Friday, April 21, 2017

Kulkarni & Shifu Sunkriti. A male fantasy!

This post may be a bit premature. The story is developing.

First, a few disclaimers.

This post is based on newspaper reports which as you all know are hugely varying in facts, correctness and so on.

I am basing my wild surmises and biased and prejudiced opinions on these newspapers, which makes things all the more amusing. Much like a debate on TV news.

I have full faith in the Judiciary – as famously said by many including Salman Bhai, & Sanju Baba.

Bharat Mata Ki Jai

Now that the disclaimers are done and dusted, let us plunge into the morass.

One Mr. Sunil Kulkarni has started what has hysterically been called a `cult’ – Shifu Sunkriti. He says, and I quote - “Shifu Sunkriti is not an organisation; it is my mystic name. Shifu means master, Sunkriti means Sun (reason) + Prakriti. I have been talking to every age group of people about their own family problems and emotional problems. I trained people on neuroplasticity resilience, it is a total connect of a brain to the body through the spinal cord through the electrical energy through the endocrinal glands that is basically the chemical energy. When all this is brought together, we get connected to ourselves. To do that, you have to physically get naked before yourself and then look at your body, get friendly with your body, then you actually get emotionally naked”

To me that sounds like what hundreds of mystics, philosophers, lifestyle gurus and self-styled God man have been saying all along. Details and words may differ now and then, but the basic principle of someone leading you along a path to heal yourself remains the same.

Mr. Kulkarni got a Facebook page, put up some trippy, hallucinatory, mildly sexually titillating, quasi mystical mumbo jumbo on the page in both words and images. Frankly, any rock music lover of the age of 45 and above would look back in time with fondness. The LP’s released by Santana – Abraxas, Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, and some Jimi Hendrix all had similar imagery. As far as lyrics go, there were plenty of nutty bands around with trippy lyrics. So nothing new here either.

From the newspaper accounts, Mr. Kulkarni, in his LinkedIn profile, said that he was a psychiatrist and a clinical psychologist. Pausing here, how information on your LinkedIn profile can be regarded as Gospel I do not know. Anyway, on this basis Kulkarni prescribed various anti-depressant medications. This clearly is a crime. Not very serious, but a crime nonetheless.

By the way, do have a look at his Blog.

If you are facinated have a look at the Facebook page, that drove everybody nuts. All rather hippy.

This had been going on for quite some time. The story broke when the parents of two girls – aged 21 and 23 – both adults by a long mile, filed a case in the Bombay High Court against the Police seeking directions to investigate and arrest Kulkarni. They claimed that Kulkarni deeply influenced the two girls, turned them against their parents, give them drugs, got them to indulge in wanton sex, and, for good measure, hypnotized them.

A Division Bench of the Bombay High Court was, as is now the norm, duly scandalized and thundered that “this is a serious case”. The Police were rapped on their knuckles forcing the Police to swing into action and arrest Kulkarni. Of course it should also be noted that the two girls had filed a domestic violence case against their parents alleging that the parents were restraining them from visiting Kulkarni ! Can you beat that?

Just for the record, the two Lordships were Justice Ranjit More aged 58. His Lordship is from Nimsod, Tq. Khatau, District Satara (Maharashtra). He did his schooling education at Nimsod, district Satara and B.A. (Hons.) from Kolhapur and obtained Law Degree from Sangli. He stood 2nd in order of merit of Shivaji University, Kolhapur in LL.B. This is from the Bombay High Court Website. The other is Justice Anuja Prabhudesai aged 55. Alas Her Ladyship has been very busy and has not provided any information to the Bombay High Court Website. So, I cannot tell you her background.

I have been left dumbfounded, confused and angry. Let me try and tell you why.

When does one cut the umbilical cord? When is a person a person, a major and not a child? The two girls whose parents filed the case in the High Court were 21 and 23 i.e. majors. How could the parents claim, shall we say, jurisdiction over these two? The parents were certainly not guardians. The two girls in question were not in any way confined by Kulkarni. This was not a sort of Josef Fritzel case where Kulkarni had imprisoned the two girls. So this could not have been a Habeas Corpus Petition I would imagine. On the contrary the girls complained that the parents were restraining them. So I assume the girls were willing consenting adults indulging in what I imagine willing consenting adults do – have intercourse. I do not believe there was any wrong. So I question the rights of the parents to control 21 and 23 year old girls.

And what about the High Court. If the girls are not minors – clearly they are not – nor were they being confined, how could the Court order arrest of Kulkarni? High morals I imagine.

The question I ask is, what is wrong with this “cult” as it is called. What about, as I wrote earlier, Osho, Asaram Baba, the Brahmakumaris and so many more. They are all influential, hypnotic, brainwashing, and, solving any problem or need that you have. People do get lured, they do have elaborate websites and Facebook pages. Fine, they may not ask you to get naked but how are they fundamentally different? They even tell you what to eat and what not to eat. Much like our Government. So, in some respects, they control your life far more than the mumbo jumbo espoused by Kulkarni.

To sum up, I have no idea why the High Court got so hot and bothered. The crimes I believe that Kulkarni would have committed probably are peddling prescription drugs, masquerading as a doctor and other such trivia. Too much media coverage, courts overreaching themselves (yet again), too much sensationalism.

I predict he will be bailed soon. I doubt any more serious charge that what I have written above would be made.

Rather sad.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Modi's India and Fadnavis's Maharashtra

To cheer you up, let me tell you a pleasant story.

HRH the Queen of Kutch and I both have 1 year First Class Bandra to Churchgate Western Railway passes. They cost Rs 5,300/- each. We find travelling by train most convenient, and you can time your journey. Blood pressure is kept in the normal range.

Anyway, our passes were due to expire on 14th April 2017. So, on the 12th when heading into ‘Town” we went to Churchgate to renew our passes. As in the past, I went to the ATM and withdrew Rs 11,000/- to pay for the passes in cash. A short line to the ticket window and soon I was close enough and could see the insides of the ticket booth. I saw 2 POS card machines sitting on the desk.

I immediately put away the cash and pulled out my credit card. On reaching the window I was asked if my card was debit or credit, and without a blink of an eye the ticket seller started to process my pass. I told him, trying to be helpful, that he could use the same card for both passes. He replied that he could process only one pass at a time, take payment and then move on to the other. I did not have a problem.

The POS worked, I made payment by card, and got the two passes issued. My Rs 11,000/- in cash was conserved. This was a most pleasant experience.

Of course by the time my two transactions had been put thru, the line behind me had become rather long. Could not be helped. The gent behind me, from the unwashed masses, was most upset at what he considered was the inordinate time being spent by me at the window. Then, to my chagrin, he said that who did I think I was buying a Rs 10/- ticket with a credit card? I gave him a mouthful. I told him I was buying a pass for Rs 10,000/- and not a bloody Rs 10 ticket. Unfair response by me, but then patience has never been an Indian virtue. Poor fellow could not imagine or believe that Rs 10,000/- could be spent at a ticket booth.

In conclusion, demonetization has helped. Yes I can buy a train pass with a credit card. Why was this not done earlier, I mean having POS machines? I have no idea. A pleasant and minor side effect of Modi’s policy.

Just as there is good, albeit small, there is bad, in large doses.

Last Sunday HRH the Queen of Kutch’s mother i.e. the Queens Mother went to a small village on the Maharashtra Gujarat border. A charity with which she is closely associated had made a donation to a school. So Queens Mother and her associates were there for a function. This place is about 160 KM from Mumbai and a good 3 hour car ride.

Unfortunately, Queens Mother tripped and fell, badly gashing her forehead. A deep 12 centimeter cut with heavy bleeding. First aid was administered by local doctors who stemmed the bleeding and said that Queens Mother required stitches. They claimed they did not have the expertise to do the sutures, which I guess is fair enough. So Queens Mother got back into the car and drove to Jaslok Hospital where she was attended to. The wound was cleaned, a plastic surgeon stitched the flaps of skin, bandaged her, had a CAT scan done to check for skull injury and Queens Mother was sent home. Please do remember that during all this Queens Mother was fully conscious and lucid.

Now starts the insanity.

The head doctor of Casualty at Jaslok Hospital informed the Malabar Hill Police Station that Queens Mother had suffered such an injury and was being treated. Once Queens Mother was sent home, HRH the Queen settled the bill and other formalities and was told to go to the Malabar Hill Police Station to answer some questions. When researching this post, I found that the Malabar Hill Police Station is a division of the Gamdevi Police Station. Jaslok Hospital would fall within the Gamdevi Police Station jurisdiction. The Malabar Hill Police Station would have Jurisdiction in so far as Queens Mother is concerned on account of her residence.

HRH The Queen of Kutch turned up at the Malabar Hill Police Station and was sat down before an officer and a report was laboriously hand written in a register in Marathi. Please remember this is 2017, India is going Digital and this police station is in probably the richest and certainly most powerful part of Mumbai. The Governor, the Chief Minister and lots of ministers live in its jurisdiction.

Moving swiftly on. Here is a sample of the questions asked of HRH The Queen of Kutch by the Malabar Hill Police Station

How are you related to the victim? - Daughter

Where do you live? – Bandra.

Who do you live with? - My husband.

Since when do you live with him? – Since I got married

What is your religion? Huh????

Where does your mother live? Who does she live with?

Who pays for your parents household expenses?

Who pays for your household expenses?

In detail explain how she suffered this injury?

What was the name of doctor in remote village? No clue. Why didn’t you ask? Because I wasn’t there!!

Do you suspect anybody? No she fell.

Finally, this nonsense ended with a statement that though this statement is in Marathi, I have been explained the contents of the report in Hindi and I confirm that this accurately records what I have said. Also another paragraph that I am making this statement as the daughter because my mother is “shaken up” by the incident!

The statement duly signed was stapled to a photocopy of the hospital discharge summary and filed away.

Boggles my mind.

The incident took place 160 kms away. Not a single person who was present at the incident was interviewed. The victim herself was not interviewed! Nothing absolutely nothing was recorded [thankfully] at the venue. So, if there was some “foul play” who would Malabar Hill Police call? What would they investigate?

What really is going on? What is the need for this absolute claptrap? Just filling in registers. Covering or fig leafing arses? Is this really not beyond the pale?

Being rather disturbed by this, rightly so, HRH The Queen of Kutch set about calling her friends. It appears that the whole world has gone mad. Virtually any visit to the hospital casualty with an injury and more specifically injury leading to copious bleeding has to be reported to and explained at the local Police Station. The police decide if the statement requires further investigation. Apparently, no discretion by the casualty doctors. Everyone is painted with the same brush. However, if Queens Mother had been taken to a private clinic, then reporting the incident would have been at the discretion of the doctor.

Why why why?

Have we totally lost the plot in meaningless officialdom?

I despair, I really do.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

BS IV and other BS by the Supreme Court - Thou Shall Not Drink

This will be a longish post, with no photos. So do pay attention and try not to fall asleep.

The days leading up to the 31st of March 2017 have been tremendously exciting. Our Hon’ble Supreme Court has passed two orders, both of which have effect from 1st April 2017, with far reaching consequences, bags and bags of financial losses, and scores of very unhappy people left in the wake. In the case of one order I am in complete and total agreement with the Supreme Court. With the other, I am more or less in disagreement with the Supreme Court, but, I believe the Court was driven to passing the order.

I am referring to the order whereby the sale of non BS IV vehicles was stopped with effect from 1st April 2017. I agree with this Order. The other Order, of course, is the liquor shops within 500 meters of the highway, with which I have some problems.

Let’s take the BS IV Order first.

In order to curb pollution caused by engines, the Government of India set standards and timelines for implementation and regulation of the output of air pollutants from internal combustion engines and spark ignition engines [i.e. petrol and diesel engines], equipment, and motor vehicles. These are set by the Central Pollution Control Board under the Ministry of Environment & Forests and Climate Change. These were introduced in 2000 and are based on European norms.

The first fallout of the implementation of these norms was the demise of the Maruti 800 and two wheelers with the old two stroke engines. Now all two wheelers have four stroke engines. You will also remember that Catalytic Converters and unleaded fuel were introduced. This too was because of the pollution norms. Of course, with more and more stringent norms, which as you know apply to fuel too, there is a higher cost of fuel as well as vehicles. The logic being that this higher cost will lead to clean air and will offset healthcare costs.

Anyway, things were going along on a rather even keel. It must be said that the role of the Government in this aspect has been exemplary. The norms have been notified well in advance giving manufacturers of engines, vehicles and fuels adequate time to gear up to the increasingly stringent norms. Not only has adequate time been given, but, the norms have not been tinkered with. So, there is no ground to really complain.

The BS IV norms were implemented for all 4 wheelers in the National Capital Region and 13 major cities in April 2010. Yes dear readers April 2010, seven years ago. It was also notified that post 31st March 2017 no non BS IV compliant vehicle [i.e. 2 and 4 wheeler] can be sold. In other words it was known in 2010 itself that by 31st March 2017 all 2 wheelers and all 4 wheelers sold in India have to be BS IV compliant.

Needless to say, our venal and dishonest vehicle manufacturers continued to make non BS IV vehicles and at the last moment petitioned the Supreme Court to permit them to clear inventories of such non-compliant vehicles. The Supreme Court, rightly refused. A damn good thing done by the Supreme Court.

Here is the clincher. Do you know who these manufacturers were? Hero, Honda – for 2 wheelers. Mahindra & Mahindra, Tata, Ashok Leyland. Except Honda, all the others are “Indian” companies. The others – Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, GM, Ford, VW [and its arms – Skoda] and the luxury cars all were already compliant. Maruti which has greater than 50% volume share of the Indian car market was BS IV compliant in 2010 itself !!! And Mr.Pawan Goenka of Mahindra and Mahindra had the audacity when reacting to the Supreme Court refusal to permit sales to say “I am speechless.” You bloody well should be. You should be sacked by your boss the oh so proper Anand Mahindra. If not by him by the Board of Directors of Mahindra & Mahindra which comprise of such gents like Deepak Parekh, V S Mehta, Nadir Godrej. What do these worthies have to say about being on the Board of a company that persisted in manufacturing non BS IV vehicles? Corporate governance? Sleeping on the job?

The Liquor ban is an interesting conundrum. I believe that this will have to be eased. How you get the Supreme Court to blink is going to be a challenge.

Much has been written about it, however, in the past few days thinking about the Order, as well as talking to myriad people some interesting views have emerged.

But, before that, two declarations. First, this Order has absolutely nothing to do with the puritanical/Hindutva aspirations/motive/pronouncements by our Government. On the contrary, the Order may well have played into the Governments hands. So let’s, at this stage, not blame the Government for this Order. Secondly, if you read the Orders – there are two of them – you will be shocked at the state of affairs. By this I mean, the number of deaths on our highways and the sheer number of liquor vends [not restaurants] on the highway. But, should the Supreme Court have gone to this extent? I believe, no.

This is the first Order by the Supreme Court.

This is the second Order by the Supreme Court.

Do try and read them, especially the first Order. It is not difficult to read and understand. You will get a better idea of the reason why the Court was disturbed.

What baffles me is the fact that we do have a rather strict law on driving under the influence. OK Salman Bhai got away, but the law is strict and doing jail time is not an option. In fact, the experiments with the law that Salman Bhai did to snare himself an acquittal are directly proportional to the stringency of that law. So, in spite of this law our Court believes that prevention is better than the cure and thus banned sale of alcohol within 500 meters of a highway in totality. I find this approach disturbing. If knives in plain sight are factors leading to stabbings, should knives be “banned”?

The other upsetting factor is the extremely casual approach not only by our State Governments who were going to be impacted by this Petition but the very casual schoolboy argument approach of some of the Senior Counsel appearing.

This case started way back in 2015. The Supreme Court had been hearing the Case from time to time. At some stage the Court directed that notices be served on each State and Union Territory to appear and place its viewpoint across. In addition the Ministry also put out several advisories from time to time on the matter. Shockingly, only 8 States responded to the Notice and did appear. 18 States did not respond. This was the cynical view of the State Governments despite knowing that an order from the Supreme Court could have drastic consequences for the States.

Mr. K K Venugopal is a veteran Senior Counsel. Representing Tamil Nadu he made a terrible argument. Childish in the extreme, cavalier and sounded like a debate on TV. He said that there were road accidents by intoxicated drivers in the State of Gujarat where there is total prohibition. Suggesting thereby that banning sale of alcohol along the Highway is futile. This was a really foolish argument and played right into the hands of the Court. The Court relied on Government statistics showing that the highest number of accident were in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu totally destroying Venugopal. Ironically, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh did not appear in response to the notice I referred to in the preceding paragraph.

On a different note, you must have read about the scores of liquor shops that have shut in Mumbai. You would have also read about the restaurants that have shut. There is an unfortunate twist in the tail in both these cases. Tragicomic.

I know this from personal experience. A liquor vendor in the Sion Chembur area had not been granted a license past 31st March as his shop fell within the 500 meter zone. So, on the 30th, he was winding down his operations and storing his unsold liquor stock in his garage. Our overzealous Excise authorities promptly raided him for keeping such large stocks of alcohol without a license in a garage.

The second story is even more bizarre. A restaurant or bar has a license to sell alcohol only in the premises. A bottle cannot be carried out of the permit area. Not only can the bottles not be moved out, the empty bottles have to be stored until the Excise authorities inspect the bars registers and tally the stock of alcohol bought, held in stock and the empty bottles. Once this is tallied, the empty bottles are destroyed. Yes this is reality under the Bombay Prohibition Act. So, all restaurants in the Zone who have unsold stock on 1st April 2017 are stuck with it. They cannot move it cannot sell it and cannot drink it.

This Order by the Supreme Court has far reaching consequences. Not only does it give our RSS/BJP/Hindutva chaps a hand but the impact on commerce and employment are huge. This, in my view, once again calls into question the stability and reliability of the business environment in India – fraught with risk, legal, political, environmental and everything else you can imagine.