Monday, March 31, 2008

The doodle does the trick


-by KParthasarathi Monday, March 31, 2008
http://content.msn.co.in/Contribute/Others/UCStory6237.htm
Ravichandran was about fifteen studying in class ix at Mannargudi.There was a girl Visalakshi in the same class. She was exceptionally beautiful, extremely fair and hazel eyed. She had a smiling face and whenever she laughed he could see the neatly aligned white teeth gleaming inside. She was friendly with Ravichandran and sought only from him the note books whenever she absented herself from school. She never talked much with him except for exchanging notes. She must have been around thirteen. He found some excuse to make small conversation with her daily though she would be mingling only with the girls. Though cannot be called love, thoughts of her tormented the adolescent boy very much.
One day when she asked for his Chemistry note book, he scribbled in a paper his name in bold letters and kept it inside. Being timid, he considered keeping a mere slip with the name an audacious epistle of love. He spent two restless days thinking whether she would take him amiss. When she returned the book, he opened eagerly the notebook to see the slip. He found to his great joy and surprise she had written neatly her name Visalakshi by the side of his name .He also noticed that she had over written on his name making it bold with her pen. No word was spoken nor was any hint of the name-writing given by her.Ravichandran wanted to make sure whether there was intent behind the adding of her name to his. He wrote his name thrice in a paper when he gave his physics note book. When she returned the book next day he felt her cheeks turned crimson and there was a certain shyness. He found her name written next to his name thrice with a curve joining the names. The young minds knew they were fond of each other and at that age they dared not express more about their feelings for each other.
When the school reopened the next year, he found her missing in the class. She had left the school evidently. He had stored the two slips of paper carefully hidden from others eyes. Her image never left him. Often he recalled her smiling face and the slips of paper. But as years passed by, her memory gradually faded away. Meanwhile Ravichandran did his B.Tech and MS and had taken up a job in US with a shortened name R.Chander.He had come on a week’s leave to Chennai for his marriage with a girl finalised by his parents. The girl Vaishali looked very charming and he noticed she had a pair of hazel eyes. She had done her M.C.A and was a software analyst. The company agreed to transfer her to the same city where Chander was working. Within two days after marriage they had to leave for US.
Tears trickled down her face at the airport. Both parents and relatives were there. Last minute advices from her parents, reminders to chat daily and caution to drive only after she had practised adequately and such like made her feel bad at leaving them behind. When finally they were together in the plane side by side, she had mixed feelings of joy, hopes of a new life and unknown fears. It was past three am and she was tired when she fell asleep. Chander could not sleep. He watched some film amidst sideward glances at her beautiful wife. He doodled his name in the airline magazine. When she woke up at 6am at the aroma of coffee, she found her husband wide awake. When asked why he did not catch a wink or two, he smiled that he could not sleep with such a beautiful woman by his side. She saw the airline magazine with his names scribbled. She snatched the pen from him and wrote her name Vaishali neatly by the side of his names and linked them with a curve.Chander was amazed and the thoughts of the school days at Mannargudi rushed. He asked her whether she studied her class ix there. When she nodded her head in affirmative, he asked her “Aren’t you Visalakshi? Do you remember Ravichandran of your class.?”When her eyes opened wide in exclamation and surprise, he pulled her towards him and started kissing her passionately unmindful of the amused stares alround.What a sweet culmination to the budding love story of childhood days.
Kpartha12@hotmail.com

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Is murder the only answer for infidelity?

by KParthasarathi Thursday, March 27, 2008
http://content.msn.co.in/Contribute/Lifestyle/UCStory6212.htm
Is infidelity an unforgivable sin? Should it be avenged only by murder? The recent news report of the murder of a wife for alleged continued affair with someone else followed by suicide of the husband sets one thinking whether a different response was possible. Could he not have sought a break up of marriage on grounds of adultery instead of giving vent to extreme anger? After all in any marriage one cannot rule out the possibility of distaste for each other or total incompatibility of the couple leading to extra marital relationship.Marraiges can be failures despite all the care from one side. Divorce is the only remedy in such cases and not murder.
There can be no two opinions that infidelity is wrong and unacceptable despite its widespread prevalence today. Such an act of betrayal is shattering to the victim and cuts at the very root of commitment to one another and robs the relationship of the sense of trust and love. It would be very difficult to reconcile and live together thereafter except in cases of compelling economic reasons, social pressures from the family or the fear of hurting the future of children.
The responses would no doubt vary depending upon who the victim of betrayal is whether wife or husband. Where the husband and wife are young and qualified without children, the best course would be to separate and seek divorce. Papering the crack hardly helps. The suspecting party should work diligently to get the damning evidence against the cheater. Murder and suicides are no solution.It is a weak answer to the problem. A new life with a new partner can be started afresh with the bitter incident fading away from memory. In some cases the cause for post marital relationship with someone else may due to some inadequacy. Long periods of neglect or absence of love and affection would drive the deprived into the hands of someone offering the same. Where the couples suspect cooling of relationship, they should discuss and analyze the reasons there for to salvage the marriage in time, if possible
The problem arises where both are middle aged with children. Some may be financially well off and some not be. No easy answer is possible. There can be genuine remorse at the sin committed under unintended and unplanned circumstances with the promise that such lapses would not occur again. Such cases are very rare. Any amount of assurance by the adulterer is generally of little value in inspiring confidence and the cheater in most cases would only tend to be more secretive in his/her amoral adventures. Some victims particularly women may cry hoarse, be angry and throw tantrums for a while but get reconciled to their miserable lot. A few would never forgive and may live in the same house for the sake of children but without any physical relationship with the adulterer.Pretty difficult no doubt. Otherwise how do we account for so many men having mistresses openly and are none the worse for it? It is only women who tolerate such deviations while men would under no circumstance permit an adulterous wife to live with him.
This is a pretty tough situation to deal with and the reactions would naturally be different.
kpartha12@hotmail.com

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Make divorce easy for women

by KParthasarathi Wednesday, March 26, 2008
http://content.msn.co.in/Contribute/Lifestyle/UCStory6200.htm
Divorce is common today as the women are empowered with education and employment. They have the financial independence and the courage. Lacking these earlier they had to put up with all indignities at the hands of their husbands. They suffered in silence for the sake of children, security and societal pressure. The concept of single parent was frowned upon then.
The women are now aware that they need not put up with alcoholic husbands and their violence, adulterous spouses or drug addicts or those who are in prison for long for crimes or those with incurable diseases. Where there is no scope for correction, the women have realized that it is best to end the farcical relationship if they can stand on their own legs. The marriages are terminated even under financial hardship where warranted. Divorces are common amongst educated classes. The poor continue to suffer as staying single in slums without the security of a husband is risky.
People from higher classes seek divorce even for slender reasons like incompatibility. The mere dissatisfaction and inability to love and live together is found adequate to part ways. In such cases there should be mutual willingness to part amicably.
The problem arises only when there are children and one party is unwilling necessitating legal recourse. Though divorces bring relief to the harassed spouse in the short term, their impact on the children is considerable especially when the woman is not financially well off. How much of balancing of the conflicting interests of children’s well being with the agony of the woman continuing in an unworkable marriage needs to be done varies from case to case. The couple should seek an answer whether children’s interests are best served in a two-parent family and if so work for restoring the breaking relationship. Largely it is men who are at fault though he may not initiate divorce. He would wish to keep the marriage going and continue with his wayward ways.
While divorce is necessary as a last resort, it should not be employed after the initial thrill of wedded life begins to wane or for minor differences of opinion. The couple should bestow deep thought about the sanctity of the marriage and the commitment that go with it especially when they have children. Generally one of the spouses disowns responsibility towards the children losing the bond with them.
Sadly a permissive culture that has crept in and the easy opportunities to mingle closely away from the home at odd working hours makes young people succumb to carnal temptations ruining in the process the edifice of marriages. If such secret liaisons are kept under a wrap, things go well. Invariably they come out in the open sooner or later. Unfortunately, entering into marriage is no longer considered by a few as a serious and committed partnership but somewhat like a live in relationship under the garb of marriage to gain respectability. Such thinking is a negation of all that is holy in family relationship
All said and done, easy access to divorce provides security for wronged women. To make things harder for obtaining a divorce would bind the women to abusive marriages. While the interest of children in marriages is to be kept in mind, it is a fact that children in highly abusive atmosphere are affected more than the children in single families where care is bestowed. There can be a conflict of interests between what is good for wife and what is for children. But the scale should strongly tilt in favour of the woman as she would not sacrifice the welfare of her children. In sum the divorce laws should be made easy for women and tough on men.
Kpartha12@hotmail.com

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Since when Sachin and Pawar became selectors ?

by KParthasarathi Tuesday, March 25, 2008
http://content.msn.co.in/Contribute/Sports/UCStory6185.htm
The news report that ' Sachin recommended Dhoni as ODI captain' has come as a shock to cricket lovers, not for the choice of the name but the manner of going about it.Pawar has admitted that it was Sachin Tendulkar's suggestion that Dhoni be vested with captaincy for the one-day cricket to Pawar that clinched the issue in Dhoni's favour. There was also the other suggestion from Sachin Tendulkar to Pawar to advise the selectors not to include players of his (Sachin's) generation in the Twenty20 team. These were duly conveyed to the selectors who acted as per the Chief's wishes by dropping the seniors.
We have been told only of these two suggestions from Sachin to Pawar.We are not aware of the possible many that have not been revealed. There is an important lesson in this news item. It is that the selectors are not totally free to do the job allotted to them and interference from influential quarters thro suggestions beset their work.Pawar may innocently deny telling that he only conveyed what Sachin told him but left the decision entirely to the selectors. It is somewhat akin to a suggestion from Sonia to Man Mohan Singh. In diplomatic parlance, 'suggestion' from the top person is an euphemism for a 'command'.
How could Sachin speak on behalf of other seniors unless they had asked him specifically to do so? He can at best speak for himself. Such an assumption of authority to comment on areas that do not fall under his domain is unfortunate and condemnable. The problem with this country is that as soon as a man is praised for his performance, he thinks he is all knowing and can talk on any subject.
It is evident now from these two episodes as to who rules the Indian cricket from behind thro Pawar.Sachin may be a man of few words but apparently gets things done silently from behind the scene. It is said that still waters run deep. It would be rank incursion into the areas of selection if BCCI top management were to offer unsolicited suggestions.Pawar should have desisted from discussing with Tendulkar or Vengsarkar on areas that are not his. .'Render unto Caesar things that are Caesar's' is the motto that Pawar and Tendulkar should follow strictly.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Lamentable behaviour of BCCI


by KParthasarathi Monday, March 24, 2008
http://content.msn.co.in/Contribute/Sports/UCStory6169.htm
The news report that Kapil Dev and Wadekar have not been invited for the function to be held at Chennai to felicitate Anil Kumble for taking 600 wickets is shocking. The only obvious reason could be their association with Indian Cricket League (ICL). Kapil Dev or Ajit Wadekar are not poorer for this slight by the board. They come out as courageous men who will not buckle under pressure to disown ICL.It is BCCI that cuts a sorry figure and making itself a laughing stock.
Why does BCCI nurse such a grudge against ICL? In the corporate world we witness today firms dealing in the same product and competing in a highly competitive market do not exhibit such mutual animosity and hatred as BCCI shows towards ICL.In fact such competing firms form industry associations to protect their common interests. Why should BCCI display such intolerance? Do they want a monopoly in cricket? These are days of free market and the best one survives.BCCI is selling cricket and so does ICL. The attitude of ICC towards such T20 outfits should be uniform. What if Australia or England start one, would ICC deny recognition? Why the step motherly attitude to ICL and preferential treatment to BCCI?
All former captains except the two have been invited and may be rewarded in some way. To exclude these two for having defied its diktat not to join ICL is one form of encouraging slavery. The auctioning of players is in piece with this attitude. It is good to remember that the invitation is for the role played as former captains and not whether they are in employment or not with ICL presently. The two should not be mixed. It smacks of school boy’s peevish behaviour. The other former captains should en masse ignore this function without failing at the same time to felicitate Anil Kumble for his scintillating achievement. What the board does to these two ex-captains may be dealt to others also on future occasions. The players should exhibit solidarity. Such a step alone would send the right message to BCCI which is being run as a private fiefdom and not as a public body to which one billion Indians identify themselves. It is fondly hoped that saner counsel would prevail and the mistake rectified in time.
Kpartha12@hotmail.com

A tryst in Chennai Central


-by KParthasarathi Monday, March 24, 2008
http://content.msn.co.in/Contribute/Lifestyle/UCStory6160.htm
The Tamilnad express was to depart at 10 p.m.It was already 9.15pm and the platform was very crowded with the anxious passengers waiting with laden trolleys and porters with luggage on their heads and arms for the empty rake to be placed on the platform. There was the jostling crowd trying to find out which number coach would halt where. There were the hawkers selling food and drink to those who haven’t finished their dinner. One could see the waitlisted passengers running behind the ticket examiners and pleading with them for berths. The people gathered under the ceiling fans that were few and far between. It was very sultry under the asbestos roof. Minutes were passing with no trace of train and passengers were craning their necks looking for any sign of approaching train. It came at last at 9.35 pm and the whole platform came alive with passengers rushing to the entrances.
There was one young man in well pressed pant and full sleeve white shirt standing opposite the 3 tier sleeper coach. He had an English novel in hand and a mobile in his belt. He appeared calm. Evidently he was not travelling and had come to see off someone who was yet to reach the platform. He went inside the compartment once possibly to see whether his party had come already and came back by the other entrance. He stood watching.
A little away there was a middle aged big built man with forbidding moustache clad in faded jeans and a tight fitting T shirt that revealed his pot belly prominently. He was seen smoking and had roving eyes. He did not make a good impression. It looked he had not come to see off any one but just whiling away his time watching the moving passengers and the melee at the entrances. His intentions were not clear.
The clock showed 9.55p.m.Almost all the passengers had boarded the train by then. A young girl came hurrying pulling a suitcase in one hand and holding a child in the other. When she struggled to move the box inside the coach, the young man rushed to help her board the train. There were a few still standing at the entrances after all the hugs and kisses still waiting to bid farewell to their relatives standing close to the train. The signal turned to green and one heard a distant whistle from the guard. The guard was seen waving the green light. The well dressed young man who was standing outside the coach entered it in a hurry and came out by the other entrance with a small suit case in his hand. He was seen walking briskly towards the other platform.
A strong hand fell on the hurrying young man’s shoulders to make him stop and turn his head. It was the hand of the heavy built man with the moustache. He asked him for his ticket and when the man blinked a sharp slap was given. The man in faded jeans and big moustache asked him whose box it was and even before he answered he pulled him towards the coach. Meanwhile the moving train had halted as someone had pulled the chain The young girl with her baby in arms was seen screaming that her suit case has been stolen. When she saw the young man being dragged towards her she said”That is my suit case. This man who came to help slipped unseen with the box even as I was making the baby lie down on the seat.” One more hard slap from the big man did the trick and the dandy confessed to his crime. The box handed over to the girl, the train moved on. The big man ,a policeman in mufti, dragged the well dressed thief towards the police out post.
Kpartha12@hotmail.com

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A faux pas


KS, as Suresh is called, was the CEO of a company. He was discussing with one of his deputies Krishan Sharma (another KS) about his poor performance and analyzing the reasons for the shortfall in his key result areas.Krishan was a good and hard working senior manager and was identified by the management as a good material for development for higher responsibilities. Of late he had not been showing much interest in his work and frequently left office early. The sales in his area were dropping and customers were calling about the delay in deliveries. KS himself received some complaints about his department from customers.Krishan was staying alone with his family living at Delhi. His wife a teacher in Kendriya Vidyalaya was trying for a transfer to this city. Discreet enquiries by KS revealed that Krishan was having a liaison with his secretary Ms Brinda and they were often seen going out together. While KS gently broached the subject telling him that his private affairs were entirely his own and are of no concern for him, he said that the poor outcome in his work affected the company.Krishan was seen uneasy and heavily perspiring. Krishan tried to take his kerchief but pulled out from his coat a small red coloured packet. He kept it on the table and took out the kerchief. KS took the packet in hand and saw it was CHANEL No5 bottle with words “With deepest love to Dear Brinda darling, from ever your, KS” There was a look of guilt in Krishan’s face when he mumbled that he was sorry.
KS then gently reminded him about his dear wife and children at Delhi and that his act of betrayal is being talked about in the office behind his back. He also reminded that ethics of the office would not permit such liaison between employees.Krishan promised that he would mend his ways and sought a new secretary in place of Brinda for him. He left the packet on the table refusing to take it with him. It was already 5.45pm and KS remembered the birthday party at a friend’s house where his wife Suneetha and children would be waiting. He had to hurry as the traffic was heavy around that time. He slipped in the bottle that was lying on the table in the side pocket of the coat thinking of his wife as he hurriedly left.
There were a lot of guests, some common friends and some known faces with lot of children playing around in the large hall that was brightly lit. Suneetha’s friend and her husband welcomed him warmly. KS removed the coat and hung it in a coat stand and reclined comfortably in the sofa by Suneetha’s side. The party commenced with cake cutting and birthday songs. The hostess soon came around the guests with hors d’œuvres and drinks. There was gaiety and laughter all around that was interrupted by the shrill tone of a mobile. Everybody stopped talking for a while. KS knew it was from his and the instrument was in his coat pocket. As he was trying to get up, KS’s son offered to get it and rushed towards the stand. He put his hand in the pocket and took out the red coloured packet and after reading the name of the perfume said loudly “Mummy, Papa has bought a scent for you”. All eyes turned towards him. When Suneetha asked “What are you blabbering?” he started reading out loudly “With deepest love to Dear Brinda darling, from ever your, KS ”.The mobile continued to ring and stopped after a while.Suneetha rushed to the boy and snatched the packet. KS sat dazed and frozen in the sofa. One jolly friend let out a loud guffaw and exclaimed “What a faux pas? Behind the innocent facade, you seem to be enjoying life with sidekicks.” There was a loud laughter. KS with a bewildered face looked at Suneeta. He knew explaining would only invite contempt. There was disbelief and hurt in her face. She covered it with her hands unable to bear the shame and ran out of the hall. Silence fell in the hall. The hostess followed by KS ran behind her. KS knew any explanation would be useless. She wrenched herself away from KS when he tried to put his arm around her shoulders. They left the party with Suneeta sobbing and the children shocked. The party was a big flop by the single indiscretion of KS putting someone else’s gift in his pocket. The moral is not to carry other lovers’ presents for ones wife.
Kpartha12@hotmail.com

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A strange coincidence of biscuit banditry

by KParthasarathi Wednesday, March 19, 2008
http://content.msn.co.in/Contribute/Others/UCStory6142.htm
The Howrah-Chennai mail arrived at Rajahmundry station on time. There was the usual rush of passengers getting in and out of the train. The hawkers were busy selling their wares. A middle aged couple got into a 3 tier reserved sleeper coach and occupied their allotted seats. They looked decent and well off. The lady was in a Conjeevaram silk sari with a couple of what appeared gold chains around her neck. The man was in a traditional laced dhoti worn in pancha katcham style. They looked around at the co-passengers and gradually settled down. They were seen conversing softly and smiling at each other intermittently.
When the train stopped at Eluru around 5.45 pm another couple slightly younger in age boarded the coach and after searching for their berths sat opposite the middle aged couple. They too looked decent with the lady in a chiffon sari and the man in trousers and T shirt. After the initial silence the ice was broken by the elder lady enquiring how far they were travelling. It appeared both the couples were bound for Chennai. With both of them drawn from Andhra, they soon engaged themselves in animated conversation in Telugu and the ladies became very friendly. The men too joined soon. The time passed easily making the arduous journey a pleasurable experience. Two hours passed by unnoticed when the train entered Vijayawada station.
It was dinner time. The bearers were bringing the dinner to those who had ordered. The older couple took out a tiffin carrier with two big containers. It had lily white idlies with some hot chutney to go with They offered the top container to the other couple pressing them to join the dinner. They replied that they too have brought their dinner and took out a similar lunch box. It contained crisp and soft chapathis and alu sabzi along with lime achaar.They in turn offered the top container to the older couple. Both were hesitant to accept initially with the men looking at their wives but soon won over the other. With dinner over the passengers soon retired to their berths to sleep.
The train reached Chennai Central early morning at about 5am.The passengers soon disembarked and the train was almost empty. One porter who went into the coach saw two couples sleeping. He tried to wake them up in vain. He alerted the police men who came inside. Looking at them one of the constables exclaimed “another case of biscuit banditry. Funny the culprit has drugged two couples in the same coach.” Another policeman after looking at them said ’the thief surprisingly has not removed the jewelry. Where could he have gone without relieving them of the gold?”

Monday, March 17, 2008

Kind act is its own reward

by KParthasarathi Monday, March 17, 2008
http://content.msn.co.in/Contribute/Lifestyle/UCStory6125.htm
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around” is a quote from Leo Buscaglia.Here is a story of how the life one boy was turned prosperous by someone who had a kind heart and who remembered that n one of us has gotten where we are solely by pulling ourselves up from our own bootstraps and that we got here because somebody bent down and helped us.
Ramesh saw the milk woman Sarada leaving the milk packets in his verandah daily when he left for his early morning walk. One morning he saw a young boy around fifteen dropping the milk packets. The boy looked familiar and when Ramesh looked at him enquiringly he said that his mom was sick and that was the reason he took care of her beat also. Ramesh asked him”What is your name? Do you also deliver milk daily?”
He replied “Murugan, Sir.Yes, I help my mom and actually supply more number of houses than her. She works in many houses during day time too and is unable to exert herself much.” He said he was studying in class 10 in a government school and is a topper in the class. When Ramesh asked him what his aim was, he kept silent for some time. When prodded he said “I am not sure whether I can study further. I need to earn immediately. My dad does not live with us.” When pressed further to spell out what his ambition was he said he wished to do a diploma in automobile engineering and start a workshop. Ramesh went for his walk after asking him to come along with his mom the next day.
When asked the next day why Sarada would not allow her son to do a diploma in engineering especially when he was studying well, she bemoaned her lot and said “Sir, you know my husband is a good for nothing man. I have one daughter too. I work in three houses besides delivering milk. The girl sells flowers. The income is hardly adequate to meet the essential needs. Where will I go for his tuition fees and books?” Ramesh fell silent thinking over the matter. His wife intervened to say that the bright boy should be enabled to realize his ambition. That clinched the matter. Ramesh told Murugan that he would support him financially with tuition fees, books and a monthly assistance of Rs 100 on his assuring four things. The conditions were that he would continue to help his mother in the distribution of milk and that he would study well to get high marks in the diploma course also. The other conditions were that his sister should also be helped to pursue her studies and that Murugan should return the money advanced for his education after he settled down in his business. He was doing this on trust and hoped Murugan would not betray the faith. The boy was overcome with emotion as he fell at Ramesh’s feet.A smile spread across Sarada’s face.
Years passed by and Murugan earned his diploma in automobile engineering in flying colours.Ramesh helped him to get a bank loan to start a small workshop. Starting with his Maruti, he recommended the workshop to his friends. In a couple of years, Murugan got steady business and slowly expanded the workshop. One Sunday he came along with his mother and sister with a basketful of fruits. He placed an envelope that contained a cheque for the amount spent by Ramesh.Murugan prostrated before him and said wiping the tears from his eyes “You are a living God to me. But for you I would be distributing milk to houses and my sister would be working as a domestic help in several houses. She is now in class 12 and may join a college. I am well settled in business. My mother is getting well deserved rest. All these because of your timely and kind help”
Ramesh returned the envelope telling him that he had no intention of taking back the money and that he imposed that condition only to make Murugan realize his responsibility and study well.Murugan placed the envelope again at the feet of his benefactor telling him that assurances were meant to be observed. After they left Ramesh gave the cheque to his wife. Without a moment’s hesitation, she tore it into two pieces and looked at her husband’s proud and understanding face. She knew that from what we get, we can make a living and that what we give, however, makes a life. To give without any reward or expectation invests the kind act with a special quality and charm of its own.
Kpartha12@hotmail.com

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The good governance: Where does India stand?

By: K Parthasarathi3/14/2008 3:39:19 PM
Government effectiveness and stability, Rule of Law, Public administration, Public finance and outcomes were a few selected governance indicators taken by a study group for evaluating India’s standing amongst different countries However subjective it could be, this assessment revealed that India compared favourably with many developing countries though it had a long way to go to attain the levels of developed countries.
India is unique in many respects with its diverse culture, languages and many states. People of some states enjoy good prosperity, high literacy, developed infrastructure and rule of law while many are wanting in different degrees in some or all parameters although they are all under a common union government with the same financial, legal and administrative system.
The differences persist amongst them depending upon the level of governance partly by the central and largely by the respective state governments. What is governance and how does its presence or lack of it impact on the people? Governance, shorn of jargon, means the way the government conducts its operations in economic, financial, industrial, agricultural, political and social spheres that concern the citizen and the country. The country/state moves forward progressively towards development and prosperity if the governance is good. In such an ambience the people enjoy higher per capita income at all levels, wide spread literacy, adequate health facilities with longer average life.
Weakness in governance results in poor and skewed growth, persisting poverty and slow development of economy and the country. It invariably leads to higher levels of corruption in all areas. It brings in its wake social disparities, neglect of the economically weak, poor financial management coupled with lack of transparency and disproportionate growth of some sections to the detriment of others.
Poor adherence to rules and regulations that accompany bad governance leads to loss of faith in the government and established institutions by the people and witnesses the emergence of alternative and often-illegal remedies. Violent outfits establish their control in pockets of the country and enlarge their sphere of evil influence. The level of parallel economy of black money generated in such an environment aided by rampant bribery and avoidance of the legitimate revenues to the governments is a certain index of the level of bad governance.
There is generally a very close relationship amongst the politicians, bureaucracy and corrupt business houses in an atmosphere of bad governance. Bribery at all levels, high taxes and poor collections, high discretionary powers, absence of an effective mechanism to oversee deviations, weak rule of law and a disdain for the observations of established institutions created by the Constitution strengthens the informal economy.
People tend to accept the hardships that arise due to weak rule of law with no easy alternatives available. The opportunity they get once in five years to elect their representatives is again thwarted by the ills in the electoral system that denies proportional representation.
Governance is therefore a vital development issue that government can ill afford to neglect. Government effectiveness and stability, Rule of Law, Public administration, Public finance and outcomes were a few selected governance indicators taken by a study group for evaluating India’s standing amongst different countries However subjective it could be, this assessment revealed that India compared favourably with many developing countries though it had a long way to go to attain the levels of developed countries.
The plus points in our favour are our vibrant democracy, unfettered press, fearless judiciary and efficient administrative service. This appraisal should not however camouflage the darker side still there in our system. There are many regions in our country where the effect of good governance is still not visible. There are several governance indicators as mentioned in a World Bank policy research paper tested on a few countries in transition. We shall see India’ status as a whole with reference to these parameters and where we are lagging behind.
Firstly, the processes, by which governments are selected, monitored and replaced is one such indicator. Unlike some neighbouring countries our method of electing the government has fully demonstrated the democratic ethos reflected in our Constitution. However the hung legislature, a recent phenomenon, with no party commanding an overall majority has brought about fragile coalition governments with a common agenda that is weak in content and strong in the desire to share the power. The larger partner, however well intentioned, is compelled to accommodate elements that they would fain avoid and to tolerate the deviations from the common purpose. It is a very difficult task to offer good governance in such a situation though efforts are not wanting in this direction. The replacement of such a coalition set up if at all wanted is frustrated on TINA principle. The growing influence of small regional parties to the detriment of national parties, their role in the government formation and their limited and narrow approach to issues is a new and undesirable development. The electoral laws are to be changed to overcome this problem to enable a two or three party systems evolve which would allow the government at the helm to carry on good administration with no let or hindrance.
Secondly, political stability and lack of violence is another indicator to assess the threat to the government by unconstitutional means. Luckily this has been in our favour all along. The supremacy of civil authority has never been questioned in our country. There are however pockets of violence and insurgency in certain parts of the country mostly by terrorist outfits and these pose no danger. They are growing in number and influence that it is feared almost one third of the country is in their vicious grip. These elements take advantage of the abject poverty, lack of employment and the government’s slow response to poverty removal issues.It is high time the government puts down with iron hand such menacing elements to country’s integrity and economic growth.In certain Northern states crime is pronounced with private armies and goons operating freely for ransom, casteist feuds and show of power abetted by poor law enforcing machinery. These states suffer consequently in their development.
Thirdly, another parameter is the capacity of the government to effectively formulate and implement sound policies. This is being done to the extent possible within the constraints of a coalition. There is also the predictable opposition to usher certain essential reforms that would need two-thirds majority. This again is the outcome of a defective electoral system.
There had been a steady erosion of values towards established institutions from early seventies that witnessed the imposition of emergency, committed bureaucracy, and utter disregard for established institutions and norms in administration and emergence of extra constitutional authorities. This trend has been fortunately reversed from mid eighties. The steel frame today at the centre is by and large independent and capable though attempts are made to make them committed to the ruling clique. Substantial changes in the economy have been ushered for the good of the country as a sequel to the reforms since early nineties and sound policies are in place. Nevertheless a certain amount of transparency in government’s dealings is felt necessary by diluting the rigorous Official Secrets Act and making right to information more meaningful.
Fourthly, numerous institutions like regulatory authorities/commissions are there or have been created to ensure that the institutions that govern economic and social interactions between the people and the government are properly conducted .The active and alert judiciary informed by social activism and its encouragement of public interest litigations is an able facilitator for rule of law.
This is despite the inadequacies in the legal system that needs a peremptory overhaul tuned to the needs of the times. The archaic laws, mounting arrears in the courts, delayed justice that is given after several years, the endless appeals, the unfilled vacancies and poor infrastructure need to be addressed on a war footing. This pillar of our democracy can be ignored only at the cost of good governance.The executive and legislature wings should extend greater cooperation and muscle to the judiciary to ensure rule of law enjoys primacy in all areas.
Fifthly, there is yet another disturbing feature in our country. Our rank amongst the corrupt nations as measured by Transparency International is not flattering. The government has no doubt strengthened CVC giving it a statutory recognition and bringing CBI under its supervision. The exclusion of officers above a level by single directive is a retrograde step that is not conducive to eliminating corruption. The series of cases of alleged complicity of high ranking officers in corrupt or illegal practices brought out in the recent past should open the eyes of the government not to succumb to the pressures of higher bureaucracy to exclude them from the purview of CVC. The CAG and his officers serving effectively as watchdogs of the public finance is another merit in our system. His reports highlighting irregularities should get the attention they deserve and discussed in the legislatures to avoid recurrence of the same points year after year. Corruption has become a part of our system and sustained efforts to eradicate it are needed at all levels throughout the country. This should commence from the political level accompanied by changes in the electoral system that would reduce the heavy election expenses for the parties. Besides full encouragement and hundred percent safety should be provided to whistle-blowers and under no circumstance they should be harassed
Finally, the emergence of e-governance and the importance being given to it by the governments should usher an era of good governance before long. This again is linked to the literacy level of the people and some states in the North are still very backward. Once e-governance is in place there will be greater accountability, access to information and transparency in all transactions and witness a larger the percolation of benefits to the intended classes.
The gap between promise and performance hopefully would also get reduced gradually. Finally the litmus test for good governance rests on the quality of life that the people particularly in the lower strata lead and the extent of their participation in the affairs of the society. As of now it cannot be said that the vast majority of the population are sharing the benefits of the growth so far. We have still a very long way to go.
K Parthasarathi

Friday, March 14, 2008

How different are we from Americans?


-by KParthasarathi Friday, March 14, 2008
http://content.msn.co.in/Contribute/Lifestyle/UCStory6100.htm.

The news report about New York Governor Eliot Spitzer stepping down from the state's top office because of a moral indiscretion set me thinking on the high standard of probity and character the people there expect of their leaders. They would not allow the "private failings to disrupt the public's work.” The announcement of resignation has come when there are mere allegations and no formal charges framed. He had a high reputation as a ‘scourge' of white collar crime. In his announcement he had stated that”Over the course of my public life, I have insisted -- I believe correctly -- that people, regardless of their position or power, take responsibility for their conduct. I can and will ask no less of myself."
Compare this with what we are accustomed to hearing from our politicians here like "the law will take its own course" or 'this is only an allegation and no charges have been proved" or “this is politically motivated" and so on and so forth.
In a country like US that has considerable number in live-in relationship, the number of children born out of wedlock in some states being large , where premarital sex is common and the number of gays quite high and where society is more liberal and permissive in matters of sex, the people strangely employ very high standard of personal character to judge their leaders. The yardstick to judge their leaders is different from what they use to judge themselves. They do not tolerate even a minor deviation from accepted values in their leaders. They expect their leaders to live the values they espouse. They attach importance to 'family values'. Leaders need not have to be intelligent or efficient. They could have failed to achieve what they had promised. The people would tolerate or overlook all these failings but when it comes to moral turpitude or corruption they come with a heavy hand on their leaders. They would not hesitate even to impeach their Presidents if need be. The issues are publicly discussed in the media providing no scope for the culprits to hide behind a veil of secrecy. The media too revels in splashing such stories without fear being censored or controlled by government.
It saddens my heart that we are compelled to suffer tainted politicians accused of gravest crimes in positions of power and influence. Justice grinds very slowly in their cases with several hurdles thrown in the way to prevent the judiciary from performing speedily their duty. Political considerations and not ethical grounds weigh against permitting the progress of cases to logical end. Highest executives exempt themselves from the rigours of law through special dispensation.
It is high time that public and NGOs are vigilant and on the alert to ensure that their leaders are upright and men of sterling character. This requisite should be non-negotiable.
Kpartha12@hotmail.com

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Should we exempt BCCI from tax?



I am no tax practitioner and am not aware of the rules for levying income tax on BCCI and the various state associations. But I learn that they do not pay any tax and enjoy certain exemptions on satisfying some conditions. It is understood that under the existing provisions of Income-Tax Act 1961, the income of an association established with the object of encouraging games like cricket, hockey, football, tennis is exempt from income-tax. BCCI was required to spend 75 per cent of its annual earnings on the game itself or accumulate and spend the aggregate of such amount over five years. The balance 25 per cent was free reserves. BCCI is no longer the board that we knew of in Seventies and Eighties. Today it is a business house selling cricket for profit.BCCI today is a very rich sports body. After the commencement of IPL its revenues will go up to unprecedented levels. The sport has now assumed fully a commercial complexion and the board is ever after new ways to augment the earnings for itself, the media and the players. The common man who forms the bread and butter of this sport is nowhere in the picture in terms of better facilities for viewing , better infrastructure for his children to take part in the sport in all parts of the country or as an ultimate beneficiary by way of taxes paid by the sports bodies to the exchequer. Not much information is available about the earnings of BCCI, its Balance Sheet, how the money garnered is disposed of, who the beneficiaries are and the state of its finances. Although each one of the Indians identify with BCCI as their own sports body, its accounts are strangely not made public. It is an exclusive private body whose financial affairs are beyond the scrutiny of the common man. Yet for purposes of tax exemption it declares itself as a charitable institution for the benefit of common man in the area of sport.
What charity and to whom? I am not aware of the nature and extent of exemption presently allowed to the board. If the government is exempting the income of BCCI from tax, it is expected that the government would be interested to know how much income BCCI is making and how much of it is spent towards common benefit. If the exemption is allowed on the specious plea that the body is created for development of sport, it behoves on CBDT to find out how much of its revenues has gone to build proper infrastructure in India's various cities and made available to the poor children free of cost. As far as one can see, there is not much done to help the encouragement of sports like cricket in the country except fattening the purses of a few with mind boggling fees and facilities for accommodation and travel that are regal in standard.. Except in a few metros and in fewer cities the children lack the facilities to practice and to play. Private academies that cater to rich and famous cannot take away the responsibility of BCCI and state associations in this regard.
There was a proposal to withdraw this tax exemption from these bodies and make it applicable from the assessment year 2003-2004 and subsequent assessment years. It is not known what the actual position is. As a pre-condition to any exemption BCCI should be accountable to tax authorities. Its audited Balance Sheet should be made public and subject to microscopic review. Sadly BCCI that has fallen in the hands of crafty politicians and cunning corporate has now roped in film folks who are all using cricket for their own private agenda. Public cause is alien to all the transactions of BCCI and its partners. The question arises whether the eight new entities of IPL would also make a plea for exemption that BCCI currently enjoys on the ground they are all working for development of sports. The Finance Minister should examine de novo whether the huge amount that BCCI would receive from IPL and from the TV companies for media rights would attract the benefit of exemption. Tax authorities should review whether the conditions for exemption of tax have been fulfilled by BCCI in the last ten years and where there is failure tax at applicable rates should be levied. This apart a fresh view should be taken for the continuance of any exemption. The tax authorities should also decide the guidelines for treating as allowable expense for its various activities. They should also be brought under the rigours of scrutiny like public companies. The Board should be derecognized as a charitable society and treated as a private company. Gone are the days when players were paid pittance for the trouble of playing matches. They earn these days in crores.It would be gross inequity if they are allowed any concession different from what are available to all professionals. The joke of treating them differently should be put an end to. Taxes should be deducted at source mercilessly as in the case of all small time salary earners for payment to players, coaches, referees etc. The governments which make available land for building stadium or for rent should charge them at the ruling market rates.

Monday, March 10, 2008

IPL is not all that rosy

by KParthasarathi Monday, March 10, 2008
http://content.msn.co.in/Contribute/Sports/UCStory6005.htm
The formation of IPL evidently has the blessings of ICC.Nevertheless Malcolm Speed had emphasized the need for support of the seven member nations of ICC to the idea. More important is the stipulation that the IPL schedule should not dictate international fixtures. There should necessarily be a broad agreement amongst the seven member countries for a separate window for IPL tournament.IPL is essentially a creature of BCCI though players from other nations are part of the different teams of IPL.
It is perhaps too early to judge whether IPL schedule would clash with the interests of other test playing countries for their tours. Since a few international players are also participating in the IPL matches, it is reasonable to assume that regular tours may not take place unless the countries involved select other players to play regular series for their countries. IPL being the baby of BCCI with most Indian players in it, India would not agree to any tour during IPL schedule.ICC having allowed IPL to run as a parallel entity to organize tournaments cannot object to India tailoring its regular tours consistent with IPL programmes.While there may be agreement initially for the first IPL fixtures, it is not clear whether other test playing countries would subject themselves to the convenience of India in the future.
There is a predominance of Indian players in IPL as it is sponsored by Indian business outfits and film personalities. India’s financial clout in cricket and its strategy to rope in a few talented players of other countries with offers of phenomenal fees would in the long run adversely impact the ability of other countries to devise their own programmes to benefit a larger number of their players. They would also be exposed to the risk of their talented players being bought by the IPL teams.IPL competitions would acquire primacy over other tours. It is suspected the voluntary retirement of some key players of other nations could have stemmed from their desire to be wholly available for IPL.Many more can be expected to follow suit. With the leading corporate and media in the thick of IPL, there is no way for individual boards to match its money power. Just look at the money payable to the IPL players for one season of six weeks and work out the fees for one match. Can test playing countries ever think of paying such astronomical amounts for their regular matches? Even BCCI would not pay that kind of money. There will be two sets of players-the fortunate few in IPL and the hapless many outside IPL.
Test cricket has been bartered away to instant T20 cricket because of the latter’s growing popularity, large viewing audience and commercial returns. If perchance ICL is also able to match IPL in money power there would be two sets of tournaments in different seasons. It was a bit rash for ICC to have agreed to the formation of IPL without suitable restrictive clauses. With Pawar likely to be the next head of ICC, its subordination to the interests of IPL would be complete.
The nagging question remains whether IPL with its T20 format would be ringing the death knell of tests and one day games. There is also the fear that eventually IPL would create a wedge between India and other member countries.
Kpartha12@hotmail.com







Friday, March 7, 2008

Unknown destination


by KParthasarathi Friday, March 07, 2008
http://content.msn.co.in/Contribute/Others/UCStory5997.htm
Umapathi who alighted in the small station hardly had any baggage. He looked around fifty five years and appeared well built with strong sinews of muscle. There was some urgency in his stride and walked briskly in the hot sun towards the village of his younger days. It was about nine kilometers away. With eager expectations of his reunion with his family and at the same time assailed by doubts about their well being during his long absence, he was virtually running. He did not wait for the infrequent bus that he knew of.

It seemed to him that he left only the other day despite the intervening thirty long years since he left his village. He had joined the army when he was twenty five and soon went to the front to fight a war. One day he was not to be seen. None knew what happened to him. They presumed he must have been captured by enemy forces or killed. They were also not sure about it. The nearest kin was informed that he was untraceable.Umapathi had left behind a young wife of twenty three with two young children. There was no way of communicating his capture to the Indian army. He was not allowed to write. He was interned in a cell for prisoners condemned to death in a prison in the remote part of the country.
There were talks repeatedly of his being sent to gallows but nothing happened. He behaved well and assisted the jail authorities in several small ways. He gave up hopes of being set free that he nursed in the initial years. He reconciled himself to his misery. He had no inkling that he would be released suddenly one fine morning. He was not aware of the efforts of human rights activists outside the prison walls to save prisoners like him.
When at last he reached his village, he found it a strange and a new place. There were modern buildings, a bazaar, two and three wheelers with people busily engaged in different activities. There was not a single known face. Only the temple and the small tank opposite to it were familiar and served as a land mark to his small house. When he saw in its place a two storied building, he was surprised and shocked. With a gnawing worry deep in the heart, he asked an old man on the steps of the tank whether he was aware of the whereabouts of Umapathi’s family. He did not know about whom Umapathi was talking. When he told him that Umapathi had joined the army three decades back and left his young wife Valli with two children behind, the old man scratched his head and asked him”Are you talking about the sepoy Uma? Don’t you know he died in the war long time back? Who are you anyway?” Umapathi replied that he was his friend and interested in meeting his family. The old man said that she and her children are living in that new building adjacent to the temple. She waited for him for ten years and her parents had died in the meanwhile. She was leading a very difficult life. It was then the owner of the provision store who had lost his wife took pity on her and married her. They have two children of their own.Umapathi asked “Did she agree to marry him readily?” The old man said that she was not willing initially as she nursed a hope Uma may return some day. It was only after the elders in the village persuaded her to marry him for the sake of her children convincing her that there was no prospect of her husband ever returning, she relented. He added that her second husband is a nice person and affectionate to her children through Umapathi.They are all studying in colleges and school. She is happy after leading a miserable and uncertain life for several years. He asked”Are you meeting them now? Her husband would leave for the store only in the evening and should be available now.” Umapathi replied that he would meet them shortly after buying some sweets.
He quietly returned to the station with a heavy heart. He didn’t know what to do. He sat on a bench at the empty station for hours till the station master nudged him telling that the train was expected any moment and asked him where he wanted to go for him to issue the ticket. When he replied with vacant eyes ”Anywhere”, the station master looked at him quizzically unable to comprehend.
Kpartha12@hotmail.com

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Power of a pat on the back

by KParthasarathi Thursday, March 06, 2008
http://content.msn.co.in/Contribute/Lifestyle/UCStory5989.htm
People by nature are frugal in praise but generous in criticism. How often do we see people in work place praising others? I had come across many bosses who extracted hard work from their juniors and appropriated full credit for the work done without even a cursory mention of a ‘thank you’ to the people who made it possible. They would never pause to think about the feelings of people who work for them and their need to be recognized.
There are also some who believe motivating employees is best done thro expressing their happiness to them for the work done. They are aware that when the employees know that their work is appreciated and ability respected they are sure to produce much more. Such people build right work environment and foster high morale among their subordinates.
I was then a middle level finance executive in a large company. I had to work on a weekend on a project along with the Head of marketing wing (HoM) and his executives to finalize a report for the board by Monday. It was a marathon two day effort extending up to midnight. The report was ready by 2am on Monday. In the morning the HoM took me along to the Head of Finance (HoF) to get his approval for the report. The HoM placing his hand on my shoulder told him “Sir, this report would not have been finalized but for the prodigious efforts from Partha. He had been working at it for a week sitting late hours. He didn’t sleep whole of last night. He gave us invaluable inputs and suggestions. How I wish he were in my department”. I was flabbergasted though embarrassed a little as it was a team effort. All my tiredness vanished the moment he praised me to my boss. This single act of acknowledging the work done and giving a pat at the right time to the right quarter earned for him my loyalty forever.
But not all are like that. There are only a few who know the art of praising people unstintingly where due. They realize that people want praise and recognition. To be noticed and patted is a strong motivator. There is no cost in praising someone but the benefit is immense. Enlightened employers understand that reward and recognition achieve astounding results than threat and punishment. They make people feel important. Weak bosses take good work for granted. I had observed there is eagerness among employees to work under bosses who are liberal with praise and avoid getting trapped with those who are parsimonious in tribute. The generous type naturally attracts good workers and in turn is more successful.
There are however some guidelines in praising juniors.
*Be honest. Recognize only when the work turned out is genuinely good and out of the ordinary. In other words too much and too frequent praise would cheapen it
*Be impartial in praise. Do not play the game of favourites.
*Praise at the right time. It should always be immediately after the good job done so that the junior would know why he is being appreciated. Catch people doing things right, as they say. I have seen some bosses remembering the good work and not uttering one word but at the end of the year pay glowing tributes in the confidential appraisal reports. They serve little to motivate.
*Praise openly preferably in the presence of others without any qualifying remarks attached to it.
*Praise for the efforts put in even if the result is not as expected.
I cannot forget as a junior finance executive my pressing repeatedly the head of another company to clear their long standing large dues to our company. They were having cash problems. When my boss from head office had come I took him to meet the head of that company. I was a little apprehensive that he may complain about my troubling him frequently. When they met, he told my boss”Sir, Partha is a pain on my neck.” He paused for a while and added “I want one like him to recover our dues. Would you allow him to join us on a higher grade?” This was a rare praise from an unexpected quarter but made me his eternal admirer.
Kpartha12@hotmail.com
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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

We are as happy as we wish to be


by KParthasarathi Tuesday, March 04, 2008
http://content.msn.co.in/Contribute/Lifestyle/UCStory5963.htm
I do not know how many of us know the name of our postman who comes to deliver our letters almost daily? No, we hardly talk to him even when he delivers us a registered letter or a parcel. We silently receive the mail and sign in acknowledgement in the form he produces. Our encounter or should I say non-encounter with him is over in the matter of a minute or two. He invariably comes in his cycle when the sun is over the head and it is hot. He would visit any number of homes and would not have remembered a single exchange of words worth remembering at the end of the day.
My first encounter with my postman started with a tiff. It was very hot that day and after a heavy lunch, I had dozed off. My wife was away. The postman had rung the bell twice or thrice. I opened the door with a frown on my face at the disturbance. He had a registered parcel for Mrs. Partha. I told him she was not at home and asked him to give me her husband the packet. He said he would come the next day to deliver personally to her. When I remonstrated at his being punctilious,he politely replied that he was only doing his duty.
It was only then that I noticed he was perspiring heavily standing in the hot sun with a big bundle. I requested him to come in and asked him to sit under the fan. He was hesitant initially but sat down when pressed. I gave him a glass of cold butter milk. I ascertained his name was Radhakrishnan and that he has been on this beat for the last twenty years. He had two sons and one girl and all of them studying. He was touched by my kind enquiries and said this was the first time anyone ever invited him into the drawing room and offered him a drink. I asked him whether he liked the work. He said he had no choice but he decided to like it. Sorting of the letters was easy once one gets experienced. He had the opportunity to meet all sorts of people though the hazard of unchained dogs and tiresome climbing of the stairs of multi storied apartments posed a problem. He however enjoyed the occasional reading out the post cards to the illiterate in the slums. Though there were a few insensitive people making him wait at their doors taking their time to chain the dogs or open the doors most of his clients were by and large good. He said he had no reason to be unhappy though walking through slushy roads during rainy days was difficult.
Six months later, I had to get an affidavit urgently from a notary. I didn’t know of anyone in the locality. The neighbours also could not help. It was then I saw Radhakrishnan in my colony on his beat. When I mentioned about this, he reeled out half a dozen names within a kilometer of my house. I found that he knew the people who lived in his area and enjoyed being helpful whenever approached. It was then the thought occurred to me that how many of us who work in the cool comfort of air-conditioned offices with transport pick up and yet keep griping about the well paid work little realizing there are people who enjoy their work even in unfavourable circumstances.
I was surprised at Radhakrishnan’s positive attitude and asked him how he liked his work which to me did not appear comfortable. He laughed and said “Unlike others I am not chained to a table all through the day. I am mostly in open breathing fresh air and meeting a cross section of people. Most of them cheer up and smile when they get a letter. At the end of the day I do not have to carry the worries of the office to my home. I have many friends. Life is not about earning money alone. I am quite happy.” I realized that the postman had developed a robust and positive outlook towards life. He liked his job, worked efficiently, helped illiterate people, made friends and was cheerful. How many of us could boast of such a privilege?
Kpartha12@hotmail.com

Monday, March 3, 2008

The blind beggar

It was a small Vinayaka temple in a not so busy lane. The temple was not crowded at this part of the day. It was past 10 a.m. The temple would close in another thirty minutes. There were about a dozen people in all with some before the sanctum sanctorum and some going around the temple. Even the girl selling the flowers at the entrance had closed her shop and had left. There was a lone beggar sitting at the entrance. He was lame and appeared old and blind with a stick by his side. It was then one elderly lady and her daughter in her early twenties came rushing to the temple. When the beggar heard the rushing footsteps he begged for alms telling “Amma, I am a lame man and have no vision. Please help the blind man.” Even as the girl opened her hand bag and dropped a five rupee coin, her mother was pressing her to hurry before the temple closed. Suddenly one young man in a black leather jacket got down from the pillion of a motorcycle that just stopped then before the temple and snatched the bag from the girl before making a quick escape. It all happened in the matter of a few seconds. Both the lady and the girl were wailing inconsolably that the bag contained a gold chain and that they are too poor to bear the loss. It appeared that they purchased the chain only the previous day and wished to seek the blessings of the God before wearing it. The girl’s marriage had been finalized and that with great difficulty they bought this jewelry. The people who gathered around them could do little to help except taking pity on them and consoling them as the culprits had sped away. Slowly the crowd melted away.
It was then the blind beggar who was silent till then asked them to come near him and told them very softly to lodge a complaint immediately at the nearby police station. He also advised them to tell the police men that he can help them in tracing the culprits. Both the lady and her daughter wondered what help can a blind beggar render when the able bodied men and women who were in the temple could do nothing except commiserating with them. Even the girl and her mother could not remember the face of the young man as it happened so suddenly and quickly. How a blind fellow can know the chain snatcher, they thought. He persuaded them not to waste time but to rush. With no other option available, they did go to the station to lodge a complaint. Luckily there was a kindly young sub inspector to listen to their woes. After noting down the details, he asked them to go home and rushed out in his motorbike to the temple.
The blind beggar told the SI that he was not actually blind but faked to elicit sympathy. The moment one of the youngster snatched the bag he had mentally noted the number of the bike and saw the motor bike with its fancy fittings.He furnished him with details. Both the men had helmets. The SI by the end of the day traced the culprits at a bar and also recovered the chain from the pawnshop where they had sold. The men were kept in lockup. Before midnight the local big wigs approached the higher-ups and got the duo released as they were highly connected. The SI was shifted within a week to some god forsaken place.
The story unfortunately did not end here. The beggar had not heeded the SI’s advice to shift to some other town but continued to beg from the same place. After a couple of months one morning when the temple was opened, the temple priest to his great shock found the blind and lame beggar hacked to pieces. Being a beggar there was no hint of any enquiry and body was silently disposed off without any commotion..When months later the chain was restored to the girl and her mother,they went to the temple to thank the beggar only to find him missing.
kpartha12@hotmail.com