Visit to Hiroshima : A soul touching experience

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The skeletal dome of city centre at Hiroshima today bears a grim reminder to the follies committed by leaders of big nations who while raising pitch of war cries and indulging into muscle flexing with arsenals of nuclear armaments  sacrifice lives of millions of innocent  men, women and children.The bombsite is dotted with memorials  for the victims of bombing.

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Hiroshima was one of the most vibrant cities of Japan when it was selected as a target for being bombed with a nuclear bomb by Allies in world war 2. On a bright sunny morning in August 1945 when city of Hiroshima was opening it’s eyes to a new dawn, a 4 yr. old  kid  Shinichi Tetsutani was out in garden with his tricycle which he passionately loved.

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A sudden flash in the sky with a huge orange cloud of smoke changed the world of young child and many others like him. His tricycle with his skeletal remains burnt out in aftermath of nuclear explosion over the city was discovered by his father and buried with his mortal remains only to be excavated several years later for being donated to memorial built to commemorate the sad events of world’s first nuclear explosion at Hiroshima.The nuclear explosion snuffed out life for more than half of the city’s population in a matter of seconds.Those who did not die immediately struggled with nuclear burns for several long years.

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While on a visit to Japan we spared a specific day for soaking into emotional experience of a brave city which rebuilt itself after losing more than half of it’s population in the nuclear explosion.Hiroshima has over the years rebuilt itself as  as a beautiful modern city surrounded with greenery and beautiful flowers and birds.

Monuments spread around bomb site convey message of peace.

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On the fateful day the bomb had exploded 600 feet above the city centre.The Japanese have chosen to retain the skeletal remains of the city centre as a memorial to the horrors of war.The clock at the city centre which stopped ticking at 8.45 am is preserved in the shape exactly as it stood at the fateful moment.

The museum built up in vicinity of the explosion site recalls with pictorial representations the horrible experience which the citizens suffered and shares several emotional stories of victims with the world. While a burnt wrist watch is shown with hands at 8.45 am. another moving story shared at the Museum is that of Koji Karo an engineering student who was given a special meal in his lunch box by his mother since it was his birthday on the fateful day.The mortal remains of Koji could never be traced but the burnt out lunch box bearing his name was recovered from the site where he was working.

Another clock at the museum has been installed to show the time which elapsed since the first as well as the last nuclear explosion serving as a warning against the enthusiasm for more and more nuclear tests.

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Barrack Obama who was the first American President to visit the Museum is reported to have been moved to tears on seeing pictures of devastation by the nuclear bomb.

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After offering an emotional apology Obama recorded appeal for giving up Nuclear weapons The Museum created a special section in the Museum for commemorating Obama’s message for peace.

thumb_IMG_3214_1024For the modern generation the Memorial is a pilgrimage site where young school children regularly gather and pray in memory of kids who did not survive to live another day or suffered horrors of nuclear holocaust.

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Hiroshima was also home to  Poet Meikichi Suzuki (1882-1932) who is known as father of Children’s literature in Japan. He introduced a new system of teaching for small children through poems and stories.Above is a picture of his memorial which is considered to be a symbol of Hiroshima’s recovery from devastations of war and Hope for world peace.Inscription on the monument says “I will always dream as I did in my boyhood and therefore suffer only little.”

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Hunar Haat at Delhi

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During month of  February Delhi weather gets pleasant with mellow sun and cool breeze, flower beds are blooming with new crop of winter seasonals and there is much improvement in air quality.If there is an opportunity for enjoying a tasty meal in warm sunshine and simultaneously appreciating some artworks there is a great temptation for going out and savouring the  great experience.The newly introduced Hunar Haat (Market of Artisans) at Connaught Place looked quite inviting with performing folk artists and lines of eateries offering cuisine prepared by master chefs from all over the country.

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The Haat turned out to be an event organised by National Minorities Development and; Finance Corporation (NMDFC) under Upgrading the Skills and Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development (USTTAD) scheme of the Minority Affairs Ministry. We were told that the  scheme aims to to encourage artists . For historical purposes -the first “Hunar Haat”,  was organised in November last year at Pragati Maidan, the one under progress at Baba Kharak Singh Marg  is the second edition .

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The sidewalk at Baba Kharag Singh Marg has been converted into a mini market for display of these skills .The items on display have an amazing variety of art ware besides the eateries offering Kashmiri tea to Lucknowi Biryani besides Dilli Ki chat.The show is appropriately titled  “Craft Aur Cuisine Ka Sangam”.The performance by folk artists adds another colourful dimension  to the event.

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As per the info provided to us  100 artisans and 30 culinary experts from about 24 states and union territories are participating at about 130 stalls .The highlight of the Haat is “Bawarchikhana” where various cuisines from different parts of the country are being showcased and the visitors can enjoy to their hearts content.

Delhiites were seen enjoying the great opportunity to savour the best of foods from all over the country which include Dal Bati Churma and Thali from Rajasthan, Sandesh and Rasogolla from West Bengal, Awadhi Mughlai foods from Lucknow, Malabari food from Kerala, Litti Chokha of Bihar, Dhokla and Jalebi from Gujarat, Kashmiri Wazwan from Jammu and Kashmir Puran Poli from Maharashtra, , Bhutte Ke Khees and Sabudana Kheer and Khichri from Madhya Pradesh.

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The Haat is expected to return to Delhi annually around this part of the winter.There appeared to be a promise that the  experiment will be a success and Delhiites  will continue to enjoy year after year.

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Getting nostalgic with Delhi Heritage Foundation

This New Year opened on an exciting note.Seventh of January brought a surprise invite from Delhi Heritage Foundation an organisation working for reviving ancient culture and preserving heritage of Delhi the capital city of India.The organisation conceived and promoted by certain prominent citizens of old city has brought together bunch of city lovers enthused with past glory of the Shahjahanabad and fired with zeal for preserving it’s cultural heritage and traditions.Going through the Facebook page of the organisation and impressed by the committed, crusading spirit of the dedicated citizen vigilantes we promptly lapped up the invite.

The event titled Tangible and Intangible Heritage of City of Delhi opened floodgates of nostalgia about the old city popularly known as the walled city, having been protected by fortification by Mughal Emperors over middle ages. Several participants having been born and grown up in the city and others having migrated in course of their formative years in life spoke emotionally  about the ways of old Delhi. While someone spoke about the artistic ways of traders and market men other speaker gushed over the culinary delights of Chandni Chowk the Central market which was in historic times, and continues to be  the nerve centre of commercial activities. For everyone  mention of areas covered by narrow lanes and bye lanes evoked passionate memories of having discovered the charms of the city on foot.

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Secretary Dr.GG Saxena interacting with audience

The tone for the evening was set by Dr. SY Qureshi an eminent ex civil servant and leading light of the organisation who in keynote address recalled the lost glory of the city and shared his vision for preserving and recreating the lost heritage of city of Shahjahanabad . It transpired that The Delhi Heritage foundation has  on it’s own initiated moves  for preservation of several historic monuments by coming up with the novel scheme of encouraging educational institutions to adopt a monument.

Another highlight of the evening were the narratives on Cinema theatres of Delhi which were succumbing to loss of business in hard times.Even mention of names of of picture halls had element of excitement for everyone bringing back memories of a Mughal-e-Azam or Pakiza and excitement associated with queuing up for a first day first show ticket outside Regal in Connaught Place or Golcha in Daryaganj.Every one felt the need  for re energising the picture halls located on prime places in the city with innovative techniques.

The myriad suggestions for recreating the lost glory of city poured in  from enthusiastic participants. The phoenix like ability  of the city to reinvent itself was best summarised by Chairman in a poetic rendering of Mir Taki Mir which refers to a stage when the city was passing through times difficult.It is recalled that master of Urdu poetry had introduced himself in a mushaira  as

” Dilli Ek Shahar tha Aalamein Intikhab ..rahne wale hain hum us ujde dayar ke”

It is a matter of historical knowledge that the city later on rebuilt itself to take pride of place in leading cities of the world.

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Challenges of content sharing in social media

A bunch of old colleagues from a common cadre recently met over a batch party and thought of forming a What’s App group initially with the understood objective of saying Hi and Hello to each other.One of our colleagues with certain accomplishments by way of posts in social media chose to be the self appointed Group Administer (GA).

The group expectedly had some teething troubles as different participants looked towards each other with different colour shades.It also appeared that over the years people had developed different likes and dislikes.However everyone agreed to the rules set by the GA that personal prejudice should not come in way of appreciating efforts of the group members.

In any organised line of service a bunch of individuals start together on a common platform but things do not  stay as  such. A career in civil services offers myriad opportunities for interacting with high and mighty.Your growth over the years substantially depends also on your individual PR skills and in some cases ability to specialise with extra curricular achievements making yourself a box of choclate with attractive wrapping papers.With passage of time some figures come to pump up  as towering personalities and their administrative differences  tend to get blurred.

Like other segments of society our group also had fair share of generous hearted souls who enjoy the habit of massaging the egos of each other whereas other group members  may be less impressed with such achievers and their admirers. When such people come together to form a social networking group situation expectedly has risk of getting a bit chaotic.

At the initial stage the Group appeared to be periodically dormant as well as hyperactive since participants in their anxiety to register their presence passed on whatever contents they could lay their hands on.One colleague had great enchantment with ancient wisdom on medical science  and  generously  blessed the group with such posts on health matters with fair sprinkling of Sanskrit poetry with preachings for welfare of humanity.While I consider all such humanistic preachers and those relying on untested medical wisdom as ignorants , some would be willing to wade through rivers of blood to support such homely  preachings on lifestyle techniques.Everyone has a right to be his natural self.

Like other groups a participant in the group  has  ability to shine as  master of several languages and a person with literary achievements.  Therefore  his writings have fair share of pieces in exotic languages and are accompanied by  translations  in various other languages. While the practice happens to be puzzling for some  also for the reason that  the passages posted  are sometimes not  self written but  apparently copied from  twitter or  other sources yet there are others who fall head over heels for such erudite renditions .

The first genuine difference cropped up when a colleague posted a joke on behaviour of college girls. The Pahlaj Nihlani of the Group i.e. the Group Administrator was up with red flag  chastising others to be extra cautios with dignified  inputs on sensitive matters even in a closed group.In the present day atmosphere of universal connectivity on social media the Group Administrator appeared to be  justified in being upset as there are precedents of irresponsible contents inviting trouble on small issues.Therefore fires were quickly doused  with emotional appeals in the name of of group unity and our love and affection for each other. And…the group continues to roll on.

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Recommendations of VIIth CPC:Suggestions for Performance linked Incentive Schemes

 

The  VII CPC has examined the status of performance related incentive schemes presently in practise on basis of recommendations of the VIth CPC in Chapter 15 of the report and made certain important suggestions.

Tracing the evolution of such incentives it has referred to the report of 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission which had visualised such incentives as a prerequisite for an effective governance system. The issue was taken up by Vth and VIth CPC as a tool for providing incentive for effective Administration.The Scheme formulated by VI CPC covered organisations as well as individuals.

The previous Pay Commission had made the implementation of  the Scheme optional for the various units after taking into consideration the difference in functional scope of various units of Government. The implementing Departments had to draw a roadmap of activities and harmonise the same with individual achievements. It had added the condition of Departments having prepared a Results Framework Document (RFD) for two preceding years, and also several additional measures such as developing IT based attendance and performance monitoring systems.

The recommendations had failed to make  major impact in face of difficulties in making requisite budgetary provisions, absence of clear performance evaluation parameters and aberrations such as high achievers caught in mediocre environments. The Commission has also noted the failure of earlier schemes of Performance Linked Bonus (PLB) conceived for Govt. Servants due to absence of clear, quantifiable targets and performance evaluation of any individual.

The Commission in it’s report has pointed out that in public services the objectives are not quantifiable in monetary terms like private sector organisations.The task of laying down the parameters for performance evaluation and reward for different services and Government Departments is therefore rather complex. However there are precedents in other countries where such schemes for incentivising good performers through objective criteria have been implemented with success. Some countries have evolved separate set of norms for senior civil servants and junior functionaries.

Considering all factors the CPC has observed that exercise for evolving a system for performance based rewards should be preceded by proper understanding of the system, adequate planning and capacity building at various levels.The vagaries of Govt.functions makes it impossible to devise a common performance based incentive Scheme. The Commission has suggested simple and effective schemes which should have common features for the Department. It has been suggested that the reward system should be an annual feature and should not be linked to savings effected by the employee.

In conclusion the Commission has recommended introduction of Performance Related Pay for all categories of Central Government employees, based on quality RFDs, reformed Annual Performance Appraisal Reports and broad Guidelines.The Performance Related Pay should subsume the existing Bonus schemes. The Commission notes that there could be a time lag in implementing the Performance Related Pay by different Departments.In the interim period the Ministries and Departments can review the existing Bonus Schemes and create linkage  with increased profitability/productivity with definite parameters.

Another important suggestion made by the CPC pertains to weightage to be given for in the APAR to personal attributes of the public servant in comparison to his performance in achievement of results.The Commission feels that it should be in ration of 40:60 instead of current  ratio of 60:40.

It has also strongly pleaded for fixation of definite time frame for drafting, reviewing and finalising  RFDs .It would also be necessary that these timelines get synchronised with the preparation of the APAR ..”so that the targets set under RFD get reflected in individual APARs in a seamless manner.”

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VIIth CPC Recommendations for the Defence officers cadre

The country has around 47 Lakh Central Govt Employees out of which  there are 14 Lakh defence service personnel constituting around 30% of total strength .In the Army, the officer cadre comprises of  the two functional branches viz., Arms and Services.The bulk of the officers are at the lower end of the pyramid, with significantly smaller numbers at the vertex.

The Indian Navy Officers’ cadre comprises officers from the Executive, Engineering, Electrical and Education branches.

The officer cadre in the Indian Air Force consists of Flying Branch and Ground Duties Branches (Technical and Non-Technical). The Army Medical Corps (AMC) and Army Dental Corps comprise Medical/Dental officers as well as Non-Technical officers

The Pay Commission was confronted with the issues relating to persisting shortage in the ranks of officers which is currently around 23% and the consequential need for cadre review.While considering the comparative pay scales the Commission noted that after recommendations of previous CPC the starting pay of a defence officers is about 29 percent higher than his/her civilian counterpart.This gap remains wide for first nine years of service (over 20 percent) .In fact the pay of defence service officers remains uninterruptedly higher for a thirty-two year period and only thereafter pay of defence and civil service officers are at par.

In addition to higher pay the defence service officers are better placed with benefits like  (a) free rations or ration money allowance in lieu of free rations (b) tax concession available in Canteen Store Depots (c) military concession vouchers for travel in Railways and by air (d) free electricity upto 100 units each month (e) concessions on water charges.

The CPC made  comparative analysis of pay structures of armed forces in USA & UK with pay scales applicable to Indian Army and noted that “…….. defence service officers and JCO/ORs in India, based on VI CPC pay scales, are placed quite well in terms of pay, even in relation to defence personnel in countries like US and UK, where the GDP per capita in PPP terms for the country as a whole is significantly higher than that of India”

Major decisions taken by the Commission are to the effect that  there is no case for revision in the structure of Grade Pay by taking Rank Pay into consideration while determining the top of the pay scales of certain ranks and no change is warranted in the manner of pay fixation for Lt. Colonel/Colonel and  Brigadier/equivalent.

Considering the submission that grant of NFU to Organised Group ‘A’ Services in Ministry of Defence  has created command, control and functional problems the Commission had recommended for extension of NFU to the officers of the Defence forces and CAPFs (including ICG) as well.

However several suggestions made by Services in joint Memorandum such as those relating to pay fixation for re employment of officers and select promotion schemes have not been agreed to. These would remain in accordance for rules for Central Govt employees.The Commission  has also not found any justification in further scaling up all Lieutenant Generals to the HAG+ grade.

For the Short Service Commissioned Officers the Commission it has been recommended that the SSC officers should be allowed to exit at any time between seven years and ten years of service instead of the existing exit option at ten and fourteen years. The option for permanent commission should be exercised in the seventh year, instead of the tenth year as it exists today. As package for those exiting the Commission has recommended Terminal Gratuity at uniform 10.5 months of reckonable emoluments, for exit any time between seven years and ten years.

In order to facilitate their rehabilitation, the Commission has recommended that such officers be provided benefit of Fully funded (a) one year Executive Programme at premier management institute or (b) M. Tech programme from premier technology institute as well as Concession towards Civil Service Examination by way of relaxation in age by five years.

For the Junior Commissioned Officers the CPC has not agreed to the demand for a common pay scale.Demands pertaining to review of pay scales of JCOs /ORs have also not been agreed to by the VIIth CPC.

Services had sought a review of pay scales of JCOs/ORs in certain select categories with the objective of enhancement of their Grade Pay with the objective of  bringing  them at par with their civil counterparts. This demand has been not accepted by the CPC  citing the fact that the personnel already enjoy advantages such as Military Service Pay.The Commission has not agreed to disturb the relativities between sepoy and constables in CAPF.

The Commission has recommended  an  exercise for standardisation under which all X trades should mandatorily involve obtaining a qualification which is equivalent of a diploma in engineering (recognised by AICTE).

Several other demands such as change in packages for Havildar / Naib Subedar and modifications in MACP have been turned down.

For Honorary Commissioned Officers the Commission has recommended that the Junior Commissioned Officers on their promotion as Honorary Lieutenant or Honorary Captain shall be placed in the pay level 10 and pay level 10B respectively. They will, in addition be paid Military Service Pay of ₹15,500 per month on par with that payable to all the Commissioned officers.

Other important recommendations include benefit of of MSP for non combatants .For Air Force it recommended increase in MSP from pre existing Rs. 1000/-to Rs.3600/- per month.

Regarding Military Service Pay as indicated in previous writings it has been held that the the same will be  available only to Military Service Personnel upto rank of Brigadiers and the present structure has been held to be acceptable for future also.

Lateral Movement/Resettlement of Defence Forces Personnel is another important area covered in this chapter It has been recommended that the primary focus of the Government with regard to lateral entry as far as CAPFs are concerned should be on personnel retiring from the ranks of Sepoys (& their equivalents), who may be asked to opt for continuation or lateral movement in CAPF after seven years of service . The personnel in cases of such lateral movement be given due pay protection (however MSP shall not be admissible on such lateral movement). As compensation the personnel may be given lump sum payment @ 10.5 time of last pay drawn.After serving in CAPFs they shall continue upto the retirement age and be covered in so far as their pensionary benefits are concerned under the New Pension system.

CPC has also recommended for facilitating lateral entry of retiring defence forces personnel to Defence Civilians organisations like Ordnance Factories, DRDO, Naval Dockyards, Military Engineering Service, Border Road Organisation, Base Repair Depots etc. and desired that this option should be available for all defence forces personnel, irrespective of the number of years of service.

Commission has suggested far fetching reforms  in the institutional framework with use of IT in matching the available database on retiree work force with the market forces and sought synergising out put of all agencies involved in welfare of ex army personnel through intervention and control of Central Govt.

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Final Verdict on conviction of Juvenile

Last three years in Delhi have seen many ups and downs in the trial of  persons involved in tragic case of brutalisation of a girl in Delhi on 16th December 2012.The horrible crime committed in heart of National Capital witnessed protests from young and old in most vocal fashion. The local police and the trial court under pressure of public opinion acted swiftly and finalised the proceedings leading to conviction of six accused. Moved by the force of public resentment the Govt. tried it’s best to save the life of the young victim, even sending her for treatment abroad. There was also some show of strict action against petty Govt. servants whose negligence is believed to have created enabling conditions for bus operators with shady credentials to operate in the National Capital.The identity of victim was kept a guarded secret and name Nirbhaya (fearless) was given to the victim in appreciation of her fighting spirit.

Yet much remains to be done. The eldest of the accused among the six perpetrators of crime committed suicide -perhaps out of feeling of guilt,being a middle aged family man.The youngest having been found to be a juvenile at the time of committing of crime is now a free man having completed detention period of three years.The remaining four persons convicted by lower rungs of judiciary still evade the hangman’s noose since their appeal against the conviction is yet to be deliberated upon by the Apex court.

Country’s  law makers had left no stone unturned to shed crocodile tears on the tragedy. At the last stage when the juvenile accused completed his period of detention and his release appeared imminent,headline grabbing opportunities were contrived  by making a show of knocking at midnight at the doors of Supreme Court- a dramatic move  which expectedly proved to be unproductive being not supported by law.Country is still waiting for legislative action to plug loopholes which came to fore in dealing with juveniles responsible for heinous crimes.

It is a moot point whether the wide publicity given to this case has brought about any respect for law or it has helped the younger generation of women in feeling secure.Tragically in the three years which followed the mass uprising against crime against women, young women have continued to suffer in the National Capital as well as in rest of the country .

While the curtains appear to be drawing on the tragic case we are confronted with the faces of two mothers whose heart bleeds for a child lost for no fault of theirs.On one side is the face of a mother who regrets the fact that one of the offenders is walking away free due to complexity of law. She feels guilty for not having  been able to secure justice for her brutally treated daughter .On the other side is face of a mother in a remote village who had no choice when her young child was moved over to a big city in search of livelihood and got sucked into a vicious life of crime.This mother perhaps also feels guilty for not having been able to give her due to the child.

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