OPINION

Monthly Archives: SEPTEMBER 2017


SAFFRON STRIKES
Hindustan Times' Hate Tracker will no more track hate?
26.09.17 - BY PT MEDIA CRITIC
Hindustan Times' Hate Tracker will no more track hate?



New Delhi: India's leading English language daily newspaper, Hindustan Times, which had started a special crowd-sourced national database of hate crimes, is losing its zeal for tracking hate. 

Senior Hindustan Times staffers have been instructed by HT's Chief Content Officer (yes, they have such a post), Rajesh Mahapatra, that hate tracker tweets or hate tracker-related tweets are not to be retweeted any more.
---------
Hate Tracker clearly was not to the liking of the BJP, the RSS and several saffron-tinged tentacles of the Sangh Parivar even though it was an equal opportunity offender when it comes to religious affiliations of those indulging in bigotry-related crimes. 
---------
Mahapatra is the second-in-command with the HT's editorial heirarchy who has a say on what goes and what does not into the media group's content.

‘Hate Tracker’ was a platform put in place by Bobby Ghosh, the Hindustan Times' recently relieved editor whose exit was announced by proprietor Shobhana Bhartia herself. A lot of speculation remains around the circumstances in which Ghosh left the job less than a year and a half in the hotseat.

For the moment, the instructions say the command will remain valid "until further notice.” The shift in HT's stance towards Hate Tracker comes within less than two months of its launch.

Now, media critiquing websites are agog with talk about Ghosh's exit coming within days of a meeting between the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, and Bhartia. The meeting was ostensibly to extend an invitation to the prime minister to attend the HT Leadership Summit, a power show event the newspaper holds every year.
----------
The shift in HT's stance towards Hate Tracker comes within less than two months of its launch under the tutelage of its outgoing editor Bobby Ghosh.
----------
Hate Tracker clearly was not to the liking of the BJP, the RSS and several saffron-tinged tentacles of the Sangh Parivar even though it was an equal opportunity offender when it comes to religious affiliations of those indulging in bigotry-related crimes. 

Sources said top HT staffers have been told not to promote Hate Tracker anymore through mentions in their Facebook posts or tweets. 

For all practical purposes, the Hate Tracker will soon be allowed to fade out, even though there is little let up in hate crimes in India. The social media teams of the group will gradually step back from referencing Hate Tracker stuff on any platform.
 
------------

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________
Most shared Punjab Today articles:

Abey Tu Bahar Nikal, Chowk Mein Aa  - The 10-yard-radius protest. How do you protest in world so noisy?

Patiala, via Panchkula. Soon Reaching Your City. Hail Democracy! Halaat kharaab nahi hone chahiye!

PEHLU KHAN CASE - Golden Day in the History of Indian Police: Will govt now compensate The Magnificent Six? The nation needs to know

Mr Home Minister, will you be visiting Farooq Ahmad Dar's house? How else will PM Modi's narrative of embracing Kashmiris & Rajnath SIngh's words mean anything substantive?

The Ryan Debate: How India missed the great cctv angle? Media only wants to debate the need for separate toilets for bus drivers and conductors. The most vulnerable are not covered by cctv, so they are not covered by tv either.

Political economy of extension in age of retirement: Dr Piare Lal Garg dwells upon what is wrong with policy formulation on retirement age.

The Gorakhpur Dead Speak to Punjab: From the infants burnt alive in Patiala to those who died in Gorakhpur, India's health parametres are escaping the media's radar.

WE WILL KILL 40-50: Haryana BJP, Govt calculated death toll before firing first bullet. Haryana BJP's party affairs incharge makes explosive revelations.

RELAX! ALL 30 WERE DERA PREMIS: The utter absence of any questions about the death of 30 people on the roads of a city reeking of wealth says something stinking about its conscience.

LET'S KILL PAASH: Dr Sumail Singh Sidhu unravels the layers of the latest row about the revolutionary poet’s work and asks why is Paash being summoned from the ashes to answer our allegations?

THE BLOODY VILLAIN OF PARTITION: As Radcliffe drew a line between India and Pakistan, resulting in 600,000 lives lost and 14 million displaced, we revisit the key question: Were the massacres avoidable, preventable?

A DOKLAM IN EVERY FIELD: Farmers not only produce food. They produce peace. And agitated farmers are no guarantee of a lasting peace. Not every danger lurks at Doklam.

TO SUKHBIR SINGH BADAL, SINCE NO ONE ELSE WILL SAY IT: Speaking truth to power, and asking some tough questions to a party that refuses to behave like one. Does it even register the sense of a loss?

DECONSTRUCTING NAVJOT SINGH SIDHUThis is a duel -- pistols drawn, hands on hip, 20 steps across, aim taken, fingers on trigger. Right now, it looks like Amarinder has forgotten his gun home. Sidhu is itching to shoot. 

SURGICAL STRIKE YOU DID NOT KNOW ABOUT: Indian jawans killed everyone at this forward post of Pakistan and brought back seven bodies besides a trophy signed by Musharraf.

PUNJAB: AN IDEA IN SEARCH OF WORDS: The English writing on Punjab has constructed an urbane Punjabi universe. Punjab is more than a poster boy of progress or a renegade from the promise of modernity.

_______________________________________________________________

-------------

Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT





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Patiala, via Panchkula. Soon Reaching Your City. Hail Democracy!
20.09.17 - Kamjaat Singh
Patiala, via Panchkula. Soon Reaching Your City. Hail Democracy!



Welcome to Panchkula - now in Patiala. Very soon in your own city also. Just plan a protest.

Farmers have announced that they plan to protest in front of the private residence of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. 
 
They could come in thousands, and they may actually say extremely disturbing things, like, 'Please fulfil the promise you made when you sought our votes. You said you will waive off our debt. Please waive off our debt."

The police is in action. The judiciary is adamant on doing everything it can to ensure there is no disruption to the normal life of citizens of Patiala. 

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has now made clear to the farmers that they must not allow the 'halaat' to become 'kharaab' at any cost.

It is clear that the police has picked up the signals from Panchkula and from the higher judiciary about how to ensure that the 'halaat' never become 'kharaab.'

Midnight raids are on in Punjab for a couple of days now. Farmer leaders are being arrested. Seven farmer unions have given a call for this protest, slated for September 22. Earlier, another lot of farmers had blocked an artery road to Chandigarh when they gathered in Mohali with tied bundles of sugarcane in hand, demanding payment of arrears.
-----------

The Punjab Police is in action. The higher judiciary is keen to do everything it can to ensure there is no disruption to the normal life of citizens of Patiala. The High Court has now made clear to the farmers that they must not allow the 'halaat' to become 'kharaab' at any cost.

-----------

All this has been causing a lot of inconvenience to the citizens.

The judiciary and the police are genuinely concerned about the inconvenience to the citizens of beautiful cities like Panchkula, Patiala and Mohali. Not too long back, a leading media house of Chandigarh had become so concerned about farmers' dirtying the city beautiful that it wrote editorials about the need to keep the city clean - by keeping farmers away from it.

Farmers coming to Chandigarh would often squat in the city's manicured parks. They would often relieve themselves in ways less than acceptable to the highly cultured citizens of Chandigarh whose potty manners are befitting the legacy of Le Corbusier. Their very sight was incongruous with a city transitioning from a sleepy, boring bureaucratic capital to one with a bustling nightlife, neon signboards and wine and cheese parties to mark the release of books on the intractable problem of rural poverty.

A very concerned media house had then run a campaign to keep the city clean, and the administration had agreed wholeheartedly. The consent of the citizenry of Chandigarh, at least the section whose voice counts, was clear. No more was Matka Chowk to be the magnet of people with a demand, or a grievance. It was a contest, and it ended in 1-0. 

Chandigarh's citizens 1. The farmers, labourers, trade unionists, protesting employees, blind people seeking jobs, women asking for jobs on compassionate grounds, Nrega workers, aanganwadi workers, and everybody else 0.

The score was no different in Panchkula. Citizens 1. Others 0. City - Cleansed. Or Clean. Take your pick, please.

It is the turn of Patiala now. The good citizens of Patiala should be grateful that the police is batting for them. The judiciary is also very keen to ensure that the law and order situation does not get out of hand, that a situation like Panchkula should not happen.

Orders are clear. Ensure that protesters do not enter Patiala. 

The advocate general of Punjab has been told to ensure that there is no free entry to Patiala and that all entry routes are regulated.

Panchkula has shown the price protesters may be expected to pay if they enter a city that the police and the judiciary does not want them to enter.

"Panchkula got saved due to high court's intervention. Hence intervention is  required in this matter as well." This was senior advocate Puneet Bali beseeching the division bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday.

One point has been stressed repeatedly - the protest is illegal.
-----------

This is Democracy 3.0. People asking the state to fulfil its promises seen as posing a threat to our democracy. Police going out of its way to defend our democracy. Judiciary being proactively concerned about my right to go about my normal life in a city – shopping, visiting a mall, catching a movie, picking up my daughter from school, visiting the Dukh Nivaran Sahib in the evening.

----------- 

When security forces cleared the streets of Panchkula, the good, peace loving citizens of Panchkula had heaved a sigh of relief as that meant they could resume their morning walks after a gap of almost a week.

That it took a few people to become dead bodies is often a price you have to pay to keep traffic flowing normally in a democracy. A senior BJP leader had explained that while 38 people had been killed, not a single citizen died. That was so heart warming. No one wants a citizen dead, or miss a morning walk.

The roads of Patiala are now under the threat of being clogged. The state is worried because it is answerable to the court which is worried because it wants to ensure that a Panchkula like situation should not emerge.

This is Democracy 3.0. People asking the state to fulfil its promises seen as posing a threat to our democracy. Police going out of its way to defend our democracy. Judiciary being proactively concerned about my right to go about my normal life in a city – shopping, visiting a mall, catching a movie, picking up my daughter from school, visiting the Dukh Nivaran Sahib in the evening. 

Panchkula has set an example. Patiala is learning fast. Your city can be the next one.

Farmers can always keep their issue alive by hanging themselves to death. € 

(Kamjaat Singh is an academic activist who also dabbles in journalism and writes under a pseudonym, with interests covering media, communications, academics, law, cinema and life. Kamjaat Singh, who will be regularly writing for Punjab Today, can be reached at kamjaatsingh@gmail.com.)

------------

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________
Most shared Punjab Today articles:

 Patiala, via Panchkula. Soon Reaching Your City. Hail Democracy! Halaat kharaab nahi hone chahiye!

PEHLU KHAN CASE - Golden Day in the History of Indian Police: Will govt now compensate The Magnificent Six? The nation needs to know

Mr Home Minister, will you be visiting Farooq Ahmad Dar's house? How else will PM Modi's narrative of embracing Kashmiris & Rajnath SIngh's words mean anything substantive?

The Ryan Debate: How India missed the great cctv angle? Media only wants to debate the need for separate toilets for bus drivers and conductors. The most vulnerable are not covered by cctv, so they are not covered by tv either.

Political economy of extension in age of retirement: Dr Piare Lal Garg dwells upon what is wrong with policy formulation on retirement age.

The Gorakhpur Dead Speak to Punjab: From the infants burnt alive in Patiala to those who died in Gorakhpur, India's health parametres are escaping the media's radar.

WE WILL KILL 40-50: Haryana BJP, Govt calculated death toll before firing first bullet. Haryana BJP's party affairs incharge makes explosive revelations.

RELAX! ALL 30 WERE DERA PREMIS: The utter absence of any questions about the death of 30 people on the roads of a city reeking of wealth says something stinking about its conscience.

LET'S KILL PAASH: Dr Sumail Singh Sidhu unravels the layers of the latest row about the revolutionary poet’s work and asks why is Paash being summoned from the ashes to answer our allegations?

THE BLOODY VILLAIN OF PARTITION: As Radcliffe drew a line between India and Pakistan, resulting in 600,000 lives lost and 14 million displaced, we revisit the key question: Were the massacres avoidable, preventable?

A DOKLAM IN EVERY FIELD: Farmers not only produce food. They produce peace. And agitated farmers are no guarantee of a lasting peace. Not every danger lurks at Doklam.

TO SUKHBIR SINGH BADAL, SINCE NO ONE ELSE WILL SAY IT: Speaking truth to power, and asking some tough questions to a party that refuses to behave like one. Does it even register the sense of a loss?

DECONSTRUCTING NAVJOT SINGH SIDHUThis is a duel -- pistols drawn, hands on hip, 20 steps across, aim taken, fingers on trigger. Right now, it looks like Amarinder has forgotten his gun home. Sidhu is itching to shoot. 

SURGICAL STRIKE YOU DID NOT KNOW ABOUT: Indian jawans killed everyone at this forward post of Pakistan and brought back seven bodies besides a trophy signed by Musharraf.

PUNJAB: AN IDEA IN SEARCH OF WORDS: The English writing on Punjab has constructed an urbane Punjabi universe. Punjab is more than a poster boy of progress or a renegade from the promise of modernity.

_______________________________________________________________

-------------

Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT





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Political economy of extension in age of retirement
13.09.17 - Dr. Pyara Lal Garg
Political economy of extension in age of retirement



THE TOTAL EXPECTED Revenue receipts of Punjab Government for the year 2017-18 as per Budget estimates are to the tune of Rs. 60,080 crore, while the estimated expenditure is Rs. 74,864 Crore. Revenue deficit is pegged at Rs. 14784 Crore which is 3.18% of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) for the year. In this total expenditure, Rs. 30979 crore (51.56%) that is more than half is to be incurred on salaries and pensions alone. Salary component being 20,832 crore and that for pension Rs. 10,147 crore.
 
Another addition is the interest payments on the loans raised; the same turns out to be Rs. 14,149 crore. After taking into account these three items the remaining amount for all other chores is Rs. 14,952 crore. These figures speak of the tragedy of the economy of Punjab, in it are hidden the secrets of the suicides of farmers and farm labour, the secrets of abject poverty in rural areas and the secrets of the unemployment of around twenty lakh youth out of a total of 1 crore 8 lakh youth in age group of 15 -34 years.
 
In the Budget no major effort has been resorted to reduce the debt burden by reducing the unnecessary expenditure or by making the administration act promptly in accordance with law. In reduction of expenditure and for providing employment to youth, the key item was to have a thorough look at the employees and officers deployed in Government departments and Semi Government organisations, but the same has not been undertaken.
 
The previous Government had permitted two year extension in service to the employees, as a consequence about 25,000 employees and officers who were to retire remained in jobs. With this loop sided policy, the expenditure on salaries and other facilities to these employees has increased , the chances of employment to youth have been given a heavy blow. The factors and reasons being quoted behind this policy of extension in age of retirement are that the Government has no finances for payment of retiral benefits to the retiring employees.
 
In the recent past when the Government started thinking on the issue of reverting back to the policy of retirement at 58 years, hurdles have been created by the bureaucracy and the rest of the employees by presenting fake figures. Initially they made out that Rs. 1700 crore is required for giving retiral benefits, then said Rs. 2600 crore is required which in order to give a last blow was projected to be Rs. 5000 crore.
 
The trend of getting wrong decisions and favourble decisions for the personal gains of the involved ones, by giving wrong data, fake figures and by way of concealment's is increasing because no action is initiated against such authorities who deceive the Government by way of fake data. The inaction on the part of the Government has emboldened such officers for other irregularities and  a huge increase in the Government expenditure is the outcome. The same however is unnecessary and is not required to be incurred at all otherwise.  

If we analyse the facts and figures, we find that the officers who have attained the age of superannuation that is the age of 58 years, and who are still working in state administration as PCS or PPS officers or are working in the departments of, Excise and Taxation, Agriculture, Education (schools and colleges), PWD, Finance, Planning, Panchayat Raj, Rural Development, Civil Supplies, Revenue,  Health, Medical Education and so on, in the pay scale of 37000-67000 with grade pay of 8600, 8700, 8800, 8900 and 10,000, are drawing a monthly salary of around Rs.1,50,000 to Rs. 1,75000. Their pension calculates out to be around Rs. 65000 – 85000.
 
Thus with the retirement of one officers Government saves Rs. 85000 to Rs. 1,15,000 each month. The new recruits are to be employed on initial basic salary in the pay band which calculates to be around Rs. 15600 to Rs.22000  per month. Thus after deployment of two new employees and after paying full pension of the retiree, the Government saves around Rs. 55000 to Rs. 69000 per month against one such employee. For deferment of the retiral benefits even if they are paid interest @ 7% (Banks rate of interest is less than 7%) the interest turns out to be Rs. 15000 to Rs. 20,000 per month. This interest income of the employee shall be taxable so Government shall get increased state share on income tax too. As such by taking into account all facts The Government shall be saving Rs. 40,000 to Rs. 49,000 per month per employee in addition to providing employment to two young persons in his her place.
 
As such by this measure the Government can save the finances, reduce expenditure on salaries drastically and open the doors for employment in case of each category of employees. 

But it has been observed that by this jugglery of figures, by presenting a terrorising state of affairs before the Government by way of fake data and concealment of facts, for serving personal ends anti people decisions are got done from the Government.
 
A concrete example of this misuse and deception is the department of Medical Education and Research, where in by presenting fake figures before the Council of Ministers (Cabinet) and by creating a fear psychosis of the de-recognition of the Colleges by Medical Council of India, the then Director manipulated the creation of such unrequired posts as were not acceptable to the Medical Council of India. Later the Government via notification dated February 2 ,2016, instead of abolishing these unnecessary posts changed the designation of the said posts of Senior Residents to that of Demonstrator/tutor.
 
The doctors who are deployed against such uncalled posts, have to be those who are possessing  MD/MS and are drawing higher salary. Needless to say that as per regulations of Medical council  of India, for the post of Demonstrators /tutors only MBBS doctors are required. (We had hundred of MBBS doctors working in the said colleges already). The Government had to issue a fresh notification changing the designation of these posts which are in Higher grade and are not required at all. The Medical teachers are being re-employed and being paid  the full salary last drawn as well as the pension. This re-employment in majority of the cases is against the purpose mentioned in the official records at the time of framing such a policy. As such in department having a total budget of around 350 crore, and excess unnecessary expenditure has been created to the tune of Rs. 50 to 60 crore. This can be saved after an inquiry.   

The facts about the extension in age of retirement of employees need to be inquired into by an impartial inquiry. The number of Senior Officers (A –Grade) working in the Government of Punjab, as on March 31st, 2013 was 31,108 and the same rose to 32,429 by March 2014. The officers in order to justify the increase in  the retirement age, resorted to many types of tactics and maneuvers. After retirement most of them become irrelevant, lose power and pelf, no body is willing to employee them even on meager salary.
 
Between March 2013 to March 2015 the number of Officers in Grade "B" increased from 46,777 to 55,877. The number of Government and Semi- Government Employees and officers in 2013,2014 and 2015 was as per the table given below:
 

Group

No. of Employees on 

31st March 2013

No. of Employees on 

31st March 2014

No. of Employees on 

31st March 2015

Govt/

Semi Govt

A

31,108

32,379

23,323

Govt.

B

46,777

51,039

55,877

Govt.

C

1,51,776

1,45,764

1,52,392

Govt.

D

50,196

49,691

47,595

Govt.

Contract

36,777

37,404

25,700

Govt.

Total

3,16,629

3,16,377

3,04,887

Govt.

Boards/

Corporations

62,581

63,480

59,987

Semi

Govt.

Municipal

Committees

28,409

28,956

26,653

Semi

Govt.

Panchayat Raj

7693

6938

3266

Semi

Govt.

Market

Committees

3620

3339

3057

Semi

Govt.

GRAND TOTAL

4,19,202

4,19,090

3,97,868

ALL

 

With the increase in age of retirement other benefits too accrue like the earned leave for 30 days, half pay leave of 20 days, casual leave of 20 days, whereas new employee is entitled to 15 days earned leave and 10 days casual leave.

From the above table depicting the number of officers and employees, it is evident that on 31st March 2015 there were 79,200 officers of Grade A & B, and 1,52,392 that of Grade C were in position. By taking 33 years as the average length of service, around 24,000-25,000 officers and employees shall be falling among the ones enjoying extension in service.
 
By adding the ones who have attained 58 years of age the it is estimated that number shall rise to around 30,000. In accordance with the calculations shown above, by employing two new ones in place of each retiree, around 60,000 young persons shall get the job.
 
In addition there shall be a saving of around Rs. 750 crore to the state exchequer. There can be a saving of around Rs. 50 crore in Medical Education and research Department alone. PCMS doctors posted against the newly created posts in excess, in Government Medical Colleges can be transferred to their cadre of PCMS in field, thus the acute shortage of specialists in the field can be reduced. With new recruitment and due to energetic and increased manpower the quality of services shall improve.
 
The savings can be used to solve the problems of the farmers and farm labor. The fiscal deficit shall also come down. But the purpose behind increase in age of retirement and re-employment of retirees is that they keep quiet (shut their mouth) in lieu of greed of Government job.
------------

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________
Most shared Punjab Today articles:

PEHLU KHAN CASE - Golden Day in the History of Indian Police: Will govt now compensate The Magnificent Six? The nation needs to know

Mr Home Minister, will you be visiting Farooq Ahmad Dar's house? How else will PM Modi's narrative of embracing Kashmiris & Rajnath SIngh's words mean anything substantive?

The Ryan Debate: How India missed the great cctv angle? Media only wants to debate the need for separate toilets for bus drivers and conductors. The most vulnerable are not covered by cctv, so they are not covered by tv either.

Political economy of extension in age of retirement: Dr Piare Lal Garg dwells upon what is wrong with policy formulation on retirement age.

The Gorakhpur Dead Speak to Punjab: From the infants burnt alive in Patiala to those who died in Gorakhpur, India's health parametres are escaping the media's radar.

WE WILL KILL 40-50: Haryana BJP, Govt calculated death toll before firing first bullet. Haryana BJP's party affairs incharge makes explosive revelations.

RELAX! ALL 30 WERE DERA PREMIS: The utter absence of any questions about the death of 30 people on the roads of a city reeking of wealth says something stinking about its conscience.

LET'S KILL PAASH: Dr Sumail Singh Sidhu unravels the layers of the latest row about the revolutionary poet’s work and asks why is Paash being summoned from the ashes to answer our allegations?

THE BLOODY VILLAIN OF PARTITION: As Radcliffe drew a line between India and Pakistan, resulting in 600,000 lives lost and 14 million displaced, we revisit the key question: Were the massacres avoidable, preventable?

A DOKLAM IN EVERY FIELD: Farmers not only produce food. They produce peace. And agitated farmers are no guarantee of a lasting peace. Not every danger lurks at Doklam.

TO SUKHBIR SINGH BADAL, SINCE NO ONE ELSE WILL SAY IT: Speaking truth to power, and asking some tough questions to a party that refuses to behave like one. Does it even register the sense of a loss?

DECONSTRUCTING NAVJOT SINGH SIDHUThis is a duel -- pistols drawn, hands on hip, 20 steps across, aim taken, fingers on trigger. Right now, it looks like Amarinder has forgotten his gun home. Sidhu is itching to shoot. 

SURGICAL STRIKE YOU DID NOT KNOW ABOUT: Indian jawans killed everyone at this forward post of Pakistan and brought back seven bodies besides a trophy signed by Musharraf.

PUNJAB: AN IDEA IN SEARCH OF WORDS: The English writing on Punjab has constructed an urbane Punjabi universe. Punjab is more than a poster boy of progress or a renegade from the promise of modernity.

_______________________________________________________________

-------------

Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT




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BEYOND RAGE
The Gorakhpur Dead Speak to Punjab
11.09.17 - Awagyakrit Singh
The Gorakhpur Dead Speak to Punjab



BETWEEN AUGUST 7 and August 11, 60 children died in Gorakhpur's BRD Hospital. On the single night of August 10, 23 children died. This is the night when the oxygen supply allegedly dried up. On two days of Aug 29 and 30, 42 kids died in same hospital. At BRD Gorakhpur, the month of August saw 290 children dead— 213 in NICU, 77 in the encephalitis ward. 
 
A few days later, it emerged that 49 children died in the same one month at Ram Manohar Lohia (Mahila) Hospital in Farrukhabad, allegedly for the same reason. As a leading sociologist and public intellectual has asked, have we become a "nation without common decency, common practicality and basic compassion?”
 
Why else will a TV anchor shriek that we should not speak about the Gorakhpur dead and instead speak about "real issues” like Vande Matram?
 
The point, however, is to speak not just about the Gorakhpur dead, but to go beyond it. The worst sin that we can commit is to limit our rage to Gorakhpur.
 
The fact is that a Gorakhpur is waiting to happen any day in some hospital in Punjab.
 
I vividly remember the day when five infants were burnt alive at Patiala's Neonatalogy Unit of the Government Rajindra Hospital in 2009. It was attributed to an electric short circuit. The fact is that 10 newborn babies in incubators had no one watching over them on that 31st day of January. I distinctly remember the calm unruffled demeanour of the then superintendent of hospital Dr Surinder Singh telling scribes that "it was an accident and nothing more should be read into it," and the journalists dutifully reporting his statement in next day's newspapers. Readers are welcome to google it.
----------
We need to not only speak about the Gorakhpur dead, but to go beyond it. The worst sin that we can commit is to limit our rage to Gorakhpur or Farukhabad. The fact is that a Gorakhpur is waiting to happen any day in some hospital in Punjab.
----------

That is exactly what happens. A tragedy happens at Gorakhpur. We bemoan it, are even sad about it, at times full of rage, sending each other messages, spreading awareness. And all this while, conditions in the medical facility in our neighbourhood could be even worse. 
 
In endless government hospitals and lesser facilities, you can still see electrical fittings almost designed to invite disaster. The sorry state of affairs in medical domain, of course, goes much, much beyond poor electrical cables to scarcity of oxygen cylinders. Stories of loot by private hospitals abound, people invariably believe, and with good reason, that hospitals often do not even inform relatives about the death of an in-patient and treatment continues for a couple of extra days just for some pecuniary gains. The glass gates barring patients' relatives from seeing their sick loved ones make little sense to those who watch medical dramas like ER or Grey's Anatomy. "Would Shonda Rhimes not have known about such glass barriers?" they wonder. 
 
Look carefully at this picture of Bahadur Nishad, holding his son Divaker, 2, and his wife Nandini cradling, instead of their 4-yr-old son Deepak, just his picture. Deepak died in the Intensive Care Unit of the Baba Raghav Das hospital in Gorakhpur district 48 hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid out his plan for re-imagining a New India. 
 
Read the picture: It is a family that official India does not consider poor. Study their possessions, one by one. That big drum: it has grains, the survival lifeline. See that cot, its condition much like much of India's though sarkaari ads on I-Day paint a different picture. Unplastered walls, untiled floor, all worldly possessions hanging from the nails hammered into walls. You can see their world because there is electricity - that solitary bulb. When floods come, the scene changes a little, but why disturb you further? If you have a heart, it should be broken by now.
 
If we had a heart, we would have shouted and shrieked ourselves hoarse about the state of medical care in Punjab. We would have do so much, much before those children were burnt alive. We would have been doing so much after those deaths in Gorakhpur. More than that, we would have engaged with national health policies in a manner befitting of people who care about small kids in Gorakhpur, or anywhere.
 
Pratap Bhanu Mehta has asked if India at 70 is too late to recover its own humanity. A clue to the answer to that will be in another query - how much is India talking about the health of its citizens?
 
Economists Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen have underlined that health occupies an insignificant part of democratic reasoning and discussion in India. This despite the fact that India does poorly even in South Asia on health-related parametres, and even falls behind Bangladesh.
 
In their 2014 book, An Uncertain Glory, they reported after monitoring the opinion pages of India’s largest English dailies in the second half of 2012, that only 1% of the articles – yes 1% – were about health. 
 
Even when health reporting increases in quantum, it is either episodic, as in case of Gorakhpur or Farukhabad, or about insurance scams or drug prices or life-style diseases like obesity. 
 
Why is there is so little interest among journalists and activists in the region about aspects of the new National Health Policy? Public interactions like the one organised by Jan Swasthaya Abhiyan and other groups recently in Chandigarh are exceptions that merely underline the lacuna.
 
As for the politicians, they have successfully inoculated us of any humane response. Kids burnt to death in Patiala? Badal government chor hai. Infants died dead in Gorakhpur? Yogi Adityanath ka kasoor hai. You opt for some expert-talk and watch TV debates but find that officials and ministers are busy chastising opposition leaders for seeking to politicize the issue. 
 
Make no mistake – they are ensuring that more will die next time around, and that our anger will be subdued because the novelty of this kind of pain is gone. Remember when farmer suicides made it to headlines initially? Watch the same headlines now, and you notice the normalisation. A few days of media headlines turns the unspeakable into the expected, and even acceptable.
 
Where is the debate about why India@70 can afford to have encephalitis claiming hundreds of lives every year without losing its standing globally? 
----------
Remember when farmer suicides made it to headlines initially? Watch the same headlines now, and you notice the normalisation. A few days of media headlines turns the unspeakable into the expected, and even acceptable. No wonder, India can afford to have encephalitis claiming hundreds of lives every year without losing its standing globally.
----------

Gorakhpur's dead children want you to go back to the drawing board. 

* India spends about 1.4 % of its GDP on public health, among the lowest in the world. The world level norms are 5-8 %. The target India has set for 2025 is to spend a mere 2.5% of GDP.
 
* Punjab's health spend on salaries is far more than on healthcare

* The recent reports on health and healthcare in Punjab, released by Tata Memorial Centre (TMC), Mumbai and PGI, Chandigarh have pointed to people dying due to late diagnosis of diseases like cancer.
 
* PGIMER and Public Health Foundation of India have said 77% of expenditure on health was being borne by households and individuals, with government’s contribution a mere 20%. 
 
* People are dying not because treatment is not available, but because they cannot afford it. 
 
* People are being pushed into poverty because of high health related expenditure. A total of 63 million people are pushed into poverty every year because of excessive out-of-pocket expenditure.
 
* If people in Chandigarh can visit government hospitals, why do people in Punjab avoid them? 
 
Even a little active interest evinced by a minister triggers action. Punjab's Health Minister Brahm Mohindra recently ordered a probe into Rs 6.28-crore purchase of Iron Folic Acid (IFA) tablets. The minister was candid enough to admit that the stock was clearly purchased for the sake of commission.
 
Brahm Mohindra's recent admonition to officials of 11 government departments for their "non-serious” approach in fighting dengue, chikungunya and other water and vector-borne diseases should have made is sit up and take note. This is when deaths are prevented, an epidemic is stopped.
 
It is time for us to seriously engage with National Health Policy 2017, the third such policy since India became Independent. It does little to regulate drug pricing, hospitalisation charges and frivolous charges. It acknowledges corruption in the health sector but explains little what is being done to regulate it. It advocates involving the private sector to meet public health goals, and devolves the government of its duty to provide health to all. The policy's intent is to promote private health industry for closing critical gaps in health care.
There are serious questions of regulation of clinical establishments or medical councils.
 
The dead kids in Gorakhpur cannot talk. We can. The Gorakhpur dead would want us to. Silence will be collaborative.

-------------

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

 ____________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles:

RELAX! ALL 30 WERE DERA PREMIS: The utter absence of any questions about the death of 30 people on the roads of a city reeking of wealth says something stinking about its conscience.

LET'S KILL PAASH: Dr Sumail Singh Sidhu unravels the layers of the latest row about the revolutionary poet’s work and asks why is Paash being summoned from the ashes to answer our allegations?

THE BLOODY VILLAIN OF PARTITION: As Radcliffe drew a line between India and Pakistan, resulting in 600,000 lives lost and 14 million displaced, we revisit the key question: Were the massacres avoidable, preventable?

A DOKLAM IN EVERY FIELD: Farmers not only produce food. They produce peace. And agitated farmers are no guarantee of a lasting peace. Not every danger lurks at Doklam. 
TO SUKHBIR SINGH BADAL, SINCE NO ONE ELSE WILL SAY IT: Speaking truth to power, and asking some tough questions to a party that refuses to behave like one. Does it even register the sense of a loss?

DECONSTRUCTING NAVJOT SINGH SIDHU: This is a duel -- pistols drawn, hands on hip, 20 steps across, aim taken, fingers on trigger. Right now, it looks like Amarinder has forgotten his gun home. Sidhu is itching to shoot. 

SURGICAL STRIKE YOU DID NOT KNOW ABOUT: Indian jawans killed everyone at this forward post of Pakistan and brought back seven bodies besides a trophy signed by Musharraf.

PUNJAB: AN IDEA IN SEARCH OF WORDS: The English writing on Punjab has constructed an urbane Punjabi universe. Punjab is more than a poster boy of progress or a renegade from the promise of modernity.
-------------

Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT




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FAQ on the cold blooded killings
The Assassination of Dissent
06.09.17 - sanehead
The Assassination of Dissent



FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS on the cold blooded killing at 8:30 pm yesterday of Gauri Lankesh, strong independent journalist based in Bangalore.
 
Q: After Dabholkar, Kalburgi and Pansare, Gauri , the daughter of eminent independent journalist , late P Lankesh, who was editor of the Kannada periodical, Gauri Lankesh Patrike, her version of the legacy of her father's Lankesh Patrike, and  always stood for courageous dissent with the establishment , is shot dead in cold blood outside her home in Bengaluru.
Is this the shape of things to come for all of us who have any brains left in India ?
 
A: Indeed. It doesn't seem to be our country any more. India has become a banana republic. We've been hijacked by a mad medievalist cult - a killer cult.
 
Q: Do you think that this will harm the BJP?
 
A: They are beyond caring. Their modus operandi goes far beyond the ballot box.
 
Q: But in terms of public opinion which then translates into votes, would some sections of the educated middle class turn away from Modi and BJP?
 
A: These are very small things in the mad rush to build a Hindu Rashtra. The middle class stands totally brainwashed. When you can buy a ready won mandate, as the BJP has done in Arunachal, Goa, Manipur, and even a huge heartland State like Bihar 20 months after General elections, why care about who the idiot voter votes for?
 
This occult-cult governed Party is hardly even political - they are power-seizing buccaneers. They need to have the control of India and the Indian Mind in their hands, by hook or by crook.
 
Q: Could this incident have something to do with the induction of RSS firebrand Anant Hegde, known for getting away with violence against doctors, and issuing open threats to anti-Hindutva forces, into the Union Council of Ministers?
 
A: The Congress is in power in Karnataka but has shown no enthusiasm in tracking the killers of Kalburgi who have been identified but seem to have vanished into thin air.
 
Gauri had been outspoken in her criticism of wrong actions of all political parties including Congress, BJP and JD-U and also of corrupt bureaucrats. She had been vocal in her opposition of Hindutva ideology.
 
She was out on bail after having been rather shockingly convicted of defamation for criticising RSS ideology in a case filed by BJP MP from Dharwad, Karnataka, Prahlad Joshi and BJP leader from Karnataka, Umesh Dushi , and sentenced to six months imprisonment and a fine of Rs 6000/-
 
With elections approaching in Karnataka the attempts at polarisation by the BJP can be expected, but it appears they may also resort to intimidation and outright assassinations as they have done in Kerala. North and South Kannara districts on the Kerala Border with considerable Christian and Muslim population, where Anant Hegde has considerable following among the Hindutva Brigade have been experiencing a pattern of hooliganism and violence similar to RSS activities in Kerala.
 
Courts have remarked upon the similarity in the modus operandi in the murder of rationalists and leftist thinkers Dabholkar and Pansare in Maharashtra and it seems that the killers might actually have been the same persons and backed by the same set of people.
 
This can be extended into neighbouring Karnataka and the same design and same method can be seen in the assassinations of independent and rational public intellectuals and thinkers Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh also.
 
Gauri had recently said clearly that supari killing of leftists and intellectuals had become a clear threat and needed to be investigated and acted against.
 
It is very clear that Hindutva Forces under a clear and centrally coordinated pattern are first intimidating and trolling, then legally embroiling and finally cold bloodedly assassinating all public intellectuals who are educating people against the poisonous and destructive nature of RSS - BJP 's Hindutva ideology.
 
Media People and Professors and students will increasingly be targeted by them, while their own RSS backed killers like Col Prasad Purohit, Pragya Thakur, Swami Aseemanand and Maya Kodnani will be let lose to spread more and more communal violence in the country.
 
In short, those who do not get convinced by Hindutva will be intimidated into accepting it, or outright assassinated.
 
If this is not totalitarianism, what is?
 
Q: Why do you think she did not formally complain of hate speech and threats against her on social media to the state authorities or ask for security?
 
A: She said she had too much other work to do. But are such formal complaints really required ?
And do they help or only act as means of weighing down the complainants with unsustainable police guards for some time, who actually act as spies for the establishment and restrict the movement of the so called protected person, leaving him or her even more vulnerable when they are inevitably withdrawn?
 
Why is it that the state does not take suo moto notice of such hate speech and threats on the net against public intellectuals and file cases against them when they are so prompt in case of posts critical of the ruling dispensation?
 
Is it any secret that Journalists such as Ravish Kumar, Barkha Dutt, Rajdeep Sardesai, John Dayal; leftist intellectuals Kavita Krishnan, Kanhaiya Kumar, Shehla Rashid, Umar Khalid ; Professors like Prabhat Patnaik, Romila Thapar, Nandini Sundar, Nivedita Narain and others like them are subjected to hate- speech , abusive posts , dirty trolling  and dire threats?
 
Are not thousands of independent thinkers in this country,  who post on social media, subjected to systematic trolling and threats of rape and murder by a coordinated army of trolls?
 
Are not such people active on Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp spreading hate?
 
Are we doing anything about it?
 
No
 
Well then, anyone who is left in this country who is capable of independent thinking and articulation can legitimately consider herself or himself under threat from this day onwards.
 
RSS or bust - that's the single mantra we must all chant, or risk being lynched, shot, raped or at the very least abused and trolled in the crudest and ugliest fashion imaginable.
 
The thought police is out to get the freethinkers.
 

-------------

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

 ____________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles:

RELAX! ALL 30 WERE DERA PREMIS: The utter absence of any questions about the death of 30 people on the roads of a city reeking of wealth says something stinking about its conscience.

LET'S KILL PAASH: Dr Sumail Singh Sidhu unravels the layers of the latest row about the revolutionary poet’s work and asks why is Paash being summoned from the ashes to answer our allegations?

THE BLOODY VILLAIN OF PARTITION: As Radcliffe drew a line between India and Pakistan, resulting in 600,000 lives lost and 14 million displaced, we revisit the key question: Were the massacres avoidable, preventable?

A DOKLAM IN EVERY FIELD: Farmers not only produce food. They produce peace. And agitated farmers are no guarantee of a lasting peace. Not every danger lurks at Doklam. 
TO SUKHBIR SINGH BADAL, SINCE NO ONE ELSE WILL SAY IT: Speaking truth to power, and asking some tough questions to a party that refuses to behave like one. Does it even register the sense of a loss?

DECONSTRUCTING NAVJOT SINGH SIDHU: This is a duel -- pistols drawn, hands on hip, 20 steps across, aim taken, fingers on trigger. Right now, it looks like Amarinder has forgotten his gun home. Sidhu is itching to shoot. 

SURGICAL STRIKE YOU DID NOT KNOW ABOUT: Indian jawans killed everyone at this forward post of Pakistan and brought back seven bodies besides a trophy signed by Musharraf.

PUNJAB: AN IDEA IN SEARCH OF WORDS: The English writing on Punjab has constructed an urbane Punjabi universe. Punjab is more than a poster boy of progress or a renegade from the promise of modernity.
-------------

Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT


  




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