Monday, October 24, 2011

Diwali Greetings - TO YOU and ALL!!!

Dear Friends,






With the LIGHT of


May we have the COURAGE to be A LIGHT IN THIS WORLD!




Fr Cedric Prakash sj and ALL at PRASHANT  
-  A Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace
 Hill Nagar, Near Kamdhenu Hall, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad - 380052, Gujarat, India
Phone : +91  79   27455913,  66522333
Fax : +91  79  27489018


Sunday, October 16, 2011

FOOD:AN URGENT&MAJOR CONCERN(from 16th Oct Ahmed ed)


-Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*


It's October 16th and yet another World Food Day!  Time for each one of us to look at the hard reality and to see how this fundamental essential is hitting all and very specially the poor and the marginalized sections of society.


The theme of this year's World Food Day is 'Food Prices from Crisis to Stability'.  The question we need to ask ourselves is as food prices keep on rising and the crisis continue to grow larger day by day, is there any stability?  Essential food items are sky-rocketing and this represents a major threat to food security in developing countries. 


According to a World Bank Report in 2010 – 2011, rising food costs across the globe pushed nearly 17 million people into extreme poverty.  It's important today to seriously reflect at what caused swings in food prices and what needs to be done to reduce their impact on the weakest and poorest members of society.


There are several endemic causes that need to be addressed.  These include: the way the economy is subjected to market forces, the artificial scarcity created by hoarders and black-marketeers, the consumption patterns of the rich scandalous wastage and the fact that governments, (both at the Central level and at the State) do not show the necessary political will to ensure that prices are controlled and that people do not go hungry.


In a major ruling, the Supreme Court of India on September 14th, 2011 maintained "no one should die of starvation and malnutrition in our districts.  We direct Chief Secretaries of all States to indicate within two weeks how much additional food grains are required" It is anyone's guess how many Chief Secretaries of the States have provided this data today. 


According to recent report released by the International Food Policy Report Research Institute 'Gujarat has food insecurity levels from 0.621 – 0.776, making it a highly food insecure State'.  In spite of the so-call "economic growth" of the State, Gujarat has an under nutrition rate of 47%.  Above all, more than 50,000 infants die every year in the State and more than 54% of these are due to malnutrition.


Food prices, malnutrition hunger are different dimensions of the same reality.  As we observe another Food Day, the question we need to ask ourselves do we as individuals, as a State and a country have that necessary commitment to ensure that only our food prices are stabilized so that not a single human being goes to bed without having two square meals a day today?"



(* Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ is the Director of PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace.)


15th October, 2011

Address: PRASHANT, Hill Nagar, Near Kamdhenu Hall, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad - 380052

Phone: 79 27455913, 66522333
Fax:  79 27489018







Thursday, October 06, 2011

"You've Got To Find What You Love" -Steve Jobs...The man who gave us the APPLE and MORE!


'You've Got To Find What You Love'
'And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do'

Prepared text of the Commencement address delivered by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, on June 12, 2005, at Stanford University

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope it's the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

- - - - - - -     - - - - - - - -    - - - - - - -   - - - - -
PRASHANT   (A Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace)
Street Address : Hill Nagar, Near Kamdhenu Hall, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad - 380052, Gujarat, India
Postal Address : P B 4050, Navrangpura PO, Ahmedabad - 380 009, Gujarat, India
Phone : 91  79   27455913,  66522333
Fax : 91  79  27489018

"Gujarat's Decade under Modi" by Mallika Sarabhai


Gujarat's Decade under Modi


Mallika Sarabhai

Oct 7 2011

Imagine for a moment the State as a person standing before you. He is well dressed, in new clothes everyday. He has an expensive watch, several fancy cell phones, a beautifully kept hairdo, and smells of expensive perfumes. You will think, What a successful and prosperous man. Look inside his body. The kidneys have been sold. The heart is held together with ten stents. The liver has stopped functioning. He is brain dead. Will you still look at the outward appearance and not at the truth?

This is Gujarat after ten years of Modi. The State is bankrupt. The environment is destroyed. The Narmada waters are diverted to feed big industries. 21 lakh farmers have lost their top soils and have received no compensation. Practically every big scheme of the government is caught in huge corruption scandals that remain unaddressed. Dalits and Adivasis are routinely boycotted from villages and get no protection or justice. There has been no Lokayukta for close to 8 years so no government scams can ne looked into. The Assembly sits for fewer and fewer days each year making a mockery of democracy. Farmers who have no irrigation but have their own pumps can not run them as close to Rs 1 lakh is demanded from them to get electricity poles up. Transport has been privatised and buses run only on lucrative  routes. With some of the best roads in the country, a pregnant village woman still can't get medical aid. Her primary health centre has no doctor, and her village is not connected to the good road. Besides which bus would she take anyway? The labour courts haven't dealt with over 16000 cases. Education is unaffordable for the poor and not a single public hospital has been set up in ten years. Schools for the poor are routinely shut down. 1000 people commit suicide every year due to economic distress and crimes against women have gone up three fold. And the poor starve.

And Modi claims he has made Gujarat prosperous.  Time to remind ourselves of what we were before 2001.

In 1991 17940 out of 18028 villages were electrified. 87% of our roads were asphalted. In 2001 Gujarat's share in manufacturing in India was 28.7% and between 1994 and 2001 the State's domestic production grew between 10 and 13% every year. The world's largest ship breaking in Alang and the Ambani's refinery in Jamnagar both came way before Modi. Well before Modi we accounted for 45% of India's petroleum production, 78% of salt, 26% of pharmaceutical products and 23% of crude oil requirements. Because of  Chimanbhai Patel's intervention in 1993, port traffic,  a mere 3.18 million tonnes in 1981, rose to 86.17 million tonnes by 2001. Electiricity production rose 35% during the 90s.

So let's look beyond the image and try and regain genuine health. Or we will be dead soon, even if we make a pretty corpse in our new clothes.

Monday, October 03, 2011

"Protests are good" By Carol Pagaduan-Araullo


Protests are good

By Carol Pagaduan-Araullo, Chairperson BAYAN-Philippines
29 September 2011

The protracted global economic depression is sending the economies of even advanced capitalist countries such as the United States and members of the European Union on a tailspin.  Despite fits of financial convulsions due to the bursting of economic bubbles and now EU countries threatening to default on their sovereign debts if not bailed out, most official quarters still minimize the extent and depth of the crisis of global capitalism.

But the average person-on-the-street in the perennially underdeveloped countries of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East as well as the most advanced capitalist countries in the West knows from experience that this global economic depression is for real.  

It is making life harder and harder even for the touted "middle class". Worse it is unclear how or when the crisis will end and how or if the people's situation will improve. 

All over the world, what is becoming exceedingly clear for a growing number of working people and their families – wage workers, salaried employees and the bourgeoning underclass of unemployed, under-employed and self-employed individuals trying to scrape together a living – is that they are being made to unfairly bear the burden of this crisis. 

And they are fighting back.  They are demanding changes that mean something to them and are not mere empty promises.  

In this country, students, teachers and school officials are marching in the streets to decry budget cuts for state colleges and universities.  Health care workers are up in arms over slashed budgets of public hospitals and public health programs. 

They denounce the Aquino government's budget priorities: debt servicing, conditional cash transfers aka dole-outs and military outlays that go down the drain of corruption and failed counter-insurgency programs.  

They reject the privatization and commercialization of basic social services such as education, health care and housing and public utilities such as water, electricity and public transport.

Militant transport workers, in particular jeepney drivers and operators, along with the riding public have staged protests and strikes to dramatize their opposition to run away oil prices. They attribute this to the foreign and domestic oil cartel and speculators in the oil futures market manipulating the oil price and raking in super profits, together with the oil deregulation law and the national government's "hands-off" policy even as it collects windfall value-added-tax on higher oil prices.

The protesters are demanding the scrapping of deregulation policies, centralized government procurement of crude oil to take advantage of the cheapest prices, the scrapping of VAT on oil and for the government to take the commanding heights of developing a sustainable and people-oriented energy policy that is free from foreign domination and control.

Workers are on a warpath against the policy of contractualization that is ravaging their jobs, security of tenure, wages and benefits leading to labor being at the complete mercy of capital.  They are calling for the implementation of the twin policies of land reform and national industrialization to optimize the utilization of the country's natural and human resources and to create jobs and livelihoods for the army of unemployed and underemployed, especially the youth.

Homeless people living in shanty colonies in urban centers are resisting spontaneously against violent demolitions of their make-do residences only to be literally thrown into the streets.  They reject so-called government cum private development projects which exclude them but instead cater to commercial and financial big business interests.

In the US, there have been work stoppages and mass protests over lay-offs, budget cuts, withdrawal of entitlements and subsidies both in the public and private sectors.  Migrant workers and other immigrants have denounced job discrimination, police racial profiling and severe restrictions as well as harassment from immigration authorities.

Fed-up ordinary Americans are staging an ongoing "Occupy Wall Street" campaign wherein hundreds if not thousands of people have been conducting a daily sit-in protest at the heart of the financial district in New York City, pointing their fingers at the behemoths of finance capital for their economic dislocation and immiseration.

Greece, Spain, France and Italy have witnessed hordes of their people pouring out into the streets to reject government austerity measures after the public coffers have been emptied in bail-outs for the banks and other financial institutions and other failed neo-liberal policies as well as profligacy of their ruling elites.  They are also demanding jobs and social justice against the corporate elite and their political backers who continue to control the highest levers of power.

In North Africa and the Middle East, the political upheavals that have removed or are trying to depose entrenched authoritarian regimes continue.  The workers and youth in Egypt, for example, will not settle for the mere removal of their previous ruler, Mubarak, but are calling for his trial and those of his cohorts to account for their crimes against the people. 

They reject the military's hold on power and demand greater political representation of ordinary people in decision-making.  They call for an end to failed policies that have only managed to deepen their people's impoverishment and misery and the backwardness and stagnation of their economy.  They vigorously call the US to account for backing the Mubarak regime and its policy of rapprochement with the Zionists in Israel.

Sooner than expected, the real objectives of US-NATO in invading Libya are revealed.  For one, Libya is being turned into their newest field of investment (read: dumping ground of surplus capital), with the IMF-World Bank "asked" to "rehabilitate" the Libyan economy using the billions of dollars the Libyan government has invested in foreign banks, and to repair its infrastructure damaged by the US-NATO bombings.  

All these developments are rooted in the inability of the global capitalist system to fully recover from the global economic crisis triggered by the financial meltdown in 2007-08. The continuing and intensifying paroxysms in the very centers of capital belie all claims that the world economy has recovered or is on the way to recovery.

This is not at all surprising since none of the neoliberal policies that have brought about the crisis has been reversed. Measures have not been put in place for regulating transactions in financial derivative long identified as one of the major culprits that brought about the meltdown. Worse, the US and European governments, invariably beholden to and directed by finance capital, continue to conspire to this day in diverting public funds meant for housing, education and other basic social services to rescue the latter.

Corporate media and bourgeois propaganda may have succeeded for some time in conjuring the illusion of recovery and brighter times ahead, the reality of continuing joblessness, rising prices and loss of social security inevitably catches up and bursts whatever bubble of false hope remains.

Thus while it can be argued that the people's protests are long overdue and still need to gain strength and momentum, these have so far been the only forces that have mitigated the greed and avarice of the big capitalists and their agents in the bureaucracies. 

In the medium and long run, they are bound to grow and gain more strength as the crisis worsens and the hardships become more intolerable worldwide. #


Published in Business World

30 Sept - 1 October 2011

- - - - - - -     - - - - - - - -    - - - - - - -   - - - - -
PRASHANT   (A Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace)
Street Address : Hill Nagar, Near Kamdhenu Hall, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad - 380052, Gujarat, India
Postal Address : P B 4050, Navrangpura PO, Ahmedabad - 380 009, Gujarat, India
Phone : 91  79   27455913,  66522333
Fax : 91  79  27489018


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