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Arun Sadhu

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A Journalist by profession and a renowned author, Arun Sadhu, works with the same passion in both the fields. The precision and convincing power of his reports; alluring yet captivating power of his stories and novels; both are equally enthralling. His news are unbiased while the characters of his novels are real life and absorbing.
Starting a career as a school teacher in a small village of Maharashtra, Arun Sadhu has worked with many news paper from the Times of India, The Statesman and finally as the Editor of the Free Press Journal in Mumbai. At the same time he wrote many novels in Marathi language, Short stories, plays and Biographies, varying on range of subjects from Politics to science fictions and human relationships to history.

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Window on India
November 09, 2006

News Bullets


Positive signals on nuclear deal
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's office may be anxiously assessing the outcome of the vote in the U.S., not in terms of the numbers but in terms of its impact on the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal which Mr. Singh personally pushed ahead despite reservations across the political spectrum in India including his government's partners. But if the signals coming from Washington are authentic, then Mr. Singh may not have to wait long to release a sigh of relief. Political analysts assure that the victory of the Democrats in the U.S. Congressional polls, which makes George W. Bush virtually a lame-duck President for the remaining two years of his term, may not be seen as a threat to the historic deal.

The Democrats who have been insisting on rigorous implementation of nuclear non-proliferation regime may not, after all, throw away the baby with bathwater, say the analysts. It is not the Republicans alone but the whole of the American capital, business and industry that is enamoured of the phenomenally growing Indian market. The knowledge industry in the U.S. is now inextricably linked with that of India depending on the latter's intellectual manpower. It just cannot afford to alienate India at this juncture when the American capital is finding the Indian environment far more reliable and enduring than many other countries. Therefore, the analysts say, the victorious Democrats are as anxious to carry out the deal as India is. There are clear signals to this effect from the Democrat's camp, they point out.

The magic wand of RTI?
This is not tongue in cheek but an authoritative report. Yes, India is less corrupt than before. So says the Berlin-based anti-corruption watchdog, the Transparency International (TI). Seasoned and knowledgeable Indian contractors, bureaucrats businessmen and politicians may jeer cynically, but it is true. The TI has actually ranked India at 70 on its corruption perception index of 163 countries. Only last year India was down below at 88 on the index.

What made India suddenly so cleaner...err...less corrupt? Not the magic of any detergent, surely? Have the legendary greedy politicians of India suddenly awoken to the nudging of their conscience? Or have the contractors stopped pocketing disproportionate profits out of their deals delivering substandard products? The bureaucrats certainly have not become more sanctimonious? The magic wand, it is pointed out, is the Right to Information Act. And of course, India's bumbling but vigorously independent media which exploits its freedom to hilt not specifically to wash out the dirt but largely to expand their markets, increase earnings in the fiercely competitive field. And there are other cynics too who see no reason to celebrate. Scaling down 18 points on the index is no big deal. So they seem to feel.

Heady winners push a politician
India relishes petty controversies. Particularly when the issue at stake is so frivolous, so stupid and so innocuous as deserving instant burial. This time it is the game of cricket and since cricket is the religion of middle class India the entire middle class India has risen in terrible fury foaming at mouth. Never mind even if less than half a dozen countries were playing; it was a world's Champion Trophy at which India had suffered a humiliating defeat in the opening rounds. But that does not deter the gallant Indians' sporting spirit. The big boss of the India cricket establishment ( and a big politician and union minister) Sharad Pawar presented the Champion Trophy to the Australian team which went ahead to win it in the finals. No sooner had Pawar handed out the trophy, the Australian players, heady with their victory, almost pushed him away from the stage to pose for an army of camera-wielding media.

Well, the action apparently was inadvertent and carried no ill-intentions as the winners were bursting with a bubbly mood. But India gasped when it saw the event on the small screen. Sure, India can sportingly swallow a humiliating defeat on the ground. But not an insult to its politician. There were protests, there was mob fury, burning of effigies and Australian flags, marches on Australian establishments and shouting of slogans. The concerned player has now offered an apology. But India is still fuming. Perhaps, a manifestation of the deep frustration at the defeat on the grounds?




Opinion

The chalta hai culture of India - By Arun Sadhu

A long-awaited nemesis is on the anvil. The whole community of capitol New Delhi's shop-keepers is up in arms. Against the government, against the municipal authorities and against the courts. Indeed, against the law itself. They are furious at the 'injustice' done to them. Their illegal shops and establishments are being sealed by the municipal authorities to be demolished eventually. The High Court has ordered so.

And there are thousands of such shops, perfectly illegal, built and run illegally encroaching on the public land. Every one knew the shops were illegal, the constructions were encroachments. And yet they conducted their business under the nose of the authorities and the ruling politicians. The sanctimonious middle class turned its blind eye since it found the lawlessness useful and convenient. A small tip to the inspecting officials, a bigger bundle of cash to the bureaucrats sitting in their air-conditioned chambers and an even bigger pound of flesh to the politicians living in their palatial bungalows at public expense ensures the establishment's blind eye towards the rampant illegality almost permanently. It is only when a public spirited person makes a public interest litigation in a court of law that the judiciary notices the aberration and strikes at it. The shop-keepers are now on rampage burning cars and two-wheelers and not surprisingly, every political party, every political leader who wants to strike gold in Delhi is scrambling, falling over each other to defend and support the shop-keepers in the illegal movement. The authorities, of course, are marshalling all their skills to delay the final sealing and demolitions. No one wants to alienate voters and no one wants to forego the permanent source of extra income. One does not know what the outcome of this multi-pronged battle will be.

The Indian commercial capital Mumbai's story is no different. Currently, more than 65 per cent of the people of this megalopolis leave in illegal hutments and dirty shanty towns. For decades, the politicians have encouraged people to put illegal huts at any open space available - at hefty considerations. The municipal and government officials ignore the huts - at some considerations, of course. It is 'hafta' in Mumbai parlance, a weekly payment, an illegal but established system which makes things easier for anyone who wants to break the law. 'There is no theft when there is a theft when you have not seen the theft......' ,goes the wisdom.

In the year 1972, the state of Maharashtra where Mumbai is, decided to regularise the illegal hutments mushroomed till then, make efforts to improve the living standards in those hutments and thenceforth not allow new hutments to be built on the public land. Since then the state government has been regularising the illegal hutments every five years, pouring money into improving the hutments. But it has never attempted to stop coming up of the new hutments. Moreover, builders are now allowed extra floor space index (FSI) to build new towers at the space occupied by hutment colonies and offer flats to hut-dwellers almost free and exploit the remaining FSI commercially. Not all the poor hut-dwellers find place in those brand new flats. A majority of beneficiaries, as some social workers claim, are well-to-do people who have fraudulently obtained documents. The building contractors are making a hay.

For a decade or so, the word has gone around in the country that one gets a free flat in Mumbai against an illegal hut. Mumbai has now become a powerful magnet for the poor of the country. It is not only the lure of the Bollywood but also the prospects of eking out a living, getting a hut and subsequently a flat that has been attracting thousands of job-seekers and poors to this metropolis who descend in thousands every day to setle there permanently. No wonder, the mushrooming of illegal hutments has never stopped and the percentage of people living in shanty towns is growing.

This is India's 'chalta hai' culture. Everything goes. In a multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-ethnic society used to adjustment, assimilation, compromise, accommodation, reconciliation and consensus, rise of this kind of culture is inevitable and useful. India is a religious country and the Hindu religion of the majority here is known for its rigorous rituals and razor-sharp memorization of the scriptures such as Vedas where deviation of a single vowel or diction is not allowed. And yet the Hindu rituals are the most flexible ones. If you do not afford to gift an idol of gold to a priest as prescribed in shastras, you can do with silver. Or copper, or bronze or iron. And if you cannot afford even that, you may compromise with a coconut or a beetle nut or even a few grains of rice. If a particular ritual demands presence of husband and wife and when a spouse is alive but absent, she or he can be substituted with a beetle nut ! That flfills the ritual obligation. There are few rituals where hard and fast rules a re adhered to.

And so in the modern Law. Among the developing countries, India has biggest written Constitution in the world and the most compendious jurisprudence. When it comes to the legal dissection of an issue, a sentence or a word, Indian lawyers match their counterparts in any other country. And yet, when it comes to implements on the ground of rules and regulations and laws, there is a noticeable proclivity to compromise, to adjust, to accommodate. Some times, heterogeneity of the socio-cultural and political environment forces a consensus or compromise. But this phenomenon is so ingrained in the blood of the Indians that adjustment has become another word for corruption. With globalization of the economy and the market, the ancient discipline and rigour reserved only for certain scriptures and rituals has to be brought to the fore to face the new challenges. Or else most metropolitan cities and towns will collapse under an insufferable burden of illegal growth.


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