The forgotten ones in Gujarat’s growth story

Iscon Mega Mall, Ahmedabad | Image:
Iscon Mega Mall, Ahmedabad | Image:

In the midst of the fabulous growth story of Gujarat, where the malls, swanky roads, high rise buildings and booming economy always dominate stories, there are a certain group who feel left out from the benefits of such infrastructure.

These people are the disabled who are vulnerable and face great hardships every day. In Baroda, I was informed by the various NGO’s from whom, I had previously worked for, who said the government haven’t really done much for them, infact they felt the government has even taken away a few privileges the disabled had in their favour. In one case, the Gujarat government has in principal given 4% of Government jobs of Class III and IV posts which are reserved for the physically handicapped persons, but in our investigation, when we went to check some government offices, we saw only one handicapped person in the office who was sitting isolated from the rest of the office. Mr Hardik who is a handicap, works in the office as the sole handicapped worker said “. The officers here show the names of former handicap employees who worked here to claim that the 4% of the quota has been filled and hence no new handicap person can be employed. It is a sad state of affairs, how could they deny jobs to handicap by presenting the 4% quota to be filled? We are vulnerable people; we cannot really fight against this all the time.”

In terms of Public transport, the situation is worse. The Gujarat State Transport Corporation (GSTRC) has given 100% concession to the blind and their escorts in State buses. Other categories of disabled are also provided 100% concession and 50% concession to their escorts along with special seats reserved for them, but the ground reality is that no GSTRC bus had any special seats reserved for them, handicap travelers even complained that the concession wasn’t really given to them by the conductors and claimed that they even threaten to throw them out if they didn’t pay up the full rates. In Cities, very few malls have created special steps and staircase for the disabled to enter the building without problems despite a rule by the Government.

The question now is, will the government help create special infrastructure and bring strict check to the existing laws to help the disabled?

Manchester United’s rejection dilemma

With just two days remaining in the transfer window, Moyes needs to make a big midfield signing | Image:

Manchester United have been  prioritizing midfield targets ever since Moyes took charge, as they look to add to their squad before Monday night’s transfer deadline.

ESPN quotes club sources at Old Trafford as saying that manager David Moyes is “utterly determined” to bolster options in this part of the team. There are also suggestions that United are keen to restructure their midfield and are looking for a signing “in the mold of Yaya Toure”. Everton’s Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines have been heavily linked with a switch to the Premier League champions, while Athletic Bilbao president Josu Urruita recently confirmed Moyes’s interest in Ander Herrera, which they rejected and AS Roma’s Daniel De Rossi reportedly turning down United’s offer, wanting to stay at his childhood club.

However, there is a pattern emerging from all these bids which seems to be worrying Manchester United fans a lot, which is why are all these players rejecting to play for United? The problem seems to be the cut price money being offered by United, which seems to interpreted as derisory by other clubs.

Manchester United  have to realize that to get the players they want, we will have to pay the market price. It is the way the market is at the moment.  By putting in bids knowing that they are bound to be rejected, leak the bids to appease the fans and then claim that there is no value in the market, only backfires on the club as valuable time gets wasted in trying to sign a player and leaves a bad impression on the club’s image. Take Fellaini for example. He had a buy out clause that United didn’t take Everton up on, which then got expired and United only then bid lower to his buyout price. They predictably refused the bid which means, if United try to buy him now, they will probably have to pay more than what his buyout clause was. That is  mismanagement of the highest order, even now Herrara was subjected to a bid which was €30m and he has a buyout of €36m. 20% is not  really that much of an increase that it should stop United from bidding for a player  who would improve the team, tremendously for a position they need to fill.

If Manchester United need to really strengthen their squad and reduce their chances of rejection from other clubs, then it is high time, they started offering what actually is the market price for a football player.

Manchester United’s mid-field muss

MUFC manager David Moyes | Image Source:

David Moyes has highlighted the need for additional options in central midfield at Manchester United, which was bizarrely ignored by Sir Alex Ferguson for over 5 years. Not a single player was bought by United’ former boss to play in that position. Not only is there is a need for good players to play in the midfield at Old Trafford, but also a stagnation in that position.

Despite Manchester United’s Premier League title victory last season, many pundits suggested that the Red Devils’ midfield was below par. Although Michael Carrick had a good season, he did have off days and is arguably heading into the twilight of his career. With Paul Scholes also retiring and Darren Fletcher still having health problems [Anderson being inconsistent and injury prone], David Moyes knows that he needs to strengthen his midfield to get his first season at Manchester United off to a good start.

Currently, the midfield has huge pressure to match the quality of Xavi, Pirlo, Sweinsteiger, Alonso or  Iniesta which is just isn’t going to happen in the short future. The quality of that sorts and talent isn’t there at present. What Manchester United really needs is a powerhouse in the area. A tough-tackling midfielder snapping at the oppositions heels, forcing them into mistakes. Someone who can win the ball and urge the team forward. A leader. Someone like a Roy Keane.

Whether it is any of the aforementioned or perhaps someone who is under the radar (the usual way United do business), it is evident that there is a pressing concern regarding the depth of the squad in midfield, and it is of major significance to Moyes. Will he go with what he knows and trusts? Or will he venture outside of distant shores out of England? These are questions of an uncertain nature in an uncertain time at Old Trafford, but as Gary Neville said last week “I am excited because there is a lot more uncertainty about what’s going to happen next season.”

Outrage over Amartya Sen’s Economic Policy critique unjustified

Dr Amartya Sen | Image Courtesy:
Dr Amartya Sen | Image Courtesy:

“I don’t want Modi to be the Prime Minister of my country”.  This statement from Amartya Sen sparked a lot of outrage from Modi supporters and the BJP. However, what was lost among people, who were criticizing Sen for his comments, was that he didn’t attack Modi for his communal nature alone, but even his economic model.

This leads us to the question: What exactly was his point? Speaking to the Guardian, Sen explained that half of all Indians do not have access to toilets and basic sanitation. “In Delhi when you build a new condominium, there are lots of planning requirements, but none relating to the servants having toilets”, he said. “It’s a combination of class, caste and gender discrimination. It’s absolutely shocking. Poor people have to use their ingenuity and for women that can mean only being able to relieve themselves after dark with all the safety issues that entails”. He also added that Bangladesh is much poorer than India and yet only 8% don’t have access to a toilet.

Sen’s argument is that India’s overriding preoccupation with economic growth (something Modi and BJP keep bragging about) makes no sense without recognizing that human development depends on how that wealth is used and distributed. What is the purpose of a development model that produces luxury shopping malls rather than sanitation systems that ensure millions of healthy lives, asks Sen, accusing India of “unaimed opulence”. India is caught in the absurd paradox of people having mobile phones but no toilets.

Hence, people looking to blame him need to understand that Amartya Sen is not a politician. He is not of  a political party. It is politicians’ and political parties’ job to plan solutions. It is the job of economists like Amartya Sen to critique their work, and Sen just happens to be very good at it.  His Nobel Prize is testimony. He is not the only one to point out on what needs to be planned. It is the voting public’s job to choose the politician’s plan they most prefer to be legislated and implemented. All he said is that the current economic policy discourse in the media, the Political parties or any Corporate Giants do not offer any viable solutions to the long term inclusive growth in India and that needs to be corrected.

India, and most of all Narendra Modi, should take notice of Sen’s words not as a harsh shove, but rather an inquiring pat on the back to question what all is wrong.

Ramzan begins, lavish Iftar parties avoided

A child prepares for Iftar in Delhi | Image source:

With the sighting of new moon on Wednesday, the Muslim month of fasting, Ramzan, had begun on this Thursday. Muslims will spend the month in prayers, reflection and seeking divine blessings along with eating elaborate dishes at Iftar and dinner.

In this month, there is an abstinence from food, water and sex during the day time and holding extensive prayer sessions in Ramzan is an exercise to contain greed and lust as directed by the Quran. The divine command makes Muslims fast irrespective of their economic condition/gender or race. At the end of Ramzan, Eid will be celebrated around the world which is scheduled at the August of 9th as per the lunar calender.

The trend of throwing lavish Iftar parties during Ramzan seems to be on the wane with even the regular hosts choosing to keep the social event off their calendars, with a result that networking and socialising at these parties has seen a significant decline.

Observers peg the drop to a variety of reasons. While some have been abstaining on accord of the incessant rains this monsoon, others say that they will cease to host elaborate Iftar dinners as “few stand to gain” from them.

Take for instance Hansain Saberi, a prominent city-based entrepreneur, who for the past eight years has been hosting Iftar parties for around 500 people at Aziz Bagh, his ancestral home in Noorkhan Bazaar. This year, however, is going to be different. “I do not intend to host a party this year. There is an increased awareness in the community that it is better to help the poor than throw Iftars. Charity is central to Ramzan. This is said in mosques and is being encouraged by a large number in the community including my elders,” Saberi says.

Noted philanthropist Zahid Ali Khan too has vowed not to host large Iftar events this year. “It is more important to feed the lesser-privileged, not just in Ramzan but also in other months,” he says. Terming the parties as ‘social networking platforms’, Zafar Javeed, who has been working in the field of minorities education says: “Muslims leaders now know that Iftar parties mean little. They have become more focussed and realise they should look at avenues that will fetch them results. They want loans for businesses. They need scholarships which are adequate along with proper implementation of the PM’s 15-point programme.”

Wali Khan, another businessman, too has observed the shift in trend. He notes that a saturation point has been reached over the years. Apart from charity, he believes that it is the monsoon which has dampened the party spirit this year. “Many homes are not equipped to handle big crowds. Making arrangements outside in this weather is cumbersome. This is another reason why Iftar parties are declining,” he said. That notwithstanding, intimate family get-togethers are commonplace this season, he adds.

Political parties, both large and small, are scheduled to host Iftar parties in the last 10 days of Ramzan with the chief minister’s Iftar gathering slated on August 2. Other political parties are likely to host Iftar dinners too. “We have been busy preparing for Narendra Modi’s visit. But we will definitely host an Iftar party soon,” said BJP Minority Morcha president FS Layaq Ali.


Red Devils’ Legend Giggs hits another landmark, appointed player-coach

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Ryan Giggs has been appointed as a player-coach at  Manchester United with immediate effect, the club have confirmed.

Often linked with the United manager’s job at some point in the future, the 39-year-old has been taking his coaching badges and is due to earn the Uefa Pro Licence next summer. He signed a new one-year deal in March and will combine playing with his new duties.

“It’s no secret that I have been taking my qualifications and I see this as the first step in my future career,” said Giggs. “I’m really looking forward to working alongside David Moyes and the team.”

Moyes said: “I’m delighted that Ryan has accepted the chance to become player coach. His success and ability to adapt his game over a number of years gives him an unrivalled perspective on the modern game. His career is an example to any aspiring young player and I’m sure that both he and the players will benefit from his new role.”

Giggs, who won a record 13th Premier League title last season, will be an invaluable aid to Moyes as he learns the ropes, with the Scot due to face the media alongside skipper Nemanja Vidic on Friday afternoon.

Having confirmed Steve Round, Chris Woods and Jimmy Lumsden were following him from Everton, concern had been expressed about the lack of United experience in Moyes’s backroom team following his appointment as Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor.

However, the appointment of Giggs and Phil Neville’s return to Old Trafford have gone some way to allaying those concerns.



Apex Court dismisses plea against Ranbaxy Laboratories

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a PIL seeking a probe against Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd for allegedly manufacturing and selling substandard medicines due to lack of evidence against the company.

A bench of justices A K Patnaik and Ranjan Gogoi, however, allowed the petitioner advocate M L Sharma to file a fresh petition if he finds some evidence against the company in support of his allegation that the company is engaged in manufacturing and selling substandard drugs.

The bench said that it cannot decide the plea against the company on the basis of a judgement passed by a US court against Ranbaxy.

“Your entire argument is based on proceedings in US. We have no jurisdiction over it. Show us material that things are happening in India and it adversely affects right to life of people here,” the bench observed adding, “Where is the material against Ranbaxy”.

“No material has been placed to show that drugs manufactured by any unit of Ranbaxy are substandard, adulterated, spurious and that such drugs are prohibited under the law. In absence of such material, we cannot entertain the plea,” the bench said.

Read the entire story through this link.