The news that I hear

Friday, June 30, 2006

Farmer suicides

(Picture: Joseph Curiale. Source:

At last PM Manmohan Singh has cared to visit Vidarba - Maharashtra's suicide zone of farmers. It is a shame that Maharashtra's Sharad Pawar is the Agriculture Minister and he has not bothered to visit Vidarba till the current visit with Manmohan Singh. Sharad Pawar appears to be a power hungry person. All that he is interested in is lands, sugar mills and Cricket Board. What took so long for the PM to visit this region? Did the thousands of suicides not move any of these stone-hearted politicians? Hmmmm....that explains why I can never be a politician. Manmohan Singh will now make some spectacular announcements of relief. Then there will be a scam in disbursemenet of that relief and finally there will be a committee which will look into the scam. And, suicides will continue. Agriculture will be neglected. India will import all food grains to feed it's huge population. Price will rise. And the circle will go and on. This is what I see as a lay woman.

On the other hand is the story of an American Composer Joseph Curiale who was moved by the plight of these suicides that he sold his home in California to make money to help the poor widows of these farmers. Joseph started raising funds by selling his compositions and now help has been coming in from other Americans. I salute your spirit Joseph. I am ashamed to call myself an Indian.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Rape of a 10 year old

Another rape reported in the city of Mumbai is of a 10 year old child labourer. Sonu worked as a maid servant in one of Mumbai's posh localities - Lokandwala. She died after being raped by her employer. Her death was recorded as a suicide. Hundreds of demestic workers protested against the death and the police finally recorded the case as rape and arrested the sister of the accussed. What is atrocious in cases like this is that young children who should be having a care-free childhood are sent away from their parents to work in distant cities. In this case Sonu was sent to work from Bhopal to Mumbai. Poverty and misery must have driven her parents to send their little girl to work. Otherwise which parent would not want a good future for their children. Fate has indeed been cruel to Sonu. First she was sent off to work at a tender age. Second she was cruelly raped and killed. Many more such Sonu's go unreported in India. Many of them merely become an entry in a dusty government file. It is the protesting voice of hundreds of domestic workers that made the police act. Now if the law were to take its course it will take years to arrest the accused who by now would have fled India. The courts will then take their own sweet time. And Sonu will be another forgotten victim of India's great legal system.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Rains, soaring prices and global warming

Prices of vegetables, fruits and essential pulses have been rising like a phoenix in Indian cities. Reason : poor rainfall, new crop dieases, low output etc etc. Tomatoes have become prized. What used to be sold for say Rs.10 - 12 a kilo now goes around Rs. 35 - 50 per kilo. Moong dal sells at a price higher than petrol. At around Rs.65 a kilo, it is no longer affordable for most Indian families.

On the other hand, glaciers in the Himalayas have been melting at a very fast rate. Temperatures have been soaring in India like never before. This is nature's alarm system at work. These melting glaciers will flood the rivers that they feed and a time will come when there will be no glaciers left. With corruption at its highest levels and with nature no longer on man's side, it is time for what the Holy Gita quotes:

Yadha yadha hi dharmsya, glanir bavathi baratha
abyudhanaamadarmasya, thatath manam srujamyaham

Which means:

Whenever there is decay of Dharma and an ascendancy of Adharma then God manifests Himself!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Outstanding students

(Picture Top: Muthuraj with his father. Picture Source: The Hindu)

(Picture bottom: Sarath Babu with his mom and Infosys mentor Narayan Murthy. Picture Source:

I read of a tea vendor's son topping the Orissa Medical Entrance examination. Brilliant, simply brilliant. Rajendra Das works in Kolkata as a tea vendor and worked hard to educate his son Deepak. He sent Rs.3000 a month to his wife in a remote Orissa village to educate his three children and Deepak, true to his name stands as a bright illuminating light today. I hope he gets all the financial help that he deserves to emerge as an outstanding doctor.

Another story is of Sarath Babu who graduated from the prestigious IIM, Ahmedabad. Sarath is the son of a hardworking mother - Deeparamani who worked multiple chores so that she could give her children the best of education. She sold idli's in the morning and worked as a help in the Noon meal scheme in government schools in the noon where she was paid just a rupee a day. Sarath is a brilliant student who graduated in Engineering from BITS, Pilani. He worked for a couple of years in a software firm in Chennai and paid off the loans that his mom had taken to educate him. During his school days he studied under street lights cause there was no electricity at home and yet topped his standard 12 exams. The fact that he had old or torn shirts to wear did not matter. All that mattered to him was his education. After a couple of years at work, he saved enough money to enter IIM, Ahmedabad. Today Sarath is the proud owner of a catering company that provides meals to several IT and BPO's and employs many people. Sarath could have entered the Corporate world earning a fabulous salary, but he wanted to pursue his dream of providing employment to many people.

Another success story is of Muthuraj (Photo Source: The Hindu), the son of an ice cream vendor who has scored excellent marks in standard 12 and topped his school. His father Chitrapandi pedals 30 kms a day and sells ice cream to earn a living. But he always dreamt of providing good education to his children. Although Muthuraj's scores at the Engineering entrance exam's are not too good to help him secure admission into a Government College, he hopes to do Engineering in a private college provided he gets financial help.

Manoj sahoo is this year's 34th rank holder in the Indian Civil Services. He is the son of a tea shop owner from a small village in Orissa. Manoj graduated with a Master's degree in Agriculture and is a gold medallist. While many of today's Civil service aspirants spend huge amounts of money in coaching classes, Manoj spent his time in Public Libraries and did not buy any expensive books.

The stories of all these young achievers is awesome. These are the kind of folks who need quotas to study. Not the sons and daughters of rich OBC's who roam around college campuses flauting their sleek bikes and branded clothes.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Another on corruption

India and corruption are bosom bed fellows. You can have endless tales and real life situations on corrupt practices in India. Which Indian does not know of Telgi, the prime accused in the multi-crore stamp paper racket? The guy has been hospitalized after complications of HIV/AIDS which he alleges he was infected with after he was admitted into a government hospital in Bangalore. Telgi started his life as an ordinary guy selling fruits and vegetables and graduated to forging passports. In his endeavour he pulled along ministers and policemen and together they made hay. Telgi suffers from several ailments which probably is what most of these corrupt politicians suffer from. All those crores that Telgi is alleged to have made cannot buy him good health.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Reservation - is it a dead issue now?

After the Medicos called off their strike the issue of reservation is almost dead. But in UP an interesting form of reservation is taking place. There is a 66% reservation in land allotment. Lands are to be allotted to OBC's, MLA's and SC's. And whatever os left to the general category. This is a sure sign that all other states will pick up soon. Very soon this will be introduced in TN. Some years back there was a concept called Samathuvapuram in TN where homes were allotted by the government to people on the basis of their castes. Next time you hear Mayawati talk of Manuvadi politics and blame Manu for all the evils of the caste system in India, think of the benefits that OBC's and others have been getting in the name of caste today. In a related development, a petition has been filed with the Supreme Court questioning Mulayam Singh's assets which the petition states stand at 150 crores.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Ban on films

First it was Punjab. Then it was Nagaland. Then it was Andhra. Now it is TN, Pondicherry and Meghalaya. All of them have banned the movie Da Vinci Code. I am not sure how many of people know what the bok or the movie contains. But all these bans must have come after requests from Christian Organisations. In AP there is no need for a request to come from any organisation, the CM is known as a devout Christian. Being a minority in India is a good thing. Their sensitivities are protected. Being a majority is not necessarily a good thing in India.

On the other hand in Gujarat, Aamir Khan's latest film "Fanaa" has been banned because the actor lent his support to the Narmada Bachao Aandolan. A very silly reason to ban a film.