Monday, 4 December 2017

India urges UN to declare 2018 as 'International Year of Millets'

India urges UN to declare 2018 as 'International Year of Millets'

by Vishwa Mohan | Times of India| Nov 22, 2017

NEW DELHI: India has sent a proposal to the United Nations (UN) for declaring the year 2018 as 'International Year of Millets'.
The proposal, if agreed, will raise awareness about millets among consumers, policy makers, industry and R&D sector. Millet is a common term to categorise small-seeded grasses that are often termed nutri-cereals or dryland-cereals. It includes sorghum, pearl millet, ragi, small millet, foxtail millet, proso millet, barnyard millet, kodo millet and other millets.
The country's proposal was sent to the global body recently by the Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh.
"Promotion of production and consumption of millets through conscious efforts at global level is likely to contribute substantially in the fight against targeted hunger and mitigate the effect of climate change in long run. Popularising millets would benefit future generations of farmers as well as consumers," said an official statement.
Eminent agriculture scientist, M S Swaminathan, is learnt to have suggested the central government for this move in order to popularise cultivation and consumption of millets. Nutritionally superior to wheat and rice due to their higher levels of protein with more balanced amino acid profile, crude fiber and minerals such as Iron, Zinc, and Phosphorous, millets can provide nutritional security and act as a shield against nutritional deficiency, especially among children and women.
Swaminathan, popularly known as father of green revolution in India, had even suggested the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) for declaring one year in the current decade as International Year of Millets and Underutlised Crops. The FAO is specialised agency of the UN that leads international efforts to defeat hunger.
"The anaemia (iron deficiency), B-complex vitamin deficiency, pellagra (niacin deficiency) can be effectively tackled with intake of less expensive but nutritionally rich food grains like millets. Millets can also help tackle health challenges such as obesity, diabetes and lifestyle problems as they are gluten free, have a low glycemic index and are high in dietary fibre and antioxidants", said the statement, issued by the agriculture ministry on Wednesday.
Adapted to harsh environment of the semi-arid tropics, millets are considered backbone for dry land agriculture. Millets are climate resilient crops that have a low carbon and water footprint. These crops can withstand high temperatures and grow on poor soils with little or no external inputs.
"In times of climate change, they are often the last crop standing and, thus, are a good risk management strategy for resource-poor marginal farmers", said the ministry.

Two related Documentaries by Dinesh Lakhanpal

Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI)

Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI)

The proposed FRDI Bill will make the recovery of Indian economy impossible

December 2, 2017

A Critique of Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill, 2017 titled ‘Wrong Diagnosis, Harmful Prescription’ jointly published by AIBOC, NAPM, NTUI and Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA) was released at the meeting.
Speaking at the occasion legal scholar, Dr Usha Ramanathan said that the major economic decisions are taken without any consultation or public debate. Referring to the mandatory and forced use of UID for all financial transactions she said,  “extraordinary ambitions of the technology makers are putting the monetary system of this country under brutal attack.”
Thomas Franco, General Secretary of AIBOC, said that the bill would have an adverse impact on the common people, who deposit money at the Bank to earn interest. Moreover, the bill provides for a cap on the withdrawal as a measure for the banks to increase the spending and bridge the losses caused by faulty lending. 
Drawing attention to the recovery rate of the National Company Law Tribunal, he mentioned that in the first case of insolvency, the recovery rate was just six percent. He asked for the need the to fix the accountability of the Bank’s management, RBI representatives, and Finance Ministry representatives in the case of defaults.
Economist Meera Nangia drew the attention of the audience on the steep haircuts, which causes loss to the public and the capability of all 22 Asset Reconciliation Companies, which have a capital of Rs 100 crore each as capital. She asked, “How will they deal with the total NPA, which by government’s conservative estimates if of over 8 lakh crore?” 
The Public sector as a whole and specifically the banking sector is on the brink of an overhaul, Madhuresh Kumar, National Convenor of NAPM said. He added that the privatisation of banks has been one of the coveted goals of liberalisation policies, but has been resisted by the bank employees and progressive people in general. Despite this, there has been a concerted effort to privatise public sector bank over the decades. This time, the government is using the NPA crisis to further the agenda of privatisation.
The proposed Bill seeks to destroy the value of the industries, which are assets of the society and not only of the promoters. Mody said. The Asset Resolution Companies will take away the value of these assets by breaking up the company and selling it in parts. The Bill doesn’t seek to punish the promoters, who followed the wrong policies.
Attempts to privatise the public sector banks have been ongoing since the economic reforms. The current crisis with the rising NPAs in the banking sector is being used as another opportunity to overhaul the banking system. With years of propaganda of an inefficient public sector, a climate of disinvestment is only perfect to liquidate any public sector financial institution! Hence what we are facing today is not just an NPA crisis is a conscious effort to reverse the nationalisation of banks and to end public sector.
The combination of merging small banks to create a few ‘lending giants’ along with the introduction of payment banks is a perfect way to end brick and mortar branches. The proposals of ‘haircuts’ (a fancy term for write-offs,) the policy of demonetisation, evergreening of loans, selling bad loans at a pittance to asset reconstruction companies are all measures that would further weaken the public sector banks.  A slew of legislation on banking sector, in the form of, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016, the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 and the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill, 2017 were introduced in haste and without a debate in order to make the PSBs weak and subservient. Particularly the FRDI puts most of the PSBs under the threat of being liquidated.
Banks apart, the entire public sector is facing disinvestment, privatisation, and selling of assets and resources in the name of cutting losses. It is vital for all progressive sections of the society, cutting across political affiliations to come together in building a rock-solid resistance. 
Link of Wrong Diagnosis, Harmful Prescription: A Critique of Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill, 2017:


Bharatavani portal offers digital dictionaries of vanishing Indian languages

Bharatavani portal offers digital dictionaries of vanishing Indian languages

December 02, 2017; The Hindu; link

 The online platform hosted by the Central Institute for Indian Languages, Mysuru, publishes content in 121 Indian languages, and is working towards starting online classes.

The word for sunlight or sunshine in Angami — a language spoken by around 130,000 people in the North East — is niakikezie. In the Ao-language of Nagaland, it is anüpu oranüsangwa. And this reporter in far away Bengaluru could look up these words and many more from several Indian languages, thanks to digital dictionaries available on the Bharatavani website.
Most cities in India have infrastructure to teach many foreign languages . But how many look inwards to tap the domestic cultural motherlode of more than 1,500 Indian languages? It is this question that spurred Bharatavani, an online Indian Languages platform hosted by the Central Institute for Indian Languages (CIIL), Mysuru, to not only publish content in 121 Indian languages, but work towards starting online classes.

Searchable resource

What is particularly causing ripples of excitement among linguists and researchers is the compilation of digitised searchable dictionaries. In a little over a year since its inception, the portal offers 262 unilingual and multilingual dictionaries in 50 Indian languages — all of them in a searchable format on android platforms — which can be accessed on Bharatavani’s free Android app.
The number of languages covered will soon cross a hundred, said Beluru Sudarshana, consultant with CIIL. “Bharatavani is not publishing new works, but we are for the first time digitising available dictionaries in smaller languages, to bring it to a wider audience,” he said. Malto-English-Hindi, Odia-Ho, English-Ao and Lepcha-English are some of the dictionaries on offer — most of them available in a searchable format and not as cumbersome PDF files.


National Vikalp Sangam, Udaipur: Confluence of alternatives 27-29 November, 2017

National Vikalp Sangam, Udaipur: Confluence of alternatives 

As part of the ongoing series of Vikalp Sangams (Alternatives Confluences), a national Sangam was organised on 27-29 November, 2017, at the beautiful Prakriti Sadhana Kendra of Vidya Bhawan, co-hosted by Shikshantar and Kalpavriksh. A total of about 100 people from various backgrounds, ideologies, and interests came together to share their diverse initiatives, discuss broader issues of development and radical alternatives, and build further collaborations. Ideas for the future of the Sangam process, including holding confluences on Peace in conflict zones including Kashmir and central India, Alternative Media, Community and Alternative Health, Alternative Politics/Democracy and Swaraj, Inclusion and Disability, Alternative Economies, Western Himalaya, and others were planned.

While the discussions sometimes meandered and repeated things that civil society circles have debated for decades, the incredible mix of people made for exciting moments, some scintillating sharing of history of movements and current initiatives, and earthy planning for the future. Deeper questions on ethics within/between civil society organisations, the politics of alternatives, what we even mean by 'alternatives', were flagged, some discussed in detail during (or often between!) sessions, and some kept for later reflection. John D'Souza of CED showed a half-hour film combining the previous 12 Sangams.

Overall, it was an encouraging endorsement of the need and relevance of the Vikalp Sangam process ... v. valuable for the core team at Kalpavriksh that is currently coordinating it. Separately I'll post a note on the Vikalp Sangam Core Group meeting that followed the national Sangam, which was at times difficult but in all, uplifting.

Some images:

The forested ambience was ideal for a Sangam on alternatives, with several bird species adding to the discussion

Anganwadi workers reading Vikalp Sangam posters on alternative initiatives 

Udaipur-based Millets of Mewar had some tasty and healthy biscuits! 

Bamboo grove at Prakriti Sadhana Kendra was ideal for the 3 days of discussions 

Participants out on a nature walk

Prakriti Sadhana Kendra's lovely location! 

Udaipur-based Eco-hut displayed their upcycled and other products 

Gunis (traditional healers) organised by Jagran Jan Vikas Samiti, Udaipur, explaining their practice; some participants even availed of their massaging and other services! 

Participants out on a birding and insecting walk 

Shankar Singh of MKSS regaled participants with his songs and puppetry! 

Kalpavriksh's bookstall was a hit, especially the children's books 

Three days of incredible local food including my favourite, dal-baati!


National Vikalp Sangam
27th November to 29th November 2017

Dear friend,

Vikalp Sangam is an ongoing process that started in October 2014 with an aim to provide a platform to constructively challenge the current ‘development’ paradigm, bring together practitioners, thinkers, researchers of alternative initiatives to learn from each other, build alliances and collectively evolve alternative futures that are ecologically sustainable and socio-economically equitable (please see the background attached). A website has been set up for outreach of such initiatives, and their documentation is taking place in the form of stories, articles, video clips, and other media. An evolving core group of 41 organisations (as of July 2017) has been set up to coordinate the planning of the Sangams. This October it will be three years and 10 Sangams old. We feel that it is time to review and collectively deliberate on the future of the process.

We are proposing a national level Sangam from 27th to 29th November at Udaipur, Rajasthan (hosted locally by Swaraj University and other organisations) to mainly focus on the objectives below:

1.      Share key points from the Sangams held in 2014-2017
2.      Review what we have achieved, what we have failed in doing, including exciting moments and results, disappointments, and key lessons from these.
3.      Share thoughts on the next phase of the process ... what to do in 2018-2020, how to do things better, what to change?
4.      Share the experience of linking with other networks through the Sangam of Sangam process, and its objectives of trying to mobilise people for political change.
5.      Consider resourcing for the next phase; any ways to make the process more self-sustaining?
Your participation is recommended by the members of the Vikalp Sangam Core group and we would be delighted to have you with us.

The basic costs of participation will be covered by us. This includes train/bus travel, food and stay at the Swaraj University.

If you have any queries, please feel free to contact Shrishtee Bajpai ( (9198775666), Ashish Kothari ( or Manish Jain (


Alternatives Confluences across India

The severe negative impacts of the current model of ‘development’ and ‘globalisation’ include ecological destruction,
displacement of communities, disruption of livelihoods on a mass scale, and growing socio-economic inequities. Various
parts of India are already facing tension and conflicts, and many more are on a powderkeg, as a result of the upheavals
caused by a mindless pursuit of economic growth. Meanwhile all formal sectors of the economy and society are being
oriented towards feeding into this pursuit, whether it is education, R&D, markets and trade, or health.
In the midst of this dismal scenario, there are myriad attempts at generating and practicing alternatives that could not only
challenge the dominant ‘development’ paradigm, but provide viable pathways for human wellbeing that are ecologically
sustainable and socio-economically equitable. These include sustainable farming/pastoralism/fisheries/forestry,
democratic markets and worker-controlled production, community education and health approaches, cross-cultural peace
initiatives, initiatives to further class, caste, religious, racial, and gender equity, urban sustainability, holistic rural
wellbeing, and so on. These are placed within a gathering momentum to participatory (or radical) democracy and political
approaches, which provide access to all citizens to decision-making forums (rather than rely on ‘representatives’ alone),
and bring in essential governance principles like accountability and transparency.
These initiatives are showing that at local and landscape levels, there are indeed viable alternatives. However, a number of
factors severely limit their effect:

1. There is little documentation and public awareness on most of them;
2. They are mostly scattered and unlinked, often very small;
3. They are not threaded together into comprehensive frameworks or visions of an alternative society.
As a consequence, these alternative initiatives do not yet form a ‘critical mass’ capable of changing the dominant
paradigm or even providing it a formidable challenge.

The word alternative or vikalp is being used here for simplicity, while accepting that no single word can accurately and
wholly include the complexity of the concept. We understand that in many cases, these may not have emerged/ been
attempted with a motivation to challenge the dominant paradigm or pose an alternative as such but simply as a way of life
grounded in certain basic principles. Also many of these ideas, concepts and ways of life may have existed for a long
time, while others may be new.

The idea of Vikal Sangams / Alternatives Confluences

It is against this backdrop that regional gatherings of people practicing these alternatives have been initiated; to be
followed at a later stage by thematic and national gatherings. These are being called Vikalp Sangams or Alternatives
Confluences, and will provide a platform to constructively challenge and learn from each other, build alliances, and
collectively evolve alternative futures.
We are aware that there are many networks and initiatives that have brought together movements and groups on various
platforms related to this theme. But most of these are limited to individual themes or kinds of movements, e.g. struggles
against destructive ‘development’ projects, alternative health initiatives, sustainable farming work, etc. There are limited
opportunities and attempts to cut across thematic areas, bringing ecological, education, health, justice, livelihood,
market/trade, governance and other alternatives together to learn from each other. We envisage these gatherings to be such
cross-cutting ones, and to build on rather than replicate the existing/ongoing initiatives.
We also propose that minimum time will be spent at the Vikalp Sangams on the ills of the current economic/ political/
social system. There are plenty of occasions already available for this; these gatherings are predominantly focused on
alternatives. On the other hand we also do not want to fall into the trap of romanticizing these alternatives; both the pros
and cons of such initiatives should be shared.

Structure of the Vikalp Sangams

The Vikalp Sangams are not intended to be academic conferences, but rather a more free-flowing meeting of minds and
hearts. There are a series of small group sessions focused on individual themes, to enable in-depth exchange and learning,
and at least half of the time is devoted to learning across themes and movements. Opportunities to showcase the initiatives
are provided, through exhibitions, films/A-Vs, theatre and other arts, and other media. Spontaneous joint activities like art
and theatre are also attempted. The Sangams are a combination of fun, learning & unlearning, and bonding.

Participants and Venues

The Sangams will bring together practitioners, thinkers, researchers and theorists (these are not necessarily mutually
exclusive categories!) working on the broad theme of alternatives to destructive and inequitable development. The
participation could range from a few dozen to a few hundred people, depending on local situations.
Each of the Sangams will need to be hosted by a regional organization/institution that has the capacity; expenses will need
to be shared by this organization and other co-organisers, and participants. It is doubtful anyone can raise full funding for
an event like this, so costs will have to be distributed widely.

An evolving core group has been set up to coordinate the planning of the Sangams, with the following members (as of
December 2015): Kalpavriksh, Deccan Development Society (DDS), Bhoomi College, Shikshantar, Timbaktu Collective,
Development Alternatives (DA), SOPPECOM, Gene Campaign, BHASHA, Kriti Team, Centre for Equity Studies (CES),
URMUL, National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements (NAPM), Peoples’ Science Institute (PSI), Maati, Alliance for
Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA), Ekta Parishad, South Asian Dialogue on Ecological Democracy (SADED),
Knowledge in Civil Society (KICS), North East Slow Food and Agrobiodiversity Society (NESFAS), ACCORD, Centre
for Education and Documentation, Centre for Environment Education, reStore, ComMutiny: The Youth Collective,
Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), Ektha, Students’ Environmental and Cultural
Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL), Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust (SLC-IT), Ladakh Arts and Media
Organisation (LAMO), Local Futures, Sahjeevan, Samvedana, Dharamitra, Video Volunteers, Ideosync, Greenpeace
India, MAKAAM, Sambhaavnaa, Jagori Rural, and Deer Park; and Sushma Iyengar and Dinesh Abrol. The Core Group
will keep evolving with the process.


बीजों की परंपरागत संस्कृति और खेती पद्धतियों से खाद्य सुरक्षा संभव

देशी बीजों व देशी खेती का जो परंपरागत ज्ञान हैं लोक कथाएं हैं, उनको सहेजना जरुरी है, जिससे नई पीढ़ी में यह ज्ञान हस्तांतरित हो सके. जहां देशी बीज और परम्परागत खेती जिन्दा है, वहां परम्परागत खेती और किसान भी जिन्दा है. स्थानीय मिटटी पानी के अनुकूल देशी बीजों की परम्परागत विविधता की संस्कृति को सामने लाये जाने और ऐसी खेती की पद्धतियों की चर्चा की जाए जो बिना पर्यावरण का नुक्सान किये लोगों की खाद्य सुरक्षा सुनिश्चित करें. राजस्थान के गावों में मौजूद खाद्य विकल्पों की संस्कृति को सामने लाता प्रस्तुत आलेख.

download link: 


First Vikalap Sangam
Vikalp Sangam at Timbaktu, 
1719 October 2014
Report : link


Ecology section: Gaia hypothesis

“Gaia is a tough bitch”: Remembering Lynn Margulis, scientific pioneer

Biologist Lynn Margulis died on November 22nd, 2011

Lynn Margulis essay here on the significance of symbiosis in evolution:
Gaia is a tough bitch — a system that has worked for over three billion years without people. This planet's surface and its atmosphere and environment will continue to evolve long after people and prejudice are gone. (LINK

Ridiculed when she first proposed it; biologist Lynn Margulis‘ theory of symbiosis in cell evolution is now considered one of the great scientific breakthroughs. A co-developer of the ‘Gaia hypothesis’ and a sharp critic of the Richard Dawkins-led school of Neo-Darwinist biology, Margulis was also a remarkable personality, as this interview with clearly demonstrates.


Gaia Hypothesis:

The Gaia hypothesis, also known as Gaia theory or Gaia principle, proposes that all organisms and their inorganic surroundings on Earth are closely integrated to form a single and self-regulating complex system, maintaining the conditions for life on the planet.

What is the Gaia hypothesis?
MAY 17, 2017


Propounded by British scientist James Lovelock (who is now 97) in the 1970s, the Gaia hypothesis conceives of the earth as a self-regulating system, much like a single organism. The earth’s living organisms and its physical components (air, water, soil), according to this hypothesis, form a complex system that interacts with each other in such as way as to maintain the conditions essential for the sustenance of life on the planet. This equilibrium, Lovelock argues, is being skewed by heightened human intervention that threatens not just the planet’s biodiversity but the future sustenance of human beings themselves.

Natural selection and evolution :

Lovelock accepts a process of systemic Darwinian evolution for such biological feedback mechanisms: creatures that improve their environment for their survival do better than those that damage their environment. However, some scientists dispute the existence of such mechanisms. In 1981, W. Ford Doolittle, in the CoEvolution Quarterly article "Is Nature Motherly" argued that nothing in the genome of individual organisms could provide the feedback mechanisms Gaia theory proposed, and therefore the Gaia hypothesis was an unscientific theory of a maternal type without any explanatory mechanism. In Richard Dawkins' 1982 book, The Extended Phenotype, he argued that organisms could not act in concert as this would require foresight and planning from them. Like Doolittle he rejected the possibility that feedback loops could stabilize the system. Lynn Margulis, a microbiologist who collaborated with Lovelock in supporting the Gaia hypothesis, argued in 1999, that “Darwin's grand vision was not wrong, only incomplete. In accentuating the direct competition between individuals for resources as the primary selection mechanism, Darwin (and especially his followers) created the impression that the environment was simply a static arena.” She wrote that the composition of the Earth's atmosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere are regulated around "set points" as in homeostasis, but those set points change with time.She also wrote that there is no special tendency of biospheres to preserve their current inhabitants, and certainly not to make them comfortable. According to her, the Earth is a kind of community of trust that can exist at many discrete levels of integration. All multicellular organisms do not live or die all at once: not all cells in the body die instantaneously, nor are homeostatic "set points" constant through the life of an organism. W. D. Hamilton, one of the greatest evolutionary theorists of the 20th century, called the concept of Gaia Copernican, adding that it would take another Newton to explain how Gaian self-regulation takes place through Darwinian natural selection.



India for alleged violations of its Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with Japan


India for alleged violations of its Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with Japan

Exclusive - Nissan sues India over outstanding dues; seeks over $770 million

Japanese automaker Nissan Motor has begun international arbitration against India to seek more than $770 million in a dispute over unpaid state incentives, according to a person familiar with the matter and documents reviewed by Reuters.

In a legal notice sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year, Nissan sought payment of incentives due from the Tamil Nadu government as part of a 2008 agreement to set up a car manufacturing plant in the southern state.
According to the notice, Nissan said repeated requests to state officials for the payment, due in 2015, were overlooked and even a plea by the company's chairman, Carlos Ghosn, to Modi in March of last year seeking federal assistance did not yield any results.
The notice, sent by Nissan's lawyers in July 2016, was followed by more than a dozen meetings between federal and state officials and Nissan executives, said the person familiar with the matter, who did not want to be named as it is not public.
The federal officials, from several ministries, assured Nissan the payment would be made, and it should not bring a legal case. But, in August, Nissan gave India an ultimatum to appoint an arbitrator, the person said, adding the first arbitration hearing will be in mid-December.
A Nissan spokesman said the company was "committed to working with the government of India towards a resolution," but did not elaborate.
A senior Tamil Nadu state official said the government hoped to resolve the dispute without having to go to international arbitration. "There is no discrepancy with regard to the amount due, and we are trying hard to resolve the issue," the official told Reuters.
Modi's office did not respond to an email seeking comment.
The case, brought against India for alleged violations of its Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with Japan, is the latest in a string of international arbitration proceedings against the country by investors concerned about issues ranging from retrospective taxation to payments disputes.
There are over 20 cases pending against India, among the highest against any single nation.
The dispute between Nissan and the Tamil Nadu government also shows the challenges companies face in India and how local disputes could undermine the Modi government's efforts to attract foreign investment and create new jobs.
Several automakers, including Ford and Hyundai Motor, have set up production hubs in Tamil Nadu, giving state capital Chennai the nickname; the 'Detroit of South Asia'.
In 2008, when Nissan and its global alliance partner, French carmaker Renault, agreed to invest in setting up a car plant in Chennai, the state government promised several incentives including some tax refunds.
Over seven years, Nissan and Renault invested 61 billion rupees ($946 million) and set up a plant with annual production capacity of 480,000 vehicles, which entitled them to receive the incentives in 2015, according to the legal notice.
In that notice, Nissan's lawyers said the state government's decision to not pay was "arbitrary", and Nissan has "incurred significant and increasing losses".
Nissan did not specify the business impact in the 8-page notice, but said in 2008 that state incentives were critical to the project's viability and sustainability.
The carmaker, in its notice, is claiming 29 billion rupees in unpaid incentives and 21 billion rupees in damages, plus interest and other costs.
Nissan, which has less than a 2 percent share of India's passenger car market, builds and sells the Micra hatchback, Sunny sedan and Terrano sport-utility vehicle. It also sells low-cost cars under its Datsun brand.
The company spokesman said Nissan has created more than 40,000 direct and indirect jobs in India.
(Reporting by Aditi Shah, with additional reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan; Editing by Euan Rocha and Ian Geoghegan).



इंसानियत अभी ज़िंदा है
लेखक : अरुण तिवारी 

सच है कि अधिक से अधिक धन, अधिक से अधिक भौतिक सुविधा, अधिक से अधिक यश व प्रचार हासिल करना आज अधिकांश लोगों की हसरत का हिस्सा बनता जा रहा है। यहीं यह भी सच है कि ऐसी हसरतों की पूर्ति के लिए हमने जो रफ्तार और जीवन शैली अख्तियार कर ली है, उसका दबाव न सिर्फ ज़िंदगी को ज़िंदादिली और आनंद से महरूम कर रहा है, बल्कि इस कारण  ज़िंदगी में नैतिकता, संकोच, परमार्थ और अपनेपन की जगह निरंतर सिकुड़ती जा रही है। 

मां-बाप, बच्चों के लिए जीते दिखते हैं, लेकिन बच्चों द्वारा मां-बाप के लिए जीने के उदाहरण कम होते जा रहे हैं। इस हक़ीक़त के बावजूद, वह नौजवान अपनी मां को डाॅक्टर को दिखाने के लिए मोहल्ला क्लिनिक के बाहर कड़ी धूप में तीन घंटे तक पूरे धीरज के साथ प्रतीक्षा करता रहा। मेरे लिए यह सुखद एहसास था। इससे भी सुखद एहसास वह सुनकर हुआ, जो उस दिन उस नौजवान के साथ घटित हुआ।

मां को शीघ्र लौटने का आश्वासन देकर वह एक मीटिंग के लिए कनाॅट प्लेस के लिए भागा। समय हाथ से निकला जा रहा था। वह बार-बार घड़ी देखता और स्कूटी की रफ्तार बढ़ा देता। 

''राजीव चैक मेट्रो स्टेशन गेट नंबर सात के सामने, ए 1, ग्राउंड फ्लोर, हैमिलटन हाउस; हां, यही है।'' 

स्टारबक्स काॅफी शाॅप से थोड़ा आगे स्कूटी खड़ी की। हांफते-ढांपते किसी तरह काॅफी शाॅप में प्रवेश किया। मीटिंग भी ज़रूरी थी और मां के पास वापस जल्दी लौटना भी। किसी तरह मीटिंग पूरी की। बाहर आया, तो स्कूटी गायब। नौजवान के तो जैसे होश उड़ गये। मुख्यमंत्री होने के बावजूद, केजरीवाल जी की कार गायब हो गई, तो मेरी कौन बिसात ? अब स्कूटी मिलेगी तो क्या, बीमा कंपनी वालों के चक्कर और काटने पडे़ेंगे। लंबे समय की बचत के बाद डेढ़ महीने पहले तो स्कूटी नसीब हुई थी। अब क्या होगा ? घरवाले क्या कहेंगे ? पापा ने अपना एकांउट खाली करके स्कूटी दिलाई थी। उन पर क्या बीतेगी ? मन में सवाल ही सवाल, निराशा ही निराशा। 

दोनो हाथों से सिर पकड़कर एक पल के लिए वह वहीं फुटपाथ पर बैठ गया। भावनायें काबू में आई तो चल पड़ा कनाॅट प्लेस थाने की ओर गुमशुदगी की रपट लिखाने। 

रिपोर्ट कहां दर्ज होगी ? जिस ओर इशारा मिला, उधर बढ़ गया। उसे आया देख, मेज पर दफ्तर सजाये ड्युटी अफसर ने नजरें ऊपर उठाई। नौजवान मन में निराशा भी थी और गुस्सा भी। धारणा पहले से मन में थी ही - ''सब पुलिसवालों की मिलीभगत से होता है।'' ''पुलिस वाले रपट दर्ज करने में भी बड़े नखरे दिखाते हैं।'' खडे़-खडे एक सांस में पूरा किस्सा कह डाला। कहते-कहते सांस उखड़ गई। 

ड़ूयटी अफसर ने बैठने का इशारा किया; कहा - ''लो, पहले पानी पिओ, फिर रपट भी दर्ज हो जायेगी।'' धारणा के विपरीत व्यवहार पाकर नौजवान थोड़ा आश्वस्त हुआ। 

ड्युटी अफसर ने समझाया - ''देखो बेटा, हमारे इस इलाके में गाड़िया चोरी नहीं होती हैं। तुम एक काम करो। मौके पर वापस जाकर आसपास वालों से पूछताछ कर लो।''

नौजवान परेशान तो था ही, अब उसके हैरान होने की बारी थी। आज जब न चोरी करने वालों को किसी का भय है, न बलात्कार-हत्या करने वालों का। अपराधी पुलिस वालों को ही मारकर चल देते हैं। ऐसे में किसी पुलिस अधिकारी का यह दावा, यह आत्मविश्वास किसी के लिए भी हैरान करने वाला होता। 

खैर, नौजवान को हैरान देख ड्युटी अफसर ने फिर दोहराया - ''थोड़ी देर ढूंढ लो। यदि फिर भी न मिले, तो आ जाना। वह क्या है न बेटा कि यदि एक बार रिपोर्ट दर्ज हो गई और इस बीच तुम्हारी स्कूटी मिल गई, तो भी कार्यवाही आदि में लगने वाले समय के चलते तुम्हारी स्कूटी कम से कम एक महीने के लिए हमारे थाने में अटक जायेगी।''

ड्युटी अफसर के व्यवहार ने नौजवान को मज़बूर किया कि बेमन से ही सही, वापस जाये और पूछताछ करे। मौके पर पहुंचकर अगल-बगल दो-चार से पूछा तो किसी को कुछ जानकारी न थी। किंतु ड्युटी अफसर का आत्मविश्वास यादकर उसने पड़ताल जारी रखी। पटरी वालों से पूछना शुरु किया। एक आंटी ने आगे जाने का इशारा किया।

 ''आगे एक मोबाइल वाला बैठता है। उसके पास जाओ। वहां कुछ पता लगेगा।''

 वह मोबाइल वाले केे पास पहुंचा। मोबाइल वाले को जैसे उस नौजवान की ही प्रतीक्षा थी। देखते ही कुछ सवाल दागे। आश्वस्त होने पर एक ओर किनारे सुरक्षित खड़ी उसकी स्कूटी की ओर इशारा किया और चाबी उसकी ओर बढ़ा दी। नौजवान के लिए यह कलियुग में सतयुग जैसा एहसास होने था।

''आजकल ऐसा भी कहीं होता है ?'' - यह सोचकर उसकी आंखें सजल हो उठी। वह आगे बढ़कर दुकानदार के गले से लिपट गया।

 ''अंकल, आज आपने मुझे बचा लिया।'' शेष शब्द गले में अटक गये। 

दुकानदार ने पीठ थपथपाकर उसे संयत किया; बोला - ''कोई बात नहीं बेटा। होता है, जिंदगी में कभी-कभी ऐसा भी होता है। आगे से ध्यान रखना। स्कूटी में चाबी लगाकर कभी मत छोड़ना... और हां, यह भी कि दुनिया में सब बुरे नहीं होते। हम अच्छे रहें। दुनिया एक दिन अपने आप अच्छी हो जायेगी।''

दुकानदार के इन चंद शब्दों ने नौजवान के दिलो-दिमाग में उथल-पुथल मचा दी। ''दुनिया में सब बुरे नहीं होते.......'' दुकानदार के कहे शब्द उसके जैसे उसे बार-बार शोधित करने करे। मात्र एक घंटे पहले पूरी पुलिस व्यवस्था, लोग और ज़माने को दोषपूर्ण मान गुस्से और आक्रोश से भरा वह अब एकदम शांत और विचारवान व्यक्ति था। 

उसने एहसास किया कि हम इंसानों की दुनिया में अभी भी कुछ खूबसूरती बाकी है। उसने स्कूटी उठाई और चल पड़ा थाने; ड्युटी अफसर का शुक्रिया अदा करने। उसके चेहरे की भाव-भंगिमा देख ड्युटी अफसर थोड़ा मुस्कराया; बोला - ''क्या करूं ? रिपोर्ट लिखूं ?'' 

नौजवान ने कहा - ''नहीं अंकल। मुझे अब एक प्लेन पेपर चाहिए। आपके व्यवहार और आत्मविश्वास की तारीफ और आपको धन्यवाद लिखना है। मुझे लिखना है कि भले ही कितना ही कलियुग हो; इंसानियत अभी ज़िदा है।'' 

ड्युटी अफसर का चेहरा खिल उठा। उसे भी एहसास हुआ कि सारी दुनिया कृतघ्न नहीं है। कृतज्ञता बोध अभी भी जिंदा है। 

सचमुच, दुनिया ऐसी ही है। ज़रूरत है, तो ऐसे अच्छे बोध व एहसासों से प्रेरित होने तथा एहसास कराने वालों की पीठ थपथपाने की; ऐसे दीपों के प्रकाश से औरों को प्रकाशित करने की। ''अच्छा करो; अच्छे को प्रसारित करो।’’ दुनिया को खूबसूरत बनाने का यह एकमेव सूत्र वाक्य ही काफी है। है कि नहीं ?


World Economic Forum's (WEF's) global competitiveness index (GCI), released 016-017

World Economic Forum's (WEF's) global competitiveness index (GCI), released

Ahmedabad doesn't figure among top 100 world innovative clusters, as India stabilises at 40th in competitiveness index

By Our Representative
India may have jumped in the World Economic Forum's (WEF's) global competitiveness index (GCI), released this week, from 71st position in 2014-15 to 39th in 2016-17, "stabilising" on 40th position in 2017-18. However, if the report's findings are any guide, none of Gujarat cities, including the "model" city Ahmedabad, figure in 100 top urban clusters identified as "centres of innovation."
The report, titled "The Global Competitiveness Index 2017-2018", even as recognising the "growing importance of China and India as centres of innovation", says, the among geographical clusters which generate the most patents Shenzen–Hong Kong comes 8th in the list of 100 cities, the 2nd place is shared in between Tokyo-Yokohama and San Jose–San Francisco, and Beijing comes in 7th. 

Coming to India, the report states, three Indian locations appear in the top 100 of the cluster study: Bengaluru at 43rd (with patent activity focused on computer technology), Mumbai at 95th, and Pune at 96th (both registering among the most patents in organic fine chemistry)."
It notes, India's "level of technological readiness of individuals and firms" in India, as those of China, remains "relatively low, suggesting that the benefits of these innovative activities are not widely shared", adding, "Societal gains from innovation breakthroughs do not happen automatically: they need complementary efforts to ensure that more people and firms have the means to access and use new technologies."
Not without reason, even as ranking India 40th among 137 countries in WCI, the report finds that as far as technological readiness is concerned, the country ranks a poor 107th. Ranking 3rd in market size, thanks to the country's population size and purchasing power of a rising middle class, the report ranks India 91st in health and primary education, 80th in macroeconomic environment, 75th in higher education and training, and so on.
Based on an executive opinion survey of 201 persons, the ranking combines it with an analysis of 12 pillars -- institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labor market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication, and innovation. 
While India ranks much better than two of the peer BRICS countries, Brazil (80th) and South Africa (61st), two others rank better than India -- China 27th and Russia 38th. Among the neighbours India is far ahead of Pakistan, which ranks 115th, Bangladesh 99th and Sri Lanka 85th.

In its executive opinion survey, the report has found that "the private sector still considers corruption to be the most problematic factor for doing business in India". In fact, on a scale of 10, the most important factor hindering global competition is found to be corruption, giving it a weightage of 9.2, followed by access to finance 8.5, tax rates 7.9, and so on.
The report notes, "Asian economies were less exposed to the global financial crisis, but they are facing new problems of their own. Amid a private-sector credit boom in India, the proportion of loans classed as non-performing went from 4 percent to 9 percent in two years."
Nevertheless, taking a positive view of India, the report states, "India (40th) stabilizes this year after its big leap forward of the previous two years. The score improves across most pillars of competitiveness, particularly infrastructure (66th, up two), higher education and training (75th, up six), and technological readiness (107th, up three), reflecting recent public investments in these areas."