Saturday, February 28, 2015

India Today publishes fake story

On 23rd March leading media House named India Today published a story that Delhi’s CM Arvind Kejriwal seeking for a big bungalow in Luyten’s Zone published. This story is completely false and has been drafted by media persons to create hoax in the market. India Today group is already famous for publishing fake news which are against Social worker, Aam Aadmi Party chief and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal
Along with the stupid articles, India Today group has also published various stupid surveys which directly harms the dignity of AAP. The question of hour is on whose instructions media houses are doing these tasks. You can find out a really stupid survey’s video which was created to harm the image of Arvind Kejriwal.
Aam Aadmi Party already declared in various public gatherings that they are against the VIP Culture and even if after knowing that these news channels create fake stories. Mostly the whole article is filled with the words like ‘ Sources said’ We wonder that what are their sources and if they have so much stupid sources, they are in need of proper investigation.
When we tried to investigate the matter and find out the reality of Top Class Bungalow of Arvind Kejriwal we got these comments from the official team
I remember an interview where Arvind Kejriwal admitted before elections that he will take government accommodation. 
The interview asked him them, will you take 4 room house or 5 room or 6 room?
Kejriwal replied, I will take accommodation as big as needed to do my work as CM. 

Media is unnecessarily 
criticising AAP for this…. It was much expected from the media.
-Hemant Mendiratta (Social Activist and AAP Member)
The second reply is obviously from the very trusted volunteers of Aam Aadmi Party
Bhai Arvind Sir or Manish Sisodia are Not even Searching for Bungalows. These all Stories are Planted by Media Sources. U can Criticise All U Want bt 1st Let Arvind Actually Shift to Any bunglow bhai.
Appu Pandey (Volunteer at AAP)
Third reply which was come is from the national member of AAP Pratyush Mayank and he simply claims that these stories are drafted as a part of allegations 
ha ah hah aha…… I would suggest lets focus on AAP work rather than Bangla and gaadi
Pratyush Mayank (AAP Social Media Coordinator)
AAP also denies such charges and want media to behave ethically from now. 

Formation of Delhi Dialogue Commission

The Delhi cabinet in its meeting chaired by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday approved the setting up of the Delhi Dialogue Commission to implement the Aam Aadmi Party government’s vision for governance of the national capital.
The Delhi Dialogue Commission will be a nine-member body with the chief minister as its chairperson.
It will have a vice Chairperson also. Its members will be - deputy chief minister, Chief Secretary of Delhi, principal secretary finance, secretary to the Chief Minister and a member secretary to be appointed by the Chairperson.
The chairperson will also nominate two other members to this commission.
The cabinet approved the appointment of Mr Ashish Khetan as the vice-chairperson of the commission.
The Delhi Dialogue Commission aims to provide a unique model of collaborative and inclusive development.
As observed in Delhi in the past two decades, the vested interests of successive governments and their remoteness from their constituents ensured that the most fundamental needs of the people of Delhi have remained unaddressed – from issues such as clean drinking water, electricity and affordable housing to sanitation and employment, among others.
An honest, accountable and responsive government seeks out people’s participation, tapping into their immense potential to contribute to issues of governance.
Through the Delhi Dialogue Commission, the Aam Aadmi Party government will not only remove the distance between the government and the people but will also tap into people’s everyday experiences and their professional knowledge to draw up policy-level interventions in order to deliver on the 70 point manifesto.
The Delhi Dialogue Commission will constitute task groups/ committees on various subjects comprising experts, which will provide advice on the ways in which the vision of the Delhi Dialogue Commission can be actualised. Some of the initial task forces will be as follows:
· Task Group on rejuvenating and reviving the Yamuna and waterbodies in Delhi (including ponds, lakes, baolis, tanks and rivers) Task Group on air pollution
· Task Group on women’s safety and empowerment
· Task Group on e-governance, CCTV &Wifi.
· Task Group on comprehensive waste management and sanitation
· Task Group on affordable and clean energy
· Task Group on promoting entrepreneurship and creating employment
· Task Group on improving the standards of education ranging from primary to higher education
As a national capital, Delhi is the prism through which India is perceived by the world. Hence, an efficient administration, holistic development and a tangible sense of safety and security are absolutely necessary for Delhi to take its place among the world’s finest capitals.
The only way to transform a city is to be in a constant dialogue with the city and the people who mould it.
Now the time has come to create a mechanism through which that action plan can be implemented. It is with this intention that the government has decided to establish the Delhi Dialogue Commission to come up with appropriate solutions to a range of civic issues by studying good practices, policies and plans from across the country and the world and conveying them in the form of concrete recommendations to the Government of NCT of Delhi.
The commission can be contacted on the e-mail address :

The Mother of All Jhumlas

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Alternative Government

 by Bikram Vohra

It's scary. There is an alternative Government in India. It's called
the TV News and it has a Prime Minister called Arnab Goswami who is the Chief Anchor  and a cabinet of clones who each try to outdo him in  various languages.

This lot spends several hours a day stunning the public into
submission by being obnoxious,impolite, breaking every rule of
journalism, aggressive, imperious, loud and hostile. There is an
overwhelming "I" factor and they now style themselves as saviours of the Nation.

The sheer breathtaking meanness makes for riveting your viewing till you realise you are being conned and it is all table thump-ing

The sad part is they actually come up with good subjects that are then wrecked by a tsunami of babble so that by the end of the show there is no concept left of the original issue, simply white noise. NRIs are gradually discovering these visual pundits on their feed but are not yet wholesale fans.

In recent times their power to create public opinion has been
recharged what with the political developments. In fact American TV has begun lampooning the shrill texture of the Indian 'Foxes' as they are being termed.

The scenario is always much the same.

You get 8 tame individuals desperate to be on TV, put them into
pigeonholes and then you whiplash them mercilessly with idiomatic bombardment...I don't give two hoots about you, Sir, answer my question, yes  or no, sorry you had  your turn, this is
disgraceful...just an endless barrage of attack.

The trick is no one is allowed to finish their argument and every
answer can be mocked without factual corroboration. It is a smirk
show. On a dozen channels. In different languages. The non English ones are even more virulent. This bizarre entertainment has many takers because there is this verbal illusion that these anchors are bringing up hitherto hidden issues and airing them. True, but where they could be doing good they are turning everything into frenetic entertainment.

The issue becomes secondary to the screaming match. And these anchors are neither culpable nor accountable, they can say what they want without consequences and you  wonder why people volunteer to be the pigeons in the coop ready to be defeathered. From my brief exposure to these shows they are more part of the problem and not the solution. They hold the matchstick to the dry tinderbox that is India today and they can ignite it with their malice. Doesn't anybody else see that?

(Bikram Vohra has been editor of Gulf News, Khaleej Times, Bahrain Tribune, Emirates Evening Post and helped in setting up Gulf Today.)
By the way I too find Arnab obnoxious, bombastic and a pain in the neck. Hence, I simply do not watch his programmes.
Instead I prefer Ravish Kumar's prime time programme on NDTV

Gujarat govt refuses to reveal assets of CM, ministers

, TNN | Aug 12, 2014, 02.07AM IST

NEW DELHI: The Gujarat government has turned down an RTI query seeking details of the wealth of the chief minister and the council of ministers claiming it is not in the "larger public interest". 

The move is in sharp contrast to that of the Union government which has made facts related to assets and liabilities of its council of ministers public since 2011 and Supreme Court judges who have voluntarily disclosed their wealth.

Mumbaikar Anil Galgali had filed a RTI query seeking information about the assets and liabilities of the CM and the council of ministers over the past 5 years. He also sought to know about action taken by the CM on those who had failed to file their wealth declaration.

Terming the refusal as "ridiculous", Galgali filed an appeal with appellate authority and deputy secretary (cabinet) in the state's general administration department, BJ Brahmabhatt.
Former chief information commissioner (CIC) Wajahat Habibullah described the state government's stance as "retrograde and foolish". 

Public declaration of ministers' wealth has seen patchy implementation in other states. While Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan have made some of the information public, many others have not. 

In reply to the query, Gujarat government's under secretary (cabinet) & public information officer PV Patel said, "The information sought cannot be furnished since information available to a person in this fiduciary relationship and the information sought is personal information, the disclosure of which has no relationship to public authority ..."

He further quoted section 8(1)(e) and section 8(1)(j) of RTI Act for denial of information saying the disclosure would cause unwanted invasion of privacy of the individual and was not in larger public interest.

Patel also quoted a 2012 Supreme Court order in the Girish Deshpande vs AB Lute case where the court held that income tax returns fall under "personal information".

The order further states, "The details disclosed by a person in his income tax returns are 'personal information' which stand exempted from disclosure under clause (j) of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act, unless involves a larger public interest and the central public information officer or the state public information officer or the appellate authority is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information."
Former information commissioner in the CIC Shailesh Gandhi said, "The order is bad in law. However the SC has given such a judgment that I believe does not follow the RTI Act, leaving public information officers with little choice but to deny such applications." 

Habibullah had taken the decision that assets of the council of ministers and even Supreme Court judges should be made public. "How can an elected government claim right to privacy? If the Union ministers and even the Chief Justice of India can make disclosures about their wealth how can public servant of a state claim right to privacy? The public has a right to know," he said. 

All elected representatives have to disclose their wealth to the Election Commission (EC). A 2009 CIC order ruled that the information was in public interest and should be made available to as many people as possible. However, CIC does not have jurisdiction over states.

PMO blocks access to information on ministers’ assets

Feb 27, 2015, 12.26AM IST TNNHimanshi Dhawan ]
NEW DELHI: In a blow to transparency, the PMO has decided to block public access to the wealth declarations made by ministers. The details of assets and liabilities of the union council of ministers has been available online since 2010. However, the details are now password protected and can only be accessed by the authorized personnel.

In fact information on assets and liabilities of the present council of ministers was available till recently. According to the website, the information was last updated on February 11, 2015 when the user name and password protection might have been introduced.

National Campaign for People's Right to Information (NCPRI) member Anjali Bhardwaj said, "We are convinced that the PM does not want to be transparent and give people information.'' She said a bigger concern was that there would be no one to complain to. "The chief information commissioner happens to be the adjudicator for the PMO. In the absence of a CIC (the post has remained vacant since August 2014) we cannot even file a complaint against the government,'' she added.

RTI activist S C Agrawal—on whose RTI query the information was made public—described it as a "blow to transparency'' adding that a series of missteps was working towards halting the progress made under the RTI Act. There are at present over 37,000 cases pending before the Commission. The huge backlog compounded by the lack of staff has crippled the Commission's work.

The disclosures of union ministers' assets and liabilities had marked a landmark step towards accountability and transparency in the government and came after a year of sarkari stonewalling on an RTI application filed by Agrawal with the CIC citing public interest. The chief information commissioner had ordered that the detailed list of assets and liabilities, their business interests and that of their family must be made public if the leaders of both houses give permission. Parliament was of the opinion that no permission was required for disclosure forcing the Union Cabinet this week to adopt a resolution that the assets would be made public.

Members of the House have to declare their assets and liabilities within 90 days of taking oath as MPs under Rule 3 of the Members of the Lok Sabha (Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Rules, 2004).

The PMO dropped its stand against making public ministers' assets and liabilities after the making of complete details filed by the elected representatives in 2010.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Water supply in Delhi

CPIL demands recusal of Health Minister J.P. Nadda from vigilance cases relating to AIIMS, Delhi HC issues notice

 Delhi High Court Bench headed by Chief Justice G. Rohini has issued a notice to the current Health Minister J.P. Nadda, on a Writ Petition filed by Centre for Public Interest Litigation, demanding that he shouldn’t be allowed to deal with vigilance cases relating to AIIMS.
After hearing this, the bench issued notice and asked all respondents to file their response within 4 weeks. Next date of hearing is 22.04.2015.
In a Writ Petition filed in the Delhi High Court, Centre for Public Interest Litigation has sought a direction for expeditious investigation of corruption cases by the CBI as well as of the disciplinary proceedings of corruption cases in AIIMS. CPIL has also sought a direction to the Health Minister Mr. J.P. Nadda to recuse himself from all the cases.
The Petition states, Because the AIIMS being a premier Health Institute of this country must be free from corruption and other irregularities and therefore, any action or inaction to derail the investigation into corruption cases involving the doctors/officials of the AIIMS is arbitrary, illegal and against public interest. These corruption cases include a wide range of issues having direct impact on the life and well being of the thousands of patients and include supply of spurious medicines, irregularities in purchase of equipment, recruitments, etc. and thus will adversely affect right to life of Indian citizen and violate Art.14 and Art.21 of the  Constitution.”
New Vigilance Administration of AIIMS had initiated actions relating to various malpractices due to corruption in the institution, which involved senior functionaries of the institute like the then Deputy Directors (Administration) (a post held by senior IAS/IPS officers), Head of Engineering Wing, Registrar, Chief Administrative officer and Senior faculty members. These malpractices included supply of dubious medicines by a private chemist shop, having influential political nexus, and opened into institute premises, middlemen in making fake outpatient department (OPD) cards, irregularities and wastage in purchase of surgery equipments and other medical items, etc.
The Petition alleges that as a Member of Parliament, the Mr. J.P. Nadda had written numerous letters to various Central Ministers from May, 2013 to June, 2014, in order to halt the proceedings by the Vigilance Administration.
It alleges that Mr. Nadda “did unusual lobbying to dismantle this newly setup vigilance administration apparently to influence the ongoing inquiry proceedings in the corruption cases under the new vigilance setup and for this purpose he not only openly demanded to put all the inquiries into these cases on hold.” He is accused of untimely dismantling the Vigilance administration by exerting undue influence.
After such attempts, in November 2014, the Respondent, Mr. Nadda was appointed as the Health Minister.
The most prominent corruption cases mentioned in the Petition include the attempts to protect the huge corruption/abuse of official position by an earlier Deputy Director Administration between Year 2010-2012 which include irregular appointment of consultants causing huge loss to the state exchequer, illegal extension of a corrupt and under qualified engineer to supervise expansion work of thousands of crores of rupees including the construction of the country’s largest cancer institute, and a notorious incident of treatment of his pet dog at the cancer centre by intimidating/blackmailing senior doctors of the institute.
Also, exonerating a very senior faculty member who was treating some very influential politicians, despite clear cut recommendations of MCI & CBI for major penalty proceedings on account of accepting hospitality from a private medical college and for submitting fake rental bills during inspection of a private medical college in blatant violation of MCI guidelines and the most recent episode of removal of the Chief Vigilance officer of the institute whose record as per the Ministry itself was exemplary/outstanding in curbing corruption in the institute.
Hence, demanding proper investigation into these issues, the petition states, “Because the Rule of Law, which is part of Article 14 and Art.21 and recognised as a basic feature and part of the basic structure of the constitution, warrants that the cases of corruption must be investigated in a fair and independent manner so that the persons occupying public offices if found involved in acts of corruption must be punished as per the law of land. However, in the present case, attempt is being made to protect those officials against whom there are strong prima facie cases of corruption and against whom investigation by the CBI as well as disciplinary proceedings are already underway.”
It also demands an inquiry into efforts to halt proceedings and the related missing files in the case.

What do US Economist say of Arvind's Electricity & Water decision?

Please have a look what a senior economist from US has to say about ARVIND KEJRIWAL : 
"I just can't understand why the concept of allocating subsidies by the AAP govt hasn't gone down well with the majority of economists .Everyone is busy asking the same question ---"where will the money come from !" .....They should first find out where the money goes !..
AK is a very honest guy who wants to change the system and uplift the status of common men...He isn't amongst those Gandhis or Pawars who commit one multi crore scam after another ...I haven't seen any politician saying that there is no scarcity of money in the govt treasury ...
AK is very right when he says that withstraining corruption and creating a deterrence will automatically increase the revenue of the govt . The govt will be in surplus even after allocatng all the subsidies..The AAP govt has already generated 2,500crs (indirectly) by shutting down the drug and smuggling business in Delhi...This amount is quite enough to pay out the power+water+wi-fi subsidy ..Corruption has fallen massively in Delhi after AK has assumed the office and its cascading effect is quite evident .. Food prices are down , auto-taxi fares are down , hospital charges are down , no donations in schools/colleges,etc ,etc ,etc ....This is just the beginning ...Picture to abhi baaki hai mere dost . Get a life my dear economists "
~ Parag chopra ,a senior economist from Texas (US) 

Is Arvind Kejriwal putting Delhi in more danger?

Recently Arvind Kejriwal-lead Aam Admi Party, announced that micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) will not require a consent-to-establish (CTE) certificate from the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC). This might have made some traders happy but has raised many questions from the people of delhi who have to suffer from pollution every day.
In this one can’t ignore the current state of Delhi. In 2014, the World Health Organisation (WHO) rated Delhi as the world’s most polluted city. Eschewed as one of the world’s most polluted cities, Delhi is literally breathing unacceptable levels of toxic air because of skyrocketing levels of air pollution, according to a new data.
Irrespective of any such results showing alarming air pollution level, the Delhi government has allowed the removal of trees from an area of 46 hectares — running into more than 50 football fields — just to make DDA’s Qutub Golf Course (at Lado Sarai) as a world class golf course. Such project will chop down around 450 trees and still was passed under the termed “public interest”.
As per HT, a gazette notification issued in the name of Delhi’s Lt Governor Najeeb Jung and signed by the Capital’s environment secretary Sanjeev Kumar reads: “In public interest the government exempts an area of 46.06 hectares for re-development of Qutub Golf Course at Lado Sarai from sub-section (3) of section 9 of the DPTA”. The sub-section denies permission to cut trees “from the same area twice in a year, subject to a maximum area of one hectare at a time.”
Such clause helps to keep a check on cutting of trees in a big green area. We are yet to figure out how many (actual and non-political) ‘aam admi’ goes for golf or have ever been for it, but till the time the government take any major step in keeping a check on pollution, people of Delhi would remain exposed to the risk of wheezing to increased risk of asthma attacks.
The CTE may just be a white elephant to delay permission unless palms were greased. There are many businesses which just cannot cause pollution since no effluents emit from the business. Asking them to get a CTE is just increasing corruption. However, if later on they are found to be polluting, they can be closed which would cause a greater loss to the businessmen. So, we could say the decision is to make the businessmen exercise self control and eliminate corruption.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Govt announces 20,000 l free water per household - Power tariff upto 400 units cut by half in Delhi

Delhi government today slashed power tariff by 50 per cent for consumption upto 400 units per month which will benefit around 90 per cent of the Delhiites in the city.
The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting presided over by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
The cut in tariff will be effective from Sunday. 

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia has announced that government will also provide 20,000 litres of free water to every household per month.
However, water tariff will be charged if the consumption limit exceeds 20,000 litres.

The free water scheme will come into force from March 1.

Sisodia said consumers getting free water will not require to pay for sewer charges.

On the free power scheme, Sisodia said government will review the power rates after CAG completes audit of the accounts of the power discoms.

In its manifesto, AAP had promised to cut power tariff by 50 per cent immediately after coming to power.

The AAP had also promised 20 kilolitres (20,000 litres) of free water to every household per month. The previous AAP government had introduced the free water scheme but it was discontinued after it quit.

Amnesty International criticises Modi govt's rights record Read more at http://www.thestatesman.

Human rights group Amnesty International today criticised the Narendra Modi-led government, saying under the new regime India has witnessed a rise in communal violence and its Land Acquisition Ordinance has put thousands of Indians at "risk" of forcible eviction.
In its Annual Report 2015, released here, Amnesty highlighted poll-related violence in the lead up to the May 2014 General Elections, communal clashes and failure of consultation on corporate projects as key concerns.

National elections in May saw a government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party come to power with a landslide victory.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who campaigned on promises of good governance and development for all, made commitments to improve access to financial services and sanitation for people living in poverty.

However, the government took steps towards reducing requirements to consult with communities affected by corporate-led projects," Amnesty said in its report.

The report highlighted that, "the authorities continued to violate people's rights to privacy and freedom of expression. There was a rise in communal violence in Uttar Pradesh and some other states and corruption, caste-based discrimination and caste violence remained pervasive." 

In reference to communal violence, it noted that, "A string of communally charged incidents in Uttar Pradesh prior to elections led to an increase in tensions between Hindu and Muslim communities...Politicians were accused of and in some cases criminally charged with making provocative speeches." 

"...In December, Hindu groups were accused of forcibly converting several Muslims and Christians to Hinduism," the report said.

The rights body also went on to single out the Land Acquisition Ordinance for criticism as it described the move as a new "risk" to thousands of Indians.

"In December, the government passed a temporary law which removed requirements related to seeking the consent of affected communities and assessing social impact when state authorities acquired land for certain projects," it said.

"Thousands of people remained at risk of being forcibly evicted from their homes and lands for large infrastructure projects. Particularly vulnerable were Adivasi communities living near new and expanding mines and dams," it added .

While the group recognised "progressive legal reform", it was critical of India's "overburdened and under-funded criminal justice system".

Amnesty pointed out two court orders as important "gains" for India in 2014, including a Bhopal court's decision in November to demand that its criminal summons against the Dow Chemical Company to be re-issued and a "landmark judgement" by the Supreme Court in April granting legal recognition to transgender people.

Beware of calls from unknown numbers

KOLKATA: Think twice before you ring back after missing a call from an unidentified number that seems to have been generated from a foreign country. It could well be from a racket and a call-back would come at a premium, some times as high as Rs 200 a minute. Even receiving the call will leave you poorer by Rs 60-100. But the involvement of some dealers of top service providers — with offices in Dum Dum Road and the airport area — with these gangs, which claim these are 'verification' calls from the service providers, makes it scarier for subscribers.

The detective department that is probing these mysterious calls is clueless about how the revenue model works out for the fraudsters. Prima facie, they believe a part of the amount you pay will be deposited in the accounts of the fraudsters. The hi-tech telecommunication technology that was developed mainly for public services has turned into an easy money-making device for fraudsters.

This is how it works. The gangs hire a premium-rate number from a telecom provider based in countries like Poland, Papua New Guinea and other African and east European nations. The most common numbers bothering Kolkata citizens are +45 (Denmark), +48 (Poland), +245 (Guinea-Bissau), +248 (Seychelles), +243 (Congo) and + 246 (British Indian Ocean Territory). The fraudsters then give missed calls to unsuspecting people. As the latter call back, they pay high charges and a part of the money goes to the account of the fraudsters who hire the premium numbers. They even hear warnings at the other end, including termination of services.

The fraud, which started nearly a decade ago in Europe and western countries, has hit Kolkata from the beginning of this year. Telecom experts say it is a re-run of 2012 when calls from +224 (Guinea) flooded Kolkata. It is also known as the 'Wangiri Fraud' and originated in Japan in early-2000. 'Wangiri' literally means 'one ring and cut'.

Over the past weeks, several Kolkatans have received missed calls from numbers that start with +22455 and +248. Among them is a top cop in Kolkata Police, the daughter of the PA to the mayor and even a software professional. "Apparently, it looks like a Mumbai number as the city's STD code is 22. I have several friends in Mumbai and the call came on January 1. Without any suspicion, I called back only to realize it was a set-up. By then, Rs 160 had been deducted from my account," said the IT professional.

Clueless subscribers called up their cellphone service providers who clarified that the call had been made to international premium-rate numbers and the best way to avert such fraud was not call back to these numbers. A probe revealed that some fraudsters sitting abroad had been making missed calls to Indian cellphone users randomly with the help of a database. They have hired a few international premium rate numbers (IPRN). The IPRN service providers offer a lucrative rate for their rental services. Premium Telco is such an IPRN provider which offers $.08 for every incoming call to the hired number.

According to telecom experts, such IPRN providers receive 700 to 1,000 calls every day. For police, it's a 'salami fraud' that suggests the fraudsters are apparently getting a nominal amount, but swindle a hefty sum at the end of the day. Special additional CP (crime) Pallab Kanti Ghosh said he was aware of the rising menace. "We are trying to see if there is a local element associated with the fraud," said Ghosh. Sources said Kolkata Police was in touch with the Telecomm Regulatory Authority of India and even the RBI. "We are meeting RBI officials to try and sort out certain issues of bank fraud. We also plan to discuss this particular revenue model with them this week," said a senior police office
 The above is from the Times of india

Switched at Birth

GRASSE, France:  When Sophie Serrano finally held her daughter, Manon, in her arms after the newborn, suffering from jaundice, had been placed under artificial light, she was taken aback by the baby's full head of glossy hair.
"I hadn't noticed it before and it surprised me," Serrano said in an interview at her home here in southern France, not far from the Cote d'Azur.
Serrano, now 39, was baffled again a year later, when she noticed that her baby's hair had grown frizzy and that her skin color was darker than hers or her partner's.
But her love for the child trumped any doubts. Even as her relationship unraveled, in part, she said, over her partner's suspicions, she painstakingly looked after the baby until a paternity test more than 10 years later showed that neither she nor her partner was Manon's biological parent. Serrano later found out that a nurse had accidentally switched babies and given them to the wrong mothers.
The story made headlines in France for the first time this month, when a southern court ordered the clinic in Cannes where the babies were switched, as well as the clinic's insurer, to pay a total of 1.88 million euros ($2.13 million), to be split by the families. The money, Serrano said, would repair "an invaluable damage" and put an end to a 12-year ordeal.
Tales of swapped newborns tend to crop up in popular culture, most recently in the ABC Family television series "Switched at Birth," in which two teenage girls learn that they were mistakenly swapped in a hospital and their families try to live together for the girls' well-being.
But the story of Manon and her accidental mother takes turns more complicated than most fiction could anticipate, challenging cherished assumptions about maternal attachment.
Serrano's love for Manon, she said, grew stronger after she learned that the girl was not her biological daughter. She also said that, after meeting the girl she had given birth to, she felt no particular connection with her.
"It is not the blood that makes a family," Serrano said. "What makes a family is what we build together, what we tell each other. And I have created a wonderful bond with my nonbiological daughter."
The court decision ended Serrano's long struggle to obtain damages for the nurse's negligence. It also helped her, she said, silence neighbors and others who accused her of lacking maternal instinct and criticized her inability to identify with her own child.
"After four days, how can you not recognize your baby?" Sophie Chas, the lawyer for the clinic, told the newspaper Le Figaro. "We can believe in it when it's a second, a day, two days. But 10 years? The mothers may have been involved in creating the damage."
Serrano answers such disbelief by pointing out that she was 18 at the time and that Manon, now 20, was her first child. "I could never have imagined such a scenario," she said.
When Serrano gave birth, the baby developed neonatal jaundice and was almost immediately placed in an incubator. Because of a shortage of cradles, a nurse put the naked baby in the same cradle as another naked baby.
Daniel Verstraete, the lawyer for the other family, which refused to speak publicly about the case, said that only one of the two babies was wearing an identification tag, which "may have fallen off."
When Manon was handed over to Serrano after the treatment, mother and child had spent very little time together. Serrano noticed that the baby's hair was thicker, but she said she was persuaded to put it out of her mind.
"The nurse said that the lights from the phototherapy treatment made the baby's hair grow," Serrano said. "I trusted medical people. I was young, I wouldn't question their competence."
The other mother, also 18 at the time, asked another nurse why her baby lacked hair. She was told that phototherapy could also shorten hair.
"My client didn't ask herself questions," Verstraete said. "A baby swap was unthinkable. She didn't react because medical authority told her that she shouldn't worry."
Serrano, who lived with her partner in a tiny village near Grasse, raised her child while facing growing suspicion from neighbors that Manon, so physically dissimilar to her parents, might have been the "postman's daughter."
The relationship eventually collapsed, in part, Serrano said, because her partner was also suspicious and refused to care for Manon. When they separated, her partner demanded a paternity test, saying he did not want to pay support for a child he did not consider his own.
"I believed that a paternity test would be a relief for both of us," Serrano said.
On the contrary, the test revealed that Manon, 10 at the time, was not his child, and that she was not Serrano's either.
"It had the effect of a tsunami," Serrano said. "I felt tremendous anxiety, the worst anxiety that one can ever feel."
"All of a sudden," she added, "you learn that you don't know where the child you have brought into the world is. I wondered how I could find my child. And I suddenly recalled the baby hair episode."
In order to find the family that had received her biological daughter, Serrano filed a civil complaint against the clinic in 2010. Police investigators discovered that Manon's biological parents were a Creole couple from the island of La Raunion, a French territory in the Indian Ocean, who, as it turned out, now lived just a few miles away from Serrano.
"When I first met them, I noticed how much I looked like them," said Manon, a wide-eyed young woman who studies management at a nearby technical school. "But I was sitting in front of complete strangers, and I didn't know how to position myself."
Her biological parents are modest workers who raised their own daughter - Serrano's birth child - "rather strictly," said Verstraete, their lawyer.
"The mother would wake up every morning thinking that she had never been able to recognize her daughter," he added. "It is not a physical wound. It is a moral suffering that will never go out."
The families saw each other several times, during which Manon explored her Creole origins. But the parents and daughters had trouble building any rapport, and they eventually stopped seeing each other. In the end, after some discussion, both families preferred to keep the child they had raised, rather than taking their biological one.
"I realized that we were very different, and we didn't approach life in the same way," Serrano said. "My biological daughter looked like me, but I suddenly realized that I had given birth to a person I didn't know, and I was no longer the mother of that child."
On a recent day, Serrano and Manon sat at the dining table of their modern apartment in Grasse for a lunch break.
Serrano said she was recovering from years of depression. She is unemployed and has two other children from a relationship that began after her separation. Her frail physique and reserved manners contrasted with Manon's outspokenness and athletic build.
Neither of the two women said how they would spend the money from the trial, but Manon said she dreamed of settling in Britain and of a career in management.
"The story of my birth has made me stronger," Manon said as she ate French fries out of an orange fast food container. She found balance, she said, through therapy, her mother's love and her own "deeply ingrained" pragmatism.
"I tend to never leave anything to chance," she said with a smile. "Now I even try to anticipate the unthinkable."
© 2015, The New York Times News Service

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Allabahad High Court (Lucknow bench) has delivered a judgment last week rejecting the plea of ex-MCI president, Dr. Ketan Desai, who sought dismissal of the criminal charges against him filed by CBI under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 120-B (“criminal conspiracy”) and Section 420 (“cheating”). This case for corruption against Desai originated from his role in granting MCI recognition to Sri Ram Murti Smarak Institute of Medical Sciences, Bareilly, U.P when Desai was still sitting MCI president. However, Lucknow HC has set aside only the charge against Desai filed under Section 13 (“criminal misconduct by a public servant”) of Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act. Desai had moved these revision petitions before Lucknow HC seeking to quash all charges against him. The Lucknow HC has categorically held:
“So far as the order of framing of charges under Sections 120-B, 420 IPC against Dr. Ketan Desai is concerned, the same need no interference at this state.”
Thus, the long-awaited criminal trial of Ketan Desai for his alleged offense under Indian Penal Cole (IPC) Section 120-B (“criminal conspiracy”) and Section 420 (“cheating”), which may carry jail sentence for up to 7 years, is expected to start in Lucknow soon. Desai will also have to stand a separate criminal trial in Delhi for alleged corruption and bribery for which he was arrested by CBI in 2010. Desai has already been charge-sheeted in this case which should start in Delhi Patiala court soon.
Shockingly, a major Indian newspaper, Times of India (TOI), twisted the Lucknow HC judgment in order to paint a positive picture for Desai as they have reported in Suaday’s (Feb. 22) paper with an eye-catching caption, “Medical seats: HC acquits Desai of graft charges” (see below). A plain reading of the entire HC judgment (copy attached) will show that nowhere in the entire judgment that the Lucknow HC has “acquitted” Desai of the pending charges of bribery and corruption as reported in TOI. The HC has merely said that the charges against Desai as a “public servant” (under Section 13 of PC Act) should be removed. This glaring misinformation perpetrated by a major newspaper clearly demonstrates that Desai has profound influence not only on the major political parties including BJP and Congress (whose top leaders publicly attended Desai’s daughter’s marriage in Ahmedabad recently), but he also has a firm grip over major media houses in India who are twisting news in order to restore his badly dented public image.
Top leaders of Indian Medical Association (IMA) and MCI are well-known for their staunch support of Desai. As we reported recently, many IMA/MCI leaders including IMA secretary-general, Dr. K.K. Aggarwal, and MCI “grievance committee” chairman, Dr. Ajay Kumar, approached World Medical Association (WMA) last year and made a blatantly false claim that all criminal charges against Desai have been dropped by the Indian authority. And based on this false claim by IMA/MCI leaders, WMA also reinstated Desai as their president-elect for 2016. Since then, Desai cronies in IMA/MCI have been touting for Desai based on his fraudulently obtained accolade of WMA president-elect. Even the chief vigilance officer (CVO) of MCI found the claim by Dr. Kumar/Dr. Aggarwal false and “unethical” as the CVO recommended the central health ministry to take disciplinary action against Dr. Kumar and Dr. Aggarwal. But the health ministry is also keeping deaf ears to CVO’s recommendation and refused to act against Desai or his cronies. The Lucknow HC judgment provides further proof that Desai is prima facie guilty for corruption as he faces at least two criminal trials.
PBT has already written to WMA and Indian health minister, Mr. J.P. Nadda, urging them to take appropriate action against Desai and his cronies and to take necessary steps to remove Desai from the post of WMA president-elect. So far, no response received from WMA, MCI/IMA or health ministry. Will the BJP government open their eyes and act to save the crumbling healthcare delivery system and medical education in India?

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Common Man's last supper

Doctors reveal how pressure to make profits forces them to adopt wrong practices in pvt hospitals

NEW DELHI: In order to benefit the hospital and meet its commercial needs, one has to do things like keeping patients in the hospital longer than necessary, and doing unnecessary investigations and procedures (including angioplasty) since there was pressure from the management of the hospital. 

My conscience began pricking and I left the hospital- Dr Gautam Mistry, Kolkata, cardiologist who left a corporate hospital after seven years. 

A reference for angioplasty can earn a doctor Rs 30,000-40,000 - Dr Rajendra Malose, general practitioner, Nashik 

Recently, a young doctor who joined our department told me, "Sir, every month there is a meeting with the CEO. He asks me questions because instead of having a 40% conversion rate for OPD-operative as per the target, my conversion rate is just 10-15%. (Conversion rate means out of all patients seen by the doctor, how many are advised to undergo surgery or procedures. Rational doctors try to keep this rate low, but profit-driven hospitals try to maximise number of surgeries and procedures, even if they are unnecessary). He tells me that such low conversion rate will not do, and that unless I increase it, I will have to leave the hospital." This young doctor will certainly surrender one day. To survive professionally, he will start doing 20-25% of additional procedures that are not required by medical logic. What choice does he have?"... And each corporate hospital has such targets! There is no getting out of it. - Super specialist from a metro 

Pharma companies are giving foreign tours and junkets to doctors. It happens under the pretext of medical study. Unfortunately, some doctors eagerly wait for the pharma company invitation for foreign tours- Dr HV Sardesai, physician Pune. 

Corporate hospitals only want doctors who can help them earn more money. As a result doctors who practise ethically cannot last there. I know of a hospital where if a patient is charged Rs 1.5 lakh, the doctor gets a mere Rs 15,000. 90% of the income goes to the corporate coffers. Corporate hospitals can advertise while individual doctors are not allowed- Dr Sanjay Gupte, gynaecologist, Pune, ex-national president of the Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI) 

These are just a few of the shocking revelations by 78 doctors from small towns to every one of the megacities who are critical of the growing commercialisation of medical care. The doctors range from general practitioners to super specialists in corporate hospitals. These interviews that expose the corruption in private healthcare have been put together by SATHI (Support for Advocacy and Training to Health Initiatives), an NGO, to highlight the lack of regulation of the sector. 

A report based on these interviews titled, "Voices of Conscience from the Medical Profession: Revealing testimonies by rational doctors about the reality of private medical practice in India" has been put together by Dr Arun Gadre, a doctor and writer with 20 years' experience of working as a gynaecologist in rural Maharashtra, and Abhay Shukla, convenor of SATHI. 

The report will be released at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on February 26, in a function to be attended by AIIMS director Dr MC Mishra, senior gastrointestinal surgeon Dr Samiran Nundy of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, and several of the doctors from across the country who have spoken out in the report. 

The report is an English translation of the recently published Marathi report 'Kaifiyat - pramanik doctoranchi', which is being widely read in Maharashtra and is already into its second edition. An enlarged version of this report is soon to be published as a book. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Brazil may ban corporate donations to political parties

RUKMINI S. From The Hindu
The President of Brazil’s Superior Electoral Court, the body which conducts and regulates the country’s elections, says he has voted against corporate donations to political parties to combat the problem of money power in elections.
Jose Antonio Dias Toffoli, who is Brazil’s youngest Supreme Federal Court judge at 47, is in India this week meeting officials of the Election Commission, the Home Affairs Ministry and the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) as well as Supreme Court judges.
Justice Dias Toffoli told The Hindu that he had proposed to his government that a citizen database on the lines of UIDAI be created. The country is in the process of moving towards biometric authentication of the voter at the time he or she presses the button on the electronic voting machine.
On the issue of the growing hold of money over elections, Justice Dias Toffoli said, “This is something that not just Brazil or India, but all countries of the world have a problem with.” Brazil had no limit on the amount of donations a politician or party may receive or spend, but the judge said the country was discussing introducing a ceiling.
In a case being heard in Brazil’s apex court, Justice Dias Toffoli said he had already voted against corporate donations, which currently help candidates meet 95 per cent of the expenditure.
“The way I see it, corporates can’t vote, people can. So democracy should be strengthened, and people should fund democracy.”
Political advertisements on radio and TV are banned in Brazil and newspaper advertising is highly restricted. Parties get limited free airtime in proportion to the votes they received in the previous election. In addition, for three months before the election, the media is banned from airing news that favours any party. “We have had these rules in place since 1965, and I think they are very effective,” Justice Dias Toffoli said.
Three Supreme Federal Court judges, including Justice Dias Toffoli, serve both on the apex court and on the electoral court, often working until 2 a.m. Yet, the court has been in the past described as among the world’s most overburdened. “In 2004, we brought in reforms which made Supreme Court rulings the law of the land. This has greatly reduced the court’s workload...”
There is wide popular anger against corruption, and the government has responded, Justice Dias Toffoli said. Passed in 2010, the Clean Record Law, which debars corrupt candidates from running for office, was made applicable in the 2014 Presidential election for the first time. “It brought down the number of people with legal problems in their past running for office,” he said.

Arrest those involved in Corporate Espionage

The arrests of some clerical staff and mediators in connection with the attempts to leak documents from the crucial petroleum ministry exposes how corporate-officials-politician nexus operates in the corridors of power under the Narendra Modi government. Instead of getting to the bottom of the case, the government seems to be brushing the matter under the carpet by making some lower ranking employees and go-betweens escape goats.
The investigation in the case defies basic logic that the police has so far failed to identify the end beneficiary. The Aam Aadmi party sincerely hopes that the culprits, who subverted the system to get undue benefits will be booked and interrogated in custody.
During earlier BJP regime, in 1998, V Balasubramaniam, a top official of the Reliance Industries Limited was arrested by the CBI under the same circumstances and under official secrets Act, but then too the investigations failed to see the light of the day. The corporate honchos still remain free and away from law.
Now media reports suggest that Essar Group and Reliance Group companies are behind this act. We demand that instead of only booking low ranking employees and go-betweens, the police should take the investigation to a logical end.
We also demand that the government should not allow the mighty and powerful accused to influence the probe and repeat offenders of corporate espionage should be blacklisted from government dealings.
Media reports also suggest that classified papers from coal and power ministries have also been recovered from the possession of the accused. It clearly shows that the nexus is deeper than it looks at this point and many more people seem to be involved. Only a thorough and independent probe can bring out the truth and nail the culprits.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Prashant Bhushan denied renewal of passport over traffic rule violation

The Delhi High Court on Friday issued a notice to the central government asking the grounds on which a passport issued to senior Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan was not being renewed.
Bhushan had moved the Delhi High Court after the Ministry of External Affairs denied a renewal of his passport for an alleged traffic rule violation.
The High Court bench of Justice Rajiv Shakdher asked the government "if someone holds a valid passport but against him some minor traffic violation case is filed, then can you stop subsequent reissue of his passport?"
"Only if a court impounds the passport or puts restrictions on the foreign travel of a person can the passport validity can be restricted," the court noted.
The High Court said it would examine the validity of the notification which requires a person with a pending criminal case pending to first obtain a No Objection Certificate from a court. The rules also state that if the court does not lay down any time period for renewal, then a passport valid for a year can be issued. The court will next hear the case on March 16.
Bhushan, who is a member of the Aam Aadmi Party, is the lawyer of activist Teesta Setalvad, who has been accused by Gujarat Police of embezzling funds meant for a memorial on 2002 Gujarat riots in Ahmedabad. The Supreme Court on Thursday barred the police from arresting Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand in the case.