Archive for the ‘Not Bad News’ Category

The century another Chennai Super King scored

1 June 2008

Gulzar Ahmed, a 15-year-old student of the DAV matriculation school in Mogappair near Madras, who switched his optional language subject just three years ago, has scored 100 out of 100 in Sanskrit, on the way to a second rank in the non-Tamil stream, reports Indian Express.

“Till Class VIII, I had Hindi as my optional language paper. I wanted a change and decided to try Sanskrit, as I could not opt for Tamil due to certain mandatory requirements,” Gulzar said.

Read the full article: Muslim boy scores full marks in Sanskrit

What music does his holiness recommend forgers?

31 May 2008

Three things stand out in the case of the momentary “arrest” of Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji, the postman turned pontiff of the Avadhoota Datta Peetham, on Sunday, 25 May 2008, in connection with the alleged forgery of documents in a land encroachment case next to his ashram in Mysore.

The first is its astonishing timing. Coming as it did in the middle of the swamiji‘s 66th birthday celebrations which were on in full steam, the negative publicity generated by the sight of “one of the rare living avataras” in the cop-house has impacted the enthusiasm of his VVIP guests. Former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has dropped out. Union home minister Shivaraj Patil too is said to be having slightly cold feet.

The second is the not very happy spectacle of a “divine guide” (who preaches music as therapy) standing accused of as murky an earthly activity as fudging land records, with the alleged connivance of city officials, for 120,000 square feet. Running parallel to this is the ham-handed attempt by ashram functionaries and factotums to bulldoze their way and to prevent government officials and the media from doing their job.

The third, most remarkable, aspect of l’affaire Sachchidananda swamiji is the extraordinary display of steel and spine by our top bureaucrats and police officers.

The cynical view is that they all uniformly have knees of cheese when ranged against the rich, powerful and influential—and that everybody is on the take. But in the case on hand, we get to see a welcome demonstration of the long arm of the law doing what it is expected to, without fear or favour. (It’s another matter that further investigations in “crime no 26/2008” have since been stayed by the high court.)

The documents below provide some evidence of that. The first two pages, in English, is the letter that deputy commissioner and district magistrate P. Manivannan wrote to the investigating police officer in the case on May 22, three days before the swamiji‘s “arrest”. And the last two pages, in Kannada, is the report of the department of land records, on May 15, which after months of dithering, finally got its act together.

On page 2 of his letter, Manivannan notes:

“During the meeting [with ashram neighbour Dr S.R. Anil Kumar], three issues struck me

i) There is an interchange of survey numbers, which is normally not noticed in most of the survey documents. There was no convincing replay by the representatives of the [Ganapati Sachchidananda swami] ashram as to why the survey numbers have been interchanged.

ii) The documents produced by Dr S.R. Anil Kumar showed that there was a Gift Deed executed by the pontiff of the ashram, Shri Ganapati Sachchidananda to the ashram trust wherein the survey number mentioned was 106/3. But this survey number was not owned by Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda at that point of time.

iii) A part of survey no. 106/3 has been acquired by the government. But, surprisingly, the whole survey number has been shown as private property transferred to the ashram.

Manivannan places on record that when he ordered a survey to have a better clarity of things, “ashram representatives approached me and desperately wanted to stop the survey.”



The report of the deputy director of land records, dated 15 May 2008, affirming the alleged switch of survey numbers, that has resulted in the Ganapati Sachchidananda swamiji getting embroiled in the case, leading to his “arrest” last Sunday.

Photograph:courtesy Avadhoota Datta Peetham

Also read: God moves in mysterious ways. Godmen too.

Why P. Manivannan evokes fear, loyalty & awe

CHURUMURI POLL: Revoke Manivannan transfer?

You have sight, yes, but do you have their vision?

25 April 2008

S. Prashantha in today’s Deccan Herald has a touching story of three sisters from Shimoga—A.T. Asha, A.T. Ambika, and A.T. Anitha—who have pledged their eyes. What’s new? Well, what if we told you that the three sisters are blind by birth due to an optic nerve defect?

Photographs: courtesy Deccan Herald

Read the full article: Shimoga blind sisters to give sight

If you can’t win ’em, beat ’em with your prices?

25 March 2008

CHANDIGARH: The Punjab government is offering Rs 1.5 crore per acre to farmers of Jhurheri village in return for land for the Chandigarh international airport. In addition, the government is promising to waive off registration fee and stamp duty if these farmers buy land in the State with the compensation money within two years. The government hopes to acquire 306 acres for approximately Rs 460 crore by the end of this month. The farmers had sough Rs 2 crore per acre.

For a late-bloomer, music is the song of life

28 February 2008

She is 21 years old, but her mental age is four. Seven days after her birth, doctors operating on an intestinal problem declared her dead. Twice. She learnt to walk three years ago. Three years ago, she also hummed her first song. Now she has 150 songs in her repertoire. Tejaswini Sharma has aced Sa re ga ma pa and Awaz Punjabdi di. Now she is on her way to Bombay for the finale of Little Champs.

Read the full article: Fighting against all odds, Tejaswini strikes a winning note

God moves in mysterious ways for a 3-year-old

27 February 2008

While media mavens feverishly debate whether journalists should abandon their professional duties and lend a hand in moments of crisis, a three-year-old Afghan girl born with a deadly skin disorder that could claim her life if left untreated, is being operated by Western surgeons, thanks to the efforts of an Italian photojournalist, reports the BBC.

Shabana (in picture), afflicted by neurofibromatosis, was spotted by Gabrielle Torsello in 2005 while he was shooting pictures in Kabul. He organised her first operation in the City when she was just nine months old. Now, she and her father Janat Gul have flown to Rome for further operations.

“It is a blessing in disguise. When God wants to help you, He provides all the means,” said Janat Gul, who works loading and unloading trucks in Kabul. “I am a poor person and I couldn’t dream of this happening to us. I wish we had all these facilities in our own country.”

Photograph: courtesy BBC

Read the full story here: Shabana’s story of hope against the odds

Beware the wrath of the stolen dachshund!

21 February 2008

TRIVANDRUM: A thief who made off with a tailor’s pet dog from Cochin a year ago has belatedly made repentance by leaving a puppy at the house and also pledging to exit his ‘trade’.

After 10-year-old Ruby, a dachshund, went missing in December 2006, M.J. George had decided not to raise pets any more. But on February 4, his son Jose spotted a small puppy in the vacant kennel in a small cardboard box along with a computer-printed letter there.

“Life has turned worse for me since I took your dog. So I am returning it in this form. I am leaving this job for good. Do please inform all. I am sorry to have caused so much inconvenience to you all. I won’t come to your locality ever,” said the letter in Malayalam. The author signed off as kallan (thief) which he scribbled with a pencil in the end.

The spirit of Subbanna Bhattru couldn’t stifle

16 February 2008

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: When Subbanna (name changed) came out of Victoria Terminus in Bombay, he was amazed at the tall match-box like buildings. How do people manage to live at such heights, he wondered. His friend Anantha from his hometown Udupi had come to receive him at the Railway Station.

Anantha worked as a cook in the mess run by the Mysore Association in Matunga. Conceived and set up as a home away from home for people from the old Mysore State, this place was a haunt for bachelors who gathered regularly for the indoor sports facilities there.

Newly-arrived Subbanna landed a job as a cleaner in the mess. His job was to wash the plates and cups, and generally keep the place tidy.

Since my brother and I needed somebody to look after our bachelor pads, Subbanna started working for us. Gradually, he became a sort-of Jeeves for us.

One day, when I entered the dining hall at the mess, there was some commotion. Subbanna had started serving the diners, when Bhattru, the chief cook, grabbed the vessel from him saying, “Ninna kelasa enjalu yele ethhuvudu. Mareebeda!” (Don’t forget, you are here only to wash plates!)

Hurt and visibly shaken, Subbanna dashed out. It turned out that since one of the regular servers was absent, Subbanna had taken a vessel on his own volition, and started serving. The division of labour had been breached. Others chided Bhattru for raising an unnecessary ruckus.

A week later, one of the members at the cards-table flourished a visiting card and told the workers: “Instead of wasting time during the day, go and find out what they have for you. They want to hire some people.”

Subbanna, Anantha and Venkatesha went to the Nariman Point address given in the card. A skyscraper was coming up and the supervisor of an elevator company wanted to hire temporary hands to lift heavy machinery. After two days, Anantha and Venkatesha dropped out.

Though a weakling, Subbanna persisted. He befriended the installation mechanic who showed him how the parts are assembled, wired and finally put to test.

After washing the plates he would run to Rama mandira in Matunga, where his electrician friend from Udupi would use a chalk to draw the circuit diagram on the granite floor of the temple and explain the intricacies of how lifts worked.

Subbanna’s daily routine comprised understanding the mechanism and circuitry of lifts, washing and wiping plates and cups, and studying line drawings on the Rama mandira floor.

Once, he showed me a book in which he had neatly drawn the various parts of a lift and the diagrams with short notes in Kannada and English along the margin! Gradually he became good in his work.

Soon after, I was transferred to Delhi. I heard from a friend that Subbanna had been picked up by Otis Company for their operations in Doha, Qatar. He was part of their installation team. I gradually lost touch with him…

When I came back to Bombay after five years, Subbanna landed at our house one morning laden with gifts. Since I used to listen to old Hindi songs on Vividh Bharathi, he had brought me some 20 cassettes of K.L. Saigal, Pankaj Mullick and Jagmohan, and a musical photo album. He was now the supervisor of Otis installation team in Doha.

In the evening he went to the Mysore Association in Matunga with gifts to all his colleagues.

To Bhattru, the chief cook, he gave the best gift of all, a silk shirt and a dhoti.

He called me aside and asked if we can have coffee together outside. We went to the Mysore café at King’s Circle.

I could see he was happy and confident. He reminisced about the sheikhs in Doha who had installed lift-cages made of gold to transport eats from the kitchen to their bedroom!

Then I asked him for the first time what had gone through his mind when Bhattru had admonised him in front of all of us.

Subbanna said slowly, “To be told I was fit for only cleaning plates in front of all my colleagues was very humiliating. I never thought somebody would demean me because I washed plates. The hurt inside wouldn’t go no matter what I did. I never ate in the mess from that evening. I continued to work, for I needed to send money home. To some extent, the pain all over my body carrying the elevator parts helped me forget the inner pain and I could get some sleep. Thank god! Had I cried, Bhattru might have allowed me to serve and life would have gone on. In the state of humiliation and anger that enveloped me I stumbled upon the Otis opportunity. The work in Otis was the balm I needed.”


Subbanna returned to Bombay when the Kuwait war broke out. He set up his own company which takes annual maintenance contracts for maintenance of lifts of highrise buildings. Subbanna and Shantha have a daughter who is a BCom and doing her CA. Their son is studying in PUC.

Also read: The dream of being a Mumbaikar

The Tamil girl who teaches a couple of lessons

10 February 2008

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Little Champa (name changed) was still sleepy when her mother Shruthi woke her up at 4.30 in the morning: “Get up. We have a train to catch.” It was a futile call because Shruthi knew that her two-year-old daughter couldn’t have heard anything as she was born with a hearing defect.

As the Thanjavur Express left Bangalore for Mysore, Shruthi fed the little girl milk and made her catch up with the rest of her sleep. They were on the way to their teacher for her lessons. At Srirangapatna, she woke up Champa for her “homework”, and asked her to repeat what the teacher had taught the previous day.

Aaaaaaaaa’, ‘Eeeeeeee’, ‘Oooooo.’

Since the receiver of the hearing aid had come off the child’s ears, she didn’t respond. After her father, Sridhar, put it back in her ears, she started repeating.

Aaaaaa,’ ‘Eeeee,’ ‘Oooo.’


When Champa didn’t respond to any sound soon after her birth, Sridhar and Shruthi’s worst fears turned true. Their daughter was born deaf and dumb. Repeated visits to temples did not help. Finally, somebody suggested a teacher, who taught hearing-impaired children from the age of 18 months.

With a hearing aid and two receivers, Champa learnt to listen to everyday sounds which are normally taken for granted. The vowel sounds Champa practised on the train were the first sounds she could reproduce.

When the teacher moved to Mysore from Bangalore, they took Champa every morning to Mysore and returned by the evening train. To and fro visits to Mysore five days a week became hectic for them and little Champa too. The family decided to move to Mysore, close to the teacher’s house.

Shruthi’s mother came to stay with her. Sridhar would come on Saturdays to take them to Bangalore.

Babbling simple words; recognising small objects; picking up an object after listening to its sound; matching the object with the sketch after naming the object. Champa was put on a drill by the teacher. Every syllable word had to be vocalized.

Much, much later the alphabets in Kannada were started. Kannada alphabets for Champa whose parents spoke Tamil!

And counting numbers—one, two, three up to hundred, each had to be pronounced loudly and then only written. Champa graduated from counting on the fingers to writing on slate and finally on paper with pencil.

‘Stay Ahead’ was the mantra of the teacher. We have to make her stay ahead of others. “Acceptance and recognition for physically challenged will only come from sheer merit. Especially when they score over in competition with normal people,” was the teacher’s philosophy.


Time flew as little Champa learnt basic maths, sentences in Kannada and could talk haltingly. Still, fluent speech was a problem.

When Sridhar and Shruthi visited various schools for admission in Bangalore, one look at the child wearing hearing aid with cord dangling from her ears was enough for rejection. Finally, one school agreed to give her an opportunity.

“Only six months,” said the head-mistress sternly, “If we find her lagging behind we will terminate any time.”

School with new clothes, a shining bag, tiffin carrier and water bottle instead of bringing joy was hell for Champa. Bullies at that age, ripped off her hearing aid, put mud on it, and threw it away. The child couldn’t learn much from her unhelpful teacher. Their class teacher often openly said: “I will recommend you to a deaf and dumb school.”

Sridha and Shruthi were at their wit’s end. Had their efforts failed? Had it all come to nothing?

Then the school had the first semester exams in Kannada and Maths.

The class teacher returned the corrected papers to all students. Champa did not get anything. Instead she was asked to bring her parents next day to meet the head mistress. Hearts palpitating, fearing the worst, they ran to school.

The head-mistress asked them to wait as she finished her other chores. Then she took them to Champa’s class. It was parents-teachers’ meeting that day. The head-mistress lifted Champa on her shoulders and announced that Champa had stood first in the class, in both Maths and Kannada.

She proudly announced that this was the first time they had decided to admit a hearing-challenged child and she had stood first in the class. The school would continue with this policy every year. The parents assembled, gave a standing ovation to Champa and her parents. Quite a few children came and stood around Champa, clapping.

There was still one unfinished task. The parents called Champa’s teacher in Mysore over the phone and choking with tears conveyed the good news: their combined efforts and faith had made the impossible, possible.

Bunt bird who soared from Manipal to Missouri

30 January 2008

She was born without hands and legs. She was just a day old when she was relinquished to a hospital in Manipal by her poor parents, Kalavathi and Shankar Shetty. She was rescued by an NGO, who called her Swapna. She was adopted seven months later by an American woman, who called her Minda Cox.

In Missouri, which became her new home, Minda rose above her disability to become an artist. Holding the brushes between her arm and cheeks, she showed that what you need to imagine and create is not what she didn’t have.

Nineteen years later, using the earnings from the sale of her paintings and accompanied by her adoptive parent Catherine Cox, she came in search of her biological parents, a reunion documented magnificently by Divya Gandhi and K. Gopinathan of The Hindu here, here, and here.


YOGESH DEVARAJ in San Jose, California, forwards a slideshow from the Springfield News-Leader that catalogues not just Minda’s art but her grit that’s helped her soar over her handicap.

“I like to draw because it’s a slow process and I can do it at my leisure. And I just love how I can kind-of just get lost in a drawing. It kind of represents me. I am resolute and I am growing, and I am getting out of all these stresses and all these barriers. And coming out and succeeding in reaching the goal. I am getting at the stresses, and getting at the I-can’t-do-it and proving to the world I can do it.”

View the full slideshow here: Artist Minda Cox

Photograph: courtesy K. Gopinathan/ The Hindu

What’s good for Rajasthan is good for Hindustan

18 January 2008

The Netherlands-based Altus Global Alliance (AGA) ranks police stations in 23 countries across the world. The list includes Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, the UK and the US. Out of the 450 global police stations, Jaipur’s Shipra Path was rated the best. Palghat in Kerala also came up with a high rating.

Of the 711 police stations in Rajasthan, 42 already have ISO certificates and 164 are in the process of getting them. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Poverty Action Lab are working with Rajasthan police to improve public perception and performance.

Read the full article: States of disorder

The world’s ascendant education superpower?

3 January 2008

Look, who’s seeing India as the “world’s ascendant education superpower” while we break our heads of how bad it is getting and send of our kids to the United States, Australia and Europe?

Japan, is who.

Martin Fackler reports in The New York Times reports that bookstores are filled with titles like Extreme Indian Arithmetic Drills and The Unknown Secrets of the Indians. Newspapers carry reports of Indian children memorizing multiplication tables far beyond nine times nine. Japan’s few Indian international schools are reporting a surge in applications from Japanese families. And Indian education is a frequent topic on talk shows.

Read the full story: Losing an edge, Japanese envy India’s schools

At a click of the mouse, target was eliminated

20 December 2007

Nalini, “accused no. 1” in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, will soon be a Master in Computer Applications, most probably with a First Class, reports Indian Express. Serving a life term in a prison in Vellore, Nalini has just completed her three-year-long MCA from the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), and could well be among the first batch of convicts to receive a post-graduate degree, possibly even at a convocation function.

Read the full story: Accused no. 1 is now a master in computer applications

World’s best bus service took 2 years, Rs 25 lakh

19 December 2007

Delhi’s blueline buses have killed 113 people in the last 12 months, prompting citizens to blame drivers, police, politicians and transport officials. Some even blame privatisation. Across the country, it is the same story with public transport as pilferage, corruption, impunctuality, etc, become the norm.

Former P&G head Gurcharan Das points at Indore where, in 2005, a 34-year-old IAS officer, Vivek Aggarwal, launched a public-private bus partnership based on best practices in the world with a tiny capital of Rs 25 lakh.

“Two years later, Indore has a fleet of 98 modern, low-floor buses with computerised ticket-vending. Electronic signboards at bus stops announce when the next bus is due based on satellite data. Investment in the system has risen to Rs 40 crore, all done privately. The city has made a profit since inception; so have its six private partners who run the buses. Soon, it will have 500 buses. Indore is now quoted (with Bogota) as having the best bus service in the world.”

Read the full article: Blueline solution in Indore

Good students shouldn’t miss their school periods

18 December 2007

MADRAS: A school in remote Mekala Chinnampally village in Tamil Nadu’s Krishnagiri district has become the first in the country to set up a vending machine in the girls’ toilet that dispenses sanitary napkins at Rs 2 a piece, reports Jaya Menon in the Indian Express.

The move, in consultation with UNICEF, is a small step to stop girls from staying away from school on the “embarrassing” days for fear of staining their uniforms and a giant leap to remove the stigma surrounding female hygiene. The vending machine costs Rs 8,000 and the incinerator Rs 1,500. The girls are also supplied a handbook on menstrual hygiene titled ‘Take it Easy‘.

Read the full article here: Girls’ school sets up napkin vending machine

‘Our politicians need some integrity of thought’

17 December 2007

Infosys chief mentor N.R. Narayana Murthy at a seminar in Madras on Saturday:

“Most of our politicians do not have the details of the Indo-US nuclear deal. However, they are taking a stand.

“When I ask them if you have read the 123 agreement, please tell me what areas which you see are bad, very few of them were in a position to give facts. However, they have already taken a position. Please avoid taking decisions based on ego, based on perceptions. Go for an analysis based on data and facts. In the end, everybody is happy.

“Quite often, I find that politicians when they are in a government they take a certain stand and when they are in the opposition, they take a totally different stand. When you ask them, what the reason is, what circumstance has changed, they have no answer. Those of you who become politicians, I request you to have integrity of thought.”

as reported by Press Trust of India

Head to toe, the essence of a good Kannadiga

13 December 2007

Two absolutely heart-warming incidents took place yesterday—small, trivial events that nevertheless shone a giant light on the essence of Kannadiga “decency”.

The first was at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. At the presentation ceremony, captain Anil Kumble received the trophy, and then as he was departing to join his mates, “Jumbo” swooped down to touch the feet of Governor Rameshwar Thakur to receive his blessings.

Kumble only got as far as the knee, but how many Indian captains have done that, would do that, in full public view?

The second was at the 74th Kannada sahitya sammelan in Udupi. As is the custom, the sammelan president Prof. L.S. Seshagiri Rao (in picture) was taken in a procession to the venue. As the morning sun blazed into the eyes of the octagenarian poet, the dharmadhikari of Dharmasthala, Veerendra Heggade, got up and held an umbrella.

How many other dharmadhikaris (and godmen), most of whom ensure that the President of India sits one notch below them on public fora, would do that, you wonder?

Photograph: courtesy Deccan Herald

Farmers sail from the ghotalas to udan khatola

10 December 2007

NEW DELHI: Farmers who have become rich overnight in States like Haryana and Punjab, where land prices have seen steep rises due to growing urbanisation and industrialisation, are splashing their cash by helicopters for weddings, reports Soutik Biswas on the BBC website.

Maan Singh, a 49-year-old farmer shelled out a whopping Rs 140,000 to hire a udan khatola (flying carriage) to ferry his son to his wedding barely 20 km away. Hiring a helicopter for a wedding is a good way of showing off your wealth in the village,” says Col C.S. Chaturvedi, who runs a rental company. “It’s a novelty for a lot of people and you attract a lot of attention automatically by getting a helicopter to land in your village.”

Full story: BBC

And some more good news to please Mr Kalam

8 December 2007

Between 1997 and 2005, equality grew in India, an analysis of the human development reports of the United Nations Development (UNDP) by Manas Chakravarty of Mint has shown.

According to the report for 2007, which draws conclusions from data for 2004-05, the richest 10% of the Indians spent 8.6 times the money spent by the poorest 10%. And in 1996-97, the richest 10% spent 9.5 times the amount spent by the bottom 10%. In other words, India in 2004-05 is more egalitarian than in 1997.

And the Gini coefficient of inequality, which measures inequality on a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 indicates perfect equality and 100, absolute inequality, was 36.8 in 2004-05. The HDR for 2003, which contained data for the Gini index for 1996-97, shows that this measure of inequality was 37.8 in that year.

Read the full story: Between 1997-2005, equality grew

Because a piano keyboard isn’t of just one colour

7 December 2007

As the professional cooks stir the communal cauldron in Gujarat, CHETAN KRISHNASWAMY forwards a YouTube video of Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder making “a beautiful statement about trust, love, respect, understanding and education that we are more alike than meets the skin!”

A silver lining without a dark cloud around it

7 December 2007

PATNA: The Nitish Kumar government in Bihar has passed 23 new Acts in the past two years, a record of sorts. While other States have been pondering over new police legislation, Bihar became the first state to pass a Bihar Police Act, 2007, to comply with the Supreme Court directives. Some of the Acts passed by the government have showed positive results — leading the way is the Bihar Apartment Ownership Act, 2006, which has provided a constant revenue source.

From The Telegraph

*** is pleased to introduce a new category, “Not Bad News”. Readers are invited to alert us by email of “positive” news items that may have escaped our negative eye.