Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Anna Hazare's Jan Lokpal Bill

Today is the 8th day of fast by Anna. His health is deteriorating. Now Govt. is worried as any serious turn will lead to widespread agitation and Congress & UPA can say good bye to its chances of forming Govt after next election. But Govt. is now short of time. A week was wasted in assessing the situation. They waited to see if the crowds would melt away and they can get rid of Anna as they did with Baba Ramdev. But exactly opposite has happened. Ramlila maidan is witnessing more and more agitators.In Civil society there are more and more voices of dissent with Team Anna. It's painful to read and hear eminent people criticizing Jan Lokpal Bill without offering any new vision or changes in the Bill. Where were they since April when Govt and Team Anna held parleys to draft Lokpal Bill ? They did not insist that their point of view be heard, discussed and added to Lokpal Bill. They would have realized today that Govt. would have treated their suggestions with contempt and would have tabled same Lokpal Bill in Parliament. All Political parties are together in enacting weak Lokpal Bill which would be like CAG or CVC- a toothless,stuffed Tiger.

I do not accept the contention Jan Lokpal Bill is flawed because it is not practical or pragmatic. We can not find honest people to be members of Lokpal, or it will be overwhelmed by cases of corruption at Lower level. Yes if you want to keep Judiciary or M.P.'s action in Parliament out of Lokpal's preview, do so. We can amend and include them in future. But we must have strong Lokpal and then we will see what happens. British never believed that We could Govern. If we had agreed to that then half the world would still be under British rule. We bit the Bullet and today imperfect may be but we are the biggest democracy in world and have changed Governments through elections.

Yes, its possible that Jan Lokpal Bill's shortcoming will hinder its implementation and reduce its effectiveness. But we will not know it till the Jan Lokpal bill is passed and becomes a Law. Whatever the shortcoming it can be corrected by amendments,addition and deleting clauses. Not to pass it because "it will not work", "it will make super dictator", "corruption will not be curbed" etc etc shows lack of guts to take the risk. We will have to take the plunge in the stormy water if we want to Cross. there is no alternative to this.--PK

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Punishment to Maria Susiraj

Judgement and Punishment to accused in Neeraj Grover Murder case is out. Mathew is held Guilty of Culpable Homicide and Susiraj is held guilty of only Destroying Evidence. She was awarded Jail Term for 3 yrs and as she was in jail for more than 3 yrs , she walked out free. This has not gone down well with friends and relatives of Neeraj,They are upset about the fact that she walked out free. They held Candle Light March and are planning to demonstrate against judgement. A twitter war broke out between Suhail Seth and Pritish Nandy. Nandy rightly pointed out here that right way to protest is to demand that Govt. should appeal against the judgement. Once the Hon Court announces Judgement, only higher court can change it.

In India, Maria Susiraj, though present at the scene of crime and also probably helped in chopping and disposing off the body, could be Charged only with Homicide conspiracy or Abatement. There is no crime like Accessory to Murder ( With which she would be charged in USA). As Prosecution could not prove Conspiracy charge ( very difficult in this particular case) as this was Crime of Passion. She could be held Guilty only of Minor offence- Destroying Evidence. Though She was fully aware of Neeraj's murder when she went to Police with Missing Person complain, she could not be charged with any serious offence. In US she would have faced much stiffer punishment as Accessary to Murder is punished. in India like perjury, accessory can get off with lighter Punishment, which is Pity.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Lokpal Imbroglio

Lokpal Bill is in final stages before it will be forwarded to standing committee for consideration. There are 2 drafts of the proposed Bill- One favored by the Govt. and other Bill which is more stringent,broader,extensive is proposed by Team Hazare. This bill brings PM,Supreme Court, and almost all the Bureaucrats, M.P.s. under Lokpals jurisdiction. Obviously Govt. and Political parties do not want very strong Lokpal Bill for obvious reasons. They are also advised to reject the team Hazare Bill by IAS lobby, which as Administrators and heads of the various organizations and Govt. corporation is conduit for the enormous corruption that takes place in India. There is no branch in Govt. which is not completely corrupt. PM is wrong, there are only few Civil servants who are honest. Majority are completely corrupt. More so when they have just few years of Service left. opposition parties can play footsies with team Hazare as going against it would mean -atleast in Public eye- being with corrupt. They can relax at Center but they are vulnerable at state level. Govt. and Congress is in fix because it has still 2 1/2 yrs to complete and Lokpal Bill, if passed in this session of Parliament can result in Lokpal investigating various scams and corruption cases during run up to next Loksabha elections in 2012. This will result in complete decimation of Congress, without single case being filed in court! 24x7 News channel will get atleast one case per week for their " Breaking News".

Govt. and Political parties are in stronger position as they have to table the Bill in Parliament,discuss and pass the Bill. All the Political parties are together in this whatever may be their public posturing. They can not afford to have strong Independent Lokpal overseeing affairs of the state and M.P.s.This is the attack on the most crucial aspect of Political System. The essence of being in Politics is to have Power and Money. No political Post offers good money officially. Money comes from the patronage and favors that a Politician can provide and this has to be compensated in kind- that is the Bribe and source of Corruption. If this is investigated by a body which is not under the control of Politicians then there will be havoc. How can a Politician get money for self and party? World over the corruption is at this level. In India we have to pay Bribe for day to day events. like getting a Ration Card , driving License, a water Tap, 24 hrs supply of Electricity or even parking spots near our shops or establishments for customers. So parliament would like to have Lokpal who is like CAG,CVC etc. Janta should feel that something is being done, but in effect nothing is done and Lokpal report will be out for public, Then arrest few people and our Snail paced Judiciary will take care of the rest. Politicians popularity will end before the judgement would come.

But this corruption has to end. Many Politicians have suggested, that what we need is not Lokpal Bill but Social awareness so that Society ( not themselves) would become more honest and would shun bribe!!. Even after strong Lokpal and punishment to few, corruption will not end completely but will reduce drastically. It would be deterrent and cost of taking Bribe should outweigh benifits. Atleast serial( ! ) bribing, like in Motor Vehical dept., taxing authorities, low level administrators would end. Today corruption at this level is eating away vital parts of our life. As 1993 Mumbai Bomb Blast case has shown, it was very easy to land ammunition in Konkan because Custom Officers-almost all of them- were taking money to allow smuggled goods to land without checking.

So what will be the Lokpal Bill like? The attitude of Congress is openly hostile to strong Lokpal. They are also sure that other parties will willy nilly support them in Parliament. There will be amendments, but they will be defeated in the voting. it will be difficult to know which parties voted which way. As most of the Political parties will be together in Parliament there will not be advantage to any party. There may not be any 'whip' issued for this voting to make it more opaque for party affiliation. A lokpal on the line of CVC will be installed and Congress and UPA 2 and all Political Parties will crow about fighting corruption. For people's reaction for being made sulphate, we will have to wait till 2012.

It is this realisation which has prompted Anna to start Hunger Strike from 16th August. Digvijay Singh and Sibal would try and malign Anna and will do everything to prevent inclusion of strong measures in Lokpal Bill which will be Tabled in Parliament. If in Bofors case PM Rajiv Gandhi was not named but was held Guilty of Corruption then P.M.'s office should be under the ambit of Lokpal Bill. Mr Sing is fooling people when he says that he as PM is in Favour of including PM in lokpals ambit but party is not in favour. That means he is not in Control of Govt., party is. Argument that Anna should fight election is stupid as he neither has temperament nor necessity to do so. we need people who are outside the Govt/ parliament and can exert Moral pressure on Political class. Mahatma -had he lived- would not have fought election to become M.P.!! If India has to progress and become nation which can provide its people honest administration then Lokpal is just 1st step. It may not achieve all that Team Hazare promises that it would. But here is 1st battle against corruption and we have to win it to win the war. We can do it. Just 90 yrs ago, people gave up their jobs,comforts, education and almost everything to join Freedom Struggle. Today same people are grabbing illegally everything in sight. We have to reverse this slide in our Cultural Values,Ethics, Morals and Honesty. We owe it to our ancient Civilization.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Are you afraid of taking Medicine?

Yesterday evening I was taking my daily Medicine- I have to take some 6 tablets in the morning and 7 tablets in the evening- my friend who was with me exclaimed ' so many tablets? you dont have to take dinner.' It's different story that my medicines have kept me going at 64 while my father and Grand father died in early 50s due to Heart Attack ( MI). That's why it surprises me that people are so reluctant to take life saving Medicines. They are alive and kicking,making money for their children's education, babysitting their grand children, do multiple trips to visit children and sightseeing exotic lands- all thanks to modern Allopathic Medicines developed in last 80 yrs. When my MIL-who is 84yrs old- started Medical Practice, 99% medicines that are in use today were not known to Doctors.

At the same time Diabetics would drink Neem juice everyday morning, lauki juice for heart, Desi Ghee, Isapgol,Faki for Constipation, all sorts of Churan for Gas (!). Homeopathic and Ayurvedic Medicines everyday for years, But wont take tablets for Lowering their Sugar or Cholesterol, Aspirin ( A wonder drug) to prevent Blood Clots and Heart Attack. They complain that Allopathic Medicines are Habit Forming(!),have side effects etc etc. Show me one thing on this Earth which doesnt have side effect.

Its only Modern Allopathic medicine which compares unfavourably against old remedies. No one would dream of going to London or Nairobi or Singapore by Ship. But Ship was favored mode of transport just 50 yrs ago. Who would like to fight war today with Bow and Arrow or with those Guns which are scattered around all our Ancient Forts ?

100 years ago we would apply Hing on abdomen for Pain or take Castor Oil for Constipation because our knowledge of working of Human Body was limited. As our knowledge increases, we develop medicines which can act at target site to give best result. From Belladonna leaves we have isolated and developed medicines for Abdominal Pain. These are further refined and more effective Medicines are developed by changing the Molecule chemically.This has increased effectiveness and reduced side effects! Today Insulin is more refined and effective, delivery system is so good that one can take exact dose of insulin injection. In future its possible to have implants which will detect Blood Sugar Levels and Deliver Insulin in exact necessary dose in Real time.

So its about time to discard all these inhibitions regarding taking Medicine everyday. Whatever is prescribed for you, take it for as long as you have to- which in many cases is for your life time. But thank your stars that with this, quality of your life has improved and you are going to play with your Great Great Grand children

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Me and Hindustani Classical Music

On Friday I attended Music concert in Santacruze,CA. Artists were pandit Shivkumar Sharma on Santoor and Zakir Hussain on Tabla. The theatre was full. It was gratifying that half way round the world from India, in Santacruze ,which is more than Hours drive from Bay Area,the hall was full of young enthusiastic Hindustani Classical music lovers.Indeed future of Indian Classical Music- Hindustani & Carnatic- is good. Panditji played Maru Bihag in Aalap,Jhod,Jhala and in Rupak Taal, followed by semi classical composition in Hansdhwani. With Zakir on Tabla( He is Sachin T of tabla player)it was exhilarating experience.

It took me back in time. Year was most probably 1966-67, I was Medical student in KEM hosp. Mumbai. My roomy Mukul Bodhe had complimentary tkts of Music Festival to be held in Shivaji Mandir,Dadar. They were of the front row and he wanted company to attend the festival.I had interest in the Music but it was primarily Hindi film music. I had not attended any Classic music concert. He bribed me that everyday he would take me to Chinese restaurant for dinner. I was just introduced to Chinese cuisine and for that food I did not mind torture of listening to Classical music for 3 days. That was what I thought, and agreed.

We, Me,Mukul Bodhe,Manerikar and Vasant Kulkarni went to the Music festival.Even today I remember those evenings of Music. I did not and even now cant recognise Sur or Sargam. I can now recognise few Raag. But then i was novice. But Music was sooo spellbinding. Hariprad Chaurasia's Flute, Amjad Ali Khans Sarod, Shiv Kumar sharma's Santoor- which was just introduced to Classical Music and Panditji used to describe the instrument in detail- with Zakir on Tabla. I remember there was Pt. Ravi Shankar with his famous Taal Vadya Kachehri- which was combined playing of Tabla,Mridung and Carnatic music percussion instruments like Ghatam etc. I was hooked on this music.

This was followed by period when I was collecting and recording Classical Music from any source. I had good collection of Tapes which i used to play on my Panasonic Tape Recorder. During my residency from '72 to '76 i had very little time for live music but would start the tape moment i entered my room in the evening and music would play till i fall off to sleep.

One dayin '75 Mr Tillu, Works Manager in Friends factory gave me tape recording of Sitar played by Abdul Halim Jaffar Khan. There was Yaman and Pahadi dhun. I was just captivated by that music and till today Khan Saheb is my most favorite player. Even today when i play his Tilak Kamod, it brings sukun and peace to my mind.

In '75 I got engaged to K. She is from Gwalior and has learned Vocal and Sitar.She used to sing in Collage Day Programme during college and Medical student days. In our final meeting, before our engagement was finalised, my future FIL asked me whether I liked Classical music? He was relieved to hear that I enjoyed classical music. So when I went to Gwalior after my engagement, all the evenings would start with Classical music being played on his Stereo Music System and would be in background till 1 am or so. There I was introduced to Vocal Music.

Gwalior has 'Tansen Music Festival'. It is held near Miya Tansen's tomb. Its open air festival and artists are not paid. They attend to pay homage to Great Musician. Usually 2-3 artists play/sing on particular evening. Main artiste would start at 11 pm or mid night and may continue till early morning. It is recorded by AIR for archival purpose. This recorded music is freely available in Gwalior. Listening to great artists in that Mahol is altogether different experience.Even the recorded music is great as it captures essence of Hindustani Classical music. There is no time limit. Artiste can explore a raag and can transcend. can move to other raag and finally come back to original raag. That freedom to explore and transcend is hallmark of H C music. Thats why a particular raag would sound different when played by different artists and sometimes by the same artist from its earlier or recorded version. At the top of the pyramid are Vocalist.

Then there is Semi Classical like Dadra,Thumri,Chaiti,Hori, Tappa, and even Gazal. They are more famous and enjoyed by janta than typical raag(Bada Khayal). Like India, its music is also huge, varied,different and unique.Once you start enjoying it, there is no limit.-P.K.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

My niece in San Jose has to get in High School come this fall. Admission in Private High School is suppose to be very difficult and one has to consider and discuss pros and cons of getting education in these very Prestigious and Costly ( fees are in the range of 25-40 K/annually). Last Saturday ,when I visited them, the discussion was in the full swing. My other sister and Bro-I-L, whose two sons have studied here in South San Jose, pitched in. Strong and weak points of each school,the distance from home,possibility of Carpooling,time spent commuting was all discussed. It was more intense that the discussion one has in India for Undergrad education. One good thing about education in India is,that there are not too many options and Choice is limited. Unlike US where for everything there are multiple Choices and after all the discussion when you make a choice,you are not sure that it is correct one. Reminds you of your CET/GRE/GMAT ?

My niece was very tense. She was counting days for this tension to get over. March 18 or thereabout is date when she is expecting the letter informing her whether her application is approved or not. Then there is big question of Fees. At 40K/yr it was more than fees at undergrad/post grad level. Besides you cant do part time job to ease the burden. So I asked her 'what about Public School?' and She answered 'I would rather not study or study at Home.' It seems Public School of their area though good, was not preferred by many parents.

This really surprised me. When we were looking for house to buy last year, we paid so much attention to School District,Performance of the school,it's ranking etc etc. Areas in Santa Clara or in Fremont, houses were costly as they had very good school district. I remember reading edits in TOI, praising Public Schools system of US and compared them to abysmal condition of imparting education in Municipal/Govt. run schools in India. One of the reason cited was that in US even Rich and Elite parents sent their children to Public School and hence they were better staffed and equipped.If rich and Elite parents in India sent their children to Mun/Govt school then they would improve and will provide quality education ( These edits were during Nehru/Indira Gandhi Socialist era). Today parents in US, if they can afford would send their children to Private School. What a change.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Are Hindus " HORRIFIED" by Hindu Terror ?

Vir Sanghvi in his Parallax View asks,'Why are we so Horrified of Hindu terror?
Are We? I don't see any anyone being horrified by the Swami Aseemanand's arrest and confession about plot to take revenge on Muslim by violent means. Yes, there is disbeleif but what feeling Hindus have about this revelation is that of "Surprise" Vir admits that as Guju Jain, violence in any form is anathema to him but for majority of Hindus, a Hindu can plan and carry out terror attacks is Surprising. Last heard it was done almost century ago by Bhagat Singh & Co. against British. After Independence violent terror attacks was forte of Communists-Naxalites,Christians from North East trying to cede from India and recently Islamists, as part of Jihad against Infedals(Hindus).

Hinduism is not Violent religion today, but in those early years some 3-4 thousands of years ago Hindus fought with existing(Pagan-Native)religion to establish itself.More likely Hinduism is one of the first 'Religion' in the world. Hindus dont convert because in abscence of any other Organised Religion there was no one to 'convert' from. Like Indian state it was always inclusive and there is no act for which one can be kicked out of Hindu Religion. If you are born a Hindu you die as Hindu as even abusing Gods will not exclude you from the fold as there is no concept of Blasphemy in Hinduism.

We are surprised because except in Mythology,Hindus have not shown violent streak. That particular Gene is lacking in Hindus-unfortunately. we have organised locally or in particular region or community and fought with Kingdoms and people from neighbouring region ( Similar to Europe where French,Italian,Spanish,etc fought with one another, though they were all Christians). But unlike Christian Europe when Muslim tried to invade and threatened to convert, Europeans united under Christianity and Pope and carried out "Holy War" against Muslims and stopped them at the Gate-Turkey. Muslims couldnt go beyond Balkan region and Spain which was occupied by Muslims from Africa,returned to Christianity by defeating Muslims in war and used Islamic method of using sword to convert all Muslims to Christianity and Mosques to Church(reconquesta and Mezquita-Cathedral of Cordoba). But Hindus never united under Hinduism and that's the reason why India was repetedly invaded,Hindus killed and Converted in large number, temples destroyed and Mosque built on it. Coincidently both the events were taking place at almost the same time-400-600 yrs ago. In west Muslims couldnt make any progress and in East ( India) they became the ruler. If we had united and fought as Hindus,we might have stopped invaders at Afghanistan border-Hindukush mountains. Hindu kings either converted to Islam after defeat or had treaty and used time tested method of marrying of their daughters-sisters to invaders and retaind power.
British rule was more civilised and though they encouraged conversion to christianity, the basis of British rule was to co opt Princely states and allowed them to rule. If King was Hindu or Muslim, British did not encourage conversion openly and it was left to Missionaries to do the Job. Except for Dalits and Very Backward Communities ,conversion did not extend to Higher castes. So unlike South America,which was converted to Christianity under Spanish rule,India remained predominantly Hindu and is today almost a Billion strong.

But here is lesson to remember. 1857 War of Independence or Revolt by Soldiers of the British Army in India was the result of Fear of Conversion to Christianity.All over World Conversion from religion of Birth,and Religion evokes strong and Violent passions as seen for last 4 thousand years.Many wars were fought in the past.Untold atrocities were committed in the name of Religion,Lets not allow the Genie to come out of Bottle. Result will be devastating.