Sunday, June 26, 2005

Finally after a long delay, Rains are here. To get wet in rain is altogether different pleasure especially when its after a long and humid summer. If Mumbai can be associated with any season then its Rain.Otherwise it's difficult to differentiate a day from any other day.Only Mumbaikar can appreciate Forrest Gump's description of Rains during his stint in Vietnam,especially 'Big Fat Rain'. Rains in Mumbai has different 'Roops' at different time. In June and upto Mid July. He is all powerful local 'Dada'.Accompanied with his gang of strong stormy Winds,lightening,Thunder he arrives and shows it's strength.Uprooting trees,Building collapse and flooding which completely disrupts Mumbais clockwork existence of Mumbai is punctuality of its suburban Trains( 1.59 and not 2.00 pm. Karjat fast).When trains are late or cancelled by rains Mumbaikar is at complete loss.All his well laid out plans and time table have been disrupted and his entire day and mood is spoilt.But he cant complain. For almost a month he was complaining that rains are late and was blaming almost everything for the delay.But nothing is more enjoyable than walking along Worli or Marine Drive sea face and watch huge waves crashing into the wall and spraying fine mist on you. In July August rain takes different roop.Now its steady drizzle puncuated with heavy showers. It has made adjustment with Mumbaikar, like fourth seater in suburban train. No more flooding, no late running of trains, and life slowly returning to normalcy.It's rains for 10-15 days followed by a week of sunshine and humid( but not hot) weather.Its time for that unique festival of 'Govinda' and thrill of watching human Pyramids trying to reach and break Dahi Handi. In September,the guest is preparing to leave.Occassional rains- rather drizzle, what is aptly called in Hindi-Boonda Bandi.You can leave your Umbrellas and Raincoats home.Take shelter under a tree and wont get wet.Mumbaikars life has almost returned to routine humdrum existence.Trains are running with absolute punctality and so is life of Mumbaikar.Discussion is on about Season's total rainfall-was it normal or less , reasons for this changing trend.Mumbaikar is sad that his dear guest is leaving and tells him " Pudhchya Varshi Laokar Ya".

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Reliance Saga

At last brothers have patched up.Kokilaben had last word-command-and the biggest private Industrial house has split. Everyone heaved sigh of relief, shackled as it were by Reliance for last 7 months, promptly jumped to record high of 7K. In time to come both divisions will progress and will be mini Empires.
The great Visionary-Late Dhirubhai-did not foresee the split.He who had created this Mega Company through web of holding and investment companies, did not plan for its division between two brothers.During his lifetime he must have seen and even intervened, when family businesses were divided among siblings.Most of the businesses controlled by Gujratis were managed by family members and elder siblings who join business before younger ones, would take over major or more profitable share, forcing younger brothers to be either subservient to them or move out.Dhirubhai did not write his will.
I am really surprised at this reluctance on the part of Indians to write their 'Will' or even discuss anything about death.Spiritually we Hindus believe that 'Atma' is Amar and on Death, we are changing the Body-as changing clothes everyday. But try discussing Death and there is hushed silence will be told that it should not be discussed,who knows if times are bad then it might turn out to be true!!.In the west they select where they would like to get buried,funeral service, choose casket-even pay for it,what type of stone nad even the epitaph! Try getting help online for writing your own will.No Indian Law Firm advertises online service to write' Will'. 'Living Will' is a concept to be practiced in USA.Here we wont talk about it.I know cases where relative-who has no chance of recovering- is kept alive by Ventilator,Tube Feeding, Dialysis, with mounting Hospital Bills( In one case it was more than cost of 1BR Flat in Mumbai) and no one to take decision.In absence of 'Will' other members of the family have usurped the money and business leaving nothing for wife and children.A well thought out 'Will' would avoid bitter fights and divisions in family,would take care of spouse and weaker siblings.
Fellow bloggers ,if you have not written your'WILL' ,do so now.A small paragraph will make all the difference in the life of your loved ones.-PK

Monday, June 06, 2005

Jinnah and Two Nation Theory

I fail to appreciate whats the hue and cry about Mr.Advani's remark regarding Mr. Jinnah. Jinnah's views are well known for years.He was Secular Liberal like most of the political leaders of his time.For them religious belief was personal matter and State was Secular, making no distinction on the basis of faith of the person.Two Nation Theory was based on Politics and not on religion.After the Elections of 1936, Jinnah understood that in Democratic set up Hindus with their numerical majority would dominate Muslims politically. He had example of Britain ,which had Two party system.Jinnah envisaged Two Secular nations-India with Hindu majority and Pakistan with Muslim majority where Muslims can have political cultural power.Like Turkey or modernday Malaysia.
Today we know how wrong he was. Imagine if we had 'Akhand Bharat'of RSS dream.We would have Muslim population of India,Pakistan and Bangladesh.Hindus would have only marginal majority.With our constitution and First past the Post elections, Hindus divided on the basis of Caste--Dalit,Backward,suvarna, Secular- Communal. Minorities like Sikhs-Christians,Muslims would sweep the polls.Most of the states would have Muslim ministries.In Parliament more than 2/3 majority of Muslim members would give them power to change Constitution to declare India an Islamic State-biggest Islamic State on earth.What we would have done with Ayub and Yayha Khans,Haqs of Pakistan and Bangladesh army?Instead of having Democracy-defective may be-we would have had rotating democracy and Military dictatorships,Military coups,Exiled Prime Ministers,Cultural dictatorship,Al Quida and Laden would be hiding in India !! Partition was Blessing in disguise.
Don't forget 'Whatever Happens,Happens for the Best'

Friday, June 03, 2005

At the Mercy Of the State

Last January I went to the Office of the Registrar of the marriages at MHADA in Bandra .I was appalled by the confusion,chaos and generally disorganized state of affairs there.The Registrar and his clerk sat in a room full of files staked high,covered with dust.Files were everywhere. Room must have been painted years ago. Would be Brides and Grooms were standing in uneven queue , decked up in wedding finery and ornaments for the most important event of their lives,sweating in that dusty gloomy room awaiting their turn. Two witness per couple,friends and few relatives had gathered in the small corridor outside.There were few chairs but most of them had to stand.There was jostling, little rushing to get to the chairs in front of Registrar's table.Checking of documents to establish identity and proof of Residence, signatures and couple was married.Was this solemn occasion?What about all those promises and vows to be together in thick and thin,in happiness and in sorrow till death do us apart ? Feeling was THANK GOD its finally over. This is how people who cant afford should get married?Pawars,Bhujbals,Deshmukhs and yadavs have marriages thats megaevent written about and discussed for days. Poor people who cant afford can't have decent marriage? MHADA bldg is big complex.Cant we have a decent, bright,AC room with chairs where a couple can get married in little organized way?.Is it too costly for the State to provide these facilities? Wont it be worthwhile project for a Charitable organization or Rotary club? This is something that can be done by us.May be we wont have to depend on State for these small mercies. But first, we must take time out from our discussion on President Bush's Iraq policy.

'Deep Throat' Revealed

Finally the great mystery is over and we know who 'Deep Throat' was(is).When Watergate scandal broke,Mrs Gandhi was riding high from victory in Bangladesh war,opposition decimated,ruling India with socialist ideology .Supported by Left who were part of the Goverment.We had no clue what the fuss was about.Breaking into opposition party's office was no big deal from India's political standards.It was an era when there was no Television in India.Our source of information was occasional news item or Editorial in English language paper.The story continued for almost 2 years and I used to eagerly await my copy of TIME to read new developments.It was like a mystery thriller serialized it was topic hotly discussed in our hostel.What amazed us was that President of USA had to resign for authorizing criminal activity,abetting it and lying to American Public and Congress.This was in stark contrast to what was happenings in India and in Communist world where politician never spoke the truth.In such a situation JP's call in 1974 for mass movement againt Mrs. G's corrupt and repressive government and 'Total Revolution' was new ray of light and we felt that if President of USA can be forced to resign than its possible to change the corrupt govt. of Mrs.G. We removed Mrs. G from power but had to face 18 months of Emergency excesses and goonda raj of Sanjay & co. Did it bring good,corruption free governance? You must be joking.Two leading lights of JP's movement of 'Total Revolution" are Lalu Prasad Yadav and Narendra Modi !!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

HIV In India

Latest published data says that there were only 28000 new cases in 2004 compared to 520,000 in 2003. From where did they get these figures? As far as I know there was no systemic HIV Testing program's in India in 2003 or 2004. As a matter of fact you cant do HIV testing without permission of the concerned person nor can you reveal the result to anyone. All these numbers given out are very crude estimates.Pevelance of HIV infection in High Risk group is extrapolated to get national figures !! Govt. will take lower figure to take credit for excellent work done and NGO will give out higher one to sensationalise and to get more funds and trips abroad to HIV conferences.
Whatever may be the figure, but there is no denying the fact that the HIV infection is spreading and spreading pretty fast.Problem is, that there is no concensus on how to control this.So far we have tried out various awareness programmes and free distribution of Condoms. In Andhra Pradesh they want to recruit Milkmen to distribute condoms(Isnt it like bolting the door after....).But this approach is not working as evident from the increase in number of cases.Awareness is pathetic.Well educated Boys and Girls are unaware about how the HIV infection is transmitted and have unprotected Sex with multiple partners. Girls are more worried about getting pregnant than getting HIV or Hepatitis B infection.From this one can imagine level of awareness in Truck and long distance Bus drivers.Besides awareness programe has only limited effect.Awareness level for harmful effect of Nicotine and Drugs is high but it has not reduced its use. Significant percentage of doctors and even oncologist are heavy smokers !!!.
To start with, fight against HIV should be on WAR footing.That means we must know the extent of the problem.This can be done by doing HIV testing of all the person who seek medical help in Hospitals or Blood tests in Laboratory.All the Blood samples should be coded and have only demographic information. Samples should be tested by advanced tests only, which has short window period.If tested Positive then the person should be informed of his/her HIV status only by Doctor/Medical counselor. Known HIV Positive person should be excluded from the survey. This approach will help us understand the extent of the problem,nature of problem, profile of newly infected cases and also counsel the infected person so that he does not spread the infection inadvertently to the spouse and children.All those who had sexual contact with Positive person should be advised discreetly to undergo HIV testing and thus break the chain.
This will also help medical personnel to take adequate precaution while treating Positive person.Present practice of taking Universal precaution is waste of resources.If prevalence is 0.9% then spending meager resources on 90% unaffected persons is criminal. Resources should be used to identify newly infected cases. Such a well directed measure will help us to reduce new cases and spread of this dreaded disease.