Reality Check India

No computer for you – bad boy !

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on July 29, 2006

Human resources ministry rubbishes MITs laptop proposal

olpc.jpg

Link here: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/msid-1698603,curpg-1.cms 

I am absolutely stunned by the reasons given. Now, I dont care who they select as a supplier. Maybe this particular laptop has technical problems – that does not mean we can deprive poor kids of the all crucial access to the wonders brought on to us by the age of the internet.

I am disappointed that knowledgeable bloggers too welcome this move ! See this post by Abi at nanopolitan http://nanopolitan.blogspot.com/2006/07/100-dollar-laptops-mhrd-takes-sane.html

The logic is this :

  1. Schools do not even have toilets or teachers, why do we need these fancy gadgets?
  2. No, we wont fix the toilets and teachers. We will just use the absence of toilets and teachers to deprive the really poor and needy kids access to the all critical computer.
  3. No, we wont select an alternate supplier or attempt to build it ourselves either.
  4. See, we just dont think the kids need computers. 

It is common knowledge that in todays world, the Internet and computers to a large extent shape you as a person. Rich and middle class kids in India from the age of 5 get to learn from the internet.  They start seeing zebras and other animals, move on to pokemon, learn about geography, then start chatting with peers. It is almost like a portal into dreamy lands, mysteries of the human body, of electonics and science, and the universe. Many kids today use the internet to check spellings of words, look up synonyms, learn painting even music.

What shocks me is the reason given ?

HRD contends that spending Rs 450 crore on digital empowerment can be better spent on primary and secondary education. “It is quite obvious that the financial expenditure to be made on the scheme will be out of public funds.

Are you kidding sirs ? You dont want to spend 450 crores on technology that will open up a world of wonder for truly disadvantaged kids, but you wont bat an eyelid to spend 16,000 crores on tertiary education in management and science – arguably the least of Indias problems ?

Wait there is more :

“India must not allow itself to be used for experimentation with children in this area,”

Hey, Reality Check: What kind of statement is that ? What kind of experimentation are you talking about ? Do your kids use the computer ? Are you not proud that your son can fix your software problems at age 10 ? Why deny poor Ramu or Jose or Iqbal – god knows they cant buy it themselves ?

It also finds it intriguing as to “why no developed country has been chosen” for MIT’s OLPC experiment “given the fact that most of the developed world is far from universalising the possession and use of laptops among children of 6-12 age group”.

This statement is so messed up that I dont even know where to begin. I have visited public schools in various school districts in the USA. Let me tell you about the facilities they have. Most schools are fully equipped with PCs and MACs. Europe is even better, why dont you visit a school in Germany or Austria and see for yourself the kind of computer facilities they have. My heart goes out to the poor lorry drivers kid who will probably never see a computer during all his school years in a government school – even if he manages to finish his schooling. Let us not even talk about the quota system where this fellow has to compete with kids who are exposed to computers and have probably downloaded all exam papers and reference material.

Wait some more gems:

“Both physical and psychological effects of children’s intensive exposure to the computer implicit in OLPC are worrisome, to say the least.

This is the silliest excuse. Are you kidding ? Look at your own kids in any urban area middle class school. They are all over the internet whether checking out cartoons, music , reading stories or just browsing. If the effects are so bad, then why dont you ban computers from private schools for the rich for the 6-12 age group ?

The icing on the cake.

Health problems of our rural children are well-known; personalised intensity of computer use could easily exacerbate some of these problems especially those related to eyesight and the back,” the ministry said.

I wont attempt to dissect that stupid statement, watching TV is more damaging for the eyesight than computers. What are you gonna do about that ? 

Listen, computers are the future. Every kid in India must have access to it. If you do not like this particular model (the OLPC model shown in the picture), then fine. You have to come out with technical reasons for why it is bad (bad processor, unreliable screen, small keyboard, low storage, whatever). If you want to let IISC design a new low cost computer as a replacement , great. Go for it !

Instead, you are trashing the entire concept. You claim that at the moment poor children in government schools should not be given computers. Why ! Dont governments give free color TVs estimated to cost 3000 Crores (minimum estimate) ?

To conclude here is a question by Abi-

What I would question is the OLPC’s strategy of selling the laptops directly to bureaucrats, but not to the actual users.

Cmon, the reason this device is cheap because of scale. This is targeted at the poorest of our kids, yes, those breaking stones or working in match factories or serving food in hotels. Do you thnk they have the money to spend on this gadget ? The government owes them this bare minimum. To sell directly would be a flop from the get go, because of the lack of a distribution system and the home truth that the buyers are just not there.

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Quota news roundup

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on July 26, 2006

So the monsoon session of parliament is now in session. The most important bill this session is going to be the OBC quota bill. The Veerappa Moily Oversight Committee is due to submit its report only at the end of August, but an interim report might be released this friday. In all the terrorism and naxal violence, many of us have gotten distracted from this issue.

Quota for “economically backward” upper castes

Link: http://www.indianexpress.com/story/8991.html

Another weapon in the hands of the politicians. There can be only one explanation for this misguided quota, which will take away another 10-15% from the open competition. The only explanation for this quota is as a safety net for a totally crazy quota regime.

Creamy layer removal

Moily admitted that the creamy layer removal was not discussed during his committee meetings.

They have no problems specifying a creamy layer for employment in civil services. See here http://www.indlawnews.com/5868BB85AA07C1718D51EAD31B73FD7A

Test of a honest exercise

If there is any goodwill or honesty behind this exercise, this interim report will contain a recommendation to constitute a nationwide study to identify the true beneficiaries of OBC quotas. I cannot understand why this simple and most logical demand cannot be conceded by the politicians !

  • How has it worked ? If no OBC caste has come out of backwardness even after 80 years in some states; either the quota system is a miserable failure (or) the entire rationale for classification as OBC has nothing to do with actual backwardness.
  • Have all OBC component castes benefited fairly from the quota ? Is only a small politically powerful segment cornering all the benefits leaving the truly deserving high and dry ?
  • Conduct studies of various groups and make this socio-economic data available to all citizens 
  • Are there any communities that can no longer be called backward or under-represented ? If so what is the justification for them continuing as backward classes
  • Given the enormous disparity in OBCs between the north and the south, how on earth can you have an all India quota ?
  • If the OBC group is not homogeneous with enormous disparities, would that not be treating unequals equally, which flies in the face of the entire rationale of quotas.

Under the garb of social justice, we cannot allow communities to enjoy quota benefits without any data to ascertain their backwardness. The need of the hour is a nationwide commission to redefine the OBC caste lists based on objective criteria (yes even the so called eleven Mandal criteria will do)

The Gitmo massage

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on July 24, 2006

Good morning, I hope you have all bounced back from the Mumbai blasts by now. Some have bounced back so high that they are not even sure if a blast really happened ! Kind of a reverse bungee jump.

If you are even remotely involved in a terror attack against the USA, this is what might happen to you:

gbay.JPG

If you are the prime accused in a terrorist attack in gods own country

mad.jpg

Now, that is some deterrent to budding terrorists.

The Indian theater of the absurd is in full swing covered by the Indian Express in detail.
DMK turns jail into spa for Coimbatore terror accused

Link : http://www.indianexpress.com/story/9187.html

Some Highlights:

…, a team of 10 masseurs and four senior Ayurvedic doctors began their “high quality treatment” on Mahdani, who has been housed in the prison’s hospital wing since 2001

The 35-day treatment, which began on July 5, costs nearly Rs 50,000, said K G Raveendran, medical director of the Aryavaidya Chikiysalayam Research Institute

the Tamil Nadu government is using taxpayers’ money to pick up the bill for Mahdani’s “dhara” and “pizhichil”

On July 6, the DMK government quietly permitted Soofiya, Mahdani’s wife to sit in on her husband’s treatment for two hours as ayurvedic principles demanded that “someone close” to the patient administer the “internal” medicines.

So this is what happens when the police catch the entire gang who planned and perpetrated the blasts.

Politics of entitlement and Naxalism

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on July 21, 2006

So I started this blog to address two issues that I think have the potential to lay the Indian state to waste.

  1. The disrespect shown to the constitution by the politicians, especially with regard to Article 14 (the right to equality). This has allowed the creation of vote banks based on the promise of special privileges to arbitrary groups at the expense of public goods. The issues such as unmonitored OBC quotas, special treatment for minorities, are just  manifestations of this phenomenon. Today, the real interests of the public are getting congealed around these benefits offered or promised to them just for being members of these arbitrary groups. A larger and larger segment of Indians no longer care about the “big picture” issues facing us. They seem to have conceded the possibility that Article 14 is toast, and the real way forward is to press for even more special privileges for the group (or groups) they have organized themselves into.
  2. The unchecked Naxalite movement. Although it is not as systemic as the first problem. It has the ability to shatter this country in the near term. The naxalite problem is inextricably linked to the first problem (the politics of entitlement). The legitimate social justice tools of this country have not reached the really needy. Whether it is the tribals or the really backward, they have no way out of the social and economic hole they find themselves in. The extreme reluctance of the political class to study the true effects of the quota system points to the stark fact that the beneficiaries of the social justice platforms in this country are a very small segment and it is getting smaller. The inter-group (whether SC/ST or OBC) disparities are so huge that it would be impossible to bridge for the really needy. To this mix add the lack of land reforms and you get the picture.

Consider the reaction of Indians and the media when one of the most outrageous attacks on our country happened. No, I am not talking about the Mumbai  blasts, I am talking about the military style attack on a Salwa Judum camp by Naxalites. I scanned all available media channels looking for direct coverage of the attack. No luck. It has found some print coverage but that too is full of platitudes and age old talk about “understand the root of the Naxal problems”.

Here is a summary of just how outrageous this attack was:

 bastarmap.jpg

For those who dont know what Salwa Judum is, first a small detour

Salwa Judum translates to “Peace March” in Bastar district of MP. A large group of adivasis (tribals) in Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh got frustrated by the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and naxal menace. The government is largely absent in these areas and the naxals have a free run, the naxals banned the tribals from conducting their weekly barter melas, which form the cornerstone of their culture. In a brave act, they decided to take up arms and protect themselves from these Naxals in April 2005. It is important that they took up arms only as a defensive measure.  The state government also supported them. The lack of criminal ruthlessness, training and weaponry in the Salwa Judum activists made them no match for the dreaded Maoists. Anyway this part of India (13 heartland states / about 20-25% of the area) is messed up beyond belief. Entire villages are being moved into “relief camps”, to escape Naxal reprisals. Over 50,000 tribals from 700 villages no longer live at home, they live in these relief camps in the heart of India.

Interesting fact : At 39,000 sq km, the Bastar district is larger than Israel , larger than Kerala, larger than Belgium !!

Interesting fact 2: Bastar district has a “unsurveyed, unexplored” forest jungle called Abuj Mand. The forest zone is 10,000 SQ KM with a population of just 20,000. I did not know about this at all until I read this article.

Interesting fact 2: The Dantewada district has an area of 10,000 Sq Km (1/4 the size of Kerala) but has a population of just 700,000. Over 78% of then are Scheduled Tribes. For more information about this fascinating and beautiful district visit here

This is what Raman Singh CM of Chattisgarh has to say about Salwa Judum.

`Salwa Judum’ (peace march) against naxalism in the State would go down in history as one of the world’s most successful revolutions.

So consider the audacity of the military style attack last week.

  1. Errabore is the name of one of the 700 odd “relief camps” run for hapless tribals by the Salwa Judum. This is in Dantewada district of Chattisgarh. It seems like this camp had CRPF (a paramilitary force) protection.
  2. At about 1 AM on July 17th, a armed group of 800 Naxalites and Maoists attacked the CRPF camp. Later reports in Deccan Chronicle suggest that atleast 300 of these Naxals were from AP. The Naxals from AP were also believed to have led the attacks.
  3. The attack was military style. First they lay seige to all roads connecting the town of Errabore, then they attacked the CRPF camp as a diversionary tactic. Their real interest was to kill the Salwa Judum activists taking refuge in these camps.
  4. For two hours they laid siege to TWO CRPF camps. Three platoons  of CRPF personnel were confined to their bases, while they targeted the relief camp.
  5. In the two hours, they ruthlessly massacred 32 refugees(hacked to death with sharp weapons or charred to death) , kidnapped 28. After the attack was over over 250 refugees were “missing”.

Where is the government in all this ? How can they raise or encourage a self-defense force without adequate training, weaponry, or protection ? Where is the rapid action team ? How can Naxalites lay seige for TWO Indian paramiliary bases for TWO hours, without sustaining heavy casualities ?

Why was AP CM YS Rajasekhar Reddy allowed to give a free run of six months to Naxals as an election reward ? His government as well as the UPA must be held accountable for this relaxation. Why should other states suffer because of acts of the CM of one state ? This is an All-India problem and no state should have the right to declare ceasefire.

There is total lack of interest  in this attack on Indias heartland among the politicians. Even the general public who have now formed into “entitlement groups” do not seem to care. The media could care less because, its viewers are not interested in this public issue. The politicians who have allowed these naxals to regroup are not being questioned.

Only by snatching away the ability of politicians to play the entitlement card, can we get people to care more about common issues. Social justice programs must be studied, analyzed, tweaked, micro managed, and fine tuned to reach the neediest of the needy. If not, we have achieved nothing other than dividing the country along convenient groups.

Links

Recommended site :

http://forums.bharat-rakshak.com/viewtopic.php?p=240173

Excellent article :

http://www.dailypioneer.com/columnist1.asp?main_variable=Columnist&file_name=ashok%2Fashok25.txt&writer=ashok

http://www.deccan.com/WedEditorial/Editorial.asp

A civil liberties site that turns around and attacks the self defense group Salwa Judum

http://www.pucl.org/Topics/Human-rights/2005/salwa-judum-report.htm

http://www.outlookindia.com/pti_news.asp?gid=122&id=399335

Pkblogs – height of irony

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on July 19, 2006

Well it seems everyone in India wanting to circumvent the ban is now dependent on PKBLOGS. (Recommended by Desipundit here ) .It seems to be a very clever piece of software that allows you to browse banned blogspot sites. You just have to type in http://pkblogs.com/<blogname&gt; instead of http://<blogname> blogspot.com. and bingo! no ban.

The interesting thing is that Pkblogs software is run primarily by and for Pakistanis. This allows them to circumvent various bans imposed by the military government there.

Isnt this the height of irony ? Millions of Indians are now counting on a Pakistani service to read blogs. If this continues for long, we will have lost all rights to proclaim freedom of speech, open society, or democracy especially in front of our Pakistani brothers. How can we mooch off their free service and turn around and lecture them on free speech ? Great !!

Well, I dont know what else to say.

Thanks Pakistanis for this piece of software !! We just joined your club – welcome us. 

India bans blogs fuelling hatred !

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on July 19, 2006

BLOGS BANNED !

A dose of Reality Check never harmed anyone, right ? 

The government has not blocked blogs as an anti-terrorist measure. They claim the following

The order banning blog sites was issued on July 13 though it was not officially announced. The Government alleges these blogsites were fuelling hatred and communalism.

However, the Government also clarified its stand saying that they were not trying to censor free speech in the country but that these sites have been under security check much before the terrorist attacks.

Source : IBNLIVE

So who gets to define “hatred” and “communalism” ?  Which other sites are under “security check” ? Should all public writing be in favour of the UPA government ? How is this any different from China ?  Atleast China is honest about it !

I invite the Indian government to ban wordpress too, since it hosts this site. I dont know whether to feel happy or insulted. Are we not uncomfortable enough for the politicians ?

Anyway, being the conspiracy theorist that I am, I cant believe that the government is “ham handed” or “inept”. (Suggested here) Maybe they are just hiding under the cloak of incompetence. I am sure every ISP would have told the government that it is impossible to just ban a single webpage or a single weblog.

How to catch a terrorist blogger

Assume a terrorist cell is using a blogsite called techjihadi. bloger. com. The right approach would be to :

  • Ask all ISPs to submit their DNS logs (search for requests for the banned sites) Make a pattern of where and when these requests originate.
  • Set up a honeypot website which will lure the terrorists to a fake blogsite
  • Once they are on your “honeypot” website, you have many options including installing some cookies on their machine, or luring them to install an infected piece of software
  • Stealth is the key ! The bloggers should have no idea they are being watched

By banning blogspot and typepad, you have injured the investigations to no end. If there were indeed some sites which served as the communications channel, you have RUINED any chance of tracking them down. Now, everyone is tipped off about the ban and your ban is useless.

PS: All the above assumes that the blog-ban is an anti-terrorism measure.  

There is great room to suspect that the real reason is something entirely different. Why would Dalitstan and Hinduunity be banned ? Certainly they have nothing to do with Jihadis.  Could this ban be to muzzle the public voices against the upcoming issues in the next two weeks ?

Whichever way you look at it, this is a shameful day for this country. India is now the laughing stock of the world – and deservedly so.

What happens when we actually catch em ?

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on July 15, 2006

Do you remember the ’98 Coimbatore blasts ? Probably not, huh ?

I dont blame you because you’ve probably moved on and everyone has bounced back. There is just one major difference though. Read on. 

You see, unlike in other places, Tamilnadu/Kerala police actually *caught* the entire group who planned and perpetrated the ghastly act. 60 people lost their lives and 250 were severely injured. It was an assassination attempt on LK Advani, it exploded 14 minutes before he came to the stage.

An outstanding operation by the Tamilnadu police

We must recognize the excellent capabilities of our police force. The Coimbatore blasts investigations also started off with the usual platitudes, but the results were quite different. Read below.

Tamilnadu Crime Branch’s Special Investigation Team, named 166 people. Out of them, 145 people are now in judicial custody, eight were killed in subsequent blasts and police operations. Of the total accused, 11 were taken into custody from Kerala, three from Andhra Pradesh, two from Karnataka and one from Calcutta.

The TN police broke the back of Al Umma (a terrorist group that was beginning to form in the Kerala TN border area).

Leaders of the banned Al-Umma, S A Basha, Tajudden and Mohammed Ansari were thrown behind bars

More than that, they even caught the alleged mastermind of the attack Abdul Nasser Madhani. Madhani is the alleged link between these local terrorists and Pakistans ISI. This blast investigation is another feather in the cap of the Tamilnadu police.

Does it get any better than this ?  

I say no. Blast happened ! Eventually almost all the accused were either killed or thrown behind bars. The mastermind too was apprehended and jailed. The entire crew is caught and waiting for justice. But..wait this is where it gets interesting.

Resolution in Gods own country !

Do you know what the Kerala Legislature did on March 15th 2006 ?

It passed a resolution demanding the immediate release of Abdul Nasser Madhani, the prime accussed !! To pass this resolution it convened a special assembly session on Holi. Unbelievable. This resolution was supported by all parties except the BJP which had no presence  ! Amazing considering that the case is still sub judice.

  • What if the courts find him guilty, would the Kerala Legislature roll back the resolution ?
  • What signals has the Kerala legislature sent to potential terrorists ?
  • What signals does this send to the brave police officers who have done such an excellent job ?
  • What if he is released on parole as per their resolution and he carries out even more spectacular attacks ? Will these MLAs take responsibility ?
  • Will the CPI-M and Congress explain to the nation why they moved this resolution ? Where are you Mr Karat ? If this dude does any more damage people might come after your aaa.

Both the communists and congress parties used Madhanis posters to attract Muslim votes, thereby making him a political tool. Links http://www1.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1450019.cms  and http://www.outlookindia.com/pti_news.asp?id=371150 and http://www.newstodaynet.com/2006sud/06mar/2003ss1.htm

After winning the elections in May this year, one of the first things Kerala CM Achutanandan did was to fly to Chennai and meet the new TN CM Karunanidhi. He requested the CM to set Madhani on bail, or atleast provide him medical treatment. Two days after the Mumbai blast, the main accused in the Coimbatore blasts thanks the Kerala CM and TN CM for taking personal interest in his health, because of the Ayurvedic treatment given to him by a VIP doctor.

As instructed by the Kerala and Tamil Nadu governments, Islamic terrorist and main accused of Combatore bomb blast Abdul Nasser Madani will get special treatment by well known Ayurvedic specialist Dr. K.G. Ravindran.  

42 years old Dr. Ravindran was earlier treated VVIPs’ like former President K.R. Narayanan, R. Venkettaraman, former Prime Ministers P.V. Narasimha Rao & A.B. Vajpayee. Film actors Mohanlal, Suresh Gopi and singer Yasudas were among treated by Dr. Ravindran

Source : http://www.haindavakeralam.org/PageModule.aspx?PageID=1345&SKIN=B

It gets even worse

Madhanis wife was allowed to visit him in prison and spend several hours with him and other accused. This despite the fact that there is an arrest warrant pending against her. Thanks to Jayalalithaa for making this public. See http://www.chennaionline.com/colnews/newsitem.asp?NEWSID={803DEE4F-2072-4AB6-9F29-9FF8709969D0}&CATEGORYNAME=CHN

So friends, even if this investigation goes perfectly and we catch the main guys, what do you think the political class is going to do ? Where are our checks and balances when it comes to dealing with this type of behaviour ? Does any elected legislature pass a resolution favouring the main accused in a terrorist attack (while the case is still subjudice) ? Anywhere in the world.

Go ahead think about it.

——————————————————————— 

Links:

An article by a former IAS officer ripping apart the Kerala legislature for its actions.

http://www.newstodaynet.com/2006sud/06mar/2003ss1.htm

Information about which MLA actually proposed the resolution

http://www.hvk.org/articles/0406/49.html

Tehelka on how the Communists and Congress are using him to win Muslim votes. Turn on your filters while reading this Tehelka report though !

http://www.tehelka.com/story_main18.asp?filename=Ne070806Anyone_recognise.asp

Top CPI-M leader Hamza (MP) visits prime accused in jail (What did they talk about) Look at what this other politician Siraj is saying.

When asked about Mr Hamza’s visit to Coimbatore Central Jail, Mr Siraj said, “Madani has a personal relationship with the MP”. Hamza is a CPI-M MP in the lok sabha.

WTF ??

Bounce Bounce

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on July 13, 2006

What exactly is bouncing back anyway ?

I think bouncing back is just a euphemism. It is a tendency for people to be fatalistic and move on, instead of holding the elected politicians accountable. It is like saying, “Hey thanks for bouncing back, you are great. Thanks for not taking the government to task for its policies. While we are at it, thanks for not “politicising” the incident”. Move on nothing to see here. Cmon, lets go!

Whatever it means, bounce back we did. Now do we just move on as if nothing happened or demand action. The best place is to clean up our house. We cannot think of taking on the enemy on their turf as long as we dont straighten things here. Lets start.

First we must take action against the local poltiicians who shield these terrorists. Consider this gem.

SIMI Side Effect: Mulayam guards suspect outfit

http://www.ibnlive.com/news/no-evidence-of-simi-activities-in-up/15401-3.html

Even before the investigations have started, the chief minister of Indias largest state has come out openly in defence of the very organization we are seeking to apprehend. Do you think any police officer (who is already deprived of tools like POTA) would have the guts to approach SIMI members and apprehend them ?

“There is a ban on SIMI, but that is an order of the Central Government,” Mulayam added.

Realitycheck: Does this mean the SIMI ban order is not respected by your state ?

 Another one:

“There may be some with dubious distinction in SIMI, but it is wrong to dub the whole organisation as terrorist,” senior UP minister and Samajwadi Party general secretary Shivpal Singh Yadav said.

Realitycheck: Mumbaikars, are you listening ? The converse of what this guy is saying is this, “An organization is not a terrorist organization unless *all* its members are terrorists”. Well not everyone in LET is a terrorist either, they have people who recruit (HR) and people who take care of accounts.

Will Mulayam take personal resposibility for SIMIs actions ? If SIMI is found guilty, will he go to jail for supporting it all these years. What if the centre is right and the ban was justified after all ? How do we punish this person ?

The evening when 9-11 happened, George Bush appeared on TV and said he would not make a distinction between terrorists and those who harbor them. In our case, the central government must ask Mulayam to clarify his statements in the clearest possible terms. Will he or wont he co-operate with the centre when it comes to detaining SIMI cadres, yes en masse by the hundreds if required.

Meanwhile, in other terrorist related news, the main accused mastermind of the Coimbatore blasts Abdul Nasser Madhani has thanked TN CM Karunanidhi and Kerala CM Achutanandan for taking personal interest in his health. Apparently a team of ayurvedic doctors were dispatched from Chennai to give him personal ayurvedic treatment in jail. The link is in Tamil http://thatstamil.oneindia.in/news/2006/07/13/madhani.html

Here is an English link : http://www.chennaionline.com/colnews/newsitem.asp?NEWSID=%7BA9AED6DA%2D66A9%2D46F8%2D93D1%2DAD7CCDD365AA%7D&CATEGORYNAME=Chennai

Mumbaikars, Do we have the guts to ask Mulayam for an answer ?

Once we start holding these guys accountable – then we would begin “bouncing back”.

Terror in Mumbai

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on July 12, 2006

Over 174 killed in a terrorist attack on Mumbai. A gruesome reminder about the kind of people we have to deal with. Let god give the Mumbaikars the strength to get through this.

At the same time, the government must act tough. The perpetrators must be brought to justice. We are not ready for bus services, cricket matches, mughal-e-azam movies in Karachi theatres,  and other candy-ass steps without matching responses against terror from the other side. When people like Dawood and LeT chiefs openly roam about Pakistan, we cannot afford to be complacent. There are a lot of Taliban who are roaming around aimlessly after getting their ass kicked by the USA. Guess who their easiest target is going to be.

I am enraged right now. It may take a while to get back to normal to continue blogging about other issues (which seem silly compared to the magnitude of threat this country is facing in the form of terrorism).

UPDATE

http://in.rediff.com/news/2006/jul/12mumblast2.htm

Police are suspecting SIMI and LeT as prime suspects. SIMI (a banned homegrown islamic jehad outfit ) must be checked. http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/india/terroristoutfits/simi.htm

The government must not allow the nexus between SIMI and LET to grow. The government must go after the SIMI regardless of opposition. Check out http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/india/terroristoutfits/simi.htm for their activities.

I hope the government has given the law enforcement agencies enough to detain and question suspects. Since the UPA has repealed POTA , I hope there are sufficient alternatives to detain and question these suspects.

What happens years after these blasts ? 

Does anyone remember the Coimbatore blasts ? 58 people lost their lives in that blast. Fast forward to 2006. Do you know what the first thing the CM of Kerala (Mr Achutanandan of CPI-M) did after he won the recent election ? He flew to Chennai and requested the TN government to take steps to release the prime accused Abdul Nasser Madani http://www.tehelka.com/story_main18.asp?filename=Ne070806Anyone_recognise.asp. He allegedly was the link between local jihadis and the ISI.

See the concern shown by the communist leader for the prime accused in the blasts of 1998.

 “His weight has reduced from 104 [kg] to 54 [kg] and he has many serious diseases. Hence, I brought to the notice of the [Tamil Nadu] Chief Minister the need to enlarge him on bail on humanitarian grounds,” – Mr. Achuthanandan .

http://www.hindu.com/2006/06/11/stories/2006061109800100.htm

A quick realitycheck for the CPI-M leader – he is in jail not in a hotel, people usually lose weight in jail.

Need POTA back now

The logic behind a law such as POTA and the patriot act (of USA) is sound. If you are associated with these terrorist outfits the threshold of evidence and proof will be loaded against you. If you are out on bail – the chances of you committing even more serious crimes are very high (because you will view this as a god given opportunity to inflict more damage before the shit hits the fan).

Primary education – fact check

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on July 10, 2006

A school for our children 

Does the government really care ? Why cant we have the same zeal, the same “oversight” committees, the same timeframes, the same unlimited budgets – working for primary education.

vschool.jpg

Pic courtesy: Christian Science Monitor

Going by what happened in the past, it seems unlikely that any government will agree to study how the OBC quota is working and who the actual beneficiaries are. Even way back in 1990, no government except Gujarat was willing to provide the Mandal commission with data about representation of various communities in government employment. By delinking OBCs from a requirement to meet any objective backwardness markers, the government is basically going to have a “politically-powerful average-students quota”. Further, if the creamy layer is not excluded we are certain to have a “politically-powerful-rich-yet-average-students-quota”.

Still, I wonder if anything good can come out of this ?

I am working my way through available facts about the dismal state of primary education in India. I am convinced the only long-term way to deprive these politicians of their “mass support” is by tying together a primary education expenditure that is 8x or 10x times the obscene 12-16000 crores that is about to be spent on one of Indias least important issues (that is tertiary education in management,science and technology). The hope is the next 10-15 years, we will have all kids in unknown villages tune into TV channels or read blogs or have access to the internet. When that stage is reached, we may not have top politicians openly flaunt their uneducated mass support. 

Some facts I have collected so far.

  • Dismal outlay. Indias entire primary education budget for FY 2006 was only $1.9 billion (Rs 7.200 crores)http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/low/business/4303507.stm
  • Compare this to the United States, whose *special education* budget is $8.5 billion (for trouble kids) .
  • Compare this to the $2.3 billion aid to the Tsunami victims (I understand it is a natural calamity, I am just quoting the numbers for a perspective)
  • Over 97% of the primary education budget (of the already meagre 7200 cr) goes towards salary of teachers and other staff. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_India
  • This means that only Rs 300 CR is available for school infrastructure, classroom expenses, new schools, textbooks, and the whole gamut. To put it further in perspective, Rs300 cr translates to $67 million dollars!! The entire “non-salary” budget for primary education for the entire country is $67 million dollars ! Could this be true ?
  • The countrywide elementary school dropout rate for girls is 41%. In other words, 4 out of 10 girls in this country do not go beyond 5th standard and 6 out of 10 girls dont finish 8th standard. In some states 9 out of 10 dont complete their schooling (high school) http://www.northsouth.org/dropoutrate.asp
  • Indias primary education is not just pathetic compared to the west. India compares poorly to not just industrialised nations but also several much-poorer economies, such as Vietnam (90% literacy), Zambia (80%), Tanzania (77%), and Cambodia (70%).  
  • Teacher truancy is the highest in India schools. It is quite rare that a teacher actually shows up for class. The worst offender is Jharkhand (41.9%), followed by Bihar (37.8%) and Punjab (34.4%). This means that in Jharkand if you want into a school randomly 41% of the teachers will be absent. Remember while reading these stats, many village schools are one or two teacher (with an anganwadi worker). In those cases, 41% of the time the school is on holiday because the teacher is absent. Yes, we are talking padlocked. The all India figure is 25%. The south does not fare well on this count. Interestingly, only Uganda has a higher teacher truancy rate than India. Link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4051353.stm
  • Politics have plagued teachers too. Since they man polling booths, enumerate census, monitor public distribution schemes, no political party will antagonize them.  Most have other businesses take care of.
  • Can we blame the poor teachers alone ? No! The reasons they dont show up. “The most common complaint is that schools are under-equipped, underfunded, understaffed, and overcrowded,”  Would you like to teach in a cow-shed without any teaching materials, fan or light or toilet ?
  • Half of all schools have a leaking roof (try opening your textbooks). 89% have no functioning toilet (even if there is one functioning toilet it is reserved for the teachers, so the students just use the shrubs), half have no water supply. Everyone must bring their own water bottles to school.
  • Note we are not even talking about things like internet, phone lines, computer rooms, fans and lights, libraries, counsellors.

So friends, here we are now, India home to 34% of the worlds illiterate population, where schools are nothing more than cattle sheds, where 60 years after independence 4 out of 10 girls do not study beyond 5th standard, is working on a war footing. Powerful OBC committees are working behind closed doors on magic formulas for management education. Oversight committees are burning the midnight oil trying to manufacture statistics without simply agreeing to a honest study.  

We are at war baby ! Forces are standing by for an amphibious assault on very root of our problems – MBA and BTECH education. Funds cannot be a constraint, we are going to spend 12-16,000 crores on MBA institutes, tech institutes that enable people to move overseas, and critical post-grad medical studies. 

For every rupee spent on this quota, ten rupees must be spent on primary education. If this is not done, this government would have perpetrated one of the most cruel jokes on the really backward and needy masses of this country.