December 31, 2008

life in general: last day of the english year in a long-distance train!

I share some pics I took at about 2 pm today (as I write this it is 3 pm) in a long-distance train (Paschim Express) from Bombay to Punjab that left Bombay at 11.30 am today. I am on way to Faridabad that is just 10 kms before Delhi.

The first pic (to the left) is a scene from the west side of the moving train of open spaces near the Arabian Sea between Dahanu and Vapi.

The second pic (to the right) is that of me sitting on my berth in the train.

The third pic is that of my laptop which I am posting this here real-time!

Updated at 4 pm: A fourth pic taken from my window seat of the view on the west between Navsari and Surat. Although this pic shows greenery, cows and water, the real ugly truth about industrial Gujarat is in the un-paralleled pollution of air, water and ground by toxic chemical industries, fertiliser companies and petrochemical monoliths.

Updated at 4.30 pm: The point I was making above the unprecedented levels of air, water and ground pollution in Gujarat: here is just a sample: a pic I took a few kms after Surat from the window facing west from the moving train. See below:

December 28, 2008

life in general: mockery of democracy in india

It continues -- the mockery of democracy in India. The politicians of all political parties, the Indian Administrative Service bureaucrats and the puppet police all continue to browbeat those people of India who are poor or those whose rights are deliberately not protected.

India, my country, as I have said before on my blog here, is caught between the devil and the deep sea. On the one hand you have brilliant but morally corrupt influential politicans/bureaucrats/technocrats like Manmohan Singh, P Chidambaram, Kamal Nath and Montek Singh Ahluwalia who through their policies and actions are devastating the poor and voiceless people of India along with brutally eliminating the rich ecology of India, and on the other hand you have the religious/casteist extremists such as Narendra Modi, L K Advani, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Laloo Prasad Yadav, Maywati and others who are also corrupt in their own way.

Below is a latest instance of forced displacement of a people's community by the government using the pathetic IAS machinery and police machinery. In any self-respecting developed nation such a thing would be considered as a disgrace.

Date: 2008/12/28
Subject: [nbapresslist] Condemn Bhaimrao wada Slum Evictions: Write to concerned authorities for action



On the eve of the 122nd formation day of the Congress party in Andhra Pradesh,
the government coming to power in the names of the poor and the
dalits-marginalized, demolished Bhimrao Bada an 80 years olg (4 generations) a
slum community. As the name suggests, the Basti named after Bhimrao alias
Babasaheb Ambedkar faced the brutal attack apparently for the plans to expand
or rebuild Ghandi Bhavan, this time in remembrance of not Mahatma but Indira!

The demolition that took place at 4 am with a 'sena' of bull dozers, and a huge
(hundreds, strong police force) was surprisingly just the day when
Rashtrapatiji Pratibha Patil was here! Is the timing deliberately chosen? If
not anything else, the early warning time when it was still dark was, for sure
to avoid people's resistance.

Since, right now the Courts would remain closed till end of the year 2008! In
the process there was no notice issued and if at all, the government could only
claim of warning the residents only on the basis of notices issued months
before but not 24 hours before, as is required to be done!

The bulldozing of this 80 years old community with pukka houses, built with the
sweat and blood of the families of men and women in unprotected work, many of
the families being single- widow headed was no doubt brutal. Force was used by
male and female police who pulled the hair, lifted persons, even lathi charged
but without leaving a wound to leak! Many of the hard earned belongings of the
working class families were broken or destroyed. Many of the families belonging
to the Gangapurtra clan were originally fish workers but now engaged in various
other forms of unprotected work.

The children, women and the aged, all were arrested for peaceful protest. When
the brother of Chiranjivi, the nearly emerged political 'actor' was also
arrested while standing by the screaming people, politicians came in with a
competitive yet supportive spirit and none else but Chandra Babu Naidu along
with CPI (M) leaders too courted arrested. The activists of people's
organisations, Sister Selvin, Ashfaqullah & Bilal of CHATRI were spared, but
targeted for entering the land full of rubble.

The scene of demolition which has no place in the national slum policy which
speaks mainly of regularisation, improvement and development of urban slums was
no doubt violation of human rights but also a blatant legal violation. First
and the fore most, this 'notified' i.e regularised slum that was suddenly
de-notified in April was knowingly to give way to the Congress Party use the
land to build its new office- 'Indira Bhawan', close to the present one, Gandhi
Bhawan. The land in possession of the 95 families on which many a civic
amenities were also provided with lakhs of rupees worth expenditure, by the
Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad, was to be transferred not for a public
purpose but for party's political purpose- which is obviously a fraud.

The basic issue here is one of right to the land on which a poor locality
exists. While the corporates are getting lands leased out at throw away prices,
the urban poor do not have any right, not even usufructory right to the land
under their habitats since generations. It, therefore becomes easy to evict the
community even without its consent and force' unwilling 'rehabilitation' on to
them. The claim made in the case of Bhimraowada by State government of AP has
been that the houses for them are ready at Dhobighat area, 3 to 4 kms away. The
families evicted are, therefore, dumped forcibly into the new buildings with
the remaining belongings by the police and authorities.

When we visited this resettlement site this morning at around 7.30 am, we found
the women and youth to be furious about the forcible eviction and the brutality
of the police authorities. The officials present were only of the Municipal
Corporation of Hyderabad who had this excuse to say that they were there to
provide civic amenities and had nothing to do with eviction. The people were
however questioning them and calling them a part and parcel of the State. The
houses were not acceptable to the families for more than one reason. First and
foremost those are far away from their earlier place of residence especially
for toiling women. Secondly, out of 95 families at Bhimrao wada, about 20 are
left out of the list unilaterally prepared by the Govt authorities. We found
out that one or two members of larger families were left out and hence the
grievance. There were even widows who were excluded and the same was found to
be very painful and unacceptable.

These poor families living on hand to mouth existence found that the new houses
were almost the same size of their earlier ones and found no reason for their
displacement, even while the right to land was not recognised. Why could not
they be rehabilitated there only as they were promised at various times earlier
and also during the dialogue that was brokered by the local MLA is a question
that remains unanswered?

It is obvious to us that the land grab the Congress Party was related to the
fact that the Bhimrao Wada was located in an elite area while they are now
dumped in ''garib nagar" a vast area with many kinds of unprotected workers
residing. We also found that the land under the new buildings indeed belonged
to two communities of fishermen and washermen, the fight amongst themselves
over the right to land which happened to be a graveyard (the remnants we could
even see today) has gone to the court although, we are yet to see the papers
which, we are told, include a contempt petition. The resettlement offered to
the evicted families cannot, therefore, be accepted in this form and unless the
land rights issues are resolved and the people of Bhimrao wada find it to be

The slogan of the people her, as elsewhere, is "Let us live where we were". The
political parties having joined the struggle, even if with the upcoming
elections in mind, has no doubt helped the people, while the Congress has given
them an opportunity which can be considered as most unstrategic, with TDP
declaring a state wide protest day. We, the people's organisations, with CHATRI
our ally in Hyderabad working with Bhim Rao wada and other bastis have to
prepare ourselves to prevent the divide and rule politics and ensure that
politicisation of such issues do not lead to further betrayal. Kumarayyia the
local leader, with Rukmini and other women leaders are up against state
atrocities and for their right to livelihood and shelter both.

Let no Bhawan in the name of Gandhi, Bhimrao or Nehru become a cause of
deprivation and engine of destitution for the poor that continues to be part of
the urban development and is protested and challenged to by in every city and

Do raise your voice against this injustice and make your protest known to the

Fax/E-mail your letters

 Dr.Buta Singh, Chairman, National Commission for Scheduled Castes
Fax: 011- 24632298; E-mail:

 Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission
Fax: 011-23384863; E-mail:

Shri Y.S. Rajashekara Reddy, Chief Minister. Andhra Pradesh
Fax: 040-O23452498, 23454828 (Res) 23410555 ; E-mail:

 Smt. Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson, Indian National Congress
Fax: 011- 23018651; E-mail:

 Chairman, Andhra Pradesh Human Rights Commission
Fax: 040-24601573; E-mail:

Medha Patkar Ramakrishnam Raju,
National Convenor, NAPM Convenor, Andhra Pradesh

Sister Selivin and Ashwaq bhai Bilal bhai
Campaign for Housing and Tenurial Rights Human Rights Forum

December 15, 2008

life in general: beautiful white clouds in today's bombay-northwest sky!

Ah! Its a beautiful sight outside my home window today morning at 9-10 am. White clouds have enveloped the sun and swarmed the atmosphere. In the pic above, see the sun peeping out a teeny-weeny bit from the white clouds above the left-most and near tall building. I took the pic facing south-south-east (i.e, between south and south east). My home is in Kandivli East that is considered as being in the north west part of Bombay.

Till 3-4 days back, December was feeling like April. It was so hot in Bombay. But it is not that bad now although the temperatures could ideally be a lot more less.

December 08, 2008

life in general&financial markets: terrorism of companies

Just like religious extremists get misled on 'religion' and become terrorists, the ultra-affluent industrialists and companies get misled on 'development' and become terrorists.

See how the so-called largest democracy on Earth, India, treats any one who campaigns for human rights and environmental rights -- click here. The guy in the video is shown chained to a hospital bed after being arrested for campaigning against the illegal eviction of villagers/tribals and others and illegal environmental pollution at the Posco manufacturing sites in Orissa. (the pic below is a snapshot from the youtube video whose link I have given above)
One mainstream media newsreport on it here. Tehelka, a mainstream publication but not afraid to write about the issues affecting tribals and adivasis of India had written about Abhay Sahoo about a month back -- see here. The police, acting on behalf of the state that in turn is acting on behalf of the company, claims that Sahoo has indulged in various law-breaking acts. My take on this is: surely, no mass leader will be free of some acts that won't be legal in the strict sense but the punishment has to fit the nature of the crime and the other activities of the person. Nelson Mandel was too known to have been a bit violent at the beginning of his fight against apartheid in South Africa. Of course, most mass leaders also later realise the futility of most kinds of violence and shun it but thats a process of learning.

But the bigger point is that the companies in India are getting away by violating any law and every law, enivronmental, civil or criminal. The police looks away and does nothing because the state deliberately does not want to invoke the law against the companies. Why are company chiefs and chairmans such as Mukesh Ambani and Ratan Tata never chained and handcuffed? Does this not shatter the illusion that democracy in India is for all its people? Well, Indian democracy is only for a few as I said in an earlier post.

The anti-Posco people's movement leader, Sahoo, has been a member of the Communist Party of India. I rate the communist parties of India as bad or not-so-bad as any other party in India including the BJP. Communism, capitalism, socialism are all isms that many people choose to categorise themselves in. But ultimately its about the greed and excessive ego of people in power and people with influence that determines whether this ism or that ism will bring more good or more harm to Earth and its inhabitants.

Here's some more on the Posco steel company's matter in Orissa followed by another similar matter of tribals (adivasis) being the victims of companies-state terror in Jharkhand:

From: Campaigns and Advocacy Desk - TOM

Date: 2008/12/8
Subject: Please Endorse: Appeal Letter To Orissa Governor Demanding Proper Treatment to Abhay Sahoo & Other PPSS Leaders
Dear Friends,
As you might aware, Abhay Sahoo, one of the prominent leaders of the anti POSCO movement in Orissa was arrested on 12th October 2008 under various false charges. Abhay Sahoo who is diabetic and has blood pressure problems had to be admitted to Cuttuck Medical College hospital on 3rd December 2008. Despite his fragile health condition State is continuing with its inhuman atrocities even in hospital. On the pretext of non-availability of bed in the hospital, Abhay Sahoo whose condition is critical has been kept on the floor and he has been handcuffed and chained. He is being treated like a dreaded criminal.
This calls us to come together and show our solidarity with these movements and strongly demand from State to act sensibly by respecting people’s rights. This Appeal letter written to Orissa Governor demands to stop continued harassment of Shri Abhay Sahoo and other POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti leaders in Jail, ensuring immediate proper medical care of Abhay Sahoo and withdrawal of false cases against POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti activists.
Please send your endorsement by tomorrow afternoon.
In solidarity
Bipin Kumar

Shri Murlidhar Chandrakant Bhandare
Governor of Orissa
Raj Bhavan

Sub: Appeal to instruct Orissa Government to stop its continued harassment of Shri Abhay Sahoo and other POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti leaders in Jail, ensuring immediate proper medical care of Abhay Sahoo and withdrawal of false cases against POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti activists

Dear Sir,
We are writing to condemn the continued imprisonment of Shri Abhay Sahoo, leader of the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) and other six PPSS leaders on account of several false cases in order to suppress anti POSCO people’s movement in Jagatsinghpur District. As you might be aware, tens of thousands of people in Jagatsinghpur District, Orissa, have put up an exemplary, ‘non-violent’ resistance for the past three years against forcible take-over of their lands and resources by the Korean steel giant POSCO. The state’s dubious plans to build a mega steel plant on their lands will not only devastate the sustainable livelihood systems of thousands of local people; it will also pauperise many more lakhs considering the port and iron-ore mining necessarily associated with the project.
State repression on the movement started right from the day one and it reached a high point when the president of PPSS, Abhay Sahoo, was malafidely arrested on 12 October 2008 evening near Paradip. Now even after period of nearly two months there has been hardly any progress on litigation part. Clearly Orissa Government in synchronization with POSCO is trying to delay judicial proceedings to languish Abhay Sahoo and others for longer period of time with these unjustified and unfair legal tactics. One can understand these legal maneuverings with the fact that State is still piling false cases against these leaders, allegedly very recently six new cases has been framed against Mr. Sahoo.
Sir, its not only that State is employing legal plotting to defame and unjustly detain Abhay Sahoo and others in order to silence people’s voice but dangerously they are also playing with lives of these protestors who are in jail, especially with the life of Abhay Sahoo. It’s a fact that Abhay Sahoo was arrested while coming back from hospital after attending his on going treatment sessions. After his arrest, due to deliberate negligence of his fragile health status on the State part he is under consistent life threat. Only after his health status turned from bad to worst jail authorities bother to admit him to hospital on December 03, 2008. Apart from other health problems Mr. Sahoo is acute diabetic and patient of blood pressure. Even in hospital Police is continuing with their inhuman atrocities, not only he has been kept on the floor but also Mr. Sahoo has been handcuffed and chained like a dreaded criminal.
We therefore call upon you to ensure:
· Ensuring human treatment and immediate arrangement of proper medical facilities and care for Mr. Abhay Sahoo
· Immediate release of Mr. Sahoo and all other arrested PPSS leaders and withdrawal of false cases framed against them
· Restraining Police from carrying their physical and mental atrocities with these leaders
Prosecution of all those responsible for human rights violation of these leaders

From: Campaigns and Advocacy Desk - TOM
Date: 2008/12/8
Subject: Against unlawful police firing on peaceful demonstration in Dumka
Action Alert: Police firing against peaceful adivasis protestors in Jharkhand : Write to CM & NHRC
by Mukta Srivastava, 6 December 2008
Voice your protest
Write to the Jharkhand CM and NHRC
Against unlawful police firing on peaceful demonstration in Dumka
Against unjust corporate-led mass displacement of adivasis
We, members of people’s movements unequivocally condemn the unlawful obstruction of the peaceful protest of 7000 adivasis from the Dumka region in Jharkhand and the police firing unleashed against them today afternoon at Kathikund that has left 5 people battling for their life. We are receiving messages from Jharkhand that even now the firing is on and the situation is quite tense and Section 144 has been clamped in the area.
The adivasis in the Dumka region of Jharkhand have been struggling against the plunder of natural resources and destruction of livelihoods by the giant mining corporates and are asserting their right to community control and ownership over their resources, including land, water, fish, forests and minerals. They started a new phase of their Satyagraha today, which also took the form of a Jail Bharo Rally, strongly protesting against this unjust displacement and the false cases being foisted against the local activists and movement leaders, including Amelia Hansda of the Jharkhand Ulgulan Manch Leader and National Convenor, NAPM.
It is notable that in addition to the two strong people’s movements in the region, including the Jharkhand Ulgulan Manch (JUM) and Jharkhand Hulgulan Mahila Manch (JHMM), the mass movements of the local adivasis with local leadership, the Gram Sabhas of the regions, which repeated denied land for acquisition through oral and written means were also fully involved in organizing the non-violent demonstration.
Many leaders of people’s movements, including National Convenors of the NAPM had very recently written to the CM of Jharkhand to take a firm position against the unjust displacement of the people by holding a conclusive and intensive dialogue on the issue and ensuring that all the due process as enshrined under the Constitution and the PESA Act are implemented.
We mark this day of violence and repression as one more Black Day in the history of peaceful people’s struggles in this country agitating for a constitution-based movement for basic rights and call upon all progressive minded individuals and groups to strongly condemn the unlawful corporate-state tyranny.
Mukta Srivastava, Anand Mazgaonkar, Simpreet Singh, Shrikanth

December 04, 2008

life in general: the miraculous hibiscus tree!

A little over a year ago, my naturopath practitioner, Raj Merchant, whom I have been going to for health/ailments advise/treatment for about 18 months now, made me aware of a small tree that is commonly found all over in Bombay and perhaps other cities/places in India and elsewhere. This is the Hibiscus tree.

I had skin infection on my right thigh and in one quick look at the infected part he diagnosed it as not an isolated skin infection problem but a stomach indigestion and hyper-acidity problem that was causing the skin infection. He told me to chew & eat the leaves or flowers of the Hibiscus tree and I will be allright.

(the pic to the left is that of a Hibiscus small tree that I took in August '08 outside a building in Bombay)

I did that (chewed & ate the leaves from a Hibiscus tree in the compound of my residential building) and it worked miraculously. My skin infection was gone in 3 days! The leaves/flowers that become gummy when chewed removes the toxins and excess acids from the intestines and throws them out. They also act as a laxative for those who suffer from constipation.

Since then I have continued to chew Hibiscus leaves 1/2/3 times a week and must say it is a miracle tree. A little bit more about its health virtues -- here & here.

December 03, 2008

life in general: revenge for the sake of it is not wise...

World over, today, many intelligent people in governments, militaries, police forces, companies, political parties, bureaucracies etc tend to believe that a wrong should be avenged. All conflicts of the world, whether involving multiple countries or internal groups in a country, have a major dose of revenge for past (recent or historic) wrongs built into them.

My thoughts on this:

1. Revenge for the sake of it is no good at all.. I am, however, all out for the strongest forms of self-defense against future real threats. And if it means striking the sources of those threats then so be it. But this should be without any loss of innocent civilian life. If that is not possible, then I am not for it and would then focus majorly on strengthening internal defenses which anyway should be done regardless of anything else.
Also, the threats should be real. Not like the bogey of 'weapons of mass destruction' that the Bush-Cheney gang of thugs had come up as a sorry excuse to attack, invade and brutally occupy Iraq.

2. Don't commit any wrongs to others and others will not feel the need to take revenge on you . The same logic (as I presented in '1' above), however, applies to those whom we would have wronged.

3. Even when revenge is sought to be extracted by mis-guided extremists of all hues then it should be a real revenge and not cowardly attacks on innocent bystanders and civilians. So, if Hindu extremists, are pained at something that Muslims did 400 years back in India then where is the logic for taking revenge on the current generation of Muslims? The Muslim perpetrators of 400 years back are all dead. The same logic applies to Muslims' ire against Israel and some others in the western world.
Also, the last week's Muslim extremists terrorists who attacked Bombay should have known that killing general citizenry is not just a horrendous thing to do but cowardly too. Will they ever have the guts to take on directly the likes of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Narendra Modi? Will Modi and his gang of terrorists in Gujarat ever have the guts to take on the mullahs and royal family of Saudi Arabia for funding and supporting worldwide Muslim extremism, instead of murdering innocent Muslim children, women and men who are Indian citizens?

December 02, 2008

life in financial markets: debit you lose!

The hypocrisy of corporate and financial institutions is to be experienced to be believed! Take the instance of the issue of banks in India giving no option to customers to manage the risks of fraud on their savings. This is happening through the forced issue of ATM-cum-debit cards. Visa is the main culprit here because it is pressurising the banks in India to issue debit cards to millions of bank customers in India. Visa knows that ATM transactions are inevitable for bank customers, so why not thrust a ATM-cum-VisaDebit card on them.
For over a decade banking technology has been such that customers can not imagine living without the 24-hour-a-day convenience of automated teller machines (ATMs) for withdrawals, deposits or other transaction purposes. In the last few years, however, almost all the banks in India have stopped giving ATM-only cards and instead offer only debit-cum-ATM cards.

Visit any bank's branch, read any bank's savings account opening form, browse through any bank's website and almost nowhere is they are any option given to customers to choose between a debit-cum-ATM card and a ATM-only card. Majority of the debit cards are of Visa and some are of Mastercard.

Since a debit card is linked real-time to a savings or current account the potential amount of loss due to shopping payment fraud on a debit card is higher because the entire savings account balance is available to a fraudster. If one were using a credit card for availing of the convenience a plastic card provides then one has the ability to set a much lower credit limit than one is eligible. Interest cost is easily eliminated in a credit card since outstandings can be effortlessly paid back fully before the due date through a direct debit on the savings account if the customer is banking with the same bank.

By not giving the choice to opt out of a debit card banks are increasing the risk of customers. This is ironic in a day and age when risk management is the buzzword in financial management for everyone including individuals. The biggest risk in all plastic cards, debit or credit, arises when a customer loses the card and his/her signature is there on the card to be easily forged and mis-used at merchant shops. Customers therefore need to be given enough flexibility to mitigate their risks based on their personal preferences.

Banks tend to justify the ATM-cum-debit by highlighting debit cards' benefits like freedom from carrying physical currency, special offers at merchant shops and so on. "Based on these benefits our front end tries to ensure that maximum savings account customers are carded with debit cards," is the line that banks would take.

This is the reasoning made by all the banks. But shopping on a debit card is not a core banking feature which attracts customers to bank with banks. "As a policy the right to choose should always be given to the customer," feels professionals working in the corporate consultancy industry.

The banking regulator, Reserve Bank of India (RBI), has so far left it to the banks to decide on what cards they can issue. Visa and Mastercard point out they are not responsible for the banks' policies. But, Visa, the largest card payment company in the world, does use the transaction value figures arising out of ATM withdrawals by customers from their savings or current account using their debit-cum-ATM cards in all their performance statistics.

Banks in the developed markets such as the US and the UK give their customers the freedom to choose between a debit card (or a checking card as it is known in the US) and a ATM-only card. In emerging markets such as India and Thailand the choice is not given. Visa's statistics brings out the effect of this. Cash withdrawals from ATMs are reflected in debit card cash transactions and there is a clear divergence in the usage trend in US an non-US countries. (see graph below 'Debit you lose, credit you gain').

HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank are perhaps the only banks in India that will give a ATM-only card only if the customer forcefully asks for it. For the rest, the choice is non-existent no matter how much you fight for it. This writer has approached, without success, Yes Bank, Corporation Bank, State Bank of India and Punjab National Bank for the opening of a savings account asking for a ATM-only card to be issued and not an ATM-cum-debit card. It is high time the RBI sit up and take notice of such regressive attitude of banks.

Visa also needs to answer a couple of pertinent questions. The banks are members of Visa network and Visa can very well mandate them not to indulge in the above unethical practice. Since customers are forced to opt for the ATM-cum-debit cards, even the normal banking transaction withdrawals from their own banks' ATMs get used by Visa in its statistics as we saw above. Technically, these transactions would not be Visa's if the customers were given a choice to opt for pure ATM cards and any of them would opt for it. Isn't this clearly a fraudulent accounting practice by Visa?

Individual customers, till such time as the regressive practices of banks and Visa or Mastercard come to an reduce or at least reduce, can also take one or two precautionary measures. For one, they should not be tempted to use the debit-cum-ATM for merchandise or internet shopping. This should be done through their credit cards where they should set a credit limit, lower than they are actually eligible for, and which is comfortable for them to bear in case of a fraud on their credit cards.

Simultaneously, they can mitigate the risk of fraudulent use of their debit cards by simply crossing out the signature strip. This way they would not leave behind their signatures for any fraudster to forge in case they lose their cards to such a fraudster. When this frauster goes to any shop, say a jeweller's shop, to swindle your money, he has to sign at the transaction slip of the shop. The shop manager has to match this sign with that on the card and when he sees the crossed area on the signature area he will get alert and reject the transaction and perhaps apprehend the frauster.

But some shop managers do not even bother does the basic matching and the fraudster can still get away with a fake signature (the fraudster won't know your real signature and will try to fake it by signing it his way using your name). Even then you can seek protection against a payment obligation arising out of such a fraudulent transaction by pointing to the difference between the fraudster's signature on the transaction slip (that will lie with the shop or the bank) and your real signature in the bank's records.

Secondly, since debit cards are linked to savings account then SMS-based alerts on debits in our savings account can help. So, if your bank is offering SMS alerts on your savings account you should opt for it. This way, a fraudulent transaction on your debit will throw a SMS to you which you can see to be one not authorised by you and take action immediately. Here, however, there is no guarantee of the frauster being caught.

The RBI will be forced to shake off its lethargy in checking the banks' forcing of debit-cum-ATM cards on customers, if enough customers complain to RBI. Go to and register your complaint about the banks' unscrupulous practices. The RBI will be forced to sit up and take notice.

December 01, 2008

life in general: ...without any collateral damage whatsoever

Elaborating further on what I said in my previous post "...And if the US can attack Taliban inside Afghanistan, and if Israel can carry out operations inside its neigbouring countries including Palestine, and if Russia can carry out operations inside Georgia, then India can too carry out operations in the mountains of Pakistan where these terrorist groups receive their training..." I think any Indian military-led assault or aerial bombings of those training camps in the mountains of Pakistan has to, in my view, be carried out without any collateral damage whatsoever.

If that is not possible then we should desist from carrying out any operations and instead aim, through super-efficient intelligence information gathering operation, to eliminate, one by one, the leaders of the heads of these terrorist groups including the ISI guys involved in it.

No innocent civilian life in Pakistan should be taken in India's response to last week's terrorist attacks in Bombay. Everyone, including the private terrorist groups the kinds of which were involved last week, has some kind of mental justification, whether valid or not, to do their violent deeds and 99% of the time their deeds involve taking the lives of innocent non-combatant civilians. India should ensure that it does not end up becoming like the terrorist killing innocent civilians. We have seen how the US-UK military has shamed itself by doing just that (killing civilians) in Iraq and Afghanistan. We should not emulate them.

Jingoism by Indians has to be avoided if we have to be considered as being fair. As I had mentioned in that same previous post terror has many forms. I would like to add that our desire for justice on such heinous wrongs should be extended to every form of terror including state terror and the terror of companies on tribals & villagers in remote places. Many affluent Indians' lives were taken in the Taj and Oberoi and while I pray for their souls' peaceful transition to the astral plane for healing I must point out that the strong reactions against terrorist emanating from the affluent circles in India is a bit selfish. These same very people don't care when their excessive materialism/consumerism or their involvement as senior/middle management in industries/companies are the causes of corporate-police-state terror in remote areas of India.

Below is a wikimapia snapshot, with a white circle added by me of the region in Pakistan where terrorist bases & training camps are believed to be. Click on the image to see it enlarged & clearer.