Thursday, February 28, 2013

A quiet day, comparatively!

There were a few people who'd come to meet me. I've always enjoyed the interactions because they put me in the right perspective and straighten my thinking.

A quiet day, otherwise and I was down to fixing up small things like leaking faucets, changing bulbs etc. And I enjoyed doing them thoroughly! 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A series of activities.

My mom had wanted to go to our family temple to see the work that has been done thus far. The 'sarpakkavu' has come up well and the final stretch of work was on. And she was thrilled to be back in the temple premises after a long while. I was reminded of my last visit almost six years back and it was dad, then, who was infirm and had to be guided around. It was mom's turn to be guided around now - the inevitable turn of life's cycle!

Old age seems to have caught up with her, she has put on a bit of weight around the girth but she looked very, very excited probably because of seeing all of us, together, after a month.

Then it was a short visit to the nearby Upper Primary School(both my sisters are ex-students of the school!) to handover five grand to the Head Mistress, as an endowment in dad's name, to provide books to the library. The books would be bought by a team from the school - consisting of students and teachers - and handed over by the family, on 19 Jun, during the special assembly on the occasion of the 'Reading day'. The son-in-law and the father-in-law will be remembered together on that occasion!

82 year old Sarasamma aunty's funeral had to be attended and by the time I'd returned from that venue it was sunset. I was dog tired but since mom was insistent on getting a replacement for the existing geyser, it was yet another trip to the town and back. I didn't have the heart to say no to her!!


And it was back to a boisterous evening and catching up with my sisters.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Behind the wheel.

It was business as usual as I'd fetched up at work to have a quick round up of the work in hand. I'm on a short break to attend to certain commitments on the domestic front.

We'd kicked off a trifle before lunchtime, were on the highway without any delay as the traffic was manageable and headed for home. Except for a short stopover at our regular petrol bunk at Alappuzha and a quick bite of the delicious vegetable burger from Ann's, the journey was smooth and we reached mom well before sunset.

It was yakkitiyak with both my sisters in attendance and of course, with li'l Ammu chipping in about her college gags. It was indeed very late into the night before we called it a day.


Tomorrow seems to be action packed as the day begins at 5! 

Monday, February 25, 2013

'Celluloid' - the life and times of JC Daniel.

The Malayalam film, 'Celluloid' made by Kamal has become popular and to top it all, it has also won quite a few awards in the state government's announcements for the year 2012.

It chronicles the life and times of JC Daniel, who, in 1920, meets none other than Dadasaheb Phalke at Bombay and decides to make a 'motion' picture in Malayalam. His enthusiasm is so overwhelming that he puts his entire wealth into the making of the movie. He also decides to make a social drama unlike the mythological genre of films that were then being made by the Hindi and the Tamil film industries.

And the movie was 'Vigathakumaran' meaning 'Lost child'. He, too, had acted in his film! Unfortunately, there are no takers with the film staying in the cans and it's said that Daniel died a broken man, literally penniless and in abject poverty! The trials and tribulations that he'd to undergo for his passion of film making forms the script of Kamal's latest effort.

The songs have a 'period feel' about them and they merge well with the backdrop. And they've quite a few shots of the lush rural landscape depicting the period.


The movie has picked up a lot of controversies primarily for the errors in facts, though to my mind it's a case of making a mountain out of a mole hill. The maker has used his artistic freedom. Period!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Is 'goodbye to reading' a possibility?

I've been hearing the laments of people about iconic bookshops pulling down shutters permanently as the number of people buying books have reduced to almost a dwindle! Well, statistics do prove that the lament is not misplaced. We'd discussed the Reader's Digest filing for bankruptcy, on this forum, recently.

Is it because reading has fallen from favour? Or is it that most of the books are available on line and one doesn't have to wait, any more, for a copy of one's choice to reach the book shelves of the favourite bookshop in the vicinity? Or is it that one resorts to get everything in a condensed form and be smug about the fact that one's aware of the entire book after having perused its teaser trailer?

The reason could be a combination of all of them. My personal take on the situation is that there's nothing greater a satisfaction than having a book at hand, with the freedom of flipping the pages and reading to your heart's contend without having to bother about the constraints of time. And I must reiterate the tingle of excitement that I get whenever I go through my small collection of books - and my possessions are motley when compared to what I've seen with the others.

I'm sure that there're many more die hard fans like me who love reading and are fond of collecting books or other forms of reading material! The habit of reading can never die!!


Wonder what my grandfather would have to say about the current situation? I can visualise him saying emphatically that any human being who wants to grow will read. "It helps him to clear the cobwebs in his mind".

This is, incidentally, one of the aspects that will be deliberated upon on 01 Mar when the state celebrates his 104th birthday.     

Saturday, February 23, 2013


My thoughts today touch upon trivia but they're sufficient enough to etch a few lines, deep within. If one were to ask me as to whether they really affect me, the answer is a yes and a no.

1. Ramji's angst continues.

Ramji had come in this afternoon at my behest. As he went about his work, he told me that it was his niece's(his elder brother's daughter) wedding tomorrow and that he's not been invited. The elder brother is not on talking terms with him because he feels that his younger brother is a successful businessman and he has not got a share of the spoils! A logjam in relationship rising out of plain jealousy!

Funny, how relationships meander!

2. Kochi, in a traffic mess!

With repairs being affected on two arterial roads, the traffic within the city during peak hours, has taken a turn for the worse and this is gonna be so for the next 45 days or so. The repair work are:-

        (a) Resurfacing of the approach roads and the bridges off Kundannoor(the NH 47, if you please) that
             service the traffic towards the south, like Thiruvananthapuram, etc.

        (b) Widening of the Banerji road in connection with the metro rail activities!

The traffic policemen are doing a fantastic job despite the constraints within which they work and the uncouth behaviour of the motorists. Seeing the long queue of vehicles during the evening peak hours, I was glad that I was on foot - was on my customary evening walk - and not behind the wheel. Many of the them are gonna reach their destinations quite late!!

3. Water in short supply.

It's just the end of February, but there's news aplenty that water is getting to be scarce in various parts of the state. We're in a privileged(?) colony and hence, have not felt the pinch as yet but today's was an exception. According to the gentleman, on duty at the pump house, things are slowly achieving normalcy after the last strike and that the day's interruption was a necessary evil!

4. Early morning tests.

The doctor at the community health centre is on a drive to educate residents on the ways to ensure a robust and healthy heart. Towards this end, he'd insisted that all of us started the day at 0530h so that his boys could draw our blood samples at the fasting regime and subsequently, the other after breakfast! We're asked to fill up a questionnaire highlighting our daily habits and while that was in progress, each one's blood pressure, height, weight and girth were also recorded.

The results are gonna be sent to the individual e-mail IDs, which would predict the risk of a heart attack and the remedial measures that one needs to undertake to stay away from trouble!


Small things that impinge upon our lives and can be a reason for unnecessary excitement resulting in the heart going on strike(?). Just grin and bear it!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Interesting yet intriguing!

 This is the story of St Malachy, a bishop, who'd the exceptional quality of perceiving things or events
of the future. Akin to Nostradamus - the man who saw tomorrow! In 1139, while on a visit to Rome he
went into a trance and had a vision of all the popes till the end of time. Accordingly, he'd then predicted 
that there would be 112 more popes.

 He'd described each of the popes with great accuracy summing up each one with a graphic Latin phrase. Let me go through a few of them to qualify this statement:-

      (a) Pope Benedict XV      Religio Depopulata meaning 'religion laid waste'.
                                              (He'd become Pope in 1914 and during his reign, World War I and
                                               the Russian revolution took place).
      (b) Pope Paul VI              Flos Florum meaning 'flower of flowers'.
                                              (His coat of arms featured three iris blossoms and he was the Pope
                                               from 1963 to '78).
      (c) Pope John Paul I         De Mediete Lunae meaning 'of the half moon'.
                                              (He died a month into his papacy - was Pope from one half moon to the 
      (d) Pope John Paul II        De Labore Solis meaning 'of the eclipse of the sun'.
                                              (He was born during a solar eclipse).
      (e) Pope Benedict XVI     Gloria Olivae meaning 'the glory of the olive'.
                                              (He's a Benedictine, an order symbolised by the olive!) 
  Which brings me to the present - Pope Benedict XVI, who'd be resigning by the end of this month,
is the 111th Pope and whoever is elected the Pope in the next few weeks will be the 112th and final pope, according to the prophecy. St Malachy refers to him as 'Petrus Romanus' or Peter the Roman and adds, "In extreme persecution, the seat of the Holy Roman Church will be occupied by Peter the Roman, who'll lead his sheep through many tribulations and during the papacy of this final pope, Rome and the church will be wiped out! To quote his ominous words, 'The City of Seven Hills shall be destroyed and the dreadful Judge shall judge the people". 

 The consequential questions that automatically arise are:-
     (a) Who's Peter the Roman among the current papal candidates?
     (b) What are the tribulations that the people will be led through?
     (c) What will be the events that would lead to the ultimate 'destruction'?
     (d) And who's the 'dreadful Judge'?

 Strange? But remember, truth is stranger than fiction! 


 We've heard of a lot of doomsday predictions and the Mayan prophecy is still fresh in our minds. Should we, then, laugh this off too? Pretty interesting yet intriguing!

I must admit that I've taken the help of the 'Opinion' column of the latest Outlook while compiling this piece.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A hotchpotch of emotions!

Day 2 of the all India strike called by the trade unions. Life has come to a standstill and just to cite an example, there has been no milk supply yesterday and today! To alleviate the problems of the families with little children, milk was acquired and provided to them to meet essential requirements. Callousness at its height!!

Shops were closed and the same 'ghost town' scene was enacted for the second day in succession. One of the striking leaders had proudly stated and I quote, 'Kerala fully co-operated with our strike call. Nearly one crore people in the state struck work on Wednesday and Thursday in solidarity with our call'. How does one react to such a callous and insensitive statement?

And then comes the serial blasts in Hyderabad! Yet another occasion when 'we' got surprised. Did we have advance warning?.....Yet another failure of intelligence!.......Do we know the perpetrators of the crime?....It's evidently, from the media coverage, a pre-planned cold blooded attack on innocent civilians......And as usual, in a crowded market place....

Why do we've to be at the receiving end all the time.......and then apologetically state that the people are strong willed and they shall overcome!


1. It's the same old story. When will we

       (a) Stop claiming success for the loss of manhours, productivity and the consequent dip in economy?
       (b) Come out of this senseless cycle of violence and be proactive?

2. Wish we learnt from the Americans. No terrorist has dared to touch that country after 9/11 and I can't believe that stupid guys wouldn't have tried anything after that. But it's their sense of security that stands out - they mean business when they carry out security checks and apply uniformly on all citizens without fear or favour unlike ours which grants special status to certain people!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Another news round up.

Today's the first day of the 48 hr nation wide strike called by the trade unions. Kochi bears resemblance to a ghost town and the normally overflowing roads are deserted where kids play cricket, football or even seven tiles as per their choices. I, too, wasn't that careful about walking on the road during my customary evening outing. Barring a few medical shops that were open all others, even eateries had their shutters down. Wondered as to how the attendants of patients at hospitals had their meals?

I'm going through some more news that have baffled me. And here they are:-

1. Readers Digest gone bankrupt.

    91 year old Reader's Digest magazine has filed for bankruptcy. Sad! It's said that the reason for this sad state is the increasing migration of readers from the print media to online services and the consequent reduction in advertisements hastened the downslide! But if that be the case, why didn't the proprietors foresee it and change accordingly, well in time?

The magazine that started in 1922, at New York, currently has 50 editions in 21 languages and statistics confirms that it has a readership of 1.6 crores! They've also assured that the current state would not affect their international operations and in Canada.

Sincerely hope not as I've got used to the 'Humour in Uniform', 'Life's like that' and the 'Book Section'! And cannot think of a world without them!1

2. The British Premier did not apologise!

David Cameron had visited the Jalianwala Bagh memorial and said that it was one of the shameful incidents of their history and stopped short of apologising for the incident. Consequently, many have come down harshly on the British Premier.

My take is of an entirely different hue on exercises of this nature. Actually, what is attained by an apology after many, many years of an incident? I mean I still can't fathom out as to what's achieved by it except that it's a great publicity stunt! Will the suffering and the shame undergone by those people of a different timeline be erased? Can the attitude of the oppressors then, be wished away? So why're we being hypocritical to the present generation who might indeed go the whole hog - as we've seen in a few cases in the past - to be politically correct as they want to do business!

The bottom line is that one must learn from history never to repeat the mistakes. And that's that!!


Events are taking place at a rapid pace and the beauty is that some of them were never, ever anticipated!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Candid comments.

The stories that have been in circulation in the media - discussed feverishly by numerous panels - have interesting connotations, far reaching ramifications. As a layman, I can't help but see a comic angle to this entire drama that is being played out - the specifics I shall touch upon as we go along!

(a) Suryanelli case revisited.

     The latest to jump into the bandwagon, for passing lewd comments on the victim, is none other than the loudmouthed congressman, K Sudhakaran, our MP from Kannur. His assumption is based on the evidence that suggests that the young lady who was held captive for 40 days and ravished by 42 men had ample chances to escape or to seek police help thereby, hinting at consensual sex. And, therefore, what's the fuss all about?

      Based on his utterances, I've two doubts to ask of the MP, which are:-

             (i) The victim could have been so brutally traumatised and scared that she didn't know how to react.
                 Isn't that a possibility, Mr. Sudhakaran?

             (ii) Let's, for a moment, assume that your assumption is correct. Are you then trying to justify your
                  partyman's indulgence in the share of the spoils?

(b) Prabhakaran's son's brutal end.

      Prabhakaran, the dreaded LTTE chief, who'd given nightmares to the Sri Lankan people deserved to have been tried for the killing of many innocents during his reign. But did his 12 year old son deserve the violent death that he was meted out? Shot at, about five times, from 2 ft as depicted in a documentary, 'No War Zone - The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka', shot by the British TV Channel 4.

      Taking vendetta on an innocent child, for his father's deeds, is definitely in bad taste. RIP, Balachandran. You've been an unsuspecting victim!

(c) Happenings in Bangladesh.

     Feb '13 marks the beginning of a movement that marks to restore the country's secular polity and eliminate the politics of religious fundamentalism in Bangladesh. Its trigger was a life sentence for Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Qader Molla, known as the 'Butcher of Bengalis' for his role in the mass murders during the run up to the liberation of Bangladesh. The younger generation, in particular, felt that he'd got away with too light a punishment and has whipped up a movement named 'the Bangla Spring' demanding the noose for the perpetrator of the ghastly crimes!

      A great step in the right direction and let's hope that religious fundamentalism is curbed at the earliest!!


1. It's fun to read the wishlist of the people, from all walks of life, in the union budget that's gonna be out by the end of the month. Will it be a case of too much of expectations going unfulfilled?

2. David Cameron's weakness has a 'mallu' connection - the spicy, Kerala fish curry. The British Premier is currently on a state visit to India and he'd told this to the press at Bombay, further adding that his wife cooks it well! Why aren't the mallus taking advantage of this situation and get Britain to invest in their state?

Monday, February 18, 2013

So that the government hears.............

We're going to be subjected to the mother of all strikes from the midnight of tomorrow. It's gonna last for 48 hours!

A few months back, the trade unions had come to realise that the government could not be brought down to its knees when they struck work for a day and had come up with a wonderful(?) idea that it'd take a 48 hour strike to bring about the desired results. Tomorrow's strike is the first of its kind prodded by the entire range of trade unions. And what are they agitating against? One can't help but laugh at the long list, clubbed as the anti-people policies of the UPA government which are:-

             (a) Price rise
             (b) Poor implementation of labour laws
             (c) Disinvestment in PSUs.
             (d) Increased FDI in various sectors.

At least, in Kerala, the two behemoth PSUs viz. the KSRTC(Kerala State Road Transport Corporation) and the KSEB(Kerala State Electricity Board) are groaning under massive losses, thanks to the militant trade unionism rampant within the organisations and they still don't seem to want to learn a lesson, which is so exasperating to the common man!

The strike is gonna paralyse the country and there would be untold suffering for the entire population. Only god can save you if you've a medical emergency or if you've to make an urgent move. And what about the manhours lost and the consequent loss in productivity that's gonna make the treasury poorer? The worst hit are gonna be those in the midst of a journey and their woes get mounted if they've little children travelling along with them. And on reaching the end stations, they might have to walk miles before reaching their destinations or get fleeced by the cabbies/auto rickshaw drivers, who'd be out to make a fast buck!


Aren't the guys providing leadership to this unwanted and destructive episode a bunch of anti nationalists? I mean, what is the difference in their actions compared to that of the terrorists? While accepting the fundamental fact that the worker must never be exploited, he also has a duty to his nation - unwavering loyalty amounting to continuous productivity!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Vodafone Comedy Stars.

The reality show based on comedy was being aired on the Asianet channel every weekend, for the last three and a half years. The show was named so because it's sponsored by Vodafone. This was the first venture of its kind and to that extent, Asianet deserves the credit for being a trendsetter in this genre of reality shows and kudos are also in order for the panel of judges and the taut editing team for maintaining a dignified quality of the programme, all through. Today is its grand finale with four teams participating for the honours.

I've been an ardent viewer of the programme and have only missed a few episodes because of compelling reasons that were beyond my control. The factors that attracted me to this unique visual treat were:-

     (a) It was good, clean comedy without a hint of vulgarity.

     (b) Politicians and celebrities were mimicked, quite a number of times, without losing sight of decency,
          decorum and propriety.

     (c) Almost all the teams consisted of participants from very poor families and they'd plunged into the
          'comedy act' for their genuine love of the art and didn't care a damn about remuneration. Their
          success and well being gave a thrill, deep within.

It's amazing to note that quite a few of them had been making their audiences laugh, so effortlessly, despite their serious personal problems and tragedies!

I'd like to congratulate all the finalists for their efforts, thus far, because they're the best. They need not be unduly worried about the final rankings because each one of them is a winner!


I've always felt that good comedy usually comes from undue suffering and the inheritors of the harsh realities of life. Perhaps, the bitter experiences give them the wonderful ability to laugh at the world, in general and at themselves, in particular!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The anti-climactic Valentine's day!

This year's Valentine's day will go down in memory for something absolutely negative that had come to light against the message of love that it portrays!

South Africa's 'Blade runner' Oscar Pistorius had shot dead his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

I'm not going into the pros and the cons of the unfortunate incident. And I'm not going into the aspects of what might have caused the tragedy because all such discussions would be purely academic and a waste of time but there are questions that linger in my mind, that I'd like to share with you:-

      (a) How can a guy like him carry so much hatred within himself to smother another life? Especially,
           in his case, who's been at the cruel end of fate?

      (b) Was his girlfriend just an object to be cast away once he was finished with? Any difference in
            outlook should have been talked out and if it persisted, they could have walked their separate

      (c) Being in love is a beautiful state and it's during the relationship that the protagonists understand
           each other down to the last detail. And after having shared the intimacy, how can one bring oneself
           to smother the other even if the provocation was from the other side?

      (d) And he's a sportsman who's supposed to be the most flexible in accepting defeats along with
           their successes. Where was this spirit of his?

RIP Reeva. May your family have the strength to tide over these difficult times!


The right way would have been to walk away from the relationship, never to look back. The associated pain was to be left for time, the healer, to erase!!


Friday, February 15, 2013

Day 2 at Madras.

The work went on predicted lines and momentous decisions were taken. There has been a conscious effort to achieve reasonable targets through practical approach to problems. Lunch followed by the debrief and the photography sessions took quite a chunk of the afternoon and a part of the post tea session.

Laila Samson's last weeks were relived with her daughter, Leela, when I'd dropped by to offer my condolences and share the grief. She has put up a lovely black and white photograph of the entire family - of '57 vintage - before the first tragedy had struck them when Sheela, her twin sister, had passed into the mist of time at the tender age of 6. And she's pretty sure that her parents had never ever recovered from that shock!

Sunder, my 'saarthi', on our return to the hotel tells me that I'm a 'jolly man' as it's written large on my face and I was reminded of a yarn that I spin frequently........
      A young subaltern returns after his marriage and the couple is being welcomed, as per traditions, in the mess. The thrilled youngster introduces his Commanding officer to his wife, "This is Colonel Shamsher Singh. Sir is a good joker also".
      What he meant was that his CO had a good sense of humour! this case was Sunder meaning that I was a joker also?
........just told you about my brittle ego only yesterday!


A quiet day well spent! And it's the end of another travel on duty!!


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Off on work to the Coromandal coast.

I shall go through what I'd observed all through the day as today was a bit different from the normal ones because I was off to Madras on work. I'd finished packing in the morning but wasn't enthusiastic about the trip because of the fact that Laila Samson wouldn't be there to hear my chatter this time! I went about my work mechanically, cleared my desk at the office and had set off for the airport, with Anil at the helm.

It was oppressively hot and I was beginning to wonder as to why Anil wasn't using the car's air conditioner. Meanwhile, I'd asked him about his personal particulars and had come to know that his father did fishing - he didn't go out to sea but restricted his activities within the backwaters, a fact that was new knowledge to me! - and the family had indeed passed through some very harsh financial days. Overcoming it, he'd bought the car as a means to his livelihood. Meanwhile, he'd rolled up the windows and started up the a/c, telling me with a disarming smile that he switched it on only after ascertaining the customer's attitude!? Thank god that I'd passed his muster, otherwise I'd have been in bad shape by the time I'd reached the airport!!

The team at the baggage scanning point shook hands with me once they saw my cap and other accessories on their monitor! So much about my professional 'halo' but I must admit that I did feel thrilled.

The young lady, at the counter, took an unusually long time to allot me a window side seat on my request and I thought that the flight must be chock-a-block with passengers. But it was much to my amazement that I realised, on boarding, that the aircraft had just about 25 passengers! No wonder the airline is in bad shape - why don't these guys get on with aggressive marketing techniques and make their customers feel wanted? And why did the lady at the counter behave in that manner?

As the aircraft, cut the eastern coast and approached its touchdown point, there was a sudden feeling of having 'come home'. Kavirajan and his counterparts from the other two services received me as I got out of the Madras airport, giving it a 'triservice' flavour! A smart salute and a word of appreciation on their smart turnout and I was off with the 56 year old Sridhar as my 'saarthi'. I took an instant liking for him in the way he weaved through traffic and chided the other motorists for their wrong moves - a youngster on a two wheeler was told not to show his heroism by doing unnatural speeds, an autorickshaw driver was told to go on to the slower lane as his vehicle was too slow and polluting! He, along with Kavirajan, gave me a running commentary of the important landmarks as we drove through the crowded roads of Kodambakkam and the likes. I enjoyed every minute of that one and a half hour drive, at peak time through the Madras roads, which are currently clogged with the metro work coupled with that of the flyovers! And Sridhar spoke flawless English!!

The social evening was a wonderful opportunity to meet a wide cross section of the people and in the musical treat, I too did contribute in a small way! As I was taking leave of the hosts, they're lavish in their praise of my 'singing abilities' and I could only give my infamous grin as I knew that I was just an enthusiastic 'bathroom singer' and my voice rarely matched the originals!! How did they know that I'd a fragile ego?


A kaleidoscope of people and events. Simply exhilarating!  

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The middleman!

I'm surprised to hear that ACM SP Tyagi(Retd), a former chief of the Indian Air Force, is currently providing consultancy services to an European aircraft manufacturer covering their Indian interests. In other words, he advises the firm on the ways to do business with India. He had, in this new garb of his, taken part in the recently concluded AeroIndia military airshow in Bangalore.

Taking up a job post retirement is fine as it keeps the individual busy and prevents him/her from vegetating and sliding into old age infirmities rapidly. In fact, based on a study conducted on the subject, it has been established beyond doubt that a great amount of attrition takes place soon after retirement - the boredom that sets in because of inactivity, after a fairly packed professional schedule, can seriously affect any well meaning person! Hence, the need to keep oneself occupied is acceptable!!

But choosing the right job/activity has to be thought of carefully. Taking the present case, it goes without saying that the consultant while providing his services has to bear in mind the requirements/interests of the firm that he's working for as that's where his loyalty lies as they're looking after him, in terms of emoluments. And what must be understood in the context is that the firm's interests may not be in consonance with the interests of his nation!

And it's here that the gentleman needs to ask a question to himself. Is it okay by him to overlook this important ethical factor when his nation had placed trust in him and given the charge of its Air Force, not very long ago? Is money the sole criterion that influences his existence? Doesn't he listen to his soul?


It's back to a familiar question that each one of us needs to ask oneself. What will satisfy you in terms of material possessions in this life of yours?

And we're also aware of the truth that the lesser you crave for, the happier you are!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A courageous decision.

Pope Benedict XVI has taken an extraordinary decision to step down from the papacy by the end of this month. He's decided to step off the limelight and that, according to me, is a courageous decision. He'd hinted at such a decision in a book - way back in 2010 - that he wouldn't hesitate to resign if he was no longer 'physically, psychologically and spiritually' capable to run the Catholic church.

He was quiet compared to the late John Paul II, the charismatic and globetrotting pontiff, his predecessor! He is more of a professorial type who relaxed by playing on the piano. He shall be remembered for confronting his country's past when he'd visited the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz and prayed for the millions of victims who'd died in the Holocaust!

His papacy will be remembered for the controversies and the scandals that had plagued it. He was wholeheartedly supported by the conservatives for reaffirming the traditional Catholic identity while the liberals accused him of turning the clock back and for hurting the sentiments of the Muslims, Jews and other Christians. To go through them dispassionately, I'm listing down the causes as they had occurred:-

        (a) In a university lecture at Regensburg, in Germany, he'd quoted a 14th century Byzantine emperor as
             saying that Islam had only brought evil into the world and that it was spread by the sword.

             Protests had erupted, churches in West Asia were attacked and a nun was killed in Somalia. He'd
             later regretted for the 'misunderstanding' that his speech had caused and in a conciliatory move,
             prayed in Istanbul's Blue Mosque, in predominantly Muslim Turkey in 2006.

        (b) The Jewish world, as well as many Catholics, were outraged after he lifted the excommunication of
              four traditionalist Bishops, including the one who had openly denied the 'Holocaust'

        (c) He incurred the wrath of the other Christians when he approved a document that reiterated the
             Vatican position that all other Christian denominations, apart from Catholicism, were not full
             churches of Jesus Christ.

        (d) He prompted international outrage when he told reporters on an aircraft, taking him to Africa,
              about the use of condoms to fight AIDS.

And then there were the scandals.

         (a) Child abuse cases had hounded his papacy. He'd initiated official enquiry in Ireland leading to
              the resignation of many Bishops and the nadir in relations was reached in 2011, when Dublin
              shut down its embassy to the Holy See.

              Further, the victims insisted that he be investigated by the International Criminal court but the
              Vatican had said that that he could not be held responsible for others' crimes.

         (b) And the one closer home, when his butler was found to be the source of leaked
              documents alleging corruption in the Vatican's business dealings.


Was the Pope disenchanted with the goings on in his fiefdom that led to his sad decision? Or is it that his health is so precarious, which precludes him from carrying out the strenuous duties of the papacy? Whatever said and done, his decision must have been hard to arrive at.

Here's wishing that god takes care of him.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Adieu, Mohammed Kunhi sir.

Muhammed Kunhi sir had joined my school almost along with me in '67. He used to teach English but did not teach our class as we had another teacher teaching us.

My first encounter with Kunhi sir was when he had stood in during the absence of our teacher. He'd decided to check on our ability at spellings and had put us through an exercise in dictation. At the end of it, after giving us our marks, he'd zeroed in on one of my class fellows who'd joined us from a Malayalam medium school. He'd spelt the word 'satellite' as 'satlight', which sir had highlighted, much to the mirth of the entire class. The teacher deriding a student for lacking the requisite knowledge was unheard of and was definitely not an acceptable thing but sir's subsequent actions to put my class fellow, who'd erred, at ease and putting across to him that mistakes can be made but should never be repeated, was a lesson that all of us carried home from the class that day.

Kunhi sir's pronunciations of certain words had a local flavour much to my amusement and for my class fellows and whenever I think about them, the Dickensian character 'Charlotte' comes to my mind. There had been quite a number of occasions where our naughtiness had enjoyed raucous laughter on this aspect and I must admit that it continues to evoke the same emotions even to this day!

A loving and caring teacher who'd the welfare and the well being of the students uppermost in his mind, always and every time. He used to have an affinity for our class simply because we'd all joined school together. I remember the moment, when I'd gone to meet him before I left school for the last time, as a student. He'd said and I quote, " Rajeev, I'll miss you and your class. You guys were naughty but you're also so full of life and therefore, your antics had always made me smile and I've never felt bad even when your jocular asides were directed at me". I remember walking away from him with a lump in my throat. After coming down the stairs of the dormitory and while I was on the walkway, I remember having glanced back at the first floor window. Sir was putting back his spectacles in place and had a white handkerchief in his right hand. And he waved at me.

Were I and my class the reason for his eyes going moist or was it all my imagination? I'll never know.

Sir passed away due to old age related problems at 2030h this evening.

RIP Kunhi sir. My salute to a fine teacher and a thorough gentleman! I feel lucky to have passed through your tutelage!!


Here's wishing the family the strength to tide over this irreparable loss. And yes, they don't make them teachers like him anymore!      

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The things that puzzle me.

I'm puzzled by the goings on over the past few days in our country. I was under the impression that we're a matured people who understand the various aspects of life thanks to our legacy of a rich and tolerant heritage and culture. Let me spell out my misgivings:-

(a) Hanging of Afzal Guru.

The person who'd conspired to carry out a terror strike on our Parliament deserved to die. And the government went about it in a systematic manner to deliver justice. But what I was unprepared for was the politicisation of the entire thing. The media went overboard to hold panel discussions to ferret out the pros and the cons, which would have been appropriate at a later stage. And some of the guys who'd participated in those discussions just went overboard in their expression, forgetting the decorum.

We need to be sensitive about the fact that his family is grieving and respect their sentiments too.

(b) The utterances of a judge.

Justice R Basant(Retd) of the Kerala High Court, who's currently practising as a lawyer in the Supreme Court, has got into trouble by his own utterances. He was one of the two judges of the then division bench that had acquitted 34 of the 35 accused in the infamous 'Suryanelli' case. He was at an interview with a journalist and was asking her to read his judgement on the case and went on to add that the Suryanelli girl was a willing participant thanks to her 'deviant' behaviour.

What he seems to have forgotten was that a person of his stature has to be very careful with his utterances. He cannot afford to be insensitive and crass or else, what differentiates him from a common man, who freely opines about others without having to care for the consequences?

(c) The plight of PJ Kurien.

The extent to which Prof PJ Kurien has gone about to reiterate his innocence in the Suryanelli case has divided the people into two camps - those supporting him and the others who're clamouring for his retrial. With so much having been said, both in the visual and the print media, shouldn't he opt for being completely absolved off the nightmare through a fast track trial?

Or is politics being played to tarnish reputations and muddle the waters further, so that there's no end in sight for the vexed case?


1. The hanging of the terrorist should send a clear message to other potential ones that we're reasonable while meting out justice and our resolve to stand as one for the nation cannot be diluted by any external force.

2. While the Judge should have been careful in his utterances, what about the ethics practised by the journalist who was told that the conversation was entirely off the record and was not to be quoted? The use of the hidden camera was in bad taste.

3. The representatives of the people would always be subjected to harsh public scrutiny and it's against this backdrop that their behaviour must be above reproach, always and every time.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Changing relationships!

I'm now going to speak of a family, quite close to us, in which relationships have changed drastically over a year after the passing away of the lady of the house.

The couple has three children - two sons and a daughter. They doted on each other, used to meet annually at the family house and were concerned about each other's welfare, so much so, that they got ecstatic when things went right and brooded when things went wrong for anyone of them. The elder son and the daughter are doing well but the youngest son has just begun to steady up in life, with his meagre earnings, thanks to a tight financial discipline, enforced by his smart, diligent wife. The two elder ones have built their own houses and have been concentrating on their children's higher education, whose performances have been spectacular.

 And quite suddenly, the lady of the house, who was in her early 70s, passed away due to a massive heart failure. As the funeral activities and other attendant rituals were winding up, the old man declared that the family house was being handed over to the younger son based on the decision taken by him and his wife, taking into account the ground realities. And he'd stay with each one of his children, in rotation, though it's common knowledge that he prefers to stay with his elder son!

The arrangement seemed to be working fine till the first remembrance day of the old lady. And then the elder children put across their thoughts unequivocally - dad has to be looked after by the younger son because of his inheritance of the huge family house and that they'd endeavour to visit him frequently. But the younger son's carefully nurtured family budget is gonna hit the roof, if and when the decision is implemented.

Now, this part of the agreement between the children has not been conveyed to the old gentleman as yet. And I'm pretty sure that it will break his heart when he comes to know about it!


1. The old lady was sure that she'd pass away before her husband. And she wanted her husband to stay with her daughter because she was sure that that was the best arrangement as the father adored his daughter and she, in turn, was fond of him.

2. The younger daughter-in-law was previously quiet and an ardent follower of her mother-in-law and the latter did show a sneaky preference to her over the senior daughter-in-law. But now she's vociferous about things being unfair if the 'burden' is thrust upon them!


Apologies if this piece sounds like a low quality gossip. But I've narrated the details, just to show how fickle human relationships are! Was all the love and affection on display, earlier, fake? How can relationships change just over a piece of land or a house?     

Friday, February 8, 2013

Donation or Extortion?

I've heard many among us lamenting that our children lack the basic courtesies and they're brittle against life's harsh realities. While the apologists might have reasons to back up their stand, I feel that they're on a weak wicket.

Every year, there's a phase when school children call on their neighbours for donations towards charity. It's in their curriculum under the heading of social upliftment and I hope that it's backed up by community services and interaction with the 'less fortunate' in society. It's education by itself for the young minds and would go a long way when they get to deal with the problems of the downtrodden in society.

Children have been coming to us, over the past few days, for such collections and it's always a treat to interact with them as they innocently give new twists to the interpretation of the activity. Obviously, there might be competition among themselves to see as to who is able to collect the highest amount and judging from the amounts received - they frequently exchange notes and carry out spot checks of the collections made, to identify the liberal of the donors - make a beeline to the more benevolent donors.

Arunima, studying in class IX of a reputed school nearby, was at our door - she was the third child to call on us said Lekha - just as I came back in, from my customary walk. I was taken aback when the little one sweetly said that we'd to pay a minimum of Rs.20/- as contribution.

It was then that I told her that the amount to be donated was the sole decision of the donor and any amount given by him/her should be accepted in the right spirit. There's no question of grudges or making fun of the quantum of the donation, thereafter. I didn't want to be harsh on the child and desisted from saying that insisting on an amount would be akin to 'extortion' of sorts. Probably, she's not been briefed properly by her teacher, parents or elders or it could have been just the tactic of the kid to 'catch up' with her friends who'd, by then, collected sizeable amounts!

But children are innocent and they learn from their elders. Therefore, it's incumbent on each one of us to guide them on to the right path - by doing so, they'd acquire the right courtesies and will be able to take on the harshest of realities that life throws up!


 In Kerala, there are times when you're stopped by people on the wayside with a bucket, asking for donations. If one's driving one's personal car, then they decide on the quantum of donation probably, based on the assumption that one's rolling on it because one can afford a car - glitzier the car, the higher the donations expected. They care a damn about one's car loan or the EMIs. And boy, one can incur their wrath if one doesn't measure up to their calculations(There have been umpteen number of cases in the past where motorists have had harrowing times)!  

I wonder whether they realise the fact that such acts are tantamount to extortion.

And who said that it was only the misguided, ruthless terrorists who resorted to it?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Wonder whether this phenomenon is prevalent only in Kerala?

I'd written quite a while back about Suleiman, a rag picker, who was proud about his work and his words still echo in my ears and I quote, "Sir, this is a job that will never let you go hungry".

Suleiman has not been seen of late and though he's given us his cellphone number to contact him, whenever we needed his services, we'd called in a rag picker who'd come into our premises, this morning. We seemed to have accumulated quite a heap and its disposal was a necessity! The gentleman, however, was very picky and choosy saying that most of the junk wouldn't fetch him a penny. I tried telling him that people like him lifted the rag bags from door-to-door, sifted them out in their premises(a preliminary sorting out does take place at the doorstep for fixing the 'value' of the junk, though!) and disposed them off to suitable buyers, making their earnings in the process. And of course, there would be a few items that defy clearance but that was part of the larger 'bargain' in the process of rag disposal, eventually leading to their destruction. And as we all know, the bulk of the rag is processed and recycled for use, yet again.

The net result was that there was a lot of items that were left behind as not needed by him - citing an example to put things into the right perspective, the guy said that he would not take the old calendars(obviously with the first month of the new year just behind us, there were quite a few of them!) along with the bundle of newspapers.

To me, he appeared to be a sham rag picker and I can bet that he wouldn't survive in this business for long if he doesn't change his attitude.


1. Wonder whether this a universal phenomenon? If that be so, rag disposal can throw up a lot of problems in today's scenario as more and more people opt for living in multi-storeyed flats and gated colonies! Or was this yet another example of sheer 'mallu' arrogance?

2. I've already passed a diktat to the gentlemen in charge of security to forbid entry to this rag picker into our area, till he mends his ways. I would like to believe that today's experience was an aberration!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Ramji's angst.

Being a half day and since my hair needed a crop, I'd asked Ramji to fetch up since he was also not very busily engaged. And I must admit that his massage, after the crop, keeps me fit till his visit, the week after. And he keeps me regaled with his stories as he goes about his work.

This afternoon was no exception except for the fact that it was his angst that was pouring out. And I could only, helplessly hear him out. He'd seen off his daughter to their native place, by the early morning train to Tatabad, for urgent medical attention and her mother's care. The young lady is into the eighth month of her second pregnancy(her first child, a son, is just a year old, mind you) and had been bleeding over the past few days. He'd taken her to the doctor for medical cover to tide over the crisis and since it seemed to be under some sort of control, she was being sent back home - in his words, for cheaper medical cover and mother's care!

He has always worried about this daughter of his. Her left leg has been polio stricken during her childhood and hence, she has the attendant problem of locomotion. She was married with great fanfare, about two years back but her husband  has been demanding - from day one - on Ramji and his family, for the 'burden' of their's that he's carrying! He's a perennial shirker and Ramji has gone out of his way to put him on employment - a food stall, a barber shop and a vegetable-shop-on-wheels were the ventures that he'd initiated but the youngster failed to make a mark in each and incurred losses for his father-in-law, instead.

A word about Ramji, at this juncture, would be essential to understand the man. Twenty four years back, he'd taken up the job of barber, in a naval ship, that was getting commissioned at the Garden Reach shipyard, at Calcutta. He comes from the rural interiors of Bihar and the devoted family man that he is, he'd brought in guys from back home and given them employment! I'd not be exaggerating if I were to say that there's a sizeable Bihari population, out here, thanks to his perseverance and his propensity to help out his kith and kin. His wife and son - who's studying in an English medium school - are in his village, along with his parents.

At the railway station, his son-in-law had created a scene just before the train chugged forward. Ramji's nephew, who was in attendance, thrust Rs.50/- into the little child's hands which his wretched father snatched and tore it up to pieces, saying pompously that his child did not require any freebies!

As Ramji narrated his story, his eyes had filled with tears and I could, only, helplessly hold his right shoulder as though to reduce his angst.


1. I was angry and I'd asked him to terminate the relationship that was of no help to his daughter and which  caused him great anguish. Probably, I was being ignorant of the other related issues as I do not have a biological child of my own - would I have done so as I was suggesting or wouldn't I? I guess I too am confused! He mumbled something about the family's 'izzat', what would others say and the girl's threat of killing herself!

2. Why does life have to be so complicated and harsh for a good guy like him?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

An odd tryst.

I was almost midway through my evening walk. The pace was nice and I'd begun sweating from all pores of my body thanks - no, not because of my blistering pace(?) but due - to the clammy weather. I was left with another 500 metres to get on to the home stretch. The Sahodaran Ayyappan road was chock-a-block with traffic going out of the town after business hours!

A family, consisting of a well dressed young man(in his early 30s, as I reckoned) holding an infant baby, his wife(with her 'pallu' covering her head) and his mother(hovering around 50 and no, she'd no 'pallu' covering her head) passed me and then I heard him, hesitantly, call out to me. I don't think that he'd expected me to stop at his prodding and they'd already started moving away - prompted by earlier reactions, perhaps!

So, when I stopped and turned around, to answer his query on the route to his destination as I anticipated it to be, his request really threw me off balance - at least for a moment. He said that they'd detrained a little while before, after a journey from Kota in Rajasthan and had no money with them to buy anything to eat! As the young man had finished his piece, his mother repeated the pleas for help and ended it by saying that god would bless me if I did!

I do not carry my wallet or cellphone when I'm on my walks but today, I'd carried Rs.30/- to buy a few cough lozenges for my bad throat. In fact, I'd already bought five and had the remaining Rs.25/- in my pocket and told the son and his mother that the amount that I'd with me was too meagre to be of any help in their hour of discomfort. I, even, had spelt out the amount and had estimated at least Rs.100/- for them to have a decent meal from the roadside stalls!

But, for them, it seemed to be adequate and the young man accepted the amount with mumbles of 'god will look after you' and all that! And something deep within castigated me for not having more money in my person!


Wonder what happened to them subsequently? Had they come down to Kochi in search of work? How will they survive without any money on them? Are they the latest footpath dwellers of Kochi?

 God, pse take care of them!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Why're these guys getting away with murder?

The present.......

It's sad to hear about the Kashmiri all-girl band quitting music after having received a fatwa, from a mad cleric.

Their painful decision has been arrived at after facing relentless persecution by conservatives on the social media and receiving threats from religious leaders and extremists. The rock band named 'Pragaash'(A Kashmiri word meaning 'from darkness to light')* consisting of three girls, in their teens, viz. Farah Deeba(drummer), Aneeka Khalid(guitarist) and Noma Nazir(vocalist-guitarist) was founded in 2005 by Adnan Mattoo, who lives in Dehra Dun and Sheikh Rahil Saleem, residing in New Delhi.

The Kashmir grand mufti, Bashiruddin, has issued the fatwa against the band saying that it was un-Islamic and against Kashmiri ethos for girls to perform in musical programmes!

*The organisers of the rockband named as 'Bloodrockz' had performed the music concert under the title of 'Pragaash', last December, in the Srinagar stadium!The criticism, on the social network, began soon after that.

The past..........

Years ago, in Indore, donations were being collected for the old Palasia Mosque. Mohammed Rafi contributed Rs.5,000/-, but after sometime, the money was returned. When he found out the reason, he was shocked and he broke down.

The mosque committee had decided that Rafi's earnings could not be used since they were illegitimate, since in Islam, singing is not recognised as a permissible occupation!

A deeply hurt Rafi blurted, "Allah has bestowed only this talent upon me right from childhood, which I practise with great effort and integrity and it's open to the world. Even then, my earnings are illegitimate?

My take.

Wrong interpretation of the holy book, by wretched and narrow minded people who seem to be hell bent on trampling on the right to freedom of expression of the common man. They need to be prevented from executing their will by the collective reaction of the people.


And funds for the economic sustenance of terrorism? Their silence on that aspect is deafening! Their double standards have no parallel!!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Go climb a, coconut tree...

And earn upto Rs.30,000/- per month!

Thanks to the Coconut Development Board's focused initiatives - since mid 2011 - under the 'Friends of coconut tree' project, about 7,500 people have received training in mechanised climbing on the trees. Hopefully, they'd reduce the woes of the coconut farm owners - like my mom who's one, though, I must hasten to add that her possession is quite meagre - who'd generally been at their wits' end to get the 'pluckers' at the right moment, usually thrice a year.

I remember during earlier days, Gopalettan, plucked the coconuts in our farm. The plucking was timed in such a way that all connected activities were completed before the rains set in. And those activities were:-

       (a) The coconuts were plucked and mustered from all over the farm and numbers earmarked for
            consumption, for extracting oil again  for consumption and the rest for being sold in the market.

       (b) The coconuts selected for the first two activities were dehusked( though the ones for consumption
            was done on an, as required basis) and the ones for oil extraction were further broken into halves
            and dried on mats used for the purpose - all of us have taken turns to keep a constant vigil against
            the daredevil crows and fowls(usually one's own) taking off with the spoils, during school vacations!
       (c) The dried 'copra' (the whites of the coconuts) was carved out of the shells, cut into small pieces
            and again dried on the same mats till they acquired a dark, golden hue. And mind you, at this stage
            the loss of the neatly cut coconut whites was not due to the crows and the fowls but  because of the    
            indulgence of the young keepers who gorged on the delicacy, that lay at their mercy!

       (d) Taking the dried copra for oil extraction, to the nearby mill, was Gopalettan's responsibility which he
             did with elan.

       (e) The trees had to be nurtured by having embankments dug around each to be filled with charcoal,
             salt and water for nourishment!

And for the range of activities mentioned above, Gopalettan was paid, both in kind and in cash. The kind included coconuts in proportion to the total plucked with a couple of tots of toddy/arrack(his weakness, as he'd once told me through his toothy grin) backed up with cash!

Gopalettan and his breed are a thing of the past. In fact, he passed away a couple of years earlier but used to  be a regular visitor at my home for long chats with my parents when he'd have at least one meal. His food intake had become very, very meagre towards the end but there was a corresponding increase in his intake of alcohol. His children - two sons and a daughter - are well settled and his wife is looked after by their eldest son. God bless his soul!


1. The newly trained manpower might not match up to the 'fruits-from-the-trees-to-oil-from-the-mill' loyalty of earlier workers like Gopalettan. But it's definitely a step in the right direction for the hapless coconut farm owners!

2. Having said about the coconut pluckers, I find that there's no initiative as yet on the plucking of arecanuts/betelnuts, the plucking of which is a spectacular art by itself. I've seen Gopalettan, having cleared one tree, gently swaying with his weight the tall, slender palm onto another nearby palm, holding onto it with a deft movement of his hand as it came near and shifting himself onto it - like a nimble footed ballet dancer - while leaving the former palm to sway back to its original position! Scary for the onlookers, like me, but for him it was just another uncomplicated task that was a daily affair!!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Geetha @ 60!

I’d first met Geetha on one of her
short trips to be with  Mohan
Ancheri, when we’re doing a course
together in Bombay from Sep ’83 to
Jun ’84. My first take on her was that she
was unusually quiet, with a smile that was
infectious. And when she spoke, heads
turned and those around were compelled
to listen to her because she spoke sense
and that was the clarity of her thought!

Our friendship took off from then and
has never looked back. She was one of
the few who’d taken it upon herself to
look after me as I was a long-standing
bachelor of the group. I used to be a
frequent visitor to the Ancheris’ and it was
during those visits that I had the privilege
of “tasting” Geetha’s culinary abilities.
She’s so meticulous in preparing dishes
for appropriate occasions and the spread
on the table has that inimitable “Geetha
signature”. It reminds me of a teacher who
prepares her lesson plan flawlessly, down
to the last detail!

The warmth that I’ve received on each
of my visits made me feel wanted and I
look forward to my visits to them even
to this day. Their two lovely girls – my
“shombies” – always well-behaved and
sported similar coloured/stitched clothes
were yet another example to show how
Geetha had taken interest in bringing up
the little ones (I’ve seen this at my home
where my mom used to do the same for
my two kid sisters).

Geetha, time has really flown and I still
can’t believe that you’re 60. But it’s people
like you that make life worth living. I
feel proud to be your friend. Here's
us wishing that you get whatever you
wish for in the coming year.


My piece on Geetha Ancheri, for the newspaper published by her younger daughter, Saumya on the occasion. I've edited the article but retained its format in the single column for authenticity!

Friday, February 1, 2013


As a common man I'm puzzled while registering for these ventures:-

     (a) UID(Unique Identity Number) or the 'Aadhaar' card which is a project executed by Nandan Nilekani,
          co-opted by the government of India, in pursuit to having a comprehensive data bank of every citizen
          of this country. In other words, it's essentially a number that provides a link to the database,    
          to establish identity in which biometrics play a key role to prevent mischief of any sort.

     (b) NPR(National Population Registry) which is a project outlined on the same lines as that of the UID
          but the basic difference is that it's executed under the auspices of the Home Ministry of the
          government of India. This was based on the perception of the then Home Minister that such a data
          bank should come under the sole purview of his ministry and he'd cited 'security considerations'!

And collection of data has been going on for both the projects. Wonder why there's so much confusion and the doubt that arises is that, isn't there a duplication? It's evident that with the database in place, the government and its institutions would be keeping tabs on every individual - like accumulation of money in different bank accounts, carrying out financial transactions and even buying/selling property, to name just a few.

Hopefully, fraud, illegal transactions and tax evasions will be things of the past!


(a) The way the two projects are being pursued simultaneously, makes one wonder as to whether there's a concerted effort to dilute the efforts so that frauds and foul play can continue unabated, despite the good intentions of the government.

(b) The way the developed countries maintain the data bank of their citizens and provide them their share of the welfare pie is something that we need to emulate.

(c) A clear, unambiguous statement on the subject by the government would remove the confusion!