Why The World Survives

A ‘mother’ to many orphans

WHEN I POSTED ON THIS BLOG. THE STORY (sent by a friend) of Harakchand Salwa , who has been feeding free thousands of cancer patients and the relatives accompanying them to the Tata Memorial Cancer Hospital, Mumbai, many friends responded.

Some agreed with the post (Our Blind, Frivolous Media, Feb,13) and

Amitabh  with  Maaii

on the obsession of Indian media with with frivolous hype and gossip. Others said they had read about Salwa and I was wrong to say she was not written about. One said that for decades the much maligned RSS  was helping the cancer patients and relatives accompanying them, without any publicity.

They all agreed that such actions were inspiring and touched the hearts of readers. So I am reproducing here another such inspiring story – again anonymously sent by a friend. Many may have already received it in their mail box or on WhatsApp, but it bears repetition.While mainstream print and electronic media are  full of frivolity  like politicians foibles and celebrities’ flirtations,  social media and apps  like Facebook and WhatsApp make up by  bringing into light stories like those of Salwa and Sindhutai Sapkal.  Continue reading Why The World Survives

Why Not Advani For President?


LAL KRISHNA ADVANI, THE VETERAN BJP LEADER, was ridiculed in a post, perhaps by a Dynasty Devotee, that went around online recently,

Advani yesterday and Today. President tomorrow?

It was a picture of him greeting Congress ‘Yuvaraj’ Rahul Gandhi with folded hands. In the imaginary conversation, he was telling Rahul that he would need Congress votes as the Presidential election was coming soon.

Then it occurred to me, “Why not Advani as President?” I have no idea if ‘Modi Bhaktas’ had considered him for the post as,  out of disgust, I stopped reading newspapers and followed events only online.A refined, cultured Advani, a  journalist by profession, used to write in excellent English against English in his column ‘The  Continue reading Why Not Advani For President?

Justice, Not Just Rule of Law

Hands on prison barsA  MAN SPENT  ALMOST  A year in  a Telangana jail though he was not convicted. He was only ‘suspected’ to have stolen a few sarees. A police official thought it was a case fit for arrest under the Preventive Detention Act.  It was only after a court order that he was released.

Releasing him was rule of
law. A democratic, civilised, nation is supposed to follow rule of law. But could justice be done in this case? No power on earth can bring back the year he had lost.  No compensation paid to him can be Continue reading Justice, Not Just Rule of Law

Lenseman: Witness to History

The photograph of napalm bomb victim in Vietnam, which made history in the US, and below, the photographer  Nick Ut of Associated Press

Nick UtSOME  NEWS  PHOTOS  CHANGE  HISTORY;  MANY OTHERS  record the making of history.

Having done photography along with reporting in my early days,  I was always interested in news photography.  Journalism books say a picture  is equal to 1000 words. That was why  in my  book, ‘A Town Called Penury – the Changing Culture of Indian Journalism’, I had a chapter on photojournalists.

As I mentioned there,  a photograph that played a major role in making most Americans oppose the Vietnam war and  forced the US  to abandon it,  was of a 9-year old Vietnamese running naked  Continue reading Lenseman: Witness to History

‘Injuns’ Don’t Live On Trees,But…

Headline of the day in London’s bank street  —  Modi’s landslide victory in UP

A VIDEO OF CANARY  WHARF, THE BANKING HUB OF LONDON, showing the electronic marquee with flashing letters that said ‘Modi wins  landslide victory in India’s biggest state‘ was posted to many  by a friend.

It did make me proud …and also  set me thinking.

If Modi’s  win in UP is flashed in London bank street it  is only  because UK banks get big money from India. In USA most people think  we ‘Injuns’  live on trees  and  are beggars. Perhaps 90 pc of people in US and Europe would  not know who Modi is. His coming to power was a small item on inside pages there.

Their ignorance is as much, if not more,  than that in remote rural India. Western channels including Nat Geo show ONLY the negative side of India. Switching on NG recently, I found a documentary on India showing cows lazily chewing the cud sitting on crowded roads.

True India became more noticed after Modi’s whirlwind tour of the world and the recent launching of 104 satellites into space on a single launch vehicle by ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation). It ‘shocked’ the CIA chief in the US and made others take note.

At that time  there was news  of the  ISRO chief had saying ISRO had sought Government clearance to launch a space station.  The Congress must have got two reactions to it ready –  one against and the other for the space station idea.

If the clearance is given, Diggy Raja (Digvijay Singh) would say that poverty and starvation still exist in India with Modi doing nothing but sleep over the people’s problems, which were more important than the space station.

If the permission was denied,  someone like Abhishek Sanghvi would immediately allege the Modi Government was against science and  modernity and was taking the country back into the stone age.

They found fault with attempts to eradicate black money. The surgical strike on Pakistan was criticised. Opening of crores of bank accounts for the poor was assailed.The diplomatic offensive against Pakistan was derided. They patronise Vijay Mallyas, but blame Modi for it

Even the movements for cleanliness,  rural toilets and girls’ education  were ridiculed. Dozens of such examples can be given.

In sharp contrast, Vajypayee  praised Indira Gandhi as Durga when she helped  liberate Bangladesh.  Within weeks of Modi coming to power he was asked why money stashed abroad was not brought back. The DDs (dynasty devotees) do not say why ‘Garibi Hatao’ slogan went on for years, with only the dynasty’s poverty removed.

True cows on streets, filth all around, offices and buildings inaccessible to handicapped people, lakhs living in slums, caste system  and many such problems still exist in India. (Don’t add “despite 67 years of Congress rule”. The dynasty did prosper.)

The new government, only half-way though its first term,   cannot set  everything right overnight. That it has started is obvious, except to the blind. The Opposition thinks it is its duty to put hurdles in its way, to ensure that it fails.

We have to set our house in order for the world to admire India. That day will come.








Parties Insult Voters

(Headline: Those who called Gujaratis ‘donkeys’ get the kick)IMG-20170311-WA0007

The Gujarat twins were called donkeys – and so they  administered the kick

INDIAN TEST CRICKETER IRFAN PATEL, it is said, was once asked by a Pakistani girl how he was playing for India though he was a Muslim. A Muslim player of another country once scored well in a match and, after a prayer to ‘Khuda’ on the ground, said all Muslims of the world would be proud of his achievement.

This failure to see that religion and the game have no link could be attributed to the politics of hatred and fanaticism promoted by Pakistan for its own survival, as it was born out of such hatred. But it is shocking to see Indian politicians using the same logic.

Bahujana Samaj Party supremo Mayawati insulted all the Muslims of Uttar Pradesh and India on March 11 when she said the electronic voting machines (EVMs) were all rigged Continue reading Parties Insult Voters

Lawyers Are Not Liars

‘Arguing’  outside courts

IN MANY  HINDI  FILMS  IT  IS  difficult to notice the difference in  pronunciation  of ‘lawyer’ and ‘liar’. When you talk of judges (Nov.3, 2016 post ‘Judging Judsearchges‘) lawyers cannot be far from your thoughts.


Judges come from the community of lawyers. A popular Hindi serial of the last generation was titled ‘Sas bhi kabhi bahu thi’ (the mother-in-law too was a daughter-in-law once). Similarly judges too were lawyers once.While judges
are among the most respectable and revered members of  the  society, even lawyers
imgres would admit that the ‘reputation’ they enjoy does not match that of judges. Lawyer jokes outnumber the Rajnikant or Sardar jokes in India and can fill many pages.

Derisive jokes about lawyers in the USA are too many ( On a tombstone: “Here lies John, a lawyer and an honest man”. Visitor: “Oh, two people buried in a single grave!”). How many Continue reading Lawyers Are Not Liars

Should MPs, MLAs, Get More?



The  argument mentioned in the post  yesterday, that MPs and MLAs should be give higher emoluments to prevent poverty driving them to corruption, suffers from one weekness: Crime or corruption  arise not from poverty but from the values and mentality of those involved and not from their need.

Eduction is expected to teach us the difference between want and need. It has been seen that those who have much want some more. Those who steal out of need are much fewer than those who do so out of greed – wanting  more things.

In childhood I was told of a writing competition in a college:”What will you do if you have a lakh of rupees?”(Those days that was a huge sum). Most students wrote of things they would buy for those they love or fufilling their dreams. The prize winner wrote that he would tighten his belt, eat and spend less so that he could turn that one lakh into two. Having a big amount makes you realise what you can do with it –and with much more.

Ministers who collect 10 per cent as bribe from contractors don’t do it due to hunger.  If need was the cause those raided and found having disproportionate weath would not have been in possession of several hundred crores of rupees.Had they taken just to meet needs, they would not have been suspected in the first place.

If some MPs ‘cashed’ their positions and grew rich, it was not because of poverty. Similarly if some MPs just sign the register and never participate, it is only because the party leaders want such members – only to given them the numerical majority which is all that matters in a ’51-is-right-49-is-wrong’ democracy. Such ‘dumb’ members do not threaten their leadership by developing ambitions.

In the pre-Emergency Parliament there was a debate on the ‘Pondicherry Licence Scandal’ where a minster, L.N.Mishra from Bihar, was charged with issuing a licence to one Tulsian for import of stainless steel. A  CBI investigation showed the licence was issued on the basis of  letters by some MPs recommending it. Their signatures were allegedly  forged.

The MPs had to state in the house that CBI officers visited them and showed the letters. Their signaturesnot genuine and were forged. The MPs, including a woman, were hardly ever seenin the House before. They had never spoken. They were given the statement, in Hindi, to read out.

The problem in Hindi is that a verb has a gender. A male would say  ‘tha’ and a female ‘thi’ for ‘was’. A male MP took the statement from a woman MP and read it out, saying ‘thi’ n plce of  ‘tha’, resulting in laughter in the house. The members were not only inactive but also barely literate and could not understand the difference. Their only duty was to say ‘Aye’ in voting whenever their leader wanted, or table the questions given by him.

This is not to  disrespecr illiterate members. A Jana Sangh (now  BJP) member in 1970s was a ralway coolie earlier and learnt to fread and write from a journalist friend of mine. But he was one of the most active MPs. And highly ‘educated’  members blindly supporta   barely educated and dumb ‘leaders’ just because they belong to a dynasty.

Not all the members are illiterate.  An actor, playback singer or crciketer is chosen by the ruling party not for their valuable contribution to debates or ideas but as a reward for using their glamour to attract crowds in election campaigns and for the value added to the party by nominating them. As they earn much more than the Rs 2000-a-day  sitting allowance they attend only the  minimum number of days to retain their membership.

And attendance here means going to parliament house to sign the register – and perhaps sit in the allotted seat for a minute or two. This practice is not limited to the Congress, though it did so more often than others. ‘Maharani’  Gayatri Devi of Rajasthan, said to be one of the most beautiful womenof her times. was a Swatantra Party MP. I saw her sit the Lok Sabha for some minutes before leaving. And that ‘attendance’ too was rare.

Some MPs are seen mostly in the Central Hall, which is just a huge coffee house where all the lobbying and political bargaining takes place. Their views, experience or advice do not matter. They have to only sign where they were asked to and contribute to the numbers.

And their leaders want them paid more for it.

MPs Hike Own Pay, Perks, Pension

 The  Temple of Indian Democracy where:God is  forgotten but priests   prosper                                                                                                 parliament INDIAN POLITICAL CULTURE HAS fallen so low that both the Opposition and the ruling party resort to vilification, abuse and personal attacks. The opposition stalls pro-people, good, bills. And yet all parties are unanimous on one topic: Their MPs and MLAs should get higher salaries and more perks.

In September 2015, The Hindu daily, quoting official sources, wrote: “India paid Rs.176 crore to its 543 Lok Sabha members in salaries and expenses over the last year, or just over Rs. 2.7 lakh a month per Member of Parliament.” It must be more now. Some perks cannot be quantified.

Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs get Rs.50,000  as salary, Rs.45,000 as constituency allowance, Rs.15,000 as office expenses and Rs.30,000 for secretarial assistance every month. When Parliament is in session, they get a daily allowance of Rs.2,000 a day just for signing the register even if they do not sit in the House for even a few minutes and their contribution to debates or questions is nil (more onkthis later).

They are reimbursed for 34 flight trips and get unlimited rail and road travel per year, along with a companion, on “official business.” When a High Court Chief Justice wanted to go abroad at taxpayers’ expence to a place where his son was studying, for ‘treatment in a hospital there’, why can’t MPs visit relatives for ‘official work’?

Under the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) each member could recommend to the concerned District Authority developmental works to the tune of Rs 2 Crores a year. Guess who gets the contracts?

Travel reimbursements and daily allowances account for the biggest chunk of public spending on Indian MPs, or nearly half of all expenses, at Rs 83 crore for the year, the data shows (Numbers rounded off). Besides their salaries, several crores on spent on Parliament sessikons which transact no business at all. Dharnas and pandemonium are the new normal.

Ever wondered what is socialism? Samajwadi (Socialist Party) leader Ramgopal Yadav says: “Increase our salary and make it more than Cabinet Secretary’s.” After all, they have to fight for the poor who, after a day’s hard labour cannot get two meals or a proper house, and farmers driven by debts to suicide. That is socialism in India!
Rajya Sabha members on August 12 last once again raised the demand for increasing their salaries and questioned the government’s silence on the recommendations of a Parliamentary committee to hike the MPs’ salaries. It had suggested that the monthly salary be raised from Rs. 50,000 to a lakh and constituency allowance from Rs. 45,000 to 90,000, raising the total compensation from Rs.1,40,000 to 2,80,000.

The committee is headed by the BJP’s Yogi Adityanath (a ‘sanyaasi’ in saffron robe, who has renounced all worldly things) It has also recommended a 75 per cent rise in pensions, and an automatic revision in salaries periodically. MPs’ salaries were last hiked six years ago. Ghulam Nabi Azad (Congress), Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said: “Inflation affects everyone; MPs are also hit.”

And all this is official, legitimate. No one can prove that MPs indulge in corruption. Those who took money for asking questions or for supporting P.V.Narasimha Rao’s minority government are a minority, Others should not be equated with them. Still you wonder how their wealth multiplies many-fold after getting elected or how thay spend several crores to get elected.

A Socialist Party leader was below povery level (BPL) but in a decade declared wealth in crores. No, they don’t have undeclared wealth. One party boss is known to have taken crores for allotting the party ticket. They paid only for a chance to serve the poor, not make illegal money.

The Lok Sabha Secretariat releases information on the amount claimed by and paid to each MP every month. Even newspapers in the MP’s constituency don’t antagonise them by publishing it.

And this is not all. These politicians get lifetime pension even for one tenure of while government servants have to serve a minimum of 20 years.  No one can explain why young men and women who serve in the military for 20 years or more, risking their lives to protect us, get only 50% of their pay on retirement. Short Service Commissioned Officers who take same risks for five to 14 years get ZERO retirement benefits after their assignment.

“Politicians who hold their political positions in the safe confines of the capital, protected by these very same men and women, receive full-pay for life on retirement after just one term of five years. Does it make any sense ?” asks a petition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which went viral soon after he assumed office.

“PM SIR, CHANGE THIS RULE AND THE NATION SHALL BE GRATEFUL TO YOU FOREVER…” the petition, which must have come to you again and again, said. “Abolish, politicians’ pension for life,” it urged, adding: “Just like you motivated common people to give up cooking gas subsidy, motivate MPs to give up numerous undeserving exorbitant perks and subsidies” including pension, which they granted themselves unanimously.

The demand for higher salaries for MPs is justified on the grounds that being poor should not tempt them to be corrupt. I remember the great MP Hari Vishnu Kamath of Hoshangabad (MP) coming to me in a cycle-rickshaw or meeting me in a relative’s house (not five star hotel) every time he came to my town and humble Vavilala Gopalakrishnayya, MLA, walking to offices in hot Guntur (AP) with a bagful of people’s petitions hanging from his shoulder.

In pre-Emergency Palriament I watched Bhupen Gupta, Hiren Mukherjee, Nath Pai, former coolike Hukumchand Karchawi, many more…They never were rich. And yet even their worst critics could not say they were corrupt.

Has a single MP voluntarily given up any of these subsidies, perks and pay? Or at least the millionaire super-rich ones who declared property of several crores?

The Northeast Again

<Assam’s Kamakhya temple

THANKS TO THE MANY who liked th<e post ‘The Need To Rediscover India‘, though many conveyed it in mails without clicking ‘like’ at the bottom

Some people are attracted to the Northeast only as tourists as there are many beautiful spots there. Some like it for the wildlife sanctuaries. Others because it is one part of the country facing many invasions Continue reading The Northeast Again