The news that I hear

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Reservation protests

Nation wide protests are being reported. Hyderabad, Bangalore, Lucknow, Chandigarh, Kanpur, Delhi, Orissa etc are witnessing protests from thousands of students. But there is one state where protests will never take place and that is the state of TN. I think in this state every community is an OBC except for Brahmins who are either living in penury or have left the state to work in better places. The DMK's hatred for the community is well known. And through years of so-called social justice policies they have managed to leave no opportunities for this community . In TN it comes as arude surprise when people openely ask you the community to which you belong. The surprise was even more to me because as a student in school the introductory talk that I got from a majority of fellow students started with whether I was an Iyer or Iyengar. Caste talks run deep in this state. While the rest of the country will have anti reservation protests, TN will have pro reservation protests. And while the whole of TN may think that they have very smartly elected, a look at the lives of the common man is miserable. The whole state suffers from water shortage. Taps always run dry in this state. The water mafia which could very well be run by people in power always has a hay day. And this is not a new issue. It has existed for years. At the cost of the common man's misery it is going to be glorious days for the Maran brothers.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Water or Television

" AGAINST THE SUN: Using newspaper to protect their feet on a hot day, two little girls pump water, even as their brother is busy collecting it. A scene at Narayanavalasu, a suburb in Erode." - PHOTO: M. GOVARTHAN

I came across this interesting photo in today's Hindu (May 24, 2006). Here's the link :

http://www.hindu.com/2006/05/24/stories/2006052402980300.htm

What strikes me here is these young children standing in scorching heat with a newspaper to protect their feet, all for a few buckets of the elixir of life. The old supposedly wise man of Tamil Nadu does not mind spending state funds to provide Television to people, but may surely mind when it comes to providing a solution to the water crisis. Karunanidhi does not understand what life will be without water. The taps of his home may never be dry. Neither does that Champion of the Economy and of the OBC's - P Chidambaram understand this. The water crisis is the result of several years of politics played by countless politicians. If a solution is found to the problem, then it will cease to be a vote-bank issue. So, do'nt solve it. Keep the issue alive for generations.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Another one on students

It is a pity to be a student in India. First you succumb to exam pressures. Then you become victims of the Reseration numbers. And then you have to follow strict dress codes. Bangalore University has decided that girls and boys will henceforth sit seperatly in class rooms and there will be a strict dress code for women students. This is the Talibanisation of education. Instead of looking at what people are wearing or whom they are sitting with, why do'nt these Universities concentrate on providing quality education.

What happens if a girl sits next to a boy in the class? Or what happens if a girl wears trousers? Will there be civil unrests? Or will women be more safe if they were salwars. The more moral policing you have in a society the more be the urge to break such rules. On the one hand vote-bank politics made it possible for 18 year olds to vote and choose corrupt MLA's and MP's, but on the other hand they have no right to choose their dresses.

It was Anna Univeristy that took the lead in this matter. It banned women students from wearing jeans, sleeveless tops and t-shirts. Soon male students were also brought into the policing scheme. Jeans and t-shirts were banned for men too. Is there some lobbying by salwar kameez manufacturers. Or is it that the officials were too jealous that they could not wear the clothes that yongsters wear. If not in college when will these students wear such clothes. When they are old and unable to stand.

Be it Bangalore or Anna University, these guys could have gone a step ahead.

They can ask their students to wear the traditional 9-yard sarees for women and men should be dressed in traditional veshti's.

Much better would be to ask women to stay at home.

Introduce uniforms everywhere. In schools, colleges, offices, homes, shops etc. This way we can revive old textile mills like Binny. For instance all school students should be in white and blue. College students in white and khaki. Government office guys in khaki and khaki and private office folks in white and white.

Let's go a little further. We can also have uniforms based on caste and community. So, an OBC or a GC or an ST can be easily identified. Then we can introduce reservation based on this in buses and trains and all public transport systems. There will be toll booths on roads to check the number of SC's and GC's walking on the roads. 69% of all pedestrians in Tamil Nadu will be out of the reserved quota.

India's massive population can be checked by bringing reservation there. We can introduce reservation in marriages and child births. So only 30% of our population will be born in the General category. Any excess born in this category will be sent to the infanticide specialists of Madurai and Haryana.

Arjun Singh, P Chidambaram and that great messiah of the Backward communities - VP Singh - look into these suggestions too.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Examinations and student suicides

"Do you want to be a maid-servant or a cowherd?"

"If you do not get 97%, you will end up being nothing in life."

"Maths and science is what you should pursue. What are you going to do in life studying Art or geography?"

"My sister's daughter got into MBA this year, if you do not get into MBA, we will loose our face in the family."

These are common dialogues in Indian households. Examination results of 10th and 12 th standards in many states are just being released. Performance of girls is better in most states than boys. Both girls and boys are however under immense pressure to do well in exam's. Indian students are fed on a diet of exams. It is performance at exams that make or break their lives. To worry, crib, cry and be put under immense stress begins at school. Sad. I thought the only time when humans were free to be what they are and to live and savour the innocence of life was in our school days. Once we step out of it, we were ready to pounce and be pounced and preyed and begin a life of judgement.

A Delhi college student Heena Singh committed suicide yesterday under stress of exams. A few days earlier a 15 year old class 10 student took her life just before the results were to be declared. But worse is the case of 15 year old Shefali who was reported to be sufferring from anxiety. Although she secured 97 % in her pre-board exams, she hung herself to death unable to cope with the anxiety. Sleeplessness, depression, eating dis-orders etc etc have become a part of student lives. Many students see hopelessness and a bleak future out of their studies.

During the first week of May, a student of IIT, Kanpur - Shailesh Sharma ended his life reportedly over the grading system after he had failed to pass certain exams. Another student had ended his life by jumping from the fifth floor apparently due to similar reasons. (Source: http://www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/7003449112)

How many more young lives will we loose to these killer examinations and grade system.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Commission and committee politics



Successive governments in India cutting across party lines have many things in common. One such is their love for commission's and committee's. Look at the currently raging issue on Reservation. Our PM has appointed a committee of four ministers to look into the issue. Crores of rupees will now flow into this committee and it will take them anywhere between seven to ten years to come to a conclusion. During which time, there may be another government in place which may decide that it does not want the present members and wants to have its own members. There may be a dozen Public Interest Petitions filed in the meantime, some pro and some against the commission. The limited time and resources of the legal system will also be pulled into all this. That's the tamasha of commissions and committee's.
There once was a revolutionary, a true patriot, a strong leader, an Indian who loved his country above all else. The nation loved him and called him Netaji (Photo Source: www.tribuneindia.com/ 2001/20010819/spectrum/). The British did not like his plans for a free India. He fought for India's freedom from South East Asia. And then it was reported that he died in an air crash on August 18, 1945 in Taiwan. A couple of years later the country got its independence and then began the saga of commission's and committee's to probe into the death of Netaji and to answer questions as to whether he was dead or was he still alive and whether his ashes are in the Rekoji Temple in Japan. Look at some of the Comm's and Commtt's :

1. Shah Nawaz Khan Committee (1956)

2. G D Khosla Commission (1970)

3. Mukerjee Commission (1999 - 2006)

The first one said Netaji had died in that ill-fated air crash on Aug 18, 1945. The second one added that his ashes had been taken to the Renkoji Temple in Japan. Now the third one says there is no conclusive evidence that suggests that there was an air-crash in Taiwan on Aug 18, 1945 or that he ever died. This panel visited Russia, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan etc and examined as many as 130 witnesses. The government is not pleased with this report and has dismissed it. So what was the point in appointing this commission and having spent seven years and crores of rupees? Was it to read a report running into three volumes?

Watch out for some more commission's and committee's on Netaji.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Monsoon and agriculture



India is a monsoon dependent nation. (Photo Source: news.bbc.co.uk/1/ low/business/3530882.stm)We depend on rains for irrigation, to fill up many of our rain-fed rivers, especially the rivers in South India. It is the monsoon rains that have to fill up our lakes to provide for drinking water. The GDP of India is also tied to the monsoon, but that is not what ordinary folks need to be concerned with. These are figures that will be talked about and debated by the educated and intellecuals in parliament like Manmohan Singh, P Chidambaram, policy makers like Monteck Singh Ahluwalia and the media.

The South West monsoon usually hits Kerala in the first week of June and gradually proceeds in the western coast to finish its spell by October. This year the Met department has predicted that these rains are going to be deficient by 7%. There is a standing joke in India that if the Met guys predict rainfall, there will be scorching sunshine. Another department that is a drain on government resource. If there is excess rainfall even by 2%, deficient food production will be blamed on that excess 2%. If there is deficient rainfall by 1%, then again deficient food production will be blamed on that deficient 1% rainfall. Moral of the story: Blame the monsoon rains for anything and everything related to agriculture.

The SW monsoon is important for crops such as rice, sugarcane, cotton and cereals. Punjab and Haryana were considered the most fertile states in India and farmers belonging to these states were prosperous. But small and marginal farmers in these states are being wiped out. A couple of years back farmer suicides in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and to a certain extent in Karnataka was alarming. It is a shame on Indian policy makers that they led these farmers to such a miserable state.

Governments changed riding on farmer deaths attributed to past governments. The loan sharks have wiped out small farmers from the face of rural India. There is a total break-down of the Agriculture Credit System. Crores have been spent on irrigation, yet farmers are dependent on rains. Excess rains or untimely rains have damaged large tracts of rice crops in Tamil Nadu time and again. Add to all this is the use of seeds and pesticides being sold by MNC's. These seeds have not been working well in Indian conditions. Vandana Shiva who runs an NGO that works closely with farmers says that the genetically modified cotton seeds proved to be suicidal to Indian farmers. (Source: http://www.telegraphindia.com/1060510/asp/nation/story_6205196.asp).
The land has been drained of its natural nutrients by constant use of chemical fertilisers. Traditionally, India was a land of organic farmers where natural pesticides such as neem and cow-dung were used. Now MNC companies are fighting for patent rights of neem and may be in the future even of cow-dung. Which means that if we need to use neem or cow-dung we need to buy that from MNC's as if they invented these things.

In the meantime, the government has decided to import around half million tonnes of wheat from Australia despite quality issues. Apparently there is a high level of pesticides in the Aussie wheat, but that's fine for Indian officials because they are not going to consume it. Would the Australians allow their own people to consume such wheat? Are Indian lives so cheap? Sadly yes, considering the flawed policy makers of India's agriculture system. It is the poor who will end up eating this wheat which will be flushed out through the notorious Public Distribution System and many of them will end up with undecipherable illnesses for which another round of money would be released to find out the causes.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Brain Drain issues in India

Manmohan Singh wants to work out plans to stop brain drain from India. Holy crap, how did the issue of brain drain ever enter a politician's mind. So, our politicians want us to stay in India and work there without giving us the opportunity to study.

Singh says (Source: http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_1697776,0008.htm) "We have to think of new ways to stem the haemorrhage of scientific talent from our key technology departments, particularly in today's competitive environment. "

Manmohan Singh should have consulted Arjun Singh before he issued this statement. Because the latter says on reservations "Now there is going to be no re-look at them. This proposal was passed by Parliament unanimously so no party is against it." (Source: http://www.ndtv.com/template/template.asp?template=education&slug=No+re-look+at+quota+proposal%3A+Arjun+Singh&id=19393&callid=0&category=National)

The best option for students who belong to the general category is to migrate to other countries for studies and work. India does not need them.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

How to survive the Quota system?

Way back in the early 90's when I was a college student and Mandal had reared its ugly head, there were no protests in Chennai. Chennai students are a highly disciplined lot. They accept everything that is imposed on them, like the recent dress code issue. All south Indian students are law abiding folks. I accepted my fate that 69% reservation was a part of my life. Silently with a lot of anger raging inside. But I heard of a solution one day. If I was adopted by a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe or an OBC family, then I could get the much coveted SC or ST or OBC certificate and then life would be an easy cake walk. But I did not choose to do that. After all I am a law abiding South Indian.

NDTV has a news article (http://www.ndtv.com/morenews/showmorestory.asp?category=National&slug=Touts+furnish+OBC+certificates+&id=87922) on how easy it is to secure such a certificate today. You do not need to be adopted by an SC ot ST or OBC or whatever C. All you need to pay is a paltry 600 Rs. for a certificate of caste from the Tasildar's office in Amritsar. This must be true for other parts of India also. This is a good business. Many touts and government officials are going to make a good lot of money. Many families are going to prosper in India. Besides the government officials who make money, the new class of SC, ST's and all other C's will also stand to progress. Wow, what a glorious country I forsee in the future. Arjun Singh and his gang will get the desired votes and the rest of the country will flourish too. All you Medical Students out there protesting against reservation, give up your protests. There seems to be ways in which you can get through all this Quota stuff.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

How much money does a man need?




The only story of Leo Tolstoy that I know is "How much land does a man need?" . I saw a dramatised version of this story in Doordarshan some time in the late 80's. This is a wonderful story depicting man's greediness for more and more. When I read about the raid on Om Prakash Chautala's properties, it was easy to fit him in as the hero of Leo Tolstoy's novel. Chautala (Picture source: ndtv.com) and his family own Rs.1400 crores worth of properties, amoung which are cars, plots of lands, a shopping mall, a hotel and restaurant. Chautala had accumulated wealth for generations of his family as he was enjoying his status as the Chief Minister of Haryana. That's awesome, look how much Chautala's wealth could be used for:

1. Chautala's wealth is sufficient to wipe poverty out of the face of India. (does that sound too exaggerted?)

2. Run 46,66,667 families a month on a Rs.3000 budget.

3. Feed 140,00,000 orphans a month.

4. Run several schools for poor kids.

5. Operate free hospitals.

Enough of this, what will Chautala and his family sustain on? Should he be stripped of all his hard-earned wealth (or ill-gotten wealth) ? Is he the only person with so much properties? Of course not, there are many more people like him who wear Khadi and live on dhal-roti.

During the recent TN elections, DMK supremo Karunanidhi declared his assets to be worth Rs.26 crores. (Source: http://ia.rediff.com/news/2006/may/05flip.htm?q=tp&file=.htm) He has spent all his life in politics. He is also a prolific writer and probably has a share in the media empire run by Kalanidhi Maran.

Amma declared her assets at Rs.25 crores. Amma's wealth has been the spotlight of several debates. Some of her assets are under judicial probe. Amma has been an actress and most of her wealth is supposedly attibuted to her work in the film industry.

Dayanidhi Maran looks like a poverty striken person when compared to these folks. He declared a mere Rs.1.6 crores when he stood for elections in 2004. Too good to be true.

What about Sonia? Poor woman, she does not even own a car or a house in India. She has jewellery worth Rs.10 lacs and has, beleive it or not, around Rs.20000 in cash. Her total assets stand at a paltry Rs.1 crore.

So this is what some of our Khadi clad folks earn in political life. Who ever said India was a poor country.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Polls in Tamil Nadu

Polling time again in Tamil Nadu. Some exit polls predict it would be Amma. Some others say it is going to be Karunanidhi. I am wondering do we need exit polls to predict poll results in India. Are poll outcomes so complicated to predict? It is a simple pattern. If it's Amma now, it will be Karunanidhi next. Then it will be Amma again followed by Karunanidhi. TN voters are a fair lot. They give a chance to the two main rivals equally. Their only condition is the name of the party should end with a MK - munnetra kazhagam. Look at the arena ......you have ADMK, DMK, PMK, MDMK, DMDK etc etc. I think all Indian voters are fair enough. If it is the Congress this term, it will be their main rivals next term. Except for Bengal - they have not been giving the Congress any chance there.

Poll times are fun times. TN people love film stars. And TN film stars consider films to be their launch pad to political life. One saw Sarath Kumar saying that he would give his all for the DMK a couple of months back. And then the reverse swing. He shifts allegience to the ADMK citing several reasons. Vaiko, who was sent to prison under POTA by Amma is now joining hands with her. There are no permanent enemies in politics. One of the DMK's candidates, Rehman Khan even campaigned in Hindi. That comes as unusual because the DMK is known for its anti-hindi stance and does not even like Rail boards in Hindi.

P Chidambaram's son Karthi Chidambaram has campaigned for his father's party - I do not know whether that is the Congress or some splinter group of the Congress that supports it. Karunanidhi's son Stalin is into the campaign fray too. The next generation is at its training ground.

Actor Vijayakanth is a new entrant. As all other political entrants he promises 15 kgs of rice. When will Rice politics end in TN?

Amoung the promises of the DMK are that of a Color TV and free cable connection. Mr Karunanidhi, I understand your family runs Sun TV and you want more and more people to watch Sun TV. So, the answer is give people these sops. TV's are going to be offered to help women improve their knowledge. Knowledge, of what, of films and of house-hold wars that are depicted in those popular TV soaps. What about the hungry folks. Can they eat these TV's? Oh well, there is free offer of rice too and free lands (around 8 million acres), gas stoves, electricity etc etc.

Amma goes further. She promises to give Thaali or Magalsutra in gold to poor women as their wedding gifts. She offers 10 kgs of free rice. Some categories of loans are going to be waived. She has promised Computers and bicycles for students.

Hmmm......promises and promises at whose cost? We the foolish tax-payers.

Meanwhile, some election observers sent to TN were seen holidaying at State expense. Why not? Can't they enjoy some small benefits?

Then there is the media war between SUN TV and Jaya TV. The former owned by Karunanidhi's family and the later by Amma.

And the best statement comes from G K Vasan of the Congress. He urges voters to teach the present government a lesson. Why Mr Vasan, why do'nt you do that? We the voters are silent folks who will go through these voting rituals from time to time, so that the political gurus amoung you will survive.

Add to all this is a new party called "Lok Paritran" formed by a group of highly educated youth who come from India's elite institutions. They promise to get rid of corruption (Whew, that's a sweaty job, friends) and give reservation a close.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Aptech and NIIT

In the late 80's and early 90's, two institutes sprung up in the lives of middle class India - NIIT and Aptech. Every middle class Indian who did not have a degree in engineering wanted to jump into an industry that was changing the economic lives of many. Every one had heard of some friend or cousin or neighbour who had done a software course and had landed into a good job. Every where commerce, science or even arts graduates were talking about "NIIT" or "Aptech". Insurance companies and banks jumped into the bandwagon, offering loans to students to study software. For many of these middle class Indians, they pooled in what ever savings they had to give their children a future which they never had. Some students were doing these courses along with their college education and some waited to finish their graduation and then jump into this gold rush.

If you were one of them, a typical entry into NIIT or Aptech's offie would have been like this. A swank reception center with fresh flowers and well dressed young men and women (mostly) who would ask you to take up a test of aptitude. You would wait for about 30 minutes to be told that you were the ideal candidate to study software at their centers because you had scored an incredibly high percentage in the aptitude test. Your mom or pop who accompanied you would be beaming in pride imagining the bright future that you had. Then you would be told about the course and the money. Since your mom or pop is already proud of you, they would not hesitate to pay up that huge money. You would also be promised a job at the end of the course. A list of former students who are now placed at all the MNC's that you can name will then be shown. The next few weeks would be running to the bank, arranging for the fees and there you are all set to enter the world of make believe.

By mid 90's there was a different tale to be heard. Not every one, not even the majority, who did these courses got jobs that were promised to them. Instructors were the one's who had studied at the same Institute and were not very knowledgeable. Grumbles were heard. Some dropped out. Slowly people began to realise that things are not gold as they appear to be.

Ok, so why write about all this now? Because APTECH and NIIT are making good money in China these days. Brother's and Sister's of China - a few of us Indians have learnt hard lessons. Look before you leap.

Here are some statistics from http://www.efytimes.com/fullnews.asp?edid=11538

"Aptech's market share increased to approximately 19 per cent in the year 2005. In the year 2004 too, Aptech, with 14.8 per cent market share, achieved the ranking ahead of other players including Science Institute of Software (with 10.3 per cent market share) and NIIT (7.9 per cent market share).

The top five players of the Chinese IT education and training service market made up for 43.5 per cent of the market share. Aptech (at 18.8 per cent market share) achieved the ranking much ahead of other players including Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) (with 9.6 per cent market share) and NIIT (7.9 per cent market share), China Digital (with 3.8 per cent market share) and East Software - Dongruan (with 3.4 per cent market share)."

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Power issues

Whether it is Delhi or Dindigul, come summer, Indians have to sweat it out. Power outages or more affectionately called "Power Cut" is common in India. Add to this is the global warming and consequent rise in temperatures ( and tempers) every year. All this despite huge dams being built apparently to tap hydro-electric power and to solve the water crisis, both for drinking and for agriculture. A lot of money has been invested on power projects, but the demand continues to increase. Why are alternative sources of power such as solar power or wind power not being tapped? Is'nt this a good idea for many more of our politicians, buraeucrats, business men, contractors, middle-men and power brokers to mint money by exploring these sources? Why restrict themselves just to building dams and making money?

Friday, May 05, 2006

Entrance to the Shrine.: Anti-Reservations Blogroll.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Great Indian Reservation Politics




Arjun Singh (Photo Source: www.iit2005.org) has inherited the mantle of V P Singh the man credited with bringing the Mandal Commission report into effect, cutting across party barriers. For all his efforts, V P Singh lasted as little as a year in office, but he brought down the education system in India and the education of several students. Who are these students that I talk about? These are the multitudes of economically backward students who unfortunately belonged to the forward community (based on caste). Does Arjun Singh or VP Singh or P Chidambaram (who supports the cause of Arjun Singh) know what it means to belong to the economically backward group? VP Singh's son Ajeya Singh is an educated man. P Chidambaram's son Karthik Chidambaram holds a degree from a foreign University. How did these people educate their children? Because they had the finances to do that. Probably not because their wards were extremely meritorious. So how would these people holding responsible posts understand the plight of poor students from the forward community?

Arjun Singh is initiating the idea of increasing the number of reserved seats for the Other Backward Commnities (OBC). He wants reservation in IIT's and IIM's - why? Because for all the clout that Arjun Singh or VP Singh or P Chidambaram carry, they cannot get their children or those of their kith and kin admitted to these institutes unless they are meritorious. So, play another game. Bring down merit in India. None of them talk of providing education to all. All said and done, let's thank the British who left an education system in place for us. Else what would we have had considering the politics that these esteemed members of the Indian Parliament play.

For all that the cheap games that these people play, what have they achieved for India? Have they been able to get every Indian child a decent education. No? Thousands of Indian children have no access to primary education. So, whom did their reservation policy benefit? Their own selves - they get themselves elected again and again playing these cheap games of divide and rule. India will never be rid of its caste system. After Arjun Singh, V P Singh and P Chidambaram - their children will take over this legacy.

Mr Arjun Singh - it is not the policies of your HRD Ministry that gives bread and butter to Indians. Your policies feed you and your family. It is not because of your policies that we still have bright, intelligent youngsters. It is because, inspite of your policies, millions of Indians slog, struggle and achieve the unthinkable.

Medical students in Delhi went on a silent protest last week protesting Arjun's reservation prank. A group of students met A P J Kalam, India's President and a respected person amoung India's Statesmen and presented a petition signed by over a lakh of students against reservation. I am glad that these students have been pro-active in getting these petitions signed and fighting for a cause that they stand for. These students do not need to get votes to earn their livelihood. They are capable of earning their living by hard work and straight play. President Kalam belongs to a small group of dedicated men for whom the interests of India stand before their personal interests. He will be able to appreciate a meritorious India rather than an India divided on caste.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Hunger deaths in India


Picture Courtesy : http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_pictures/4951242.stm


This news from NDTV.com is not shocking. We see hungry people day in and day out. And hungry children are a common sight on our streets and roads. For years we have been hearing of malnourished children in Orrisa, Thane and other tribal belts.

Come to think of it.....the India that is projected in the media ........young professionals living their dream lives, earning unimaginable salaries by Indian standards, eating junk food, spending their evenings in swank coffee pubs and malls. This is the India that P Chidambaram or Dayanidhi Maran or Arjun Singh or Mammohan Singh will talk about....it is the India that their policies of Finance and Industry and Reservations have created. The earlier BJP government had spent, God knows lakhs or crores on a publicity campaign called "India Shining" - shining for whom? For the masses who live in hungry rural India or for Vajpayee and his coterie?

Look at the number of people who handle the departments of Food and Agriculture -

1) Sharad Pawar, Cabinet Minister for Agriculture, Food & Civil Supplies, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution
2)Subodh Kant Sahai - Minister of State with Independent Charge on Food Processing (what does this mean? And do we need a minister for this department?)
3)Kantilal Bhuria - Minister of State for Agriculture, Food & Civil Supplies, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution
4)Mohammed Taslimuddin - Minister for State on Agriculture, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution
5) Dr. Akhilesh Singh - Minister for State on Agriculture, Food & Civil Supplies, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution

This is the list I got from http://www.indianembassy.org/cabinet/cabinet.htm. Not sure how many of these people have quit and who has replaced whom. The last two seem to be managing the same departments. But I am sure these folks will care a damn about this UNICEF report on hungry Indian children. As long as they have had their breakfast, lunch and dinner, it does not matter who dies of what. And what difference is it going to make in their lives if some one's children dies. They will come out with a huge programme to combat hunger which will run into millions of rupees and about which they will speak in every meeting to every ass that they know of. But the hungry will contine to die and with Arjun Singh's new policy on Reservation coming up, many more will be added to this list.

The issue of hunger and food was what made MGR popular in Tamil Nadu. He introduced the Noon Meal Scheme in schools that fed several children. Although in course of time, the scheme was another of those great Indian publicity campaigns.......the food served was not eatable sprinkled with worms. Cause I heard that the good quality grains were replaced with sub-standard one's by middlemen. Who is to blamed for this? All those Indians who work in this process and who think it is not wrong to feed those hungry children with worm infested food.

China, however has more regard for its citizens. China has made huge strides in reducing underweight prevalence rates by more than half - from 19% in 1990 to 8% in 2002. That is quite an acheivement in a country as huge as India.

India shares its miserable position (top four countries) with Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal - having the highest rate of underweight children under the age of five.

This is what I read in http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?NewsID=1027544&CatID=2

"The report says that South Asia is the only region which shows gender bias. In India, severe malnutrition is more frequent among girl children (19.1 per cent) than among boys (16.9 per cent).

Here, one in three adult women is underweight and, therefore, at risk of delivering babies with low birth weight.

More than the insufficient quantity of food it is the poor quality of food that is causing the damage. Women’s social status, early marriage leading to low child birth weights and poor sanitation are other reasons."

To top it all, one of our smart bureaucrat says in defense: (http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?NewsID=1027544&CatID=2)

"Reva Nayyar, Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD), said the government has restructured its strategies to combat the situation.

She, however, added that the UNICEF report is based on old data of 1999 surveys and the new government survey report, to be released shortly, will show substantial improvements."

UNICEF experts have also pointed out that India, with only 1.6% improvement, has shown “insufficient progress” between 1990 and 2004 towards the Millennium Development Goal of halving child hunger by 2015.

NDTV says:

UNICEF slams malnutrition in India

NDTV CorrespondentWednesday, May 3, 2006 (New Delhi):
Children dying of malnutrition in Thane just a few kilometres from Mumbai reflect the scale of hunger and starvation in India. And the new UNICEF report says that India is as bad as Ethiopia when it comes to malnutrition. As per its report:
India has the highest number of undernourished children in the world at 57 million.
India has the same rate of malnutrition as Ethiopia with 47 per cent of its children undernourished.
Nearly 2.1 million children die of malnutrition every year and India accounts for one third of the world's malnourished children.
This is in stark contrast to Afghanistan that has 39 per cent malnutrition while China has just eight per cent.The findings show that more girls are malnourished than boys. Government officials say that spending on children is just three per cent of the total budget and they are pushing for a bigger budget in the upcoming 11th five-year plan.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Taliban's execution of an Indian


I was refraining from writing about the execution of Suryanarayana, cause it was painful to see pictures of his family. It was even more painful to read about the manner in which he had been killed. Only a heartless person could have killed some one in this brutal and ruthless manner. The same people who killed a group of innocent Kashmiri Hindus a couple of days back. How much of ruthlessness and brutality does the human mind and heart carry? Are these mindless people? I came across a photo (Source - The Deccan Chronicle - http://deccan.com/) of his young children mourning their father - the picture moved my heart. How can it not move members of Taliban or any other terrorist organisation? The Taliban consists of weak people - people who only know the language of killing. What is their purpose - just to kill innocents?

Lil Buddhia Singh's extraordinary feat


Here is the story of Buddhia Singh's feat, taken from The Hindu dated May 3, 2006. Buddhia is a 5 year old from Orissa who ran 65 kms in 7 hours starting from the Puri Jagannath Temple to reach Bhuvaneshwar. His name is now in the Limca Book of records. Will Buddhia receive recognition and appreciation for his feat from our Government? I doubt. Why will they promote Buddhia's talent when all they have is time to think about Vote-bank politics and fight for wrestling the top posts in the Sports Boards and Councils? Had this little boy been born in Russia or China or US, he would have represented his country in all major sports events.

Way to go - Buddhia Singh! You rock!

Source for Photo and News article - The Hindu

Buddhia enters Limca book
GRUELLING FEAT: Four-and-a-half-year-old Buddhia Singh finishing his record run of 65 km in 7.02 hours at the CRPF Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday. Budhia, who started from the Puri Jagannath temple at 4 a.m., reached Bhubaneswar a few minutes after 11 a.m. A team of 300 CRPF cadets ran in groups alongside the child who covered the distance at nearly 10 km an hour. Limca Book of Records Editor Bijoya Ghosh said Budhia's name would figure in the 2007 edition. — Photo: Ashoke Chakrabarty
Bhubaneswar: Child prodigy Buddhia Singh on Tuesday entered the Limca Book of Records by covering a distance of 65 km in 7.02 hours even though he failed to complete the targeted 70 km.
Flanked by cadets of the Central Reserve Police Force , the five-year-old Buddhia completed the distance from Puri Jagannath Temple to Bhubaneswar braving the hot and humid conditions.
"He successfully completed a distance of 65 km in 7.02 hours. His name will figure in the 2007 edition of the Limca Book of Records," Amreen Toor, assistant editor of the book, told PTI at the CRPF stadium here.
Given his family background, today's achievement was more special, Ms. Toor said. "Buddhia's will be a human interest story. We hope it will inspire a large section of people."
The book's editor, Bijoya Ghosh, also confirmed that Budhia's name would figure in the 2007 edition. "Yes, he has entered the record book," she told a TV news channel.
Buddhia started his record run around 4 a.m. and reached here after 11 a.m. People lined up in large numbers to wish the wonder boy. A team of 300 CRPF cadets ran in groups alongside Buddhia, who covered the distance at nearly 10 km per hour.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Killing of 22 Kashmir Pundits

What a way to start, but sadly the news that stands out in my mind is this - the killing of 22 hindus in Kashmir.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/01/world/asia/01cnd-kashmir.html?hp&ex=1146542400&en=6598ab048fa95950&ei=5094&partner=homepage

The Prime Minister, Chief Minister of J&K etc etc have all condemned the killings. Beyond which what can they do. This is all we hear day in and day out, people getting killed somewhere and leaders offering their so called words of comfort.

What drives a mind to kill so many innocent people who have done no harm to the killers, who were merely going about their daily lives. Do these killers have families, do they have mothers or brothers or sisters, if yes, then do they not think that their own kith and kin could one day be amoung these victims?