Friday, July 31, 2009

Fodder Scam conviction, partly.

Former Bihar MP, 13 others convicted in fodder scam

Ranchi, July 31: A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court Friday convicted former Lok Sabha MP R.K. Rana and 13 others in a multi-million fodder scam case.

A special CBI court of Bireshwar Jha convicted Rana and 13 others in a case related to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs.28 lakh from Godda district treasury in 1992. The fund was withdrawn on forged bills.

There were 20 people accused in the case. Four died during trial, two confessed and 14 were convicted Friday.

The special CBI court gave two and half years imprisonment to two and said the sentencing of the other 12, including Rana, would take place Saturday.

Rana was elected to the Lok Sabha on a Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) ticket when Jharkhand was a part of Bihar.

When Jharkhand was carved out from Bihar in 2000, 53 of the 61 cases related to the fodder scam were transferred here.

For speedy trial seven CBI courts were constituted. The special CBI courts have delivered judgement in 30 cases. More than 230 accused have been convicted.

The CBI held former railways minister and RJD chief Lalu Prasad and former Bihar chief minister Jagganth Mishra accused in five fodder scam cases.

It speaks of the system in our country where a person convicted by a CBI court was made the railway minister and was there for the full life of the parliament.
Not only that, but that person was able to stand in the election.

Is it of any surprise that people get fed up of the corruption and take up arms as Maoist and Naxalite.

Lalu and his ilk are white collar criminals and the Maoists are their result.

Why people become Maoists

Assam shuts itself in to protest verdict

July 30: An angry Assam today shut itself in during a “bandh with a difference” when people responded spontaneously to a strike call to protest CBI’s alleged inept probe that led to the acquittal of the lone surviving accused in the Parag Das murder case.

The Manab Adhikar Sangram Samity (MASS) called the bandh soon after the district and sessions court, Kamrup, acquitted Mridul Phukan on Tuesday after the CBI failed to provide enough evidence.

In the lower Assam areas, there was a double bandh, with the National Democratic Front of Boroland also calling one in protest against the killing of one of its members earlier this week.

Across the state, the mood was that of anger against the CBI as well as the state police for what the people believe was a “poor handling” of the investigation into the murder of journalist and human rights activist.

Das was shot dead in broad daylight by suspected Sulfa men on May 17, 1996, just after he had picked up his five-year-old son from school in Chandmari.

“It is a murder of the people’s collective wish. Everyone knows who is guilty. The spontaneous response to the bandh call is reflective of the mass mood,” said a MASS activist.

Ratul Das, a trader sitting outside his closed shop in Ulubari, said what made the issue so emotional for the people was the fact that a “father was shot dead right in front of his son”.

The bandh was total in the city, with all offices and business establishments remaining closed and vehicles staying off the roads.

Rahul Hazarika, a businessman from Maligaon in the city, said though he was against bandhs, today’s issue made him change his mind.

“Paragda’s house was in Maligaon and I have seen him since I was a child. He was a brilliant and brave human rights activist and journalist. His murder came as a rude shock. I was extremely frustrated on July 28 when the verdict on Paragda’s murder was delivered. Today’s bandh is totally justified,” Hazarika said.

Every single shop in Maligaon remained closed.

Pallab Das, brother of the slain journalist, told The Telegraph that the people of Assam have been left with no other option but to resort to bandhs to express their anger and frustration against the failing system.

The bandh was also total in the Upper Assam districts and the two north bank districts of Lakhimpur and Dhemaji.

In Dibrugarh, too, government offices, banks and other financial institutions remained closed. Work was affected in the field headquarters of OIL in Duliajan. Eight persons were detained when they tried to enforce the bandh in some of the OIL offices.

However, work related to civic elections, scheduled tomorrow, went uninterrupted.

The 12-hour bandh called by the NDFB evoked complete response in the Bodo belt comprising Kokrajhar, Baksa, Chirang and Udalguri districts.

No work was done even in the BTC secretariat.

I have been pointing out regularly as to what creates Maoists.
This is the first stage.
When people see criminals escaping being punished, they first resort to bandhs to express their anguish.
If the system still does not care to change, they take up guns to become Maoists or Naxalites, call them what you want.
Then they do not care whether politicians, policemen or the general public comes in front of them.
Of course, their first choice of killing is the politician. But the cunning fox hides himself behind an impenetrable security curtain of policemen, so the policemen are killed.
Sommetimes. innocent people come in the way and they too suffer.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sting Operations - Are they Necesary?

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has rejected a plea for putting curbs on the media and television channels from conducting sting operations. It held that any attempt to control and regulate the media from outside was likely to cause more harm than good.

A Bench consisting of Justices B.N. Agrawal, G.S. Singhvi and Aftab Alam, in its 175-page judgment in the ‘R.K. Anand’ case, said: “It is not our intent here to lay down any reformist agenda for the media. The norms to regulate the media and to raise its professional standards must come from inside.”

On the sting operations conducted by NDTV, the Bench said that despite its faults, the telecast of the programme rendered valuable service to the important public cause to protect and salvage the purity of the course of justice and the operation could not be said to be a trial by the media.

Writing the judgment, Justice Alam said: “The programme may have any other fault or weakness but it certainly did not interfere with or obstruct the due course of the BMW [hit-and-run case] trial. The programme telecast by NDTV showed to the people [the courts not excluded] that a conspiracy was afoot to undermine the BMW trial. What was shown was proved to be substantially true and accurate. The programme was thus clearly intended to prevent the attempt to interfere with or obstruct the due course of the BMW trial.”

On the plea for getting prior permission of the court for conducting such sting operations, the Bench said: “Such a course would not be an exercise in journalism but in that case the media would be acting as some sort of special vigilance agency for the court. On a little consideration, the idea appears to be quite repugnant both from the points of view of the court and the media. It would be a sad day for the court to employ the media for setting its own house in order; and media too would certainly not relish the role of being the snoopers for the court.”

The court said: “Moreover, to insist that a report concerning a pending trial may be published or a sting operation concerning a trial may be done only subject to the prior consent and permission of the court would tantamount to pre-censorship of reporting of court proceedings. And this would be plainly an infraction under Article 19 (1) of the Constitution.”

Trust, confidence

The Bench expressed concern at the falling professional norms among lawyers. “We strongly feel that unless the trend is immediately arrested and reversed, it will have very deleterious consequences for administration of justice in the country. No judicial system in a democratic society can work satisfactorily unless it is supported by a Bar that enjoys the unqualified trust and confidence of the people and whose members are monetarily accessible and affordable to the people.

“The Bar Council of India and the Bar Councils of the different States cannot escape their responsibility in this regard. The Bar Council [s] has consistently fought to safeguard the interests of lawyers and it has done a lot of good work for their welfare. But on the issue of maintaining high professional standards and enforcing discipline among lawyers its performance hardly matches its achievements in other areas.

“It has not shown much concern even to see that lawyers should observe the statutory norms prescribed by the Council itself. We hope and trust that the Council will at least now sit up and pay proper attention to the restoration of the high professional standards among lawyers worthy of their position in the judicial system and in society.”

When the state police is under the thumb of the state government and the CBI is under the thumb of the centre you cannot expect unbiased investigation from these agencies.
Under the circumstances, a sting operation by the watchdog,media, is the only solution.
But they should do it and present it decently without any extraneous effects.
We are bored of the "Breaking News" blast we receive from all TV channels.
Further, these TV channels edit and put words in the mouth of the actors in the news which they had not uttered.Sometime back, India TV was fined Rs 1.0 lakhs for doing just that.

There have been cases where the channel does sting operation and then black mail the affected parties to cough up hefty sums of money "OR ELSE".

Sting operations serve a purpose if they are for the public good, are presented decently and there is no ulterior motive.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bank Nationalisation

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is trying his best to change. It may be recalled that during his budget speech he praised the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's decision to nationalise about 40 banks, which he believes saved India from the global financial crisis. He has now reiterated his stand over the last weekend. As per a leading daily, he said, "We survived the economic meltdown because of this step. In the world's leading countries, the finance sectors have crashed but we are still surviving because we nationalised our banking sector."

In our opinion, the wise men at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and not Indira Gandhi should be given the credit for India escaping the financial meltdown. They made sure that the lending practices of Indian banks were not hijacked by fancy 'financial innovations'. The difference in praising the regulator and not the government through its presence in the banking sector is vital because India needs well regulated free enterprise and not the disaster that the license permit raj and mai-baap sarkaar was.

The above is an extract from the weekly mail I receive from Equitymaster. and the opinion expressed is that of Mr Ajit Dayal who writes the articles.
I fully agree with Mr. Dayal.
The credit should go to Mr Reddy, the previous Governor of the Reserve bank of India.
Mr P Chidambaram had tried his best to bulldoze Mr Reddy to loosen his purse but fortunately Mr. Reddy's sagacity prevailed.
Mr. Mukherjee is now trying to take indirect credit for the same as he was associated with Mrs Gandhi throughout.
Mrs. Gandhi did not nationalize the banks or discontinue the Privy purses of the erstwhile maharajahs from altruistic motives or to benefit the poor.
She did it to be one up on the "syndicate" consisting of Morarji Desai, Nijlingappa, S K Patil and Kamraj who were trying to remove her.
This vote winning strategy brought her a windfall and she won the elections.
Her action was similar to the one taken by V P Singh in initiating the OBC quota when he was floundered by Devilal's rally at the boat club and which resulted in the deaths of many students, both for and against the quota.
Both the above actions were motivated by self preservation and making a virtue of the necessity to survive.
I was in college at that time and had expressed my contrarian opinion to Mrs Gandhi.
Bank nationalisation only brought inefficiency and lethargy in the employees who were sure they could never lose their jobs and knew they could get away with whatever they wanted.
Their performance have improved only after the private banks started making their presence felt.

CBI, a pet dog of the centre

Parag murder accused freed
- Court blames CBI for lack of evidence
Guwahati, July 28: Thirteen years after journalist Parag Kumar Das was shot dead in broad daylight by suspected Sulfa men, a district court acquitted the lone surviving accused, Mridul Phukan, for want of evidence.

Announcing the verdict to a packed courtroom, the Kamrup district and sessions judge, Dilip Kumar Mahanta, pulled up the CBI for inefficient investigation.

Senior advocate Nekibur Zaman, who was present when the verdict was delivered, said the court observed that the CBI had faltered in the investigation, which weakened the prosecution’s case, leading to the accused walking away scot-free.

Mediapersons were not allowed inside the courtroom.

“The judge maintained that because of wrong investigation and failure of the CBI to collect material evidence, it failed to establish the case,” Zaman said.

Several witnesses who were examined by the CBI later declined to appear before the court fearing for their lives.

“The court wondered why the CBI failed to provide protection to those witnesses,” Zaman said.

“Not only the CBI, even the police ignored crucial evidence during a initial stage of the probe, which eventually weakened the case. One may be surprised to know that the police had not even collected the blood-stained clothes of the victim and empty cartridges from the spot,” he added.

Das, who was the executive editor of a vernacular daily, Asomiya Pratidin, was shot dead on May 17, 1996, just after he had picked up his five-year-old son from school at Rajgarh Road in Chandmari.

The state government handed over the investigation to the CBI, which filed a chargesheet against four surrendered Ulfa men on November 24, 2000, two of them posthumously.

Of those chargesheeted, Biswajit Saikia, alias Tapan Dutta, and Diganta Kumar Baruah were killed before the chargesheet was filed while another accused, Nayan Das, alias Guli, was killed while the trial was pending in court.

Two other suspects in the murder case — Promode Gogoi and Prabin Sarma — were not chargesheeted by the CBI for lack of evidence.

“The CBI could not even prove that Phukan, alias Samar Kakati, was in Guwahati at the time of the crime,” defence counsel Syed Ikram Rasul said today.

“Moreover, two school students — Ritu Paban Deka and Jyotirmoy Borpujari — who the CBI had claimed had identified Phukan from his photograph as one of the assailants later failed to identify the man in the dock. On these grounds, the court acquitted the accused today,” Rasul added.

The judgment drew harsh criticism, with the Manab Adhikar Sangram Samity (MASS), a human rights organisation of which Das was the secretary general, calling a statewide 12-hour bandh from 6am on July 30.

“The government machinery was involved in the murder as Das was a vocal critic of its wrong policies. Though the CBI chargesheeted Phukan, he was never arrested by the investigating agency. The CBI has lost its credibility,” the secretary general of the rights panel, Aditya Lahkar, said.

Soon after the verdict, a few placards screaming “Shame, Shame CBI” appeared outside the court premises where a large number of people stood waiting.

For Phukan’s supporters, on the other hand, it was a burst of jubilation.

One of his supporters greeted Phukan with a gamocha as he walked out of the courtroom. They soon broke into a brief jig outside the court premises before driving away in a fleet of cars.

Another case of bungling by the CBI.
Another case of a murderer going scot free because of the investigating agency.
Normally the people have no faith in the state police and demand a CBI inquiry in the hope that justice would be done.
However, the CBI too has its own axe to grind.
It is controlled by the centre and when a state government in power is of the same party as the cetre, then naturally the centre imposes its will on the CBI to protect the state government.
When will this nexus between politicians and criminal end?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Night of Horror

Thondup's experience in the train and out of it is like a night in a horror film. How such a thing could happen is beyond my imagination. All my sympathies with Thondup. But he seems to have taken the whole matter very stoically, thanks to Partha Sengupta, who helped him all the way, that also through a mobile phone. A friend in need is a friend in deed. Hats off to Partha.

Old Cinema Halls in Calcutta

This has been sent by Keith Hayward, to bring back all those old memories.

Hiya movie buffs and lovers of historical buildings ,

How well do you remember the bygone days when you used to spend a bit of leisure time in the fantasy world of the Calcutta cinemas . For sure you would have attended the Bandwagon shows run by KC Sen and also the Magic Shows at the New Empire . During those days , when the world was young for you , you would most likely have bought for the Stage Shows a ticket in the butta clouts ( cheap seats ) .This would have entitled you to sit in the dress circle, which was way up in the clouds . Probably , you would have bought a packet of chips , and horror of horrors , out of a sense of fun or jealously , you would have been tempted to throw the empty packet on the more affluent patrons sitting below your balcony .

When I was just a whipper snipper I used to be one of those to line up to obtain what some of us would say were tickets to the cheap seats . Down the track , when I secured a decent job, I was able to graduate to the more expensive dress circle / balcony seats .

As for me I recall taking several girlfriends to the c.halls and enjoying just a bit of the movies . Need I say more ??? One family even insisted that I take along my girlfriend's sister as chaperone . How awful ...and me a goodie two shoes too !

Anyway when I finally settled on the girl for me , we would usually go to the 9 pm shows whatever day of the week a picture , which we liked was showing . However , one day The Statesman Newspaper reported , that a Bengali couple after attending a movie had been assaulted , and robbed . Later on as the security situation in the city further deteriorated , we switched to 6pm shows , and then finally , we would only go the 3pm shows on Saturdays and Sundays . We seldom bought our seats in advance as we preferred to sit in the more expensive movie seats ( dress circle for movies ) . If push came to shove , we were quite willing to purchase seats from black market touts .

The pictures , which I have attached to this email , I hope , will bring back memories of those romantic times , which we spent in the Cinemas of Calcutta past . Sadly , I read sometime ago , that the West Bengal Government had banned or restricted the import of English films .

The Globe Cinema is very conveniently located on Lindsay St. near the Fair Lawn and Lytton Hotels on Sudder St. , and close to the New Market . As you know , Nizam is within walking distance .

The Elite Cinema as the pictures will show has such a classy interior. Besides it is so conveniently located next to Nizam and the New Market .

The New Empire is still going strong , and now , has the added attraction of KFC on its premises . Commonwealth Jewellers used to be at the side of the building , but I do not know , if it is still there .

The Lighthouse Cinema seems to be still functioning , but I understand , that there are clothing shops within its premises .

The Metro Cinema on Chowringhee Road ( now J. Nehru Rd ) has been refurbished and has an impressive interior . However , I am not aware , if the nick knack sellers at the lane at the side of the building are still plying their trade .

The Paradise Cinema on Dharamatallah St . looks in the picture that it could do with a whitewash . I don't remember going to it .

The Regal Cinema is located on J.Nehru Rd. It was the least popular of the Cinemas as it was noted for its bug infested cane seating . It would play , ' Tiger Rag ' , before it started the movie .

Sadly, the Minerva Cinema opposite the UP/Bihari Restaurants is no more , as it has been demolished, and a multiplex building has now risen on the site .

You might be interested to know that Bollywood produces over 800 movies annually and some of them are seen by over 11.8 million Indians , who have cable television .

Have you seen some of these top ten films on India ? -----

Monsoon Wedding , Mr and Mrs Iyer , Gandhi , Bollywood Calling , Earth , Hyderabad Blues , English August , Salaam Bombay , A Train To Pakistan , A Passage To India .

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Call of the Mountains

The love for the mountains for us ex-Goethalites is everlasting. Whenever I come across hills, mountains and jungles I become so enchanted that I become totally silent as I gaze at them in wonder and longing. After my retirement in January 2007, I visited, in the month of February, Chintpurni, Jwalamukhi, Dharamshala and Kangra. In the month of May-June 2007 I visited Kedarnath and Gangotri, Gomukh. In November of the same year I toured the Kumaon hills for eight days. Nainital, Kausani, Munsiyari, Chaukadi and Binsor. In July-August 2008 I visited Manimahesh where I had to trek 14 kms. to reach the Manimahesh Tal, at a height of 14,000 ft. This was the toughest trek I had done uptill now. The path was very steep and had to camp at two spots while going up and at one spot while coming down. From Manimahesh we went to Chhamba, Khajjiar and Dalhousie.
This year I have plans to do the Panch Kedar Yatra with my brother-in-law, who also accompanied me to Manimahesh. It will actually be Char Kedar Yatra, because we'll not be going to Kedarnath, which we had already visited twice. It'll be a three week trip with a total trekking of 110 Kms. approximately. We'll be leaving Delhi on 19th Sept. and returning on 10th Oct. In December-January I have a plan to make a tour of Madhya Pradesh. Next year may be Leh Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh, Vaishno Devi or Amarnath. As long as my knees are okay, travelling to the hills and mountains will be my target. For me , fascination for the hills and mountains has not diminished one bit, even after more than four decades. My love for them has been infused in my blood and that love will die only with me.

Calcutta misses, West catches

New Delhi, July 25: India neglected research on the treatment of violent mental disorders by two Calcutta physicians in 1931 and missed an opportunity to lay a foundation for modern biological psychiatry, psychiatrists have said.

The work by physicians Kartik Chandra Bose and G. Sen was virtually ignored by India’s research community. But US and European scientists advanced their work during the 1950s, gained fresh insights into the chemistry of the human brain and developed new drugs for mental disorders, two psychiatrists from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore, have said.

The NIMHANS doctors, Sanjeev Jain and Pratima Murthy, have scrutinised medical journals and archives of modern psychiatry to document how circumstances and a twist of fate prevented the lead from Bose and Sen from being pursued in India. Their account of this episode in India’s science history appears today in the journal Current Science, published by the Indian Academy of Sciences.

“We were ahead in the 1930s, but had lost out by the 1950s,” said Jain, a professor of psychiatry. “Such neglect leads to usurpation — then crocodile tears are shed over (someone) stealing our knowledge,” Jain told The Telegraph.

Bose and Sen had published a landmark paper in 1931 where they described the first successful treatment of psychosis and violent symptoms with the extracts of a plant called Rauwolfia serpentina, known for long in traditional Indian medicine.

They showed how a pinch of a powder extracted from this plant taken twice daily reduced violent symptoms within a week. “Their paper provided the first modern empirical evidence for this therapy,” Jain said.

After the paper was published, an Indian chemist, Salimuzzaman Siddiqui, initiated a systematic chemical investigation of the plant and isolated several compounds. But after Partition, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan requested Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to send Siddiqui — who had by then also developed the indelible ink used even today in Indian elections — to Pakistan.

No one pursued further research on the plant, although the crude powder continued to be sold across India as a product of traditional medicine. This practice kindled a fresh era of research in the US and Europe in the 1950s.

A psychiatrist named Nathan Kline in New York showed in 1954 that a compound, called reserpine, obtained from the plant could be used to treat schizophrenia. Other studies led to new insights into the action of this product in the brain.

A Swedish scientist, Arvid Carlsson, advanced the work further and showed in 1957 how drugs could be designed to counter a side effect (depression) of reserpine — for which he shared the Nobel Prize for medicine in 2000.

The research on reserpine helped unlock the chemistry of the brain involving a class of chemicals called catecholamines and produced what Jain says is a fundamental tenet of modern biological psychiatry.

While scores of clinical trials of reserpine were conducted in Japan, Europe and the US during the 1950s, there was not a single research publication evaluating its use from India, Jain and Murthy have pointed out in their paper.

These studies on a compound from a plant, known in India for centuries but introduced to science by Bose and Sen, helped create a multi-billion dollar industry of anti-psychotic and anti-depressant drugs, they said.

Medical scientists believe lessons from this episode are relevant even today.

“There’s this ‘Berlin Wall’ between medicine and plant-based organic chemistry,” said Marthanda V.S. Valiathan, a cardiac surgeon and former president of the Indian National Science Academy. “Medical researchers tend not to look at plant-based chemicals. They think it is a hobby of chemists,” Valiathan said.

The type of inter-disciplinary research that may have been needed to advance reserpine chemistry within India in the 1950s is not abundantly visible even today.

“Medical students don’t know what a university education or research is like — and university researchers are isolated from medicine,” Jain said. “We’re likely to lose out on even fresh developments.”

While we Indians busy ourselves to decide who is to be searched when going abroad or who is to get what security or who is to build and install whose statues and who is to pull them down, the world goes on running.
What benefits do our scientists get for their research in India?
If they do get anything, it is hindrance, leg pulling, red tapism.
While we are deciding which caste or religion is going to get the post, the west gobbles up our ideas. And then we rue.
Our former President,a thorough gentleman that he is, who was is the midst of the search fiasco is least bothered.
The incident had occurred in April and he had probably forgotten.
He does not care for such mundane things as to who is to search whom.
But our political class, a class by itself, would not like their clout and privileges to go.
They would like to continue taking along women who are not their spouses as their wives and bring back contraband goods unchallenged.
They have forgotten how disgraced they were after 26/11 when the whole of India was after their blood and they had willingly given up their security. Now that time has passed and they think the people have forgotten, so they are again asking for security.
They go about installing their own statues shamelessly and then fearing reprisal from the people for their waste of public funds, demand security.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Swaminarayan Temple

The pictures of the Swaminarayan Temple in Atlanta, USA, is really magnificent. I don't think there's any harm in building temples in other countries to spread the knowledge of the Hindu religion. This is the age of ostentation, so the more show there is in the temple, the more the attraction. It will draw crowds. Knowledge of our religion will be spread amongst people who have very little knowledge of our country, let alone our religion. Our religion is the least dogmatic of all the religions, it is a way of life. No conversion is required to follow the path of the Hindu religion. The door is open to all. So spreading this message should be welcomed.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Swaminarayan Temple

Shivatosh Deb has sent these beautiful photographs with his comments below.

Imagine how the face of our poor country would have changed had this collosal amount of resource been utilised in truly serving the people !!!! But thats wishful thinking - swamis are 'living gods' and have full rights to fool the masses !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Swaminarayan Mandir, Atlanta, USA . Opening Ceremony Pictures.

The newly inaugurated BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Atlanta, Georgia

Pramukh Swami Maharaj presents a memento to Congressman Henry Johnson Jr. during the inauguration ceremony of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Atlanta, Georgia

Pramukh Swami Maharaj with Congressman Henry Johnson Jr., Commissioner of Gwinnett County Mr. Charles Bannister and Mayor John Bolton at the inauguration ceremony of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Atlanta, Georgia, along with Pujya IshwarCharan Swami and Pujya Viveksagar swami

Pramukh Swami Maharaj performs the Vedic rituals during the Murti Pratishtha Ceremony

The newly consecrated murtis of Shri Akshar Purushottam Maharaj at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Atlanta

Ceiling of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Atlanta, Georgia

Intricately carved pillars of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Atlanta, Georgia

Some details of BAPS Swaminarayan Temple at Lilburn, Atlanta
* It is one among the top ten largest traditional Hindu Vedic stone temples outside India.
* The largest temple of the BAPS Swaminarayan sect in United States.
* The temple is located on 30 acres of land.
* The total area of the mandir is 22442 sq. ft
* The exterior of the Mandir is made of Turkish Limra limestone.
* The main floor is made of Italian Carrara marble.
* The ground floor and basement is made of Indian Sandstone.
* Smallest stone 15 gm to largest stone of 5.2 tones.
* Total stone material is 8430 tones.
* Total 40,000 stone pieces.
* Total stone structure 85,000 cu. Ft
* The length of the Mandir is 213 feet
* The width of the Mandir is 122 feet
* The height from the ground is 78 feet
* The width of main dome is 23' 3"
* The Mandir has tapered ceiling.
* Inside and outside 'parikarama' for devotees to circumambulate around deities.
* Number of Shikhars (pinnacles) is 5.
* 4 Small Pinnacles (Samaram)
* Number of small domes is 6 and one large dome.
* Number of Torans (arches) is 129.
* Number of Zarukhas (balconies) is 4
* Number of Sinhasans (throne) is 9.
* Number of windows is 14.
* Number of Pillars is 151.
* 75 ceilings with 39 different designs
* Apart from this the Mandir has numerous windows and pillars, which are intricately carved, and also marble steps.
* Central heating and cooling.
* Under floor heating with Gel tubing.
* Fiber optic lighting.
* Estimated cost of the Swaminarayan temple is $19 million.

Other Interesting Facts
* The pillars of the temple are intricately hand-carved and each pillar depicts a famous incident from Hindu scriptures.
* The construction of the Mandir is based on 'Shila Shastras' ancient Hindu text dealing in building and sculpture techniques.
* Some stones like marble and limestone were imported from the respective countries to India.
* The stones were hand-carved in India and later imported to United States.
* Intricate geometric patterns, rosettes, feathers, leaves and other designs which number to more than 500 were hand-carved in India.
* Each section of the temple weighing from 50 grams to five tons after carving in India had a bar code.
* Each section thus imported was then assembled in Lilburn just like playing the jigsaw puzzle.

While I agree with Shivatosh that construction of these high value temples is a collosal waste but they serve a purpose,
at least when people go to these temples, maybe just to watch the arhitecture and splendour, they join their hands, close their eyes, bend their heads and pray to the Almighty, in whatever form He is in the temple.
It lifts the person.
Everybody can go there, rich or poor and there is hardly ever an entry fee.
This I feel is much better than all the money spent in 5 and 7 star hotels where only the rich can go and are dens of all the conceivable vices in the world.
God does not require a temple.
He is Omnipresent.
He is within us, me,you and all.
How can we restrict Him to a temple or Gurudwara or Masjid or Church.
He has made you.
Now, whether you pray to Him ofr not makes no difference to Him.
It is for our own satisfaction that we pray to Him, for that pray gives us strength to bear our hardships.
This pray we can do within our own homes or in temples, big or small is immaterial.
We can pray to Him while sleeping, lying down, sitting, walking, running, eating, drinking or breathing.
The best prayer is the one we say while breathing.
With each breath we remember Him and thank Him for everything that He has given and also NOT given.
Yes, we should specially thank Him for all that He has not given for that too is for our own good.

Aeronautical Acrobatics

This beautiful photograph has been sent by Ashok Goyal

Picture taken in Air Show 2009 @ B’lore…..
Hats off to the photographer…..& ofcourse to the guys in air…..

Engineering Marvel

This has been sent by Krishna V. Joshi

This 32 metre-high and 44 tonne sculpture is designed by Gerry Judah for the Goodwood Festival of Speed in West Sussex, England .

Structural Engineering by Capita Bobrowsk
Steel Fabrication and Installation by Littlehampton Welding Ltd.

It features a vintage Audi and a modern car racing into the sky.

It is sponsored by Audi to commemorate its centenary year.


The Honeymoon is over.
Prakash Bhartia informs that the US government is proposing to initiate a new health care scheme to replace the exisiting one which is proving to be very expensive.
The British government which does not ever think independently but follows the US in all its actions like the dog in His Masters Voice ad, will soon follow suit.
He has sent a picture of how the doctors in the new health scheme will look like.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Why lay your life for your country?

Rs 25 allowance for Vir Chakra awardee

NEW DELHI, 23 JULY: A Rs 25 monthly allowance might be a forgettable amount for anyone in the country, but not for Vir Chakra awardee and Indian Navy’s retired chief petty officer Mr LK Chakrabarty (67) (see photograph).
For every time he receives Rs 25 from the state government in his home state of West Bengal in respect of his “meritorious service rendered for the defence of the nation” during 1971 Indo-Pak war ~ when as the leader of the “killer squadron” he sunk two enemy ships and an oil installation ~ Mr Chakrabarty feels “humiliated”.
Even more, till 2007 this allowance was just Rs 12.50 paise per month whereas the amount is up to Rs 10,000 per month in other states. “With a Rs 25 allowance these days one can’t get more than six cups of tea. One feels ashamed even to pursue the matter in the case,” Mr Chakrabarty said.
Being a warrior, he is not prepared to give up easily and is fighting a “lone battle” for the last nine years against what he calls a “shameless act” of the West Bengal government.
But he has not achieved any success yet as the state government maintains the proposal for increase in monetary benefit for gallantry award winners is under consideration. It has been the case since 2007.
Mr Chakrabarty has been pursuing the matter with the state government since 2000 and has already sent numerous reminders in the matter. “I have written many times to the chief minister and the home (defence) department to increase this meagre allowance. But none of the letters have received a suitable response. One official even told me it was a ‘fixed’ allowance that cannot be reviewed!” he said. “My contemporaries get shocked when they get to know that gallantry award winners in West Bengal get Rs 25 as allowance per month. In view of the allowance being provided in other states, I have requested the state government to provide at least Rs 3,000 a month. But even this seems to be too much to ask for,” Mr Chakrabarty said. As the chief petty officer, Mr Chakrabarty was in-charge of the engineering department of the only missile ship, which fired three missiles at Pakistani establishments during the Indo-Pak war.
West Bengal has only 46 such awardees. Some of those awarded Vir Chakra for gallantry during action of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka in 1987-90, were given a one-time Rs 7,500. ; SNS

Do I have to give any further comments?
While corrupt ministers, politicians and businessmen loot the country and stash away the money in Swiss banks, those who fight for the country are treated thus.
We waste crores on the security of corrupt chief ministers but pay Rs 25/- per month for gallantry award winners.
Cry India, cry!

Thursday, July 23, 2009


The following mails were exchanged between Fay and me.
They probably reflect the feelings of our generation and so as suggested by Fay, I have posted them on our blog.


2009/7/20 Fay Kelly

Today's Sunday Times Magazine - message from a proud parent

Page 45 – third column on the right, half way down, look out for:
Dr Leah Kelly, a neuroscientist at Rockefeller University !!
You’ll have to forgive me.


Hello Fay,
I couldn't locate the article on the net and I do not get the Sunday Times copy.
I would appreciate if you could copy and mail it.
Since you have mentioned it, it must be interesting.

2009/7/20 Fay Kelly
Yes indeed it is interesting but the reason I highlighted it is that Leah is my daughter !! Just being a proud parent

I can understand.
Man envies others and does not tolerate anyone going ahead of him.
There is competition even between husband and wife.
It is only when it comes to children that he wants them to go much ahead of him
He not only tolerates, nay, desires his children go ahead of him.
I consider life a relay race.
Each father passes on the batten to his son when the son starts earning, crosses 30, he himself has crossed 60 and a grandchild has been born.When I mention son, it is figurative, it also includes daughter.
I too have crossed 60, my sons have taken off my load and given me a grand-daughter as bonus, to play with.
I thank God for all his gifts and also for being able to communicate with all of you.

Fay Kelly to me
These are profound words Radheshyam
Thank you

Fay Kelly to me
I’ve been thinking.
This should go on your blog. Many of us are at the same age and your words consolidate what we feel and think !!

The Humble Guava

A reader has left this comment on our earlier post regarding fruits which I think will be found useful to everybody.


Guava Fruit Facts - Go Guava For Beautiful Skin And Hair

Guava, the humble looking fruit in pink to yellow-white colors, is the all-purpose fruit for combating various maladies like colon and prostate cancer, reducing high pressure, diabetes, bad cholesterol and scurvy.

The fruit with its high dose of Vitamin C is great for healthy eyes and heart. Guava jelly is a great source of multi-vitamins helps keep skin gleaming clean, taut and reduces the appearance of fine lines. The high fiber content in Guava acts as an excellent detoxifier by aiding smooth passage of stools, thus preventing constipation. The Guava fruit and its leaves have bacterial staving and disinfecting properties, thus helping combat stomach upsets like dysentery and diarrhea. Its astringent properties are helpful for maintaining healthy gums.
Many suffer from dull, flaky skin that tend to aggravate to broken veins, dry patches and sore skin and eventual premature skin wrinkling. A regular application of a paste of guava and honey applied to the affected area and left for about half an hour will prove very remedial to this problem.

An effective guava paste -based face blend involves apricot oil, sandalwood powder, vitamin A & E, lemongrass extract, guava extract and passionflower oil when massaged for about 20-30 minutes into the face, on a regular basis helps prevent premature aging, heals and soothes skin with effective regeneration and revitalisation. Guava is effective for skin whitening, thus, natural bleach for the skin.

Guava is great for dazzling, glossy hair locks and great for thin, chemical-treated hair. A blend of extracts of passion fruit, guava, dried orange powder and honey acts as a great hair pack that removes frizz and provides the hair deep conditioning with its high vitamin and anti-oxidant properties.

Powdered form or the extract of guava along with aloe Vera helps heal prickly heat symptoms in children and adults. People who suffered allergic reactions like eczema and psoriasis experienced significant relief with topical application of guava extract or dried guava leaves.

A potent guava-based face cleanser that involves a blend of extracts of guava, kiwi and camomile with a tablespoon of Aloe Vera gel and a few drops of Palm oil and Orange oil acts as a natural skin decongestant, improves tautness and helps cells regeneration.

For an effectual guava-based toner, try the blend of guava extract, aloe Vera gel, Witch Hazel, Camomile extract, Collagen, coral seaweed and Panthenol, acts as a mild astringent and maintains optimal skin health.

Guavas extract with a mix of butcher’s broom extract is an effectual anti-obesity cream.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Criminals rewarded

Joshi arson case accused appointed chairman of UP sugar corp

PTI | Lucknow

BSP leader Intezaar Ahmad Abdi, allegedly involved in the arson at UP Congress chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi's house here, has been appointed the chairman of State sugar corporation by the Mayawati Government, a move that has invited the ire of the Congress.

Abdi's appointment as the chairman of Ganna Sansthan, a post equivalent to the rank of Minister of State, had been cleared and an order to this effect was issued last evening, official sources said on Monday.

BSP sources, however, said Abdi's appointment to the post was cleared by the party leadership a week back.

Reacting to the development, Congress Spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan said in New Delhi that "UP Chief Minister Mayawati has no regards for the law at all and it is outrageous that somebody who is allegedly the person against whom an FIR has been filed has been rewarded. It is inexcusable".

60-year-old Joshi, who is out an interim bail after being arrested for allegedly making derogatory remarks against Mayawati, said that she was pressing for a CBI inquiry since the man allegedly responsible for burning down her house has been elevated.

SP leader Amar Singh said, "The weakness of Congress party leadership is encouraging Mayawati because Rahul Gandhi has also condemned Rita Bahuguna Joshi's statement and the party has officially expressed regret".

"On the one hand, Congress is accepting BSP's support and on the other, Joshi is doing something else -- wants to grab the opposition's space. Congress should take a clear stand," Singh said.

The name of Abdi, a former student union leader, figured in the July 15 attack at the residence of Joshi, wherein some alleged BSP workers set fire to her house.

The Congress had lodged a written complaint against Abdi and BSP MLA from Bikapur assembly segment in Faizabad district, Jitendra Singh Babloo, alleging that they had led the BSP workers who vandalised Joshi's house.

Abdi and Babloo's names were later incorporated in the FIR lodged by the police at Hussainganj police station here.

The Congress had already launched an agitation demanding the arrest of two BSP leaders.

Even God does not reward His devotees as fast as Mayawati rewards her devotees.
JuSt three or four days ago one Rita Bahuguna had used some objectionable words against Mayawati, the UP Chief Minister.
The retribution was fast and swift.
She sent her goons under the leadership of one BSP leader Intezaar Ahmad Abdi and Jitendra Singh Babloo to burn down Rita Bahuguna's place.
So sure were they of their power beyond the reach of law that they had informed the local TV channels before hand.
The action was shown vividly on TV.
The police just looked on without taking any action.
I have always been saying that like the election commission, the police force, state CID and CBI should not be under the control of respective governments.
An FIR was registered and the above two persons were mentioned in the FIR.
Result - one of them has been rewarded.
The other is awaiting his reward.
Did I mention earlier POLITICIANS ARE CORRUPT?
By the way, Mulayam Singh who would like to replace her was no better.
He too sent his goons against people who made his life uncomfortable.

Justice Denied to BMW victims

Delhi High Court reduces jail term of BMW case convict

IANS | New Delhi

The Delhi High Court Monday reduced the jail term of Sanjeev Nanda from five years to two for running over six people in his BMW car 10 years ago.

Justice Kailash Gambhir reduced Nanda's sentence after terming it a case of negligence rather than culpable homicide.

Nanda's case will now be under 304 A (causing death by rash and negligent act) instead of 304 A-II (dealing with culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code.

The court also directed the registrar of the high court to initiate perjury proceedings against Sunil Kulkarni, the controversial eyewitness in the case.

Nanda's father, Suresh Nanda said: "We are happy with the judgement and are in no mood to file an appeal."

On Sep 5, 2008, a trial court had sentenced Nanda to five years in jail for mowing down six people by his BMW car Jan 10, 1999.

I disagree with the judgement meted out by Justice Kailash Gambhir.
Money power and personal influence has again been brought into play.
It is not negligent driving but also tampering with evidence.
Proceedings are being initiated against Sunil Kulkarni for perjury.
Kulkarni did not commit this perjury on his own.
He was was made to do this by the Nandas by inducements, which was revealed in a sting operation.
The Nandas were brought to book only because of public outcry and subsequent sting operation, otherwise they would have gone scot-free.
The judge has dared to reduce the sentence because he feels the people have forgotten the case.
This was not a case for reducing the penalty.
An injustice has been done to the six people who were mowed down by the BMW.
Why has no compensation been given to those people.

Measuring distance between two points

Sent by Prakash Bhartia.
No comments.

The Pentagon recently found it had too many generals and offered an early retirement bonus. They promised any general who retired straight away, his full annual benefits plus 10,000 Dollars for every inch measured in a straight line between any two parts of the general's body, with the general getting to select any pair of points he wished.

The first man, an Air Force general, accepted. He asked the pension man to measure from the top of his head to the tip of his toes... Six feet. He walked out with a check of 720,000 Dollars.

The second man, an Army general, asked them to measure from the tip of his outstretched hands to his toes.... Eight feet. He walked out with a check for 960,000 Dollars.

When the third general, a grizzled old Marine was asked where to measure, he told the pension man ... "From the tip of my penis to the bottom of my testicles."

The pension man suggested that perhaps the Marine general might like to reconsider, pointing out the nice cheques the previous two generals had received.

The Marine insisted and the pension expert said that would be fine, but that he'd better get the medical officer to do the measuring.

The medical officer arrived and asked the general to drop the pants. He did. The medical officer placed the tape on the tip of the general's penis and began to work back. "My God!" he said. "Where are your testicles?"

The general replied, "in Iraq.... just keep measuring...."

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Eclipse - What effect on New borns

MP mantri to test ancient eclipse myths

Sudhir K. Singh


July 18: Madhya Pradesh’s proactive school education minister, Ms Archana Chitnis, has taken a novel decision to keep a health watch on the children to be born during the solar eclipse on July 22 for the greater part of their lifetime. Efforts, she said, would be made to find out if such children showed any signs of abnormality, as often supposed. References to it exist in ancient Indian texts. The findings, if any, would contribute to the acute paucity of research on the subject.

State education department officials told this newspaper that it had often been observed that the overall constitution of some children born during an eclipse was weak even if they outwardly seemed in good health.

Asthma, polio, and eye problems were fairly common. Hence, there was ample scope for a deeper look, they said. The proposal was mooted at a special meeting presided over by Ms Chitnis comprising the V-C of Barkatullah University, MD of the Madhya Pradesh Council for Science and Technol-ogy, Sanskrit scholars, lea-ding astrologers and health officials. Participants felt it was time the issue was given the shape of a scientific inquiry rather then left to the realm of possibility fostered by ancient belief.

Both public and private hospitals, the officials informed, had been requested to furnish key data on the newborns. Quite apart from keeping a watch on their physical symptoms, it would also help in preparing their horoscopes. Solar eclipses, it was argued, have been cloaked in myth and superstition since time immemorial. Scientific accounts of their psychiatric and public health impacts are scarce. For instance, it is still widely believed that eclipses have spurred suicides though no proper probe or investigation has ever been conducted.

A turn of the millennium eclipse, said an official quoting an old article in the American Journal of Psychiatry, was the biggest media event in Austria in 1999. The curiosity was understandable since it was the second of its kind since 1842. The event had provoked extensive media coverage which began months before the occurrence. There was considerable fear and anticipation with the result that on eclipse day 40 per cent of the nation’s working population was on leave.

Just this evening I was discussing with my family the rituals we have during eclipses.
About 3 to 4 hours before and three to four hours after and eclipse, people are not supposed to take food.They also cannot perform Puja.
After the eclipse, people are supposed to have a bath before they can enter the kitchen or do puja.
People are also supposed to give alms to the poor during the eclipse to keep off the effect of evil forces Rahu and Ketu.
Do I believe in these?
I am of the opinion that these rituals were initiated by the ancient brahmins so that they could keep the general populace under their thumbs so that they had to ask the brahmins before they did anything.
Their are many prevailing superstitions regarding the eclipses.
Mothers who conceive during eclipses or whose children are born during eclipse would be born with defects, is also one of them.
I am glad that the MP government is carrying out research on the children born during eclipses.
Research should also be done on those children who were conceived during eclipses, if the date could be fixed accurately.
These children should be compared with the general children to see if the percent of defective children increased owing to the effect of eclipses.
We should, once and for all, clear these misconceptions, if they are false and accept them and warn the populace of the evil effects if scientifically proved.

The Land of The Statue of Liberty

This has been sent by Thondup Sherpa.
I think, I may have posted this earlier.
Since it gives the basic US philosophy of spend now, pay later, I am repeating it.


John Smith started the day early having set his alarm clock
for 6 am.
While his coffeepot
was perking, he shaved with his
electric razor
He put on a
dress shirt
designer jeans
tennis shoes
After cooking his breakfast in his new
electric skillet
he sat down with his
to see how much he could spend today. After setting his
to the radio
he got in his car
filled it with GAS
(from Saudi Arabia )
and continued his search
for a good paying AMERICAN JOB.
At the end of yet another discouraging
and fruitless day
checking his
(made in MALAYSIA ),
John decided to relax for a while.
He put on his sandals
poured himself a glass of

and turned on his
and then wondered why he can't
find a good paying job

It is to the credit of USA that in spite of its economy being in dire straits, it continues to fight for human rights and also terrorism, although they may also be the cause of terrorism.
When we see our own country and other countries raising traded barriers as soon as their own industries start performing badly, it is to USA's credit that they allow imports at the cost of their own industries.
Rather, we may be laughing at USA for the ills to the world's financial system but the whole world would suffer if they did not allow imports.
We are seeing the results in our own textile, diamond and other export oriented industries.
The people have started watching their expenses and now theri saving have started growing.
There is still hope.
After all the Statue of Liberty is in USA.
We in India only have statues of Elephants and Mayawati.
They serve no useful prupose to the general mass.
Only the statue makers gain and also Mayawati,
Through kickbacks.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Our Zero Tolerance PM

Clearly, India has succumbed

;Raju Santharam
Does India have a consistent, time-tested foreign policy that is capable of imparting a certain distinctive status to the country?
When it comes to Pakistan, it seems to be all bluff and bluster. How else does one explain India re-entering the dialogue process with Pakistan, a process initiated by the Prime Minister and followed up with talks at the level of foreign secretaries. It was not very long ago ~ actually just a couple of days ago ~ that foreign minister Mr SM Krishna was harping on the now familiar demand that there should be credible evidence of Pakistan's intention to act. His predecessor had been firmer ~ there would be no talks unless terror structures in Pakistan were dismantled.
With the Manmohan Singh-Gilani talks in Egypt, India has moved from its stance of "no action, no talks" to "talks regardless of action on terrorism". Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani has in fact claimed a diplomatic victory and said there is no link between composite dialogue and Pakistani efforts to go after the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. It is perhaps the lack of a consistency that has created the perception that India ~ despite its efforts at emerging as a global economic power ~ has only a Pakistan-centric foreign policy. If Pakistan yells Kashmir, India screams terrorism.
It is therefore not surprising, that when it comes to the crunch, India and Pakistan are looked upon as two squabbling foes causing unease in South Asia. No less surprising is the simplistic antidote to the growth of terrorism in South Asia ~ if India and Pakistan mended their fences over Kashmir there would be a considerable scale-down in terrorism. For most part of the Bush administration, Indian officials were happy that pressure was being brought on Pakistan. But the brazen Mumbai attacks changed everything. After 26/11 the stand was that India would not talk to Pakistan till such time that credible steps were taken to dismantle the terror structure. Nothing publicly has been done by Pakistan to even remotely ensure this.
On the contrary, thanks to poor handling of the case by the prosecution, Hafez Saeed, the 26/11 conspirator, has been released. What then accounts for the fact that the Prime Minister spent forty minutes with President Zardari in Russia and later had an hour long, one-on-one chat with Mr Gilani in Egypt?
Clearly it is US pressure on India that prompted the meetings. In fact there is already a timeline fixed for the next meeting of the foreign secretaries in July. Would India by then have enough evidence of Pakistan dismantling the terror mechanism? If not, then does India plan to cancel the July talks? Apparently not. Clearly, India has succumbed. On the other hand Pakistan has always been able to shape its policy to achieve its own limited ends. And the USA ~ for its own reasons ~ has thought it fit to waltz with Pakistan. General Musharraf in one of his nationwide

Our impotent zero tolerance Prime Minister has again succumbed to pressure and started talking to Pakistan without any noticeable action being taken by Pakistan on the terror bases exisiting there.
The only action Pakistan have taken is to put up such a weak case against Saeed, that he has been let off by the court.
When Gilani says he will do his best, we have seen what was his best and yet we have agreed to talk to them.
The next demand by Pakistan will be to restore the criketing ties as that is hurting them most as they have been made pariahs in their own by the world cricketing.
And you can expect our zero tolerance PM to retore the ties.
After he considers himself a Statesman and would like to keep himself in the running for the next Nobel Peace Prize.
And the USA will surely back him and Gilani.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Once Bitten

KOLKATA: Tata Group company Telcon’s pullout threat worked like magic on Thursday, with Writers’ Buildings and Alimuddin Street swinging into action and compelling Left unions to make peace with the company management.

On Wednesday Telcon MD Ranveer Sinha had threatened to shift the earth-moving factory project from Kharagpur in the wake of militant trade unionism.

Aituc and Citu had stopped work at the plant on Monday, insisting the training programme for job-seekers be extended to local people, including the landlosers, with equal eligibility criteria.

This became the major stumbling block, with the management sticking to its decision to offer training facilities primarily to landlosers. Following pressures from their party bosses, the unions agre-ed to the management’s offer to impart training to landlos-ers and members of backward castes with the age limit of 35 years and a minimum qualification of Class VIII certificate. But the other candidates have to be Madhyamik passouts and not more than 25 years old.

The unions had sought such relaxation for all candidates. Aituc district president J Banerjee and district Citu leader Mihir Pahari attended Thursday’s tripartite meeting with Telcon officials and SDO Sabuj Baran Sarkar.

Telcon officials were happy with the outcome of the meeting. “At a meeting with government officials on July 16, the matter on the eligibility of candidates for Telcon’s training course to impart skills to individuals for becoming operators and mechanics has been resolved. A new notification will be issued soon,” a Telcon spokesperson said.

Bengal is still feeling the Nano efect.
Our comrades have now realized that the Tatas do not joke when they say they will withdraw a project from a state.
We have a saying that those who are scalded when drinking hot milk blow even over curd while drinking it.
The agitators in Kharagpur have withdrawn their agitation and prevented another project from going to Gujarat.
Sorry, Mr. Modi.
We have learnt our lesson.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thrown out of a train

After my experience posted last week with the railways, Thondup is sharing his experience.

16th July 09

Dear Chief,

Welcome to the Club !!!!! I had a nightmare of a train trip a few weeks back. Of course I did complain to the Railways - with a copy to Her Majest Mamata didi, no less ( but then no reply...not even the return of my Regd AD card !!!!!. However the Security & Vigilance Dept of the Eastern rRlys did send an official letter asking me whether my complaint was genuine / or pseudonomous !!!!

I am sending my take on the entire trip. Perhaps what kept me sane was Partho's - Parthasarathi Sengupta , GMS Class of 67 - concern and "monitoring" ( Partho weren't you a Prefect in the final year ?)... This the good that happens when old school buddies keep in contact.

Laugh, cry or be frustrated ...that's our India and I guess we love Her for being the way She is... warts and all



It is around 8 O’clock at night on the 22nd of May 2009. In New Delhi Ms Mamta Bannerjee has just been sworn in as the Minister for Railways and her supporters are jubilant. In Calcutta I am on the Kanchankanya Express weeping with frustration. It is the beginning of my long journey into a night of frustration, terror, exploration, sex and warm human lessons.

At around 5 in the evening I was informed by the Indian Railways website that my status had changed from a Number 1 on the Waiting List to that of a confirmed berth in Coach No A1 Berth Number 17. With this precious paper in hand I bid adieu to Partho, an old school friend, and leave for Sealdah. As the train chugged out of Sealdah I notice that there is a confusion in the seating arrangements. My berth has been allotted to a Marwari lady. She informs me that her tickets – hers and her daughter’s – had been on Waiting List Numbers 2 & 3 and that they had been confirmed only an hour before the train’s departure. They have been allotted berths number 17 & 18. A little while later I am confronted by the Train Ticket Examiner who informs me that my name is not on the reservation Chart . I show him the confirmation given to me by the Railways site. He is a little confused. He asks me to wait. He then does his round of the compartment and when he returns he informs me that I must leave the compartment. I inform him that I have a confirmed reservation as per the Railways and once again I show him the website printout. Seeing no alternative he declares the printout a fake. He declares that I have forged the printout and that the railways do not have such documents. I then request him to state this in writing and that I would voluntarily leave the train once I have this in writing. He refuses. In that case I inform him I will not leave the compartment. Since we have reached an impasse he resorts to his weapon of pass(enger) destruction….he calls for the Railway Police personnel on board and in a strident voice declares me as a cunning cheat – calling me a chaaloo jinis , reducing me to an inanimate object - and declaring that I should be arrested for traveling with forged documents, tantamount to traveling without a ticket – a punishable offence under Section blah blah blah – and demanding that I be arrested and detained in the Burdawan GRP office. That frightens me out of my wits. However the armed guards are more polite and also quite reluctant to actually lay their hands on me. In fact at Burdawan they help me with my luggage and apologise for the TTE’s behaviour. Life is funny- the TTE who is supposed to be an assistance to a passenger is a nasty piece of work whereas the Police who everyone suspects of being nasty turn out to be much more understanding and helpful. The TTE , in the meantime is having his five minutes of fame – regaling the other passengers about how he has taught me a lesson. I get off at Burdawan. It is 10 O’clock in the night. A completely new place for me. Even the Station Master’s Office is closed. The wretched experience has left me drained and being diabetic I feel my blood sugar playing havoc and I begin to feel faint. Luckily I am carrying my medication and I take a pill.

For those of you who have never been to Burdawan – aside from the fleeting glimpse of the platform as you whiz by – it is a town that shuts off its lights and goes off to sleep by Nine. The only lights that one sees are those on the fringes of the railway station. It is a frightening sight after such a harrowing experience. I get out of the station and walk to the rickshaw stand. And that is when Fate decides to be a little kinder to me.

A crowd of rickshaw pullers descend upon me. Some instinct makes me choose a young scruffy boy. He could not have been more than twenty years old. I ask him to take me to the bus stand. He asks for ten rupees. I am too tired to haggle. When we reach the bus stand it is closed. Then I ask him to take me to a taxi stand – I want to hire a taxi to Calcutta, if not to Siliguri. Not possible he says, all the taxi stands are closed. And then he warns me, since I am a stranger I would be fleeced if not robbed so he suggest I check into a hotel and then the next morning he himself will take me to the taxi stand. That sounds reasonable so we begin our tour of Burdawan by night. We check into more than three hotels – all are full. It seems that the university examinations are going on and that students, many with their parents in tow, have filled the hotels. We are given the suggestion of trying out the lodges on B.C Road. As we leave the last hotel a group of boys begin to tail us. The rickshaw begins to race and the boys give chase on foot. A few tense minutes later we lose sight of them in the dark. A little later, after driving through a pitch dark road near a recreation park we come across a small shop. I ask the rickshaw to stop and to buy a packet of cigarettes and water. I offer him a bottle of Coke. It is then that I ask him his name. Raju, he says, as he gulps down his Coke.

“ Babu, I will not let anything happen to you. I have lost my father and you are like my father. All I need is my fare and your blessings. You look like you are from the military. How can I cheat someone like my father that too from our military” I am touched. All of a sudden I see that I could learn to enjoy this enforced misfortune instead of being miserable. Also, perhaps the rest of the country could learn a lesson in patriotism , albeit under false colours, from this young boy.

I get a call on my mobile. It is Partho. He is sick with worry and screams at me to get a taxi and to get back to Calcutta immediately.

“No matter how late it is I will be waiting to open the gate. You just come home.” After that he keeps on calling me every fifteen minutes. That gives me confidence and the pall of gloom is lifted. On his third or fourth call I tell him

“ Partho, this is turning out to be like Jub We Met, san’s Kareena Kapoor , don’t worry”

“Bastard” he replies ( with no aspersions to my patrimony ) “ If you can joke even in this situation then you must be ok”. Even then he keeps on calling; he is worried. This is the second good thing that has happened tonight. How many of us can count on such deep concern from a friend ? I guess I am lucky.

A little while down the road we come to a bifurcation. Raju stops to ask a policeman directions. As we take the left turn I ask Raju if he knows where he is taking me since he has had to ask for directions.

“Babu you are like my father. Do you think I would cheat you ? We have to go down this road and ride through the red light area. The reason I asked the policeman was to make sure he knows that we were looking for a hotel and not a whore. Otherwise he would have used that as an excuse to harass us”. That was really smart of him and I was a little ashamed of my mistrust.

Mahajan Gully (no pun intended ) was a short strip of lane with some huts and some old buildings on either side of the lane. Even the ladies had retired for the night – that should give the strangers an idea about how early Burdawan shuts down for the day. The lane was deserted but for a few forlorn biddies who were either too tired or perhaps lacking in self confidence to make overtures to me ( should my manhood be offended ? ).

Even on B.C. Road we had to knock on the doors of three hotels before I could find a room. It was a lodge grandiloquently self styled as the Golden Lodge. A dingy room and a common bathroom to be shared by the inmates of three other rooms. I was too tired to care. After having seen me safe in my room Raju left telling me that he would be back the next morning to take me to the taxi stand. I was so grateful and relieved that I paid him Three Hundred rupees. He had asked for a hundred, I added another hundred but then he spoilt it all by asking for more and so I added another hundred. Three hundred in all. Later next day I was to find out that the actual fare should have been no more than Fifty Rupees. But then what the hell – he did serve me well. He’d turned a night of horror into a night of learning and fun. It was midnight by then.

The door of the room next to mine opened ; there was a young girl perched on the bed surrounded by neat piles of books and papers. Her father smiled at me and whispered
“ We are from Nawadeep. She has her BA Maths honours examination tomorrow. Could you please keep the volume of the TV turned down”. What ???? A room with TV but no attached bathroom ???? So much for March of the Electrons.

The next morning after I’d had a bath and said my prayers I took out the packet of flowers and tika that I had brought with me from Kalighat. My neighbour was just coming out of the bathroom after his bath when I gave it to him.

“ For your daughter and her examination. It is from Kalighat ” I explained

He was very touched. “ I am very fortunate. I have finished my bath and here at the door step of my room I receive this Prasad. Thank you very much. Now I know my daughter will surely do very well.” I do not know what made me reply

“No don’t thank me. Thank the TTE who threw me out of the train. If it had not been for him we would not have met”. He then told me that his name was Nandi and that he worked in the college in Katua.
Since the grand Golden Lodge – tarrif Rupees Two Hundred for bed and bed tea – served only tea and boiled eggs for breakfast I went down to the street. A small sweet shop next door had warm loochis and sabzi. While having breakfast Raju arrived. As I was explaining to him how disappointed he made me feel by asking me for the extra hundred rupees – even after our agreed fare had been a hundred and I had willingly added another hundred – the shop keeper, a pleasant old gentleman and a customer having tea besides me asked me what had happened. I related my experience of the night and they became furious. They asked the Raju to explain the route he had taken. After he told them they began to berate him.

“How dare you cheat a stranger in our town. It is the likes of you that gives our town a bad name. Who is the owner of your rickshaw ? What is your licence number ? You leave your rickshaw here and send the owner “ I tried to intervene. They asked me not to interfere. “ No, Dada, you let us handle this. The most that this boy should have charge you is Fifty Rupees. We will teach this fellow a lesson”.

I had to explain to them that I had given Raju Three hundred out of gratitude because he had looked after me very well and that he had saved me from the goons. And I also had to tell them that because Raju had warned me about taking a taxi from Burdawan I had asked a friend to send me a taxi from Calcutta to go to Siliguri. It was onl;y after that that that they let Raju go. They were concerned about my welfare.

“ Why spend money on a taxi ? Why not take the bus ? “ I had to explain that I was diabetic and that traveling by bus would be very inconvenient. Who says that there is no heart in Bengal ? Bengal is a wonderfully human place. Perhaps this is what led Mother Teresa to choose her first missionary home here

The taxi, arranged by Partho, arrived at 11. As I was leaving my room Mr Nandi’s daughter called out to me “ Uncle, are you leaving ?” Yes, I nodded. She came out of her room and touched my feet. A total stranger and a non-Bengalee. Who says culture has died in Bengal ? This was the human face of Bengal that so many of us have been blind to. And for all these wonderful experiences I think I need to thank Mr N.R. Samader the TTE of Kanchananya Express. Does anyone have his mobile number ?????

I left Burdawan at 11 and reached home by 1230 midnight. Perhaps fate decided that I must have had a little too much of a good time since She decided to twist the tale. At Eelam Bazar we took a wrong turn and lost our way. Partho, as usual, monitoring my welfare and trip every hour was the one to realize that and he decided to guide the driver on the phone from Calcutta. Travel by remote control…wow!!! One must be blessed to have such a friend.

At around 1130 in the night after we had just crossed Islampur I received a call on the mobile from an unknown number. It was Mr Nandi from Nawadeep; he wanted to know if I had reached home safely.

In “Jub We Met” Shahid Kapoor gets the girl in the end. And that too a delicious bit like Kareena Kapoor. Me ? I got to meet some wonderful strangers who changed a bit of my life. Filmy gossip has it that Shahid Kapoor and Kareena broke up their real life romance after “Jub We Met “. Me ? No one can take away the warm memories of my night in Burdawan. So I guess I got the better deal.

P.S. AUTHOR’S NOTE : Another few months and I shall have joined the glorious ranks of the so called “Senior Citizens”. Politicians are a breed who can twist any situation to suit their convenience. Give them a lemon and they will have a lemonade franchise. So, I would sincerely request the Honorable Minister of Railways, Madame Mamta Bannerji, not to take my story as an endorsement of the spiritually uplifting and educative aspect of travel by the Railways. I don’t think I would be able to take it a second time.

Prohibition and Dry Laws

Bootleggers face death in Gujarat
Ahmedabad, July 15: The Narendra Modi government has proposed capital punishment for those linked to bootlegging deaths, an amendment aimed at checking the backlash that followed last week’s hooch tragedy that killed around 150 people.

According to the provisions introduced in the Assembly today, those found guilty of dealing in illicit liquor that kills people will be sent to the gallows and negligent police officers will be imprisoned.

The entire chain — those who brew the illicit liquor or transport, stock or sell it — will be liable for capital punishment if the banned beverage leads to deaths.

If bootleggers are arrested during regular raids and are not linked to deaths, they will face life imprisonment.

Those involved in selling and possessing stock of illicit liquor in similar cases will face jail of up to 10 years.

Negligent police and prohibition officials will face one year’s imprisonment.

There has been quite a discussion going on in the media on the need for prohibition and dry laws in Gujarat. Their contention is that the dry laws are the reason for the clandestine trade and the deaths due to adulteration.
Vijay Mallya too has pipped in with his opinion that the dry laws should be removed. Of course, we do not have to consider his opinion because he has his own selfish motives. After all he is the largest masnufacturer and richest bootlegger(legal) in India.
Most state government take the easier path.
They legalize alcohol and also earn revenue.
It is to the credit of the Gujarat government that they have resisted all pressure inspite of loss in revenue.
However, just strict laws will not help.
Those who have caught on to the habit will not be able to give it up unless they are helped by the government. The Gujarat government should detoxify and de-addict all the alcoholics. Then only will it be able to make the state completely dry.
Every year, lakhs of families are ruined because of alcohol although they do not take adulterated alcohol.The adulterated stuff kills but the unadulterated one ruins.
The government may gain in revenue but it loses in productivity, morality and family peace.
Vijay Mallya and the likes of him should be allowed to manufacture but only for fuel in motor vehicles and not for human consumption.
They are the biggest threat to society.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Madrassas - breeding ground for terrorists

Pakistan madrassa blast kills16
; Press Trust of India

ISLAMABAD, 13 JULY: At least 16 people, including several children, were killed and 120 others injured today when a powerful explosion in a small village in Pakistan's Punjab province flattened a madrassa, which was being used to make bombs, officials said.
The blast, which occurred shortly before 10 a.m. local time in the village near Mian Channu in southern Punjab, was caused by explosives stored in the home of madrassa teacher Riaz Ali, local residents said.
Ali was a member of a banned religious group, officials said.
Police and rescue service officials said 16 people, including several children, were killed in the blast, which also destroyed dozens of houses.
Officials said the toll could rise as more bodies were feared to be buried under the rubble of collapsed homes.
It was not immediately known what triggered the blast. Rescue workers found parts of shells and bombs, grenades, rockets and suicide jackets in the rubble of the madrassa. Officials said the seminary was being used to make bombs.
Doctors in local hospitals said 120 injured people had been brought for treatment. Over 40 of them were admitted to hospitals while many were allowed to go home after being given first aid.
Jehadi material, including cassettes with militant propaganda and pamphlets of the Harkat-ul-Jehad al-Islami terrorist group, were also found in the debris of Ali's house, Geo News channel reported. The explosion flattened about 25 structures, including a rural health centre and the madrassa, a police official said.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the blast and ordered authorities to launch an immediate inquiry so that the culprits could be brought to justice.
Pak SC on Saeed
The Pakistan Supreme Court today asked authorities to provide “solid grounds” for detaining Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, more than a week after two petitions were filed before it against the release of the banned JuD chief, a key accused in the Mumbai attacks, from house arrest.
Advocate general of Punjab province, Muhammad Raza Farooq had told the court that the Punjab government had filed the petition challenging Lahore High Court's order freeing Saeed in compliance with the UN Security Council resolution imposing restrictions on the Jammat-ud-Dawah and on the basis of “confidential evidence” against Saeed and his close aide Col (Retd) Nazir Ahmed. But the bench noted that the UN resolution only imposed restrictions on Saeed's movements.

I have always expressed the opinion that the madrassas should be done away with and all students should be brought into the mainstream education.
These madrassas are the breeding ground of terrorists and act
as bomb making factories.
The above incident proves my point, if any proof was required.
Our legislators who just run after vote backs, wear blinkered goggles and are not willing to accept the fact to the detriment of the nation's security and integrity.
The faster they realize this fact, the safer will all the citizens be.

Boarding Schools in Darjeeling Closed

KOLKATA: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) has hit the last nail in the coffin. It has included schools in its present offensive to press for its demand for Gorkhaland.

The past stirs of GJM always left schools and colleges alone probably because the party did not wish to affect education in the Hills. But this time, the diktat that all schools will have to shut down indefinitely and boarders will have to be sent home has finally sent the signal to parents that it is time they withdraw their kids from the hill schools and get them admitted elsewhere.

Most boarding schools have, however, defied the GJM order and refused to send the boarders back, though they have kept the schools closed. They have informed parents about their decision already though the latter don't seem to be convinced this time. "Even if, for the sake of argument, we accept that our children are safe, what about their studies? No classes are being held even in the boarding schools that are following the GJM diktat," said Soumyo Basu, whose son is a Class V student at St Joseph's (North Point).

A letter from a parent, Chiranjib Mukherjee, whose two sons are in primary school in Kalimpong, reached chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Tuesday, appealing his intervention to end the crisis. "The boarding schools have told parents not to come and take their kids back, but we apprehend a serious crisis in the wake of the indefinite strike. I am appalled at the inaction on the part of the state government," read the letter.

This was the refrain one heard from other parents as well. Somenath Mukherjee, an interior designer based in Kolkata, whose son is in Mount Herman, sounded flustered. "My son's school has declared an extended summer vacation to avoid trouble. He is in Class IX. Naturally, we are worried about his education. I would like to join other parents and find out an alternative," he said.

Father Kinley Tshering, headmaster of St Joseph's School, who has been leading the counter-offensive by boarding schools, said: "All of us decided that we would keep the boarders on the campus despite the GJM diktat. Some resistance had to be offered and since no one else has dared to face it, the schools have decided to make a start. At least, the boarders can study by themselves. I am more worried about my day students," Father Tshering said.

He hoped the strike would not extend beyond a month. "I have enough rations to keep boarders on campus for a month. I have appealed to GJM to see reason and relax its order on the schools. I am on the verge of appealing to Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi and chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee," Kinley said.

Authorities at St Paul's School informed that a few parents have already taken their wards back, but the majority have chosen to stay back. "We, too, can hold on for a month. Thereafter, we will perhaps have to appeal to the army, which has a camp nearby," said a senior official.

A large number of parents have started inquiring at schools in Siliguri that have hostel facilities for shifting their kids. At least 18 children have been shifted to DPS Siliguri from St Joseph's and St Paul's Darjeeling in a year, said owner of the former, Sharad Agarwal.

Last year I was is a dilemma whether I should have my grandchild (sister's daughter's son) admitted in Goethals as I feared the Gorkhaland agitation may affect his studies.
Bro. Beddoe had assured that the boarding schools were not affected as the agitators allowed the schools to run normally.
However, we were not assured and got him admitted in a boarding school in Ranikhet, near Nainital.
I am happy we took the decison as the above events show that we were right.
I had said earlier, I support the GJM upto a point. But when it starts affecting the people for whose benefit they are agitating, I withdraw my support.
As I have been saying, politics benefits only the politician, the general people pay the price.
Bimal Gurung has his own children outside Darjeeling district, so he is not affected.
Makes you recall George Orwell's "Animal Farm"