Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Swachh devotees in Urdu cleansing - Artists forced to deface couplet praising Delhi


New Delhi, May 23: A French artist and an Indian associate commissioned by the Delhi government were forced by a crowd to deface their own wall-writing in praise of the capital in Urdu and replace it with the words "Swachh Bharat Abhiyan", one of the artists said.
The crowd was shouting slogans like "Jai Shri Ram" and calling the artists "Lahoris", artist Akhlaq Ahmad said. Urdu is one of the four official languages of Delhi while the other three are Hindi, Punjabi and English.
Last Thursday, the French artist and the Delhi-based Ahmad were painting an Urdu couplet on the wall of a Delhi Jal Board pumping station in northeast Delhi.
Their work is part of the #MyDilliStory project commissioned by the state government's art, culture and languages department. Artists collective Delhi I Love You (DILY), which is steering the project, has selected 40 couplets in the four languages to be painted on walls.
The Delhi wall with the Urdu letters painted over and replaced with the words “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan” in Hindi
Written by Delhi University student Zeeshan Amjad, the couplet chosen for the Jal Board wall refers to the city being destroyed and rebuilt seven times. It says: " Dilli tera ujarna, aur phir ujar ke basna. Woh dil hai toone paya, sani nahi hai jiska (Oh Delhi, you were ruined and you overcame your ruin to settle. No city has a heart like yours)."
Ahmad, better known as Shabbu, told The Telegraph today: "As we painted the first line, a crowd gathered. People asked why we were painting in Urdu. We explained that this is poetry praising Delhi, it's a government project. We showed them the permission letter on our phones. The crowd soon increased to about 150. A dark and hefty man with a slight moustache stepped forward and said he is from the RSS and Urdu would not be tolerated."
"He had a few supporters who yelled abuses about our mothers and sisters and started shouting 'Jai Shri Ram'. I said my name is Shabbu and they assumed I was Shambhu, a Hindu. So they turned their ire towards my French colleague, Swen Simon, asking him to pay me my wages and go back to Lahore. Swen doesn't know Hindi. I pleaded with them to leave him alone, saying he's French not Pakistani," Ahmad added.
Some people picked up the brush and started painting over the Urdu letters, said Ahmad. "They yelled at me, saying paint in 'yellow, orange, blue'. They held my hands and tried to force me to paint. I agreed to paint whatever they wanted to save ourselves. They said paint 'Swachh Bharat Abhiyan' (the Clean India campaign promoted by the Narendra Modi government) and 'Narendra Modi' in Hindi, which I started doing. By the time I painted the first line, police arrived," said Ahmad.
Ahmad, who has a master's in fine arts from Jamia Millia Islamia, added that the artists had tried to photograph the mob but the self-proclaimed RSS men took their phones and deleted the images. These men melted into the crowd as soon as they heard the police siren.
"The police were quite rude and took away my phone. They kept questioning our motives after I told them I live in Batla House (where two alleged terrorists and a police officer were killed in 2008). Thankfully, (Delhi) culture minister Kapil Mishra called the police up when we were in the van, after which the cops were apologetic and offered us soft drinks and food," Ahmad said.
DILY has decided not to work at the site. "We didn't expect this as it has never happened before," said Kush Sethi of DILY.
Minister Mishra said he would not allow intimidation. "These RSS men neither understand culture nor religion, especially Hinduism. Otherwise, they wouldn't have done this to our foreign guest who is doing a service to the city. The option of taking legal action is open to us but we first want to create social awareness and expose their plans to create communal tension," Mishra said.
In response to a question, A.K. Singla, deputy commissioner of police (Northeast Delhi), said: "I do not know about this incident. I will have to check."

Monday, May 23, 2016

Beti, interrupted

PAYEL MAJUMDAR
On March 28, at the end of Holi holidays, 17-year-old Delta Meghwal was dropped off by her father at the residential Adarsh Jain Teacher’s Training Institute in Nokha, Bikaner (Rajasthan). Her two-year course was ending and her exam results were expected the next day. The daughter of a Dalit schoolteacher in Barmer, around 400 km away, she was the first in her family to study beyond school. Her proud father, Mahendra Ji Panwar, held her up as an example to his students.
On March 29, she was found drowned in the water tank behind the hostel building. Her fateful walk towards the water tank hadn’t gone unnoticed. At 7 am, the father of the institute’s owner had seen her during his morning walk. Her hostel-mate, too, saw her leaving the dorm. Yet, it was only around midday that the police were called in to trace the missing girl.
The institute’s owner, Ishwar Chand Vaid, failed to inform Delta’s family about her death.
The teenager had gone missing from her dormitory the night before as well. Around midnight, one of the hostel girls had raised an alarm after failing to find Delta in her bed. A search party led by hostel warden Priya Shukla and the guard Akram Singh scanned the campus. She was finally found in the PT teacher Vijendra Singh’s room, according to police testimonies given by the hostel warden and other hostel residents. Post-mortem reports have since confirmed rape; as a minor, Delta is below the age of consent.
In a strange turn of events, the school authorities had, in the middle of the night, forced the minor Delta and the PT teacher to sign a document apologising for having ‘consensual sex’. The hostel warden had informed the PT teacher’s wife about the incident, but Delta’s parents remained in the dark. “Even at this point, the school did not inform the parents,” says Satya Prakash Sharma, a Jaipur High Court advocate and the public prosecutor in Delta’s case.
The Bikaner police had arrested the principal, Vijay Shukla, his wife and hostel warden, Priya, and PT teacher Singh, who is the prime accused, right after the incident.
The principal and his wife have since received bail.
It’s a lonely ride to Nokha from Bikaner’s old-world streets. The harsh desert landscape, sandy soil and the white-hot horizon is broken intermittently by brush trees and bushes. Hardly a soul crosses your way on the one-hour journey, and there is not a single brightly-coloured dupatta of a local woman in sight to break the monotony of men out and about on the streets.
The police station in Nokha is a nondescript building, a single-storey brick construction inside a dusty courtyard. One police jeep and a few white cars are parked inside, heating up in the summer sun; there’s a heat wave on.
I wait in the station house officer’s (SHO) building, which, unlike the sparse police station, has a split air-conditioner. The desk is piled with files and the empty chair behind it waits for its occupant. It is 11 am. The constable on duty offers me a glass of water and suggests I call the SHO, Pooja Yadav — she, in turn, sounds irritated, “Arrey, yaar, I went back home at 4 am, and calls begin to come in from 6 am. It is impossible to have a moment of peace in this line of work, madam.”
Finally, the IPS officer — a woman in her 20s — marches in, shod in polished oxfords, cap on head, a lathi under her left arm, and smelling of freshly applied lacto calamine.
A queue of people has formed outside. A man walks in and informs the officer: “Dahi aapke liye fridge me rakh diya hai, khatta ho jaayega (I have kept the yoghurt in the fridge, lest it goes sour).”
“There’s another case going on right now, a gangster is on the run,” Yadav cancels an offending party’s gun licence even as she talks to me. “See, the day the incident happened, I wasn’t around. I had gone to Nagaur, and the second-in-command was looking after the case. Unfortunately, he is on leave right now.” She gives me an unofficial lowdown on the case, as it stands, ‘woman-to-woman’; for the official version I will have to go to Bikaner’s Additional SP Satnam Singh.
Why was the water tank found covered with a lid if Delta had indeed committed suicide and was not murdered?
Why is there no official police record of the body being brought from the site? Why was the death reported much after the body had been discovered at 10 am?
No one from the police has answers to any of these questions. To add insult to injury, the body was transferred in a municipal garbage van. Ramkesh Singh Meena, the investigating officer, says, “We don’t have a dedicated vehicle in Nokha for such uses, so we decided to use the municipal garbage dumpster.”
Jain Adarsh Senior Secondary School is located a little away from Nokha. The owner, Vaid, also runs a hospital nearby. The large grounds of the school are unusually quiet, as the students have back-to-back holidays — Ambedkar Jayanti, Ram Navami and Mahavir Jayanti.
It’s been three weeks since Delta’s death; the gatekeeper tells me that no girls are at the hostel now
I ask to see the school, and the caretaker Pankaj and gatekeeper Akram Singh initially appear hesitant but agree eventually. A posse of men follow me around as I take pictures of the school and its grounds.
Where is the hostel she lived in, I enquire. There’s more hesitation, and finally the guard points towards an extreme corner of the school. This long, one storey building is bookended by one-room quarters, painted in the bright pink-and-magenta colours of the main school building.
The ground separating the school from the hostel area is barren and unkempt. I ask where her body was found. “She was found behind the mess of the hostel, in the water tank,” comes a curt reply. The gatekeeper and caretaker trail me around as I take more photographs. Everyone seems glad when I finally decide to leave.
The case has shuttled between police stations, and there have been disagreements over its jurisdiction. It has finally been transferred to the CBI, which however, hasn’t made any investigations yet. While the Sessions Court had thrice rejected the bail appeals of the principal, warden and the teacher, the Jodhpur High Court granted bail to the first two. Sharma, the public prosecutor in the case, is clearly displeased.
“It is disturbing that they have been granted bail, while investigations are still on. My hope for the case is that the CBI takes it up soon,” he says.
The police investigations have been marked by several irregularities. Initial reports in the local editions of Hindi newspapers, such as Januday, hinted that Delta Meghwal was targeted because she was a Dalit girl. Under the headline “Brahmin aurat ne karwaya Dalit chhatra Delta ka balatkar aur hatya (Brahmin woman gets Dalit girl Delta raped and murdered)”, one report suggests that Delta was sent to clean the PT teacher’s room by the hostel warden around 8 pm, before she was found dead the following morning. This contradicts the warden’s testimony.
Delta’s father sounds dejected over the phone, as he recounts the events surrounding his daughter’s tragic end. “I do not have much hope from the way things are going. They have been charged under Section 306, which is abetment of suicide. Even the public prosecutor said in court that it looks like suicide. The witnesses, the three girls who used to stay with her, have turned hostile in favour of the school. It looks to me like another case where the administration tries to collectively silence justice, in this case, for my beti. My only hope now is that the CBI will begin investigations as soon as it can.”
Vaid, the school owner, is taken by surprise when I call him for this story. “They [the accused] have already got bail, haven’t they?” he counters, before adding, “It is not easy to control people’s sexual behaviour. I didn’t want to start a hostel, but where would these girls have gone if I hadn’t?” Asked about the culpability of his school staff in Delta’s death, either through callousness or abetment, he says, “You’ll find everything in the bail report. We have all given testimonies to the police and they [accused] have already got bail. That is all I have to say on the matter.”
Mystery shrouds the events of the night that snuffed out a young life. All that’s left is a father trying to get justice for his daughter, and blocked by bureaucracy every step of the way. Briefly the story of Delta’s death made national headlines when, at a protest march in Delhi, JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar projected the case as another institutional murder of a Dalit student, a la Rohith Vemula. There were protests in Bengaluru as well, but these did not result in much headway in the case.
“My daughter was exceptional. I named her Delta after the enriched soil at the mouth of the river. Why did the school not think it important to tell me she was no more? When I called the school’s owner he told me not to call him again and again, since he was busy outside. What is more urgent than a death?” Delta’s father doesn’t mince words about the school’s shoddy handling of the case.
The apathetic treatment that a trust-run school has meted out to its student is especially worrying in a State that is loudly promoting girls’ education with its Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign. There are no regulations from the Human Resource Development ministry regarding how hostels are to be run in private institutions — no mandatory health checks or security guidelines either. When contacted, Rajasthan Minister for higher education Kali Charan Saraf remained unavailable for comment. Delta’s father leaves us with several disturbing questions: “Will parents be fine with sending their daughters away to study after Delta? I am a teacher myself, and was so proud of my daughter. Yet, I would hesitate before sending another daughter away to study… it is better to have her alive than educated."

Saturday, May 21, 2016

12 LIFE LESSONS FROM A MAN WHO HAS SEEN 12000 DEATHS

Rooted in the hearts of many Hindus is the belief that if you breathe your last in Kashi (Varanasi) you attain what is popularly known as ‘Kashi Labh’ or ‘the fruit of Kashi’—moksh or “release from the cycle of rebirth impelled by the law of karma”.
Kashi Labh Mukti Bhawan in Varanasi is one of the three guesthouses in the city where people check in to die. The other two are Mumukshu Bhawan and Ganga Labh Bhawan. Established in 1908, Mukti Bhawan is well-known within the city and outside.
Bhairav Nath Shukla has been the Manager of Mukti Bhawan for 44 years. He has seen the rich and the poor take refuge in the guesthouse in their final days as they await death and hope to find peace. Shukla hopes with and for them. He sits on the wooden bench in the courtyard, against the red brick wall and shares with me 12 recurring life lessons from the 12000 deaths he has witnessed in his experience as the manager of Mukti Bhawan:
1. Resolve all conflicts before you go
Shukla recounts the story of Shri Ram Sagar Mishr, a Sanskrit scholar of his times. Mishr was the eldest of six brothers and was closest to the youngest one. Years ago an ugly argument between the two brothers led to a wall to partition the house.
In his final days, Mishr walked to the guesthouse carrying his little paan case and asked to keep room no. 3 reserved for him. He was sure he will pass away on the 16th day from his arrival. On the 14th day he said, “Ask my estranged brother of 40 years to come see me. This bitterness makes my heart heavy. I am anxious to resolve every conflict.”
A letter was sent out. On the 16th day when the youngest brother arrived, Mishr held his hand and asked to bring down the wall dividing the house. He asked his brother for forgiveness. Both brothers wept and mid sentence, Mishr stopped speaking. His face became calm. He was gone in a moment.
Shukla has seen this story replay in many forms over the years. “People carry so much baggage, unnecessarily, all through their life only wanting to drop it at the very end of their journey. The trick lies not in not having conflicts but in resolving them as soon as one can,” says Shukla.
2. Simplicity is the truth of life
“People stop eating indulgent food when they know they are going to go. The understanding that dawns on many people in their final days is that they should’ve lived a simple life. They regret that the most,” says Shukla.
A simple life, as he explains, can be attained by spending less. We spend more to accumulate more and thus create more need. To find contentment in less is the secret to having more.
3. Filter out people’s bad traits
Shukla maintains that every person has shades of good and bad. But instead of dismissing “bad” people outrightly, we must seek out their good qualities. Harbouring bitterness for certain people comes from concentrating on their negatives. If you focus on the good qualities though, you spend that time getting to know them better or, maybe even, loving them.
4. Be willing to seek help from others
To know and do everything by yourself might feel empowering but it limits one from absorbing what others have learnt. Shukla believes we must help others, but more importantly, have the courage to seek help when we’re in need.
Every person in the world knows more than us in some respect. And their knowledge can help us, only if we’re open to it.
He recounts the incident of an old woman being admitted on a rainy day back in the 80s. The people who got her there left her without filling the inquiry form. A few hours later, the police came to trace the relatives of the old lady who, they said, were runaway Naxalites. Shukla pretended to not know nothing. The police left. When the lady’s relatives returned next morning, Shukla asked the leader uninhibitedly, “When you can kill 5-8 people yourself why didn’t you simply shoot your Nani and cremate her yourself? Why did you make me lie and feel ashamed?” The grandson fell to his knees and pleaded for forgiveness saying no one amongst them is capable of helping his religious grandmother attain salvation. He respects that, and is the reason why he brought her to Mukti Bhawan.
5. Find beauty in simple things
Mukti Bhavan plays soulful bhajans and devotional songs three times a day. “Some people”, he says, “stop and admire a note or the sound of the instruments as if they have never heard it before, even if they have. They pause to appreciate it and find beauty in it.”
But that’s not true of everyone, he adds. People who are too critical or too proud, are the ones who find it hard to find joy in small things because their minds are preoccupied with “seemingly” more important things.
6. Acceptance is liberation
Most people shirk away from accepting what they are going through. This constant denial breeds in them emotions that are highly dangerous. Only once you accept your situation is when you become free to decide what to do about it. Without acceptance you are always in the grey space.
When you are not in denial of a problem you have the strength to find a solution.
Indifference, avoidance, and denial of a certain truth, Shukla believes, cause anxiety; they develop a fear of that thing in the person. Instead, accept the situation so you are free to think what you want to do about it and how. Acceptance will liberate you and empower you.
7. Accepting everyone as the same makes service easier
The secret to Shukla’s unfazed dedication and determination towards his demanding job can be understood via this life lesson. He admits that life would’ve been difficult if he treated people who admit themselves to Mukti Bhavan differently, based on their caste, creed, colour, and social or economic status. Categorisation leads to complication and one ends up serving no one well. “The day you treat everyone the same is the day you breathe light and worry less about who might feel offended or not. Make your job easier,” he says.
8. If/When you find your purpose, do something about it
To have awareness about one’s calling is great, but only if you do something about it.
A lot of people, Shukla says, know their purpose but don’t do anything about realising it, making it come to life. Simply sitting on it is worse than not having a calling in the first place. Having a perspective towards your purpose will help you measure the time and effort you need to dedicate to it, while you’re caught up in what you think you can’t let go or escape. Take action on what truly matters.
9. Habits become values
Shukla recommends cultivating good habits to be able to house good values. And building good habits happens over time, with practice. “It’s like building a muscle; you have to keep at it everyday.”
Till one doesn’t consistently work towards being just or kind or truthful or honest or compassionate, every single time he is challenged, one cannot expect to have attained that quality.
10. Choose what you want to learn
In the vastness of the infinite amount of knowledge available to us it is easy to get lost and confused. “The key lesson here is to be mindful of choosing what you deeply feel will be of value to you,” he says. People might impose subjects and philosophies on you because it interests them and while you must acknowledge their suggestions, the wise thing to do is delve deeper into what rejoices your own heart and mind.
With a smile on his face Shukla says, “In the last days of their life a lot of people can’t speak, walk or communicate with others with as much ease as they could, earlier. So, they turn inwards. And start to remember the things that made their heart sing once, things that they cared to learn more about over the course of their life, which enriches their days now.”
11. You don’t break ties with people; you break ties with the thought they produce
You can seldom distance yourself from people you have truly loved or connected with in some way. However, in any relationship, along the way, certain mismatch of ideologies causes people to stop communicating. This never means you are no longer associated with that person. It simply means that you don’t associate with a dominant thought that person brings with him/her, and to avoid more conflict you move away. The divorce, Shukla affirms, is with the thought and never with the person. To understand that is to unburden yourself from being bitter and revengeful.
12. 10 percent of what you earn should be kept aside for dharma
Dharma, Shukla doesn’t define as something religious or spiritual. Instead, he says it is associated more with doing good for others and feeling responsible about that. A simple calculation according to him is to keep 10 percent of your income for goodwill.
Many people donate or do charitable acts towards the end of their life because death is hard on them. In their suffering, they begin to empathise with others’ suffering. He says those who have the companionship of loved ones, the blessings of unknown strangers, and an all-encompassing goodwill of people exit peacefully and gracefully. That is possible when you don’t cling on to everything you have, and leave some part of it for others.

The above was posted on Fuel Blog by Deepak Ramola and by Micky Kaita / Sanjay Sahu on FB.
I like it.
I once had a distant relative who too spent their (Husband & wife) in Moksh Bhawan.
However, I believe you can make a Moksh Bhawan, wherever you live by minimising your own desires for worldly things.Instead redirect those desires to helping fellow human beings and having love for all God's creatures.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

IAS topper’s fake Facebook profile praising Narendra Modi goes viral, Tina Dabi calls statements ridiculous

Since it emerged that Tina Dabi had topped this year’s IAS exams, the Delhi girl has become a national celebrity.
But, her new stardom has also caused considerable woes for the IAS topper.
Dabi was recently alerted about several fake Facebook profiles doing rounds, but the news didn’t cause her as much anguish as the statements being attributed to her.
The ‘status’ update of one such fake profile said, “I am really disappointed by what people are talking about me. I know who has been inspiring me and he our P.M. Narendra Modi. Am I compelled to admit Ambedkar ji as my idol just because I belong to S.C. category? Why this ‘Jai Bhim’ comments everywhere? I am a great admirer of Baba Saheb. What he had done for the backward categories is laudable. He had worked towards the upliftment of the dalits but he had never supported ‘reservation’. The system of reservation was in our constitution for very short period but the politicians are using it as a tool for their vote banks.”
When informed about the messages being attributed to her, Dabi update her status on the page that she actually owned.
Her status said, “I want to clarify that none of the ridiculous statements being made under my name are my opinion. It’s really heartbreaking for me to see that a few anti-social elements can’t even allow a simple girl, who has hardwork to remain in peace.”
Dabi, a graduate from Lady Shriram College in Delhi, had met Delhi chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, with her family soon after the results were announced.
Many social media users believe that people behind Dabi’s fake profiles praising PM Narendra Modi could be handiwork of BJP supporters.
The official page of All India Students’ Association posted, “Some bhakts have made a fake account of UPSC topper Tina Dabi and posting fake statements calling Modi her inspiration. Here’s the fake post and the original Tina Dabi’s clarification.”
Journalist Pratik Sinha wrote, “Bhakts have left no stone unturned in order to make people believe that UPSC topper Tina Dabi is a Modi Bhakt and at the same time anti-Ambedkar. They have created dozens of fake profiles in which Tina Dabiclaims that she’s inspired by Modi. When it comes to morality, no one can sink lower than a Modi Bhakt. No one.”
Facebook user Rohan Kusnur reacted on his Facebook page, “Bhakts have not even spared this year’s UPSC topper. Sick people.”
User Aviroop Gupta wrote, “So there are now fake FB profiles of Tina Dabi where she declares ‘…I know who has been inspiring me and he is our P.M. Narendra Modi. Am I compelled to admit Ambedkar ji as my idol just because I belong to S.C. category? Why this ‘Jai Bhim’ comments everywhere?’ Really ‘creepy’ indeed”

EC pushes for law to curb illegal money in polls

The Election Commission is strongly pushing for a law to address the issue of use of illegal money to influence voters.
This follows the postponement of elections in Thanjavur and Arvakurichi assembly constituencies in Tamil Nadu where it found the use of money to influence voters.
A serious issue

The Commission feels this is likely to become a big issue in the years to come. This is the first time that it has taken such a step.
“The law is blank on whether we can defer or countermand an election where there is use of money power, which vitiates the process or influences voters,” said a senior Commission official.
The official told BusinessLine the Commission is ready to fight for such a law right up to the Supreme Court.
“Twenty-seven years down the line since muscle power was contained or minimised through an amendment to the law, it is time to have a similar provision to prevent another menace in terms of money power being used to influence voters,” he added. Section 58 (A) of the Representation of People’s Act was amended in 1989 to address booth capturing and use of muscle power, which were big issues at that time. The amendment allowed the commission to countermand or adjourn an election in case it found irregularities. The Commission has also written to the Financial Services Secretary, the RBI Deputy Governor and SBI Chairman to look into the procedures involved following the seizure of ₹570 crore in Tamil Nadu, which is currently in the Coimbatore Chest.
“We reiterate once again this movement of currency is duly authorised by the Reserve Bank of India and has all necessary approvals. The movement is in line with RBI’s Currency Management policy of moving cash from one currency chest to the other where cash is needed,” said SBI, in a statement.
A senior official said the Commission decided to act and postpone the elections in Thanjavur as it has direct evidence linking the money to the votes there. The evidence was in terms of seized handwritten notes, which listed the names of a Coordinator and Assistant Coordinator with the names of 50 voters in each ward to try and influence voting patterns.
Evidence found

The Commission was able to get physical evidence from 10 of the over 60 wards in Thanjavur.
Following the decision to push back elections in two constituencies in Tamil Nadu to May 23, it has received requests from other constituencies as well, calling for postponing polls there.
(This article was published on May 18, 2016)

Dentist surplus forces freeze on new colleges in India

Mumbai: Unemployment has entered the health sciences sector. With supply outstripping demand and no work for new dental graduates, India has decided to not have any new dental colleges.
The decision was taken recently at the general body meeting of the Dental Council of India (DCI), which grants permission to new institutes. The decision follows requests from several existing colleges that the council reject fresh proposals for more institutes, as well as the high rate of unemployment among dentists.
India currently has 309 dental colleges, which churn out around 26,000 dentists every year. The count was as high as 30,570 in 2010. In 1970, only 8,000 dental students had graduated. "It would be a good idea to consolidate our numbers now and strengthen the existing institutes," said Dr Mansing Pawar, DCI member and dean of Government Dental College. An exception could be made for states like those in the north-east that do not have any dental college, he added.
Some estimates suggest that India has 3 lakh dentists, but there is an imbalance in their spread. In 2004, India had one dentist per 10,000 people in urban areas and one dentist per 2.5 lakh people in rural areas. It was not long ago that the good times were rolling for dentists. It is now, however, estimated that there will be a surplus of more than 1 lakh dentists in India by 2020. The DCI, on its part, has been trying to trim the growth for some time now.
In the last two years, it has only permitted new colleges with an attached medical institute to foray into the dental stream. But that was not enough. "Mushrooming of dental colleges in the past few years in India has led to unemployment among Indian dentists. Thousands of dentists are coming out every year with very low prospects of jobs," noted Namrata Dagli in her paper 'Increasing unemployment among Indian dental graduates'.
Former acting DCI president Dr Mahesh Verma, who is the current director of Maulana Azad Dental College, said the time had come to "not vitiate the problem and build on what we have".
"Over the years, we have created a huge manpower of dentists and job avenues have shrunk. There is not much opportunity for today's passouts, except if they want to start their own practice, which too isn't easy. It needs money, space, infrastructure and the right attitude," he added. "Self-practice in urban areas is not very easy due to saturation of the dental market. In rural areas, private clinics are not viable because of low awareness of oral health among the rural population," Dagli added in her paper, which was published in the 'Journal of International Oral Health'. "Dental graduates are facing serious financial constraints. Unemployed dentists are left with no choice but to quit... and work in call centres or commit suicide," she said in the paper.

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Economy Is Paying the 'Price' Of the Vote ....

I was on a vacation last month. To escape the scorching heat of Mumbai, I decided to take shelter in Nilgiris...and booked a ticket to Coimbatore. My final destination was Ooty and Coonor. As the journey date came closer, I was excited to take a break from local train travel in Mumbai and hop on a toy train amidst mountains and lush greenery instead. 

Don't worry - I'm not about to go into a travel account and make you look at my pictures. The reason I'm telling you this has to do with the seizure of Rs 570 crore on May 14 in Tamil Nadu state...funds suspected to lure voters. 

On the way from Coimbatore to Ooty, the police stopped our cab twice. They asked us how much cash we were carrying. Our answer did not satisfy them. So they checked our bags, and only then we were allowed to carry on. 

This was obviously strange for us, so we quizzed our local driver who suggested it was because of the upcoming elections. The week before, a vehicle was seized with Rs 12 crore in cash...going in the direction of a small village to woo voters and buy votes. 

It's one thing to read about this in newspapers, but experiencing it firsthand was saddening. 

As per Mr Rajan, it is estimated that Rs 500-600 billion in cash would increase with public in the poll bound states. Several hours after the Rs 5.7 billion was seized the other day, the SBI claimed it was an official transfer. Few believe it. And rightly so. 

Over the years, despite rising awareness and social media activity, the political parties seem to have gotten even more brazen in their bribes for votes. 

Their manifestos are full of freebies rather than policy. 'Gareebee Hataao', education for all, employment for all...are things of the past. 

Modern manifestos assure mobile phones to all ration card holders...100 free units of power (with no need to pay electricity bills) ...free lap tops for students of Classes XI and XII...double gold for mangalsutra from the existing 4 grams...Rs 500 coupons for people to buy handloom clothes from state-run Co-optex during Pongal...new farm loans...waiver of farm loans...vehicle subsidies......housing schemes, resolutions to prohibit shale gas projects...the list goes on. 

I'm not sure about the economy, but politicians have indeed 'progressed' and seem to be quite 'upwardly mobile'. 

And when it comes to double standards, these parties put anyone to shame. You see, prohibition is another point of focus in the Tamil Nadu election manifesto, to woo women's votes. Interestingly, Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation, or TASMAC, a state-owned company that has 29,000 employees and annual revenues of Rs 262 billion, enjoys a monopoly on the sale of liquor. Not to mention TASMAC has been one of the tools to subsidise the freebies by the state political parties. 

It's not just Tamil Nadu. Corruption and dole politics is not a one-state phenomenon. Cash has been squandered to purchase votes - at times causing stampedes - across states. Even the central party is not immune to it...though they're approach might be more refined. 

A case in point is the popular unemployment allowance scheme, MGNREGA. Almost a decade old now, Mr Modi called the scheme a 'living monument of the Congress party's failure'. However, after two years in power, the Modi government has a different view on it. 

Finance Minister Mr Jaitley recently allocated Rs 370 billion, the highest ever budgetary support, to the scheme and promised more. The government is not ready to give up subsidy politics for a growth-led model yet. 

This indicates that the government is skeptical about the employment situation in India and the prospect of natural growth in the Indian economy. Those betting on macro tailwinds have reasons to be cautious. Investors should rather do some second-level thinking and bet on something tangible

Economic growth will be a mirage as long as parties count on subsidies and dole politics instead of real development and empowering citizens. No wonder the public sector banks and PSUs are in dire straits... 

Meanwhile crony capitalism and black money go unabated, funding the ambitions of the political parties. When political parties are so brazen, crooks like Vijay Mallya are bound to flourish. Unless the loopholes in the system are plugged, India's fight against corruption, black money, and slow growth will remain a lost cause. 


The above has been written by Richa Agarwal for Equitymaster.