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December 2007 - January 2008

Political News

From Far & Near - Topics of interest

by Bhupendra Gandhi

Our Feckless Society
Monster of our own making

What sort of a society we live in today when teenage boys and girls go on a mindless rampage that so often results in the death of an innocent person minding his own business, playing with his young children.

The recent shocking headlines is the prime example of out of control teenagers when a boy, aged 10, was convicted of killing a father who was playing cricket with his young son. There is nothing new in these headlines except that they appear so often that no one takes notice.

Why is it happening to us, a people that were once a role model to the world when it came to good behaviour, discipline decorum and social etiquette? The answer is simple if we have the courage and honesty to admit it and act upon it.

Our social structure and core values have eroded to such an extent that single motherhood, teenage pregnancies and lack of parental control has become the norm rather than an exception. No one is ever convicted for having sex with an underage girl, even if she may be as young as twelve.

So often a young mother has three children from three different relationships, even from a one night stand. Children do not know who their fathers are. Even animals support their offspring better than some of these absent parents do.

In any other country, this would be a disgrace, unacceptable social behaviour but not in Britain where it is rewarded with a council house and a life on social security. It not only sends out a wrong signal but confines such single parent families to poverty, deprivation and without future, unfair to them and to their children.

So often these mothers spend most of their evening time and meagre financial resources on drink and drugs, neglecting their children who roam the streets and fall into bad company, used by the drug dealers and drawn into prostitution and gang warfare.

Our prison service is one of the worst in the world. Youngsters who spend a long time behind bars come out seasoned criminals. Our prisons are not a punishment of last resort but has become a school for scandals, an institute churning out criminals.

Why our politicians and social reformers do not look at the prison regime in some of the enlightened Asian countries, tiger economies who operate a prison service that one may call a jewel in their social structure.

In countries like Japan, South Korea and Singapore, young offenders, especially those who have committed a serious crime of rape, murder and robberies involving violence are sent to prison for a long time, even for life but the prisons are more of a correction, a learning institute than a mere place to lock up criminals.

These young prisoners are given every facility to study and make a life for themselves, enable them to earn a decent living when they are released. Most take up these facilities which they may have been denied in their young age.

When these young prisoners are released in the community, most have University degrees in subjects of their choice. They, then, go on to become good, productive, law abiding citizens, a credit not only to their families, but to the country and above all to the prison service that turns criminals into model citizens. Those who fail to cooperate spend a long time behind bars but by far the vast majority grab such opportunities.

How come we in this country always lack behind on such progress, use outdated system and let prison become a recruiting ground, a school that breeds criminals rather than reforming them.

I know a friend whose teenage son was sent to prison for ten years for defending himself when attacked by a gang. His parents stood-by him, put a pressure on the prison service through Home Office to let him continue his A level studies.

He came out with a Masters degree in business administration and is now doing PhD studying and lecturing at the same university. He is now a model, productive citizen. He used prison as a vehicle for advancement rather than spending twenty two hours locked up in a cell.

I sincerely hope that our short-sighted government learn from such examples and transform our prisons from a punishment institution to Institutes of Opportunities.

NHS in perpetual decline

The recent crisis in NHS dentistry is nothing new for the long suffering patients, especially the old, the infirm and financially not so affluent.

There is such a scarcity of qualified dentists in some parts of the country that it is practically impossible for many to register with a NHS dentist. Even amongst those who are fortunate enough to find a dentist, the charges are so prohibitive that not many old people can afford them, as patients have to pay 85% of the cost and NHS picking up the rest.

This is indeed a NHS in name only unable to deliver. When we visit our dentist for a six monthly routine check-up, it costs us a minimum of £100 for two of us. If we need any extra work done, and at our age it is usually the case, it may cost us as much as £200, a figure out of reach for many pensioners.

No wonder some patients have to retort to DIY treatment, even pulling their own rotten teeth with pliers that would come out easily but would cost a fortune in NHS dental treatment. This is our NHS in perpetual decline as far as service is concerned, even after doubling the spending on NHS since this government came to power.

GPs are paid more to do less work who opt out of home visit and most GP surgeries are closed on Saturdays. It is so difficult if not impossible to arrange a home visit and locum doctors are neither as efficient nor as knowledgeable as one’s own GP who may be treating the patient for years and is familiar with his case history.

Every hospital I visit proudly displays a notice, “This hospital operates a zero tolerance.” But it seems it only applies to patients, as so often the bullying is done by the hospital staffs, especially when they are under pressure. Beds are scare and patients are waiting on trolleys and in waiting rooms.

Billions of pounds have been poured into NHS but without forward planning, proper or effective policy and as a result every government initiative has spectacularly backfired, taking the NHS a step backward.

I must admit that by far the most NHS staffs are kind and caring but a significant minority misbehaves and gives NHS a bad name. But then they may be acting under orders to meet the Whitehall targets that confine the patient care into the dustbin. It seems NHS behaves more like a business organization, seeking higher turnover than delivering an efficient and caring service that we need and deserve.

It is high time that all politicians understand that there is no such thing as free lunch. Patients are asked to contribute in every European country, mainly covered under their insurance policy. So why should we not be allowed to pay a small amount that may bring us some dignity, compassion and loving care if we prefer to pay?

If it creates a two tier system, let it be. As long as the vast majority of the public get a better treatment. After all, there is a social and financial divide in every walk of life.

UK Wide support for
Hindu School

It is a great relief to acknowledge that the Hindu community is at last waking up to the challenge of working together for the common good of the community.

It is but natural that people living around the proposed site for Krishna Avanti Primary School in Camrose Avenue, Edgware are a bit apprehensive and have reservation for the school sited in their area and how it would affect the area and the local amenities.

It seems this apprehension comes out of ignorance, jealousy and political mischief-making rather than the knowledge of the Hindu community, one of the most advanced, articulate, progressive and law abiding community among the ethnic minorities.

It is a well establish fact that any Hindu enterprise, whether it is a school, a temple or even a social club for the elderly, attracts more opposition than any such enterprise from other ethnic minorities. It is a pity that some of the local Hindu residents have joined hands with this mischief making minority who are fighting tooth and nail to scruple the project, even at this late stage when it has gained the wider support of the Council and the community.

Until now our community was docile, unable or unwilling to fight back. But all that is changing, as our younger generation is taking more interest in the community affairs. In a democratic society, the best way to fight such prejudice is to become member of a political party of one’s choice, participate and get elected. We still lag well behind Jewish and Muslim communities in political participation.

The I-Foundation is the driving force behind this first state assisted Hindu school, to be built on the proposed site at William Ellis Playing Field, on Camrose Avenue in Edgware. It is worth noting that the director of the charity states that the only user of the playing field is the local Belmont Football Club who support the school and will benefit from the excellent sporting facilities the school would provide to the local community, injecting well over half a million pound in improving the ground facilities.

At one time support for the school on the planning website was one to six against, when most Hindus were unaware of the stiff opposition organized by the local residents. But once they were informed, the local Hindus flooded the website with support with a majority of one to fifty in favour.

The school has, hopefully cleared the final hurdle when the Harrow Council’s Strategic Planning Committee gave it a thumb up sign.

In a few years when the school is up and running, attracting pupils right across ethnic minorities with excellent results and the price of their properties rising faster than the national average, due to excellent school on their door-step, these local people will appreciate the hard work put in by the I-Foundation, in the same way as Swaminarayan Hindu temple is now appreciated by most of the local residents in Brent East.

Some of the Harrow Councillors right across the political divide, especially Cllr. Anjana Patel, the only portfolio holder and Cllr. Navin Shah, leader of the Labour group have actively supported the school and I hope Hindu residents in Harrow will not forget their contribution, dedication and hard work come the next local election.

Sonia in stolen
Gandhian Clothes

Sonia Mano saw fit to represent Gandhi family, Gandhi tradition, Gandhi name and Gandhi heritage at the function, the inauguration of International Day of Non-Violence organized by The United Nation to mark 2nd October, the birth day of the most saintly person of the 20th centaury.

Sonia, the daughter-in-law of Indira Nehru Gandhi, a Kashmiri Brahmin,, after Indira’s marriage to Firoz Gandhi, has perhaps more in common with Mussolini than Mahatma, with her Italian ancestry and genealogy. Yet she did not hesitate to take her place at the celebrations with her fake identity, in an attempt to misappropriate Gandhiji’s name to gain a political mileage and international legitimacy. The fact that UN officials allowed this misrepresentation shows how ignorant, blind and uneducated they are.

Gandhiji was an mbodiment of Hinduism with deep and equal respect for all religions. He prayed twice a day, every day and constantly chanted the name of Lord Rama. In fact his dying words were ‘Hey Ram’ and a plea to forgive his assassin.

It is indeed a fitting tribute to Gandhiji who gave the world an alternative weapon or rather a refined technique to fight injustice, to liberate a country from the clutches of a colonial power.

Gandhiji won independence for India by peaceful means, and with out any malice towards Britain. the colonial power which had enslaved his beloved nation and bled it dry, economically, socially and culturally.

About 500 people, mostly of Indian origin, from around USA, held a peaceful protest outside UN to oppose the presence of Sonia who is not related to Gandhiji in any way what so ever but uses Gandhiji’s name and goodwill to gain a political mileage and international legitimacy from the world community.

Sonia is poles apart from Gandhiji when it comes to religious tolerance, political violence, honesty, integrity, corruption and holding political office, many placards held by the protesters read.

The protesters, in true Gandhian tradition, held a fast and candle lit vigil in front of Gandhiji’s statue in Union square where every one was allowed to garland or place a single white rose at the foot of the statue.

It was a dignified protest in true Gandhian style befitting this great occasion.

Is fasting good for a
child’s health?

With the rise of religious awareness, so many old traditions, some good and beneficial others retrigrade and harmful, are making a comeback. One tradition I am not so sure of is the tradition of fasting, especially by young and growing children. This tradition is gaining popularity among Jains.

Although fasting is normally good for health, as it installs discipline and cleanses the body and perhaps the soul, it could be damaging to a young child deprived of food for a long period of time.

Some very young children fast for up to ten days, taking in only boiled water. No doubt it requires a great determination and discipline and such an experience may stand them in good stead in their adult life, I can not help but wonder what the views of the medical profession are.

Perhaps the fast is carried out under strict medical supervision and as such fasting by children, a tradition in Jainism, an enlightened and progressive religion by all means, I an sure an extensive scientific research may have taken place, indicating what is the maximum time a body can be deprived of food, especially among children, without causing a lasting harm to one’s delicate health.

If so, it would be interesting and appropriate to publish such a research paper in popular ethnic magazines like India Link, for the benefit of not only the readers but also for the benefit of other children who would like to fast in the future. A personal opinion of a dietician or a doctor is not enough, nor should it be taken as a bible for such a serious undertaking.

When Gandhiji was fasting in protest, I remember reading in newspapers that after a few days, his body organs, such as liver, kidneys and digestive system were weakening and beginning to fail. That was the time the alarm bells would start ringing and even the British authority would give in rather than let Gandhiji damage his health or even die.

It would be interesting to know the views and opinion of other readers, especially those who have carried out such a fast in the past or taken part in a scientific experiment on fasting. Please share your knowledge with us, the readers of this prestigious publication for the common good.

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