Sunday, May 24, 2009

After Slumdog

As for the children who acted in Slumdog Millionaire, life has done a double flip for little Rubina Ali, 9, and Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, 10, who captured American hearts as they were trotted to the Oscar Awards ceremony in February. According to media reports, Rubina’s house has been fitted with hi-tech gadgets, including a 32-inch LCD screen. In an official statement, the movie’s producers said they are looking to buy both children apartments near their old slum, whose ownership will rest in a trust until they complete their education and turn 18. The clause was included to prevent the adults from selling their flats. The producers have also arranged for a rickshaw to take the children to a non profit English medium school.

The Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority has gifted two apartments for the children to felicitate their achievements. The producers say they are working with local social workers to ensure that the children get a decent education and a better life.

However, soon after the kids come into money, relatives and publicity hounds began crawling out of the woodwork. Rubina’s biological mother Khurshid Begum surfaced to claim the child (and her fame and money) she had abandoned. She is now fighting a custody battle with Rubina’s stepmother who brought her up. Indian police are currently investigating a report in a British tabloid News of the World accusing her father Rafiq Qureshi of offering to sell her for $260,000 to a fake sheik.

Sanjoy Roy, founder of the Salaam Baalak Trust, says: “The most important thing is that there needs to be a comprehensive plan for their long term rehabilitation. Such a plan might include provisions for career choices, a mentor for guiding them through the ups and downs of life and even counseling to cope with sudden fame and then maybe anonymity. It is also important that the money that is being raised in the name of the children be put in a fixed deposit for them so that they don’t need to be dependant on any trust or any individual.”

That is an issue also confronting the star of another movie that created waves with Slumdog Millionaire at this year’s Oscars, Smile Pinki, the story of a young girl Pinki whose life was transformed by cleft surgery, which won the Oscar in the short documentary feature category. Satish Kalra, regional director for South

Asia for Smile Train, the international charity which offers free cleft surgery to children such as Pinki, said: “Smile Pinki will hopefully raise awareness on the global problem of cleft lip and cleft palate. We cannot support her education as Smile Train only provides a level playing field to these children. We hope somebody comes forward and supports Pinki’s education.”

Pinki has found a mentor in Dr. Subodh Kumar Singh, the doctor who performed the surgery on her and accompanied her to the Oscars. He complains that often people promise support to Pinki just for the publicity. He cited media reports that Pinki would be getting education free for life, but Singh says, he isn’t aware of any such commitments. The Indore Medical School has promised free medical education for Pinki, but Singh says: “She is only in the second standard. The most important thing for her now is to complete her primary and secondary education. Only then we can think of her further education. As of now I am bearing the cost of her education and I will continue to do so.”

Since her surgery, Pinki is happy and engaged at her school, where earlier she was ostracized. An intelligent girl, she is especially proud of her books, which have been gifted to her by the scores. She has turned her collection of fiction and non-fiction books into a library in her village, issuing them out to people who want to borrow them. Singh says: “Education is the only way forward. Given a level playing field, Pinki will go far in life.”

Pinki’s exposure to the world has also proved beneficial for her village, Rampur Dhavaia in Uttar Pradesh. The U.P. government has gifted her a new house and announced plans to develop her village as a “model village.”

The success of Slumdog Millionaire propelled the problem of slum and street children in India to international attention. The Indian government is proposing the establishment of a National Commission for Children to promote the welfare and rights of children.

The young stars of Slumdog Millionaire feted at Universal
Studios Hollywood in February.
However, Roy says, it will take time for major changes to take effect. “In villages in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and the South there is a huge improvement in rolling out education where the Panchayats have been made responsible for the local school system, appointing teachers, and so on. Sure some schools are still rudimentary, but in states with bad governance like Bihar, UP, Bengal, etc., this has yet to set in.”

For children thrust into the public vortex through movies, the psychological effects of their 15 minutes of fame can be both uplifting and devastating. Sissel recalls it took years for Bernard to recognize that survival was no longer his problem. “He was, oh, so brave to take such a big step with a Western woman. He is still saving himself.”

Children rights activists say that the money showered on the children is inevitably frittered away. Long term rehabilitation alone can ensure that the children do not slip back into their old lives. They say the children require counseling to come to terms with their sudden fame and equally sudden ignominy; that the money they earn should be put in a trust for their education and career goals and most importantly they should be taken out of the slum environment so they grow up with regular kids.

Geeta Venkadakrishnan, director of the Kolkata chapter of Hope Foundation says, “I am sure very soon the little girl from Slumdog Millionaire will be offered endorsements or a role in some movie or serial. However, that is not the solution. We need to first take care of their education and then other things. Without education it will not be long before she (Rubina) sinks back to the drudgery she came from.”

Slumdog Millionaire’s story about slum kids touched the hearts of cinemagoers worldwide. It propelled its child stars to instant stardom. The Mumbai slum children Rubina, in a gown, and Azhar, dapper in a tuxedo, walked the Red Carpet and were feted in five star hotels in the United States at this year’s Oscars.

On their return to India, both the children complained of the heat and mosquitoes. Those will be the least of their problems in the roller coaster life ahead.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

coalition politics

The vote in the recently concluded elections for stability is more of a negative vote for politicians who exhibited their arrogance during poll campaigning. The Left, which enjoyed power without responsibility, received a drubbing. The Lalus and the Mulayams suddenly discovered that they were the dispensers of people’s choice and wanted to treat the Congress as their poor cousin. Mr. Paswan went a step further to declare that the Congress cannot survive without his support.

In Kerala, a septuagenarian leader wanted his son to don the mantle at the cost of the party and was willing to break the party to show his superiority. Another leader presumed that her new-found love for Eelam would make the people to forget her earlier stand and that she would be given votes unequivocally. Yet another leader presumed that he could make his side the winner and put a premium on his association, not to speak of the one who shouted from the rooftop that he was the sole custodian of the Dravidian spirit.

Senior Congress leaders are meeting with key pre-poll partners, the Trinamool Congress and the DMK, on distribution of Cabinet berths.Both parties are reportedly eying plum portfolios and more ministries. The market of bargain has started.

The Congress is under pressure from its ally DMK which is seeking several ministerial berths and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee reportedly insisting on getting one more ministerial portfolio than what the DMK gets. While the DMK has won 18 Lok Sabha seats, TMC has got 19.

A tussle is reportedly on wresting the Railway Ministry, held by RJD chief Lalu Prasad who is unlikely to find a berth in Manmohan Singh's second innings. Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee is eyeing the Railway portfolio as also the DMK.

Singh was appointed Prime Minister on Wednesday for a second consecutive term after the UPA coalition staked its claim to form the government with the backing of 322 MPs. Swearing-in is to take place on May 22.

In view of the comfortable numbers the coalition has in the 543-member Lok Sabha, the President has not asked the Prime Minister to prove his strength in the House. Parliament is likely to be convened on June two.

Post-election, the Samajwadi Party, the RJD, the BSP and other parties are only too eager to give unconditional support to the UPA government. A lion’s share of the media space and time are taken up by the allies and supporting parties seeking cabinet berths.

With the Prime Minister due to be sworn in on Friday, all sides are working overtime to first finalise the share of parties in the Council of Ministers and then decide on the portfolios. In all likelihood, the Prime Minister will be sworn in with only a few Cabinet-level Ministers representing the key allies, and the full Council of Ministers will be in place later.

Is it not time to enact the right to recall to pull back candidates for non-performance and those who switch alliances post-election. Only then will our political parties learn to respect the people’s mandate.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Prabhakaran's body found

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan troops recovered the body of slain rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran on Tuesday, a day after he was killed in the Tamil Tigers' last stand against government forces in the north, the military said.

The government had announced Prabhakaran's killing on Monday, but later said they had not yet found his body. A rebel official abroad denied Prabhakaran was killed and said he was in a safe place.

As speculation grew about Prabhakaran's fate, army chief Gen. Sarath Fonseka announced that his body had been recovered.

"A few hours ago, the body of terrorist leader Prabhakaran, who ruined this country, was found in the battleground," he told state television. "I take responsibility for this statement."

Fonseka's announcement came hours after President Mahinda Rajapaksa delivered a victory address to parliament, declaring that his country had been "liberated" from terrorism after defeating the Tamil Tiger rebels on the battlefield.

LTTE supremo Prabakaran dead

The reported killing of Velupillai Prabakaran, his son and other top LTTE leaders by the Sri Lankan armed forces has brought to an end a horrific chapter in the history of Sri Lanka. Bloodshed, in its worst form, marked three decades of violence in Sri Lanka with the LTTE pursuing the unjustified demand for a separate Eelam. A horrendous chapter in the history of terror and megalomania has come to an end with Prabakaran's elimination. With help and sympathy from across the Palk Strait and money from the Tamil diaspora the world over, the LTTE leader hijacked the Sri Lankan Tamil movement for equality and rights. The LTTE ruthlessly eliminated its political opponents, including Rajiv Gandhi. Prabakaran became a victim of the sword he raised many times to eliminate others.

The LTTE's decision to concede defeat was too little too late. Had it taken the decision six months ago, thousands of civilian deaths could have been avoided. It fought a losing battle which resulted in unnecessary death and destruction.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa who put down the Tigers with an iron hand deserves to be praised and thanked. President Rajapaksa deserves praise for the manner in which he dealt with the LTTE. He has created history by eradicating the terrorist menace from the Sri Lankan soil. Mr. Rajapaksa's courage and determination are truly laudable. Our leaders should learn a lesson or two from him on liberating India from terrorism.

Prabakaran's death marks the fall of a dreaded terrorist organisation. His end is a lesson for those who divide their country for personal benefits by poisoning the minds of innocent people.There is a lesson for potential rebels in Prabakaran's end. Armed struggles have not and will not succeed. For gaining one's rights, one does not have to kill people. Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King would have no relevance if violence was effective. Unfortunately, history could not convince Prabakaran to adopt peaceful means. The other lesson is for those at the helm of affairs. Victory achieved using weapons is temporary. The root cause of the issue needs to be addressed politically and economically.

With his death, the most dreaded terror group camouflaged as freedom fighters stands annihilated. It is now for the Sri Lankan government to ensure that history is not repeated.This is a crucial time for Sri Lanka. The government should find an amicable, humanitarian and dignified solution to the ethnic crisis with the help of India and other nations. The representatives of Tamils should be included in the talks to find a permanent solution within the framework of the Sri Lankan ConstitutionPrabakaran's killing, it is hoped, will mark the beginning of a new dawn in the island nation.
COLOMBO: Sri Lankan troops recovered the body of slain rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran on Tuesday, a day after he was killed in the Tamil Tigers' last stand against government forces in the north, the military said.

Monday, May 18, 2009

resurgent congress poised for 2nd term

Its all over for L.K.Advani ,his dream has been shattered , becoz of modi l.k.advani should be reborn to rahul full fill his dream.....I congratulate Dr.Manmohan Singh for this 2nd term as p.m ..2moro sensex will touch 13k ... nd evething will be positive henceforth .....rahul gandhi rocks!!! its his idea to put candidates in u.p ...BJP is only for rich ....cong for aam u can see cong emerging as single largest party ......

India voted decisively for continuity and stability in the general election to the 15th Lok Sabha, giving the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance another five-year term in office.In terms of seats, this is the best performance by the Congress since 1991, the last time the country saw a single-party, although minority, government. Verdict 2009 gives little scope for the smaller parties or groupings to engage in backroom negotiations to decide the shape of the next government. The Congress holds all the aces. The prime ministership will not be up for bargaining, as some of the smaller players were hoping. For President Pratibha Patil, the task on hand couldn’t be simpler: there is no need to consult constitutional experts to decide on whom to invite to form the next government. Manmohan Singh, the declared candidate of the Congress and the automatic choice for Prime Minister, could be the first Prime Minister since Indira Gandhi to have two full terms.

It has proved time and again that the tricks of social Engg. ( Mayabati ), Religion politics ( Modi, Advani & company ) & cast politics ( Lalu, Paswan & Mulayam ) can work magic for one / two times only.This is not Rahul Vs Modi or Congress Vs BJP, this is Aam Admi Vs political tricks. The ideologies of BJP represented by Modi & Advani which has rejected by people. Hence they are missing Atal Bihari Bajpayee .

There was no one big surprise anywhere, but the Congress party pulled out one small surprise after another across the regions of India. When it seemed to take the long view in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and spurned alliance offers by regional players, few predicted any immediate gains for the party. But now, one of the significant features of this election is surely the re-emergence of the Congress as a key player in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, where 80 seats are on offer. The same strategy did not work of course in Bihar, where the alliance of the Janata Dal(United) and the Bharatiya Janata Party rode on the good track record of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. All the same, the Congress seems to have sown the seeds of its own resurgence by adopting a long-sighted strategy in the two key Hindi-speaking States.

To have a realistic chance of forming the government, the BJP not only had to hold its ground in the Hindi belt; it also needed its allies to do well. While the JD(U) obliged in Bihar, the Shiv Sena disappointed in Maharashtra. The honours were more or less even in Punjab. But more importantly, potential post-poll allies such as the Telugu Desam Party and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti in Andhra Pradesh and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in Tamil Nadu did not do as well as they were expected to. And this came after the demoralising loss of a long-time ally, the Biju Janata Dal, in Orissa. After reaching a plateau in the Hindi belt, the BJP needed to grow outside its traditional strongholds to really threaten the Congress. In recent years, its only success in this regard has been Karnataka. But in other States in the south, the party is far from being a player of any significance.

Other than the BJP, the big loser in the current election is the Left. In both West Bengal and Kerala, the Left parties suffered severe reverses; if the loss in the southern State can be explained in terms of the customary swing of the pendulum, the failure to win a majority of seats in the eastern State is the first in more than three decades.

In many States, regional issues came into play. The Sri Lankan Tamil issue dominated campaign rhetoric in Tamil Nadu. In Bihar, the fight became a virtual referendum on the performance of the Nitish Kumar-government after years of Lalu-Rabri rule. In Maharashtra, the split in the Shiv Sena engineered by Raj Thackeray seems to have played as big a role as the coming together of the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress. India faces a number of internal and external challenges: in particular, the impact of the global economic slowdown, and the tensions and instability in the neighbourhood. The UPA must guard against complacency and must use this second innings to improve governance and respond effectively to the big challenges.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

In case of Hung parliament

The Congress wants a non-BJP government, the Third front wants a non-Congress and non-BJP government, and the BJP wants to take the support of any combination on its terms. The President sure has a tough task ahead.

It is indeed stocktaking time for parties in the run-up to government formation. All parties are getting ready to woo MPs to get the requisite numerical strength in Parliament.Before and during the polls, every party is an enemy of the other. But after the elections, all parties, doubtful of their position, start wooing those they criticised and opposed during electioneering. As usual it is the voter who is left in the lurch, looking like a fool.

Electoral bargains from the very beginning of the Lok Sabha term do not augur well for the country’s future.It is appalling to see our leaders compromising their ideology and conviction for power. Can people trust those who change their colour on the basis of the electoral outcome? No wonder, the educated are losing interest in election and democracy.

The Constitution gives the right to every eligible citizen to contest the elections. No wonder we have many individuals and parties in the fray. Any number of parties can align to form a majority in Parliament. As more and more parties contest and come together to form a government, governance becomes more difficult. The leader of the coalition is forced to abandon its policies. The Constitution can be amended restricting the number of parties that can combine to form a government.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Indians faces another incident of racism

Over 50 Indian passengers flying Air France had a "harrowing" time "with hardly any water and food" at Paris airport after their aircraft developed a technical problem and complained that they were victims of "racial" profiling.

The tired passengers, who arrived Mumbai late Monday night after being stranded for 28 hours at Paris, said they were confined to a "small" lounge at the airport from 10 pm on Sunday till 7 am the next morning.

"We were kept in a small room (lounge) with hardly any food or water and we were told we could not leave the airport. We spent a whole night over there in that condition," a passenger, who travelled on aboard the flight-AF 218, said.

The passengers, on their way to Mumbai from the US via Paris, said while other foreigners were taken to hotels shortly after their plane returned to the airport due to a technical problem following a four-hour flight, the Indians were taken to the lounge and just given a bottle of water and a sandwich.

Giving details of their "harrowing" time, one of the travellers, one among passengers said, "No foreigner would have been treated like the way we were treated. People were lying down on the floor over there (at a place at the airport) where immigration takes place."

Accusing Air France of "racial" profiling, a passenger said the officials there even had threatened that they would be handed over to the police if they did not stop protesting. No reason has officially been given for the delay.

Air France, in a press release, said, "Passengers with a valid transit visa were put up at nearby hotels for the night." It also regretted any inconvenience caused. But the 55 Indians said they were made to wait over ten hours for their transit visas in dismal conditions.

Sudhakara Reddy, president, Air Passengers Association of India, said, "We receive a lot of complaints from our members and Indian passengers about the discrimination they face on board some European airlines, but it's difficult to win such cases as it is hard to produce proof to substantiate the allegations."

Friday, May 8, 2009

Pakistan’s initiative

Pakistan President Asif Zardari’s initiative to have a fresh dialogue with the new government coming to power in India is a welcome gesture. If Pakistan responds to India with a positive mindset and acts sincerely, it will pave the way for better commercial, cultural and sporting relations between two countries. With the new world order favouring a collective combat against terrorism, Pakistan’s call may be considered a positive signal.

President Zardari wants a “commercial relationship” with India and is keenly looking at the “markets of India for industrialists of Pakistan.” He does sound genuine but he has to first withdraw the hordes of jihadi terror peddlers dumped on India, stop the stream of infiltration and close down all jihadi terror manufacturing corporates firmly established in Pakistan. Peace and terror cannot coexist.

These terrorists and extremists are harmful for not only neighboring countries but also for Pakistan herself. In my view Pak can take help of India as well as USA in war against terror.  

India has always shown a firm belief in peace and negotiations to settle its disagreements with Pak. India should make a deliberate effort to impress on Pakistan the need to establish a democratically elected government there and then go ahead with the peace dialogue and economic ties.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Why they are showing middle finger??

These are two pictures appeared on same day in The Hindu. First picture is of the leaders who voted in the third phase of the Lok Sabha elections are (from left) Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani, and AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh, displaying the indelible ink mark on their forefingers. Second picture is of the Bachchan family outside a polling station in Mumbai, displaying the indelible ink mark on their middle fingers.

First of all i want to ask why they are showing middle fingers? Whether their votes would be in/valid, whether there was a different rule for them and whether they know or not that the gesture was vulgar. The normal standing instruction is that the ink should be applied on the left index/forefinger (though there are alternate rules in case the forefinger is missing or if there are no fingers in some disabled persons). SO, by this gesture the Bachchan family has not only offended election commission but also the entire nation. If in any case the ink was put on their middle fingers they should have avoided the gesture by showing all fingers.