Saturday, September 11, 2010

Yet another mishap, no long lasting solution

The news that scores of people died in a mishap when a bus plunged into a river caused by strong current of rains water on a culvert near Khategaon (Madhya Pradesh) shook me badly. People are impatient but it's surprising that they get impatient even in the face of vagaries of nature.

The bus driver in the spur of moment decided to go ahead to cross the culvert submerged in the water after stopping and waiting for sometime for the water level to recede. Some passengers, as was reported later, even dissuaded the driver from crossing the river. But the driver, obviously, paid no heed to their advice and thus killed so many people aboard.

It was a co-incidence that when a good number of people were swept away by the strong current of a river at Dharaji in Dewas a few years back it was a local festival day on day of Amavasya (zenith of dark nights) and when this fresh incident occured it was again an Amavasya day and most of people on the ill fated bus were returning home after having a bath in a river.

What I have observed whenever there is such a situation we the passengers don't muster courage to force the driver to listen to us. Out voice is, often, feeble vis-à-vis the driver's decision and voice, for in some way or the other we also like the driver's imprudent decision in a hurry to reach home or other destination.

I am not surprised that bus was running without permit and fitness certificate. Suspension of an official or two is not going to serve any purpose. It reflects the ad-hocism only on the government's part, which shies away from taking a stringent action against the officials who allow running of such vehicles.

Fitness certificate or the vehicles or permits apart, what about the drivers. Do we have a system in place which allows people with sound mind only to drive the vehicles. While boarding the bus or train do we know if the driver is mentally and physically fit enough to run the vehicles. Is there any system which even randomly check the state of mind or physical condition of the drivers.

Hence, we will continue to hear of such incidents in future too. The government will continue to hold inquiries and announce ex-gratia relief to the family members of the dead and also financial assistance to the injured. some knee-jerk reaction will unsettle some in government but there will hardly any long lasting solution.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Samaritan in me turns aggrieved

So like a Samaritan I did not hesitate much in stopping near a screaming youth and a woman who were desperately waving their hands and asking the speeding cars drivers to stop. I had seen them from a distance.

Initially, skeptic as I was haunted by several stories of loot in such a fashion in the past and being in two minds whether to stop or not as late as 11 at night I thought I should go ahead and not to stop. But the Samaritan raised its head in me and my car screeched to a halt near them.

The panic stricken youth told me that his father was bashed by some hoodlums at their shanty and he and his sister (he pointed towards the woman) anyhow managed to make good their escape. The two then pleaded before me to take them to Habibganj police station to seek help of police.

As if I was also panic stricken I offered rear seat to the two and sped away towards Habibganj police station. While I was driving the two continued to utter words of frustration and pressurize me repeatedly to make them reach the police station as soon as possible.

However, after the initial moments of panic to help them get to police station as soon as possible I recollected the composure and drove the car at more than moderate speed but not a high speed to invite any accident on the road.

The youth talked of taking revenge with his enemies who attacked his father and them and had talk with his friends also on cell phone swearing revenge with swords. Soon I realized the youth was drunk and I repented my decision to help a drunkard person. But I thought when I had driven this far I should drop them at the police station and get back home. In the panicky situation I forgot that my car’s fuel level was almost getting to zero.

The story unexpectedly had a twist, much to my discomfort. I was barely two furlongs away from the Habibganj police station when the youth said I was driving towards wrong destination saying that there lay Mahila Police Station in the direction I was driving towards and that the police station lay in the other direction.

I insisted that I was going in right direction and I asked them to identify the road with the help of Bittan Market just 200 yards ahead. But in a fit of intoxication he was not willing to listen to me. The woman also joined her brother and the two asked me to drop before Bittan Market.

I did it immediately given the apprehension that if the woman got panicky and she leveled some charges against me I would land trouble. The moment the two got down the youth who was profusely thanking me for timely help and showing courage to stop and extend help them till some moments back started hurling charges against me.

Returning home I said to myself- Good riddance. Though the incident shook me badly, I have no intention of being an uncivilized person in future as not to extend helping hand to needy persons. I will stop.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Melodrama on Bhopal streets, TV channels studios

If one got enough of sop operas run by TV channels one had a good chance to witness a real melodrama staged first on Bhopal streets and then in TV news channels studios.

Interestingly, from simply being a fracas between two lovers the issue has assumed a religious angle too despite the fact both the lovers belong to a particular community. The question being raised now is if lovers could be ostracized from society as they enjoyed a live-in relationship, a concept borrowed from western culture and quite unheard of in our society till a decade back. Or, they should be punished as per Shariat.

Till a few days back, Shehrish’s was hardly a name in Bhopal. She might have been known to a few in her locality but hardly was a name known to Bhopalites. She shot to limelight on Bhopal horizon the moment people of Bhopal saw her being bashed by her ex-fiance Jehangir, also a Bhopal youth. However, the TV footage showed the youth also being roughed up by the TV actress’ relatives.

For the TV news-channels, always in contest for a good TRP and having shot the video footage or arranged the same the episode was a perfect masala kind of show to dish out to their viewers. What could have been a better show than the one based on a TV actress in tears in real life? But there was more sensational part of the story which was yet to come and it had the potential of being aired at the national level by the TV channels.

Faced with charges of bashing up his ex-girlfriend by his ex-girlfriend herself and her parents the boy released some video footage shot with his mobile camera and also pictures to the news channels which certainly showed the actress in a poor light. She was seen in the video shot saying that she was just married and that she was Mrs Jehangir.

The actress has alleged that the video shoot was done at a knife point. She has dumped the boy as a ‘dirty part of her past life’ and announced proudly that she was looking for her perfect match while singing the hindi song- kahin karta hoga wo mera intezar…..However, her allegations against the youth appeared to be not holding much substance given the mood she was in, in the pictures and video clippings.

But anyway, given the wide coverage and telecast of the entire episode she has got the benefit. As she claimed her role in the TV serial Pratigya has been extended now and that she has got some offers from others too.

Muslim community is divided into two groups- an organization denouncing the act of the duo and ostracizing them from society as they had live-in relationship barred completely in Islam but certain others underlining the provision of punishment for the duo as per Shariat and not agreeing to the Fatwa for ostracizing them. However, there is common view between the two groups that the duo breached the tenets of Islam. Let's see what comes next in the series.....

Sunday, June 6, 2010

new website

Senior journalist from Bhopal Rajkumar Keswani launched his website in a function on June 5 evening. His website's name is

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Great economists and price rise

When elections are away what could have been expected of the Central Government to offer to people through the budget. Hence, people have to swallow bitter pills of price rise till elections are round the corner. The budget and the trend of price rise for the last about two years have established it beyond doubt that there is a vast gap between myth and reality and that theoretical knowledge doesn't necessarily mean that one has practical knowledge too.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is projected as a great economist by the Congress leaders but his liberalisation policy he introduced in the capacity of Finance Minister under stewardship of the then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao, fails to deliver good to society.

A section of people has benefited in the country and they have got only richer by the day but over 40 per cent of people are still under below poverty line who have to struggle hard to make two square meals. Farmers committing suicide came to light only during liberalisation era. There is often the talk of a trio Manmohan Singh, Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Pranab Mukherjee being unable to address the country's problems. I am not surprised. Any policy, concept visualised in airconditioned rooms cannot work until and unless one feels the pulse of people at the grassroots level.

I have no hesitation in saying that Manmohan Singh has never been a poor man's economist. He is upper class's economist, hence the poor man's pain and plight will not be reflected in his decisions and policies. If people in India are able to cope up with price rise it's due to their habit of savings and not going for extravaganza and also inherent resilience in them to cope up with challenges.

If the UPA government or its ministers take the plea that price rise is due to a world phenomenon the question is how these great economists failed to apprehend the situation what a common man cannot do.   

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Confluence' influence

It's awesome. It's amazing. It's wonderful. It's unbelievable. It's splendid. It's majestic and magnificent. It's simply great and mesmerising. In fact, adjectives are difficult to find here at the confluence of the Ganga, the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati at Allahabad or Prayag whatever name you call with the ancient city. As the waters of the two legendary rivers with clear distinction of colour or complexion, mingle each other with utmost might and force it is capable of generating fear in many minds. But unmindful of the same, tens of hundreds of devouts jump in the water from the boats lined up to make a row or rows across the rivers to enjoy divine dips and wash their sins in the holy waters.
People from various parts of the state (Uttar Pradesh) and adjoining states throng the Sangam and the Ganges ghats every year without any invitation extended to them to stay here braving cool breeze in the nights and days. They live in tents, cook their own food, live a vigorous life style, practice several restraints, visit pandals of religious leaders to listen to their sermons patiently and watch religious dramas or exhibitions put to strenthen the masses' religiosity and their belief in the Super power.
Leading them with no formal written authority are the religious leaders from different sects. The paths are different but goal is one- salvation. The differences or conflict among them are well discernible. But the conflict doesn't snowball into a major fight or violent clash.
I often wonder when number of magh mela/kumbh mela visitors increases every year why does the sin in society is growing. Is it that people find the confluence an easy tunnel to empty the sins and then get back to their usual business?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Of commercialised minds and sufferings of people

When I left Allahabad situated on the confluence of the Ganga, the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati, in year 2000 the life was not as hectic as it is now. I have been visiting the city since then but every time I went there I found the decibel level only growing. You could have a cup of coffee on a roadside shop with your friends while intensely feeling and enjoying the serenity of the city in Civil Lines. Old Bungalows added to the beauty of the locality.

Civil Lines sounded like a synonymous with civilized world where intellectuals could gather at the coffee shop and discuss the entire world. In the last ten years the things went under a sea change. The old and sprawling bungalows are giving in to multi-story buildings. There is not an inch of space on the road for pedestrians. Looking for a parking place if you are driving in a car is an uphill task.

Shopping mall and commercial complexes have come up at every available space. Looking into magazines pages at Laxmi Book House or watching a film leisurely at Palace Theatre is a thing of past. You have to jostle with others and hurry up to get to your destination lest you should hit by a bike, car or a rikshaw. Commercialization is the buzzword in all the hullabaloo wrapping the posh locality and market from every side. There is crowd, crowd and crowd everywhere in the city getting reflected in no uncertain terms on the canvass of Civil Lines also.

Of the three segments of the city- City North, City West and City South, City North having in it university was less crowded. Breathing space was there for people on the roads and in the localities but City North is as crowded a region as other two segments with moneyed persons trying to buy every vacant plot either for rich investment prospects or for living purposes.

And who are these moneyed persons? Was there none?

Moneyed persons were there but in conservative terms it was understood that the lawyers practicing at High Court and businessmen had the lions share of money available in Allahabad.

But now as my friend MP Singh put it the doctors running the nursing homes have left all behind in terms of minting money. The second position is acquired by new brand of young lawyers and third by coaching institutes proprietors.

With no parking space and uncovered area a number of nursing homes have come up in almost every part of the city. My friend Virendra Pathak was told about a lady from rural areas who had spent over Rs one lac at a nursing home on treatment of her newborn baby and still there was no cure. The lady wanted her child back pleading before the doctors that she could not afford further treatment but doctors wanted the remaining amount on the treatment about Rs 1.25 lac spent on the treatment on the child put in an incubator, to release him. Obviously, the lady would have to sell her properties to afford the money.

If some good Samaritan or any politician helps her the nursing home proprietor would be kind enough to reduce the amount by Rs 10 to 20,000 but this would prove a peanut of concession for the lady.

There is public perception that getting admitted to these private hospitals/ nursing homes means a cost of Rs 50,000 to Rs one lac on treatment of a simple disease. These private hospitals and nursing homes have to spend a lot on their paraphernalia and several other things but amount charged by them many a time don't look realistic.

It's not that only doctors of nursing homes are minting money. It is practicing doctors too. A doctor kidnapped a few years ago for ransom and later released purchased some flats for over Rs one crore. The doctors in the city charge from Rs 200 to Rs 500 per patient for consultation. Their visiting fee is just the double.

The doctors may justify their fees given years of experience and knowledge they have, which they have not acquired in a day or two and for which they have put in hard labour and dedication, my concern is where the poor will go. Is he destined to die if he or she is suffering from serious ailment? The government hospitals do present a pathetic sight.

The medical college's teaching hospital's superintendent’s recent statement that he doesn't have enough money to get ventilators repaired speaks volumes for the pathetic situation at the government hospitals and government's indifferent attitude towards providing health facilities at the government hospitals where masses turn up for treatment. Ironically, the politicians beseech the support of masses only to capture power.

The city is dotted with coaching institutes advertisement offering sure success at the IIT or PMT examinations. There is plenty of unhealthy practices too to woo the students. 'Self study' is hardly a mantra coming from the teachers. It's understandable, for it's teachers of the university and degree colleges who are teaching in these institutes. I saw one of the most reverred names among academicians- Prof T Pati on a hoarding of a coaching institutes in Allahabad.

Importance of coaching can be felt far away in Bhopal too. "You must be planning to put in your son in any coaching", said class teacher of my son to me in a parent-teacher meet. I was stunned for a while to hear the words from the most unexpected quarters. May be the fault lies with the education system, I thought. For, the present education system doesn't prepare the students for competitive examinations. "Yes, I am planning" was my reply to her inquisitiveness. I did not tell a lie. I was and am really planning. My son presently in class 10 was opposed to joining any coaching or going for tuition till some time back. He got upset on hearing the words like coaching or tuition. But suddenly he realized that almost every classmate was studying in some coaching or the other. He may get something extra in these institutes is his thought at the moment.

The amount the successful coaching institutes are making is simply whopping. Just multiply the amount a successful coaching institute is charging from its students, with number of students every year the result will come.