Tuesday, December 28, 2010


It pains. It pains to face the reality. The fun element of a metro reader vanishes when the reality of a suburban fringe comes to the fore. A supreme court women judge listing two daughters among 'liabilities' may raise eyebrows. The reason cited : "two daughters to be married". One may question whether a Delhi based SC judge who belong to an enlightened strata of the society should feel that way. But we are never wise enough to know the ground realities. This reality makes a bright class XI girl from a poor farmer family give private tutions to support her study and stand on her own feet. Yes, local residents adored this teen for her determination to 'stay in school in spite of the odds'.

Yesterday, on her way home after giving tution she was abducted, raped and then murdered.

Let not simply a pal of gloom, or feelings of helplessness sink in us. Let us ask ourselves :Are we, who can, doing enough to change such realities? Do we have a desire to do something? Or do we consider it is a liability on our 'over-burdened' lives to take note of such realities that may take our attention away and we may miss a few career milestones?

Schoolgirl raped, killed


Barasat: A 17-year-old schoolgirl was raped and murdered at Dadpur, some 45km from Kolkata, on Monday night. The victim, who used to give tuitions to manage her school fees, was abducted on her way home, raped in a field and strangled.
The body was found at 6.30am on Tuesday. When police arrived at the spot, they were gheraoed by a mob. Local residents, who were very fond of the girl for her determination to stay in school in spite of the odds, accused police of not acting tough on criminals and allowing goons a free run.

The victim was a Class XI student of Dadpur Girl’s High School and regularly gave tuitions to support the family. She left home around 6pm on Monday. When she did not return by 10pm, her parents got

worried. Her cellphone was switched off. The family lodged a missing person’s complaint.
“Preliminary investigation says she was raped and strangled. We will track down the culprits,” a police officer said.
Her father, a farmer, is shattered. “She was the light of our lives. She was a very good student and we had
struggled very hard to keep he in school,” he said.

SC woman judge lists daughters as ‘liabilities’


New Delhi: It is a line that even Bollywood has banished for a while now. But while declaring her assets and liabilities, sitting Supreme Court judge Gyan Sudha Mishra has listed the marriage of her two daughters in the “liabilities” column, apparently without considering anything to be much amiss.
The Supreme Court’s official website in its assets of sitting judges column gives Justice
Mishra’s declaration in which she lists “two daughters to be married” in the liabilities column. This might be a sentiment still shared by a section of the middle class, but could be regarded as politically incorrect, especially on the part of India’s senior-most woman judge.
Other entries in the liabilities column are “guarantor for education loan of my daughter” and residential house to be built post-retirement. The view that daughters are a “liability”
(often because of the high cost of their marriage), or a burden of some sort, is a notion the government is fighting to eradicate through campaigns. The declaration is likely to attract comment as it is does not seem in sync with the Supreme Court’s otherwise progressive image on social issues in general and women’s rights in particular.
It could be seen to be betraying a thinking on which the Supreme Court is often called to deliberate while handling
sensitive gender parity cases.
The assets of Justice Mishra, who formerly headed the Chhattisgarh high court, has declared are not out of the ordinary. “Stridhan” of one gold set and “few gold rings and a pair of bangles” are listed under jewellery. There are no shares or mutual funds and fixed deposits total just 5 lakh.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

CSR : Percentage Debate

Neither voluntary, nor mandatory, somewhere in between! We are in a battle of brains. The debate is turning interesting. While Govt. clearly wants Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) be in place in letter and spirit, it is giving space to corporate houses to align itself to new realities. Minister of Corporate Affairs is categorical in his statement, “There can be business without charity. There can be charity without business. But there can be no business without orporate social responsibility.” He removes the fuzziness about CSR in saying, "To say that you will protect your labour force with proper equipment and proper clothing is not CSR, but giving people of the area similar equipment because they are living in an inherently dangerous area may be corporate social responsibility."

Now comes the percentage debate. The reaction from corporate bodies are interesting. Reproducing it from today's ET.

Govt won’t set CSR floor for India Inc

Firms Won’t Need To Spend 2% Of Profit

Souvik Sanyal & Deepshikha Sikarwar

THE government has watered down its proposal on corporate social responsibility (CSR) by not including a provision in the Companies Bill that would have mandated firms to spend 2% of their profit on social causes.
The final proposal only requires a company to have a policy that targets to spend 2% of its profit on CSR. The bill, however, seeks to make it compulsory for a company to give details of the money it has spent on CSR in its annual report.
“Companies will have to have a policy as to how they will spend 2% of their profit on CSR and there must be a disclosure if the money has been spent,” Corporate Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid told ET. “You can say it is not entirely vol
untary, might say it is not mandatory. It is in between somewhere.”
The proposal is a dilution of the government’s stance before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance that it was considering making the CSR spend mandatory.
The government had suggested that it could ask companies having a minimum net worth of 500 crore, or an annual turnover of 1,000 crore, or a net profit of 5 crore in a year to spend at least 2% of their average net profit during the three preceding fiscals on CSR.
While the general view is that companies would welcome a dilution in the government’s stance, some in the corporate world say there is actually no dilution.“This is mandating a 2% CSR spend without actually mandating it,” the representative of an industry body said.
CII for voluntary CSR spend
“How can a company declare in its annual report it has not spent on corporate social responsibility?”
In a presentation to the government, the Confederation of Indian Industry had demanded that the new law should not specify an amount to be spent on CSR, and that a decision on the actual spend be left to company boards. The industry body had suggested that CSR should be voluntary and backed by a system of state recognition and honour. Khurshid said the government could give incentives to companies at some stage.
“There are no built-in incentives... But let’s see, in future we may look at some incentives,” he said adding that his ministry was still working on the idea of CSR credits and their trading.
The actual spend of most companies on CSR is well below the 2% threshold, and much of it would not be considered if a strict definition is applied.

But central public sector enterprises have a policy that requires them to spend 0.5-5% of their net profit on CSR activities.
The minister said he was not in favour of linking CSR to a company’s area of operation. “To say that you will protect your labour force with proper equipment and proper clothing is not CSR,” he said.
“But giving people of the area similar equipment because they are living in an inherently dangerous area may be orporate social responsibility.”
“You have to draw a line between charity, philanthropy and CSR,” Khurshid said. “There can be business without charity. There can be charity without business. But there can be no business without orporate social responsibility.”

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Majorana Returns

This was the title of a Nature article in describing renewed interest in the work of Ettore Majorana, a prodigy who made a sudden disappearance when he was only 32 years old. In Fermi's team he pocketed all the prize money whenever a bet was fixed on solution to a scientific problem. However, paper writing, publishing appeared unexciting to him and at least two of his ideas won Nobel prizes later and he was not credited with. B. R. Holstein in his review writes,

"Majorana was a reluctant author. Once he discovered something he considered his own work to be banal. Once a problem was solved Majorana was very reluctant to write anything up on it. An example was the discovery of the neutron. Work by Joliot and Curie in France discovered a neutral particle that can enter matter and expel a proton. their conclusion was that it must be a photon, because at the time it was the only know particle with no charge. Majorana saw immediately that it must be a particle with a mass near that of the proton, in order to move something as heavy as the proton. When he heard this, Fermi urged him to write it up immediately, but nothing happened and soon thereafter Chadwick was given the credit for discovery of the neutron for his work in berylium."

The much talked about neutrino paper would not have seen the day, at least Majorana as author had not he needed a publication list for a position to support his application. This is the famous paper on Neutrino work by Majorana, but was written by Fermi. There are only 9 publications against his name.

In the words of Fermi, "There are many categories of scientists, people of second and third rank, who do their best, but do not go very far. There are also people of first class, who make great discoveries, which are of capital importance for the development of science. But then there are the geniuses, like Galileo and Newton. Well, Ettore was one of these. Majorana had greater gifts than anyone else in the world; unfortunately he lacked one quality which other men generally have: plain common sense."

His disappearance is linked to many theories : spiritual quest, reluctance to be a part of nuclear weapon making group, suicide etc. On March 25, 1938 this is what he wrote to Director of his institute where he leaves a hint of this exit plan.

Dear Carrelli,
I made a decision that has become unavoidable. There isn't a bit of selfishness in it, but I realize what trouble my sudden disappearance will cause you and the students. For this as well, I beg your forgiveness, but especially for betraying the trust, the sincere friendship and the sympathy you gave me over the past months. I ask you to remind me to all those I learned to know and appreciate in your Institute, especially Sciuti: I will keep a fond memory of them all at least until 11 pm tonight, possibly later too.
E. Majorana

Some of the links related to Mjorana are:


I read an article on Majorana yesterday where the author quotes following lines of William Blake paying tribute to this genius.
To see a world in a grain of sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

Useful USB

Not everyone reads Economic Times or 3-4 newspaper every morning. They may not be reading these posts either :-) However, newspaper articles have a short life cycle. Feel like sharing this from today's ET. Tech. geeks may be already aware of them but not commoners like me.

10 Best Uses Of A USB Drive

Have any old USB drives lying around? You can use them for more than just data transfer. Hitesh Raj Bhagat outlines ten ways how you can put that drive to good use

THE humble pen drive has been around for a long time. Prices have never been cheaper, and larger capacities are easily available too. If you're a computer user, you probably have several of them. Apart from using them to just transport your data, there are a myriad other uses for one, as long as you have a one with a decent capacity and speed. For most of these uses, a 2GB drive (prices start at 250) is more than sufficient, though as is always the case with digital storage, more the merrier!
Run PortableApps
PortableApps is a Windows launcher that can run entirely from your USB drive. What this means is that you can carry a suite of all your favorite applications like Firefox, Chrome, VLC Media Player, Foxit Reader, 7-Zip and more, all on the drive. Plug it into any remote computer and you’ll have all your favorite applications with you. All you have to do is head to the website and download the PortableApps program. There are even preselected app bundles available for download.
Get it from www.portableapps.com
Computer maintenance & troubleshooting
A USB drive can play host to various applications that can help fix, maintain or troubleshoot a computer in need. First, you can start with Trend Micro’s HouseCall or Kaspersky’s virus removal tool. Glary Utilities can be run to do a complete maintenance check (registry clean, removal of temporary files, manage startup programs). Finally, Ultimate Defrag can be used organise the files for better speed and reliability.
Get all the apps from
Run an alternate operating system
Linux and various versions of it are available for free. But some special versions of Linux like Puppy Linux, Damn Small Linux and Xubuntu are small and light enough to be run completely from a USB drive. This means that you can run and check out Linux for yourself on any existing Windows computer, without making any changes to it! The added advantages of these ‘Live’ builds of Linux is that they have very minimal hardware requirements, which makes them blazing fast, even on older machines.
Get them from www.puppylinux.org, www.damnsmalllinux.org, www.xubuntu.org
Automated backup of selected folders
You may have a 500GB hard drive in your computer, but the most important data to you on that drive will be lesser. It could be a folder of your photographs, videos, songs or important documents. Rather than take a complete backup of the drive which is a time-consuming process, you can use Microsoft's SyncToy to selectively backup and synchronise certain folders between the hard drive and an external USB flash drive. Once configured, all you have to do is plug the drive in to backup the folder.
Get it from: http://goo.gl/Zz77V
Run a complete media player
XBMC (Xbox Media Center) started out as media center for the Microsoft Xbox, but is now versatile software for PCs to playback
multiple formats of multimedia files in a slick interface. XBMC Live is a special version, designed to run from USB drives and it can be used to run a pre-configured version of XBMC on any machine for demo purposes. Pretty much anyone who sees the Live version gets the full version instantly.
Get it from: http://xbmc.org/download
Encrypted Data with self-destruct feature
If you're paranoid about someone stealing data from your USB drive, you can secure the data with USB SafeGuard. It encrypts data on the drive with advanced AES 256-bit encryption. You can assign a password to selected folders or to the entire drive. And there’s a setting that can erase the entire contents of the drive if someone enters a wrong password too many times.
Get it from
Work securely on a remote computer
Democrakey offers a suite of handy applications that you can store and run from your USB drive. When you are away from your own PC and want to use the Internet on an unknown PC, Democrakey can keep your data and information safe. It includes the Tor Browser (for anonymous web browsing), Clamwin (to check the PC for viruses), AbiWord (to read Word documents) Thunderbird Portable (with pre-installed add-ons to send anonymous email) and TrueCrypt (for file encryption).
Get it from www.democrakey.com
Increase performance with Ready Boost
With Windows Vista and Windows 7, if you have a fast enough USB flash drive, you can use it for Ready Boost. Ready Boost is a feature that uses the space on your USB drive as extra RAM, instantly boosting the overall speed of your Windows system and programs. Not all USB drives are fast enough to be used for Ready Boost. To check, right click on the drive's icon in My Computer, click Tools and then the Ready Boost tab.
For more information: http://goo.gl/JztRI
Use it as a ‘key’ to access several PCs
You might have seen this before in the movies; a USB drive is inserted into a computer and it immediately springs to life. A free application called Predator can be used for exactly the same thing. Download and install Predator, and pair a USB drive with it. With the USB drive plugged in, you can continue to work, but as soon as it is removed, the screen darkens, the computer locks, and keyboard/mouse input is disabled. Plug it back in, and normal usage is restored.
Get it from: www.montpellierinformatique.com/predator
Make a “life-backup”
This can literally be a life saver. Many of us may have not stopped to think about what would happen if we lost all our belongings in a fire, flood or natural calamity. The size and portability of a USB flash drive is actually ideal to store digital copies of all your important documents like bank information, credit card details, birth certificates, legal papers, insurance papers and anything else that ties into yours or your family’s life. Be sure to keep one away at in a locker or at a friend's place in another city for extra peace of mind.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Also Happens

Don't know how to interpret it or the underlying dynamics. It need not be a comic aberration. There may be much much more than what the article tells.

Beggar’s election as gram pradhan sparks debate

Arvind Singh Bisht | TNN Dec. 19, 2010

Lucknow: Can a beggar hold a public office? The question hangs thick after Narayan Nat, a 50-year-old beggar, has been elected as gram pradhan of Sahawar Shah of Badaun district in the just concluded panchayat polls in UP.
The issue has come under scrutiny as law prohibits begging. It is a declared offence and deemed a social evil, both under the Central and the UP Acts meant to discourage begging. This is thus argued that begging is contrary to the morality, which is the essence of democracy.
A debate over the issue holds views both in favour and against Nat’s election. While the development is hailed by radicals as a warning against corrupt politicians, traditionalist and jurists disagree with this. They feel the issue needs to be given a serious
thought, as legitimising the malice of begging will only give way to similar other immoral activities like immoral trafficking and gambling in the public domain.
When asked to comment on the issue, DM, Banda, Amit Gupta said: “Nat stands to be disqualified, if he does not give up begging after assuming his post.” Section 92 of the
UP Panchayat Act empowers DM to disqualify gram pradhan for any post-electoral misconduct.
However, another side of the issue is that the election of Nat is seen as a rare feat and a warning to the corrupt politicians. As put by UP Congress legislature party leader, Pramod Tiwari: “Technically, Nat’s victory may be incorrect because begging is punishable under the law, but otherwise, his rise reflects the public mind and anger against corruption, practised today by almost all the politicians.”
Reacting sharply to this, C B Pandey, a retired judge and former advisor to the UP governor, said that in spite of everything, begging couldn’t be legitimised. He said that Nat should be disqualified. All the more reason for this, he said, was that Nat in his public position had proudly announced to continue begging.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Step Mother?

The NGO Shakti Vahini helped with crucial leads. “Two of our girls even posed as decoys and intercepted Tahira,” said Rishikant, a social activist heading the operations of the NGO. Valiant effort! And the role of a Step Mother ...

First, today's The Telegraph : The perseverance of an unlettered stepmother, the helping hand of a lawyer’s clerk and the caring instincts of a judge and the insistence of the court jolted Bengal police to launch a hunt that took them to the girl who was sold for Rs 5,000 by a trafficker.

A CID team from Calcutta, with the help of Delhi police, rescued a “traumatised” Yasmin Khatun (name changed), now 16, from a hideout in west Delhi’s Begumpur today.

“The girl was rescued from a house in a raid carried out jointly by our team and Bengal police early today. She had been kidnapped and kept in a house in Begumpur,” Ashok Chand, deputy commissioner (crime branch) of Delhi police, said.

Nishan Pervez, special superintendent of police, CID, said his team had confirmed that the girl was the same person reported missing from Kakdwip in South 24-Parganas.

P. Nirajnayan, IG, Bengal CID, said the girl was “traumatised” and had been sent for medical examination.

Plucked away by a gang of traffickers, Yasmin’s story is testimony to the free run gangs of traffickers enjoy in Bengal’s poverty-ridden villages.

Yasmin would have remained another piece of the cold statistics that say 2,500 teenaged girls disappear from Bengal every year but for the combined efforts of an unlikely group of people brought together by the persistence of her stepmother Johora Bibi.

‘I knew our daughter would come back’

Sumati Yengkhom | TNN Dec. 17, 2010

Kolkata: On April 15, 2009, Tahira Khatun had gone to a village fair — barely 200 metres from her home at Balikhal in Kakdwip, South 24-Parganas — never to return. Her sisterin-law, Jasmira Biwi, returned home late in the evening and told the family that she could not locate Tahira in the crowd.
The family launched a manhunt in the village that very night. A few locals, such as Mohiuddin Biwi, told the family that they had seen Tahira getting into a Maruti Omni around 10.30pm. They also spotted one Kaus Mir and Anwar Bhangi (all from the locality) bundling her into the vehicle, along with one Kashmira Biwi who is allegedly involved in the flesh trade racket.

Suspecting that Tahira would be pushed into flesh trade, the girl’s father, Khater Visti, filed a diary the next day with the Dholahat police and lodged a complaint against six local residents, accusing them of kidnapping the girl.
When police failed to fetch any information on Tahira for about two months, the family moved the Kakdwip ACJM court with a writ petition in June. As no one in the family is lit
erate, they were being assisted by Rafique Ahmed Darjee, a lawyer’s clerk. At the same time, the family knocked on the doors of senior police officers, including the Kakdiwp SDPO and the district SP. They even went to the state women’s commission.
The agony at not finding her daughter hit her mother Samira Biwi very
hard. Samira was already suffering from mental illness. Her condition deteriorated after Tahira went missing. Samira had stopped communicating with anyone. She occasionally asked when her daughter would come back home. Moved by her plight, Tahira’s step-mother Johra Biwi (Khater’s second wife) stepped in and moved Calcutta high court in July 2009.
“I could not bear to see Tahira’s mother suffering silently. Moreover, I brought up Tahira myself due to her mother’s mental condition. She was just a few months old when I got married. She was very attached to me,” Johra said.
Though some of the accused were arrested, police failed to trace the girl, adding to the family’s agony.
The matter was finally transferred to the court of the chief justice in April this year and was subsequently treated as a PIL In September. In a landmark judgment, the high court directed the director general of police (DGP) to trace and produce the girl by November 12.
Tahira was finally traced in Delhi on Thursday. State ADG (law and order) Surajit Kar Purakayastha said a team from the state CID and the Delhi Police had been able to trace the girl.

A Follow-up : First, from today's (18th Dec.) The Telegraph and then ToI

Girl recoils at fear of ostracism in Bengal
- ‘Tortured, humiliated and brainwashed’

New Delhi, Dec. 17: Kidnapped and sold last year and rescued from Delhi yesterday, 16-year-old Bengal girl Yasmin Khatun says she doesn’t want to return home for fear of ostracism.

Consumed with shame and misplaced guilt at the “different” life she has led for the past year and a half, Yasmin (name changed) has told police and social workers she has “grave doubts” about ever being accepted by the people of her South 24-Parganas village, Balikhali.

“She is both traumatised and humiliated,” said Bengal CID inspector Sarbari Bhattacharya, the leader of the police team that came to Delhi to rescue the Kakdwip girl who was abducted in April last year.

“She told me she doesn’t want to go back to Bengal because she is unsure how she would be received. She wants to remain in Delhi. The traffickers who brought her to Delhi have brainwashed her into thinking that she would be humiliated and taunted by her own people if she ever returns home.”

Tomorrow, the Delhi government’s child welfare committee (CWC) will counsel Yasmin and try to dispel her fears. At some point of time, Yasmin may have to travel at least to Calcutta, whose high court has asked the police to produce her.

CWC chairperson Neera Mallick, however, said: “The girl needs counselling at least for the next six months before she is exposed to the world.”

Inspector Bhattacharya said the traffickers would torture Yasmin every time she said she wanted to return home, and had brainwashed her into thinking that after her life in Delhi, she would be an “untouchable” back in Bengal.

“She is confused,” Bhattacharya said. “Sometimes she smiles and sometimes she suddenly starts crying.”

Over a period of time, the officer said, Yasmin began believing she would never be able to leave and began accepting her life in Delhi. Her tormentors then started tutoring her in etiquette and the social graces, and bought her expensive dresses, to transform the rustic girl into a “lady of society”.

“I was surprised last night when, while having dinner, she suddenly asked for a napkin,” Bhattacharya said. “I never expected that from a village girl. But I quickly realised that the traffickers had been grooming her. The room we rescued her from had an air-conditioner.”

Rashi Aditi Ghosh, of the NGO Shakti Vahini, who had accompanied the police on the raid to rescue the girl, too said that Yasmin had told her she didn’t want to “go back to her baba and maa”.

“She said she was disgusted with her father’s foul behaviour. She seemed confused and may not be telling the whole truth.”

It’s not clear what Yasmin has against her 61-year-old father Khater Bhisti, a fish seller, but she owes her freedom to her unlettered stepmother Johora Bibi who, faced with initial police apathy, fought a lone crusade to take the battle to the high court.

Ghosh said her NGO had helped rescue many trafficked girls and that she did not find Yasmin’s behaviour unusual. Having accepted their new life, especially the “material comforts” that come with it, many of the girls are reluctant to return home.

“Yasmin is ashamed of the life she has been forced to lead but, at the same time, she has grown used to the comforts. In this confused state she may be trying to find excuses not to return home,” Ghosh said.

“Many girls we have rescued have behaved in this way, but she needs counselling and someone she can open her heart to.”

For now, Yasmin is staying at Nirmal Chhaya, a home for girls run by the Delhi government’s social welfare department.

Rescued girl doesn’t want to go home

Alleges Sexual Abuse By Kin; NGO Says Story Could’ve Been Fabricated To Avoid Poverty

Sumati Yengkhom & Dwaipayan Ghosh | TNN

Kolkata/New Delhi: For more than a year, Johura Biwi fought relentlessly to get her step-daughter home. In fact, it was the grit and determination of this illiterate-but-feisty village woman that led to Tahira Khatun (16) being finally traced. Otherwise, the minor girl from this nondescript village called Balikhal in Kakdwip subdivision of South 24-Parganas, would have remained untraced like scores of girls who go missing from the state every year. Tahira, who was trafficked and sold in Delhi, was rescued on Thursday during a joint raid by Delhi Police and a CID team from the state.
When Tahira went missing on Aprli 15 last year, her father Khater Vishti had filed a missing complaint with Dholahat police station. But in a few weeks, the fisherman, in his 60s, got busy with work as he has to feed the family. And since Tahira’s mother Samira Biwi suffers from mental disorder, it was left to Johura, in her late 30s, to take up the fight.
“From kitchen to court, it has been a long journey. I had hardly ventured out of the village till I dragged
myself out as I knew I had to find our daughter back. Going to the police station was frightening initially. Then I got going with the support of the family,” said Johura who is Khater Vishti’s second wife.
The news that Tahira has been traced has brought a lot of relief to the family. They are now waiting for Tahira to come back home. Her mother Samira Biwi specially is getting impatience.
But Tahira has reportedly expressed that she does not want to go back home. In a startling revelation, the girl is believed to have told her counsellor Rashi Aditi Ghosh in Delhi that a close relative had tried to exploit her sexually earlier. Though she admitted that she was sold off by the accused in Delhi, she is apparently not comfortable with the idea of going back home.
However, there is a high probability of Tahira cooking up stories of this sexual exploitation to avoid going back to poverty. According to Delhi-based NGO Shaktivahini that had provided the counsellors for Tahira, the girl who reportedly is stunningly beautiful, apparently has been making good money. Though she did not operate from red light areas, Kadir,
who bought her, possibly had been supplying her to high-profile clients.
“Easy and good money seems to have gone into her head. And it is quite natural for a girl of her age, who is yet to be mature enough to understand what’s good for her and
what is not. There is a high chance of the girl fabricating the story of some relatives trying to sexually exploit her so that she is not sent back home. The girl needs counselling,” said Rishi Kant of Shativahini.
The girl, who could not even get a square meal back home, now reportedly wears branded clothes and accessories. In two years, the gullible village girl has reportedly transformed into a big city girl who lives life on the fast lane.
According to what Tahira has told Ghosh, she had willingly accompanied her sister-in-law Jasmina on April 15, 2009, when the latter promised her to take her to the fair. “At the fair, she met Kalam — a resident of Park Street in Kolkata — and followed him as he promised her security from her abusive relative. On the way to Kolkata, Kalam allegedly offered her a soft drink laced with sedatives. The next thing she remembers is that she was on a train to Delhi. She was sold off to Azhar for Rs 6,000,” said Ghosh.
Delhi crime branch officers said later, Kadir and Azhar fell out over the share of money. “Kadir was demanding more money for the girl and Azhar sold her for the second time
to avoid a confrontation with Kadir,” said the investigating officer.
Cops said the “lead” in their search for Tahira had come after they managed to arrest Kalam from Park Street. They nabbed Azhar after forcing Kalam to call him up and tell him that he had brought “two beautiful girls” from Bengal and wanted to sell them. “Two woman members of the NGO acted as decoys and we arrested him as soon as he tried to escape,” said a senior officer.
Cops said Azhar was a “rich” man who holds several bank accounts on fake identities. Police are now probing whether Azhar’s two wives – one in Hyderabad and the other in Meerut — too were involved in the all-India trafficking racket. “We are also looking into possible links of Azhar in bringing 53 girls from Jharkhand, Bengal and Bihar to the Capital for prostitution just before the Commonwealth Games,” added a crime branch officer.
Azar left Delhi for Kolkata by Rajdhanai Express on a two-day transit remand on Friday evening. However, it might take a couple of days for Tahira to be brought to Kolkata. The Child Welfare board in Delhi is expected to finalise the date on Saturday.

The Telegraph keeps following up.

New Delhi, Dec. 18: Yasmin, the Bengal girl rescued here on Thursday, today said she preferred her “new life” to the poverty and hunger that awaited her back home, shining a light on causes that underpin trafficking and the challenges ahead of rehabilitation agencies.

Yasmin (name changed), 16, also confirmed that her relative Kashmira Bibi had handed her over to traffickers.

Ghar jaane se achchha hai yahan pe mar jana (better to die here than return home),” the girl, kidnapped from Kakdwip in April last year, told The Telegraph in fluent Hindi.

Yasmin said she had grown used to the comforts of her life in Delhi’s “party circuit”, learnt Hindi and forgotten to speak Bengali in these 20 months, and now called the couple who had bought her “Papa” and “Mummy”.

In her village of Balikhali in South 24-Parganas, “hunger stares one in the face”, she said. “I will die of starvation there. I’ve got used to a life of comfort after sacrificing a lot; there’s no point going back.”

She is also afraid of stigma: “People will laugh at me and make up stories about me…. Now I hate my village and its people.”

Yasmin will, however, have to board the Rajdhani Express tomorrow with Bengal CID officers and will be reaching Calcutta on Monday morning to be presented before the high court. She spoke to this newspaper at Banga Bhavan shortly after counselling by the Delhi government’s child welfare committee (CWC), which cleared her journey to Bengal.

CWC chairperson Neera Mallick said a traumatised Yasmin needed counselling and “a lot of care and affection” for six months before she could be rehabilitated.

“It now depends on the Bengal government how they provide counselling and other facilities to help her return to normal life. If they fail to do so, the girl could return to the world her tormentors had thrown her into.”

Yasmin said her sister-in-law’s sibling Kashmira had handed her over to a man called Kalam, who brought her to Delhi, sexually abused her in a hotel and sold her to Azhar.

She was finally sold to a couple whom she addressed as “Papa” and “Mummy”. The husband, Pappu, groomed her in manners and etiquette, showered her with gifts and gave her a new name: Julie.

“There were five other girls. A woman gave us Hindi lessons. We were given expensive clothes and good food. I loved my air-conditioned room; I drank only mineral water. I would go to a lot of parties and have been to big hotels too. After a few months, I accepted the new life like the other girls,” she said.

“They (Pappu and his wife) have given me a lot and I want to go back to them.”

Pappu went into hiding after Thursday’s police raid netted Azhar and rescued Yasmin.

Yasmin said she had recently met a man from Moradabad, who had promised to marry her after two years. “He owns a mutton shop. I want a happy life, not a life like the girls at my village have.”

She said her father Khater Bhisti, a 61-year-old fish seller, was a harsh man and had pulled her out of school after Class III, fearing she might run away with somebody. “I wanted to continue studying....”

Did she miss her village? “I have a very close friend, Mohitan, there... but she would have been married off by now.”

One day last year, after her father had behaved particularly badly with her, Kashmira had promised to find her a job outside Bengal.

“She told me my father and stepmother hated me,” said Yasmin, who has been rescued thanks to her illiterate stepmother’s unyielding crusade against police apathy.

On April 15, 2009, Yasmin was returning home after watching a circus when Kashmira introduced her to Kalam, who was waiting on a motorcycle, and asked her to go with him, Yasmin said. “I didn’t know he would sell me off.”

Kalam, a 32-year-old Calcuttan, rode straight to Howrah station and boarded a train with her, saying he would find her a job. In Delhi, he took her to a hotel, spiked her soft drinks and assaulted her, Yasmin said. “I wept a lot that day.”

The next day, she was sold off to Azhar. “They (Azhar and his associates) tortured me. When I wanted to go back to my village, they threatened to kill me.”

Kalam, arrested in November on trafficking charges, had helped the police arrest Azhar here on Thursday. Both reached Calcutta today with a CID team. Azhar will be produced in Kakdwip court tomorrow.

Azhar, who wore Versace woollens and Nike sneakers, has allegedly told the police he had contacts across Bengal who would traffic girls to him.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


This is one example of how it can be made to work, the ones that are supposed to work. The study revealed that the following were behind the success.

1. Teachers took the teacher-training seriously
2. School admin. visited the school more than 20 times in a year i.e. once every 2-3 weeks
3. Community monitoring in the mother - teacher committee was active

And this primary school is situated in one of the backward district of West Bengal (Barjora block of district Bankura). The village has more than 90 percent population belonging to backward caste and minority community. This makes the feat even more praiseworthy.

What do we learn from this?

While on one hand there is a need to rush help to backward places but a more permanent, self-reliant system can emerge if we try to make the existing machinery work effectively, maintaining vigil, recognizing superlative effort - thereby playing a catalytic role, not running something in parallel unless there is emergency or taken up as a short term measure. Greater effort should be made to make schools already in place function better.

May be we need to understand their pain points and address them.
May be we need to arrange school level, block level and then district level competition and reward students, mentoring teachers, school admin. and recognize their effort and boost their confidence.
May be we need to take up academic oriented project like publication of magazine where every school is given 4 pages each to provide content (article, drawing etc.)
May be we need to organize workshops for teachers which would be more like a get-together, picnic, edutainment gifts for their students - no preaching but success stories will be shared (no negatives, there are and will be challenges - important is how to overcome)

I shall add more points if they occur to me, also readers are most welcome to suggest. The idea is to make them feel good, increase confidence and stand by them instead of finding faults. May be voluntary youth groups, NSS units as those in IITs join hands and treat the people working at the grass root level as partner for a stronger and better India.

The above shows that they have the potential to excel. They are spread far and wide while youth organizations are serving only pockets and often not in a sustained manner or treated as outsider. The idea is to tap the potential of whatever is already there and channelize the energy, enthusiasm of youth groups in a more effective manner.

The little experience we have gained so far, the Govt. always encourages this and there is a sense of admiration when IIT students try to reach out to villages. Come on, folks! Let's do it.

Here is the link where this study has been published today

Sunday, November 21, 2010


“At Shibpur Dinabandhu Institution, I was a backbencher. Those of us who sat at the back were treated shabbily."

What makes people take note of a backbencher? Today's edition of The Telegraph comes up with this ennobling article.

A 73-year-old retired teacher, who has almost lost an eye to glaucoma and suffers from throat cancer, has been taking classes gratis at his old school for 12 years in a state where the government had to ban private tuition so that teachers do not neglect classes.

He is Prasanta Kumar Banerjee who retired in February 1998 but his passion for teaching soon drove him back to the classroom. The Shibpur resident had cut down on classes only a year back, on the advice of doctors who had diagnosed his throat cancer.

“I love teaching, especially those who are considered backbenchers. From my experience, I know each student can do well if he is taught properly and confidence is instilled in him. Poverty and family problems keep many children from performing to their potential.”

In Banerjee’s case, poverty forced him to concentrate on studies so that he could contribute to the family income. His father Jatindranath, an employee of the Survey of India at Shillong, Meghalaya, had died when he was only a year old, leaving the family of eight desperately in need of money.

They returned to their ancestral home in Shibpur. Prasanta and two of his elder brothers were admitted to the primary section of Shibpur Dinabandhu Institution. In Class IX, he failed twice and had to switch to Praganananda Saraswati Vidhalaya.

Banerjee returned to Praganananda Vidhalaya as a teacher in 1960 after completing his BA from ND College, Howrah.

“Soon after joining, I discovered that there were many students who needed extra care. I asked them to come to my home for extra classes, for which I did not take money. But since I believe that students should give their teachers gurudakshina, I used to take a haritaki (chebulic myrobalans), a poitey (sacred thread) and 25 paise from each.”

Milan Chakraborty, a Howrah doctor who is one of the many students whose future Banerjee shaped, recounted: “All students, whether they were meritorious or not, liked to attend sir’s history and Bengali classes. He taught so well that the classes seemed fun.”

Now comes the turning point. What made this backbencher beat all where it really counts?

"At Praganananda Vidhalaya, the then headmaster, late Makhanlal Chattopadhyay, was a wonderful teacher. He encouraged and motivated me. I soon became better at studies. That was when I realised that teaching with care and affection could turn a bad boy into a good one.”

"Each soul is potentially divine," says Vivekananda, "The goal is to manifest that divinity."

(The content appeared in today's edition of The Telegrapph.)

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Narayan Murthy, Infosys founder are available for comments on various topics. He does not shy away for making his views known. His take on two topics are reproduced below. One is close to his field of interest, where his expertize lies. The other is little far. And the difference is palpable. First excerpts from his interview appearing in today's Economic Times.

On another note, one of the US Senators referred to the Indian IT companies as ‘chop shops’. Did the remark dismay you?
If somebody who knew what we were doing or had an industry view or were a respected analyst, we would be worried. But somebody who has no idea what this industry is all about and the kind of infrastructure we have built here and in 70 other countries, makes such a statement, we should be charitable to such a person. All of us, when we get older, tend to do
things that are not the best. Once in a while our logic lapses, our memory lapses, we tend to say things we don’t mean. So I’d say let us look at it in that spirit.

Next is his observation on Science & Technology in India that appeared on The Hindu, dated 28th October.

Industry finances about 75 per cent of the R&D in Korea and Japan, 70 per cent in China and 65 per cent in the U.S. In India, by contrast, the government finances more than 80 per cent of our R&D expenditure. In a recent report, the Science Advisory Council to the Prime Minister noted: “Except in sectors like pharmaceuticals and drugs, our industry does not appear to be making major investments in and demands on Indian science.” Shouldn't Indian industry, especially the high-technology sectors, be doing more to create and drive domestic R&D?

I think it works both ways. While the Indian industry has to show more interest in collaborating with the Indian academic community, it is necessary for the Indian academic community to show more interest in working with industry. Let me give you a very simple example. Every year, I receive a number of visitors from several International universities like Cornell University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Cambridge, University of Michigan, etc, etc. The professors from these universities are so keen on solving our problems. I would be very happy to also receive professors from our own institutions like the Indian Institute of Science, the IITs, and others. Our academicians must be interested in solving our problems.

Many multi-nationals have established R&D facilities in India. Do you think India's Information Technology industry is doing enough by way of creating R&D capabilities for itself?

We at Infosys have our software engineering and technology laboratories where there are 600 people working on issues that are relevant to our needs. So those are huge research laboratories. I think there are other companies too, which have such things. So therefore the answer is yes.

The best students will always go to where they get the best jobs and pay, and that is to be found in industry these days. A research career on the other hand, means protracted training and less remuneration. So how does one make such a career attractive to young people?

I have suggested several times to various institutions that for every paper that is produced in a world-class refereed journal, they could give Rs. four lakh. So that if you produce four papers in a year, then you have got Rs. 16 lakh. Add to that a salary of Rs. six or eight lakh a year, then you have got a decent sum.

Does anybody see a connection between these two interviews? There are few comments by academicians on the later in a blog maintained by an IISc Professor http://nanopolitan.blogspot.com/2010/10/nr-narayana-murthy-on-how-to-attract.html#comments . Excerpts from that.

1. "Where do the institutions get the money to give 4 lakhs per paper?..What happens when industry hikes the salary to put the 4 lakhs/paper money to shame?...Scientific research is not a money-making enterprise. It is high time people realize that. If they dont, I doubt whether they would really have the patience to spend years on researching something that might or might not throw up cool results. The type of folks who cant see beyond the $$ cant bet a scientist - they are more suited to be a manager and deserve to be in the industry....IMHO, the other benefits of an academic life are equally, if not more important than the $$$ - freedom to choose research topics, get adequate research funding, access to quality research facilities, all the while earning an amount that lets us life comfortably (and given the campus housing, one doesnt even need to think beyond the 6-8 lakhs of basic salary). Long time back, I recall a professor telling me "The difference between the industry and the academic payscale is the amount of money you are willing to pay for your freedom". This is something anyone wanting to come to academics will do well to keep in mind. There is a price to be paid for everything."

2. "Mr Narayana Murthy seems to be the typical Indian businessman: he thinks throwing money is enough to solve any problem. I am disappointed....But the first question really is -- do we need more scientists at our existing research institutions? I think not. What we need is more and better universities. And, of course, scientists to fund those universities -- but we need to make our universities attractive places for a career in science (and humanities and other fields). Perhaps Mr Narayana Murthy has thought about throwing money at that problem?"

3. "The views of Narayan Murthy are hardly surprising. He has always been fairly trivial, particularly with regard to education, science and research. For them everything boils down to money. Just because you started a successful outsourcing company does not mean you have the wisdom to know how to encourage research...BTW by his prescription (and to make it slightly ridiculous) Einstein's paper, say on special relativity, and say any one of my papers, say in Physical Review D would get Rs 4 lakhs each. How nice...didn't know my papers had equal value. And poor Mr Einstein would finally end up with fewer lakhs than many of our local scientists who are paper producing factories."

Strong words. From what he said in today's paper, we may find Murthy worrying about these comments and soon we shall have something from him in another interview. Till then ...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Flat Rate

Eradicating poverty with flat rate of interest? SKS Microfinace, the largest in India with 73 lakhs of customers is in limelight for two reasons - hugely successful IPO and sacking of its CEO immediately after that. This got attention of people and we get educated about this flat rate of interest the profiteering microfinance companies charge. Today's edition of TOI reports, "While offering a loan, they often quote a “10% flat” rate of interest, which, on the face of it, appears like a good deal. However, there is a catch. This ‘flat’ rate of interest means that it will not be calculated on reducing balance. It implies that even after the borrower has paid a few installments, the interest would still be calculated on the initial sum borrowed, and not on the balance loan amount. The result is a (hidden) final rate of interest of 24-30%, or even higher for the poor who can barely afford a square meal a day. “Microfinance, as practised by MFIs is unethical to the extent that it evades the truth in lending,” said R Balakrishnan, a financial market veteran turned independent adviser." And SKS uses 12.5% of flat rate of interest!!!

Now one cannot be faulted to think them as "no better than moneylenders but have so far been able to operate under the pious garb of poverty eradicators."

Add to this the strong arm tactics used. TOI further says,"The high rate of interest is also leading to defaults and fraud. Recently, there has been a spurt in suicides in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa, allegedly due to harassment by MFI agents who started resorting to strong-arm tactics to recover loans as chances of default rise. M Subba Rao, of NGO Masses, who trained under Grameen Bank founder and Nobel prize winner Muhammad Yunus in Bangladesh, describes the cases of alleged harassment by MFIs as the result of ‘irresponsible lending’. “There is high pressure on the staff (of private MFIs) to lend. They have targets to meet and they dump money (on people) in many cases,” said Rao. Consider this: The loan outstanding, according to the latest estimate by Microfinance Institutions Network (MFIN), the organization of 40 MFIs, is about 30,000 crore with about 3 crore poor banking on MFIs for their financial needs. While the four southern states of AP, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala account for a chunk of this borrowing, West Bengal and Orissa too have rural poor relying on MFIs. Besides, the sector is also on an uptick in UP and Haryana."

This was lesson for even seasoned bankers like State Bank of India chief. The concludig part of TOI report says, "Of course, eradicating poverty through the MFI route, for some, is a lucrative business. The IPO document by SKS disclosed that Gurumani was drawing an annual salary of Rs 1.5 crore, an equal amount or more as performance bonus, and also a onetime bonus of Rs 1 crore. Akula is entitled to up to 1% of SKS’s net profit, in addition to ESOPs.
Not surprisingly the ‘success’ of some of the MFIs and the mega-listing of SKS recently have stunned even seasoned bankers. When asked about the success of the MFI business in India, during a recent interview with TOI, O P Bhatt, chairman of State Bank of India, said even he was surprised by their numbers. He wanted to go deeper into their finances and business model to understand how MFIs, who borrow from banks, including SBI, can make profit which these very banks can’t make. The same is the case with some other finance veterans. After all, like mobile tariff plans, no financial product is protected by patents and IPRs and the uniqueness of any new and lucrative one cannot last for more than 24 hours.
The problem seems to be with the business model, and not the approach. In India, largely there are three kinds of MFIs: The self-help groups (SHGs) which are government-supported MFIs, nonprofit NGOs and the private for-profit firms.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


We are yet to see the advt. in IITkgp online notice board. Since closing date is 27th Oct. and in between we have Durga Puja holidays, we are trying various means to reach out to prospective candidates. Feel like putting this up in blog too. A right candidate getting a right opportunity is as precious as a right opportunity getting a right candidate. Expected date of interview is 2nd Nov., 2010 for them who satisfy the criteria mentioned in the advt.

Two Advt. to recruit 2+2 = 4 candiadtes



Sponsored Research and Industrial Consultancy

Mr. S.K. Biswas

Administrative Officer (Projects)

ADVERTISEMENT NO. : IIT/SRIC/R/VLS/2010/203(a), DATED 5th October, 2010

Applications are invited on plain paper for the following assignment in a purely time bound research project undertaken in the Department of Electronics & Electrical Communication Engineering of this institute.


Name of the temporary assignment


Junior / Senior Research Fellow - 2 posts


Name of the temporary research project


Virtual Labs [Degital Electronic Circuit Lab (DEC)] (VLS)


Name of the sponsoring Agency


MHRD, New Delhi


Consolidated Fellowship/ Compensation


Rs.12,000/- - Rs. 18,000/-p.m. (depending upon qualification & experience)


Essential Qualifications & Experience


B. Tech / B.E from Electronics / Electrical preferably with valid GATE / NET Score

OR M. Tech in Electronics / Electrical Engineering (preferable).


Relevant Experience


Competence in Signal Processing, Digital Circuits MATLAB. Programming Knowledge of PHP, Javascript, Flash.

Interested eligible persons may apply on plain paper, giving full bio-data along with attested copies of testimonials to the undersigned on or before 27th October, 2010.

(S.K. Biswas)



Sponsored Research and Industrial Consultancy

Mr. S.K. Biswas

Administrative Officer (Projects)

ADVERTISEMENT NO. : IIT/SRIC/R/VLS/2010/203, DATED 5th October, 2010

Applications are invited on plain paper for the following assignment in a purely time bound research project undertaken in the Department of Electronics & Electrical Communication Engineering of this institute.


Name of the temporary assignment


Junior / Senior Research Fellow - 2 posts


Name of the temporary research project


Virtual Labs [Degital Signal Processing Lab (DSP)] (VLS)


Name of the sponsoring Agency


MHRD, New Delhi


Consolidated Fellowship/ Compensation


Rs.12,000/- - Rs. 18,000/-p.m. (depending upon qualification & experience)


Essential Qualifications & Experience


B. Tech / B.E from Electronics / Electrical preferably with valid GATE / NET Score

OR M. Tech in Electronics / Electrical Engineering (preferable).


Relevant Experience


Competence in Signal Processing, Digital Circuits MATLAB. Programming Knowledge of PHP, Javascript, Flash.

Interested eligible persons may apply on plain paper, giving full bio-data along with attested copies of testimonials to the undersigned on or before 27th October, 2010.

(S.K. Biswas)