Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A secular nation?

We proudly call our nation multi-religious while forgetting the fact that this alone has killed many over the years! Why is that secularism does not work for India but it works for many others? Does the fault lie with our constitution? Or is it the blood of innocents over whom this nation was formed? Even if India did not have to shed much blood fighting for independence, it had to shed much over partition.More than a million they say. Did it all start from there? Will it's ghost never leave this nation?

Let us recall that the majority inherited this nation while the minority trusted the majority enough, to share this nation. Yet, there are a few among the minority as well as the majority who continue to feel insecure enough to fear each other. The politicians continue to fan this insecurity while they build their empire. Let me not blame one party alone since riots have occurred under both the major parties. If there was a 2002 Gujarat riot under BJP, there has been others under the Congress too. I mentioned Gujarat since this is where the nation's conscience stand rooted. From where it refuse to budge. But it is not from where it all started. If one party does it under the secular banner, the other under the Hinduvata banner.

Have a look at the various massacres that took place in India over the years and see the number of precious lives lost. Most of these massacres have been communal in nature.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_massacres_in_India

Communal riots are seldom caused spontaneously and very rarely caused by religious animosity. They are mostly caused due to conflicting political interests, which are often linked to economic interests. 

And in all these riots the police force was reduced to a mute spectator or an active party to the killing. A chronology of riots as reported by Hindustan Times details how police have always been let loose. I believe that before each religious killing or riots, there will be a smoldering time. The small fire from it all starts. Why is that this nation has never been able to douse this fire but does everything to fan it? I also continue to believe that the minute this smoldering starts, killers begin to sharpen their weapons. They have always been ready and yet our police and political party pretend not see them. You and me may never do the act, but there are those who have been trained to do so. Yes, those who are governing the state and the police force are responsible. Yet, over the years we have seen none of them being punished. Why? Are our courts biased too?

Police reforms may help they say. I believe too. The duty of the police is only to serve the people. They should never be a tool for the politicians to play with lives. Make them independent? Other nations are doing it, why not India? How much worse can it get, if it so? A force not governed by each state but as a separate entity. A force whose only duty is to protect the masses. What can go wrong? If there are mistakes, this will be more visible and can be easily punished?

Let the police force be politically neutral. Let them be recruited from a central pool and transferred like the bank employees. Let them be paid well for a start.

2014 LS elections are nearing. Do I have hopes for any positive change. Why should there be? On one side is the so called secular party trying to woo the minorities by all means while on the other side is the party for the majority trying to woo the majority. Will anything change on the ground? Or will both these parties lose and political mongering bring about an even more worse situation?

Let me end this by praying that any party which comes to power in 2014 will concentrate on building more toilets!

You will agree with me once you see the toilet map of our nation.



Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Animals

I was fortunate to grow up with pets and there were times when our house could be pictured for the nursery rhyme "Old MacDonald had a farm"! There were ducks, hens, cows, goats, pigs, more than one dog, a clowder of cats and even a monkey! And it was the companion of a pet that I missed most after my books when I first landed here in Kuwait. But since I was too busy bringing up my kids, I somehow put down the urge to have a pet. When the kids were a little bigger, we had our first pet. A few love birds. It was fun watching them preen and croon to each other. One of them even hatched a few eggs but the chicks died for some reasons. The last one died after I handed it over to my friend when we went for vacation. The next was an hamster who was fun as long as it did not chew the wires of the speakers! The fellow was doing fine until daughter brought another one from her friend. She was an aggressive one and was forever fighting and injuring the poor fellow. But we had to hand over them to a friend while we went on vacation and they died either due to the extreme heat or because of the constant fights. 

And then she seduced us with her ways and captured our hearts. 

She was not really a stray cat but was looked after by this girl in one of the flats in our building. She waited for me when I returned from work and then just plopped down under the sofa. A very fuzzy eater and hence was hard to feed her. But if you meet her outside with her friends she gave no signs of recognition! She was the typical selfish cat!


Before we left for our vacation, I found her forever sleeping and now I realize why! As soon as our luggage was hauled up we found her lugging one kitten after another and dropping them under our bed! I am not sure how she knew we were back from our vacation! Three beautiful kittens and they were just a week old!

And then it became our job to open the door to let her out whenever she wanted! She found means to wake us up even from our deepest sleep. Luckily, during the day she decided to stay inside until the kids came back from school.

And the other day it was just another trip for her while the kittens stayed with us and since we were busy watching a movie ( a little loud I think), we missed hearing her call us to open the door. Someone had harmed her and her front legs were all cut and her beautiful face all blackened! I cannot understand how some can harm animals! I have seen little children do it and have wondered if it was out of fear or just to see the fear in the eyes of the animal. Or was it a car? We are still not sure.

We left her at home while she nursed her wound. Initially she refused to feed her kittens and we hoped she will be alright after a day or two. Right now she is much better, but two of the kittens have died. Now only one remain!

This reminded me of the guide of who took us on our trek in Gavi. He explained to us why men are called animals when they turn cruel. He said animals are never as cruel as men and it was wrong to give this name to a man. Only men can be cruel while animals only try to protect themselves. According to him, the only two stupid animal in the forest are the wild buffalo and the boar. They are the only ones who may attack you without any reason. And rightfully dumb humans are called buffalos! or in Malayalam "Pothe"! It was good to see the love this young chap had for the forest and it's original dwellers. He is part of the group of Sri Lankans who were forced to flee during the troubled times. Indian government let them stay inside these forests where they act as guides and also contribute towards cardamom cultivation. They don't own lands and some of them have left this place for good.

Here is something I wrote decades ago during my troublesome teen years and when animals gave me the right kind of solace.


Animals
I feel those who don't like animals miss a lot of fun and solace in this life. To me, they make up most of my happy moments. They show me a different world, a beautiful place of innocence, of loyalty of unselfishness too. They can teach us human beings a lot, a lot we ignore.
A kitten, so cute and playful! When I see it lift it's paws playfully, I feel so happy in seeing it's beauty. At that moment it looks as though God has bestowed upon it, all the beauty and sweetness in this world. It's eyes all round and it's body all fluffy and soft. The cat, the way it stretches itself, so tempting, so sensuous! No wonder a lady is complimented as sensuous as a cat! It has got that attractiveness which just pulls you. You just have to hold it. They have that royal look, that untouched grace.
A dog, ever loving and faithful. Ever ready to please you. It is so happy when you notice it, when you touch it, when you pet it. That is the most important thing that they yearn from their masters. That look which somehow tells them that we care. That trust in their eyes. Oh those beautiful brown eyes! The loving licks it give you.  And it asks not much in return. Have you seen it's happiness upon seeing you back from a trip? Can any human being replicate that happiness? 
People should never miss all this. They are God's soothing balm in this world full of sorrows. God knows that at times men need something more than the contact of human beings. Animals are God's wonderful gift to us.
Every animal in this world looks beautiful to me. I know that some of them are dangerous but God has never created any evil ones and they don't turn evil like men. They are consistent and they only defend themselves and in that process we indifferent human beings get hurt.
Love animals, they are worth your love! 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Violets

These are the pictures of the violets at my parent's place.






They were planted more than two decades back while they were in the tea estate and travelled all the way to Mavelikara. I don't know how it adapted to the hot climate. But my mother used to feed it daily with tea leaves that were left after brewing tea. Now she has lost interest in everything and it is Father who looks after them. Only a leaf is enough to create a new plant. If you place a leaf in water it will produce roots. Earlier there used to be more colors but now only the blue is left. 

During my recent visit, I found a poem that my mother had written about the violets. While we were kids she maintained a journal where each of us siblings contributed something. It was called the Philip's Journal. There used to be a box where we siblings were required to drop our contributions. Mother being the publisher and elder brother the editor each contribution were scrutinised before selection. It was mostly to keep us quiet at least a few hours during the holidays. With no neighbours around, we kids needed innovation to keep us occupied. 

I found these journals still intact and found time to capture some of her jottings which I intend to copy it here.

It looks crude but it was entirely home made! My mother used to maintain a blog earlier but not anymore.



Violets

I wonder who named you violets,
Beautiful, beautiful indeed
of various colors; purple, violet
pink, lilac, blue and white

Tending you is a jole sweet.
It teaches anyone patience.
How tender and timid you seem
But living ever in silence.

No on can kill your life.
Your single leaf can live again
Each giving to a new life
Shaming the destroyer's gain.

Who cannot love and tend you?
Nobody can be jealous,
if I say I love you
And love to see you everyday.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Time to return?

These days I realize that we are returning to the good old days than anything new! The past few decades were fast paced and we embraced the new with no second thoughts while discarding the old ways. Luckily, they are making a comeback. 

Let me go through some of it on this blog which has been neglected since some time! Yes..I was on vacation and had a wonderful one too. Am back much relaxed.

While in Kerala, I noticed that most households have started a vegetable garden. Two decades back it was common to have one where you could have your daily requirement of different coloured spinach, long beans, chilly, yam, gourds etc. etc. Now even those without much land can grow vegetables in grow bags on their terrace or balconies. At my parent's place I noticed the grow bags supplied by the panchayat at the rate of Rs. 500/-. Guess this is as per the scheme run by the Kerala Agriculture department; the details for the same is here: But since the rains were bad, it did not take off well initially. But just before I returned and when the rains subsided, I found them yielding well.

The Grow bags supplied to my Parent's place

3. Promotion of Urban Clusters: Rs. 400 Lakhs 
3.a. Terrace Cultivation :
It is proposed to popularize vegetable cultivation, in two corporation areas viz. Kollam and Thrissur Corporations by selecting 13250 beneficiaries from each 10  corporation. 25 nos of grow bags along with seedlings of major 4-6 vegetable  crops, preferably nonpandal varieties like Amaranthus, chillies, brinjal, Bhindi  Bush cowpea, tomato, cabbage, cauliflower, palak etc.worth Rs. 2000/- will be supplied to each beneficiary at 75 % subsidy (Rs. 1500 ). Grow bags will have a dimension of 40cmx24cmx24cm, 600 gauge (150 micron) thickness, UV Stabilised , white outer and black inner and should contain 10 to 12 kg potting mixture. The growbag should contain the details of the scheme as Name of Department, name of programme and year of implementation (in Malayalam) along with the details of the supplying agency. Minimum 15 houses as a cluster
in a residence association will be supplied with growbag with seedlings, wherein the association should take the lead role for the supervision and maintenance of the garden including collection of beneficiary contribution of Rs. 500 each.
Most food bloggers write about the best cooking utensils and I realize that these were and still being used by Indians. The ones made with iron/Cheenachatti and Earthenware/Manchatti. I have stopped buying the non stick pans and pots. I do have some manchattis and also use ceramic coated pans. The fish curries have to be prepared in earthenwares since the acid from the kokam can seep into the vessel. The taste of a sambar made in an earthenware is distinct. 

And now the latest invention from the west: the healthy way to poop! The idea of squatting when defecating is not a new one. Indians (maybe the whole world?)  did it all the time and still do. Our railways I think, still have it. But the Indian style toilets have almost disappeared from most households in Kerala.  Have a look at this article. 

Cycles are back with a vengeance on the Indian roads! Good! With the petrol price being increased every other day and government thinking of ridiculous ideas like shutting pumps after 8 PM, the best and healthy way of transportation would be the cycle.
Shoddy tracks no deterrent, cycle sales graph soars
Cyclists may have been decrying the poor and unusable condition of cycle tracks across Pune roads, but this has not affected the sale of cycles in the city. From medium-end bikes to the more expensive imported versions, they are all available and have takers in all age groups.
Hero cycles' new plant to target premium bikers
Targeting the premium bicycle market which is growing at 40 percent annually, Hero cycles Monday opened a new all-aluminium cycle plant here with an aim to increase sales five-fold.
Riding to success on a bicycle 
When M S Athirup, a Thiruvananthapuram-based engineer launched At his  Bicycle Club (abc), the city’s first cross-city bicycling club, little did he know about the immense response his initiative would garner.The club, which started off with 35 members in Kochi, now has more than 1,000 members. The club rents bicycle for two hours for Rs 2.Athirup is excited that corporates are showing interest in his initiative. He said three companies from Infopark have approached him to seeking the  service of Athi Bicycle Club.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Are we short of people?


Is this nation teeming with  121,01,93422, and still counting by minutes, short of people to represent our esteemed Rajya Sabha?
 
This must be the question that went through the minds of many Indians when 2G accused and now out on bail Kanimozhi was elected to the Rajya Sabha with the help of the Congress Party. She spared no time to thank her benefactor as soon as she was elected!

Kanimozhi thanks Sonia Gandhi for support in Rajya Sabha polls
 
NEW DELHI: DMK leader Kanimozhi on Friday thanked Congress president Sonia Gandhi for supporting her in getting elected to Rajya Sabha earlier this week. 
"I was here to offer my party's thanks to Sonia Gandhi for supporting us," she told reporters hereRajyaSabha and Lok Sabha are almost the same when it comes to The salary, allowances andpension for a member and also the qualification.
As you many know, the Rajya Sabha has equal footing in all areas of legislation with Lok Sabha, except in the area of supply, where the Lok Sabha has overriding powers. 

Now let us see the qualifications needed to contest the RS seat: The salary, allowances and pension for a member of Rajya Sabha are same as in Lok Sabha and so is the qualification too.
QualificationsAs per Article 84 of Indian Constitution, the Qualification for being a member of Lok Sabha is that he should be a citizen of India and has taken an oath given under Third Schedule of the Constitution. Also he must be at least 25 years of Age.
However ,as per Article 102 of Indian Constitution ,a member can be disqualified for being a member of parliament:-
  • if he holds office of profit;
  • if he is an undischarged insolvent;
  • if he is of unsound mind;
  • if he gives up as a citizenship of India or under allegiance or adherence to a foreign State;
  • if he is violating party discipline(as per Tenth schedule of the constitution).
Also under Representation of People Act 1951, he should not be criminally convicted, which would lead to disqualification otherwise.

The trial of 2G scam is still going on and she is yet to be acquitted: Does this mean that they have already influenced the court?

M. K. Kanimmozhi
·         Political career – Daughter of five-time Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, M. Karunanidhi. Political party DMK. She is a Member of Parliament, representing Tamil Nadu in the Rajya Sabha (the upper house of Indian Parliament).[49][50]·         Allegation – As per the chargesheet filed by CBI Kanimozhi has 20% stake in her family owned Kalaignar TV, her step-mother Dayalu Ammal owns 60% stake in the same channel.[51] CBI alleges that Kanimozhi was an "active brain" behind the channel's operations[51] and she worked along with former telecom minister A. Raja to get DB Realty promoter Shahid Balwa to circuitously route INR2 billion (US$34 million) to Kalaignar TV.[52] According to CBI, Kanimozhi was in regular touch with A Raja regarding launching of Kalaignar TV channel and its other pending works.[52] CBI alleges that A Raja was further pursuing the cause of Kalaignar TV not only for getting registration of the company from Ministry of Information and Broadcasting but also for getting it in the DTH operator TATA Sky's bouquet. She was also summoned by the Income Tax Department, Chennai for alleged tax evasion charges.[52]·         Charges – Criminal conspiracy to cause criminal breach of trust by a public servant, criminal conspiracy under section 120-B, cheating under section 420 & forgery under sections 468 and 471. Booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act.[28][40]·         Status – Taken into custody (arrested) by CBI on 20 May 2011.[53][54] Granted bail on 28 November 2011 after spending 188 days in judicial custody.[55][56] As of August 2012, trial is being conducted in Special CBI Court.[48]
The Lok Sabha is already teeming with those who have criminal background but the least Kanimozhi could have done was stay away from politics until her name was cleared. How much ever poetry she writes, in the hearts of many Indians she has lost even the little respect and sympathy that she gained.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Identity

It was a casual remark: "One need to have a political and religious identity": set me thinking. Really? What purpose does it serve?

Let me look at both. Having a political identity means that you are a die-hard fan of a particular party. And what does a political party do? Ideally in a democracy it should help in nation building. The same goes for religion too. Ideally, it should build the spiritual side of a person. But what happens when one succumbs to a political party/ideology or religion? One fails to see the mistakes it commits. After all, both religion and political parties are made on earth by mortals and is bound to fail. When you surrender your identity to a religion or a political party you fail to speak out for it's wrongs.

One good example would be Hitler who headed the Nazi party and was able to persuade many to kill in the name of his ideology. It looked very easy once he attained power over the minds of his followers. He became too powerful to rein in even if anyone had second thoughts.

As for religion, I don't have to say anything! The examples are numerous.

In my state of Kerala, the main political parties are the Congress led UDF and the Communist parties under LDF. They take turns governing almost every 5 years and this happens not because of the die-hard fans of these parties but only because of those who rose above each party! The die-hard fans must surely have voted for their favourite party, but it is the votes of the rest which turned the tide.

A party ideology or love can prove to be disgusting at times. The recent one would be the brutal killing of TP Chandrashekaran. Am not ready to blame it on the Communist party with whom he was at loggerheads but one saw the hatred of the party even after he was dead! What makes one behave so?

Or let us look at the love of the Congress or the BJP fans. It is the same kind of blindness that is exhibited by many.

Let me conclude by saying that to build our nation each citizen should rise above political parties and be ready to point out the mistakes of those who ruin the nation.

A political party should be made to build the nation and not the politicians.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

History

History was boring only when one had to memorize events and dates to reproduce it during an exam. But later I have always loved looking up history. A few blogs have made it even more pleasurable. Have always loved imagining the situation as it was eons ago. Since human emotions have remained pretty same, it is easy to imagine!

Some say it is not good to dwell in the past glory since we forget to move forward. But one cannot and should not ignore history since it can repeat if forgotten. And if there is one history that I want to be repeated, it would be the following:


India was by far the biggest economy at the dawn of AD! followed closely by China.. 

Most of us are recipients of emails which stated this fact in many other ways. Some were taken seriously while others were ignored. A few even called these Indians "nationalists"! Not sure why the love for your country is a bad emotion! Love for your own country can be compared to the love you have for your parents and your home. It does not mean that you hate another set of parents or home. It is just that it is from your home that your identity first shapes up and hence you shall always have a special regard for it.

Anyway coming back to the topic of ancient India, if you look at the map you can see that India is in a very dismal position at the moment. China had the same constraints but look how it is bouncing back?

While China seems to be slowly regaining its lost glory, India seems to have a lot of catching up to do. Even militarily, China is way beyond India.

The main reason being the rampant corruption that is eating into the resources of free India. I am sure most of us don't want a Chinese style of administration but I think the Indian freedom has lost all it's meaning. Right now the only free Indians, enjoying the fruits of India are the politicians and and those who pamper them.

I did not write this not to offer solutions but just wanted to remind myself that India had a glorious history but due to the smugness, complacency, and carefree attitude of us Indians the past glory continues to evade us.

Source:
http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/06/the-economic-history-of-the-last-2-000-years-in-1-little-graph/258676/

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Twitter and just rambling

Realize now that I have more or less abandoned this blog. Sigh.. Shall blame it on twitter where I continue to rant and most of it are addressed immediately. Which means, the steam of the ranting gets over in twitter itself. Twitter also reduced my words to 140 and muddled my grammar and spellings too! Right now I am writing just for the sake of it and with no topic on my mind. I could write about the current coalgate scam where our CBI has openly/legally confessed that they are not an independent team. But since this news is not new, it does not surprise me and I find no way out for this nation. UPA refuses to see it's mistake and there in none to make it pay for it's mistake, unless our esteemed Supreme Court finds a way. Will it save this nation?

Meanwhile our daughter has reached the 12th standard and son 11th. Time has flown too quickly and soon both of them would have to leave Kuwait to pursue higher studies. Until now parenting was easy since they were near, now I wonder how it would be when they are far away. Will they be responsible enough? Will the new freedom make them stray? Will they find right friends? Will the college have ragging? These are some of the thoughts that go through my mind. Sometimes I feel I should go with them but that would mean that I would have to leave Hubby behind. But then things have come this far and I guess it would do so in future too. I still remember how a friend once said the same when I was new to Kuwait and yet to have children. When I wondered how difficult it would be to bring up children with no support she casually remarked that one would take it in stride and it will come naturally. And I did. I had none to support me during my delivery or when I reached home. But I think I did a fair job with my children :) 

The children changes fast! It needed a lot of chiding to make my son comb his hair or select a dress but now he takes more time than his sister to dress up. Even then he has to take opinion from his sister on everything. I see him updating his profile on FB and then waiting with much tension to see the number of comments and likes. This is the age of social media! As for daughter, she has less words for us but too much for her friends. Her phone calls are never ending and I end up threatening to call up parents. Earlier she used to hang onto her father's arms when out for shopping but now unless he reminds her, she does not. Hubby feels abandoned and keeps reminding that the children no longer want us. Guess one need to get used to the fact that they are ready to fly the nest and we may no longer have much hold over them. I left home after my 10th and used to come home only for study leave or during vacation. 

Right now I have this great urge to move to Kerala knowing well that that I may regret the decision :). Hubby won't even let me finish uttering my desire. Living in India will not be easy especially after a life out here. I am not talking about the comforts which is available in India too for a price. But somehow life out here is fairly easier and you fall into a false sense of security, whereas in India one is rudely awakened each time we try to settle down. As for the NRI's how much ever we are on our guard, someone or the other will always be there to think ahead of us. Anyway, let things move on as it is now. Maybe if my MIL asks for my assistance I shall relocate to India. Right now she is comfortable with her lonely life. The greatest surprise is that she has grown to love our dog Jim. She used to hate dogs, mostly due to her fear and it was FIL who still kept dogs out of his love. Though she used to feed the dog she was always threatening to drive it away. But Jim has captured even her heart. Since Jim being a lab had a habit of jumping upon you, she used to keep away from him. But recently we had to terminate the services of our maid since she tried to swindle money and another is yet to join. This meant that Jim was confined to his cage. Poor guy! Until the other day when MIL took courage to let it out and lured it away by food. Surprisingly Jim seems very caring towards MIL. I think he understands that MIL is old and should be treated thus. She is 82 years. Yesterday she was sitting out in the front, and Jim brought the chappals that she uses outside from behind the house. Maybe Jim wanted her to move around with him! Here is a picture of Jim as a pup.






All of us miss him much and we are waiting for July to come so that we can see him. He has grown big and will soon celebrate his first birthday. We bought him home as a puppy and he accompanied us everywhere. He slept with our son until we had to leave him behind. Only Hubby was lucky to see him again and he brought back enough photos and videos to satisfy us. Only dogs can love you unconditionally!

Think I have rambled enough for today :) Hope to return with more serious topic soon.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Old wine in new bottle


The UPA government’s final attempt to regain the lost trust of the voters before the impending Lok Sabha election is through the much acclaimed National Food Security Bill (NFSB). This is also being lauded by MSN as Sonia’s pet project.

The four pillars of NFSB
Food Availability: The availability of sufficient quantities of food of appropriate quality, supplied through  domestic production or imports (including food aid).
Food Access: Access by individuals to adequate resources (entitlements) for acquiring appropriate foods for a  nutritious diet. Entitlements are defined as the set of all commodity bundles over which a person can establish command given the legal, political, economic and social arrangements of the community in which they live (including traditional rights such as access to common resources).
Utilization or Absorption: Utilization of food through adequate diet, clean water, sanitation and health care to reach a state of nutritional well-being where all physiological needs are met. This brings out the importance of non-food inputs in food security.
Stability: To be food secure, a population, household or individual must have access to adequate food at all times. They should not risk losing access to food as a consequence of sudden shocks (e.g. an economic or climatic crisis) or cyclical events (e.g. seasonal food insecurity). The concept of stability can therefore refer to both the availability and access dimensions of food security.

But after repeated readings of several articles I fail to understand how different it is from the current Public Distribution System (PDS) or others that are already in place. 

The main purpose of PDS was to act as price supporting programmes for the consumers during the periods of food shortage of the 1960. In 1980 the coverage of PDS extended to rural areas in some states as welfare programme. In 1985 the scheme extended to all the tribal blocks covering about 51 million persons. The scheme was revamped and extended to 164 million persons covering the rural areas.




The FSB also talks about anganwadis. But these have been in place since 1975! We also have the mid-day meal programs in government schools since a long time.

So what is the new bill going to do which the older one couldn’t do?

It is an accepted fact that much leakage happens in the old system. FSB hopes to take care of this by the direct cash transfer system. How foolproof is this going to be when those governing the system have not changed at all?

Today, India has the largest stock of grain in the world besides China, the government spends Rs. 750 billion ($13.6 billion) per year, almost 1 percent of GDP, yet 21% remain undernourished. Under PDS scheme, each family below the poverty line is eligible for 35 kg of rice or wheat every month, while a household above the poverty line is entitled to 15 kg of foodgrain on a monthly basis.

The above graph shows that our foodgrains production has increased every year; yet millions go hungry.

As for storage of foodgrains, our FCI storages have never been revamped.  In fact much food grains are lost while in storage and is shameful in a country which has the most hungry in the world.

In 2010-11, the foodgrain loss was 1.56 lakh tonne, while it was 1.31 lakh tonnes in 2009-10 and 0.58 lakh tonnes in 2008-09, Food minister K V Thomas said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.

Even now most ration shops indulge in practices which create a black market, thus increasing the food grain price.

In aggregate, only about 42% of subsidised grains issued by the central pool reach the target group, according to a Planning Commission study released in March 2008.
In fact we are told that for every Rs. 4 spent on PDS, only Rs. 1 reaches the poor” and “57% of the PDS food grain does not reach the intended people” (UIDAI, 2009)

Besides, how much free food can a nation afford to give and how long? 

Instead if this amount is utilized for free education it will go a long way in creating a nation better equipped to face the present times. 

Won’t free and mandatory education combined with mid-day meals take care of a large section of our population? Won't it go a long way if a part of this money is spent on infrastructure projects?

If more than 40 years of upliftment through PDS couldn't make much change to the number of poor in India how will it do so now? Yes..we have uplifted our politicians and that is what even this will do. They shall remain the only winners as usual.

http://under-the-tree-of-tranquility.blogspot.com/2011/05/only-winners.html
http://www.umdcipe.org/conferences/policy_exchanges/conf_papers/Abstracts/29.pdf
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_Distribution_System
http://cacp.dacnet.nic.in/NFSB.pdf
http://www.academia.edu/378216/Public_Distribution_System_in_India

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ayn Rand


I read "The Fountainhead" while I was in college and the characters failed to leave my sub conscious mind. Those talking of self sacrifice and selfless life may never understand what she tried to say. But without first learning to loving yourself how can you love another?


“My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.”
Biography
Ayn Rand was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, on February 2, 1905. At age six she taught herself to read and two years later discovered her first fictional hero in a French magazine for children, thus capturing the heroic vision which sustained her throughout her life. At the age of nine she decided to make fiction writing her career. Thoroughly opposed to the mysticism and collectivism of Russian culture, she thought of herself as a European writer, especially after encountering Victor Hugo, the writer she most admired.

"What is greatness? I will answer: it is the capacity to live by the three fundamental values of John Galt: reason, purpose, self-esteem." | Playboy interview with Ayn Rand
"I don't intend to build in order to have clients; I intend to have clients in order to build." | The Fountainhead
"I refuse to apologize for my ability - I refuse to apologize for my success - I refuse to apologize for my money." | Atlas Shrugged
"Your self is your mind; renounce it and you become a chunk of meat ready for any cannibal to swallow." | Atlas Shrugged
"Intellectual freedom cannot exist without political freedom; political freedom cannot exist without economic freedoml a free mind and a free market are corollaries." | For the New Intellectual
"You seek escape from pain. We seek the achievement of happiness. You exist for the sake of avoiding punishment. We exist for the sake of earning rewards. Threats will not make us function; fear is not our incentive. It is not death that we wish to avoid, but life that we wish to live. You, who have lost the concept of the difference, you who claim that fear and joy are incentives of equal power—and secretly add that fear is the more “practical”—you do not wish to live, and only fear of death still holds you to the existence you have damned." | Atlas Shrugged
“Now look at me! Take a good look! I was born and I knew I was alive and I knew what I wanted. What do you think is alive in me? Why do you think I'm alive? Because I have a stomach and eat and digest the food? Because I breathe and work and produce more food to digest? Or because I know what I want, and that something which knows how to want—isn't that life itself? And who—in this damned universe—who can tell me why I should live for anything but for that which I want?” | We the Living
"The root of production is man's mind; the mind is an attribute of the individual and it does not work under orders, controls or compulsion, as centuries of stagnation have demonstrated. Progress cannot be planned by government, and it cannot be restricted or retarded; it can be only stopped, as every statist government has demonstrated." 
"For centuries, the battle of morality was fought between those who claimed that your life belongs to God and those who claimed that it belongs to your neighbors - between those who preached that the good is self-sacrifice for the sake of ghosts in heaven and those who preached that the good is self-sacrifice for the sake of incompetents on earth. And no one came to say that your life belongs to you and that the good is to live it." | Atlas Shrugged
"[Selfless love] would have to mean that you derive no personal pleasure or happiness from the company and the existence of the person you love, and that you are motivated only by self-sacrificial pity for that person’s need of you. I don’t have to point out to you that no one would be flattered by, nor would accept, a concept of that kind. Love is not self-sacrifice, but the most profound assertion of your own needs and values. It is for your own happiness that you need the person you love, and that is the greatest compliment, the greatest tribute you can pay to that person."

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Storm the jails?

Justice Markandey Katju has concluded his blog post thus:


I, therefore appeal to the people of India, and particularly to the Media, to avoid doing anything which may fan or promote communal hatred and animosity, and exercise restraint in reporting cases of bomb blasts and other terrorist activities.

Fine. 

And he also says the following:


The recent case of Amir who was arrested when he was 17 years old and kept for 14 years in jail until he was found innocent by the Court, illustrates the gross injustice which is often done to Muslims in India.  There are a large number of such cases of false implication of Muslims in bomb blast cases.  
The whole country knows that all Muslims are not terrorists. And in my opinion the public has shown much restraint after each blasts.

As for the media, it was only doing a job: how mean or cruel it seems to be. But no riots ensued because of the same and in fact even Muslims were killed in the recent cowardly attack.

But my angst is as to why a retired judge is telling the public all this, since it is neither the media nor the public who nabs people and put them in jail. The only role the public plays is fall prey to terror attacks whenever it happens.

But while as a Judge has he done anything to ensure justice to those arrested wrongly? Since I am not sure, let me assume he did. And now that he is retired can he do more to change the attitude of the police and the judiciary? Maybe hold classes and repeat whatever he has penned on his blog? Do a bit more and get the "police reforms " that is only paper now into action? Else I shall never understand what he hopes to achieve by preaching to the public and the media. 

For the public it only matters that there has been no let down from the terrorists and how much ever the media white washes there lives among them a few hell bent on continuing with their acts. And the public also does not want any innocent to languish in jails. But what role does the public play in this game of arrests and detainment?

So tell me esteemed Judge.. what do you really want?

Do you want the public to storm the jails and free the prisoners whenever they are jailed?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Anniversary

Today is a day of remembrance and a day for celebration.

It is a day to remember Achayan (my FIL) who left us this day two years back. Achaya..you will always live in our memories.




It is also a day to remember 2 decades of our married life. Yes..it has been so long!

Over the years, we fought like cats..





.....and made up like love birds! 


Watching us, the world may call us the least compatible couple.. but we learned much from each other and changed for each other.

But the greatest achievement of our union is our two children whom we love and adore.

During this short life full of ups and downs I have realized how fickle relationships can be.

How easy it is to blame than to accept.
How easy is to hurt than to forgive.
How easy it is to give up than continue.
How easy it is to cut relationships than to nurture it.

Our children too shall leave this home we created lovingly very soon, to face the world and to know people better or worse than us. Let me pray that they shall forgive and forget whatever we have omitted to teach them and whatever we taught them unintentionally. Let me pray that they shall always remember that we did our best and will reach out to us during their times of difficulties and triumphs.

Let me also thank God for not giving me everything that I have prayed for, but for giving me so many things that I have never prayed for but is very precious.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Suryanelli

Had meant to keep away from the subject rape since I think I wrote too many posts on the same but yesterday's revelation by an "eminent" judge gave me a sleepless night and I had to vent my fury on this poor blog!

The Suryanelli case must have got the attention of the entire nation since PJ Kurien, Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha is also one among the accused. He never faced trial owing to many reasons while the victim continued to stand by her accusation. Initially all accused were punished by the lower court but later when they appealed, the High Court punished only one person to 5 years and let the others free. The reason being the the rape happened due to the consent of the victim! The two esteemed judges ends the 2005 judgement thus:


201. In the fiercely consumerist society that we live in, a young girl child is also exposed to so many temptations that it is difficult for the child which has not been groomed in proper atmosphere with a proper value system inculcated in it, to resist such temptations. Such children can be termed deviants but cannot be merely condemned and left to their fate . They too deserve the sympathy of the system as it is no crime of theirs that they are born and forced to grow up in such atmosphere. It is the duty of the secular state to give the requisite education to instil a proper value system in such future citizens. That must be reckoned as the incident of the constitutional obligation of the State to give free primary education. That obligation cannot be relegated by the State to religious or optional institutions. They too deserve the protection of the law against unintelligent, imprudent and immoral consent being extracted from them at that early age. No one should be permitted by law to rely on such alleged consent given by a minor aged less than 18 years, the fond child of law and equity. I may sum up by stating that raising the age of consent for sexual intercourse to 18 consistent with the stipulations in the saner subsequent enactments appears to be the unavoidable imperative before the system. At least the Kerala Legislature must take bold efforts to bring in suitable local amendments to S.375 of the Indian Penal Code and give leadership to others.

Yet, the reverse is what the judges have done by their judgement. Yesterday Basant reduced this girl to a child prostitute and also added that child prostitution is not rape but is only immoral! One girl's infatuation reduced her to a child prostitute; and all thanks to our eminent judges. With one stroke of the pen these "eminent" judges reduced the  victim to a child prostitute while letting loose potential molesters onto an unsuspecting public!

I doubt if these two gentlemen have ever raised children. We parents do not raise angels; they show many faults and if any childhood offence automatically reduces them to future criminals or prostitutes then strange are the laws that guide this society! 


56. When we read the evidence of PW3, we have to be cognisant of her psyche - her mental make up. Her past conduct and behaviour have to be borne in mind. She was only a student of 9th standard. She had squandered Rs.450/- entrusted to her by her father for remitting hostel fees, whether it was given to Arun as stated by the appellants or to the first accused as stated by the Prosecutor. 
A 9th standard girl's infatuation forced her to give money to her lover; how does this make her deviant? Instead it is very clear that a criminal tendency was shown by the much elder lover who took advantage of the girl's naivety. I know of much older girls with higher education who have fallen for such lovers. 

The case also talks about a letter that was supposed to have been written by the victim stating that she is leaving the house on her accord but this was never produced in court, yet the judges makes a bid deal out of it.


9. It is submitted by the appellants that no conspiracy is proved in this case. There is no cogent evidence in that regard. On the other hand the letter said to be written by PW3 to DW3 in the second case which has been suppressed by the prosecution will cut at the root of the allegation of conspiracy, it is contended.
Throughout the judgement care has been made to make it look as the girl willingly consented to all the accused.


11. It is further contended that even if PW3 is found to be believable otherwise, a conjoint reading of her evidence in toto will show that she was not an unwilling partner for intercourse. So far as the accused are concerned, there was no resistance from her part, so that those who approached her could discern that she was not willing for intercourse or there was absence of consent from the part of PW3. Absence of consent on the part of PW3 has not been satisfactorily proved in this case to bring home the guilt of the accused under Section 376(1) or 376(2)(g). It is further contended that the unwillingness now spoken to by PW3 before the court below is really an excuse found out by her to save her face in the family and among the relatives for her long absence of 40 days from her house. 


When the judges themselves agree that absence of consent has not been satisfactorily proved how did they arrive at such a judgement? Yesterday the judge repeated the visit of the girl to two hospitals and wonders why she never raised an alarm. Were the doctors too a part of this conspiracy? Or was she threatened to behave?

But after reading the entire judgement I now believe that an attempt was made to tarnish the image of the girl and her family and thus make the case weak. This has happened in every rape case and our nation is very familiar with the same. This case has been no different. The judges made no attempt to see through the usual patriarchal turf. They refused to see a girl in captivity raped endlessly by many but they saw a child prostitute willingly submitting to each visitor and taking either pleasure or money in return! I heard one lawyer heaping praises on Basant; but after reading the judgement I find no reason to support her. She should remember that if this incident was to happen to her or me, we would face the same fate. Our imaginary life and character will be written in courts and we will end up as the criminal while the accused walks free as victims of circumstances!

I suspect that this judgement was done in such manner that a re-investigation of the same would be very difficult. But they never expected the Supreme Court to be affected by the recent Delhi rape case. Her death has not been in vain. As someone commented yesterday, the revelation of the judge is also good at this juncture since it revealed the deep prejudices or outside influence that can affect the outcome of a case.

This judgement would also make any future allegation against P J Kurien difficult. But in the case of PJK, times have changed since two alibis( 1, 2) are now talking differently. The most curious fact is that none of them were produced in court or were any written/signed statement produced. I am not sure under what basis PJK escaped law but after reading this judgement any doubt of his innocence have evaporated from my mind. 

I only wish the media will pursue this case with the same vigor that they show now. As for Indiavision TV, the judge accuses them of wrong doing. But the lady reporter did reveal her identity and the judge did see a cameraman accompany her. The eminent Judge must know that journalists are always out for a cause. Basant also repeated the "child prostitute" theory during a seminar. Tehelka might have started sting operations but what Indiavision TV did could not be called such. Anyway, it has been the media which brought out the statement of the two alibis. They need to be applauded. 

But whatever, my only wish is that this girl and her family will be given justice at least after 17 years!

For further reading on gender bias and child prostitution:
http://www.sunday-guardian.com/analysis/ghosts-of-the-past-hover-over-gender-justice
http://www.hrw.org/reports/2013/02/07/breaking-silence-0

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