From Yogi’s Meals to Indira’s Kitchen: How necessary is politics on food?

In April, earlier this year, the Uttar Pradesh government introduced a scheme to provide subsidised nutritious breakfast, lunch and dinner is made available to the economically weak people in the state. The scheme had provisions to give breakfast for ₹3 and lunch for as little as ₹5.  The BJP-ruled state planned to emulate the scheme in the form of more than 200 subsidised meal canteens across the state.

Karnataka chosen by Congress- Election optics in mind?

Where on one hand, BJP introduced subsidised meals in a state where they recently won in elections, Congress, on the other hand chose Karnataka amongst the other more prominently hunger-ridden places in the country. This move by Congress has upped the ante in the entire poverty-food debate as Karnataka could prove to be a pivotal game changer in shaping party’s current status in national politics.

An App to Access Food Menu- Congress expects BPL to possess phones? 

Economists have clearly labelled this move as a politically motivated one rather than a poverty-alleviating project. The fact that Congress has come up with an app to provide the menu card of subsidised meals to the poor is a rhetoric in itself.  The question here is about how many poor would have a smartphone? And if at all they do, isn’t the government missing on the larger chunk of poverty ridden?

(Source: Indian Express, Hindustan Times) 
2 Errors in One Sentence- RaGa Reveals the Intent! 

To make the situation even trickier for Congress, its VP, Rahul Gandhi accidentally revealed the idea behind the sudden introduction of Indira Canteens in Bengaluru. At a rally in Bengaluru about 2 months ago, RaGa made 2 errors in one sentence.

One being, “All the cities in Bengaluru…” and the other one as well as the definitely more revealing one being., “…..That is the vision of the Amma…. umm.. Indira Canteens!“.

Citizen’s concerns- Canteens Encroached park area?

Like all the other public eatery stations, this one as well, has been swaying away from adhering to the cleanliness standards on the Bengaluru roads. The RWA of Jayanagar not only protested on the felling of trees to host a canteen but another locality residents who are unhappy with the fact that the canteen ward for their area has encroached upon the park premises as the ward is situated within the park itself. There are issues of improper disposal as well, but more than this, it is the unnecessary and unjustified politics over food which has become the question of the hour. In a country where there are plenty of hunger ridden states such as Bihar, Jharkhand, what Congress chose was Karnataka- just because it is this state which conducts elections next.

God Bless Indians (us).

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Journalists on the radar, Democracy and Impunity Key Global Questions

As a journalist myself, the past one week has been uneasy one. 8 days and 4 brazen incidents of journalists getting killed have disturbed me and plenty others in more ways then one. Besides the political card blame game, the apprehension around the trajectory of the increasing number of murders and its aftermath is perhaps more worthy of contemplation.

Global Dilemma for Journalists, Threat to Accountability

From Sweden to Sudan and then to Bihar and Bangalore in India, terror seems to have permeated the global borders. It all started with the mysterious killing of the Swedish journalist, Kim Wall who died after getting hit by a hatch  on a homemade submarine. The police investigations have reveled that Wall’s body was deliberately weighed down purposefully with the intent to sink it on the submarine.  Then came the news of an American reporter having died in Sudan. Various reports and examinations have bewrayed that Christopher Allen, 26, had been deliberately killed by the government troops in South Sudan during a firefight between rebels and the government forces.

In India, the entire press and media underwent a shock when a renowned journalist named Gauri Lankesh was brutally shot at 7 times at her doorstep in Bangalore. It didn’t end here as the very next day another journalist was killed in Bihar, making it not just a metropolitan but a town problem as well.

Impunitized Investigation?

Not so surprisingly, the World Press Freedom ranking at Reporters Without Borders in its 2017 report put India at the 136th spot out of 192 countries across the world, making India a not so democratic or rather liberal country when it came to freedom exercised by the journalists.

Apart from this, India has been quite aptly placed as one of the countries on the Impunity Index where more than 50 deaths of journalists have taken place since 1992, out of which 25 plus went through impunity.

 

(Source: CPJ, Comittee To Protect Journalists)

India’s poor performance is not just limited to the impunity index, but the authorities continue to be indifferent towards the alarming issue as India fails to participate in something known as the UNESCO ‘Impunity Accountability Mechanism’. Quite conveniently, India, failed to respond to UNESCO when asked for a biennial report on the safety of journalists in the country. My country was joined by 2 other ‘troubled’ countries as well- countries which India would never wish to be compared to with regard to the governmental infrastructure and economic growth- South Sudan and Syria.

Statistical research reveals that out of the percentage of reporters who mysteriously or at times openly die, majority are the ones who deal with the coverage over corruption. In more then 40 % of the cases, victims tend to receive threatening calls, as was in Gauri Lankesh’s case. The recurring question, however is- why just 3% of the cases have full justice out of the total cases filed globally?

While impunity could be one angle, many would feel that such cases reach the public forum because of them being related to the media,  however it is the statistics mentioned above which may compel you to ponder the skeptical way.

(With inputs from PTI, Committee To Protect Journalists, UNESCO)

Tomatoes or Tacos for Rs. 100? Did I hear it right?

In a country where the life of a common man holds no value, it is tomatoes which have turned into the most precious point of discussion, as they are now being ‘guarded’ in the literal sense of the word.

Tomatoes- the new jewel to rob?

The news of tomato prices shooting up to Rs. 100 has been the talk of all the towns from Mumbai to Delhi but the latest progression involves how the fruit is being protected by armed guards in Madhya Pradesh. This happened after a recent robbery of 300 kg tomatoes at a wholesale market in Mumbai.

Bank for Tomatoes to Bank upon…

The opposition (Congress) has found a rather unique way to seize the opportunity and protest against the hike by establishing the State Bank of ‘Tomatoes’ in BJP led UP. Cashing upon the helplessness of the common man, the bank offers a 5x return on the deposit of the fruit within a period of six months along with lockers and loans.

Well, the rain seems to have washed off a lot more than crops and livelihood of people across the country. It has also washed off BJP’s efforts to continue pleasing people post the slashed fruit prices after demonetization. Though the government has given an assurance of the prices soon dropping down, but for now, the situation reminds us of the satirical dialogue from 3 idiots, “Paneer to beta, kuch dino mei itti itti thailiyo mei sunaar ki dukan pe bikega”- the only difference being the replacement of ‘paneer’ with ‘tamatar’ in this case. Indeed, as ironical as it may seem, one can afford Mexican chicken Tacos priced at Rs. 50 at a cost lesser than a kg of tomatoes.

‘Happy’ and ‘Independence’ Day, is it?

On the grand day when  the entire nation is enthralled with feelings of celebration, oozing with patriotism and enjoying a day off, there occurs an incident which questions the entire conceptual privilege around the feeling of being ‘free’ or ‘independent’ in India itself.

I am talking about the gruesome rape of a 12 year old girl in Chandigarh, on her way back home after having attended the Indian ‘Independence Day’ celebrations at her school. Not something new to have happened in our country, but on a day like this when social media, phone texts/ messages  are filled with talks of patriotism, of freedom struggle, there lies an under shadowed reality where the struggle continues. It was in Sector 23 where a man  stopped her, pulled her aside and raped her. He also held a knife to scare the little girl.
Sadly, being a multi-party country, what we are best at are talks, lengthy speeches, but no serious execution. The Union Home Ministry recently held a candle-light march to assert the right to safely access public spaces but where does this end? The march was preceded by nothing but a similar incident just days later.

“According to data compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) for 2015, 8,800 cases of rape on children were registered across the country under the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Act (POCSO). In 2,227 cases, or 25.3 per cent, the offenders were found to be employers or co-workers”- source: NCRB

These statistics  raise a few questions in mind about How free are we?

Are we free to stroll alone outside our homes?

Are we free to travel alone during the day, let alone night?

The answer is Yes, we are free- but sadly at our own risk! So, what use is this dreaded freedom’ of?

This news neither made me happy nor did it make me feel independent- 70 years down the line, even small children, let alone women, continue to face the same forms of sexual assault and plight which they faced during the British rule and partition.

We indeed are slaves unless freed from crime and the perpetrating criminals. We need to ponder and so do executive, legislature and judiciary- not just for formulations and implementations but also for severe deterrent measures of punishment. By the way, Happy India Independence Day?

 

This ‘Raksha Bandhan’, care beyond gender!

Happy Raksha Bandhan to all of you. And for all those who don’t have a brother, don’t be disheartened, your sister is your best guide, well wisher and protector for life. Today, I thought of coming up with something different. This blog is a thoughtful presentation of what and so much more which the festival can shower us with.

This Raksha Bandhan, let’s discover the emotional story of two sisters. While the younger one (Naina) always missed having a brother, especially as Rakhi came around the corner, the elder one ended up finding love, care and security in her younger sister.

Click here, to watch the video: 

‘Bandhan’- a short film on Raksha Bandhan

This short film is an attempt to convey that a sister can be a hero, a brother, a mother, she can be everything- because you don’t really need a brother to celebrate the feeling of being secure.
And hence, have  alook at this video which sends forth a warm Happy Raksha Bandhan message for all the sisters and brothers in the world. Thank you all,  for the feeling of doing ‘raksha’ or any ‘bandhan’ in the world doesn’t need a gender approval.

Do watch, comment, like or share if its relatable.

India-Where Rain Halts Life…

From East India to the West and from Northern parts of the country to the South, the rains this monsoon have reignited the questionable drainage patterns of the country. It indeed is not just the Global Warming which needs to be blamed but a lot more.

Significant Several Killed/ Stranded due to Floods

Gujarat- The NDRF has come up with the latest statistics of the death toll in Gujarat, the state with the longest coastline, owing to the flood condition since the past few weeks. The alarming number is approximately above 120. The Meteorological Department confirmed that the state’s expected rainfall this monsoon was not more than 900mm and the state has already received more than half of the predicted quantity which is 555mm. With 2 more months remaining for the monsoon to leave, the government faces a strict challenge to not let the death toll multiply further.

Rajasthan- As much of an oxymoron as it may sound, even the ‘driest’ state of the country doesn’t seem to be spared by the menace of monsoon rainfall. State officials have come up with certain latest figures which are suggestive of 25 deaths in the past week.  Tourists also faced the brunt as they remained stranded while Mount Abu recorded the highest rainfall in its history on July 24, 2017, resulting in a flood like situation.

Assam- More than 13,000 people in Assam were left stranded and terribly affected as the flood like situation continues to last since the inception of the rainfall season. Till now, it is an alarming figure of more than 75 lives which have been lost.

Delhi-NCR- As far as the national capital is concerned, the incessant rain around Gurugram and Delhi NCR Region is giving a tough time to the daily office commuters as it is taking them as long as 4 hours to cover a stretch of 20-25 kms.  Besides, the helplessness of the commuters is being cashed upon by various cab service providers as the prices surge up to a high of Rs. 150 for a mere distance of 5kms.

Recurring annual problems- Solutions, maybe?

Having an Un-Blocked drainage and an accountable system could help: The various road management departments in all states of the country must come up with a common Pre-Monsoon Action Plan for the purpose of monitoring the same.  In Delhi, for instance, the PWD, the NDMC and the NHAI must adopt a fresh stance for desilting. Perhaps what can be done is that the trash from cleared drains is put in landfills to solve unnecessary clogging and  dirt, instead of leaving it open as it ends up choking drains once flown back.

Better road designing: A set pattern of roads needs to be followed. Examination suggests that despite having several arterial roads, rain seems to clog water as most of the roads have an error-ed slope construction to be blamed which does not allow the rain water to recede naturally. Slip roads on the other hand tend to flood in the easiest way. While population seems to be on an incessant rise, more stress needs to be laid upon improving the drainage system.

Green patches to be encouraged: The authorities also need to understand the importance of growing green grass patches around trees, local parks and along the roadsides. These green patches act as natural sponges which absorb water that pours down on the planet but what is being done is cementing which takes away a simple effort towards minimising water retention on the roads.

Improved traffic management: The biggest nightmare associated with rains is the traffic ridden roads that comes along with it. Currently, we just have 1,200 police strength as against 5,500 population on the roads.  An improved deployment would enable better water management resulting in less chances of floods.

While the pace of business is at a standstill in various states of India, it is the routine life of people which has come to a halt- whether it is going to school, earning a living, or more so making their ends meet.

Cab/ Taxi rides- Services or Jeopardised Convenience?

By Naina Sharma

GLOBAL PERIL OF CAB DRIVERS 

Incidents of cab drivers acting as assailants, raping or kidnapping passengers is not only common in India but on the foreign land as well. An Uber driver in the city of Florida was recently arrested for indulging in  rape and kidnapping of his female passenger. The driver, who was 57 had centrally locked the car doors even before the passenger tried to jump out.

In similar incidents in India, there have been multiple cases where women have been raped or sexually assaulted by cab drivers. If not that, cab drivers tend to tease passengers by saving their numbers in the contact list and then they end up calling or texting the passengers at odd hours.

The threat isn’t restricted to women alone, quite recently, on July 6, it was a 29-year-old doctor in Delhi who was kidnapped by an Ola driver and his accomplices. He was kept in hiding for a period of 2 weeks post which the police arrested the Ola driver along with other kidnappers.

ANALYSIS OF THE EXISTING PROCEDURES

Since I am a regular rider myself, the curiosity bug within me compelled me to question Ola/ Uber drivers daily about what exactly were the requirements which they had to meet in order to become an Ola/ Uber driver. Ola drivers mostly stated the presence of a driving license as an imperitive while the Uber drivers said it is quite simple to become a Uber driver in the Indian capital. They said that the only requirement essentials for them were their driver license and manageable english speaking skills. There were no background checks involved and a single ID proof along with a few passport sized photographs was more than enough to start driving the Uber cabs.

MANDATORILY STRICTER HIRING PROCESS

The fact that there are hardly any drivers’ licenses which get cancelled in India despite criminal records, there arises a requirement to have a peripheral check. Perhaps, the need of the hour lies in conducting a transparent and multi level hiring process of the cab drivers as a few pointers need to be freshly adhered to-

  • A proper medical checkup analysing the mental state of the applicant is a must as it would ensure minimization of mentally unstable drivers. This is essential since a considerable proportion of rape and molestation cases are triggered through a sick mindset.
  • Examining the habits of the applicant is also essential and if there are even the slightest of implications of him being a frequent drinker or stoner, then the job application must be rejected at the earliest possible instance.
  • A background check which refers to a family scan pertaining to a cross examination of members/ relatives and if there is a police case running against any of their names.

Meanwhile, as passenger safety continues to haunt customers as a key issue, the cab companies have waived off an assurance towards adopting more stringent processes while signing up new drivers as it could have an adversely reverse impact on their business in the longer run.