|India's Suicidal Farmers|
|Treat mental aberrations |
|How many deaths will it take till
he knows that too many people have died?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind;
The answer is blowin' in the wind.
—Bob Dylan, Nobel Laureate
India's economy may be soaring, but agriculture remains its Achilles' heel, the source of livelihood for hundreds of millions of people but a fraction of the nation's total economy and a symbol of its abiding difficulties. Farmer suicides are a wrenching affliction that is as tragic as it is complex and is a serious threat to India's most critical economic sector.
A latest report has very distressing news on the farm front. Despite satisfactory rainfall last monsoon, Maharashtra, India's most populous State, registered a paltry fall of 5% in farmer suicides to 3,063 in 2016 from 3,228 in 2015. Shocki...|
|War and Peace..!|
|"Peace is better than war, because in peace sons bury their fathers: in war fathers their sons…" Croesus.
Most of us, this generation have been lucky not to have seen a real large-scale world war, and so unlike our fathers and grandfathers we use the W word without thinking twice about the seriousness and terribleness of such situation. There isn't a spot on earth where politicians and so called mass leaders aren't stirring people up with passionate rhetoric, spreading communal tension or churning religious fervor to never before heights!
Men of peace are considered sissies and the UN has been rendered into an old building babbling with babyish bickering.
But we need to strive for peace because war even if it sounds manly and cowboy will bring a terror unimaginable to us who have grown...|
|Not caste, but poverty factor|
|Reports of death of workers engaged in cleaning and repairing manholes still make front page news in India, in the times of 'Swachch bharat'. Recently, three persons died each in Bangalore and Cuddalore, two each in Vijayawada and Rampur, while working in underground manholes. Inhaling toxic gases was the major cause. Prescribed safety precautions were reported to be missing in all the cases.
The reports carry horrific photographs of manual underground cleaning and heart rending tales of the nature of the work and the helpless state of victims dying due to suffocation. The hazardous occupation of manual scavenging continues even in the centre of mega cities that boast of world class stadia, theatres, and palatial bungalows not excluding the capital. The Safai Karamchari Andolan, founded ...|
|Stepping out in faith..!|
|Very often I think of Moses standing in front of the Red Sea.
Behind him he can hear the sound of advancing Egyptians on their horses and chariots bearing down, spears advanced at his defenseless group. He stares at the Red Sea; he knows God will provide a way; and then God tells him to lift his staff.
And only when Moses lifts his staff do the seas part.
Only when we take the first step in faith do miracles happen.
I always remember the story of the Indian boy whose village prayed for rain: The next day the boy came to school with an open umbrella. "Are you mad?" asked his teacher and classmates. "I'm not; you all must be," he said, "if you spent so much time praying for rain, shouldn't you come expecting it?"
And here's another lovely incident:
A little girl had been shopping with...|
|'Davids have again humbled Goliath'|
|Posco Victor: Why no one is celebrating?|
|Big news - at times - go completely unnoticed.
(Thanks to the mediatised times we are passing through)
And thus it did not appear surprising that the decision by Posco, the South Korean steelmaker, the fourth biggest in the world, to exit the proposed 12 million-tonnes a year steel plant in Odisha did not cause much flutter. Yes, newspapers duly reported POSCO India's 'request to the Odisha government to take back the land provided to it near Paradip' where it was supposed to invest Rs 52,000 Crores'. The letter stated company's 'failure to start work on the proposed plant'.
Perhaps none from the media wanted to showcase a negative example which is at variance with the efforts by the powers that be to project the idea of 'ease of doing business' here. Undoubtedly at a time when the gov...|
|It is not the truth..!|
|The word that is on the lips of every Indian, is 'corruption'! Suddenly the whole nation is on a holy, relentless, passionate crusade to weed out corruption, and with this in mind, we go about with the golden broom of Truth, searching for corruption in the abodes of politicians, policemen, government officials, businessmen and all those we suspect have this package of dishonesty hidden in their closets.
What we don't do is search in our own selves!
Yesterday as president of an international social organization I had to attend along with other presidents, what is called a district assembly. I had been drawn to the movement because of what is called the 3 Way Test! A test in which one scanned everything one did, by asking first if it is the Truth, whether it is fair to all concerned, and ...|
|Northern Ireland: A little violence, perhaps?|
|Martin McGuinness, who began as a terrorist and ended up as Deputy First Minister in Northern Ireland's power-sharing government, died peacefully in hospital on Monday aged 66. His career spanned almost five decades in the history of that small but troubled place - and by resigning from the power-sharing government in January, he began a new and possibly final act in that long-running drama.
If it really is the last act in the Northern Irish tragedy, leading eventually to some form of "joint sovereignty" over Northern Ireland by the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic, then there may be some more blood spilled before the end. That would not have bothered McGuinness, for all his latter-day reputation as a man of peace.
As a Catholic born in Derry, Northern Ireland's second city, McGuin...|
|Many actresses abroad and some in India are adopting children and rearing them without a father. But at some stage they realize the child needs a father in their lives, so here I am going to place an imaginery scene where an actress goes over to the Institute of Daddys and says, "Principal sir, I need a father, someone who's topped the college of fathers! Who's excelled in all the subjects fathers study and is ripe and ready for fatherhood!"
The Principal looks at her, wishes he was younger, hastily puts aside such thoughts and says, "You may choose! Here's the first one; a bit domineering though!"
"Domineering!" says the actress, "that means he'll bring my kids up with authority!"
"Also," says the Principal sadly, "he'll think he's always right! Your kids may feel crushed by his dom...|
|The Rhetoric and the Reality|
|In making the choice of Yogi Adityanath as the chief executive of Uttar Pradesh in preference to more run-of-the-mill pracharaks, Narendra Modi has made a telling declaration of intent both for the general elections of 2019 and for concerning the reconstitution of the Republic generally. After all, if the record of the Central Government on "development" is anything to go by, the new dispensation in Uttar Pradesh is not likely to move mountains by 2019; thus it is thought best to keep the saffron foregrounded, just in case. In the words of an astute senior television executive/anchor, the log-in for the coming days will be "development" but the password is to be "Hindutva".
Not that this is any big departure in the dynamics of the political force now dominant in India; among many others,...|
|Major item for reform|
|To achieve "Ease of doing business" and to promote "Make in India", labour reforms are necessary. A major item in the reforms presently under the Government's consideration relates to legal backing for contract labour - a growing section of labour indispensable in production and trade, but badly lacking protection. Recently, the Labour Ministry has notified draft rules that would allow the principal employer or contractor hiring contract labour to file unified annual returns under the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970 in the specified form.
Contract labour, according to official estimates, accounts for about 55 per cent of public sector jobs and 45 per cent of those in private sector. About 2 million contract workers are in the organised sector. There is no record of u...|
|'Back to nature'|
"Why you hurried out the kitchen…left us all there… feared pressure cooker burst?"
"No dear. The cooker was well steaming out excess pressure."
"But then why left?"
"Good Uncle, say please."
"Didn't like odours coming out of the cooker…you see, not good if not bad, discouraging, defeating taste, yes appetite too."
"Uncle, it was cock and spinach, enriched with all spices, garlic, saffron too, yes best available forms of all, being cooked in that thoroughly cleaned cooker. And defeating odours…why, how?"
"Leave it, anyway."
"No Uncle, no. Elaborate, explain, please and please. Great Uncle, I get suspicions about your nose and sense of smell."
"I am all well. Don't worry."
"Uncle, elaborate please. I am pained."
"Dear, take no pain please. Listen, ...|
|Kashmir's physical isolation!|
|Kashmir valley remained cut off during the current winter a number of times. This was due to the closure of the National Highway connecting it with Jammu, the only land route presently available during winter. This is now a routine phenomenon every winter. Even during the time it is open it sometimes becomes very dangerous to travel on it as there are numerous slides. Even though the smaller ones are cleared within few hours or so the large ones take days or even weeks to get cleared. It is a continuous herculean task to keep Kashmir's only lifeline open. This has been possible only through the efforts of the Border Roads Organisations whose men and machines are working round the clock.
A question arises as to why in this modern age of development Kashmiris are physically choked? Before ...|
|Doctor bashing: The new Indian pastime..!|
|Last evening I had a visitor, a young medical student from one of Maharashtra's medical colleges where doctors are getting bashed up with increasing frequency! I had seen her as a child, studious, intelligent, an intensive public speaker, had watched as she'd put heart and soul into her books, finally to win a seat in medicine. She had won. Was overjoyed.
And now fearful.
"I knew the doctor they beat up," she whispered, "He was an excellent teacher, and an insightful physician, now the mob have made him a cripple! Is that what's going to happen to us?"
Yes, is that what is going to happen to some in the medical profession? There have been over two hundred and fifty cases of such thrashing of doctors in Maharashtra alone!
And it's happening all over India.
In the days of old, when an...|
|The Yogi and the believers|
|After Narendra Modi's effortless leap from Gujarat to Delhi in 2014, one thought that nothing would surprise us pseudo-seculars anymore. But how woefully wrong we were! And how little do we know our own country!
Despite the overwhelming victory of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, no one in their wildest dreams ever imagined that it would pick its most rabid face to head the government in the country's largest state.
Liberal sections of Indian media, who still swear by Modi's carefully-cultivated image of the 'development man' and the all-conquering mantra of 'sabka saath sabka vikas' (Development for All) are bending over backwards to justify the choice of the militant monk of Gorakhnath temple, blaming it on the 'political compulsions' and 'arm-twisting' by the hardline elements in the RSS...|
|The wife and my death squad..!|
|'Twas a small argument we'd had the night before, but the wife wasn't looking at me as she read the papers this morning. From the corner of my eye I watched her chuckle then snigger and say, "You should be careful when you write! Otherwise, wham! Wham! Wham! And you'll be gone!"
"Whoa! Whoa!" I said incredulously, "What brought this along?"
She sniggered again and left the room, leaving the paper she had been reading half open. I scuttled over and looked at what had brought out her outburst, then stared fearfully at the headline, "Sri Lanka's Field Marshall Fonseka had testified that 'Death Squads' had targeted journalists!'
I looked furtively out of my window. Was that a branch of a tree or a rifle pointing at me? I walked hastily to my laptop and scanned my previous columns. Had I w...|