Sunday, April 17, 2016

ELECTION SCENE

Four Indian states are having the elections . Election time is a festival time . Money is available all around giving the impression that India is a very rich nation. Election is a good opportunity  for converting BLACK MONEY into white ; something like the role of the Reserve Bank of India..A lot of employment opportunities are created during election time, though it is seasonal. Grabbing walls of buildings and painting slogans of parties are highly competitive activities.. A new category of contractors has emerged: Election Contractors. Their functions : arranging participants for election meetings and rallies,; supplying goons ;  arranging   soda bottles, stones ,cycle chains and other destructive materials; procuring liquor ( illicit ,local or branded) and sex workers ; making available different types of  food ; etc. Election contractors mature into local body councillors and higher-ups in course of time. Participants in rallies and meetings  are paid well on a per day basis : Rs. 600 for a man, Rs. 800 for a woman and Rs.1200 for a student. The same persons will be utilised for different parties what ever be the party ideology. Speech makers are in great demand according their vocal chord strength, and star status in the parties.
Door to door campaigners in large numbers will be in demand once the high decibel  public meetings come to an end.. Poster making is a profit making enterprise during the election period..Voter bribing is an art and many with bribe giving skills are rated high with the candidates and parties. On the whole our elections are not only an entertainment extravaganza but also a wonderful economic enterprise .. A temporary START UP INDIA.

Friday, April 1, 2016

PhD FOR A PRICE

Hindustan Times exposed the well-known business of  fake Doctoral research work in Indian Universities. A shopping complex opposite old JNU campus in Delhi  has a row of book shops that appear like ordinary book stalls. But inside serious "research " discussions regarding creation of bogus Doctoral discussions take place between the research customers and touts. PhD on any topic. Price of  ghostwritten dissertations ranges from a minimum of ₹ 30,000/- depending on the topic and the "degree of originality " required by the research " scholar". Ghost written dissertations are not merely for researchers from ordinary Universities, but also for scholars from prestigious Universities like JNU, Jamia Millia Islamia ( JMI ) and Indian Institute of Technology ,Delhi.  It is said that South Delhi is a flourishing ghost-written PhD market. This malady is not confined to Delhi alone.All across India doctorate degrees are sold for researchers by Professors and administrators of various Universities.

Doctorate degrees are also in great demand from  politicians,astrologers, businessmen, civil servants, and others. Some give doctorates to them by themselves. Astrologers of various types call themselves Dr. XXX. Who questions them. When persons without any medical qualification practise medicine and even do surgery , adding Dr to one's name ,though not from any University, is a minor aberration from Indian standards.

Writing dissertations for Master's degrees, MPhil degrees and PhDs is a Start-Up  Industry in India needing no venture capital. Like corruption for public service in government departments, Ghost dissertations for a price have become a common phenomenon. Ironically, even a doctoral degree secured after years of hard work is viewed with suspicion . Some years ago, a good research scholar worked hard and wrote his dissertation under the research guidance of a Professor with an MPhil and a PhD . Before submitting he showed me his dissertation. His dissertation had a very serious defect : the percentages in all the cross-tables were computed with a wrong base. When I pointed out this to him, he was initially upset. But he had no time to redraft the dissertation. He took the risk hoping that like his research guide , the examiner would also be ignorant of the percentage rules. He was perfectly right. He passed MPhil with distinction.

Our HRD Miniter Ms.Smriti Irani announced that soon Universities in India would be ranked. Very good idea. When academic Ghosts are available in plenty in India ,rating of Universities has to be taken with a " bag of salt". AMEN.🌺😝🌺

Thursday, March 17, 2016

SPIRITUALITY AND SUSTAINABILITY

Sri Sri Ravishankarji  is a highly revered spiritual leader. The Art of Living Foundation ( AOL ) headed by him has been doing outstanding services to people in numerous countries in all continents. Sri Sri Ravishankarji has been held in high esteem by world leaders  irrespective of  their ideological orientations. Recently AOL organized a three-day mega cultural festival at the banks of river Yamuna. Prime Minister described it as the Kumbha Mela of Culture. True .As Indians we are proud of Sri Sri for organising such a great global festival of  cultural extravaganza.

But that is the fair side of Sri Sri's contribution. The other side is ugly. At the event site of the cultural festival, the Yamuna flood plains were flattened and vegetation removed. Environmentalists believe that the ecological damage may take years to repair. One of the main functions of the flood plains is ground water recharge . Having now been flattened, the area's recharge capacity could deteriorate considerably. The Yamuna is more likely to flood its banks. There were many violations of  Green Laws. And justifiably the National Green Tribunal passed strictures and fined  AOL ₹ 5 crore, without upsetting the festival.

Strangely,the usually sedate Sri Sri reacted like a politician. He said "I would rather go to jail, rather than paying the fine" He also made certain avoidable references to the NGT order. He behaved as if he was above the law. The NGT chided Sri Sri and observed that it did not expect a person of his eminence to make such statements. Finally AOL paid the first instalment of ₹ 25 lakh fine before the deadline and sought permission for deferred  payment ,which the NGT agreed. This was indeed an anti-climax.

Recently Sri Sri observed that the just concluded cultural festival indicates that India is capable of organising even Olympics or FIFA games. True Sri Sriji. But when China organised the Olympics millions became homeless . We hope Sri Sri would not like that to be repeated in India in the name of culture or sports. Ultimately Swamiji ! spirituality and sustainability should move hand in hand.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

RUTH MANORAMA. : BORN TO LEAD DALIT WOMEN

  " Sub-continent's most effective organiser of and advocate of Dalit women, and for the commitment 
    over decades in achieving equality for Dalit women ,building effective and committed women's 
    organisations for their rights at national and international levels "
         This is from the citation to Dr.Ruth Manorama when she was awarded the prestigious Right Livelihood Award in 2006. This award is known as the Altrenative Nobel Prize. In 2005, she was chosen among the 1000 Peace Women for Nobel Prize.

    Ruth Manorama was born in Madras in 1952 in a Dalit Christian family. She was fortunate to have very supportive parents who gave her good education. She joined the Department of Social Work at Stella Maris College for MA in social work in 1973. I met Ruth in 1973 along with my student R.S.Anbarasan and Karuna David ,Ruth's classmate. This formal interaction soon became a close friendship ,which continues even today.

    Ruth has been in the centre stage of Dalit acivism and empowerment of Dalit women for nearly four decades. In 1977 ,she shifted her base to Bangalore. She founded the non-governmental organisation
Service Society  in 1985 to organise slum families, women and unorganised labour. During the 1980s and 1990s she led many agitations against eviction of slum families in Bangalore. Her Campaign Operation Demolition was a success. Ruth has been active in many national and international organisations. But two organisations stand out.

Ruth is General Secretary of  Women's  Voice. In 1995, she founded the National Federation of Dalit Women, the first most significant body of Dalit Women post Dr.Ambedkar era.  Ruth's  work has strong  roots in more than 120 slums in Bangalore where women are well -organised ,trained and empowered to take up leadership .

Ruth has been active in various government bodies both national and international for the improvement of the situation of Dalit women. She has been an effective member in various UN,and other international forums.Awards have come in the way of Ruth. The significant awards are Dr.B.R.Ambedkar Award in 2002  and the highly covetable Rajyothsava Award in 2005 by the Karnaka government. In 2007, the Banglore University conferred on Ruth the  Doctor of Letters ( Honoris Causa) by the Bangalore University.

It is difficult to subsume the phenomenal contribution of Dr.Ruth Manorama in a few paragraphs. She is an incomparable person born to lead the oppressed ,Dalit women to liberation.

Friday, January 29, 2016

MENTAL ILLNESS AND MEDIEVAL MINDSET

The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill,2014, is under review. In the report on the Bill ,Union Minister Maneka Gandhi is reported to have made the following observations: There is no difference between mental illness and mental disability in the bill. For instance, how can a person with Schizophrenia be given a job? What a jaundiced view of a high profile Union Minister on mental illness? Schizophrenia is like any other disease and the patient can be rehabilitated well with quality therapy, counselling, family care and social support. Mental illness is a taboo even now, and the mentally ill are ostracised, humiliated,ill-treated, and denied their basic human rights. A large number of mentally ill persons do not get treatment for a variety of reasons and many treatment centres like mental hospitals lack facilities for good quality treatment..Recently some new institutions like the Banyan in Chennai are adopting a holistic approach to treatment and rehabilitation of mental patients. But one problem staring at the medically rehabilitated person is the family and social rehabilitation as many families are reluctant to accept them back for fear of community resistance. Years ago, there was a poor,Dalit ,young student at the Madeas School of Social Work where I was a teacher. He had thirteen papers as arrears at the Final semester, Two  of his classmates, Mr.Keith Gomez of Loyola College (Lecturer and Psychiatric Social Worker),and Ms.C.K,Gariyali,IAS (herself  had MSW and whose husband was the famous Psychiatrist Dr.Raj Kumar) helped the young man overcome his illness. Surprising everyone he passed all the thirteen papers in one attempt. On completion of the social work course,he took a job as a Social Worker. Today Cancer survivors are treated as role models for others. But not the persons who have overcome mental illnes.. The mentally ill person has the right to study,to work,to marry, to vote and to enjoy life like any other person. Let not medieval prejudices of persons like Maneka Gandhi prevent them from expressing themselves fully. Let Indian society do not waste precious human resources.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Social Work Piracy


Surprisingly, this week a face book page in the name of one Mudhir Solai Trust appeared and endorsed by a FB friend appealing for funds was seen by me. On visiting the page I found to my surprise that the vision,mission,and convictions were verbatim copy of those of the Centre for the Welfare of the Aged (CEWA)founded in 1979.CEWA pioneered community-based elder care services in India. The first day centre for the elderly was started in MGR Colony at Naduvankarai at Anna Nagar. Impressed by the work the Tamilnadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB) allotted 800 sq ft of land at MGR Colony,where CEWA constructed a building . The day centre was featured in the media prominently and received appreciation from central and state govts ,and international bodies including the United Nations.The website of CEWA (www.centreforwelfareofaged.org) indicates these facts.
Mudhir Solai Trust mentioned that in the FB page that it was registered in 2002 by its founder -Director, who incidentally was a full time social worker in the employment of CEWA at that time and many years later on. The trust was registered without the knowledge of CEWA,the employer. The ethical and legal aspects of this conduct are self-evident.As social worker he was looking after the CEWA's day care programmes. He used to arrange activities on behalf of CEWA and we learnt subsequently that he used to tell the gullible elders that he was spending money on his own. After more than 15 years with CEWA, he left to take up some CSR related employment under a prominent Community Development Consultant. The Facebook page was aimed at raising funds for the day centre for elderly at MGR Colony for "rehabilitation ?"of the elderly. The page also mentioned two retired govt officials ( social work professionals) as the advisors of the Trust. We do not prefer to mention the names of the "founder-Director" or the advisers as we have no intention to discredit any individual. The FB page compelled us to post this write-up.
On Wednesday we posted an advisory to all persons on accepting any advisory role in this Trust. To our surprise the Mudhir Solai Trust deleted Its Facebook page. It is easy to understand the reason for this quick retreat.
Social work is a noble profession and the social work professionals need to uphold professional ethics in helping people in distress. All who claim to do service to people may avoid doing illegal and unethical means.
Dr T K Nair
🙏🙏🙏🙏

Saturday, December 19, 2015

MAN MADE DISASTER IN TAMILNADU

Tamilnadu had unprecedented  heavy rains during November-December 2015 after 1918 called  the rains of the century due to El Niño .In between there were heavy rains during El Niño years. Bu this is rated as the heaviest.But the flooding in Chennai city,Cuddalore district and other districts brought unimaginable  misery to people.Many lost their precious lives. Families belonging to all social classes suffered heavy losses. The worst period was from November 30 in Chennai city when water from the Chembarambakkam reservoir was released with almost no warning leading to unexpected flow of water with water levels raising every second. Numerous houses particularly those of the poor were submerged in water or washed away. Household properties were destroyed. Panic gripped the people. Power was cut and mobile connectivity was lost. Food and water were in scarcity. Army and National  Disaster Management Teams rushed to various places saving the lives of people trapped in water and in houses.Relief materials were dropped from helicopters  The state government also extended large scale relief operations with publicity and pictures of the Chief Minister for political gains.Political parties also arranged relief materials .But the role played by individuals,particularly the youth, and NGOs are commendable as they did without seeking publicity and in the most dedicated manner braving rains.

The flood is caused not by El Niño but by the politicians, officials and real estate mafia.Rivers were encroached upon.So also lakes and small ponds, and wetland . These water bodies which could prevent flooding were taken over for residential and commercial  buildings as well as for roads, other infrastructure and government buildings. Rampant corruption was the cause in approving illegal construction. There was total callousness in city planning by all governments during the last nearly fifty years. Whatever waterways were left were not maintained regularly. So also the drains were ignored. No lessons were learnt from the previous North East monsoons by the state and city corporation. The massive floods which entered houses even upto ten feet high ,and accumulation of chest or neck  level water  in many streets and roads even after ten days are in areas which were erstwhile wetland and water bodies.

Nearly six hundred people died in cruel circumstances.But this is official data. Real data will remain a mystery. Two instances are extremely painful. One,the drowning of a 72 year old retired Lt .Col of the Indian Army and his wife in their apartment in the Defence Officers Colony. The other is the death of 14 or 18 patients on ventillator support in the MIOT hospital due to lack of oxygen caused by flooding in the generator room. The lapses of the ruling class and the officialdom are unforgivable.