Friday, January 26, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


Wheat man’s burden
GRICULTURE in this part of the country is in a deep crisis. The only solution is total restructuring under tightly controlled conditions. Everyone knows the litany of woes. Punjab and Haryana grow too much wheat and rice.

Not by rhetoric alone
AN we bring in a corruption-free regime in India? The task has become more difficult today than ever before. Still, with the requisite political will and a determined approach, it should be possible to curb corrupt practices if those at the helm address themselves seriously to the question of eliminating corruption from public life. 


By Hari Jai Singh
A ceasefire balancesheet
Peace process lacks a sense of direction
OW effective and rewarding has been the ceasefire in militancy-infested Jammu and Kashmir which Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was gracious enough to announce on November 23, 2000, on the eve of the holy month of Ramzan? This has subsequently been extended beyond January 26. 


Pressing on with peace
January 25
, 2001
VVIP as a pilgrim
January 24
, 2001
For the sake of Samjhauta
January 23
, 2001
Ayodhya — blowing cold
January 22
, 2001
January 21
, 2001
It pays to act tough
January 20
, 2001
MP as a tenure job
January 19
, 2001
An avoidable controversy 
January 18, 2001
Panchayat polls in J&K
January 17, 2001
Signals from Maghi mela
January 16, 2001
Lynching labour force
January 15, 2001
The Clinton Years
January 14
, 2001
The passport tangle
January 13
, 2001
Sugar melts in PDS
January 12
, 2001

Launch a paunch
By Shriniwas Joshi
Y friend Surinder Mohan Katwal once told me that in the villages of Punjab a gazetted officer meant and was recognised as one having one gaj tidd (a paunch with a yard round girth). The two gazetted officers in close touch of the villagers then used to be Tehsildars and BDOs.


Roadblocks to US leadership
By M.S.N. Menon
O we know the United States well enough? Yes, as well as the four blind men knew the elephant they set out to explore. And the blind men of India are now busy trying to make out what kind of country America is going to be under President George W. Bush. Some say, it is going to be friendlier to India.


Barley, potatoes may boost memory in elderly
LDERLY people who fear their memory is beginning to slip might do well to have a bowl of barley or a plate of potatoes at their next meal, research findings suggest.




Wheat man’s burden

AGRICULTURE in this part of the country is in a deep crisis. The only solution is total restructuring under tightly controlled conditions. Everyone knows the litany of woes. Punjab and Haryana grow too much wheat and rice. The government pays too much for the cereals of doubtful quality. The FCI is inefficient and burdens the Centre with huge losses. The open market prices are lower than the FCI grains offered on a no-profit, no-loss basis. Poor people do not have the purchasing power to draw these gains and escape hunger. The result? FCI godowns are bulging with wheat and rice in various stages of rotting and bank interest on loans is mounting. The wheat and paddy growers are angry, the consumer is angry and the electorate is angry. If the angry mood gets translated into votes or negative votes, the ruling SAD-BJP alliance will be in trouble next February. Hence the hectic efforts to find a quick-fix, a purely short-term answer to a problem that is very much built into the system. First this year’s problem. The Union Agriculture Ministry wants to freeze the minimum support price (MSP) at last year’s level of Rs 580 a quintal of wheat. This is a stunning departure from the annual ritual to increase partly to compensate for the higher cost of inputs and partly to help the kisan meet the hardship of rising prices of essential and non-essential goods. Even the Rs 580 a quintal offer is a major improvement on the recommendation of the CACP (Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices) which asked the government to slash the MSP by Rs 60 a quintal. Its argument was that a lower price would staunch the unmanageable offering of wheat and rice and also align the FCI prices with the open market rates. The mandarins in the Ministry found these recommendations irresistible and circulated a Cabinet note accepting the suggestion. It was then that a storm broke out.

The proposal to slash the MSP has been jettisoned but not the Ministry’s advice to freeze the MSP of wheat this year. The kisan will protest that he is being asked to accept a rate which does not take into account the higher input costs and inflationary impact. This is the first time it is happening and hence explosive. The kisan knows that the old arrangement of higher MSP to encourage higher production is dead and he has to prepare himself for a new regime. One, he is aware that there is no market for the cereals and there is no regulated market for pulses, oilseed and vegetables. He is painfully aware of what happened to potato growers this year in the Daoba region. What all this means can be compressed into four formulations. One, the Punjab and Haryana farmer should shift from the paddy-wheat cycle and insert pulses or oilseed. His annual income will come down but the loss is bearable as the alternate is to suffer humiliation at the hands of petty FCI officials. The regional agricultural universities and government departments should stand by the kisan in this transition to a new world. Individual enterprice by the kisan has failed miserably as is evident in potato growing and grape farming. Farm experts should draw up a road map of the transition; otherwise the whole project will collapse. Finally, the governments at the Centre and the states should help in developing a dynamic market for non-cereal products. The crippling weakness of Indian agriculture is the underdevelopment of markets for vegetables, horticulture and floriculture. products If a kisan is sure that his labour will not go unrewarded, he is willing to take risks and help the country’s policies to success. Think of the secret of the green revolution!Top


Not by rhetoric alone

CAN we bring in a corruption-free regime in India? The task has become more difficult today than ever before. Still, with the requisite political will and a determined approach, it should be possible to curb corrupt practices if those at the helm address themselves seriously to the question of eliminating corruption from public life. In this context, it was heartening to hear Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee stating his government's endeavour to provide "a clean, efficient and transparent administration". He categorically declared the other day at an all-India conference of Lokayuktas that the principle of zero tolerance would apply while dealing with corruption. This is surely sweat music to our ears. We have watched with dismay how the graph of corruption has been rising steadily at all levels of the administration both at the Centre and in the states. According to Mr Justice M. C. Jain, Lokayukta of Rajasthan, "Capitals of the states have become capitals of corruption where deals are made and settled and power brokers rule the roost. Seats of power of whatever status and at whatever level have become seats of corruption." A person of the standing of Mr Justice Jain should know what he is talking about. In fact, he is only reflecting the feelings and observations of the general public.

We all know how corruption has seeped deep into the corridors of power in the states. In fact, the most disturbing facet of the Indian situation is political corruption. It encompasses virtually all segments of society. Nothing moves without greasing the palm of the "right person" in "right doses". No wonder, there is a growing disillusionment among the people at the vanishing transparency in governmental functioning. This sickening state of affairs has been studied in depth by various committees and commissions. What is, however, regrettable is that things have gone from bad to worse because of the alarming growth of money and muscle power to the disadvantage of ordinary citizens. This situation cannot be accepted. Therefore, the crusade against corruption has to be intensified. Mr Vajpayee has reiterated his government's commitment to put in place a new Lok Pal regime with adequate powers to deal with charges of corruption against anyone, including the Prime Minister. This is a welcome move for which he deserves full support. As for the working of the Lokayukta at the state level, the agony of the Prime Minister is understandable. He has rightly said that the institution of Lokayukta was "visualised" to be non-political with their status comparable with the highest judicial functionaries in the country. But the experience has been "disappointing", even though as many as 15 states have enacted the Lokayukta law. Some states have kept the Chief Ministers outside its ambit. This flaw has to be corrected since people have by now a fairly clear idea about the corruption level of different Chief Ministers. Only a determined leadership with a firm commitment to public well-being can fight corruption. Unfortunately, political will to wage a full-fledged war against corrupt practices is missing. As it is, the politico-administrative structure is getting into the hands of operators, manipulators and various vested interests. The common man, meanwhile, continues to suffer. The Prime Minister's new concern does provide a ray of hope. But then he has to translate his rhetoric into a concrete plan of action against corruption. We have at present no choice but to keep our hope alive.Top



A ceasefire balancesheet
Peace process lacks a sense of direction
By Hari Jai Singh

HOW effective and rewarding has been the ceasefire in militancy-infested Jammu and Kashmir which Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was gracious enough to announce on November 23, 2000, on the eve of the holy month of Ramzan? This has subsequently been extended beyond January 26. The question before the Indian authorities is whether the ceasefire will take Kashmir anywhere near the silken threads of peace. A simple answer is "no". The people swear by peace but the pro-Pakistan politicians and militants in the valley and beyond are not interested in the move as this does not suit the interests of their masters in Islamabad.

In the circumstances, what should one make of Mr Vajpayee's well-intentioned gambit? Well, if wishes were horses, he would have by now got something tangible to show. But then we all know that the peace process is not a bed of roses. It is a nerve-racking job.

The issue of peace and ceasefire is highly complex. It cannot be viewed in isolation. It has to be seen in a larger canvas of vested interests of various groups operating freely in Kashmir and across the border under the patronage of the Pakistani establishment. Viewed in this light, the Prime Minister has taken a calculated risk with the sole desire to make Kashmir once again a paradise on the earth. All the same, it is a gamble the end result of which is anybody's guess.

I have deliberately used the word "gamble" since the policy-makers in New Delhi have to play with several unknown factors on the other side of the border without being clear about the process such a course might have to go through. In any case, they are not known for calling the shots from a position of strength. The country has already paid a heavy price for adhocism.

Underlining this harsh truth does not mean that I am against the ceasefire. I am all for it — even on a permanent basis. This, however, requires clear objectives and targets. But first, the balance-sheet of the ceasefire so far.

One, the ceasefire gesture has definitely enhanced India's standing in the comity of nations. There has been considerable appreciation of the move initiated by Mr Vajpayee. A number of Muslim countries whose sympathy is generally with the other side have been equally appreciative. Apparently, India has been able to get some diplomatic mileage out of the truce.

Two, Mr Vajpayee's stock has gone up among the people of the valley and the Muslim community in the rest of the country as a whole. They probably never thought that New Delhi was capable of such an initiative. However, the sad fact is that the killings and unabated violence by Pakistan-sponsored militant groups have acquired dangerous dimensions.

More and more Muslims have been targeted by the Lashkar-e-Toiba, the Hizbul Mujaheedin, etc. They have created a reign of terror. Privately, Kashmiris have already begun to feel the heat. Probably they would welcome New Delhi to come down heavily on the terrorist outfits.

It is no secret that Dr Farooq Abdullah, Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, was against the extension of the ceasefire. He also wants the training camps of militants to be destroyed by the security forces.

He has been pressing for this for quite some time. But New Delhi's response has been both detached and cautious. It will not like to precipitate matters at this juncture.

Having taken the plunge, it would like the peace process to continue, notwithstanding the growing resentment on this count among the security forces. Mr Vajpayee's government is aware of this. That is the reason why the Chief of the Army Staff, Gen Sunderrajan Padmanabhan, went out of his way asking the government to extend the ceasefire!

This unusual step was apparently sponsored by the political bosses who do not want to give the impression of a division among the security forces. Be that as it may, the government has set a very dangerous precedent. Though it wants the armed forces to conduct themselves professionally, at the same time it seems to be encouraging a sober and professional soldier to speak the language of a politician. This is typical of the working of the government. It prompts initiatives without realising their implications.

In any case, the voices within the government on the extension of ceasefire are divided in view of the mounting offensive by the militant groups.

Three, there is a growing resentment within the country against the extension of the ceasefire. A number of knowledgeable persons openly question the Vajpayee government's move. In the days to come, it might become increasingly difficult for it to withstand public anger against the truce which has made the country vulnerable to reckless attacks by hardcore militants and foreign mercenaries.

The shocking incident at the Red Fort, the dare-devil attack by militants at Srinagar airport and the attempt on Dr Farooq Abdullah's life are too serious matters to be brushed aside. The question is: why these disturbing signs of slackness?

We still have no full information as to who engineered and financed the attack on the Red Fort. How did they get the money? Was it through known hawala channels? If so, why no action has so far been taken against these hawala operators?

In fact, the government does not give the impression of having a definite mind. It seems to be going adrift, without knowing the end result of its moves.

A responsible government has to have a mind of its own. It should know what it wants to do. It should also be in a position to set the pace of events. It is a pity that we cannot accuse the Vajpayee government of doing so in a calm and calculated manner.

Goodwill, after all, is a passing thing. It is there today and it may be gone tomorrow. The world community respects only those countries which are clear and sharp about their targets and priorities and also know how to work resolutely to achieve them. There is no doubt that hardcore militant organisations have been working at the prompting of the ISI which is a law unto itself in Pakistan. It is also beyond the control of General Pervez Musharraf. The Chief Executive of Pakistan could only be effective in minimising the shelling along the Line of Control (LoC). Though this is a positive sign, this may not be good enough to take the peace move to its logical conclusion.

The problem with General Musharraf is that his own position is getting increasingly threatened. He is not a Punjabi and this is a major handicap in ensuring that his writ runs smoothly in the Punjabi-dominated Army.

Moreover, the military ruler has been seeking legitimacy for his regime and for this purpose, he has been sending feelers to Indian leaders. India, understandably, is not in a hurry to put its seal of legitimacy on his regime, though New Delhi has an open mind on having a dialogue with the military regime in Islamabad. This is the right attitude.

Kashmir today is at the crossroads. The process of peace has to be consolidated, but it is for the Vajpayee government to decide how far it can go. As it is, it seems to be bungling on the question of giving passports to Hurriyat leaders. Why not allow them to decide who has to be in their team to visit Islamabad? Even small tactical blunders can cost New Delhi dearly.

Even Islamabad seems to be caught in a web of its own making. As it is, the ISI apart, the fundamentalists have begun to pose a major threat to the Musharraf regime. As I have said in my previous write-ups, a Talibanised Pakistan would pose a greater threat to the peace process in this subcontinent than is the case today.

This point must not be lost sight of in evolving new responses to Pakistan as well as to well-thought-out peace moves.

After all, militancy is not something that the people can accept forever. Already, the people of the valley are fed up with violence and deaths, mostly perpetrated by the Hizbul-Mujahideen and other extremist elements. One thing is clear: militants are on the defensive.

At the same time, certain militant outfits like the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad have stepped up their deadly activities. This will only complicate the cleaning-up operations at the end of the truce. I wish the Prime Minister could explain such intricacies to the nation.


Launch a paunch
By Shriniwas Joshi

MY friend Surinder Mohan Katwal once told me that in the villages of Punjab a gazetted officer meant and was recognised as one having one gaj tidd (a paunch with a yard round girth). The two gazetted officers in close touch of the villagers then used to be Tehsildars and BDOs. They, while on tour, would pause for snacks in this or that house. And snacks between two meals are always “refleshing”, say the nutritionists. Hence, the tidd. Once I asked a Tehsildar whose bulge had started coming out of his shirt, “Why? Getting stout these days!” He placed his hands softly on the custom-built paunch and said: “This helps me in meeting the people half way.”

I tell my friends fighting battle of the bulge that this convex part of their body is the only problem that gets worsened after it is settled. But I love paunchy people for their liveliness, their sporting nature and the ease with which they cut jokes on their own economy size girth. That reminds me of Mahavir Singh, our Chief Secretary in sixties. He was tall and rotund. He once narrated a story of going to Jankidas & Co., a shop on the Mall known for selling readymade garments, and asked for pants fit on him. The attendant manning the counter looked him twice from feet to mid-waist and mid-waist to feet. He then gave a meaningful smile and said: “Sorry Sir, we sell pants and not tents.” Tuntun, Asit Sen and their clan are the perpetual jesters of the Indian films because of their corpulence.

Cricket also had its lively moments with fatsoes. Ian Austin, the English cricketer for his fanciful physical proportion provoked spectators to sing, “He’s fat, he’s round/His backside touches the ground,” Australia’s David Boon and England’s Mike Gatting (Fat Gat) used to take the remarks on their bulging middles sportingly. Inzamam-ul-Haq, however, lost his cool in Toronto when his portliness appeared like aloo (potato) to a spectator. I am also reminded of yet another sport. Swimming. A member of a known family of a forest lessee here had monstrous body proportions. It was said of him that his density had ended his shapes. He decided to go for swimming to reduce his weight. It is jocularly said that as His Heaviness jumped into the swimming pool, the entire water splashed out.

The sense of humour and the power of tolerating jokes cut on them are really appreciative among the obese.

A colleague of mine got angry on his even appetitive roly-poly son for spending more than Rs 350 on food only on an outing. He asked him: “How could you spend so much?”

“I could manage by skipping the evening tea and snacks,” was his innocent reply.

Such wit, such humour and such tolerance! And still for Malory any humpty-dumpty is “fat as a pork hog”, for Swift “fat as a porpoise” for Lyly “fat as a fool” and even our Urdu poet claims, “Mote miyan to hain sachmuch gosht ka ek pahar, / Badle aqul ke bhi unke gosht charh gayas.” (A fat person is a real mountain of flesh;/The flesh had covered his wisdom even) Time is about to come when they may have to eat the words. Beware narrow-waists, adult obesity is increasing. Undeclared “Launch a paunch” movement is on — worldwide. 


Roadblocks to US leadership
By M.S.N. Menon

DO we know the United States well enough? Yes, as well as the four blind men knew the elephant they set out to explore.

And the blind men of India are now busy trying to make out what kind of country America is going to be under President George W. Bush. Some say, it is going to be friendlier to India. Others are not so sure. And yet others are poring over the astrological charts of the Republican worthies who form part of the Bush dispensation.

The point I want to make is this: we all can make mistakes. But when America makes a mistake, the world has to pay a very high price for it. Like the prophets, America has been promising to take the world to the land of peace and plenty and leaving it in the lurch to fend for itself. That is why one has to be careful about the policies of the United States. The USA can make as great blunders as anybody else. And the worst blunder of all is its assumption that what is good for America is good for the world. There can be no worse error. We must speak out without fear against such follies.

And yet countries change. Circumstances change. America has changed over the years. Not always on its own volition, but because of global circumstances. The world is vastly different from what it was in 1945 at the end of the war. America was then flushed with victory, and thought of itself as the final arbiter of the world. That view has not changed, although the circumstances are vastly different today. And America proclaims its global “leadership” unabashedly. Clinton says: it is America’s leadership of the world (hegemony is the other word for it), which promotes its prosperity and security. Now you know why this “leadership” has become such an obsession with America.

America is either ignorant of other countries or it is highly prejudiced. To be ignorant of and prejudiced against was India’s lot. The Americans admit it now. So, we welcome the two recent studies (in which India appears), for they are supposed to guide the Bush Administration.

The first, a US intelligence study (backed by several US universities), entitled “Global Trends 2015”, says that by 2015 India will be an unrivalled regional power in South Asia, with formidable military might, including naval and nuclear capabilities. What is more, with a dynamic economy. As against this, the picture of Pakistan is bleak: it will be “more fractious, isolated and dependent on international financial assistance.”

Perhaps India can become a threat to the USA? No way, says another study by the Institute of Strategic Studies of the National Defence University. How? Because, it says, a war between India and America is unlikely, for “there are incentives to warmer relations.” This is to put India in a bad light. The truth is: India has never been an aggressive nation in all the millennia. And it has no intention to be war happy now.

Be that as it may, Bush himself is sympathetic to India. He sees it as a “force in the world”, as a “regional power” destined to play a “global role.” Like Clinton, he recognises that India has for long been neglected by US Administrations. We start, then, with a measure of goodwill. We will assume that Bush will allow the momentum of the last two years to continue.

How is one to explain this transformation? Firstly, because India is going to be the fourth largest economy in the world and the third largest market. As a trading nation, this is of utmost importance to America. This explains the growth of the Indian caucus to 150 in the US Congress, an unprecedented development in the history of Indo-US relations. This is the second reason why the man in the White House cannot ignore India.

Thirdly, America does not want India to join China to form an Asian condominium to oust US influence from Asia or to join Russia and China to form an alternative global order. And, lastly, India is at the very front of the frontier technologies. I mean information technology. What Indians can do in this field has “stunned” at least one President. I am referring to Clinton.

But more than all these is the American realisation of the greatness of the Indian civilisation, a fact which the West, America in particular, was reluctant to admit. It is this which has brought about the change in outlook. The NRIs have contributed to this.

Of course, Republican policies are more suitable to India. For example, on nuclear issue — India going nuclear, CTBT and so on. And on Kashmir, Bush is more likely to follow the Clinton policies. That is, opt for the LoC as the permanent border of Kashmir. And Bush is more likely to follow the Clinton policies with regard to Pakistan, a country prone to militarism. The Republicans are likely to be less sympathetic to a Pakistan which has emerged as the fountainhead of a fundamentalist Islamic world, committed to jihad — that is terrorism.

Finally, will the Bush Administration be supportive of India’s claim for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council? The condition of the Clinton regime was that India should sign the CTBT. As the Republicans are themselves opposed to the CTBT, it is not going to stand in the way. But will Bush take the step? He will, for I feel that the Secretary of State Colin Powell will be happy to reward an India which has led the anti-apartheid movement in the UN. And he cannot be oblivious of the influence of Mahatma Gandhi on the peaceful struggle of the black people of America for their rights, especially on Martin Luther King. Powell cannot be insensitive to India’s claim. The same can be said of Condi Rice, the National Security Adviser.

It has been said that the Bush Administration may want to promote India as a counterweight to China. This has been an old idea. Perhaps we should have seized it when J.F. Kennedy broached it. America is worried over the growth of Chinese power. And Bush might want to counter it by leaning more heavily on Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. But China is not without its defences. It has plans to create a free trade area in the Far East and South-East Asia. The idea is to drive out the United States from the region. And China can pioneer an Asian Monetary Fund, which can undermine both the IMF and WTO. This will adversely affect America’s economic leadership. Will Wall Street allow Bush to precipitate such dangers?

India cannot play the containment game. True, a strong and powerful India can deter China from excesses. But India is hobbled. While China is able to attract $ 50 billion FDI yearly, India has to struggle to invite just $ 4 billion a year. India will remain a light-weight, not a counter-weight. Has Bush some plans to improve matters?

The options before Bush are still of “give and take.” If Bush insists on violating the ABM Treaty and goes for an anti-missile system, he will be opposed vehemently by both Russia and China. In fact, even America’s allies are opposed to the militarisation of space. It will be in violation of another treaty — the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 which prohibits weapons in space.

Bush does not see Russia as the “evil empire”. The empire is gone, but the evil remains, he says. What evil? Perhaps the continuing support of the Russian people to Communism. But Powell sees no reason to treat Russia as a potential enemy. And yet Bush might be tempted to be reckless if EU goes for an independent security system. In that case, he might offer Europe, too, an anti-missile system in order to retain the NATO defence system.

But, as in the case of China, Moscow is not without defences. It can offer a non-aggression pact to the EU and it can deny access to America to the oil and gas resources of Central Asia. This will be a serious blow to the oil man — George Bush.

The greatest threat that mankind is facing today is not from nuclear weapons, but from climate change. But at the recent Hague meeting, no consensus could be reached. Where was the “leadership” of the United States? The USA will finally be judged not by what it does for its people, but for what it does for mankind.


Barley, potatoes may boost memory in elderly

ELDERLY people who fear their memory is beginning to slip might do well to have a bowl of barley or a plate of potatoes at their next meal, research findings suggest.

A recent study found that after an overnight fast, individuals performed better on memory tests after they consumed 50 grams of carbohydrate — nearly a cup of barley or just over one cup of mashed potatoes-than they did after consuming a sugar-laden drink.

“Our study showed that eating carbohydrate foods can improve memory within an hour after ingestion in healthy elderly people with relatively poor memories,” lead author Randall J. Kaplan, from the University of Toronto in Canada, told Reuters Health.

The effects appeared to be the most pronounced on long-term memory and in those who had slight problems with glucose (blood sugar) regulation at the outset, the report indicates. Kaplan said that about 50% of people over age 60 have poor glucose control. The results of the study are published in a recent issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The findings, Kaplan added, suggest that maintaining a healthy body weight, exercising, eating a diet high in fiber and low in saturated fat — which lowers the risk of developing impaired glucose tolerance and diabetes — may also have beneficial effects on memory.

While it is not clear how glucose affects memory, Kaplan said it may increase the production of a brain chemical that enhances communication between cells or that it affects proteins in the intestine that send signals to the brain.

The study included 20 people aged 60 to 82 years, who on various days consumed potatoes, barley, a glucose-laden lemon drink or an inactive placebo after an overnight fast. Researchers administered short-term and long-term memory tests 15, 60 and 105 minutes after the study participants ate.

Individuals were asked to recall words from a list immediately after it was read, and to recall ideas from a series of paragraphs immediately and 20 minutes after they were read. Memory performance improved with all three meals compared with placebo, but was better after the carbohydrate than the glucose. — (Reuters)

Skateboarding pad

IT ISN’T everyone’s idea of a day out, hanging at a skateboard park. But set against alternatives — a trip to Disneyland Paris, for example — it’s a sharp enough idea.

Although it could be argued that a skate park is a theme park, it isn’t. governed by a single principle, spiritually, it’s an art gallery. Thought of like that, it sounds fine. And unlike theme parks, there is no possibility that you’ll be greeted at the entrance, or inside, or nearby, or anywhere in the vicinity at all, by a person in a furry animal costume trying to engage you in a “fun” conversation.

Skateboarders are single-issue characters who wouldn’t even notice.

The maintenance is endless: the board only lasts until it “loses its pop”, and the other components are all subject to various stress-related syndromes with exotic names. Further hidden expenses include specialist hoodies, T-shirts, footwear, and specialist ridiculous trousers. Not forgetting specialist kneepads, magazines and stickers. And not forgetting specialist videos, either. — (Guardian)

Diabetes in third world

Diabetes affected people above the age of 65 in developed countries, but in India, especially in the South, it struck the age group of 30 to 65, with urban population being more vulnerable to attack, Tamil Nadu Health Minister Arcot Veerasamy says.

The type-II non-insulin dependant formed over 90 per cent of the patients, he said while inaugurating the ‘Diabetes 2000’, a mega exhibition on the disease, organised by the M.V. Diabetes Specialities Centre Private Limited, the only ISO 9002 certified diabetics centre in the country.

Quoting official statistics, Veerasamy said in India, diabetes affected only three crore people in 1985 but 10 years later, the figure had gone up to 13.50 crore and in the next 25 years, it is likely to affect 30 crore people. Till the 20th century, it was considered a “killer disease” but it has now become “controllable” with adequate medications.

ATP molecule and urination

TO PERCEIVE a sensation like heat, pain, or a full bladder, we have nerves that send electrical messages from where things happen back to our brain. That is the easy part. But what happens at the tip of the nerve, where this signal originates?

Touch and pain have long been among the more elusive of our senses in terms of understanding at a biochemical level. Now scientists have found the answer to a host of questions in a small, well-known molecule, the energy carrier ATP.

Here, as in many other cases during the evolution of life, nature has borrowed and recycled an existing molecule for a new purpose. ATP has been known for decades to be a fundamental building block that is used to make DNA.

Its second job is that of storing chemical energy and releasing it when and where it is needed. Only quite recently have scientists begun to realise that ATP even has a third job, namely as a signal in the sensation of pain, and, most importantly, the urge to go to the toilet.

While ATP can carry out its first two, classical, jobs inside the cell, the sensory role requires that the molecule leaves the cell and then crosses the path of a nerve cell. When you suffer a wound or some other kind of tissue damage, some cells may break and release their contents, including the ATP they held for energy purposes.

In the mid-70s, scientists investigated which kinds of cell extracts could trigger pain in human volunteers. They found that the more ATP the liquids contained, the more pain they caused. Hence they suggested ATP might be the signal that indicates broken cells.

This was a nice idea, but if you want biologists to believe that a given molecule causes pain, you’ll have to show them an “antenna” for this molecule — in other words, a receptor that is embedded in the membrane of a nerve cell and turns the chemical message into a nerve signal. As no such receptor was known at the time, the idea of ATP as a pain signal fell into oblivion.

It was not until two decades later that other researchers managed to clone a gene whose protein product matched the requirements of a pain receptor acting on the presence of ATP.

Now, research groups at University College, London, and at Roche Biosciences in Palo Alto, California, have presented detailed observations on mice which have been bred to lack this receptor (knockout mice).

Both teams confirmed that mice lacking the ATP receptor were less sensitive to pain from tissue damage. — (Guardian)



Truth can be found by searching within, never through argument or disputation. It is just the same if for 'Truth' one reads 'God'.


One beholds the Self

as wonderful;

another mentions of It

as marvellous;

another again hears of It

as strange

though hearing yet another

knows not It, not at all.

— The Bhagavad Gita, II, 20, 22, 23, 24, 27, 29


Even one word if true, is enough. Untrue words, however many, are worth nothing.


The power of a true word is such that it leads one from selfishness to selflessness.


One can never find Truth if one is not wide awake every moment off one's life.


Even one drop of the poison of untruth will poison the entire milk-ocean of Truth.


Why would one who is capable of violence for gaining his ends, hesitate to resort to untruth in both speech and action?


Non-violence, truth, etc. are self-luminous. They cannot be genuine otherwise.

— Mahatma Gandhi, "A Thought for the Day". The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. 81.


Unless one always speaks the Truth, one cannot find God who is the soul of Truth.


One must be very particular about telling the truth. Through Truth one realise God.

— Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna, 531-32


To see nothing but faults of others is even meaner than praising one's own virtues.

— Bapu ke Ashirwad - A thought for the Day

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