Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Author of The road less travelled passes away

M. Scott Peck,author of the best selling self-help book ,The road less travelled passed away on Sunday,September 26 at his home in Warren,Connect.He was 69.The cause was liver and pancreatic duct cancer.
The road less travelled was published in 1978 and `Further along the road less travelled 'was published in 1993.The third volume `The road less travelled and beyond' was published in 1997.These three volumes have been translated into more than 20 languages.The book was popular because Dr peck was able to blend the spiritual and the psycholgical very well. The road less travelled became New York times bestseller in mid 1983,five years after its publication.It remained on the list for 694 weeks ,which was about 13 years.The book says that the problems of life can be solved only through self-discipline.
M .Scott peck also wrote two other non-fiction bestsellers:People of the Lie ,and The Different Drum.These exlore respectively the nature of evil ,and nature of community.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Indian writers

I am a voracious reader of literature but i confess that i dont read many indian writers.Why i do this ,is difficult to answer.Maha Shweta Devi,Amrita Pritam,Prem Chand ,Tagore are some Indian writers whose works have also been translated in English .Faiz is another famous name.Arundhati Roy's The God of small things was really impactful.There is some complex(?) that Indian works are inferior.Also the marketing by Indian publishers leaves much to be desired.It makes me think how we should improve this situation.Sometimes a nagging doubt crosses my mind that like poor performance of India in Olympics ,may be ,...we are not good enough at literature also.Any ideas?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Right to Information Act ,2005

Right to Information Act will come into force on 12th October,though some basic sections came into force on 15th June ,2005.Information means any material,report or document with a public authority .But according to the website of ministry of Personnel,government of India,it does not include file-notings .On 12th October, any citizen of India will be able to obtain information from a public authority as a matter of right,at least in law.
Among items exempt from disclosure are:cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers; Agencies specified by State Governments through a Notification will also be excluded.
The State Information Commission will be constituted by the State Government through a Gazette notification. It will have one State Chief Information Commissioner (SCIC) and not more than 10 State Information Commissioners (SIC) to be appointed by the Governor. The Appointments Committee will be headed by the Chief Minister. Other members include the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly and one Cabinet Minister nominated by the Chief Minister.
The qualifications for appointment as SCIC/SIC shall be the same as that for Central Commissioners.
The salary of the State Chief Information Commissioner will be the same as that of an Election Commissioner. The salary of the State Information Commissioner will be the same as that of the Chief Secretary of the State Government. (S.15)
Cynics among us feel that it gives the Chief Minister Of a state the power to oblige and appoint 11 Yesmen and party sympathizers at hefty salaries to the posts of one ChiefInformation Commissioner and 10 Information Commissioners.The main job of these 11 persons will be to ensure how to deprive citizens from their right to information.We dont really lack laws but the belief in democratic values at political and administrative levels.In the absence of such beliefs and the will,no law can empower common citizens.Seeking reforms through enactment of laws is an exercise in futility and may erode further the faith of people in democracy.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Self-actualization and mission

When i wrote my mission statement,i found i wanted to make certain changes in the world around me.However this slowly made me realize that i need to change myself also to fulfill my mission.That's how i decided to have self actualization as my goal.But i sometimes feel that self actualization is only a means to realize my mission which is embedded in society and others.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Anti-defection law

There is a serious defect in anti-defection law which needs to be plugged.In case of a dispute whether a set of legislators should stand disqualified on not,at present the adjudication is done by the Speaker. The Speaker belongs to one of the parties in the ruling coalition and has his own loyalties and compulsions.This was evident in the recent hearing on a petition to disqualify certain MLAs in UP assembly.The remedy lies in amending the law and making the Election Commision rather than the Speaker the adjudicator in such disputes.Otherwise corruption,horsetrading andsubversion of democracy will continue.
Let us hope H'ble Supreme Court lays down some rules or issues some directions on this aspect in the ongoing hearing in respect of imposition of President's rule in Bihar.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Fixed tenure for Home Secy,Defence Secy &others

I agree that the decision appears good at the face of it ;its misuse is quite likely.Again by the same logic screening of bureaucrats by the same politicians is likely to be misused
by them ,and honest and wellmeaning officers are likely to be the victims.Let us not do anything to reform the civil service without reforming the political system simutaneously.If that is not possible,we should allow the civil service to remain as it is.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Shock of The Mitrokhin ArchivesPart Two

Two chapters of Mitrokin Archives Part2 are devoted to India.According to authors,by 1960s,the KGB had become the main conduit of both the money and secret communications from Moscow to the CPI. By 1970s,``it seemed like the entire country was for sale; the KGB—and the CIA—had deeply penetrated the Indian government. After a while neither side entrusted sensitive information to the Indians, realizing their enemy would know all about it the next day." The situation was no better on the side of the CPI.The CPI had no cause for complaint: "By 1972, the import-export business founded by the CPI a decade earlier to trade with the Soviet Union had contributed more than 10 million rupees to Party funds."
According to KGB files, there were "ten Indian newspapers on its payroll" by 1972.
The Mitrokhin archives2 highlight the way our `friendly'agency the KGB was playing its part in India in those years when we were all the time busy in blaming the CIA.
How naive of us!As an Indian ,I am shocked.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

What makes us--thinking or feeling?

Speaking of reason and passion,Kahlil Gibran says in the Prophet:``Your reason and passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul.If either your sails or your rudder be broken,you can but toss and drift,or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas.Foe reason,ruling alone,is a force confining;and passion,unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion,that it may sing;And let it direct your passion with reason. . . . . .. you should rest in reason and move in passion".The latest research reveals that we have two minds,one that thinks and one that feels.These two minds are semi-independent faculties.The thinking brain is called neocortexThe amygdala acts as a storehouse of emotional memory.Sensory signals from eyes or ears first reach in the brain to the Thalamus.From Thalamus ,they go to amygdala and independently to the neocotex .Amygdala can receive signals before neocortex receives them.Emotional responses therefore take place before the thinking or intellectual response.However pre-frontal lobes in the brain can control the emotional responsesThis involves emotional brain as much in reasoning as the thinking brain.In short there has to be an intelligent balance of emotion/feeling and reason.The latest research confirms what the poet Kahlil Gibran said.I am ,therefore ,a balanced combination of what i think and feel.The reason why many people are guided more by feelings is that they have yet to learn to be emotionally intelligent.I do not agree that our thinking detrmines our success ,unless you include emotinal intelligence also as a part of thinking.I also am of the view that i am defined by a combination of what i think AND feel.Our abilities as well as our choices are also determined by both emotions and reason.What we call competence is a combination of of our intellectual intelligence and our emotional/social intelligence.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Cynicism and hope

It is important to realize that we have a unique mission to fulfill in this world. However our lack of understanding, our ignorance and our bitter experiences sometimes make us cynics. When we turn cynics we begin to lose our mission .In order to fulfill our mission ,it is important that we get out of cynicism by conscious efforts.
A cynic shows a disposition to disbelieve in the sincerity and goodness of human nature. We become cynic when we are constantly disillusioned again and again by the people, when we begin to realize that despite their benevolent façade, most people are crassly self - serving and rarely concerned about what is right. We also discover that most people tend to be hypocritical and corrupt.
We also become cynic when we see the appalling poverty in the world and more than 30,000 children dying daily due to causes which are utterly preventable. When we see or experience discrimination on the basis of gender or race, when we suffer personally and know that those who pretend that such suffering does not exist are lying to themselves or turning a blind eye that such suffering will not befall them.
Many events in our life also strengthen our sense of cynicisme humans’ willingness to inflict pain and their ability to find pleasure in inflicting pain-whether in the realm of the global or the intimate, some part in us wants to die and does die .As cynics we think that we see the world all too clearly, but do nothing against injustice except to see through the perpetrators of injustice. We have lost all hope. We do not trust any body and nobody trusts us. As a result we cannot build or lead any organization or even attempt to change the situation. The last thirty years of life in India has seen a great rise in cynicism on the part of the Indian public. The cynicism has been directed both at government and at business. These institutions have lost the faith of many Indians in their ability to do right by them .Ignorance, cynicism and apathy are persistent threats to our democratic system of government. Cynicism is particularly prevalent in poor people and weaker sections of society. Frustration in these sections has led to the need for grass-roots organizations on the issue of justice and inequalities. Their mission should be to combat apathy and cynicism by renewing their interest and participation in political process We should constantly reflect on how to overcome the cynicism that constantly besets our own lives; how to make a difference for those who struggle ;how to deepen the faith we can easily share with them ;the faith that spirit matters To believe that even one person can make a difference.
We need clearer insight and perspective about our own selves and the institutions that shape our world. We realize that
*True good causes ripples that expand through eternity, and is not wasted.
*People and animals that were helped by us remember those kindnesses, and are thankful.
*There are others who care, others who also dare to see the darkness.
*All of us face struggle but it is not a pointless struggle.*Most of the channels that the dominant culture offers us to make the world a better place are themselves embedded in the same authority structures .Therefore often the solutions are part of the problem .Such solutions never work and lead us to disillusionment and cynicism .The solutions have to be more radical.
*Problems are never wholly individual and can not be solved in individual ways .Part of the solution is always to be found in the bigger struggle in which all have a part. This leads to further action along with others who have understood the reality in the same manner .In a way cynicism offers us an opportunity to connect with such like minded people who are worth working with and living for . Sharing collective discussion and collective action enables us to shore up each other’s sense of hope still further. As we struggle along the contours of our mission begin to become clearer. We may not always be clear about the choices and decisions we should make .But struggling to achieve our mission is a source of joy .This joy along with hope becomes a driver for further struggle and we traverse our journey to realize our mission with more confidence, contribution ,maturity and creativity ,regardless of the outcome.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Bill Clinton visits Lucknow

I like this post by Amardeep Singh:
Bill Clinton Goes To Lucknow Only
(A little gossip post.)You thought Bill Clinton was doing his Hurricane relief thing? Well, he is,except yesterday he popped up at a "Global Industrial Meet" event organized by the state government of Uttar Pradesh, in north-central India. It's one of those 'spend tons of money so that someone will spend money on you' types of affairs. And while it's not a totally frivolous affair, it certainly isn't anything like charity. (Bill Clinton is clearly not trying to be Jimmy Carter.)How much did the Mulayam Singh Yadav government spend to get Clinton? I wonder

I have sent the following comment:
The common citizens of India at Lucknow continue to wonder what pompted Mr. Bill Clinton to come to Lucknow,for in the name of Global industrial meet, there was only a lavish party in the city of Nawabs and a musical performance by artists from Bombay.All this at a time when we have Katrina in New Orleans and Over five thousand deaths due to Japanese Encephalitis in eastern parts of Uttar Pradesh.A Global insult to the sensibilities ofpeople who can easily see behind such dramas.Thank you for writing on this subject.I have been an admirer of your blog posts

Do you smell a sarcasm here?

India has offered 5million$ aid for relief operations in New orleans Katrina disaster.Here is the last part of a post by one Mr Bruces on his blog regarding this assistance:

Where's bloomin' Rudyard Kipling when we need 'im, eh?
I sha'n't forgit the night When I dropped be'ind the fight With a bullet where my belt-plate should 'a' been. I was chokin' mad with thirst, An' the man that spied me first Was our good old grinnin', gruntin' Gunga Din.
'E lifted up my 'ead, An' 'e plugged me where I bled, An' 'e guv me 'arf-a-pint o' water—green; It was crawlin' an' it stunk, But of all the drinks I've drunk, I'm gratefullest to one from Gunga Din.
It was "Din! Din! Din! 'Ere's a beggar with a bullet through 'is spleen; 'E's chawin' up the ground an' 'e's kickin' all around: For Gawd's sake, git the water, Gunga Din!"
'E carried me away To where a dooli lay, An' a bullet come an' drilled the beggar clean. 'E put me safe inside, An' just before 'e died: "I 'ope you liked your drink," sez Gunga Din. So I'll meet 'im later on In the place where 'e is gone— Where it's always double drill and no canteen; 'E'll be squattin' on the coals Givin' drink to pore damned souls, An' I'll get a swig in Hell from Gunga Din!
Din! Din! Din! You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din! Tho' I've belted you an' flayed you, By the livin' Gawd that made you, You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!
This post is a link to the blog where another blogger Xeni Jardin has given this heading to a post on same subject:
Katrina: whew, here comes India to save us, at last! Snip from a report in The Times of India, Sep. 4:
A careful reading of these posts ,to my mind, does indicate a Mindset full of sarcasm and racialism of their authors and they need to withdraw their offensive comments with apologies.I request all Indians to do whatever they can to ensure that this is done by the concerned without any delay.

What I do to make this world a better place?

What am I doing to make the world a better place? I take small steps I guess.
I do my job involving public service honestly and efficiently.
I donot waste water,electricity and gas.
I criticize politicians,bureaucrats and media or any person entrusted with authority in trust when any of them abuses the trust reposed.
I never throw litter on the roads.
I pay my taxes and dues on time.
I consciously inculcate right values in myself,my children and others.

What do you do?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Pledge on Teacher's Day

Kalam makes teachers take pledge

Kalam makes teachers take pledge Posted on 28 Hours,23 minutes Ago
New Delhi, Sep 5 : The didactic President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Monday took the occasion of teachers' day to administer a pledge to teachers on loving their job, committing their life to it and creating enlightened beings. As he presented the national awards to teachers for the year 2004, Kalam made a gathering of teachers repeat his 10-point pledge after him.
"I will love teaching. Teaching will be my soul. I will be fully committed to the great mission of teaching.
I will consider myself to be a great teacher only when I am capable of elevating the average student to a high performance. I will organise and conduct my life, in such a way that my life itself is a message for my students.
I will encourage the students and children to ask questions and develop the spirit of enquiry, so that they blossom into creative enlightened citizens. I will treat all students equally and will not support any differentiation on account of religion, community or language. I will constantly endeavour to fill my mind with great thoughts and spread nobility in thinking and action among my students.
I will always celebrate the success of my students. I will continuously build capacities in teaching for imparting quality education to students. I realize by being a teacher, I am making an important contribution to the efforts of national development."
Kalam also urged teachers to infuse the "beauty of science" into teaching, to draw from the freedom to think and imagine and encourage inquiry. "Eventually, the teacher has to create a life long autonomous learner who will blossom into an enlightened citizen," the president said, reminding the gathering that he himself was a teacher. The birth anniversary of former president and educationist Servapalli Radhakrishnan is celebrated as the teachers' day.

Deplorable Inaction on Japanese Encephalitis

Deplorable Inaction

It is shocking to read about Nero fiddling when Rome is burning.It is difficult not to feel indignant at such a callous indifference and criminal neglect ,attempt to escape responsibility by the Chief Minister of UP when thousands of helpless and hapless children are dying of Japanese Encephalitis.
Posted by: Anandsharma, India, 05-09-2005 at 1826 hours IST

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Right to information

I like the following news from Indian Express of September4,2005.

> Front Page
Time running out, babus try to block your right to know
Explaining the new right to information law, Govt’s website says information you can get does not include ‘file notings.’ Law doesn’t say this at all

Posted online: Sunday, September 04, 2005 at 0151 hours IST
NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 3: Aware that its days of hiding behind red tape are numbered, the bureaucracy is making a last-ditch attempt to subvert the Right to Information Act which comes into force from October 12.The Act, passed with over 100 amendments that strengthened it, thanks largely to the pressure exerted on the Government by UPA chairman Sonia Gandhi’s National Advisory Council, is not due to come into force till October 12.
Flagrantly violating the law, the Ministry of Personnel has issued guidelines, also posted on its official website, claiming that Section 2(f) of the RTI Act defines information in such a manner that it ‘‘does not include file notings.’’
Incidentally, Section 8 of the Freedom of Information Act 2002, which has been repealed by the RTI Act 2005, did exempt file notings from disclosure. The misrepresentation of the new law indicates that the bureaucracy hasn’t still come to terms with the change.
File notings are invaluable information on the government’s decision-making process as these form the basis for executive decisions and policy formulations. These also help track responses of different departments and officials and identify who did what when and why.
Backdoor, because there is, in fact, no such exemption of file notings in Section 2(f) nor any other provision of the RTI Act.
On August 25, Shekhar Singh, convenor of the National Campaign For People’s Right to Information, along with Aruna Roy, member of the NAC, wrote to Suresh Pachauri, Minister of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions pointing this out. ‘‘A lot of harm has already been done by this wrong statement on the DoPT web site,’’ they wrote, ‘‘and many officers are quoting it, the DoPT immediately needs to withdraw this wrong statement.’’
No reaction has come from the Ministry so far, the website hasn’t been changed. Pachauri, despite repeated attempts, was not available for comment.

Why you need to access file notings

Bureaucrats argue that letting people see file notings may hamper frank exchanges. But right to know campaigners argue otherwise:• They show who said what, who did what, at what stage• Can be only defence for honest bureaucrats• Disclosure may show that some controversial decision was taken despite the objections of a conscientious bureaucrat.• Fixes accountability

The alleged exclusion of file notings is repeatedly highlighted on the website in the form of response to a fundamental question: ‘‘What is information?’’
The answer given is: ‘‘Information means any material in any form including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices .... but does not include ‘‘file notings’’ [S.2(f)].’’
The entire answer is a verbatim reproduction of Section 2(f) except for the gratuitous disclaimer at the end that file notings are excluded from the definition of information.
One probable fallout is that public authorities at the Centre and states may, following the Personnel Ministry’s own misinterpretation of the law, refuse to disclose any file notings, thereby frustrating an important aspect of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
The definition of information in Section 2(f) is all-encompassing and does not exclude any form of material.
The Act only exempts certain categories of information under Section 8 and certain intelligence and security organisations under Section 24.
Thus, contrary to the Personnel Ministry’s blanket disclaimer, a lot of the file notings that are made every day by bureaucrats and ministers are not exempted from disclosure by either Section 8 or Section 24 of the Act.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Japanese Encephalitis

The toll due to Japanese Encephalitis rose to 360 in Gorakhpur on 3rd September while the figure for the entire state of UP has crossed 400.The majority of victims are children.The disease is spreading slowly in the entire Eastern UP. JE has taken epidemic proportions.There is shortage of medicines,beds and medical staff.There is laxity and apathy on the part of state government at all levels.There are only five nurses in the two wards of the concerned hospital of King George Medical University in Lucknow where over 100 patients are under treatment.Three children are accommodated on each bed.
The matter is in the knowledge of the Chief Minister of UP but despite this ,things and management have not improved.Perhaps the helpless dying children dont have any right to vote.