Monday, July 28, 2014

‘Tables have turned’, Singhal warns Muslims

‘Tables have turned’, Singhal warns Muslims                                                         July 29, 2014

In a stern message to India’s Muslims, Ashok Singhal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad chief patron and one of the senior most functionaries of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has said that the 2014 elections have shown that a government can be made ‘without Muslim support’. He also expressed confidence that Narendra Modi-an ‘ideal swayamsevak’-would deliver on the Hindutva agenda, unlike the first NDA government.In an exclusive interview to HT, Singhal-who had a front-row seat that ‘tables and turned’.    

The polls were a ‘setback to Muslim politics’ which had been used by ‘foreign and divisive forces was time for them to learn lessons. “Muslims will be treated as common citizens, nothing more, nothing less. And they must learn to respect Hindu sentiments. If they keep opposing Hindus, how long can they survive?” When asked that this meant in tangible terms, the Sangh veteran said Muslims should give up claims over Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura and accept a Uniform Civil Code. The VHP is under stood to have asked interlocutors to directly convey this message to muslim organizations.

“We will then give them love, and not claim any other mosque sites even though there are thousands built on the ruins of temples. But if they don’t accept it, they should be prepared for further Hindu consolidation. It has happened at the centre; it will happen in other states,” said Singhal. The VHP has strained ties with Vajpayee for it felt that the NDA-1 did nto deliver on core issues like the Ram Temple UCC and abrogation of Article 370. But singhal said he had no such apprehensions anymore.

“The government will not and does not need to backtrack because it has the numbers in the house, and whatever we want to do, we want to do through constitutional means,” said Singhal. He added that BJP’s win had become possible because of ‘Ram Janmabhoomi and Godhra. The VHP supremo admitted that there had been ‘unprecedented mobilization’ by the Sangh Parivar during these elections. When asked if the Sangh expected their loyalists to be rewarded, he said, “well, the governors being appointed right now-be it Ram Naik or Kesari Nath Tripathi-are all from Sangh.

The RSS, BJP, VHP, Bajrang Dal, Ram Sena are the outfits of the RSS. All have expressed the views “Modi Sarkar” has been hoisted only with a view to create a “HINDU RASHTRA”.

Are we Indians-ready to accept. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Holy River Unholy Mess -The Lost River

The Lost River                                                                                       July 26, 2014

The Ganga is dying from toxic waste dumped into it
The Ganga’s course is approximately 2,525km. Total annual flow of the river is 525 BCM (billion cubic metres). 90-95 percent of this flow is abstracted for irrigation and related uses. The Ganga basin is inhabited by 37 per cent of India’s population. About 47 per cent of the total irrigated area in India is located in the Ganga basin alone. The urban population in Ganga basin states is 122 million. Of 692 Ganga basin towns, 100 are situated on the river. 2.9 billion litres of raw sewage is dumped into the Ganga every day. Ganga basin towns generate 109.357 MTA (million tonnes per annum of industrial waste.)

GANGOTRI: Immaculate Conception, River rises from the pristine glacial melt of the Gangotri Glacier at Gaumukh. Water quality is compliant with international standards.

RUDRAPRAYAG: First Signs, Confluence of Ganga tributaries Mandakini and Alaknanda. Faecal coliform bacteria in water attributed to local hill population and pilgrims, is already above acceptable levels and increasing.

HARIDWAR: Getting Murky, River enters indo-Gangetic Plain. Water bears raw, untreated sewage from 12 upstream towns. More than 90MLD (million litres per day) is dumped into the Ganga. Includes sewage generated by 1.5 million pilgrims during the Char Dham Yatra every summer.
KANNAUJ: Depleted and Dirtier, Deprived of nearly 95 per cent of its flow between Haridwar and Narora. Ganga is reduced to a mere rivulet and burdened with further pollution. With unacceptably high BOD (Biochemical Oxygen Demand, a pollution measure)and rising levels of faecal coliform, water is even unfit for bathing.

KANPUR: Malignant Muddle, 500 MLD sewage generated. 40-50 MLD of effluents from more than 400 leather tanneries. More than 300 MLD of raw sewage and 30-40 MLD of effluents dumped in the Ganga. Faecal coliform counts of 250,000 to 500,000 MPN (most probable number( per 100 ml recorded in river water.

ALLAHABAD: The Confluence, Ganga merges with the Yamuna. Dilution of Ganga water brings down faecal coliform but at 10,000 MPN/100ml, it is still highly polluted. City dumps more than 130 MLD of sewage into the river.

VARANASI: Gateway to God, City generates more than 400 MLD of sewage. 700 tonnes of ash;  3,250 partially or unburnt bodies; 6,000 animal carcasses dumped in river. In May 2014, faecal coliform count ranged between 10,000 to more than 1 million MPN/100ml.

PATNA: Spreading Poison, Municipal waste generated-280 MLD. Treatment capacity-109 MLD. Treatment capacity 109 MLD. Faecal coliform count between 30,000 and 50,000 MPN/100ml.

KOLKATA: Choked at the Mouth, 705 MLD sewage generated. Treatment capacity for just 172 MLD.  At Kalighat the Ganga (Hooghly) is reduced to a putrid sewer.

Cremations Inc
“Doosre shaharon mein log zindagi dhoondhe jaate hain….magar Banaras mein to marne aate hain (People travel to cities in search of life… in Banaras (Varanasi), they come to die).” K.K. Mani, a keralite by descent but raised in Varanasi, has witnessed over 10,000 cremations of friends or relatives, and of scores of anonymous soul seeking Moksha (emancipation) in Hinduism’s holiest address.
Funeral rites and cremations may not be the biggest source of contamination in the river but they are the most visible. A 2012 study commissioned by the Banras Hindu University’s (BHU) Centre for Environmental Science and Technology (CEST) counted 33,000 cremations over 12 months using more than 16,000 tonnes of firewood. CEST estimates that more than 700 tonnes of ash and partially burnt skeletal material found its way into the Ganga. Add to this 3,250 human cadavers and over 6,000 animal carcasses recorded along a 10km stretch of the river as it flows past the city. The numbers grow with each passing year.

Who is responsible for this mess of our “Holy River” we the people of India

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Food for Thought-A matter of concern

Food for Thought-A matter of concern                                                            July 24, 2014

For India’s rich , a new motto: To have, but not to hold              
Along a small secluded stretch off the Yamuna Expressway outside Delhi is a 24 storey apartment block billed as the future of hyper luxury. With one private residence to a floor, each 12,000 square foot flat is equivalent in area to the main hall of Vigyan Bhawan. Its eight bedrooms, dens and entertainment rooms come fully furnished along with a 30 foot pool, six servant ‘residences’ and a car lift that raises your Jaguar to your floor. Conceived by an Italian designer, furniture is manufactured in Singapore, with air conditioning and kitchen equipment from Germany. The apartment is encased in a sophisticated solar shield and protected from the harsh summer sunlight with louvers that rotate on a computer programme. The sale, naturally, is by invitation only.

If you stand on the high parapet on the 24th floor and look beyond the place, your vision will quickly take in the temporary encampments and tarpaulin slums that rise in the near horizon; human forms moving about in the mud are the thousands who made the luxury apartment possible. Such extremes encourage a growing divide; the air conditioned school that mollycoddles the child with weekends in London, at one end and at the other, a broken ruin of a public school with no teachers, and no toilets for girls.

How do you even begin to reconcile these unfortunate extremes? For the most part, the poor in our cities are treated as residue; they live in leftover spaces under flyovers, over city drains and sewers; their needs of health, education, commerce are performed by an undergrowth of spurious services and half baked professionals who see profit in the large numbers.

Where are the schools without air conditioning but with teachers; where are the health clinics with committed doctors; or housing schemes that innovate for the poor? Without basic facilities, the concentration of wealth into a single act of philanthropy becomes sadly misplaced. After the industrial revolution, the health of most western nations evolved in cycles of shared wealth. Irrefutable proof from there says that collective prosperity became possible only when private funds were directed through philanthropy or taxation to benefit the poor. Sweden’s high taxes funded health care and education. Having made his millions. American Andrew Carnegie promoted public libraries.

If the Indian city is to gain anything from private largesse, tycoons and business houses will need to open their eyes to the more difficult conditions of urban reality, and directed a more compassionate gaze to their less fortunate citizens.

Extract of an article by Gautam Bhatia TOI, 20 July 2014

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Fact File - Four Ways to Liberate Indian Science

Four Ways to Liberate Indian Science

Good research needs autonomy, investment, respect for copyright and a healthy interest in profit.

The economic liberalization of 1991 was the second independence in Indian history. It represented a tectonic shift in policies, the start of the end of ‘licence raj’, and unshackled the growth of the country. Time has come for the third independence of India, the libralisation of the academic, science and technology ecosystem in the country.
Historically, the growth of countries has been driven by continual advances in science and technology. According to Robert Solow, Nobel prize winner in economics, capital and labour are not the only things that drive economic growth, half the economic growth in the US since World War II can be taced to advances in science and technology. Even China has realized this. At the current rates, China’s commitment to R & D is expected to surpass that of the US by 2022, when both countries are likely to rach about $600 billion in R & D. Unfortunately, successive governments in India have only provided lip service to the science and technology sector. Moreever, simply allocating money for science and technology is not in itself sufficient to drive economic growth. The new Government has the opportunity and the mandate to liberalise the Indian science and technology ecosystem, which is the transformative step required to take the Indian economy to the next level.
1.       Free academic science and technology institutions to attract best talents REALITY CHECK India produces around 750,000 engineers every year, 12 times as many as the US, but 47 per cent are not employable in any sector.
2.       Empower institutions to capatilise their assets and resources REALITY CHECK The land on which Silicon Valley came up was seeded by Stanford University. About 39,900 active companies trace their roots to the university.
3.       Create an R & D-friendly policy famework REALITY CHECK India spends 0.96 per cent of its GDP on R & D while China and the Us are likely to spend about $600 billion on R &D by 2022.
4.       Send a strong message that intellectual property ownershipis respected here REALITY CHECK In 1900, when physicist Jagdish Bose presented a paper in Paris on how non-living things could exhibit sensory responses, Swami Vivekananda urged him to file for a US patent, granted in 1904.

Adopted from IT 30 June 2014.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Point to Ponder - After months of talk, it’s go time for new PM

Point to Ponder                                                                                   09 July 2014

After months of talk, it’s go time for new PM

Narendra Modi has now been prime minister for six weeks and it is abundantly clear that this is a “Modi Sarkar”. He has established direct contact with secretaries at the head of government departments, encouraging them to take decisions and get in touch with him if things go sour. Ministers have an ambiguous place in this setup, which is probably a good thing considering the mediocre level of his cabinet. Ministers could not be happy-they have been forbidden to hire relatives or introduce personal considerations in their decisions.

Otherwise, this has been a period of welcome silence and calm after the din and clatter of election. Now we need to see some action after months of talk. In one respect Modi should not be silent. He should learn from his predecessor’s mistake and insistently make a compelling political case for economic reform. He must keep educating Indians about the link between reforms, jobs, opportunities and prosperity. He needs to explain that only the competitive market (not giveaways) can deliver a middle-class society and that a rules-based capitalism leads to dignity, not crony capitalism. Unfortunately, he frittered away a golden opportunity to do this in the disappointing address of the President.

Modi has spoken about “tough” decisions that are urgently needed to enforce financial discipline, and they risk losing popular goodwill. With this warning he has set the stage for a hard-nosed budget on Thursday. When it comes to price increases, he would do well to follow TN Ninan’s advice-take price increases in small bites and frequently, and avoid the fiasco over the increase in railway fares.

Achche din anne wale hain (Good days are coming), was Modi’s response to his victory. Those few words carry a massive burden of aspirations but with a clear majority in the Lok Sabha and supremacy in his own party, he is the first Indian leader in a long time to have the freedom to act on his convictions.

Extract of an article by Gurcharan Das  TOI 6 July 2014

Monday, July 7, 2014

Fact Ftile A necessary option

A necessary option                                                                                                           July 8, 2014
Sex education in school is about how to do it responsibly

You know the country that India is most beginning to resemble? The United States of America. Case in point, our health minister’s opinion on how to handle sex education in schools. His idea is that we don’t need it and should instead rely on teaching kids Indian values. Wee, we have finally become a first world nation because in America many conservative politicians, including the brilliant-minted George W Bush, have been pushing for basically the same thing-abstinence-only education in school. Great! I cannot wait for us to get our own Disneyland. Here is what I believe the problem is. I don’t think our health minister knows exactly what ‘sex education’ means. I think he think that it means teachers will be teaching kids HOW to have sex.  I hate to break this to yeah, but everyone knows how to do it, yet there are definitely some who do it better but we all know how. It’s an instinct that we are born with, like knowing how to breathe. So no, sex education isn’t there to tell us how to, it’s there to tell us how to REPONSIBLY.

Cold, hard facts have probed that the less we tell our kind and the more taboo we make the conversation around sex, the worse off they will be. Compared to other developed nations America has amongst the highest rate of teen pregnancies, young women in the US are sexually active at a younger age and they tend to have a relatively higher number of sex partners. Interestingly, the Netherlands, a country where you can smoke weed and visit a prostitute without fear of being judged or jailed, has amongst the most sexually healthy teens. They wait longer, use contraception properly and have sex with fewer people.

Okay, so clearly we ain’t ever gonna be as cool  as the Dutch but what is it that us the US of A is a very religious country and it appears that all religion have the same sex education message-no sex before marriage. While this may have been a workable solution in the 1800s it is not so today. The number of years between attaining sexual maturity and eventually getting married is on the rise, I got married at 31, if I had waited till then to have sex I would have imploded. The idea of abstinence doesn’t work; look at alcohol consumption in Gujrat. Has anybody stopped drinking? Nope, the Gujarat daaru is as easily available as dhokla and while this is all right for the rich and powerful, they call their bottlegger and he gets them whatever they want. How is it working out for the poor? Not well. Thanks to this prohibition nonsense they are forced to depend on questionable sources for their product and very often and up drinking what is basically poison. Telling people that they can’t do something has never and will never work, especially when those people are teenagers.

The truth is that morals and values go only so far. After appoint you have to use pragmatism to keep you children safe from STD and unwanted pregnancies because quite frankly the ‘pull and pray’ method isn’t going to cut it. Many of us are just plain lucky that we didn’t have to deal with the unpleasantness of an abortion or worse. We need sex education so young people are less at risk. So they can learn the facts, set up their boundaries without fear of being called a prude or a ho and find happiness and hoy in their sexuality, be it heterosexual, homosexual or anything in between. Mister Health Minister, and all those who support his point of new, just because you didn’t have the opportunity to choose a better, healthier, more fulfilling sex life, please let’s not ruin theirs.

As narrated by Radhika Vaz TOI