Lokpal Bill and Constitutional Status!

Lokpal Bill has been passed by the parliament yesterday but the ruling UPA has failed to get the constitutional status for the same. For last 24 hours we have been hearing views and counter views on how UPA failed to fulfil the dreams of its “Yuvraj” and BJP led NDA has asked resignation of the government. But you must be wondering, what exactly we mean by “Constitutional Status.” I did some research on this topic and have following points as a ready reference. Constitution Amendment Bills have to be passed in each House of Parliament by a special majority ie. by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of the House “present and voting”.
CONSTITUTION AMENDMENT BILLS (http://164.100.47.132/LssNew/abstract/constitution_amendment_bills.htm)
Bills seeking to amend the Constitution are of three types:—
(1)   Bills that are passed by Parliament by simple majority;
(2)   Bills that have to be passed by Parliament by the special majority prescribed in article 368(2) of the Constitution; and
(3)   Bills that have to be passed by Parliament by the special majority as aforesaid and also to be ratified by not less than one-half of the State Legislatures.
Bills that are not deemed as Constitution Amendment Bills
2. Bills for amendment of the following provisions of the Constitution are passed by both Houses of Parliament by a simple majority of members present and voting :
(a)   admission or establishment of new States, formation of new States, and alteration of areas, boundaries or names of existing States (articles 2, 3 and 4);
(b)   creation or abolition of Legislative Councils in the States (article 169);
(c)    administration and control of Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes (para 7 of the Fifth Schedule); and
(d)   administration of Tribal Areas in the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram (para 21 of the Sixth Schedule).
3.  These Bills are not deemed as Constitution Amendment Bills under article 368 of the Constitution and, therefore, these are not called by the title ‘Constitution Amendment Bills’.
4.  Though normal legislative procedure holds good in respect of these Bills, Bills providing for matters in sub paras (a) and (b) above, in addition, require respectively the recommendation of the President for introduction and the prior adoption of necessary resolution by the State Legislative Assembly concerned.
5.  Such Bills are presented to the President for his assent under article 111 of the Constitution.
Constitution Amendment Bills
6.  Bills seeking to amend all other provisions of the Constitution including those enumerated in the proviso to article 368(2) are called by the title ‘Constitution Amendment Bills’. These Bills can be introduced in either House of Parliament. If sponsored by a Private Member, the Bill has to be examined in the first instance and recommended for introduction by the Committee on Private Members’ Bills and Resolutions before it is included for introduction in the List of Business. Motions for introduction of the Bills are decided by simple majority.
7.   Constitution Amendment Bills are not treated as Money Bills or Financial Bills. Accordingly, President’s recommendation under articles 117 and 274 of the Constitution in regard to these Bills is not asked for. However, if the recommendation is communicated by the Minister, it is published in the Bill or in the Bulletin, as the case may be, for information of members.
[Constitution Amendment Bills are governed by article 368 of the Constitution and Rules 155—159 of Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha.
We all have some knowledge about the bill that has been passed by the Parliament. There is no denying that there are some weak points within the bill and few amendments were required to be carried out to make Lokpal more effective and strong. If that could have been done then giving constitutional status would have made some sense. But with this type of toothless Lokpal, not giving constitutional status allows state government to have their own Lokayukts and Lokpals with greater powers.  There was no point in giving a constitutional status to a “weak” Lokpal. This version of the Lokpal bill did not even get the “ayes” of 50% of the total strength of Lok Sabha. This rhetorical bluff of “opposition not supporting” is getting nauseating to hear.
What is interesting to note is that UPA has blamed opposition for the bill not getting constitutional status. But is that really the case is? The Constitution amendment bill (116th Amendment), 2011 was put up for vote. 251 members voted for it. The official strength of the ruling coalition is 277. After some complicated mathematical operations, we see that 26 members of the ruling coalition were missing (in which there were congress MPs too!). This government could not get the minimum required support for passing this bill, and yet is going on the overdrive to blame the BJP for “not wanting a strong Lokpal”. They are against this version of the Lokpal. If Congress really wanted to get the constitutional rights for the bill then why couldn’t it ensure the attendance of all its MPs on such a crucial day? Congress has tabled and passed the bill in LS despite stiff opposition just to show off that how committed they are towards Lokpal. But then everyone knows that the govt does not enjoy majority in Rajya Sabha. Then how could they expect that the bill will be passed as per their wishes and be given constitutional status? And if it doesn’t happen then blame the opposition for all the mishap!!
The bill could have been discussed and if greater flexibility could have been shown by the government and opposition along with civil society we could have got a better Lokpal. I sincerely hope that all this does not leads to death of Lokpal bill. It will all depend on how government stands when the bill is tabled in RS tomorrow. As of now it seems to be moving towards a deadlock.
However, the Bill is far from becoming an Act yet. For, mustering a simple majority for the Bill in the Rajya Sabha will be very difficult for the UPA, which is in a minority of 94, whereas a simple majority requires 123 votes. Its only hope lies in persuading a sufficiently large number of Rajya Sabha members from non-NDA parties like the Samajwadi Party and the BSP to either vote for the Bill or abstain. Thus, it is possible that the Rajya Sabha may pass a version of the Bill that includes some or all of the amendments moved by the BJP and the others. In that case, the Bill will be go back to the Lok Sabha. If the Lok Sabha does not accept these amendments – as it didn’t the first time around – there will be a deadlock, which will have to be resolved through a joint session of both Houses. And that could postpone the actual enactment of the Bill to February 2012. (DNA)

Unsung Heroes: Ordinary People with Extraordinary Courage!

These days if you will observe, you will notice that you are hearing news of rampant corruption and malpractices going on which undoubtedly is suffocating the system. Every day you hear new news which makes you feel sad about sorry state of the country and we blame it on our politicians, bureaucrats, etc. But do you ever wonder that despite all this how come our system is surviving?

Real-HeroesNo, you would have not.

The fact is there are few people still existing who are doing their duties in a manner in which it should be done. If not for people like these the system would have eventually collapsed. Unfortunately, these people are not in limelight because they are silently doing their good job and holding the system together. You will find such people in every organization and department both in govt and pvt sector. Be it Satendra Dubey or S Manjunath or SSP Arun Kumar, everyday these real unsung heroes are facing all odds to keep nation moving. You won’t be able to imagine the sacrifices which is being made by them on borders and inside the main land. Lt Archit Verdia, Lt Navdeep, Lt Sushil Khajuria, Tukaram Omble and the list is endless who have laid down their life for the well being of the people. With them their family also suffers but then there has to be someone who feels not like remaining 99.5% of the population.

It is a fact that only 1 out of 100 dares to challenge the system, not bogged down the odds, fearlessly discharging the duties and serve the people. Rest all tend to adjust with the situation and do lip service during tea time by blaming and suggesting but not doing. But this is how a society is and this is main reason that people who do good work without becoming the part of wrong system are tagged as “fools”. But the one who do it don’t care as they know that their conscience is clean and what they are doing is in best interest of society and nation.

During 26/11 we had lakhs of citizen on street demanding change in the system but when the day of VOTING came they were enjoying the holiday. Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime and the day we understand this we will be able to come up with the possible solution to the problems we are facing now. We need to get out of our comfort zone. A nation is as good as its people and thus I consider myself lucky to have people in my country who are facing danger for my survival. But my endeavor does not ends there and I will ensure that I take considerable steps in nation building.

I salute all the unsung heroes and their families for struggle they have gone through in making nation a better place. Their loss is irreparable but we will always remain indebted to them.

Reforming Education Part 3: Teachers and Shortage

We have observed and known that our teachers are paid meagre compensation. This is one of the reasons for not getting talent to train the future generation of the country. It is not that we don’t have talent. We have few best brains teaching world in few of the best Universities across the world. We have failed miserably in retaining the talent which can redefine our nation. We make lot of fuss of having biggest pools of doctors and engineers but equal fuss should also be of not being able to train this pool by the best brains. The meagre salary which we pay to our teachers from primary to higher education leads to brain drain and private teachings. This is one of the reasons of the boom of coaching institutes.

This is worrying trend because the advantage which we have in terms of youth may become our biggest disadvantage if our students fail on bigger stage or lose out to other students of the world. Quantity and quality of highly specialized human resources determine their competence in the global market.

  • Why is that we don’t have any Nobel prize after CV Raman?
  • Why is that our best institutes fail to deliver world class researches and papers?
  • Why is that there has been perhaps no reckonable contribution from our country in any stream of education in past 3-4 decades?

The simple reason is that our students don’t get requisite guidance and support which is quintessential for them to do research and other things. India needs to wake and pump in funds to retain the best talent in teaching and creating world class infrastructure.

An idea of having Indian Teaching Services (ITS) on similar lines of IAS/IPS is also worth giving a thought. If we can have ITS on similar lines of civil services then we can attract best brains and teach them to deliver a punch to growth of the country. This also can solve the case of paying low salary to our teachers. The idea may appear naive but if worked out properly is very much possible and can set a trend of attracting and retaining the talent to our educational institution. It may take some time to give results but we should make a start at the earliest. This can also be one of the solutions to the problem of having uneven teacher student ratio in our colleges. The shortfall of teachers can also be countered by investing more money into education. The biggest challenge faced by higher educational institutions in India is the acute shortage of qualified and competent faculties. “Lamenting the shortage of high quality faculty for prestigious management and technical educational institutions in the country, a mechanism should be devised to enrol and retain quality faculty by providing them more incentives and research facilities. (N R Narayana Murthy).” The returns of the educational investment are may be late but it is cute and best for the nation building process and personal development also.

I would like to end with a line by MK Gandhi-

“Hesitating to act because the whole vision may not be achieved or others do not share it is an attitude that only hinders the progress.”

Reforming Education Part 2

John F Kenedy once said that “All of us do not have equal talent, but all of us should have an equal opportunity to develop our talents.” But there is no denying that our education system does not provides an equal opportunity to all. The coaching institutes about which i mentioned in my last post are the biggest player in making the opportunity unequal. The one from well off background are able to utilize the coaching institutes to their advantage and the one who cannot afford fails to make a cut on a bigger stage. These coaching institutes in a way also are responsible to attract the best teachers from various colleges by paying them hefty amount as salary. (The meagre compensation which we pay to our teacher is also a reason)

So what is the solution?

Firstly, why can’t we have more institutes like Super 30s being run in Patna? All of us have an urge to contribute to society. It can be great if we according to our capability provide services like this at our level. All of us cannot teach for IITs but we all can contribute at primary level to senior level and may be upto IIT level. What is required on our part is the passion and dedication for making this society a better place. We should have that patriotic feeling within us to ensure that future of our nation is secured and illiteracy is removed completely.

Secondly, why can’t our coaching institutes as part of their social responsibility have a batch of under privileges students? There is no denying that these institutes consider education as business but then every business has some Corporate Social Responsibility. Can’t they play a role in shaping future of many needy students? If Honourable Supreme Court of India can direct private hospitals in Delhi to have few beds reserved for poor then why can’t the same be applied to these coaching institutes? There may be some hurdles in this but if owners of these institutes think of larger picture then this can pay rich dividends to our society.

Thirdly, the problem can be resolved up to certain extent by the schools/colleges them self. As an education provider they should make an endeavour to ensure that all the students brilliant or weak does well. This requires that extra effort be put on the weak students. The best way is that they can have free remedial classes for those students. If an extra effort of few hours can ensure that future of the students then that is the best reward for any teacher or principal.

The education can pave a way for us becoming a developed nation and will ensure prosperity. Education is the movement from darkness to light. Education not only moulds the new generation, but reflects a society’s fundamental assumptions about itself and the individuals which compose it.

Reforming Education Part 1: Food for Thought on Teachers Day!

Marva Collins once said, “Don’t try to fix the students, fix ourselves first.  The good teacher makes the poor student good and the good student superior.  When our students fail, we, as teachers, too, have failed.”

Teachers_PrayerThe parallel and commercial education in the form of tuitions and coaching has made deep inroads in our education system and is really detrimental for the future of the youth and nation. I still remember my school and engineering days when we use to rely heavily on the coaching given by some renowned teachers from various colleges as private tuitions for which they charged a handsome amount. The attendance at school and college was merely for fun and getting admit card to sit in examination. The professors and teachers were also aware of this attitude of students and they will also teach during lectures for the sake of it. Very few teachers showed the interest in making their students learn.

This is where a student coming from a economically backward section looses out and eventually hampering his growth as an individual and professionally. Moreover, majority of the students who go to private classes also succeed by rote learning and not understanding of the concepts. Due to this reason majority of our graduates are considered unemployable by the industry. The practical application of the concepts has taken a back stage and the success merely depends on the “guess papers”. Even Narayan Murthy has said that IITs are no longer the quality institutions they were in the 60s and 70s. Stating that the IITs and IIMs have had very few world-class researches coming out of them in the decade gone by, he said, “In 2004, China produced 2,652 PhDs in computer science and in that year the figure was 24 in our country. Attributing the drop in the high standards of IITs to the boom in the number of coaching classes for joint entrance examinations, he said, “Today, students prepare hard for a year solving sample questions for IIT-JEE. One of these samples matches in the entrance examination and they crack the test.”

This is perhaps the biggest drawback of this commercial education where education has become a business and is looked upon as a “golden egg laying hen”. Historically imparting education was considered as most pious and noble profession, but over the period, this system too has got influenced by commercialization and now teaching is no longer a profession of dedication and devotion towards building better people and country; it is all about money and status.

At this point, I would like to ask the teachers,

  • Is it correct on their part morally? I believe that most of the teachers choose this profession because teachers hold the candle of enlightenment, knowledge and prosperity. And if the money lures you away from your duty then the very meaning of word teacher diminishes.
  • Why is it that a teacher who takes so much effort and pain in private classes doesn’t show that much interest while delivering lecture in colleges and schools?
  • Isn’t a failure on your part if a student has to join private classes to succeed?
  • As a morally responsible teacher, aren’t you playing with future of our nation for the sake of money?

My respected teachers whatever India will be in the next generation will depend upon what you do to your students today in the classrooms!!!!

Why India is Clueless about China

A prosperous, militarily strong China cannot but be a threat to its neighbours, especially if there are no constraints on the exercise of Chinese power, notes Brahma Chellaney, professor of strategic studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi.

The latest round of the unending and fruitless India-China talks on territorial disputes was a fresh reminder of the eroding utility of this process. It is approaching nearly three decades since China and India began these negotiations.

In this period, the world has changed fundamentally. Indeed, with its rapidly accumulating military and economic power, China itself has emerged as a great power in the making, with Washington’s Asia policy now manifestly Sino-centric. Not only has India allowed its military and nuclear asymmetry with China to grow, but also New Delhi’s room for diplomatic maneuver is shrinking. As the just retired Indian Navy Chief, Admiral Sureesh Mehta, has put it plainly, the power ‘gap between the two is just too wide to bridge and getting wider by the day.’

Of course, power asymmetry in inter-State relations does not mean the weaker side must bend to the dictates of the stronger or seek to propitiate it. Wise strategy, coupled with good diplomacy, is the art of offsetting or neutralising military or economic power imbalance with another state. But as Admiral Mehta warned, ‘China is in the process of consolidating its comprehensive national power and creating formidable military capabilities. Once it is done, China is likely to be more assertive on its claims, especially in the immediate neighbourhood.’

It is thus obvious that the longer the process of border-related talks continues without yielding tangible results, the greater the space Beijing will have to mount strategic pressure on India and the greater its leverage in the negotiations.

After all, China already holds the military advantage on the ground. Its forces control the heights along the long 4,057-kilometre Himalayan frontier, with the Indian troops perched largely on the lower levels.

Furthermore, by building new railroads, airports and highways in Tibet, China is now in a position to rapidly move additional forces to the border to potentially strike at India at a time of its choosing.

Diplomatically, China is a contented party, having occupied what it wanted — the Aksai Chin plateau, which is almost the size of Switzerland and provides the only accessible Tibet-Xinjiang route through the Karakoram passes of the Kunlun Mountains. Yet it chooses to press claims on additional Indian territories as part of a grand strategy to gain leverage in bilateral relations and, more importantly, to keep India under military and diplomatic pressure.

At the core of its strategy is an apparent resolve to indefinitely hold off on a border settlement with India through an overt refusal to accept the territorial status quo.

In not hiding its intent to further redraw the Himalayan frontiers, Beijing only helps highlight the futility of the ongoing process of political negotiations. After all, the territorial status quo can be changed not through political talks but by further military conquest.

Yet, paradoxically, the political process remains important for Beijing to provide the façade of engagement behind which to seek India’s containment.

Keeping India engaged in endless talks is a key Chinese objective so that Beijing can continue its work on changing the Himalayan balance decisively in its favour through a greater build-up of military power and logistical capabilities.

That is why China has sought to shield the negotiating process from the perceptible hardening of its stance towards New Delhi and the vituperative attacks against India in its State-run media. Add to the picture the aggressive patrolling of the Himalayan frontier by the People’s Liberation Army and the growing Chinese incursions across the line of control.

Let’s be clear: Chinese negotiating tactics have shifted markedly over the decades. Beijing originally floated the swap idea — giving up its claims in India’s northeast in return for Indian acceptance of the Chinese control over a part of Ladakh — to legalise its occupation of Aksai Chin. It then sang the mantra of putting the territorial disputes on the backburner so that the two countries could concentrate on building close, mutually beneficial relations.

But in more recent years, in keeping with its rising strength, China has escalated border tensions and military incursions while assertively laying claim to Arunachal Pradesh.

According to a recent report in Ming Pao, a Hong Kong newspaper with close ties to the establishment in Beijing, China is seeking ‘just’ 28 per cent of Arunachal. That means an area nearly the size of Taiwan.

In that light, can the Sino-Indian border talks be kept going indefinitely? Consider two important facts:

First, the present border negotiations have been going on continuously since 1981, making them already the longest and the most-barren process between any two countries in modern history. The record includes eight rounds of senior-level talks between 1981 and 1987, 14 Joint Working Group meetings between 1988 and 2002, and 13 rounds of talks between the designated Special Representatives since 2003.

It seems the only progress in this process is that India’s choice of words in public is now the same as China’s. ‘Both countries have agreed to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement of this issue,’ Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna told Parliament on July 31. ‘The matter, of course, is complex and requires time and lots of patience.’

It was as if the Chinese foreign minister was speaking. Isn’t it odd for India — the country at the receiving end of growing Chinese bellicosity — to plead for more time and patience after nearly three decades of negotiations?

Second, the authoritative People’s Daily — the Communist Party mouthpiece that reflects official thinking — made it clear in a June 11, 2009 editorial: ‘China won’t make any compromises in its border disputes with India.’ That reflects the Chinese position in the negotiations. But when Beijing is advertising its uncompromising stance, doesn’t New Delhi get the message?

The recent essay posted on a Chinese quasi-official Web site that called for India to be broken into 20 to 30 sovereign States cannot obscure an important fact: Dismember India is a project China launched in the Mao years when it trained and armed Naga and Mizo guerrillas. In initiating its proxy war against India, Pakistan merely took a leaf out of the Chinese book.

Today, China’s muscle-flexing along the Himalayas cannot be ignored. After all, even when China was poor and backward, it employed brute force to annex Xinjiang (1949) and Tibet (1950), to raid South Korea (1950), to invade India (1962), to initiate a border conflict with the Soviet Union through a military ambush (1969) and to attack Vietnam (1979).

A prosperous, militarily strong China cannot but be a threat to its neighbours, especially if there are no constraints on the exercise of Chinese power.

So, the key question is: What does India gain by staying put in an interminably barren negotiating process with China? By persisting with this process, isn’t India aiding the Chinese engagement-with-containment strategy by providing Beijing the cover it needs?

While Beijing’s strategy and tactics are apparent, India has had difficulty to define a game plan and resolutely pursue clearly laid-out objectives. Still, staying put in a barren process cannot be an end in itself for India.

India indeed has retreated to an increasingly defensive position territorially, with the spotlight now on China’s Tibet-linked claim to Arunachal Pradesh than on Tibet’s status itself.

Now you know why Beijing invested so much political capital over the years in getting India to gradually accept Tibet as part of the territory of the People’s Republic. Its success on that score has helped narrow the dispute to what it claims. That neatly meshes with China’s long-standing negotiating stance.

What it occupies is Chinese territory, and what it claims must be on the table to be settled on the basis of give-and-take — or as it puts it in reasonably sounding terms, on the basis of ‘mutual accommodation and mutual understanding.’

As a result, India has been left in the unenviable position of having to fend off Chinese territorial demands. In fact, history is in danger of repeating itself as India gets sucked into a 1950s-style trap. The issue then was Aksai Chin; the issue now is Arunachal.

But rather than put the focus on the source of China’s claim — Tibet — and Beijing’s attempt to territorially enlarge its Tibet annexation to what it calls ‘southern Tibet,’ India is willing to be taken ad infinitum around the mulberry bush.

Just because New Delhi has accepted Tibet to be part of China should not prevent it from gently shining a spotlight on Tibet as the lingering core issue.

Yet India’s long record of political diffidence only emboldens Beijing. India accepted the Chinese annexation of Tibet and surrendered its own British-inherited extraterritorial rights over Tibet on a silver platter without asking for anything in return. Now, China wants India to display the same ‘amicable spirit’ and hand over to it at least the Tawang valley.

Take the period since the border talks were ‘elevated’ to the level of special representatives in 2003. India first got into an extended exercise with Beijing to define general principles to govern a border settlement, despite China’s egregious record of flouting the Panchsheel principles and committing naked aggression in 1962. But no sooner had the border-related principles been unveiled in 2005 with fanfare than Beijing jettisoned the do-not-disturb-the-settled-populations principle to buttress its claim to Arunachal.

Yet, as the most-recent round of recent talks highlighted, India has agreed to let the negotiations go off at a tangent by broadening them into a diffused strategic dialogue — to the delight of Beijing. The process now has become a means for the two sides to discuss ‘the entire gamut of bilateral relations and regional and international issues of mutual interest.’

This not only opens yet another chapter in an increasingly directionless process, but also lets China condition a border settlement to the achievement of greater Sino-Indian strategic congruence. Worse still, New Delhi is to observe 2010 — the 60th anniversary of China becoming India’s neighbour by gobbling up Tibet — as the ‘Year of Friendship with China’ in India.

Brahma Chellaney

Sorce: REDIFF

 

Swine Flu panic in India!

Last week, I returned from a week long vacation with my family to Mumbai, away from work pressure. Instead of cherishing the memories of a week long break I was quarreling within with “Emotional Flu”. Yes, I was down with fever and did have a travel history but were those symptoms enough to prove I had contacted Swine Flu. For my family they were more than enough to arrive at a conclusion that I had to visit the government hospital for screening.

My mother went a step ahead to buy the masks for family. And yes masks were distributed according to the need as enough N95 were not available for our joint family. My cousin who is four and I get N95’s, the only two masks which she managed to buy in black from the chemist. My pregnant Bhabhi and grand mom get a three layered mask which she managed to buy from other chemist and the rest of the members manage with masks bought at the traffic signal when my mom waited there for lights to turn green. But is my family to be blamed for there over precautious behavior? I believe they reacted in a very normal way considering the hype of “The Swine Flu” that was created by all forms of media. Any parent or in that matter any human would react this way if they see a new “Breaking News” every ten minutes on the news channels.

I wonder why the media doesn’t make 572 deaths a day due to normal flu, and large number of deaths due to Tuberculosis, Malaria, Dengue and other diseases an equally important “Breaking News”. Why doesn’t our Health minister call an urgent meeting to discuss diseases like malaria which takes a huge toll of human lives too? May be malaria patients can wait for some time longer as most of them are neither NRI’s nor they belong to elite group who can afford a vacation abroad. With Swine Flu thoughts occupying my house and slowly spreading to my neighborhood I called up my very good friend and a doctor by profession asking him how would I discriminate whether its “The Swine Flu” or normal flu. He explained to me that the Swine Flu symptoms could be towards pneumonia side and with just fever and normal cold like symptoms I should not conclude that I have contacted it. He told me to wait till two days and take normal medicines prescribed to treat normal flu as going to the hospital at the shot to screen myself would be more dangerous. There were chances I would catch the virus if I wouldn’t have till then. Luckily my phone was on loudspeaker then so my parents got some gyaan too. Two days from the whole panicky episode I have normal body temperature and am all energetically penning my experiences of the false panic we underwent. But this whole episode, taught us to stay composed as fright created was spreading faster than the Flu itself. We did not give in to false media panicky and heard the doctor treating Swine Flu, which I feel proved a boon to us.

I urge the media to give neutral reactions to the issue and not to blow the matter out of proportion as not everybody would be as lucky as I to get a doctor friend nor would every parent wait for two days as my parents did on the doctor’s advice. And for the rest of you Swine flu is not that a dreaded disease and has a death rate of seven in thousands much less compared to Normal flu, Malaria and Tuberculosis. Also the Swine flu deaths recorded so far have not been only because of the H1N1 virus but due to some other complications intermingling too. So just take normal precautions like washing your hands, drinking plenty of water, exercising and you should be away from the virus.

And my dear elected government, there was no point keeping the theatres, schools and colleges shut as this was more of emotional response from your side than on medical grounds. Your decision of shutting of schools did no good to millions of children as they enjoyed days off from school playing in the societies, as my cousin did and the college going crowd enjoyed shopping and hanging out as they had all the time in the world. Did it actually act as the isolation you had thought of? We just need better medical facilities to treat the pandemic and more awareness regarding it. Try spreading the correct word in your families, societies and we shall be better able to fight the H1N1 virus.
Prevention is better but panic is not!

China should break up India: Chinese strategist

Almost coinciding with the 13th round of Sino-Indian border talks (New Delhi , August 7-8, 2009), an article (in the Chinese language) has appeared in China captioned ‘If China takes a little action, the so-called Great Indian Federation can be broken up’ (Zhong Guo Zhan Lue Gang, www.iiss.cn, Chinese, August 8, 2009).
Interestingly, it has been reproduced in several other strategic and military Web sites of the country and by all means, targets the domestic audience. The authoritative host site is located in Beijing  and is the new edition of one, which so far represented the China International Institute for Strategic Studies (www.chinaiiss.org).

Claiming that Beijing’s ‘China-Centric’ Asian strategy, provides for splitting India, the writer of the article, Zhan Lue (strategy), has found that New Delhi’s corresponding ‘India-Centric’ policy in Asia, is in reality a ‘Hindustan centric’ one. Stating that on the other hand ‘local centres’ exist in several of the country’s provinces (excepting for the UP and certain northern regions), Zhan Lue has felt that in the face of such local characteristics, the ‘so-called’ Indian nation cannot be considered as one having existed in history.

According to the article, if India today relies on any thing for unity, it is the Hindu religion. The partition of the country was based on religion. Stating that today nation states are the main current in the world, it has said that India could only be termed now as a ‘Hindu religious state’. Adding that Hinduism is a decadent religion as it allows caste exploitation and is unhelpful to the country’s modernisation, it described the Indian government as one in a dilemma with regard to eradication of the caste system as it realises that the process to do away with castes may shake the foundation of the consciousness of the Indian nation.

The writer has argued that in view of the above, China in its own interest and the progress of Asia, should join forces with different nationalities like the Assamese, Tamils, and Kashmiris and support the latter in establishing independent nation-States of their own, out of India. In particular, the ULFA (United Liberation Front of Asom) in Assam, a territory neighboring China, can be helped by China so that Assam realises its national independence.

The article has also felt that for Bangladesh, the biggest threat is from India, which wants to develop a great Indian Federation extending from Afghanistan to Myanmar. India is also targeting China with support to Vietnam’s efforts to occupy Nansha (Spratly) group of islands in South China Sea.

Hence the need for China’s consolidation of its alliance with Bangladesh, a country with which the US and Japan  are also improving their relations to counter China.

It has pointed out that China can give political support to Bangladesh enabling the latter to encourage ethnic Bengalis in India to get rid of Indian control and unite with Bangladesh as one Bengali nation; if the same is not possible, creation of at least another free Bengali nation state as a friendly neighbour of Bangladesh, would be desirable, for the purpose of weakening India’s expansion and threat aimed at forming a ‘unified South Asia’.

The punch line in the article has been that to split India, China can bring into its fold countries like Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan, support ULFA in attaining its goal for Assam’s independence, back aspirations of Indian nationalities like the Tamils and Nagas, encourage Bangladesh to give a push to the independence of West Bengal  and lastly recover the 90,000 sq km territory in southern Tibet .

Wishing for India’s break-up into 20 to 30 nation-States like in Europe, the article has concluded by saying that if the consciousness of nationalities in India could be aroused, social reforms in South Asia can be achieved, the caste system can be eradicated and the region can march along the road of prosperity.

The Chinese article in question will certainly outrage readers in India. Its suggestion that China can follow a strategy to dismember India, a country always with a tradition of unity in diversity, is atrocious, to say the least. The write-up could not have been published without the permission of the Chinese authorities, but it is sure that Beijing will wash its hands out of this if the matter is taken up with it by New Delhi.

It has generally been seen that China is speaking in two voices — its diplomatic interlocutors have always shown understanding during their dealings with their Indian counterparts, but its selected media is pouring venom on India in their reporting. Which one to believe is a question confronting the public opinion and even policy makers in India.

In any case, an approach of panic towards such outbursts will be a mistake, but also ignoring them will prove to be costly for India.

— By: D S Rajan, is Director, Chennai Centre for China Studies.

Source: REDIFF

Sex education for Children, education for Politicians.

I still feel dazzled by the recent drive of politicians across all spectrums, stuck in an age when the change of thoughts could be near impossible, to ban sex education in schools. Even the likes of Baba Ramdev speak boastfully about the need to have yoga than sex education in schools. But Mr. Baba is almost 50 years old, went to school till 8th and then to ‘Gurukul’. He doesn’t even have the slightest of idea of the s**t going on in schools today and speaks like a top-level marketing man on a role to promote his product/service. Sure yoga is great for an individual. But letting it be a substitute for sex education is like trying hitting a six with a plastic bat.

Just the thought of not having sex education in schools in this age, filled with negativity in the digital air and one click access to mind corrupting pleasure moments on the Internet, sends me in the state of excessive jadedness and paramount tension. India, with people high on the thought of sex and eve-teasing (not all), cannot be safe or even think of reducing the rise in no of cases of molestation, rapes (indignity towards women) or in young (below 16) people indulging in sexual encounters (a view supported by the SC).

Over the past 5 years, with the high intensity in the sales of video and camera enabled devices, there has been a huge surge in the exposure of privately held sexual proceedings, watched by millions worldwide quite to the embarrassment of the victims and their families. Curbing these exposures has been almost impossible for mostly it’s the victims themselves taping the exotic times, sure to be leaked. But the waves of curiousness generated to watch this brain triggering moments has seemingly surpassed the encouragement to be morally educated and professionally thoughtful. Sex, as a thought if imbibed in a child at a young age, could hamper his growth in being socially matured and his stance in differentiating when placed with options.

The stand that these politicians take to ban sex education is first that it will teach and encourage students to have sex when they are in schools. Gosh! I had sex education in my school when I was in the 10th grade. All we boys in that grade were simply bored by the biological terms that the educators were using. The reason! We all knew what sex was. It just shows the degree to which these politicians are ill-informed and are going ahead and ill-informing the society. The only good thing that apparently happened, is that we actually happened to see a condom and know the importance of it. Imagine. You are high in those last 3-4 years of your school with the thought of girls & sex and you do not know what a condom is. During my time (I graduated from school in 2002), sex was known to most of the boys right from the 6th grade. When I say sex was known, I do not mean all the technicalities and all the right-wrong stuff, but sex in its basic sense is. It was a knowledge shared even amongst the girls. And today in this high bit-rate internet generation, we are talking about introducing it in 8th grade. More than 90% (could be an understatement) of the students in that age would know what sex is. The only thing remains is to tell them whether their full knowledge about it is factual or not.

World Health Organization(WHO), way back in 1993, had carried a survey in which it found that the people who have been imparted with sex education in the school are more likely to delay the indulgence in sex compared to those not given sex education in schools.It also found that it reduces sexual activity among  young people and encourages the one who have already indulged in sex to have safer sex.Researchers found “no support for the contention that sex education encourages sexual experimentation or increased activity. If any effect is observed, almost without exception, it is in the direction of postponed initiation of sexual intercourse and/or effective use of contraception.” Failure to provide appropriate and timely information “misses the opportunity of reducing the unwanted outcomes of unintended pregnancy and transmission of STDs, and is, therefore, in the disservice of our youth,” the report called Effects of Sex Education on Young People’s Sexual Behavior says. This report was commissioned by the Youth and General Public Unit, Office of Intervention and Development and Support, Global Program on AIDS, and the WHO.

So the basic argument about sex education through this political mindset tends to be so misguided.

The other argument they make is that our cultural values and heritage cannot allow sex education to be part of the curriculum. Let me get this straight. So according to these politicians, killing people on the basis of religion, hating people on the basis of caste and differentiating them on the basis of region and language fits our culture, but educating the kids of this nation with proper knowledge so as not to allow them to be victims of HIV and STD’s is disgraceful to this culture,especially in this land of ‘Kamasutra’, whose drawings and sculptures one would find around the caves and temples in India. The height of narrow-mindedness of these politicians is evident and as much as I hate saying this, I do not think I would even respect such a ‘Indian culture’, described by these politicians, let alone follow it, which puts the life of its own kids on the edge, especially being in a society where sex is given such a negative posture and sex talk is avoided as much as one would avoid standing on the edge of a 1000 ft cliff. Even the rape victims here are blamed for being raped, rather than the person who raped her and socially isolated(in a way tortured), not able to find a husband (those bloody man’s always want a virgin,no matter how much they f**k other women before marriage) and physologically disturbed(they have to accept  rape as an unfortunate event instead of a crime). I still do not know what ‘Indian Society’ these politicians keep babbling about.

“Message should appropriately be given to school children that there should be no sex before marriage which is immoral, unethical and unhealthy,” said the parliamentary committee report. So having sex before marriage is immoral and unethical? Who are these politicians to decide what’s immoral and unethical. These are the same group of corrupted, extremist, vote-bank gamers who have made the culture of Divide and Rule thrive. Morality is an individual’s virtue and not a guideline to be labourously followed. And talking about health, I have never heard the issue of hygiene being raised and pushed by these politicos in this land where diseases flow as easily as a fly by the wind of a storm. This should not be a country where everything has to be decided by ethics, morality and traditional thoughts. The moral police that guard’s the behaviour of people are the same that takes bribe in huge amount. Rather truth needs to have a dictatorial stand. Truth needs to be embraced and put into effect. Only than can we expect desired positive results.

Whether sex education is important or not is not a debate which should involve the politicians or their survey,but the youngsters and their experiences (there are issues the youth can address better and clearly). Its the youth which has to address this issue,while the media being responsible and approaching and addressing their concerns.I am a youth and I know the importance of sex education,something which i have tried to express in this article. I can just hope that reality makes its present felt, and our kids would have a better and healthy life in the coming times.

The Indian Political System – As I See it

This is purely based on my analysis and I might be wrong in my interpretations – so feel free to criticize me and have a healthy discussion, I anyway love making mistakes , learning and then evolving from there on. And before I start , this is Quite Serious and Insightful unlike my other posts.

” This Politician Doesn’t Deserve My Vote ”
” All politician suck big time. – (PJ) What ? ”
” All are corrupt , inefficient and India will always remain this way – Lets Shift to America , UK etc. ”

During the past few years I have met many people who are part of the system (MPs , MLAs , Corporators etc.) and also people who have been constantly challenging the system like Ramesh Ramnathan ( Janagraha) , Arvind Kejriwal ( RTI ) , Capt. Gopinath etc. and my opinion about this whole system and setup has undergone a sea change. I was always of opinion that the best way to solve India’s problems is to make all the politician stand in a line and then shoot some of them, so that the rest of them start working properly. Though I still feel that it could be one of the solutions but I have also realized that leaders are nothing but a true reflection of the people they represent (Majority obviously) or as they say in Hindi , Jaisi Praja – Waisa Raja.

Let me explain better with the real life experiences I had. I am sure most of you would have seen SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and might have been angered and disgusted at the way Mr. Danny Boyle had portrayed the slums. But trust me its much more worse than that. The last time I happened to travel through an internal road of a slum, atleast half of it was filled with filth, consisting faeces and god knows what else (Just the thought of that moment , makes me uneasy) and then there are people sitting on their charpais , on the same road and cutting vegetables , making chotis , eating food, etc. like any of us would normally do in our balconies. Politicians visit such places, NGOs visit , I and U might visit(only if its unavoidable) but do you think anyone would want to clean that filth ??? None !!!! Instead we would try to teach children, give them money, clothes, etc. because we know that they live there and its them who got to make sure things are clean and neat. Even if someone takes the initiative and cleans it up, they would make sure that it again goes back to its old condition within no time because that is their system; that is how they have been living , that is a part of their habits and lifestyle.

The same applies to us in India too, when we people are so used to filth around us, why would a handful of us at the Helm of Power be responsible for cleaning it?

Now let me familiarize you with the election process in India.

Over 90% of the people do not get basic food and money to survive.

Over 90% do not understand government policies, fiscal policies, infrastructure expenditure, industrialization and other similar things.

What really matters to them is the food that they can get and its all about those 2 rupees per kilo rice, money that is spent, those bottles of Beer that are splurged,etc. which make a party win and come back to power again.

With the so-called educated population who can understand macro factors and differentiate between good and bad being just 10%, out of which only around 70% do not vote.

And to reach out to billions through people employed as “party workers”, requiring a daily expenditure of approximately Rs.1000 per person per day, it basically means that just to merely contest an election and have any chances of winning, you need a minimum of a whopping Rs. 25 Crores for  the level of a MP, 8 Crores for an MLA and around just a crore for a corporator.

And when someone is spending so much, along with other party expenses, marketing expenses, etc., with no system of Political Donation unlike America wherein people are educated, literate, self-sufficient (to the scale of 90%), what else can one expect???

Trust me, from my experience, over 30% Politicians want to work genuinely for the Public but its the system, bureaucracy and other Politicians which literally handicap them. So how do you solve the problem?? Get smarter, educated people and make them understand and form a higher, smarter vote bank with over 70% from current 10% and trust me Indian Political System will be much much better than America’s.
I will try to put up one effective solution to all the problems keeping all the problems in mind. Do check that out too.

Just imagine that you have full access to RBI with Billions of Dollars, No police, No Parents, No teachers to bother you, literally no one to ask you any questions or hold you accountable. What would you do???

Do you keep the cash for a billion People whom you don’t even know, or have sex, deposit the cash in Swiss Account, buy properties and live life king size?

Its simple. There are only a handful who have skills to play through the system and climb to positions where they get access, with hardly a handful to question, then what do you expect ??

Lastly, the other day one of my friend, during a long discussion was complaining about how the politicians have ruined this country: “They are supposed to do this and that, but all they do is nothing. Its all about criminals and muscle power”.

Later, we saw a woman who had parked her vehicle at the wrong place. I told him that i will go and tell her its wrong. That is what i am supposed to do. Whether she listens to me or not is a different story altogether, but let me do what i am supposed to do. And he said “NO NO, its her wish, let her do what she wants. How does it bother you and what difference does it make to you?”.

This is the case with most of us. We complain and expect everyone else to do what they are supposed to do without doing what we are supposed to do. :)

And frankly, most of the times we are clueless and handicapped and don’t even know what we can do. Slums are too far, NGOs are run by government officials to make money.

I cannot commit, i have no time, am not good at this – I will try to address all of these issues along with a solution – watch out for my next post.

Hopefully this can initiate a debate and action or not, I hope people will be forced to think. In case you have liked it and feel it makes sense , then please do SHARE it with your friends, family & contacts.

Rohit Begwani
rohitbegwani@gmail.com