiful Mercedes s-class car on the road and while we were admiring the same, we tried to have a glimpse of the proud owner.. it was a Christian priest. And if it was not enough, we saw yet another costly foreign car being driven by the same clan.



I am not saying that there is a rule that says Priests are not allowed to own or drive expensive cars but as a Christian, I am offended and ashamed.

From the pulpits they preach. They tell us mortals to give (the 75 + lakhs could have made a lot difference to the needy), not to indulge (an ordinary car can also take them to their destination), not to covet, not to be greedy , not to incite etc etc….

Now, I am not sure why I myself am indulging in a very non Christian act, i.e grumble/judge when I am sure no priest is ever going to read me. But since even they have become very net savvy one can never be sure. Hence there is just one request from this confused mortal; next time you wish to indulge in earthly pleasures, please DUMP that priestly garb for something more appropriate and the next time you stand on the pulpit, please try to refrain from PREACHING what you yourself cannot practice.

And there is another rumbling on the horizon.

Some of us are yet to recover from those scenes on TV when 2 factions of the Church had fist fights amongst a falling corpse from a funeral march. Those days, most of us like Peter  denied to our co-workers and friends that we belonged to this Church. It was too shameful.

Trouble seems to have erupted again and at Parumala where one faction already has a Church while the other is aspiring to have a new one.



Can one own a saint?

If so, Parumala Thirumeni  seems to be wholly owned by the Orthodox faction while the Jacobite faction thinks otherwise, since when Parumala Thirumeni was alive the Church was one. Now I am not sure who should take credit for the solace and blessings given to those who sought this Saint; is it the Saint himself or the Church? And since the Church encourages the weak and heavy laden to seek blessings from this Saint should they not be happy to know that they have one more location to receive these blessings?

Or shall I,  like many others with more of an earthly sense think that there is some other underlying reason for all this saintly love, be it from any faction? $$$

Anyway, let me pray that those who are supposed to be leading these Churches would for once show some heavenly sense and stop inciting the weak and confused believers who may be excused for exhibiting an earthly sense.

Picture Source: Hindu & Cartrade

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Time to return..

Think I have neglected this blog enough! Was much shocked and sad to read about IHM’s daughter and I had no idea about it until I returned from vacation. This life is indeed strange and nothing seems to be constant. One needs to try hard to stay unruffled and it is not easy.


Had a restful vacation this time. Restful only since I was forced to take rest owing to a surgery to remove a part of me or as per my son – his first home.

It was at the end of my last vacation and during a routine check up that I discovered that I had fibroids growing in and out of my uterous. It was a rude shock since I never had any other medical problems and no physical symptoms normally associated with fibroids. Did search low and wide but knew it was a lost cause since the stuff had already grown much. It was getting too comfortable inside me specially since I never knew of it’s existence. Thought of leaving it there but it was not easy to brush away my own fears as well as that of my loved ones. The doctor who discovered it first asked me to take it out immediately while others asked me to wait and watch. Hence I waited and watched for a year. I was also searching for a doctor who could do the operation in a non-invasive way and this seemed an impossible task since the size of the fibroids were too big. Finally it was done at Paul’s hospital – Ernakulam. A wonderful doctor is all I can say and an operation which should normally take only 1 hour or less went on to four hours leaving everyone [except me :) who was blissfully lost to the world] anxious and worried. But except for the first few days of minor pain, I felt perfectly fine and so far so good. Hats off to technology and to our wonderful doctors.

I hope to return to blogging or rather grumbling more often now.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

It is time for the rains and more...

Soon it will be time for the rains and another Onam.


After many long years, Onam would be in Kerala this time.

Hubby has told the kids that we shall see the Nehru boat race too, especially since it is held not very far from home. Promises are seldom kept but one can always dream of things to come. I am told that the river right in front of the house is brimming and may soon breach it’s banks.

We would have landed in the new airport terminal at Trivandrum if the inauguration was not postponed. I hear that the user's fee would be retained but am hoping that it would be put to good use and that the impressive terminal would be maintained. I am also looking forward to the drive through the MC road instead of the NH. The road has now been repaired and is supposed to be good. This used to be the road frequented before the advent of the NH 47 and is a scenic route.

So, it is time for a vacation and maybe also a blog break?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Powered by the big guy!

The world’s first solar powered Air Craft landed safely. Good news indeed!

The aircraft, flown by Andre Borschberg, touched down today at Payerne near Lake Neuchatel in Switzerland at 9 a.m. local time, the project known as Solar Impulse said on its website.


From their website:

The adventurers of the last century were constantly pushing back the limits of the impossible. Today, human and technological enquiry must go on, aimed at improving the quality of life on our planet. In building the first solar aircraft able to fly day and night, and piloting it right round the world without fuel or pollution, Solar Impulse's ambition is for the world of exploration and innovation to contribute to the cause of renewable energies, to demonstrate the importance of the new technologies for sustainable development, and to place dream and emotion back at the heart of scientific adventure.



I am not sure how feasible the idea would be commercially. The project cost is mentioned as $95 million which comes close to the price of an Air Bus –A320( This stretched fuselage aircraft has an overall length of 44.51 metres (146 ft.) and an operating range of up to 3,000 nm./5,600 km with the maximum passenger payload)

But then this is just the beginning of a splendid revolution.


Hats off to those who dared to dream!


Source: Businessweek
             Wikipedia
             Airbus

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Is there a cure?

Tell me, is there a cure for this obsession? If it is not obsession what could it be?

Yea.. it is me and religion again! But this one was a shocker and I am yet to come to terms with it. In Kerala one is used to chopped off hands, feet, head and hence one may ask .. so what is new? Well, the Keralites take politics very seriously and would be the only species that is ready to die and to kill another ever so ardently in the name of a political party. And since this lawlessness was so ridiculously  let off in many instances, we dulled our conscience and now it is showing it's ugly head in the name of religion. Sadly communism couldn’t cure us from our religious idiocy and whatever good it ever did for Kerala is now being slowly wiped off by the same party.

Now, why should I be blaming the Communists alone when the Congress itself is no better? But the difference is that the Communists used stay away from religion in the yesteryears while now we see them woo every religious leader ardently for votes. We now see all the parties lift and then lower these leaders as and when it suits them. And in turn these religious leaders think themselves to be greater than what they really are. We see them dictate to the faithful from their thrones; asking them to chose the party of their choice.

Kerala is still in shock after the news that the hands of a teacher was chopped off since he offended a certain section of the society. The incident happened some time back and caused much protests and furor. The said teacher was then arrested and continues to be under suspension from the college. But this punishment seemed not enough for a few and hence the unthinkable happened. And the family was threatened earlier too. Now, I am not supporting this teacher if he thought that his religion is above any criticism so as to throw mud on another. But from the facts that I gathered over the net, I read that the play from which he copied the offending part was written by a Muslim himself. It seems the original author himself witnessed a mad man speak thus to God and this was turned into a play. Somehow the name got changed to Mohamed which as you know is the most common name for a Muslim. Honestly speaking, I am not sure if this teacher intentionally changed it but our Education Minister called him a stupid teacher. Well, he could be stupid, but when did one start measuring levels of stupidity only for religious matters? One can point out much sillier, stupider species in his own ministry and not to mention in other political parties too. Can we say “off with their heads/hands/legs/tongue”?

And when did we start behaving like the ancient world or the ones not so far from our country's border?

And if there are sinister elements behind this to disrupt the communal harmony in Kerala then it is time to act.  But I do see a lull among the political parties. Are they scheming to turn this around for their own political gains?

Let me hope that the law of the land rises to the occasion and punishes the culprits.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Food

The other day I was watching a Food & Travel show hosted by the famous Padma Lakshmi. She was in Udipi and inside a 400 year old kitchen. I googled to know more about this temple which gives free food for all devotees irrespective of caste, color, religion or whatever divisions the world has given to the human being over the years. I could not get more information and the closest find was the Dharmashala and the Krishna temple. Upon searching for Dharmashala, I was delighted to land on GVK’s blog and a blog post that I had missed reading. He has given an account of his visit to the Dharmashala and put up some pictures too for the readers.


To many, Udupi brings to mind the lovely vegetarian “thali”.

We have these restaurants here in Kuwait too, though I am not sure if they are indeed serving authentic “Udipi” meal . But it is only when you eat such a meal do you realize how vegetables can be cooked in a variety of ways and how delicious it is to eat them. I read the following on the Udipi cuisine: This cuisine was developed by Shivalli Madhwa Brahmins who cooked food for Lord Krishna, and at Krishna Matha in Udupi, the food is provided free. I was much intrigued to know that it was the pujaris themselves who cooked these meals and that these meals are given to all and sundry free of cost. Normally none is allowed inside this kitchen but I do know how Padma was given an entry. But it provided a good look inside one of the oldest functioning kitchen in the world and one could see big pots and pans and the poojaris in various stages of cooking. The meal was also served by them and it was done so efficiently. The speed at which the rice and accompaniments were served on the banana leaf to the waiting devotees is awesome. I hear that more than 1000 are fed thus daily. ( I could not get more information on this anywhere and hence I am assuming that this is a daily affair)

The money for this is from the devotees themselves. I am also not sure if there are many such temples which provide free meals. The idea itself is very heart warming. Since India has a long way to go on hunger and poverty, I am hoping that more places of worship catch up on this idea. The closest to this that I have come across in a Church is during special days like Easter, Good Friday etc. But then the food is served only to the devotees.

While thinking about the money that the faithful puts into the coffers of famous pilgrimage centers, would it not do wonders if it was used to feed the needy! After all, isn’t the need of food the most basic and the most important, unless of course you have acquired the skills of the Swamis who claim to eat nothing. And I believe it would be only a few who would continue depending on this since most would eventually stand on their own feet. And it is also a fact that believers of all religion give happily to a Temple/Church/Mosque more readily than to a real person in need. And the sad fact is that we seldom care what happens to this money. Some of us believe ardently that building a Church worth crores is more important than giving the same money to the poor.

But then isn’t it only a wishful thinking? And my dreams of seeing for example the Christian priests cook and serve food to strangers needs to be squashed right away before I am accused of mental illness :)

Source: Wikepedia

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My little-bit life - the story of a migrant Indian worker

This is the story of many who toil under the scorching sun...

My little-bit life - the story of a migrant Indian worker


Rajendra K Aneja, Dubai



15 April 2010,





Myself Radhakrishnan Nambiar, from village Pailam, in India. Me, construction worker in Middle East, making very big, tall buildings, in Bahrain, Doha and Riyadh. Some building too much big, 30 floors.

Me getting 600 dirhams per month salary every month, plus six ‘parattas’, every day, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I also love very much, one girl, Philipa. Philipa, my heart, my soul.

There was famine in my village. No rain-water for my field. I grow rice. But, no rain-water, no rice. So, agent come from big city, and tell, “Go to Riyadh. Become rich. Buy Mercedes. Come back to village”.

Life in Middle East

So, I pay agent, 10,000 dollars. I borrow money. In Riyadh, I learn fast, become wireman. Make big buildings. Go up crane 20 to 30 floors. Very dangerous. But I work hard, to pay loan. In the nights, sometimes I feel too much alone.

Then I run away. Everywhere, Doha, Bahrain, same story. 14 hours work. Salary 600 dirhams. 6 ‘parattas’ every day. And save only 200 dirhams every month, to pay back loan.

My room, too much people - 12 people. We have bunker beds, like army. No bedsheets. No towels. In my room, we have big poster of Aamir Khan and Sridevi. I see them on wall and feel nice. Lavatory - big problem. Every morning big line. I wait 15 minutes. Sometime 1 hour. But, I wait quietly. I have big loan in my life.

Nostalgia

Sometimes I dream, India big country, very rich country, have many jobs, too much money. And, lots of rain for my rice field. Then, all Indians stay in India. No need to earn dollar, in other countries. This I dream, many times.

I go up crane every day. I, frightened too much. I, frightened also, for electric current. I wireman.

I miss my village, my mango tree. And, I miss my old mother and father, my small brother, sister. I need money for marriage of my sister. But, I cannot go back. I have big loan in my life.

On Friday, company people take all workers, in bus to big mall. I, very impressed. Many items, many nice clothes, very beautiful people. People in mall always very happy, laughing, smiling, buying, eating fast-food, playing games. But, I only see everything. Me, little money. No buy anything. I have big loan in my life.

Then, I see Philipa. She has white skin, golden eyes. She smile for me. She work in Starbucks coffee. She give me little-bit orange juice. Philipa very good, bootiful. I like.

Philipa

After I meet Philipa, I no sleep. Every night is big mountain, for me, without Philipa. Every Friday, I see Philipa in Starbucks. Every Friday, she give me little-bit smile.

Then one day we go for movie. Philipa touch me little bit, by mistake. I also touch her. She smile. She smell very good. Like big garden of rose flowers.

We, solid happy! Then, I fight too much hard, not to fall in love with Philipa. I do my best to avoid falling in love with Philipa. But, I make mistake; I fall in love, with Philipa. It just happened, you know. Am, so very sorry.

Now, every night, my heart full of Philipa. Every night, me cut my heart and throw out. But, every morning, my heart is full of Philipa again.

Every Friday, I see Philipa in Starbucks. Every Friday, she give me little-bit smile.

Recession and Philipa goes

Then Philipa lose job. Recession, you know. Few customers. Philipa go home to Manila. She cry too much, at airport. I have ten fingers. So I hold her 10 tears. But Philipa has too many tears in her. Some tears fall on the ground, at airport. I feel 
very sad.

You see, I man, I no cry. But, when Philipa go inside, and her aeroplane become small twinkling star in the black skies, I cry, alone in toilet. Little-bit.

Now, every day, I die little-bit. I don’t go to mall anymore.

The only thing, I want, besides wanting Philipa back, is to be left alone. I stay at labour-camp, every Friday.

Manila and village

Maybe, I run away from here. Go to Manila, and take Phillipa to my village. My family will laugh: “You no bring dollar? No Mercedes? Only Philipa?”

Then, I will stand like the actor Amitabh Bachchan, who defied the whole world, in the movie called the ‘Deewar’. With my hands on my hips, I tell my family, “So what? Philipa will give me baby. I will make small shop in village, selling cigarettes, matches and old clothes”.

Then, Philipa and I, just live. But, I work 3 more years. I have big loan in my life.

My life not very good. Little-bit hard also. But I work. For, to pay back loan. And then, meet Philipa.

This, my little-bit, life.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The power is back..

Finally the power was restored on Thursday after one full week.

It was indeed great to be back in our flat.There was this constant fear if it would go again but so far the going has been good and the temperature has also climbed down. Let me also thank the current Ambassador who has finally let us Indians feel the presence of our Embassy!

Looking back I feel we were lucky in many ways. We had a flat where we could move into and there was always this hope that things would improve. But not so in the case of many others. In places like UAE I read that many stay in labour camps were A/C's are not provided. They are often between the devil and the deep sea since returning to their home country would mean facing the debtors and their hopeful families. As for me and my family, if things get worse, I can always return to my country and I shall not starve.

And then there are those who have to work under the hot sun even in these extreme temperatures. I always wonder how they manage.

Here in Kuwait too like a few other GCC countries, they have the midday break rule whereby the companies are instructed to give those who are working outside a break from 12 -3 PM, when the heat will be the maximum. But I wish they are paid better since they are literally working in hell even if there is a break.

I am also seeing posters asking the residents to conserve power. But if this message is to be driven into them, then they ought to stay without power for at least an hour! As for us, it is been many years since we shifted to the low energy bulbs and switching off lights when not needed is a habit that most of us have acquired from our home country. The same is being taught to our children too. One knows not where they would have to survive!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The First time..

There is always a first time for certain experience.

Some of us here in Kuwait experienced the worst power outage since 1995. (the year I landed here in Kuwait and for others they may remember the period during the invasion)

That is a long time to gain certain confidence in a country but now I fear the worst. I do remember the time a few years back when we lost power in our building due to a fire but the Ministry of Electricity and Water was quick to place a generator until the power was restored in the building. Yes.. This was the Kuwait that I knew. But this confidence is all shattered and in a few minutes some of us were rendered homeless and as helpless as refugees in a war torn country with the temperature soaring above 50 degrees.

Preposterous one may say.. yea..

You are exaggerating! Oh yea…

But is this not Kuwait?

Even a person with a rudimentary knowledge of Kuwait knows the basics. It is an oil rich country, ranked 10th in the world for the production of oil and the 3rd among the Middle Eastern countries. Maybe it is nowhere near KSA but Kuwait is much smaller when compared to KSA and I am sure if things are managed as it should be, there ought to be no issues.

It all started last Thursday afternoon while I was still at work and we never ever had an inkling of things to come. (Back home, the authorities are prompt in telling us the time and they are the most efficient in maintaining the time of the power cuts!) Hubby took the children out and by the time we returned the power was back and we thought the problem was solved. But it was only the beginning. That night we stayed in the car each time (every 2 hours) the power went off and as soon as morning came, we packed off and went away to my brother’s flat. Some said a transformer had blown up, but even in India such cases are solved sooner. We may know the telephone number of the local lineman and the poor fellow would be quick enough to at least apprise us of the situations and it will be solved at least in a day. But today it is the 4th day and the situation is still the same. Some of our ever loving brethrens and countrymen advices that one should move out of the area. Oh yes.. where to? Shall we move in with you? Do you have buildings vacant for all those who hope to move out? And before we do move out can you tell us the reason why only certain areas are targeted for this inhumane approach? Yes.. more buildings have come up in this cursed locality and now we have 5 Indian Schools in this place alone (in addition to the Arabic and Pakistani Schools) but is it our fault? Yes.. a few Kuwaitee blocks have also been built right next to this area and the power consumption must have shot up. Yet those of us who have been paying the rent and the electricity bills promptly are now told to suffer so that the rest of you can enjoy!

It will not be fair if I don’t mention that the ministry offices have also been asked to shut down power from 1 PM. But then they wind up their jobs at 2 PM anyway so none will suffer. Not so in the residential areas where there are families with children and some have nowhere to go. My friend has taken up two families and that is all she can do. Our neighbor with 2 small kids has joined us and now we shuttle between 2 homes.

Now, we do have an Indian Embassy here in Kuwait and I am sure all the multitude of associations has already given their attendance. The news and names of many have also appeared in the local newspapers. But then is our Embassy here to solve these kinds of problems? Of course not! Where shall they find time for such minor nuisances when their time is devoured by functions and inaugurations and such other important tasks?

HARAM is all I can say to this injustice.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Still a long way to go...

Continued from previous post...



STATE-WISE INFANT MORTALITY RATE (per1000) -
Year 1961, 2003 & 2005

(please click to enlarge)

As you can see, some states in India have come a long way but as a whole India is yet to tackle hunger and poverty.

The following are the states which are showing an upward trend and it seems to continue in year 2008 too.



The following are the 2008 figures for India:





The performance is not good while compared to other countries and China seems to be doing better even here.








The infant deaths can be due to hunger as well as the poor health of the mother. The healthier the mother, the more chance there would be for an infant to survive.

Four diseases-pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria and AIDS-accounted for 43 per cent of all deaths in children under five worldwide in 2008. Pneumonia and diarrhoea together account for a third of all under-five deaths. Most of these lives could have been saved through low-cost prevention and treatment measures, including antibiotics for acute respiratory infections, oral rehydration for diarrhoea, immunization, and the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets and appropriate drugs for malaria. The need to refocus attention on pneumonia and diarrhoea—two of the three leading killers of children—is urgent.


Worldwide mortality in children younger than 5 years has dropped from 11•9 million deaths in 1990 to
7•7 million deaths in 2010, consisting of 3•1 million neonatal deaths, 2•3 million postneonatal deaths, and 2•3 million childhood deaths (deaths in children aged 1–4 years). 33•0% of deaths in children younger than 5 years occur in south Asia and 49•6% occur in sub-Saharan Africa, with less than 1% of deaths occurring in high-income countries. Across 21 regions of the world, rates of neonatal, postneonatal, and childhood mortality are declining. The global decline from 1990 to 2010 is 2•1% per year for neonatal mortality, 2•3% for postneonatal mortality, and 2•2% for childhood mortality. In 13 regions of the world, including all regions in sub-Saharan Africa, there is evidence of accelerating declines from 2000 to 2010 compared with 1990 to 2000. Within sub-Saharan Africa, rates of decline have increased by more than 1% in Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, and The Gambia.


Source:
Neonatal, postneonatal, childhood, and under-5 mortality for 187 countries, 1970–2010: a systematic analysis of progress towards Millennium Development Goal 4 www. thelancet.com
http://indiabudget.nic.in/es2006-07/chapt2007/tab95.pdf
http://www.foodjustice.net/report/ngo-reports/india/India_Hunger_Index_2008.pdf/view
http://www.childinfo.org/mortality.html

Monday, June 7, 2010

The news that we would rather not read...


Kerala seems to be treating it's children comparatively better, but since I cannot find the data for previous years, I am not sure if the figures have risen or are falling.

Edited to add the following:

 
Source: Hindustan Times, Wikipedia: NFHS-3 Nutritional Status of Children".

Wisdom speaks....

Saw this in many blogs and I am tempted to post it even here...

The wisdom of a great Father shines through.....

A letter written by Abraham Lincoln to the head master of his school in which his son was studying...

He will have to learn, I know, that all men are not just, all men are not true. But teach him also that for every scoundrel there is a hero: that far every selfish politician, there is a dedicated leader…


Teach him that for every enemy there is a friend. It will take time, I know a long time, but teach, if you can, that a dollar earned is of more value then five of found.


Teach him, to learn to lose…And also to enjoy winning. Steer him away from envy, if you can, teach him the the secret of quiet laughter.


Teach him, if you can the wonder of books…But also given quiet time wonder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun, and flowers on the green hillside.


In school teach him, it is far more honorable to fail than to cheat…


Teach him to have faith in his own idea, even if everyone tells him they are wrong…


Teach him to be gentle with gentle people and tough with tough.


Teach him to listen to all men…But teach him also to filter all he hears on a screen of truth, and take only the good one that comes through.


Teach him, if you can, how to laugh when he is sad. Teach him there is no shame in tear.


Teach him to sell his brawn and brain to the highest bidder but never to put a prize tag on his heart and soul.


Teach him gently, but do not cuddle him, because only the test of fire makes the fine steel.


Teach him always to have sublime faith in himself because only then he will have faith in mankind.


This is a big order, but see what can you do… He is such a fine little fellow, my son!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Who is guilty?

Should I write about Canada’s high-handedness or about the Maoists?


The Canadians have apologized and I found another blogger who has shown her angst pretty well. 

As for the Maoists, it is time our PM acted. No more inactivity due to a guilt plagued heart. And this is not the time for politics.

“We have to see who can benefit politically from this killing. Why did the incident occur just before the May 30 civic elections? A leader of a ruling political party had earlier said there can be bloodshed, and here is the proof. The incident took place in order to harm the image of Mamata Banerjee and to stop the political change,” said Suvaprasanna, a painter with Trinamool leanings and who has been appointed chairman of the Passenger Amenities Committee of the Railways.

We do not know who is playing politics with people's lives. Do YOU have any idea?

The ordinary citizen voted you to power since your honesty stood above the rest and is it not a proof of the nation’s collective conscience?

And it was the same conscience that prompted many to speak against the idea of our own army men kill our brethren. Maybe there are still a few who are under the illusion that the Maoists are indeed people with noble hearts and whose only aim is to help the poor. But enough is enough and those innocents who lost their lives may have not hoped that under your leadership their lives would improve in a jiffy but the least they would have hoped for was their life itself.
Do you want to deny their right to life as well?

Or do you want every other country as naïve as Canada to think along the same lines?

And now if many call you weak can you deny the allegation?

I truly hope this letter written by blogger Sush reaches you...

 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What next?

Can an outlawed party call for a bandh?

And that too not in a small area but five entire states : Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa and Chhattisgarh.

And this after having killed innocents.

While one newpaper says the following:

Security forces in the state have been put on high alert following the 48-hour bandh called by the CPI(Maoist) in protest against Operation Green Hunt.

 another one says the following:

Security forces stayed fearful in their base camps and life was hit in several parts of Chhattisgarh as a 48-hour strike called by Maoists began Tuesday, a day after at least 35 people were killed when the guerrillas blasted a bus in the state's Dantewada district..


Do we really have the largest army (after China) in the world and with a ranking not so bad?

Our Home Minister says he is angry.. well we are angry too but unlike you, we can do nothing about it.

Yet, please continue to fight it out with our PM who seems to be star gazing too.. after all, it is your job.

Does one really think that the Maoists have any heart?

And amidst all this I cannot find Mrs. Roy. Maybe it is time she takes one more trip to enjoy the star filled skies.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Let us learn about LOVE...

Yet another email forward and an unknown author's wisdom points out some truths about LOVE.



Fairness & justness without love makes you inflexible & stern.

Diplomacy & tact without love makes you a hypocrite.

Success without love turns you arrogant.

Wealth without love makes you mean & tight–fisted.

Poverty without love turns you into a radical.

Beauty without love makes you capricious.

Authority & power without love lead to tyranny.

Labor without love turns you into a slave.

Naivety without love deprives you of values.

Prayer & worship without love turns you into a egotist.

Faith without love turns you into a fanatic.

Bearing your cross in life without love becomes a terrible burden.

LIFE WITHOUT LOVE LOSES ITS MEANING !

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

One more to the list...

I think it is time to add yet one more to the list of reservation in our country. Corruption!

“But when we reached Delhi, our bosses got instructions from ‘highest authorities’ to delink the Mumbai case from our ongoing investigation. The Mumbai unit also got instruction to limit the case to Bali and Dalmias,” said a CBI official, adding that they were denied permission to verify the transaction details of the two Swiss accounts of the Dalmias.



According to Ministry insiders, Dalmia could be a key player in the spectrum scam. He arrived in early 2005 in Raja’s office in Paryavaran Bhavan, when the latter was Environment Minister. Dalmia was accompanied by two young women and his visiting card showed him to be the Honorary Consular General of a little-known African country, Ministry sources said. “We checked with the External Affairs Ministry and found that he was a fraud. But, in the meantime, he established direct contact with the Minister,” insiders said.


One has seen reservation in education and job and now it is imminent that one more is added else it leaves the ordinary citizen bewildered and dejected. When one read about minister Raja’s swindling of the tax payers money, one did not think of his caste, color, state nor religion but only his crime.

But it seems one should look at those first and then decide if he should be given a concession.

"Raja is a Dalit. That is why dominant forces are levelling malicious charges against him," Karunanidhi said when asked about the Opposition's demand for Raja's dismissal in the light of allegations of a mega-scam in 2G spectrum allocation.
And our honest PM is hanging onto dear life and his government  come what may.
God help our nation!

Source:
Times of India
Pioneer

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Who is scrapping what?

Does anyone have any idea?

Rajender Prasad, who was exposed to Cobalt 60 at a scrap dealer shop in Mayapuri in west Delhi and admitted to AIIMS on April 8, died around 9.30 pm on Monday after multiple organ failure.
According to doctors, another radiation victim Ram Kalap is critical and his blood counts have reduced significantly. He has been put on prophylactic antibiotic and anti-fungal agents
It is shocking to read such news and even more shocking to note that we may never know what has been scrapped so far. The exposed person can also contract cancer and I wonder if this one reason why the incidence of cancer is increasing over the years.

Main uses for Cobalt 60:
• As a tracer for cobalt in chemical reactions,
• Sterilization of medical equipment,
• Radiation source for medical radiotherapy,
• Radiation source for industrial radiography,
• Radioactive source for leveling devices and thickness gauges,
• As a radioactive source for food irradiation and blood irradiation, and
• As a radioactive source for laboratory use.
While US has Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) which regulates the use of Cobalt-60 and other such hazardous elements, I searched for similar such agencies in India and couldn’t find any.

Or is one happy regulating only nuclear plants?

What can I do to protect myself and my family from cobalt-60?


You are unlikely to encounter cobalt-60 unless you undergo certain medical treatments. Thorough discussions with your doctor about the amount of exposure and potential alternatives allow you to make informed decisions about the relative risks.


Although it is very unlikely, you may accidentally encounter a sealed radiation source containing cobalt-60 that has escaped proper control ("orphaned sources").

Is the “very unlikely” situation common in India?

If so, do we have anyone to at least (!) blame?

Source:

Economic Times
Wikipedia
EPA
Atomic Energy Commission

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Traffic woes

Kuwait is situated at the western head of the Persian (or Arabian) Gulf. Its area is estimated at about 17,820 sq km (6,880 sq mi). Comparatively, the area occupied by Kuwait is slightly smaller than the state of New Jersey. Kuwait extends 205 km (127 mi) SE – NW and 176 km (109 mi) NE – SW .


Getting around Kuwait as you see is easy since there is not much to go about! Yet the traffic woes are a galore! A trip which in normal traffic takes barely 15 minutes can go to more than an hour during the peak hours. Compared to say Emirates, most roads in Kuwait are beautiful, wider and smoother. Driving on it can be a pleasure for anyone who loves to do so. To make it even more pleasurable, every luxury vehicle has made it’s presence and loans are readily for the Kuwaitees to indulge in their favourite past time. Every Kuwaitee in an house could be driving a vehicle too! Moreover, traffic rules don’t seem to bother majority of the Kuwaitees. Hence, should one blame them if they now want the whole road to themselves :) And as they say, only Kuwait can get away with it too.

Yesterday the local newspapers carried an interesting news.

KUWAIT: Kuwait is mulling limiting the validity of foreigners' driving licenses to two years and making drivers take a driving test every time they apply for a renewal. Under the new regulations, an expatriate's driving license will be renewed alongside the residence permit, valid for two years. However, the license will be renewed only if the foreigner submits evidence of a high salary and a university degree and successfully passes a new driving test, informed sources told Kuwait Times.

Getting a driving license here in Kuwait is not easy since it is common knowledge that the authorities have been appointed only to fail the expatriates. We have heard of “tough” ones trying this system but failing miserably several times. Hence the easy way for most is it to bribe. So, there is truth if one says that most (?) of the licence that was issued was not through “proper’ ways. It is not as though all the applicants are not good drivers, but the system is such. Now one can imagine why the above news is giving nightmares to the expatriates.

Hopefully this rule will not come to pass but if it does then the only hope for the expatriate would be the following:



Source: Kuwait Times

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

We are waiting gleefully..

Modi has been fired up like a rocket and soon we shall see the sparks.
Lalit Modi has promised to disclose the ownership details of all teams in the Indian Premier League (IPL), as a nasty and escalating row opens with a bang between him and minister of state for external affairs Shashi Tharoor over the Kochi franchise puts the spotlight on confidential contracts and snowballs into a major political controversy. Such a disclosure has the potential to open a can of worms as it has been widely speculated that several political bigwigs and cricket board functionaries are silent investors in IPL franchises.

Of course we have Tharoor and his latest paramour on the sides for the media circus but if all go well then the nation shall get to know the rich owners of the various IPL teams.

We shall finally feast our eyes on not just our rich Ambani / the liquor baron /the bollywood stars, but the khadi wearing, people loving, people serving lot.

Although I may never watch an IPL game, let me offer my thanks to IPL Cochin team.

Yes we shall wait gleefully and would love to know why Sonia is distancing from Tharoor and why the BJP is demanding his resignation.

Source: Economic Times

Sunday, April 11, 2010

PG comes to the resue...

With the Maoists on their prowl and when it seems that even the "only saviour of the poor and downtrodden" Arundhati Roy is not able to offer a solution :) , it is time for a break...

When our PM has yet again gone to praise Obama and hopes to get nothing in return, it is time to take a break....

It is when I remembered that I had a good collection of PG Wodehouse to be enjoyed. Just finished "A Damsel in Distress" and I am now enjoying "Love among Chickens". 

PG rocks any day!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My blog is carbon neutral

carbon neutral coupons and shopping with kaufDA.deJust when I was about to delete yet another random email from my inbox, my curiosity got the better of me. The subject line read “Make your blog carbon neutral - 1 Blog, 1 Tree”.

The email was from a German based company called kaufDA. kaufDA is a leading German site for local search and local promotion search. The company enables users to look for the best local sales online, search brochures of local retailers and find stores near them. They claim that this reduces the printed sales brochures that normally flood the letter box or are distributed in other ways. Now, I am not sure how they are taking care of their carbon footprints. Since their site has an Alexa rating of 13,371 they sure must be generating a lot of footprints. Hope they themselves are planting trees!

They do have an impressive website to explain the whole business of blogs and carbon foot prints.

Anyway I wrote to them to find out if they really intend to plant trees or if it was just another sales gimmick to garner more traffic to their site. I did receive a quick and convincing response. KaufDe has teamed up with Arbor Day Foundation, a nonprofit conservation and education organization based in US. The trees will be planted in Plumas National Forest in Northern California. Arbor Day Foundation’s aim is to reforest Plumas National Forest which was destroyed by recent forest fires. If one is a US citizen and joins Arbor Day Foundation, they give you 10 trees for free! Their website claims that last year members planted 8 million trees.
According to a study by Alexander Wissner-Gross, PhD, physicist at Harvard University and environmental activist, an average website causes about 0.02g (0,0008oz.) of carbon dioxide for each visit. Assuming an average blog gets 15,000 visits a month, it has yearly carbon dioxide emissions of 3,6kg (8lb.). This can mainly be tracked back to the immense energy usage from (mainframe) computers, servers, and their cooling systems

While I am sure I don't create much traffic to my blog to add significant amount to the carbon footprint, I would love to have a tree planted in lieu of my blog!

As they say, reduction of carbon emissions by planting trees has the same effect, regardless of where in the world the trees are planted. It involves all of us to give something back to our environment.

And those of you who do generate a lot of carbon can either plant a tree or join this cause for a carbon free blogging!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Headley shall also be "cherished"

One of the major news that we read in the Indian newspapers yesterday was that Headley will be now pleading “guilty” instead of his earlier plea of “not guilty”.

In the American criminal justice system, defendants in federal court can be convicted one of two ways -- by pleading guilty or after a trial.

Those who choose to admit their guilt are often "rewarded" with lesser sentences.

The concept of the plea is one of the major differences between criminal procedure under common law and procedure under the civil law system. Under common law, a plea of guilty by the defendant waives trial of the charged offences and the defendant may be sentenced immediately. This produces a system under American law known as plea bargaining.
A plea bargain is an agreement between a prosecutor and defendant whereby the prosecutor provides incentive for the defendant to plead guilty in order to avoid going to trial. Plea bargains can benefit defendants by guaranteeing particular outcomes. The two most common types of plea bargains are charge and sentence bargaining, where the first type reduces the charge(s), and the latter, the sentence(s). Fact bargaining is a less common type of plea bargain.


As we know now, Headley used this same plea to escape from his earlier offense of smuggling heroine into the US soil. He was not only “awarded” but he got a perfect opportunity to tie up with the elements in Pakistan.

Mr Headley came to the attention of the US security services in 1997 when he was arrested for heroin smuggling in New York. He earned a reduced sentence by working for the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) by infiltrating Pakistan-linked narcotics gangs.


In fact, there are people who wonder if he was working as a double agent for US. If not, one wonders why Headley has not been given access to Indian authorities even after the Pune blast. During Headley’s “high profile visits” (he rubbed shoulders with the high and mighty of Bollywood) which happened even after the Mumbai blasts, he did visit Pune too. Recently Cochin was at high alert since the “Karachi Project” is still being manned by those who continue to run scot free.

Today the news reads thus...

Also his being proven guilty and convicted in the US courts makes him inaccessible to Indian investigative agencies.


I guess now Headley shall escape capital punishment and will now be “rewarded” with a lighter sentence.

But will his admitting to certain offense aid in getting Kazab punished or shall we have one more deadly criminal to “cherish”.


Source:
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06086/677199-85.stm
http://www.answers.com/topic/plea-bargain
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article7026599.ece
http://news.in.msn.com/international/article.aspx?cp-documentid=3716625

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

This rot needs to go……

As we all know, corruption is the bane of any society or country and enough and more has been written about it. I am only adding a little more after reading the 2009 Global Corruption Barometer report, published by Transparency International.

As expected, worldwide and in India, the most corrupt in a country seems to be the political party, while it is a relief to know that the least is the media followed by the judiciary (in India Judiciary is the least corrupt).

The 2009 Global Corruption Barometer asked more than 73,000 individuals around the world the extent to which they perceive six key sectors and institutions to be corrupt. Political parties were perceived to be corrupt by 68 per cent of respondents, followed closely by the civil service (public officials/ civil servants) and parliament: 63 and 60 per cent respectively.

When asked which of the six sectors/institutions they considered to be the single most corrupt, the general public most frequently identified political parties and the civil service, with 29 and 26 per cent respectively. At the lower end were the media and the judiciary with 6 and 9 per cent of respondents respectively seeing them as the single most corrupt institution.


The following are the figures for India.


Now if we thought that the educated are less corrupt then the following poll at Transparency International – India indicates the opposite.

Are literate person more dishonest than illiterate ones?


I guess as one gains knowledge/education, one also learns how to lead a corrupt life! It also means that as educated citizens of a country, we continue to aid corruption.

Transparency International India has managed to seal Integrity Pacts with a few organization starting from year 2006, although more needs to follow. 39 PSU’s in India has so far signed the pact. The list can be viewed here.

The Global Corruption Barometer report also points out the following:

Finally, reporting on bribery takes place at worryingly low levels – with only about a quarter of citizens taking any action against corruption.


And in India, we have painfully noted that reporting can be fatal and the latest being Social activist Satish Shetty from Pune, while earlier the country lost Satyendra Dubey and Shanmugam Manjumnath for the very same reasons.

Satyendra Kumar Dubey (1973 - 27 November 2003) was a project director at the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). He was murdered in Gaya, Bihar after fighting corruption in the Golden Quadrilateral highway construction project.


The following was written by Dubey..

"A dream project of unparalleled importance to the Nation but in reality a great loot of public money because of very poor implementation at every state." wrote Dubey.

Finally, he ends: "I have written all these in my individual capacity. However, I will keep on addressing these issues in my official capacity in the limited domain within the powers delegated to me," the letter said.. and sadly he was silenced before he could continue.

Shanmugam Manjunath ( Kannada: ಷಣ್ಮುಗಂ ಮಂಜುನಾಥ) (1978 Kolar-2005) was a marketing manager for the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) who was murdered for sealing a corrupt petrol station in UP.
Source : wikipedia

Though a few have been arrested for the murder of Satish, the real hands behind these murders run scot free due to the very same reason for which they died. Due to immense pressure, Manjunath’s murderers were brought to justice more quickly than that of Dubey and Indian Oil Corporation paid Rs. 26 lakhs compensation to the family. The matter of adulteration in diesel was taken up by the Energy Coordination Committee chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

And now laws are being formed to protect whistleblowers.

Senior advocate D Madon, appointed as amicus curie to assist the court, said that countries such as Mexico and Columbia have special systems for providing protection to activists, and authorities are studying them.


But then it is sad to note that, Satish did report to the police that there was threat to his life but no protection was provided.

We also saw the Zero Rupee Note by the 5th Pillar Organization used against corruption. This is gaining ground and I hope these and more initiatives will fight this disease.



The following is one outcome of the Zero Rupee Note:

Benefited out of the Old age Pension Scheme

Kathavarayan, a 72 year old person residing in Then Alambakkam village in Villupuram District, had applied for Indhira Gandhi Old Age Pension that is granted for poor people below poverty line. Mr. Kathavarayan waited for many months after applying for this pension to the Dindivanam Tahsildar office, and when he was replied by a clerk at the Tahsildar office that the scheme is closed, he sent a pleading letter to the Chief Minister's office on 25th June 2008, begging for special consideration and grant him the pension as he has no means to survive. He sent another letter to the CM's office on 9th March 2009 as he did not yet receive the pension. Mr.Kathavarayan, received one of our Zero Rupee Note during our campaign in Villupuram and so he contacted our office and we filed an RTI petition on his behalf, attaching all his previous communications to the CM's office and his application. We did not receive a reply for the RTI petition, but the old man received his pension.


Corruption: "dishonest exploitation of power for personal gain"

and it is true.... when we exploit power for personal gain, the disease called corruption spreads and the whole system rots.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A reminder to oneself....

The following must have been an email forward sent to me by a well wisher a few years back... I am not sure why I saved it... but the words continue to inspire me..

The good you find in others is in you too.

The faults you find in others are your faults as well.

After all, to recognize something you must know it.

The possibilities you see in others, are possible for you as well.

The beauty you see around you, is your beauty.

The world around you is a reflection, a mirror showing you the person you are.

To change your world, you must change yourself.

To blame and complain will only make matters worse.

Whatever you care about, is your responsibility.

What you see in others, shows you yourself.

See the best in others, and you will be your best.

Give to others, and you give to yourself.

Appreciate beauty, and you will be beautiful.

Admire creativity, and you will be creative.

Love, and you will be loved.

Seek to understand, and you will be understood.

Listen, and your voice will be heard.

Show your best face to the mirror, and you'll be happy with the face looking back at you.

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