Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Look Inside the Alzheimer's Brain

A Look Inside the Alzheimer's Brain

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Is Democracy Melting?

While we're still arguing about whether there's life after death, can we add another question to the cart? Is there life after democracy? What sort of life will it be? By "democracy" I don't mean democracy as an ideal or an aspiration. I mean the working model: Western liberal democracy, and its variants, such as they are.

So, is there life after democracy?

Attempts to answer this question often turn into a comparison of different systems of governance, and end with a somewhat prickly, combative defense of democracy. It's flawed, we say. It isn't perfect, but it's better than everything else that's on offer. Inevitably, someone in the room will say: "Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia... is that what you would prefer?"

Whether democracy should be the utopia that all "developing" societies aspire to is a separate question altogether. (I think it should. The early, idealistic phase can be quite heady.) The question about life after democracy is addressed to those of us who already live in democracies, or in countries that pretend to be democracies. It isn't meant to suggest that we lapse into older, discredited models of totalitarian or authoritarian governance. It's meant to suggest that the system of representative democracy -- too much representation, too little democracy -- needs some structural adjustment.

The question here, really, is what have we done to democracy? What have we turned it into? What happens once democracy has been used up? When it has been hollowed out and emptied of meaning? What happens when each of its institutions has metastasized into something dangerous? What happens now that democracy and the free market have fused into a single predatory organism with a thin, constricted imagination that revolves almost entirely around the idea of maximizing profit?

Is it possible to reverse this process? Can something that has mutated go back to being what it used to be? What we need today, for the sake of the survival of this planet, is long-term vision. Can governments whose very survival depends on immediate, extractive, short-term gain provide this? Could it be that democracy, the sacred answer to our short-term hopes and prayers, the protector of our individual freedoms and nurturer of our avaricious dreams, will turn out to be the endgame for the human race? Could it be that democracy is such a hit with modern humans precisely because it mirrors our greatest folly -- our nearsightedness?

Our inability to live entirely in the present (like most animals do), combined with our inability to see very far into the future, makes us strange in-between creatures, neither beast nor prophet. Our amazing intelligence seems to have outstripped our instinct for survival. We plunder the earth hoping that accumulating material surplus will make up for the profound, unfathomable thing that we have lost. It would be conceit to pretend I have the answers to any of these questions. But it does look as if the beacon could be failing and democracy can perhaps no longer be relied upon to deliver the justice and stability we once dreamed it would.

A Clerk of Resistance

As a writer, a fiction writer, I have often wondered whether the attempt to always be precise, to try and get it all factually right somehow reduces the epic scale of what is really going on. Does it eventually mask a larger truth? I worry that I am allowing myself to be railroaded into offering prosaic, factual precision when maybe what we need is a feral howl, or the transformative power and real precision of poetry.

Something about the cunning, Brahmanical, intricate, bureaucratic, file-bound, "apply-through-proper-channels" nature of governance and subjugation in India seems to have made a clerk out of me. My only excuse is to say that it takes odd tools to uncover the maze of subterfuge and hypocrisy that cloaks the callousness and the cold, calculated violence of the world's favorite new superpower. Repression "through proper channels" sometimes engenders resistance "through proper channels." As resistance goes this isn't enough, I know. But for now, it's all I have. Perhaps someday it will become the underpinning for poetry and for the feral howl.

Today, words like "progress" and "development" have become interchangeable with economic "reforms," "deregulation," and "privatization." Freedom has come to mean choice. It has less to do with the human spirit than with different brands of deodorant. Market no longer means a place where you buy provisions. The "market" is a de-territorialized space where faceless corporations do business, including buying and selling "futures." Justice has come to mean human rights (and of those, as they say, "a few will do").

This theft of language, this technique of usurping words and deploying them like weapons, of using them to mask intent and to mean exactly the opposite of what they have traditionally meant, has been one of the most brilliant strategic victories of the tsars of the new dispensation. It has allowed them to marginalize their detractors, deprive them of a language to voice their critique and dismiss them as being "anti-progress," "anti-development," "anti-reform," and of course "anti-national" -- negativists of the worst sort.

Talk about saving a river or protecting a forest and they say, "Don't you believe in progress?" To people whose land is being submerged by dam reservoirs, and whose homes are being bulldozed, they say, "Do you have an alternative development model?" To those who believe that a government is duty bound to provide people with basic education, health care, and social security, they say, "You're against the market." And who except a cretin could be against markets?

To reclaim these stolen words requires explanations that are too tedious for a world with a short attention span, and too expensive in an era when Free Speech has become unaffordable for the poor. This language heist may prove to be the keystone of our undoing.

Two decades of "Progress" in India has created a vast middle class punch-drunk on sudden wealth and the sudden respect that comes with it -- and a much, much vaster, desperate underclass. Tens of millions of people have been dispossessed and displaced from their land by floods, droughts, and desertification caused by indiscriminate environmental engineering and massive infrastructural projects, dams, mines, and Special Economic Zones. All developed in the name of the poor, but really meant to service the rising demands of the new aristocracy.

The hoary institutions of Indian democracy -- the judiciary, the police, the "free" press, and, of course, elections -- far from working as a system of checks and balances, quite often do the opposite. They provide each other cover to promote the larger interests of Union and Progress. In the process, they generate such confusion, such a cacophony, that voices raised in warning just become part of the noise. And that only helps to enhance the image of the tolerant, lumbering, colorful, somewhat chaotic democracy. The chaos is real. But so is the consensus.


Read more an article By Arundhati Roy ;http://www.countercurrents.org/roy280909.htm



Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Indian Corrupt officials listed on CVC website

The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has, for the first time, made public the names of 123 government officials against whom it has suggested prosecution or imposition of penalty for alleged corruption.

The CVC states on its website: “In furtherance of the transparency initiatives and the spirit of the Right to Information Act 2005, the Central Vigilance Commission has decided to regularly post info/details of cases pending for sanctions for prosecution over four months with organisations/departments.”

Earlier, the commission gave out only the number of allegedly corrupt officials, along with their departments.

The list of 123 allegedly corrupt officials was reportedly compiled in July and includes the names of 101 officials against whom the commission has suggested imposition of a major penalty. Of them, 17 work in nationalised banks, 13 in the Delhi Development Authority, 11 in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, nine in the ministry of railways and New India Assurance Company. The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation has 11 officials on the list.

Of the 22 remaining officers against whom prosecution proceedings have been advised, seven are from the home ministry -- four of them IPS officers, seven from the Central Board of Direct Taxes, and two from the Indian Forest Service.

Meanwhile, well placed sources said the Cabinet secretary has asked secretaries in various ministries not to delay sanction for prosecution of corrupt officials, warning that the CVC would make public the names of officials shielded by their departments.

Sources said the CVC is now working on updating the list with the names of officials whose departments have not yet granted sanction for prosecution or from whom the recommended penalties have not been recovered.

The updated lists will be put up on the website as part of the commission’s fight against corruption.


Source:
http://infochangeindia.org/200909187949/Right-to-Information/News/Corrupt-officials-listed-on-CVC-website.html


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Right to Education to cover all categories of disability

The human resource development (HRD) ministry has admitted that a section of the Right to Education (RTE) Act pertaining to “disadvantaged sections” will have to be changed as it does not cover all disabled children. According to the proposed amendment, the Act will now include children covered under the National Trust Act and any other law that deals with those suffering from mental as well as physical disorders.

This was reportedly conveyed by the HRD ministry to the prime minister’s office (PMO) recently. While the ministry was earlier planning to incorporate enabling provisions in the rules to be framed for the Act, it was later felt that rules alone would not suffice to meet the concerns of the disabled.

After being passed by Parliament in early August, the landmark legislation is now awaiting presidential consent. Indications are that the amendment will be moved later to ensure that all disabilities are covered under the Bill’s definition of “disability”.

Barely a week after the Act was passed, the prime minister’s office wrote to the HRD ministry asking it to ensure that the concerns of the disabled were addressed. HRD Minister Kapil Sibal assured both Parliament and the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) that all categories of disabled children would receive benefits under the RTE Act.

The RTE Act proposes free and compulsory education to all children aged between 6 and 14 years, making it binding on all public and private schools to reserve 25% of their seats for children from “disadvantaged sections”. Section 3 states that “disadvantaged sections” cover children with disabilities as specified under the Persons With Disabilities Act -- an Act that is not very comprehensive as it leaves out several disabilities like cerebral palsy, autism and other mental disorders.

The original Bill was at the centre of a row even before it was tabled in the Lok Sabha, with activists alleging that it deliberately excluded disabled children from its ambit. They claimed the Bill ignored the rights of disabled children by not providing for disabled-friendly facilities, not including “disability” within the definition of “disadvantaged sections”, and not including the mentally challenged within the definition of “disabled”. Activists say that where the Bill does define “disability”, it takes the meaning as given in the Disability Act 1995, which covers people with physical disabilities only.

Activists point out that India was one of the first countries to ratify the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in October 2007, which says: “State parties shall ensure that persons with disability are not excluded from the general education system on the basis of disability and that children with disabilities are not excluded from free and compulsory primary education or from secondary education on the basis of disability.”


Source: http://infochangeindia.org/200909227957/Education/News/Right-to-Education-to-cover-all-categories-of-disability.html



Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Vastra Samman (respect for clothes) Clothes Collection Drive at The Hub


As part of the Vastra Samman (respect for clothes) project we are placing a collection box at the Hub from 28thSept - 3rd Oct, 2009. The Vastra Samman project is an initiative of Goonj – an organization recycling and reusing clothing for the underprivileged.

If you have old / new clothes, umbrellas, used papers, school materials, books, old bicycles, toys etc, please come and donate. We welcome all of you to be a part of this initiative and support this endeavor throughout the Joy of Giving week.

Contact:

The Hub

4th Floor Candelar Building

26 St John Baptist Road

Bandra (W), Mumbai 400 050

Landmark - Above Dilshad Beauty Salon

Contact – 022 32220475

Email:

raheen.jummani@unltdindia.org

What is the Hub?

The Hub is a collaborative space for people with ideas and passion for social change to work out of, meet, connect, learn and grow. The Hub is an initiative of UnLtd India, a foundation supporting start up social entrepreneurs in India. Website – www.unltdindia.org




Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Prof. Cathy Greenblat’s Photo Exhibition “Living with Alzheimer’s”


On behalf of ARDSI (Alzheimer's & Related Disorders Society of India) we are pleased to inform you that during this year's (WAD) World Alzheimer’s Day 2009 extended programme we are organizing exhibition of Prof. Cathy’s photographs titles – “Living with Alzheimer’s”.


Prof. Cathy Greenblat is a world renowned photographer of people with dementia; has done several exhibition of her work across the globe and has won several awards. Two years ago she visited India and photographed some people with dementia. The author of 14 books and more than 100 articles Prof. Cathy Greenblat is Professor Emerita of Sociology at Rutgers University where she served for 35 years as a member of the Department of Sociology, Women’s Studies, and the Bloustein School of Planning.


Programme

Wed Sep 30th: 2pm to 4pm Presentation on "Seeing Dementia Differently” at Mini Auditorium, SVT College of Home Science, SNDT, Juhu Campus



Thu 1st Oct: 12.30 pm Presentation on 'Importance of Community Care for Dementia ‘ at full Day Programme of AISCCON (All India Confederation of Senior Citizens)on the occasion of World Elders Day programme at Vishnudas Bhave Natyagriha, Sector 16-A, Vashi, Navi Mumbai.


Fri 2nd Oct: 11am to 12.15 pm presentation on "Seeing Dementia Differently" at Shree Manav Seva Sangh , opp Gandhi Market, Sion.



Sat 3rd Oct: 3pm to 6pm Presentation on 'My Photograph for Dementia Care'. at Mini Auditorium, SNDT College, Juhu at World Elders Day programme of Silver Inning Foundation ' UMNAG' - the talent show for Elderly .Prof Cathy is Chief

Guest.


Mon 5th Oct: 3pm to 4.30 pm Presentation and Press Conference on 'Global Photo Documentation Experience of Dementia’ at Nalanda, Times Foundation, The Times of India Bldg, Dr,D.N.Road, Opp CST station, Mumbai – 400 001


5.30 to 6.45pm Presentation on ”Understanding Dementia Care through Photograph' at Harmony Center for Elderly at Thakurdwar ,Giragum, Mumbai.



Organised by

Alzheimer's & Related Disorders Society of India (ARDSI) in association with Silver Inning Foundation, Times Foundation, SVT College, AISCCON, Harmony for Silver Foundation and Shree Manav Seva Sangh



Contact:

Sailesh Mishra
Founder President - Silver Inning Foundation
Founder – ARDSI Greater Mumbai Chapter
Mobile: 0091 9819819145

Email: sailesh2000@gmail.com ; silverinnings@yahoo.co.in

www.silverinnings.com



Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Social Code for Business

In recent years, the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility had emerged as an increasingly importantly feature of the business philosophy. No longer is business seen as basing its decisions solely on economic criteria. Businesses are now excepted to consider the ethical, moral and social impact of their actions and decisions. A corporate that is sensitive to the surroundings and to the needs and aspirations of the community in which it operates not only creates goodwill and a strong market for its business, but also helps support a sustainable neighbourhood. We(UNDP & CII) list here a set of principles and standards for good corporate citizenship for voluntary adoption. Concern, understanding and responsibility are in the essence of this set of principles.
  • The Company affirms the interdependence of its enterprises with the well being and self–reliance of the community. This can be done by adopting an Article of Association on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) that advocates harmonising economic progress with social and environmental considerations
  • The Company has a specific written policy statement on CSR (social & environmental) which is in public domain
  • The Company has an explicit strategy on social and environmental issues that can be seen in the form of an Annual Work Plan mainstreamed with its business process
  • The Company has included CSR as part of its corporate communications including newsletters and there is reporting on CSR in the Company's Annual Report
  • The Company had a senior executive under the CEO responsible for CSR and managerial level officers tasked specifically with social and environment work. The CEO reviews the CSR programmes twice in a year
  • The Company ensures equal access to employment and promotion opportunities across gender and cultures through policies and programmes.
  • The Company had allocated specific resources for CSR activities and has monitoring system to track implementation process and impact
  • The Company demonstrates its CSR by providing an enabling environment for employees to volunteer that includes recognition and accounting for volunteer time
  • The Company is committed to document its learning experiences in terms of human achievements, contribution to the community, the learning for all stakeholders for sharing with local governments and development agencies
  • The Company is also known for the partnerships it builds with various development players in the fields to synergise all available opportunities to bring about holistic development of the local community
  • The Companies to expand the scope of learning from each other in their role of being good corporate citizens by way of exchanging data, views, implementation procedures and even exchange of expert personnel whenever necessary

Contact:
Confederation of Indian Industry
Plot No. 249–F, Sector 18
Udyog Vihar, Phase-IV
Gurgaon-122 015
Phone: 95-124-4014060-7
Fax: 95-124-4014057, 4014080
Email: ciico@ciionline.org


United Nations Development Programme
55 Lodi Estate,
New Delhi - 110 003
Phone : 91-11-24628877
Fax : 91-11-14627612
Internet : www.undp.org
Email : fo.India@undp.org



Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

A Letter to President of India by 75 yr old harrased Elderly

To Date: 7-09-09.

Smt. Pratibhatai Patil,

The President Of India,

Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi-110001.


Respected Madamji,


Sub: Apply Apply No Reply- - - Reforming the BABUDOM in 100 DAY PROGRAMME of the Present GOVERNMENT.


In your Opening Address to both the Houses of Parliament, you have promised that


`` An area of major focus for my Government would be reform of governance for effective delivery of public services. Reports of the Administrative Reforms Commission would guide the effort. Reform of structures in the higher echelons of government, increased decentralization, inclusion of women and youth in governance, process reform and public accountability would be key areas for focused action. As part of process reform, all proposals to the Cabinet will have to report on how the proposal under consideration will enhance the goals of equity or inclusion, innovation and public accountability. `


Even after 61 years of Independence, We have not been able to create an Efficient Machinery to deal with Grievances/Representations of our Citizens! Government has included the Reforming of BABUDOM in their Current Agenda for effective deliverance of Public Service and Home Minister has started some steps in this direction for his Departments but unless all concerned take this seriously, this may remain on paper, as with many such announcements in the past. I may bring out the Present Factual Position to your Notice for initiating proper & prompt action.


Generally, Public Contact Telephones are not attended most of the time. Automatic phones asking to dial 1 for this, 2 for that etc go on telling that `Your phone is very important to us and will be attended shortly` and gets you to the concerned authority rarely. All Public Phones should have recording system and when no one is available, grievance should get recorded.


All communications through Post Offices are very much delayed and even speed post take 5-6 days to reach. Prompt disposal of grievances is desirable. Although instructions appear to have been issued, no government department is using E/Mail for replying Grievances/Applications-Appeals under RTI etc. Most of the Public Authorities do not give their phone no. and mobile no. in their correspondence with public. Many of the Public Authorities do not give their full postal address with pin etc. Many of the Central Ministries do not indicate pin in their correspondence. Strict & clear instructions are required to be issued for this.


Inspite of voluminous instructions to Public Authorities for redressal of Public Grievances in a time bound manner as an integral part of governance (the last Volume of such instructions being ``Policy Guidelines for Redress of P.G.`` by Ministry of A.R. & P.G. in 2007 and ``Centralized P.G. Redressal & Monitoring System-CPGRAMS-Empowering Citizens-Enabling Government`` by same Ministry in 2009), there are many Public Authorities, which neither acknowledge nor reply any representations/grievances received by them!! The CONCERNED Public Authorities have developed a tendency of not getting CONCERNED for the Public, as they are the final AUTHORITIES of the Country!! It is very few Public Authorities like BEST, Mumbai Mahanagar Palika, Mumbai Mayor Etc, which promptly & properly reply all representations/grievances. Such Public Authorities must be recognized & rewarded at your level, so that others may get encouraged to follow them. The present position of Public Grievances is as under as per information given by Ministry of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances, the highest authority concerned with dealing of Public Grievances:-

Year: No. received.

2006 1,09,620

2007 1,01,995

2008 1,24,052

2009 52,933

(up to 30-6-09)



There is no record to indicate as to how many of this large number are solved or atleast replied and how many are still pending. As Ministry of A.R.& P.G. is refusing to chase or issue reminders for getting replies to such grievances reported to them, where is monitoring or solving grievances of citizens? This casual approach of only registering the grievance and carelessness of refusing to chase must be curbed and proper procedure to chase at appropriate levels till the matter gets finalized must be enforced!


As I did not get any reply from the Ministry of P.G. or any local or central Public Authorities to whom these grievances were forwarded by P.G. Cell for the following 4 grievances of citizens of our area for 2 years recorded in the portal http://pgportal.gov.in, I requested for position under RTI Act from the Ministry, replies of which indicate the factual position of helpless citizens in respect of dealing with their genuine and real grievances!!

i) DAPRG/E/2007/07477 dt 25-10-07 for non-provision of 3-4 lights in a big Public Garden provided by MHADA-Maharashtra Housing And Area Development Authority open from 5-30 in the morning to 10 in the night for children, ladies and all citizens, as our efforts at local level from 1-11-05 did not bring any result.

ii) DARPG/E/2007/07480 dt 25-10-07 for RTO, Thane not taking any action to get rickshaws run on meter in Mira-Bhayander Area of most developed city of Mumbai!

iii) DEPOJ/E/2008/00048 dt 1-5-08 for Department of Justice under Ministry of Law & Justice not giving the copies of required instructions about preference being given to court cases of senior citizens nor giving any reply inspite of repeated reminders and request from Ministry of

S.J. & E. and CIC, Delhi.

iv) DOPAT/E/2008/00034 dt 22-5-08 for Chief Information Commissioner, the highest authority of the Country to get information to the citizens, not giving any acknowledgement/registration no. to IInd Appeals/Complaints sent to him nor intimating reasons for rejecting any appeals/complaints.


Reply received under no. H-18011/80/2009 PG(RTI)dt 10-7-09 gives the following position:-

i) There is no Grievance Cell in this Ministry of P.G. and it is only a Policy Formulating Department and has no mandate to examine or redress any grievances, though it has to closely monitor the redressal of grievances!!

ii) Maximum time limit for redressal is 60 days.

iii) For my first 2 grievances, these were forwarded to Maharashtra Government on 29-10-07 and other 2 were directly lodged with those departments and this Ministry has no details thereof.

iv) I was advised to lodge my grievances with Mumbai Municipal Corporation, though none of the two pertained to Municipal Corporation.


As this did not give the required information, I requested to give proper information for which the reply was received vide their letter no. H-18011/80/2009PG (RTI) dt 30-7-09, which indicates the following:-

i) Monitoring by this Department is prescribed for Central Ministries only and there also this Department monitors only some selected grievances only!

ii) This Department received 12995 grievances in 2007; 49247 in 2008 and 39022 in 2009 up to June, 09 but no position is available for how many solved/replied.

iii) There is no Monitoring Cell under the System and all my grievances pertain to local municipality and I have a tendency to collect matters that are to be settled by 4-5 different authorities. This confuses the issue and does not convey what the person is actually asking for. This way of reply clearly indicates the whims, pride and prejudice of the highly paid OFFICER, who goes on giving such irresponsible casual reply even after repeatedly told that these do not pertain to Municipality and all the 4 are recorded separately!!

iv) No reminders are issued nor required to be issued to either Municipality in Mumbai or to Central Ministries for your grievances, as this Ministry has no quasi-judicial power (even) to monitor!!


It would be observed from above factual position as to how Public Grievances are dealt with and self frustrations, whims, pride, prejudice towards citizens are reflected in replies even at the level of Under Secretary of such a P.G. Machinery! This highest Machinery is stated to be neither Grievance Cell nor Monitoring Cell but is to be considered as POST OFFICE!!


Similar position exists at highest local level also! Many of the local Public Authorities do not give any reply to any representations even after several reminders! Shri Ashok Chavan, Chief Minister of Maharashtra on taking over as CM announced that citizens can directly approach him for grievances and gave his personal E/Mail address, stating that he would personally ensure that grievances are solved within 8-10 days by departments. I sent him 4 grievances of citizens of our area to his E/Mail as well as letter dt 31-12-08. No action/reply is given by him or any one for these 4 grievances inspite of several reminders to CM., though 9 months have passed instead of 8-10 days, as promised. Last general reply received from his Secretiate under no. mumansa/09/6/708 dt 15-7-09 received on 14-8-09 advises in clear words that this Secretiate is only a POST OFFICE and its working is limited to forwarding representation to concerned department and it is for citizen to pursue with the concerned departments!


As this is the factual position at the level of Chief Minister & Highest Grievance Ministry at Centre, you may like to get the whole issue of solving P.G. examined seriously and sincerely at appropriate level for fulfilling your promise in your Opening Address of reforming this BABUDOM. Second Administrative Reforms Commission in its 12 th Report had given clear recommendations for a legislation on lines of RTI but these were rejected by Government, as it may result in turf war between the executive & judiciary, as advised by Ministry of ARPG in their above letter. As per Media Report before few months, The Parliamentary Standing Committee had recommended to set up an Effective Public Grievance Redressal Mechanism in every office on lines of RTI Act. The Mechanism should be accessible, simple, quick, fair, responsive and effective and should be set within 30 days. More than 6 months have passed to this Press Report but nothing is visible. You may like to get this expedited.




M.V.Ruparelia
mvrup@yahoo.co.in


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.