It was one of the most beautiful of mornings : breeze on the other side of the glass wall, cozily warmed of sun obliquely on the back, and bright ambience cool through the innerwear and a half-sleeve wollen over my long shirt. Unusually, and very surprisingly, the news daily I was browsing through contributed by not carrying needless conflict on behalf of its political masters and paying clientele. At intervals I could even snatch recalls of the rolling music of Jerry Garcia, bouncing notes of Fleetwood Mac, and the iterating rounded strains of Tull’s flute. It mattered, I guess, that all of that blissful bonanza had converged of its own accord, as an unexpected benediction or a widening windfall that finds you totally unaware. It made crafting this piece a personal de rigueur.
It would of course be great to have our badminton nimblefoot honoured with Padma Bhushan, alongwith the wrestling champ Sushil Kumar. There have been voices suggesting she shouldn’t have pointedly mentioned the denial. I do not and empathise with her sentiment, of feeling aggrieved after all she had put in over a decade and achieved on ‘super’ competitive international platforms. In fact, I find her sport ahead of amateur wrestling, in terms of prestige and visibility, and the partisan attitude of government officials both inexplicable and inexcusable.
At the Indian Science Congress (ISC), Union Minister Prakash Javdekar wondered why Germany could make use of ancient Indian concepts and adapt them to produce cutting edge inventions, and India could not. Shashi Tharoor spoke sensibly of “modernists sneer” that “mock the credulous exaggerations” … “(but) you don’t need to debunk the genuine accomplishments of ancient Indian science“. Ancient aviation, as described by Maharshi Bharadwaja, was more advanced than modern-day technology, said the paper presented by Captain Anand Bodas and Ameya Jadhav. “The knowledge of aeronautics is described in Sanskrit in 100 sections, 8 chapters, 500 principles and 3,000 verses. In the modern day, only 100 principles are available,” they stated.
Ancient Indian engineers had knowledge of Indian botany and they used it in their constructions, said professor of civil engineering from Nagpur, A S Nene, in his paper. Most of the scholars who presented their papers on Sunday appealed to yo ung Indian scientists and researchers to look at ancient Sanskrit literature and derive advanced methodologies from them. Rajan Welukar, Mumbai University VC, said “one should at least look at the Vedas, but need not accept it“. Vijay Bhatkar, Indian scientist, said “Indians are so used to the slave mentality that we will only need a foreign nation to acknowledge the vast source of information. Once they do it, we will follow.”
The topic on ancient sciences was incorporated in the ISC for the first time on the insistence of Sanskrit scholars, said Gauri Mahulikar, head of the Sanskrit department, Mumbai University . “We believed Sanskrit also had a huge science repository and it should be brought before scientists.They should be open-minded and not have an orthodox outlook to this. This is just a thought, it should be followed by a debate and then experimentation. We cannot do research as we’re not scientists. That is why we appeal to the science fraternity to take this knowledge forward.”
There was a dark extremely unhappy pall in news about a young man’s death, his recently married wife brutalised and stabbed, and his mother left thirsty and unconscious within a room locked from outside. She had met man over a matrimonial website and planned their marriage before letting their families know about it. They were married in November, mere two months ago, and had gone for a honeymoon in Thailand. Her father told the police that she had grown resentful towards her man as he returned home each evening only to abuse her physically.
App based cab services like Uber and Ola are still banned in Delhi and the National Capital Territory region. The geographical restriction is what I have not understood, if a service is disallowed by the authorities per se because they are not safe. The ban however is justified : someone has to ensure the safety deliverables, which radio taxi operators confirm. The fact that app based services are offered by huge tech firms does not merit a second hearing.
I had no sympathy for Christian Mission verticals and united call to halt the “ghar wapasi” or “return home” program conducted by Hindu organisations. It beats logic to vehementally disagree with a legislative proposal to ban all “conversions” and stand by this status quo in which they could convert Hindus but cry foul when the reverse happened. It is such a shame at a time when half of the population in Western world have turned atheist or agnostic, when sordid sagas of corruption, embezzlement, rape and pedophilia with the Church is still open. It is moot if economic or social causes within the Hindu way, even if unbearable, suggest a solution in their change of faith !
The two “hero” stories warmed me up real good, both in the police. One, Mallika Banerjee, may not be a decorated encounter cop or a trained undercover agent, but she displayed unusual grit and gumption to bust organised trafficking rings in the capital to earn the sobriquet of Chhattisgarh’s `Mardani’ — The Man. After nabbing 15 traffickers and rescuing 20 children from Delhi’s hellholes, she’s become a blockbuster star in the state. Disguised as salesgirl selling body massagers on the street, facing life threats and spurning big bribes for withdrawing from the investigation, the young sub-inspector of the anti-human trafficking cell worked hard to meet the Supreme Court’s deadline to trace the missing children who, she discovered, were children were sold for Rs 30,000-Rs 35,000 with a monthly fixed payment of Rs 5,000. Afterwards, Mallika said, “I feel more connected to these kids.”
The other story is of a daring crime-intolerant IPS officer Shivdeep Wamanrao Lande, Patna’s Superintendent Of Police (SP). His proactive and no-nonsense policing had made him hugely popular. People had erupted in protest three years ago when he was transferred 10 months after posting in the city. Lande led several raids on illegal trade of spurious drugs, cosmetics, edible items and shady cyber-cafes. He is known to take calls on phone at any hour and acts promptly on complaints. Eve teasers land behind bars even as young women take a shine on Bihar’s supercop: their knight in shining armour. He donates half his salary to the Sangathan which organizes mass weddings of poor girls and runs coaching classes and a hostel for poor students. The initiative has employed scores of young men.
Is the society responsible for rape or the government ? The UP Minister For Women is sure it is the society, not the government. I personally believe, the society is the cause for the ‘thought’ of rape; the government is responsible for deterring the act, punishing the perpetrator and providing succour to the victim…
Climate change is making the identification of the harvest window more difficult. As the atmosphere warms, the desired ratio of acid to sugar occurs earlier in the season. What a tricky challenge !
Using techniques learnt from her dad, Sailor lit a stick from the flames of her family’s small Piper PA-34 aircraft to help guide her through the woods after the plane crashed in Lyon Country, Kentucky on Friday. She crossed two embankments and a river creek in darkness and near freezing temperatures, before she reached the house of Larry Wilkins, about three-quarters of a mile from the crash site. Wilkins, 71, who immediately phoned the police, said that Sailor was trembling, bloodied and wearing summer clothes when he opened his door to her.
“I come to the door and there’s a little girl, seven years old, bloody nose, bloody arms, bloody legs, one sock, no shoes, crying,” he said. “She told me that her mom and dad were dead, and she had been in a plane crash, and the plane was upside down. “Brave little girl, outstanding little girl,” he added.
I wonder what is the Buckingham Palace is contesting, against a women’s allegations made in Florida court that she was forced as a minor to have sex with Prince Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth, as well as with other figures linked to a disgraced US financier Jeffrey Epstein. Why, I can understand : HRH… His Royal Highness. “The allegations made are false and without any foundation,“ a spokesman for Buckingham Palace was quoted as saying by the British newspapers. I find the same words mirroring at such defense.
HRH, my foot !
Closer home, a Dalit eunuch scripted history on Sunday by winning a direct mayoral election in Chhattisgarh and is all set to become the mayor of Raigarh. A school dropout who studied till class 8, Madhu Kinnar, 35, would collect money by singing and dancing with other eunuchs to eke out a living. She contested as an Independent, defeated her nearest rival, BJP’s Mahaveer Guruji, by a 4,537 votes.
Till 1970s in India. lawyers for rape accused mostly succeeded in portraying the victim as a woman of loose character. The judicial mindset reached its crest on September 15, 1978, when the Supreme Court acquitted two Maharashtra policemen, who were convicted by the Bombay HC for sexually assaulting a minor girl Mathura, who had allegedly eloped with her lover. The judges had based the acquittal on medical report showing Mathura to be habituated to sex and that she did not raise an alarm when being sexually assaulted.
Many cringed at the insensitive `Mathura’ judgment. The course correction was done by Justice Krishna Iyer on August 14, 1980, who said: “Corroboration as a condition for judicial reliance on the testimony of a prosecutrix (victim) is not a matter of law, but a guidance of prudence under given circumstances.”
About the mindset, Justice Iyer said: “There are several `sacred cows’ of the criminal law in Indo-Anglian jurisprudence which are superstitious survivals and need to be re-examined. When rapists are reveling in their promiscuous pursuits and half of humankind – the womankind – is protesting against its hapless lot, when no woman of honour will accuse another of rape since she sacrifices thereby what is dearest to her, we cannot cling to a fossil formula and insist on corroborative testimony , even if taken as a whole, the case spoken of by the victim strikes a judicial mind as probable.“
He had also advised against knee-jerk reaction of making the punishment for rape more stringent. Better course would be to sensitise and professionalise the machinery responsible for probe and prosecution, he had said.
Lack of sensitivity among Judges towards rape victims lead to devastating results. In 2007, Oxford Country court judge Julian Hall doubted a 10-year-old girl’s age and blamed her provocative sense of dressing to award a friendly 9-month prison term to the man who violated her. Hall forgot rape was a heinous offence which gets severest punishment world over when the victim is a minor. Did it matter how she dressed or how old she appeared to be ? Hall probably subscribed to the mindset of another Judge – Betrand Richards of Ipswich Crown Court – who had in 1982 created a sensation by his judgment in another rape case.
A young lady on a lonely stretch stuck out her thumb for a hitch. A young man driving a car gave her a lift. He took advantage of the lonely stretch and raped her. He was convicted for the offence. But Judge Richards let him off with a fine of 2,000 pounds saying the girl was guilty of “contributory negligence“ by knowingly taking the risk of hitchhiking at a lonely hour on a lonely stretch.
The judge did not see the other side – the girl was trying to get away from the lonely stretch and had reposed trust in the young man.
In India, Justice Narain Singh Azad of Madhya Pradesh HC could qualify to be counted in the category of Halls and Richards. Eight years ago, Justice Azad had awarded cursory punishments to convicts in nearly a hundred rape cases on the ground that offenders were illiterate tribals. Fortunately, the SC saw the fallacy in the approach and sent back all the cases to the HC for a fresh hearing.
“The unchastity of a woman does not make her open to any and every person to violate her person as and when he wishes. She is entitled to protect herself if there is an attempt to violate her person against her wish. She is equally entitled to protection of law. Therefore, merely because she is of easy virtue, her evidence cannot be thrown out.“
Finally, something to applaud…