Pilferage, Suicides and Diwali Anks

So I have been reading a lot to improve my ‘GK’. 😛 I have been reading several old Outlook magazines that I had subscribed but hadn’t had time to read. Thought I will do a roundup of articles that made an impact on me. Some of the news is a year old.

Grains rotting away, subsidies not reaching poor

I will start with my pet peeve. In a vast country like ours where millions starve, tonnes of food grains rot in rat-infested government godowns. On top of that, disbursed amounts of food grains do not reach poor.

According to planning Commission’s 11th (2007-12) report, only 6.1 million of 14.1 million tonnes, allocated to BPL (below poverty line) people, reached the target people in 2003-04. In 2005, only 42% of the subsidised grains issued reached people!

Reason: massive pilferage and diversion of grains. Bihar and Punjab top the list. When people go to fair price shop, they so not find their rations. This occurs in connivance with local politicians. On top of it, 40% of BPL cardholders are bogus. You now that report about rampant corruption in India by Transparency International stands correct (though there was never any doubt in my mind.) Once this situation had gone so bad, people started beating up fair price shop dealers in frustration in West Bengal.

One state that deserves a mention for dealing with this problem is Chattisgarh. Food grains are delivered at the door-steps of fair priced shops in GPS-enabled trucks. All the 10, 000 shops in the state are being uploaded online along with the complete list of BPL cardholders. Plan is to eventually track off take of food grains by all 32 lakh card holders. This process sounds good, but let’s see how soon and effectively is it implemented.

Now that Bihar is flooded, you can imagine how relief work would be taking place there. I hope politicians do not eat into poor people’s food. Folks at Jain Hind blog (where I used to write) have joined hands with the organisation Doctors For You to raise funds for the people affected in the Bihar floods. Click here to donate.

Indian Brides of Southall (News a year ago)

Another news report says that several Punjabi, specifically Sikh brides from Southall were committing suicide at railway tracks. (Shefaly, have you heard any such news recently?) Mostly these women were victim of domestic violence, domestic slavery (now who coined this term?) and adultery. Reportedlly, the ma-in-laws reportedly, after collecting dowry, couldn’t care less if their daughter-in-laws died. They do their best to drive them out of homes. These Indian brides have no one to turn to in an alien country and are loathe telling their parents for fear of ridicule. Death seems to be better option. It hurts to know this. Why these women did not have survival instincts that could override the fear of ridicule or shame? Was it that bad that it defied their natural instincts to live and survive?

Diwal Ank

On a lighter note, we will have both Dusshera and Diwali next month. I was reading an article how Marathis celebrate their Diwalis with traditional magazines called Ank. These are magazines published specifically during Diwali time that offer articles, essays, short stories, poetry, cartoons and translations. Some of the famous ones are Mouj, Akshar, Dipotsav and Nav Manoos. This a said to be 100-year -old tradition unique to Maharshtra.

However, some people feel that these aanks may need to attract younger readers too with shift in subject range. Last year 5 lakh copies were sold in Maharashtra. I find that interesting, I would like to see a copy of an ank this Diwali. Nita, are you listening? 😛

Here’s one I found at scribd.

25 Responses to “Pilferage, Suicides and Diwali Anks”

  1. 1 Ish September 2, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    I haven’t read the complete post yet but something caught my eye in the second last paragraph. You said we have Diwali and Dussehra next week. Paanch minute ke liye I was so happy ki next week do holidays! Then I realized kuch gadbad hai. Diwali toh October mein hoti hai. Isliye please correct it, log faltoo mein excite hote rahenge. 😛

  2. 3 Xylene September 2, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    And we have onam Next week ! 🙂 Hoorayyy.

    Oh! Am out of college and working. we aint got any holidays

  3. 4 Reema September 2, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    “On a lighter note, we will have both Dusshera and Diwali next week”

    I think u mean next month..its Sept now!! Even in Bengal all the leading magazines and newspapers publish a Pujo Shonkha meaning Puja Issue/Edition which has short stories, poems,articles etc. as per the magazine regular features.

  4. 5 Amit September 2, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    Now its your turn. Correct the mistake of Diwali otherwise very soon there will be a committee sitting on this. 😛
    About the Brides, I remember this news came sometime back.

  5. 6 Den Relojo September 3, 2008 at 12:08 am

    What is “GK”?

  6. 8 Poonam Sharma September 3, 2008 at 9:44 am

    @All: Corrected, guys! I meant month..of course. 🙂

    @Ish: That’s bad, you didn’t read the whole thing. Read it and comment again. 🙂

    @Xylene: That’s the same kind of reaction I have when I think of festivals. Wish we could have old days back.

    @Reema: You are right, in bengal they do have Pujo Shonkha but I have not seen any popular known magazines. They mostly seem makeshift effot in form of tabloids. I stayed there for few years in Haldia in a sheltered Industrial town and port, so my experience may not be completely correct.

    @Amit: Corrected. IT seems like Committee already sat and refused to pass judgement on other things till I corrected it. 🙂

    Yes, this news is a year old, last September. I am not sure if it happens yet.

    @Den Relojo: GK is General Knowledge. One of the bloggers teased me that anout writing GK-type posts. 🙂

  7. 9 Mahak September 3, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    Food crisis is world wide..conditions in Haiti are worst as now the poor economy hit country is fighting with cyclone….mothers are feeding mud cakes to their kids…I get tears in my eyes…its very sad……
    People are havng troube in South Africe..my friend is from there and she is so worried about her family back there….

  8. 10 Sakhi September 3, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    hmmm…. sad to see where so many people go without food, so much of food go to waste and we get upset of suicides only when we read it in news papers.. but this is so common in India! 😦

    And its already Diwali next month? OMG, time simply flies! 🙂 i am waiting for navratri so that we can go and dance the whole night for nine days… hurray! 🙂 🙂

  9. 11 Nita September 3, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    a lot of food is wasted in india. real rats eat one half and the other half in nibbled away by human rats in the form of corrupt officials. if we didn’t have this problem, india would not have a single starving person.

  10. 12 arvind September 3, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    we jhope that relief fund goes properly to the needy .but i know we are hoping against the hope ..now niteshkumar has ansked for more releif fund . 😦 ..

  11. 13 vimal September 3, 2008 at 11:36 pm

    The Govt should have some measure to have a check on the ration supply. I personally know a lot of families in my native who takes advantage of the situation. and they arent ashamed,even a little bit, to enjoy such unworthy privileges.

    Lot of Indian holidays, but cant enjoy any of them, cuz those damn americans dont !!! 😦 Eagerly waiting for Onam though !

    Btw, what is ‘G.K.” ? 😀

  12. 14 Roop Rai September 4, 2008 at 2:12 am

    In UK, they’re committing suicides … in Canada, they’re being killed by husbands … i really wonder why women still clutch on to the demureness, the value of honor on their head, etc etc and continue to live in abusive relationships or kill themselves because of it as opposed to rallying together against it in vast numbers. Education should be used as a tool to bring that about isn’t it?

    as for food, bad agricultural practices coupled with bad storage = food crisis in india …. my thoughts on food crisis: http://roopscoop.wordpress.com/2008/05/07/thoughts-on-global-food-crisis/

  13. 15 Shefaly September 4, 2008 at 3:08 am

    @ Poonam:

    I did not have to hear this. In 2005, I used to work in Oxford and was taking a train to Paddington to get on the Heathrow Express to catch a flight. It was a weekend of flight chaos with BA staff striking. Near Southall, where the train did not stop, there was a loud thud and a large cloud of dust rose. And we all went, “Now what?”. We figured that a Sikh woman had jumped in front of the high speed train with 3 children. We had to sit there till the ambulance crew came and the police came and their bodies were scraped from the train and the tracks. The driver was shaken so they had to change and get us a new one. Needless to say I did not catch a flight that evening but I did wonder what kind of desperation leads someone to jump in front of a train.

    Southall is a multicultural ghetto. I used to live in Berkshire earlier and the CID neighbour had plenty stories to tell us of black-black, black-white, white-white, black-brown, black&brown on white etc gang warfare between those from Southall and those from Slough. Amongst all this, do you think anyone stops to care for the women? I have been to Southall once although it was my misfortune to cross it on my way to London from my house in Berkshire. Their railway station’s name is written in Gurmukhi – not sure if this is a sign of welcome from Britain or proof positive that decades after moving here, the immigrants are still in time warp which determines their values and behaviours.

    Before my disgust for the place becomes truly evident, I should stop with one mention for Southall Black Sisters. It is a non profit which was established in 1979 to help Asian and Afro-Caribbean women who were victims of domestic violence and abuse. It is nothing new; it is an epidemic and now covered in the news.

  14. 16 Roop Rai September 4, 2008 at 6:04 am

    Their funding was also undercut recently, wasn’t it, Shefaly? Southall Black Sisters’, that is.

    Poonam: something for u on me blog. oh i feel so wrong hawking it though.

  15. 17 Shefaly September 4, 2008 at 11:25 am

    @ Poonam:

    This will interest you.


    @ Roop:

    I don’t know. They are funded by a broad range of trusts so I am sure their resources are fairly diversified in origin.

  16. 18 Poonam Sharma September 4, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    @Mahak: Yes, I ahve read how they sell children there for little money to buy food. I hope your friends survives through whole thing soon.

    @Sakhi: yes, we do have women suicides in India. Here, more farmers have been commiting suicide for last few years. 😦

    So we can expect navratara posts and pictures on your other blog. 🙂

    @Nita: I just wish we had more of citizen volunteers and NGOs to oversee these relief and ration procedures. But on second thoughts, it sounds lame to have one more person to wath another.

    @Arvind: We need young volunteers who ensure relief reaches the needy. I read on some blog where person was saying peopel happily pay chanda for ganesh chaturthi and other festrivals but will think twice for paying for reliefs for fear it will never reach the needy. I dont remember who wrote it. 😦

    @Vimal: GK? 😛

    Some well to do families taking advantage of ration. 😦 Sad. I hope you have a nice Onam. Finish your TV series soon, you build up suspense like :Johnny Gaddar”. 😛

    @Roop: THnaks for the link of your post. I read it. It was quite exhaustive expression of thoughts. 🙂

    As for women clinging to abusive relationships, we have heard that before. 😦 Like your story of X, it was abuse. Mahak’s latest post is also about this, inspired by real life incident.

    @Shefaly: That’s a sad experience. I have heard in movies Southhall being used as derogatory habitat for desis. But I have never figured what makes is disgusting? Desi’s attitude or their economic conditions? And this article about sex workers in London is also sad. Previously, people would go abroad in hope of golden minefields, who would imagine this?

  17. 19 Shefaly September 4, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    @ Poonam:

    Disgusting is a word for my reaction to a combination of things, mostly attitudinal. Being poor is no crime in my book. Anyway here, very rich and very poor people travel cheek by jowl in trains.

    Southall is very dirty. At the best of times, London can be dirty too but Southall does not get nearly as many millions of tourists every day as Central and West London does. Most Asians, who get on and off the train, do not speak any English whatsoever although many have been here since the 1960s. Driving is like in India with little regard to rules and regulations. As I mentioned, there is plenty of social disturbance that emerges from there too although it is a multi-cultural suburb which is I suppose a good thing.

    As for the sex workers, UK is one of the biggest destinations of trafficked humans. The news article would therefore not surprise anyone …

  18. 20 Roop Rai September 4, 2008 at 9:34 pm


    http://shirazsocialist.wordpress.com/2008/02/23/save-southall-black-sisters/ … in February 2008

    but then

    in july 2008, things turned around

    “Most Asians, who get on and off the train, do not speak any English whatsoever although many have been here since the 1960s. ”

    I agree. I think the problem with UK is the concept of ghettoism. Desis live together … black people live together … rich gore live together … and so on … there is no ‘integration’ that the government keeps talking about endlessly. Plus i didn’t find England immigrant friendly at all. They openly dislike immigration .. even on their media. Mostly in fear of their jobs but they blame the dilution of their ‘english culture and society’. this is something that can be written a lot more about. a few sentences do no justice …. but i am not in UK anymore … have safely distanced myself from the country. thank god it was not longer than a year. didn’t like it … except the ‘life in london’ which is forever exciting.

  19. 21 Roop Rai September 4, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    what i also meant to add is

    although ‘integration’ is widely talked about, it’s just not practiced. you’d rarely find a son or a daughter of an immigrant indian parent driving a taxi just like his/her father in US or Canada … however, in UK, it was common. I feel ghettoism and lack of integration (due to unacceptance of british public and part due to lack of efforts on ethnic groups) leads to lack of growth.

  20. 22 Reema September 4, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    The blog that u have mentioned in ur reply to Arvind is mine 🙂

  21. 23 Poonam Sharma September 7, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    @Shefaly: I didn’t mean being poor was crime. I meant to ask why South gets derogatory reference from snobs in movies, especially Gurinder Chadha movies. I ahd no idea that UK was big destination for human trafficking.

    @Roop Rai: I agree Brits are big racists but after several years integration (with them) hasn’t happened. Any particular reason?

    @Reema: That shows how regularly I read your blog. Only with my punitive memory, I didn’t remember whose it was. 😦

  22. 24 Swap October 23, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    Wishing a very happy diwali to every one.

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