Juveniles vs. Justice System

Yerwada Observation home for juveniles
A juvenile observation home at Yerwada, Pune

The latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) figures paint a grim picture of the state of juvenile crimes in Maharashtra. The state tops the list in the number of juveniles arrested on charges of theft, robbery, burglary and attempt to murder, is second to Madhya Pradesh on charges of murder and third on charges of rape by juveniles (preceded by MP and UP). However, if the Social Security Cell of the Pune Police is to be believed, juvenile crimes are not a serious problem in the state.

“There is barely any crime committed by juveniles in Maharashtra and it’s even less in Pune,” said Assistant Police Inspector (API) Ashwini Jagtap of the Social Security Cell, ignoring the NCRB figures. Even more alarming is the fact the juvenile justice system in Pune, the second largest metropolis in Maharashtra, seems to be suffering from a number of serious drawbacks.

According to Advocate Rekha Navlani of the Maharashtra State Child Protection Society (MSCPS), the juvenile justice system in Pune is working perfectly. “The government has ensured that there is a trained officer at every police station to deal with juveniles in conflict with law,” she said. “The Maharashtra government has also established a Juvenile Aid Police Unit to deal with offenders below the age of 18”. The situation on the ground, though, seems far from perfect. The Juvenile Aid Police Unit, which was supposed to have been established in 2003, comes under the purview of the Social Security Cell. However, when asked about such a unit, the officers at the cell seemed unaware of its existence. “There is no special unit to deal with juveniles. The same police officers deal with both, juveniles and adult offenders,” said API Ashwini Jagtap, belying the claims of the MSCPS. Police officers at various police stations in the city also seem equally oblivious. “We don’t have any officers for juvenile offenders. The Social Security Cell deals with such crimes,” said an officer at a Shivaji Nagar Police station. The response was the same at a police station in Yerwada, situated barely a kilometer from the Jawahar Lal Nehru Udyog Kendra, an observation home for juvenile offenders.

The problem is not limited merely to the Police. While the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act clearly states that every inquiry by the board should be completed within four months, the officials at the MSCPS admitted that most cases take between 6 to 12 months. This has led to a huge backlog of cases in the Juvenile Justice Board in Pune, with more than 1,200 pending cases. The pace of clearance is also slow, with only 36 cases cleared from April 1, 2012 to January 1, 2013.

It is evident that the Pune Police and the Juvenile Justice Board are far from ready to deal with crimes involving juveniles. Lack of trained officers coupled with a severe lack of coordination among various branches of the police machinery can be held responsible for this. If the situation is Pune is seen as a reflection of the conditions prevailing in the state, there is still a lot left to be done.

Calyx-ZTE tie up to boost sales

ZTE Corporation has announced its intent to foray into the Indian open market with its smart phones and tablets by announcing its partnership with Pune-based Calyx Telecommunications (a part of the Calyx Group). In order to bolster a pan-India presence for ZTE, this partnership will see Calyx in charge of distribution, sales and marketing while ZTS will provide ‘best in class’ products and post sales services.

Announcing the tie-up, Xu Dejun, CEO, ZTE India said, “As we foray into the handset open market, we are delighted to partner with Calyx Telecommunications. Backed by our strong portfolio and R&D capabilities supported by Calyx Telecommunications strong financing background and distribution channels, we expect to emerge as a key player in the Indian smartphone arena. Globally, ZTE is the 4th largest handset manufacturer and we are certain to strengthen our position in India, which is a key growth propeller for us, contributing to 10% of our overall revenues. We feel it is a perfect synergy between two companies who share the same vision of empowering the Indian handset market.”

“We are delighted in partnering with ZTE which is one of the most reputed players in the telecom sector. This partnership will substantially help us broaden our portfolio into the telecom sector. We are also sure that ZTE will find immense benefits with this relationship, which will help both the companies, emerge as strong players in the Indian market.” Executive Director of Calyx Telecommunications, Dr. Gaurav Somani said. He went on to add that the distribution network would initially focus on five states, i.e., Maharashtra, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Gujarat with 60 cities and towns connected through 7000 touch points. However ZTE products in all major states would be available by the end of October 2013.

ZTE’s initial portfolio in the Indian market will comprise five types of smartphone models ranging from Rs 5799 to Rs 14,999. It will be followed with the introduction of Tablet PCs.

The Political Game Show

20th Asian Athletics Championships in Pune, July 3 – July 7.

The game of politics has never remained a constant theory to make accurate calculations and assumptions. In India, it seems to be even more complex. In a move which looks like a step of her campaign against the Sri Lankan government after the emergence of probable new evidence of war crimes, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa took the decision that her State would not host the 20th Asian Athletics Championships this year. In a statement, she said that the participation of Sri Lankan athletes would hurt the feelings of the Tamils. Ms. Jayalalithaa also said that her government wrote to the AAA, seeking the exclusion of the Sri Lankan contingent from the event. This was in view of the Sri Lankan government acting repeatedly against Tamils.

Such game of politics is not new in our country and the Central government should have kept in mind the regional aspirations of the State government before asking them to host the event. Similarly, the State government should also think about the international image of the country especially when we talk about India emerging as an Asian Giant. While it is always credible to have a stand on serious issues, at times we must have the sportsman spirit as well. Interestingly the event was not only rejected by Tamil Nadu but also by Jharkhand and Delhi for reasons better known to them.

Amidst months of uncertainty and indecisiveness, the Asian Athletics Championships was finally decided to be held in Pune’s Balewadi Stadium from July 3rd to 7th. Citing the difficulties the AFI faced all along, its secretary-general C.K. Valson said, “Of course, it would have been terribly shameful for the whole country had we been forced to back out of our commitment. But thankfully, all our worries are almost over as we have now that the Maharashtra Chief Minister has cleared our proposal to have the championship in Pune.”

The AFI, compared to the comfortable budget of over Rs. 40 crore allotted by the Tamil Nadu Government, would be working with a scaled-down allotment of around Rs. 12.75 crore to be made by the Maharashtra Government for conducting the meet in Pune. Later on the Maharashtra Government has also provided another Rs. 4 crore for sprucing up the stadium in Balewadi. There is no doubt that Maharashtra is the financial capital of the country and this time it acted as a very strong face-saver. The Congress-NCP led government under the leadership of Prithviraj Chavan once again proved that they are the ultimate master of all games.


After much political drama, Pune to host the Asian Athletics Championship

Balewadi sports complex

After much controversy, Balewadi Sports Complex at Pune will finally be hosting the 20th edition of the Asian Athletics Championship. This championship was originally supposed to be hosted in Chennai, but due to various political reasons was handed over to Maharashtra.

Preparations for the event are at full swings and the championship is supposed to start from the 3rd of July till the 7th of July. The event will see participation of 45 countries and a total of 578 athletes will be a part of this championship. This event will be a good platform for India to build good relations with the neighboring countries. During these five days, a total of twenty-one events would be covered.

 There are a total of 150 players thereby making it the biggest contingent in the championship. Many athletes who were a part of the 2012 London Olympics such as discus thrower Vikas Gowda, Krishna Poonia, triple-jumper Renjith Maheshwary, 3000-m steeple chase runner Sudha Singh and 800-m sprinter Tintu Luka will all be a part of this tournament.

The previous edition of this championship was held at Kobe, Japan in 2011 and India had managed to win 12 medals. this time, our country is looking forward to winning more laurels. Balewadi stadium has been in full swing to leave no stones unturned to impress the athletes.

Satara yet to receive its share of rainfall

While Uttarakhand has been ravaged by the monsoon this year, Satara is still reeling under the shortage of water. There has been acute water shortage in some parts of Satara despite monsoon showing its mercy in many parts of Maharashtra. While people in Mumbai and Pune pray for the monsoon to end now, Satara has not received any mercy. 321 Water tankers are allotted to supply drinking water in some parts of the district. Many tehsils such as Mann, Koregaon, Phaltan, Khatav, Khandaland have water shortage and the rainfall this year has been really low.

There are around 251 villages in the eastern part of Satara that is drought hit. These villagers are totally dependent on the tankers as their means of drinking water. According to the district administration, amongst all the villages, Mann and Khatav are the worst hit by drought. According to sources, approximately one and a half lakh people in these areas have water problems and the tankers provide them water to drink.

While places like Patan and Mahabaleshwar received rainfall close to 3000 mm and Mannn and Khatav received just 300 mm rainfall till now. The only hope for these villagers is to pray for the rain gods to show some mercy on them.






Pune chemist shops to open for 8 hours from today

Image courtesy: The Indian Express

In a bid to protest against the tough approach of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) against the medical stores operating sans a qualified pharmacist, the Maharashtra State Chemists and Druggists Association has decided to open stores for only eight hours everyday, starting from today.

“We want every medical store to have qualified pharmacists. But there should be a considerate approach if the pharmacist has gone on leave or taken a break for his personal work. FDA officials, however, do not consider such issues while initiating action. That’s our primary grievance,” an official of the association said.

FDA officials have already issued notices to stall sales to over 900 stores in the last few days across Maharashtra.

Chemists, who are a part of Retail and Dispensing Chemists Association (RDCA), will operate between 10am to 6pm or 2pm to 10pm while protesting that they can’t keep more than one pharmacist. A chemist in Aundh said, “I believe there should be a pharmacist at the store at all times. It’s because of the strike that I have to work for eight hours. I really don’t know when the strike will come to an end.”

Another chemist store at Rasta Peth thinks that the protest is for their benefit only. “There are some conditions of the government that are burdening like employing two pharmacists.  We cannot splurge 10,000 on each pharmacist each. What if he has gone for a cup of tea and a FDA official comes. He will ask us to shut the store. That’s what the problem is.”

FDA has inspected 399 medical stores in Mumbai and stopped sales of 170 stores apart from issuing a show cause notice 160 since January.  1,013 stores out of the 5,415 stores inspected across Maharashtra were found to be operating without a pharmacist.

Mahesh Zhagade, FDA Commissioner said, “I have not made the law of having a pharmacist at chemists shops, I am merely implementing an existing law. Is it wrong to be concerned about the lives of patients and other people? Though they have been claiming that there is a shortage of pharmacists, statistics prove otherwise. There are 51,000 chemists establishments and there are 1,20,000 registered pharmacists in Maharashtra. So there is no reason that there should be a lack of pharmacists.”

There are 7,500 chemists in Pune out of which 5,700 are retailers.

Pune shifts to top gear as an industrial hub

Pune, Maharashtra’s second largest city after Mumbai, has been a hub for the engineering industry for over five decades. But it is in the last two odd decades that it has seen a virtual metamorphosis, evolving from a quiet peaceful town that offered harried Mumbaikars a pleasant weekend getaway to a mini metro bustling with industrial activity.

With global recession now having faded to being nothing more than a bitter memory, the one city that has bounced back with a firmer resolve than ever for brisk growth is Pune. Today, Pune wears many caps — leading IT destination, logistics hub and a renowned centre for the auto, design and white goods industries, amongst others. The arrival of the automobile and information technology giants in Pune has given the city a ‘hub’ branding that will drive its growth at a faster rate.

Mritunjay Singh, President, Hinjewadi Industries Association, says, “Post recession, many global players are setting up base in India and Pune is a natural choice. Pune being an open city that welcomes emigrants and it being an educational hub and a good talent pool gives the city an edge over the others.”

On the industrial front, the progress first began with the setting up of Kirloskar Oil Engines, Tata Motors and Bajaj Auto in the 1950s and 1960s. The Swedish Group Sandvik Asia, Atlas Copco, Alfa Laval, SKF Bearings followed suit and were amongst the earliest settlers on the erstwhile two-lane Bombay-Poona Road.  Industrial activity grew gradually as more units were established, including Finolex Cables, Forbes Marshall, the now defunct Garware Nylons and Bajaj Tempo (now Force Motors), amongst others on the same stretch. The road itself is now a wide four-lane boulevard with a series of underpasses and fly-over bridges to ensure a smooth, unhindered drive from the city centre to its industrial outskirts. According to Dr Abhay Firodia, President, Mahratta Chamber of Commerce Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA) and Chairman, Force Motors Ltd, “The period between 2006 and 2008 was the best of its kind for Pune when around Rs 12,000 crore was spent on projects in the region. And now we may see an inflow of around Rs 40,000 crore for the period between 2008 and 2013.”

Pune is the toast of the season as it is being hailed as the fastest growing industrial hub with both manufacturing and IT sector fuelling its popularity as a preferred industrial destination. Entrepreneurial history, location, education levels, work culture and climate are some of the elements that have ensured that Pune has and will continue to be the premium choice as a business destination. In the past year, several global automobile companies have announced new projects in India. Many of these are being located near Pune, a clear indication of the city’s emergence as a global automotive manufacturing hub. Global companies such as General Motors, Daimler AG, Volkswagen AG, Tata-Fiat, International Truck and Engine Corporation (ITEC), Piaggio Vehicles, Hyundai Heavy Industries have recently set up manufacturing operations in the Pune region. The presence of a strong local component manufacturing industry has obviously been a crucial factor in determining their choice of location. Equally important is the availability of high-quality, skilled knowledge resources that is attracting these global companies.

Elaborating on General Motors’ choice of Pune as the location of its second plant in India, Saurabh Vats, Vice-President, Marketing Manager, says, “Pune has a large supplier base. When we start exporting, the Nhava Sheva port is just two hours’ drive away. Also, the western region is our second-largest market after the north, and logistically, this plant can cater to both southern and northern markets.” General Motors, which already has a plant at Halol, has an investment outlay of Rs 1,400 crore at Talegaon, and will look at global sourcing from India.


What has also helped is the presence of the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) in Pune which is India’s premier automotive R&D, testing, and certification organisation. It has now tied up with TUV Rheinland, a 130-year-old German multinational and one of the world’s largest testing, inspection, and certification agencies, to offer testing and homologation solutions to the Indian and international automotive industry.

With this association, the Indian manufacturers will have an edge in exports of vehicles and vehicle parts as all the aspects of testing and certification as per international standards like EEC/ECE will be handled locally by qualified experts. And even as the MNCs are zeroing in on Pune, there are local companies, which are now actively entering into collaborations to give the city a true global positioning. For instance, Pune-based Electro-Mech, industrial crane manufacturer and customised material handling solutions provider, has entered into an agreement with the US-based manufacturer Shuttlelift to extend its offerings to the construction and material handling industry.

Providing a reason for why Pune has emerged as the ‘chosen one’, Mukesh Malhotra, former president of the MCCIA, says that it can also be attributed to the presence of other companies such as Bharat Forge, which is among the top forging companies in the world and Sandvik’s large cutting tools facility, not to forget other big industrial establishments such as Thermax, Kirloskar Oil Engines, Mather & Platt, Praj Industries, Sulzer India, and so on. The easy availability of skilled manpower is another factor. “There must be more than a lakh engineers working in and around Pune in clusters developed by the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) at Pimpri-Chinchwad, Chakan, Ranjangaon, and Talegaon.

That Pune is gaining strength from the arrival of MNCs is also evident from associated developments. Consider, for example, the fact that Tata Motors and the Government of Maharashtra have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to facilitate the proposed expansion of manufacturing plants and setting up of vehicle testing facilities here. Fresh investments seem to pour in regularly. Among the most recent such announcements is that of food processing and packaging company Tetra Pak that has decided to establish a new processing and packaging plant at Chakan in Pune with a total investment of Rs 600 crore to meet the continuously increasing market demands in India and abroad.

What has added a boost to the city’s growth factor is the buoyancy of the special economic zones (SEZs). Pune will have SEZ-notified zones in Manjiri, Phase III Hinjewadi, Kharadi and Magarpatta and will be home to the first Biotech Park by the Poonawalla Group.

But this is not to say that there are no road bumps ahead. The infrastructure in Pune has definitely not been able to keep pace with its industrial growth so that local transportation, the lack of an international airport, power shortages, increasing congestion, and alarming levels of pollution are some of the issues that need to be addressed urgently.

“The civic governance of Pune needs to be improved immediately or else the pace of growth might suddenly be axed if the city cannot take the pressure any more. And yes, an international airport is certainly needed but with the government unable to decide about the location, the probability of it happening soon is now becoming remote” says Pulok Gupta, Managing Director, Liebherr India.