Tuesday, 31 March 2015

The Day of my Superannuation(March31,2015,Tuesday)

After spending about 35 years in the IAS(Indian Administrative Service),today I retired from the Service.This journey has been a journey of immense learning , evolution and joy.On the way,I met a very large number of people ,some of whom were really enlightened.
                   I pay my tributes to  three  seniors/colleagues  who were very well meaning and always helpful: Late Sri B.B.Sinha , who was Commissioner Kanpur when I was District Magistrate , Farrukhabad.Late Sri R.S.Kaushik , who was Commissioner , Moradabad , when I was District Magistrate , Moradabad, Late Vinod Bihari Singh Vishven , who was my batchmate (IAS,UP,1980).
                    Some of the posts  I enjoyed were:
1.Principal secretary (Forests and Environment),UP.I remember the notable achievement when we  accomplished a World record by planting  one crore saplings on a single day(July31,2007).This finds mention in Guinnes Book of world Records.
2.Principal secretary (Disabled Welfare) when we  detected large scale irregularities in the  grants  sanctioned for the distribution of  implements and equipments for the disabled.
3.Chief Executive Officer/MD,UP Housing Board when we  streamlined the working of the Board through the processes under ISO 9001.
4.District Magistrate , Moradabad  when we maintained peace and harmony in the communally sensitive district during the demolition of Babri Mosque in 1992.We clamped the curfew  in the various cities of the district for 27 days.
I enjoyed ,admired and appreciated the team work and hard work of all the concerned officials and citizens  in each of these postings.I take this opportunity to express my gratitude and thanks to all of them.
 Richard Armon says:"Retired is being twice tired.First , tired of working.Then tired of not working"
C.C.Rodrigues says:"When a man retires,his wife gets twice the husband but only half the income."
TS Eliot says:"every end is also a beginning."

                   People ask me where I am going to stay and what I am planning to do after retirement.I will be ordinarily staying in Lucknow and plan to remain active in community sevice. I will do what I love to do.
                      In the last 35 years ,things have changed dramatically.I had my dreams in my youth to change the world for the better.Have I made any contribution?Are the dreams of my youth still there with me?Am I still true to them .My answer is :Yes , I am still true to the dreams of my youth and intend  to continue to  fulfill them in my second innings.I have tried to live by my principles and values some of which are:
1.Being worthy of the trust of my people.
2.Not to procrastinate in doing good work.
3.Competing with my own self.
4.Having hope but no expectations .Avoiding cynicism.
5.Prefering effectiveness over success.
6.Remaining happy.
7. Cultivating humility and non-arrogance.

Once again ,my thanks and goodbye to all , till we meet again.


Saturday, 28 March 2015

Granta 130 :India ,Another Way of Seeing ,Edited by Ian Jack

It took me over a month to read this collection of fiction and non-fiction, in 288 pages ,published in January ,2015 .(Granta 130:India,Another Way of Seeing ,,edited by Ian Jack.).One reason was that I had to read some of the  stories like Drone,English Summer and The Ghost in the Kimono , more than once ,  to comprehend them fully.Ian Jack has written an excellent introduction to this book,and this book is worth reading for introduction alone .But , that is not the only reason why this book should be read by all Indians.Some of the non fiction pieces as well as some of the fiction pieces are outstanding .
 Love Jihad by Aman Sethi stands out as an excellent piece of journalism.The  meaning  and implications of this term called Love Jihad becomes clear to the reader.Pyre by Amitava Kumar  vividly describes the Hindu  rituals observed on the death of his mother.It reminded me of a similar experience I had on the sad demise of my mother recently.Annawadi by Katherine Boo and her associates describes the condition of people in slums near the Mumbai airport being recently constructed.(Incidentally,,on 25th March,2015, during his video- conference with the Chief secretaries of all the states of India,the Prime Minister of India questioned the concerned  officials  about the slow progress of  the new Mumbai Airport).
                        Shoes by anjali Joseph is an extremely sensitive and well written story.The Wrong Square by Neel  Mukherjee is a dark but impactful story about a father and son when they visit Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Skiri and other monuments at Agra.The Bachelor Father by  Kalpana Narayanan is another bea
utiful story which shows clearly how loving and understanding is different from merely providing for material needs of close ones.Othello Sucks by Upmanyu Chatterjee is  a brilliant  story of two daughters and their educated , upper class parents, living in fast paced city of modern India.English Summer by  Amit Chaudhuri  is the story of an Indian boy , staying in London in mid eighties, and how he finds himself out of place there.
                    Gandhi .the Londoner  shows certain unknown aspects of Gandhi's life when he visited London for the first time, and how Gandhi's own autobiography was inaccurate in factual details.The Ghost in the Kimono by Raghu Karnad is an extremely well researched piece on the treatment of Japanese prisoners kept in India.Breach Candy  by Samanth Subramanian is another well researched piece on a club in Mumbai,showing clearly how the nexus between real estate,middlemen and politicians and bureaucrats  dominates every other thing in Mumbai city, and how judiciary is helpless ,with ever increasing burden of court cases,with extremely slow disposal.
                           A Double-Income Family by Deepti Kapoor describes  how poverty forces people to behave.Sticky fingers  by Arun Kolatkar is an interesting story of how people ascribe to God certain happenings due to their ignorance , while actually these are the results of the actions of other human beings.Ghachar Ghochar  by Vivek Shanbagh is translated from Kannada is a sweet story of a newly wed couple,indicating certain vocabulary  is developed by each family and is known only to the members of that family , a secret language indicating a special bond.This is the only story which has been a translation , and has been included in this book.
                     Granta 130 has been an eye-opener  for me .It has very clearly demonstrated that Indian writers in English are writing both fiction as well as non-fiction in Indian context with creativity,clarity , research and command of language.It has also brought  home  to me the situation of India as seen through the eyes and lenses of Indians ,many  of whom are settled  abroad.Apart from Introduction , these are two more reasons why every Indian should read this book.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

International Day of Forests,2015(Saturday) in Lucknow,India

The third International day of Forests was celebrated in Lucknow on March 15,2015.The chief guest was the Minister of state for forests,Sri Kidwai,the chairperson was Dr.S.P. Yadav,Minister of state for wildlife,U.P.I was invited as special guest in my capacity as APC and Principal Secretary ,Forests and Environment ,U.P.The PCCF , MD , UP Forest Corporation ,Preeti Knaujia of CEE, and a large number of distinguished guests and youth Environment leaders and teachers were present.Here below is what I spoke .
            In October ,2012 , UN General Assembly adopted a resolution to observe and celebrate March 21 every year as International day of Forests.The first such day was celebrated at international level , with UNO backing on March21 , 2013.Before  2013, world forestry day was celebrated on March21 , but on a lower scale.
          The theme this year is Forests and Climate Change.Sustainably managed  forests are the Frontline against climate change.
             Deforestation accounts for 17% of global greenhouse gas emissions that  contribute to climate change.13 million hectares of forests are destroyed annually in the world.We need to stop this deforestation .In addition ,we need better and sustainable forest management and prevent or slow down  degradation of forests ie, reduction in tree biomass density.
    One good news is that for the first time,FAO has come out with statistics and reports on the trend of deforestation and emission from forests.Total carbon emissions from forests decreased by 25% between 2001 and 2015 , mainly due to the slowdown in global deforestation rates(FAO,Rome).Slowdown in deforestation rate in the past one decade is about 20% .Brazil alone represents more than 50% of the overall estimated reduction in carbon emission between 2001 and 2015.
    To mitigate climate change through forests,we have programmes UN REDD and REDD + at international level.REDD stands for Reducing Emission  due to  Deforestation and degradation of forests.REDD+ goes beyond REDD.It includes role of conservation,sustainable management of forests and enhancement of carbon stocks.It includes afforestation , reforestation, and regeneration.
REDD+ is a climate change mitigation solution.
              In UP Jica assisted project, we have REDD+ project in ten forest divisions of Obra,Renukoot,Sonebhadra,Mahoba,Mirzapur,Jhansi,Lalitpur, Allahabad and Kashi.It has involved 100 Joint forest Management committees.It involves afforestation  and reforestation  thereby enhancing the forest stock.It involves participation of community in forest management, and improves income level of forest dependent community..It has been assisted by TERI and is at an advanced stage of implementation.
                I congratulate all Paryavaran youth leaders,their teachers and parents, who have come from all parts of the state and have got awards.I hope , these youth leaders will spearhead movement for a green and clean UP.
               I also congratulate MD and official
            s of   , UP  Forest Corporation  who have got  forest certification from Forest Stewardship council,Germany for sustainable forest management..Ten principles and criteria of FSC for certification includes maintenance of High Conservation Value forests,plantations and environment impact.I wish them all the best and hope they will continue the good work .
            Wesley Henderson of Canada., who wrote the biography (Under Whose Shade)of his father Nelson Henderson quoted the life motto of Nelson as below:
"The true meaning of life is to plant trees,under whose shade you do not expect to sit".Let this be motto for all of us.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

International Women's Day ,March 8,2015(Sunday)

Empowering women,Empowering humanity:Picture it.This is the focus of today's Women's Day.I was one of the six speakers on the panel,invited at the event organized in Lucknow by The Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Lucknow  to celebrate International Women's day on march8,2015 in Lucknow.The  others were Mrs.Niloufar Pourzand,chief of Unicef,Ms. Sunita Aron,Senior Resident editor , Hindustan Times,Prof. Mohd. Muzammil,VC,Dr.Bhimrao Ambedkar University ,Agra,Prof. Roop rekha verma,former VC,Lucknow University,founder,saajhi Duniya ,and Prof.Geeta Gandhi Kingdon,president and chief Operating Officer ,CMS, Lucknow.Mrs. Farida Vahedi conducted the proceedings.
               I started my talk with the question whether we in UP and India are doing well on  gender equality front .Literacy data of 2011 showed that while male literacy is 79.2%, the female literacy is 59.2%.The gap is 20%.While in Kerala,the male literacy is 96%,female literacy is 92% and the gap is 4%. The child sex ratio ,which in 2001 was 927girls per 1000 boys , became 918 girls per 1000 boys in 2011.In Punjab , while normal nutrition status was  for 40% boys,it was  only for 20% girls.There was no data  available regarding separate toilets for boys and girls.
                 In skill development mission , when the targets for skill development were fixed , there no separate targets for boys and girls.Because the funds are allocated on the basis of number of persons given skills , and not separately for boys and girls.There is a need to allot separate targets as well as funds for boys and girls.Advancement of women and girls should be a priority on government agenda.Government websites and books on statistics should give gender specific information .Laws realted to violence against women - rape,domestic violence,female foeticide and dowry-should be firmly enforced.
            UP government has provided 20% reservation in government jobs for women , reservation of 1/3rd seats for women in three tier Panchyati Raj System,50% reservation in BTC courses as also in posts of shiksha Mitras.
        There are four aspects of gender inequalities as below:
1.Differences in Labour Market Participation .
2Differences in Occupational Status.
3.Wage discrimination.
4.Differences in characteristics.
 There are three major barriers in access to Labour Markets:
1.Domestic duties only on women .
2.Lack of child care facilities and support.
3.Social disapproval.
What is the role of men in gender equality ?
1.can men speak on women's behalf?Can a man know what it is to be woman?
2.What are the ethics and politics of men speaking for women?Why should men speak on women's behalf?
My answer to these questions is that like Abraham Lincoln  spoke and worked to abolish slavery , though he was a white man. men also can speak and work for eliminating gender inequalities.
                   It  requires a change in mindset of men and women .This requires sharing by men of household work and child care.Schools need to impart gender equal education .There should be gender equal environment at workplaces.We need to have women on selection panels for filling up of posts.
 We have a dream of equal society.It is a long march .But a  gender equal society is its first stage.Let us all work towards it.