Musings for a responsible society

Amidst the dark and grey shades increasingly engulfing, invading and piercing deeper and deeper, let me try to enjoy the little smiles, genuine greens, and the gentle breeze. Oh! Creator! If you don't exist, my vain!
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(Pic Courtsey:

Christmas is NOT just Stars, Cribs, Cakes, Gifts, Santa, Carols, Feast, and Shopping!

The message of CHRISTmas is His Simplicity, Humility, Mercy, Compassion and Truthfulness.

Wishing you a very happy Christmas


Art and Income Tax: Strange Confluence!

 I had a chance to visit the Art Exhibition by the Indian Income Tax Department (Karnataka and Goa) at Bangalore recently. The Art Exhibition was organized at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath to commemorate 150 years of Income Tax in India.  The Art Exhibition was aimed not only to showcase before the citizens the exquisite works of art by the eminent artists of the country and of the Income Tax Family, but also to project a vibrant image of the Department before the nation. The exhibition was inaugurated by  Padmashri Dr Chandrashekhar Kambar , who is a great poet, playwright and folklorist. Shri Yusuf Arakkal, distinguished artist was the guest of honour. Several eminent artists from various parts of the country have contributed their works of art to this unique confluence of art and taxation. I have photographed a few of them

By G M Belagali, Commissioner of Income Tax

“ Here I have depicted the face of a child. A face omnipresent amidst us, a face that yearns to be recognized, to be supported and nurtured. But we often tend to ignore such faces. This face could be the future of India. Let us all who could support and contribute to the upliftment of these faces.”


Pay taxes for a worth cause

By Venkatachalapathi

From privileged to not-so-privileged


By R K Mishra, Addl Commissioner

'Taxmen on a Black Trail' (Dr Vanita Mathew, Dermatologist)

One of the exhibition halls

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An Afternoon with Indibloggers

When I got the alert for the Indiblogger Meet on October 3rd, I never thought it would be such an exciting and thrilling event! More than 250 vibrant bloggers assembled at the cozy conference hall of the Fortune Group hotel. The warm reception given by the Indiblogger team (the Indi-mentors and Indi- anchors) was very innovative. The omni present Indi-police instantly displayed the name of every entrant on two giant screens and monitored every moment and movement within the hall. All smiles everywhere.

Entire hall was engulfed with positive vibrations as it was full of creative thinkers bubbling with ideas, and prepared to share and care for each other! They were enthralling moments as participants introduced themselves and their presence in the blogosphere. Blogs are powerful instruments for social change. It was clearly evident: these Indibloggers have a strong mission and a clear vision for the country.

Many shared their experiments and experiences of life in the blogging world. Some were obsessed with self-promotion aimed at increased traffic.

Those who craved for comments on their blogs had to satisfy themselves with the ‘You scratch my back: I scratch your back’ poster game. Indiblogger team should have introduced something new instead of this oft repeated exercise. An opportunity to know others head on was lost due to the temptation for back scribbling.

Live discussion forum managed by indipolice could have been made rich in content by devoting more time. I found the indiblogger team very tolerant as a few overstretched the time limits.

Hp and its cheerful team contributed their best for motivating the Indibloggers. Fortune people need to understand a bit more in the art of partnership. Blame it on the Indiblogger team for such a distasteful marketing sermon by the partner at the very beginning of the meet.

At the end…I felt as if all got over too soon. Waiting for more such wonderful experience with Indibloggers.

Recent comments from Indi bloggers
Hi Sibi

'Cyber Diary' is a real treat. Clean and neat presentation. Some well chosen thoughts. Lively narration. Striking graphics.

I wish this review of mine spurs my co-bloggers to take a look at this excellent blog.

And Sibi, keep writing. Your style is bound to build an audience soon.

I liked your comments ‘You scratch my back: I scratch your back’ . Its true and better to dispense with.
(Shri Ram Ayyankar)
Wonderful Indibloggerrs..Happy to be a part of it

You scratch my back...I scratch yours...

heya! nice review

really looking forward for the next meet
Hi Sibi, Good to know you and your blog. Agree with your views. Since we were running out of time, we wanted to cut it short to make room for other items on agenda. Look forward for the next meet already


7 Habits of Highly Ineffective Leaders

     If someone asks me, what makes people succeed in life, I have only one answer. That is HABIT. I am sure that the habits decide one’s future. Habits shape a person’s personality. Attitudes of a person revolve around his habits. William James referred to habit as the fly-wheel of society. When the Duke of Wellington heard someone mentioning habit as the second nature, he said: ‘Wrong. It is ten times nature’. This shows how habits transform a person to a new being.

    How to know what is a good habit? Or what are bad habits?

    It has to be decided by each one of us. Habits that make us productive and creative and that take us to our goals of life are positive habits. Negative habits are those repeated behavior that are instrumental in disturbing the pace of our journey to achieve the goals. Now, examine yourself what habit of yours is productive for you? And what makes you unproductive?

    As leader or follower, certain habits make people ineffective. You might have read the famous book by Stephen R Covey about the seven habits of highly effective people and the book by John R Covey about the seven habits of ineffective people.

    Here, let us examine another seven habits that make people totally ineffective. We can see several ineffective individuals/leaders around us. One close scrutiny of their behavioural pattern would reveal that some of their habits are responsible for their ineffectiveness. In some cases, these habits might be rooted in their personality. Seven such habits are listed below.

Making others unapproachable

    They tend to keep a distance from their subordinates. Others fear them. They fail to understand the people around them. No one gives them honest feedback. They wear the garb of a ‘serious’ task master. There will be overall dissatisfaction in people who are destined to get associated with such people. These unapproachable types wish to put a fence around their aura of inflated ego.


     A person who indulges in incessant talk and that too about himself and his merits and accomplishments   wastes his time and the precious time of the listener. One can narrate his personal views and experiences to others if that are necessary to drive in an important point or to pave way for contributions from others for the common good. Jokes and occasional gossips may be necessary to make the interaction lively and interesting, but only to a limit. But one should avoid uncontrolled bragging during conversation and meetings.

     A person who boasts too much about his capabilities and past glory, tests the patience of the listener after a certain tolerable limit. Considerable time is wasted in important interactions because of the boastful narratives of the participants.


     There are people who are habituated with the art of unending talk. For them, there is no topic about which they can’t jabber. They may make the atmosphere bubbly, but end their day without much value creation. This is an asset as well as a liability. While they can make friends easily, some of their friends would vanish in no time if they find the chat too overbearing and worthless. Lot of valuable time is wasted through such unnecessary sharing of views and opinions about anyone and anything. I used to paste a small slip on the door of my hostel room where I wrote ‘I like chatting; But not now!’ That was my strategy to avoid some of my chatterbox friends. This is not to escape from chatting altogether. But one needs to prioritize the day and allocate appropriate time for everything.

    A person becomes ineffective, if he indulges in what some people call ‘verbal diarrhoea’. The tongue deserves more rest so that the mind and ears can be directed towards internalizing the ideas and actions of others.


     Tomorrow….tomorrow …and that never comes! One of the common habits that make people ineffective is procrastination. Postponing things to a later date without any valid reason, can only make the task more burdensome and uninteresting. The best time to perform a pending task is today and today only. Procrastination due to indecisive nature is damaging because it not only delays the tasks on hand but also blocks the options for alternatives.


      There are several chronic fault-finders in our midst. Finding fault on others or on their contributions is constructive. This will facilitate correction and improvement. But, if the fault finding is based on personal perceptions and attitudes, rather than on objective analysis of facts and general expectations, then that would be destructive and de-motivating. One needs to judge others and their actions based on what they are capable of under the given circumstances and resources.

    Many a time, the fault-finders expect others to think and act in the way they are without appreciating the fact that no two personalities are alike. This is intimidating. Such fault-finders are ineffective leaders if they lead any team. People would desist from interacting with such cynical know-all types.


     I used to have the following lines put on my desk while I was in the University. ‘Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm’ (Ralph Waldo Emerson). ‘Enthusiasm is the sparkle in your eyes, the swing in your gait. The grip in your hand, the irresistible surge of will and the energy to execute your ideas’ (Henry Ford). No one can be in an upswing mood 24/7. But it does not mean that you should be in a state of mind that makes you static and passive to the happenings in society. One needs to be pro-active.

   There is this tendency of forming attitudes of ‘why should I care’ and ‘How does it matter for me’ among many people. ‘Work to Rule’ personalities might save their skin, but they are not necessarily effective individuals. They lack concern. They are impassive. They can be very pessimistic at times. It is very difficult for such persons to be creative in their work and action.

 Please all

     This is just the opposite of the habit of being ‘unapproachable’. These persons are extremely receptive to all and sundry and have difficulty in discouraging the ‘chatterbox’ and ‘bragger’. They wish to be popular and can never ‘call a spade a spade’. They don’t mind wasting their time listening to unproductive conversations. There is an eagerness to gather maximum from the eavesdroppers and they relish their gossips. They become indecisive because of their ‘please all’ habit. Such persons go to any extent to please their bosses. They eulogize the actions of their colleagues even when they clearly know that they have done blunders. They are ineffective leaders as they are scared to correct their subordinates.

Who is an ideal leader?

    People can have several excuses for their habitual behavior. No one is perfect. But a successful person is a person who strives to reduce his imperfections for achieving excellence.

   This is more important if you are a leader. One can say that everyone has one or more leadership roles to play in life.

   According to me, an ideal leader is one who is : NOT apathetic; NOT a chronic fault finder; NOT a procrastinator; NOT a chatterbox; NOT a bragger; Not unapproachable, and NOT a ‘please all’ fellow.

(Thanks to sajjive for effectively 'cartooning' on my ideas)
Related  Link: Please see my articles on Why Bosses won't smile?    and You are what your boss is!

( (c) Sibichen K Mathew)


Movies I recommend

Following are some of the good movies I watched recently. I strongly recommend these movies. Don’t miss them , if you get a chance to see.

PEEPLI [ Live]

Making a movie is not just for entertainment. Or for big money. This is one movie, for which, Producer Aamir Khan and Director Anusha Riszvi deserve great recognition for their joint efforts for a good cause. I remember the series of articles written by Journalist Sainath in The Hindu and Frontline on farmer’s suicide. This movie realistically depicts the conditions of the poorest of the poor in a very remote Indian village. Excellent photography and script. Most of the actors are from a prominent theatre troup and one can’t believe that many other actors in the movie are actually ‘adivasis’. I have not seen any other movie in the recent past where one felt that it was just a live telecast of an actual happening.

I do not know why the movie was given an ‘A Certificate by the Censor Board. I strongly feel that children should be encouraged to watch this movie.

Every one should watch this movie! (Especially the politicians, bureaucrats and the fourth estate)

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

This is an excellent movie worth watching. The film focuses on an eight year old boy in the holocaust ‘settings’. His father was an SS Officer in Nazi Germany and was transferred and placed as in charge of the concentration camp.

The director Mark Herman showcases the experiences in the concentration camp and narrates the tales of horror, terror, love, innocence and pain revolving around the Nazi camp. Watch this movie to understand the finer emotions of the people who were subjected to unimaginable torture. But the main theme of the movie is the innocent love between Bruno, the eight year old son of the Nazi officer and Shmuel ( of the same age), who is the son of a Jew, living in the Nazi camp. We have only heard of the horrifying life under Hitler. This movie will definitely take us through the life of innocent men, women and children who were victims of racial prejudice, greed and animosity.

The Japanese Wife

Another wonderful movie from Aparna Sen. Based on the story by Kunal Basu, the relation ship between a shy arithmetic teacher Snehamoy Chatterjee (Rahul Bose) from Bengal and his pen-pal Miyage (Chigasu Takaku) from Japan has been portrayed beautifully. Though dragging at times, one should appreciate the unique theme. Ensure that there is English sub title, since many dialogues are in Bengali.

Life is beautiful

This is an excellent movie, set in the backdrop of Nazi concentration camp. The movie centers around a happy Jewish-Italian family and their subsequent life in a concentration camp. First half of the movie, is like a romantic tale. Second half, clearly depicts the sufferings of people in the concentration camp. One cannot forget the sincere attempts of the father (played by Roberto Benigni) to make his son Joshua believe that whatever happening in the camp is nothing but a game. His efforts to protect the innocence of his son in the fascist environment is remarkable.

Two Malayalam movies

Sufi Paranja Katha (A story told by Sufi)

A brilliant contribution from the Director Priyanandanan. Based on a novel by K P Ramanunni, the movie tells the story of love and life of Karthiyani, the daughter of an upper class Hindu feudal family (played by Sharbani Mukherji) and a nomadic Muslim trader (played by Prakash Bare).

Several films are released in Malayalam, but only very few are worth watching. ‘Sufi Paranja Katha’ is one of the best films the Malayalam film industry ever produced. I strongly recommend this movie for anyone who is interested in watching a good Malayalam movie.

Elsamma Enna Aankutty

A movie, beautifully directed by Lal Jose. You can see a short review by me in the link my review in sulekha


Tomorrow is my birthday

Am I excited to have another special day in my life? Though I am slightly uncomfortable with the birthday wishes and any sort of celebration, it is indeed an exciting milestone in life.

Unlike my daughter, who plans and waits for 364 days for her next birthday, I tend to get into the birthday mood about seven days prior to my birthday (thanks to the seven day lent prior to the birthday of Mother Mary with whom I share my birth day).

Birthday is an occasion for me to take stock of my life and to evaluate the years I lived in this beautiful world.

Was my life worth?

Did I spend the years fruitfully?

How is the balance sheet of my life as on today? Am I carrying too many liabilities? What are my assets?

Am I the person I wished to be, when I was in my college days?

Dreams, aspirations and Vision. Nothing can be achieved alone. One needs the right ‘spirit’ within oneself to get the power to live a ‘complete’ life. We also need people and favourable circumstances to carry on with our mission. Choice is not always ours. Here comes the need to prepare ourselves to ‘put-up’ with others. We can’t forget the fact that others too have their own unique dreams and aspirations!

My assets are the instances I made others smile and occasions I experienced inner joy and peace in these years. My liabilities are nothing but the regrets I still have for losing the opportunities for excellence to become a world class citizen.

I found that the dreams would be just dreams, if they are not appropriately nurtured with concrete initiatives.

I remember the ‘lines’ I had pasted on the desk of my room during my university days.

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm (Ralph Waldo Emerson).

Enthusiasm is the sparkle in your eyes,

the swing in your gait,

The grip in your hand,

the irresistible surge of will,

and the energy to execute your ideas’ (Henry Ford).

Could I achieve what I aspired for? Yes, to some extent.

I could develop the right attitude, right understanding, and the courage to distance myself from the undesirable, snobbish and materialistic part of the society. But I was equally worried and at times pained because of the difficulties and accusations when I tried to swim against the wave. Was I successful in putting forth my views openly wherever required? I am not quite sure.

I could have done better. Not in terms of career, status or authority. These are not material in the quest for ‘completeness’.

I realize now, that there are lots of things one has to do in this interesting but complex world.

On the one side we are having diverse avenues for entertainment, comfort and enjoyment. On the other side we have abundant opportunities to put in our best to equip ourselves to create lasting changes in the society around us. One road is short, smooth, luxurious, comfortable, thrilling and gratifying to the senses. The other road is long, tough, lonely and has frequent trials and tribulations. Many times I thought the roads have intersections at some points so that I could jump over for convenience. But, lately, I find that these roads are parallel to each other and never ever destined to intersect. That revelation makes me more nervous. How can one be in the world and not behave worldly?

I slowly realized that, the ‘worldly behaviour’ as understood and widely propagated by the majority of the people in the ‘modern’ world is quite different from what is expected of it. The idealistic definition would be the behavior that is empathetic, preserving, self-less, humble and truthful. I am certain that the second road, the road less travelled, can be unimaginably exciting, peaceful, joyous and rewarding in the long run. This conviction and the certainty scare me more. Because I cannot anymore plead excuse that I was ignorant.

I strongly feel that every day is a day for improvement. To prepare ourselves to fulfill our goals and aspirations. I need to correct my imperfections. I need to garner enough strength to tread the right road with enthusiasm, optimism and perseverance. I should shed my inhibitions, fear, and reservations in embracing the truth courageously. For this I need, more power, love and self discipline.

What activity would result in making me feel ‘worthy’? I should engage in such activity that would make me emotionally and socially rich. Activities those are creative rather than re-creative; constructive rather than destructive; enduring rather than evanescent.

But the time given to us – 24 hours in a day – cannot be stretched. This is like our high ways. Though number of vehicles produced has increased several times the road capacity, there is very limited scope for further widening of roads. We need to prioritize our time.

Thus, the most important decision to be taken now is the prioritization of tasks ahead. I need to give importance to tasks that can create more assets in the balance sheet of my life. I need to take care to avoid any further liabilities. That means, my thoughts and actions should be oriented towards achieving lasting happiness for me and for the society around. And less of regrets about the lost opportunities.

Let me try to be a world class citizen. By not being at the center stage of the world. But by being an ‘ordinary’ person with extraordinary convictions about the completeness of life. Let me understand that real success in life comes out of being a humble servant who is empathetic to the needy. I pray for the strength to tread on the road less travelled, the road that is long, tough, and narrow. May I have many enlightened friends, who can guide me and correct me in my journey. Let me be not lonely there. Let me not fear any more.

I am sure, I will be secure under the shadow of those powerful wings as I progress on the road with hope and supplication.


Public companies into diversification mode?


See, what a fantastic value added service being offered by a responsible telecommunication provider.

They send messages to the subscribers, young and old, offering 'excellent' services!

Some offers received by me in my moblile are given below:

-"These girls will make your mood jolly and cheerful. Click hangama.(followed by telecom company's name).

-" Want to chat with beautiful girls? Click this. (wap......)

-" want to download photos of beautiful girls. click....."

Whether Govt Companies are in dire need to fill their coffers through such 'value' added services?


Truth shall set us free

We live in the indispensable world of computers and any crash leads to instant tantrums. One fine morning, I found my PC sick. All my home remedies did not work and the comp continued to ail for several days. The General Practitioner – a neighborhood boy who troubleshoots all my gadgets and widgets – referred the PC to a domain specialist. The specialist heard the problem over phone and outsourced the work to another company.

Within minutes, a tie-clad youngster appeared and straightaway hit the computer room. It was quite amusing to see his performance. He used his right big toe to switch on the computer and perched himself comfortably on the computer table. I was quite impressed by the strong aura of confidence around him. He was a mutli-tasker too… He blew his chewing gum, fiddled with the key board, all the while sincerely responding to the callers on his cellphone. After diagnosis, he declared: “Sir, problem identified. The PC needs to be formatted.” I told him: “Go ahead, provided the data remains intact.” He said, “Of course sir!” I left him to his machinations, while I went out for a coffee.

The moment I returned, I could sense that the air of confidence had turned stale. I saw my enthusiastic young specialist standing and sweating in front of the computer. “Work is completed, but all data got deleted by mistake,” he said in a pleading voice. I was stunned, and I insisted that he retrieve all the deleted data. But he said he did not know how to do it. An angry me asked him what his qualification was. To my surprise, he said he was a management graduate and was currently picking up computer skills through “on-job training”. That means, all the while he was having his practical lessons on my PC. Realizing that shouting at him was of no use, I asked him to contact his company immediately and get the data retrieved. The company told me I should have saved the data in a storage device before reformatting the computer. I was shocked.
I could not believe that my official documents, research notes, and hundreds of personal and other files were gone forever. I told the company chief how the damage was done by his employee and data had to be retrieved completely. I threatened to sue his company for my data loss. The boss promised to get the best technical help soon.

Over the next three days, two super-specialists came and performed a by-pass surgery on my PC with the help of, what looked like, sophisticated and latest gadgets. They could retrieve every single file of mine. Not just that… they also got back thousands of other files that were diligently deleted and emptied from the recycle bin. Now, I believe that nothing can be deleted from a computer hard disc.

But how different is life from these machines? They are just mirror images of our life. Whatever we do in life cannot be corrected or erased completely and forever. Pleasant experiences and scars… they all remain etched. Machines being machines, computers retain everything as it is. Truth is always everlasting. Who can afford to lie in this techno era?

If your PC and laptop can tell every bit of what you did for years, there are several other gadgets that broadcast to the world much more about you. Your call log, ‘tele-scripts’, messages, and conversations can be in public domain within no time. It doesn’t matter whether you are using the latest gadget with the best firewall. No information in your inbox or outbox is secret anymore. You are a fool to believe that transactions over the internet are secure.

Here is a story to illustrate the power of tech. Marcus Enfield, a former Australian Supreme Court judge, was jailed for two years for lying to the traffic police after they issued a speeding ticket for his car. He argued that he was in a different car, in a different location and was busy shopping and snacking with a friend. He said a female friend (who it turned out had died three years ago) was driving his car when the ticket was issued. The police, who used electronic records extensively, tracked what he was doing that day through mobile and credit card records, and from CCTV camera footage. They proved that his claims were completely false. The lesson is: We can continue to deceive The Almighty for centuries to come, but not technology.

Of course, it is the truth that sets us free and not technology.

Sibichen K Mathew


Does Cricket Hype has killed the unlimited and diverse sporting talents of the people of the world?

Public opinion is the most powerful tool for change. No one can ignore unbiased views of people who observe things in perspective. History is shaped by expressions of a few thinking people irrespective of the power that wield or reign at different historical, cultural and structural contexts.

Now, express your opinion on the following:

Does Cricket Hype has killed the unlimited and diverse sporting talents of the people of the world?See some interesting comments sent by people


Cricket Vs Football !
If we think' out of india' it is not

I think cricket hype never killed the sporting talents of the peoples of the world. The best example i like to quote is the less turned crowd in the recent cricket world cup. Whether it happens in Football World Cup? NO!
(indian situation may be diffrent)
Deepu RV


Cricket Team is not INDIAN ARMY !

Come on friends give the cricket team a break.... they are not the indian army who fought and lost its a game and loosing or winning is a part of any game. its the media that creates so many issues. so let the team play the game and let the spectators enjoy it just as a game...:)



Nothing wrong with Cricket but for your approach !

A Cricket was to me nothing but a non-descript insect that would rarely be airborne. But that was before coming to India... I heard about cricket in 1978 and started playing thanks to a BDM bat gifted by my uncle. I have loved cricket ever since and I wield the bat and spin the ball at any opportunity.... but I don't remember the time I sat myself down for more than 15 minutes to watch even a finals...Personally, don't think there is any problem with Cricket.... its with our approach... our obsession with the game.

Cricket has lessons aplenty to offer...think of the immense possibilities that unfolded...Kerry Packer introduced cricket entertainment, cricket was responsible to challenge Apartheid and inspire diplomacy, Imran and Chapell brought strategy to the game; Bradman, Gavaskar and later Sachin took us to the limits of the bat; Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards beat the whites at their game; Abdul Khader, Bedi and Kumble showed us that the ball can defy gravity and laws of aerodynamics, Dennis Lillee used the ball to beat the sound barrier if not light, Cronje erred but owned up his folly and kept his integrity intact, Imran Khan has wage a battle against cancer thru and lately Woolmer brought techniques, empiricism and integrity to cricket.

And...don't forget...there are many who live of it....starting from the players, the umpires, the curators, the groundsmen, the vendors who sell you pop corn and the beer (there are people who cook, brew, and pack it too), people who sew up the T-shirts and put up the hoardings... now consider is it a waste? If Kerry Packer had transformed a drab, 5 day long, boring match played by Men in White, into something as fascinating as ODIs... why can't we transform ourselves and the people around us. Let's challenge this thought... let's mix business with pleasure and Cricket our lives.

Sonny Jose



The Unwarranted Hype !
Yes!The hype and overcommercialisation combined with excessive electronic media buildup over the past few years(not just this world cup alone)has closed the options for correct projection of many other sports on the country and consequently their talents.


New Delhi


From an unashamed FANATIC of Cricket !
Cricket is a game played by just a handful of nations, if you exclude
Minnows like Bermuda and Scotland. If the hype about the game has
caught the nation's fancy, the reason is that we think, 'well!here is
a game where at least we can dream of becoming world beaters'. We
simply refuse to accept that a nation of one billion people cannot
produce a single olympic champion or a champion team in a sport taken
seriously by nations all over the world. So we place all our hopes on
Cricket to salvage our national pride. Our cricket stars ride the wave
of elation and euphoria in the build up to the world cup, but once
they are out in the middle, the burden of expectations weigh heavily
upon them. More the hype, the greater the fall from grace.

May be all the hype has not done cricket any good. May be the hype was
at the cost of other games. But to suggest that we don't produce world
champions in other sports because we are a cricket-centric nation, is
stretching things too far. Show me one team sport where our national
team at least showed some promise, if not performance. If you are
suggesting Hockey, please remember that the last time we were World
Champions was a good thirty two years back. Forget the Olympic gold
medal in the truncated Moscow olympics of 1980 and our national sport
has no great feats to boast of in the last three decades. If I am a
corporate giant and I want to put my money in some sports other than
crazy cricket, is there any chance that some one could really come up
with a sensible piece of advice?

Like it or not, we are a nation of cricket romantics who pin our hopes
on our Sehwags and Tendulkars and Dhonis to thrash the daylight out of
Mcgraths and Akhtars and Flintoffs at least once in a while so that we
can sit glued before the idiot box, forgetting work, forgetting stress
and scream with joy in the company of friends and family. No other
game gives us the opportunity to flaunt our analytical ability and
flair for statistics. Just as there is mass euphoria about cricket
there is also mass post mortem of a lost game. We are forever ready to
offer quick fix solutions for the men in blue and share our remedies
wih not just our near and dear but even with downright strangers. God
knows how many friendships have been forged in sharing latest scores
and cricket trivia in a long train journey or a bus stand or a pan
shop! All said and done, cricket is a great leveller and a great
unifying force.Fat chance that any other game would ever mantle this
role, even if, godwilling, they throw up world champions year after

So stop blaming it on cricket. As an unashamed fanatic I would like to
believe that other games just doesn't have it in them to take the same
stage as cricket. But yes, I do change my opinion every fourth year
when the football fever takes over. For me, that one month is a
reality check about which is well and truly the real World Cup

Vasudevan IFS

Cricket Blocks Development !

Of course it did ,

why doubt

ban Cricket and India would be a thousand miles closer to development

mkgsj, Thiruvananthapuram

Towards an Integrated Rural Health Care Mission for Rural India


By Dr Sibichen K Mathew

This is an attempt to provide a critique of the National Rural Health Care Mission (RHM) through a brief analysis of the salient features of the system in the context of earlier health programmes and in the context of the multi dimensionality of the health problems in rural India. The objective is to examine to what extent the new scheme addresses the hitherto unresolved anomalies in the sector and the challenges in implementation. It is felt that strengthening the existing governmental machinery with adequate training, finances and leadership and its network with ‘independent’ grass root level organizations would help in effective implementation. The note also suggests the relevance for an area specific strategy for implementation and recommends that necessary freedom be given to respective regions for formulating appropriate initiatives without compromising the overall objective of the mission.


It may be quite unpleasant to start with a statement that the mission is , in fact, ‘an old vine in a new bottle’. However it also has its own positive connotation when one interpret the statement that it is also indicative of the consistent policy perspectives of the government and its long-standing desire to strengthen the rural health services. The latter view cannot be rejected as the commitment and the efforts of the government are strongly evident from the series of schemes, programmes, committees and policy initiatives in the post independent India...................

............................................As suggested earlier there is a need to have a micro perspective in implementing the RHM programmes giving maximum flexibility at the regional levels to decide on the priority areas. Considering the unique and diversified socio cultural contexts within India, it is imperative to supplement the efforts of RHM by suitable enlightenment on the social determinants of health in India as proposed by WHO. Research projects focusing on the above area would definitely help in strengthening the formulation of health policies and programmes focusing on rural poor.

(For full version, Contact

Damning the Culture :The Dams and the Rights to Livelihood

The present note is a brief analysis of the proposed Tipaimukh hydro-electric dam in the north east India in the context of the human rights and cultural implications. The note highlights the unique cultural and social consequences of the project for the affected population and their immediate environment. An attempt is also made to analyse the complex process of resettlements and indicate for a very cautious approach.

Man finds the meaning of his existence within the boundaries of his immediate environment. He is moulded by the cultural ethos of his ‘small’ world , draws his ethos and lifestyles from the unique artefacts and socifacts provided by his physical and social environment. His life revolves around the ‘primordial’ linkages he has with the place he has grown , his immediate kith and kin, his occupational and recreational interests and also the geographical and climatic contexts experienced by him. .............................

................................Let me conclude with the following words of former Justice V R Krishna Iyer:

“The developmental paradigm relevant to Third World countries cannot be a similar reflection of western projects and prescriptions. Growth of wealth is one component of development; a fair sharing of such assets by the marginalized human sector , by way of distributive justice is another component. Giant projects , welcomed by the proletariat, may alienate or annihilate the basic rights to life of the proletariat”

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A True Telephonic Story

Recently I had to visit a government office for some urgent work. Thanks to the out sourcing wave, the reception is managed by a private security guard. He was on the free telephone, chatting with a personal acquaintance. I tried clearing my throat very loudly to catch his attention. He looked up from his glass chamber and reluctantly cut-short the phone and attended to me. He informed the room number of the officer with whom I had taken a telephonic appointment. (Which was obtained after several attempts as ‘all the lines to that office were busy’).

Since there was no peon in the vicinity , I slowly but partially opened the door. The officer is on the phone and I smiled at him while he gave me a passing look . I took a few steps inside. We had not met each other before. That may be the reason for his continued attention to the impressive talk at the other end of his telephone. I thought , he would gesture me for the seat. Realizing that the officer is very much amused by the incoming gossip and also in a mood to part with his own contributions to spice up , I slowly came out of the room. I took the steps slowly, expecting a call from behind to stay back. I went out. One need not expect sufficient chairs for visitors in most of the offices. I walked up and down the corridor reading the colourful posters protesting about the the low salary and heavy work. I went inside the section were the staff were sitting to send my visiting card to the officer. Most of the staff members were busy over the telephones located in their nearest location ( one can mistake the office for a tele-marketing concern) or on their personal cell phones. Others were getting intellectually enriched through periodicals. As most of the personal jobs can be done through telephone, there are very few absentees these days in several offices. Truly, there is full capacity utilization for one office resource viz. telephones. A few were on the computers and was difficult to make out whether they were on personal network or on official tasks.

I told an elderly official, who might be the staff supervisor, about my appointment with the officer and requested him to inform the officer or send my visiting card inside. Before I took out the card from my pocket he told me loudly: ‘Peon has gone to canteen and therefore nobody to take the card inside. And saab is busy on the phone. You please wait near his room till he finishes his conversation or else you may straightaway enter the room’.

I went back and found that saab was on another line. As his concentration and involvement during telephonic conversations were at its best I closed the door and came out. It was about one hour since I entered this office. Thought I can reach him after a few minutes , I went in search of one my colleagues who also work in this office. Fortunately she was available in the room and very happily welcomed me with surprise as we were meeting after about 10 years. As I sat on the chair, she ordered for coffee and then enquired where I am posted and what is the reason for the visit to this city. As I opened my mouth, one of her telephones rang. She continuously said ‘Yes Ma’m, Right Ma’m,Ok Ma’m .. for about fifteen minutes. Meanwhile other phones in the room also started ringing one by one , at alternate intervals. As she about to sip the coffee , which was cold by then, and as I was about to answer her first query , her phone rang again. The voice from the other side was so loud that I could hear the lady. My colleague looked at me and told that she is her office batch mate calling from the other side of the country and continued the conversation. They were talking all topics which amused both of them viz. the promotion prospects, recent divorces and separations among colleagues, problem of domestic servants and mother-in-laws, of womanising bosses , nutty lady bosses, kids’ home works and what not. Even after about twenty five minutes of chatting ( with intermediate smiles at me as if I am also a subject of the discussion or active participant of the conversation) , she was not in a mood to close the call. Meanwhile her cell phone rang and she quickly glanced the number and said to me ‘call from kids. They want my telephonic help for homework’. I gave her a gesture that ‘I will just be back’ and hurriedly escaped the room. Let her think that I had gone to respond to some natural calls.

I walked across the room of the officer. Quietly opened the door and found an empty seat. But quickly heard a shouting from behind . ‘Hey who is that. Don’t you know that you just cannot enter the room of the officer without permission’. I turned back and so the peon who has managed to yell at me while attending to a conversation over phone, comfortably sitting in the supervisor’s chair.

It is a good news that we have achieved tremendous progress in providing telephones of all types to one and all. But it is a bad news that they are not used by the right people, at the right place , at the right time , for the right task and for the right duration.

While I was climbing downstairs and passed the reception to go out of the office, the private security guard gave me a warm smile and a salute while his cell phone provided me the entertainment by giving the tune of latest movie number. He quickly turned to his phone while I am about to return the smile.

Sibichen K Mathew


"Telephone story is relevant and quite revealing.Telephone has become an irresistable intrusion into space and time.Being a communication device it mars communication in person. What a paradox!Let people understand this menace and behave properly.The case is no different in a private office."


Why bosses don’t smile?

In many organizations one can spot boss who tend to keep his smile a treasured expression that cannot be showered on all and sundry in the organization. He thinks that the serious expression on his face and his measured words would give him an edge over others as one holding the very important post. He tends not to give an immediate appointment for those who want to see him even when he is absolutely free. His incoming calls are screened if they are from subordinates. He prefers to come straight to the business and targets during one-to-one meetings leaving no room to give a warm regard for the employee-visitor either in the beginning or at the end of the meeting. There are many bosses who get out of the car and walk straight into their cabins through the corridors of the office without even responding to the respectful and friendly wishes of their employees.

(picture courtsey:

In most organizations bosses are not directly imported from outside on a fine day. They are made to become bosses over a period of time by virtue of either their merit or seniority in the same organization. And employees and other stakeholders of the organization naturally expect better understanding and empathy from a boss coming up from the same organization. Of course, a certain degree of change in the interaction pattern is tolerable though not always desirable. For example, he may leave the luncheon circles he used to be an active member. He may stop cracking jokes with his erstwhile colleagues and may not seem to enjoy the conversations any more. Subordinates are kept at bay fearing demands for undue advantages.

However, the leaders who move up fast in the hierarchy should not forget the fact that his behavioural pattern while he was in the lower layers are known to many in the organization. A person who was known for his irregular attendance, procrastination , and boss-batting during his earlier part of the career in the organization would get ridiculing response for his severity in enforcing discipline.

Do the bosses need to be inscrutable?

Robert Greene in his famous book ‘48 Laws of Power’ advocates that inscrutability is a necessary attribute to maintain the power by the leader and to gain respect. However nothing can be hidden for a long time. People would come to know who you are within no time. Thus inscrutability is neither a virtue nor a leadership strategy. It is a ploy used by cowards who need to hide their incapability as a leader.

Bosses need to shed their aura

Society has placed individuals in different layers of hierarchy. Organizations have persons vertically positioned with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Though decentralized power is in vague these days in governments and organizations, the pyramidal structure is inevitable for better coordination and discipline. But the common tendency is that, as a person moves up in the hierarchy, he necessarily makes incremental addition to his aura at every stage by increasingly become inaccessible and formal. Bosses need to realize that the backbone of the organization is its employees. All calculations regarding performance, targets and success squarely depend on the quality of work put in by the employees. Even if the organization provides all performance linked incentives and any number of amenities, one good gesture from the boss will definitely motivate the subordinates much more that anything else.

Dealing with public

Even in government organizations where public largely throng with grievances, bosses and the designated public relations officers need to be more responsive. Many times public are happy if the officer give them a warm welcome and patient hearing even when the grievance is not fully resolved. Sadly, public are even scared to make a telephone call to some of the government organizations due to the rude and impatient responses.

Smile goes a mile

Warmth and kindness will make bosses more popular and respected in the organization. Those who believe in demonstrating a ‘busy boss’ behaviour and ‘boss means only business’ attitude are definitely mistaken. Gone are the days when one could extract work from subordinates through threats and undue manifestation of authority. Present day employees expect understanding, empathy and encouragement from the bosses to contribute their best.

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My son! Please don't watch the news

Like any other child of his age, my son was addicted to TV since he started going to school. He took the control of the remote and I was at his mercy to keep the remote for at least for some time in my hand. He was keener on watching cartoons aired simultaneously by several competing channels. He learned all the theme songs of various animated shows and thoroughly enjoyed watching all of them whenever he is awake at home. Both my wife and me had to quietly allow this obsession as we were left undisturbed during that period. We could hear protracted loud laugh as he watched those shows from the TV room. As he grew bigger and elevated from primary classes to middle school, he was loaded with enormous homework and assignments. His class notes became shabby and he was hardly keen on correcting the notes written by him. He preferred just to listen to the lectures of the teachers and do nothing. That is what he got habituated through the cartoon programmes. Just watch the show and enjoy. Nothing to think and nothing to do.

Like most of the young parents who live in nuclear families, we also thought that the art of training the children and upbringing them are ‘trial and error’ as no parent qualified a proficiency test in child rearing. My son’s diminishing interest in academics has worried us. And my wife reminded me frequently of several articles and studies, which admonished TV viewing by children. I started putting restrictions on my son. Meanwhile my newborn daughter got fascinated with TV even when she was on all fours. It was only a matter of just few months for her to displace her big brother. By the time she joined the school, she managed to snatch the unquestionable ownership rights for the TV remote. While my son used to hand over the remote to me with little begging, ending in mild shouting from me, my daughter simply refused to hand over the remote. The addiction to the remote was such that she used to hide it in secret places while going to take bath or while having food. She was fascinated with film songs, movies and tele-serials apart from the cartoons. Since she knows that I am a ‘news addict’ she will put the headlines for me retaining the control over the remote to herself. Our restriction policies miserably failed. My son also started sitting along with her (still the remote was with my daughter) watching movies, film songs and dances. Both of them became serious consumers of all sorts of emotional and behavioural plots and expressions such as romance, violence etc exhibited in such programmes and started forming their own attitudes and opinions about life. They became more influenced by what was seen in the TV rather than what the teachers or we taught.

At this juncture I started slowly introducing my son to the habit of newspaper reading. He was asked to write the news headlines every day after reading the newspaper in a diary. With a little encouragement and frequent reminders, he started writing the news almost every day. His general knowledge improved dramatically. He continued it for a year. As he unconsciously got into the habit of newspaper reading, I stopped compelling him to write the headlines. Now he is in class VI and he is the first person to snatch the English daily from me in the morning. If he does not get time in the morning he catches up in the evening. That has created an impact on the TV viewing. He started watching the news channels.

My son’s interest in reading and listening to news has created a fresh set of problems for me. First is his unending doubt on whatever happening around. Though that can be answered with little bit of updating from my side the second set of questions literally makes me quite disturbed and I fail to give readymade answer. He learns from his textbooks about UN as the international agency, which has the power to ensure peace and discipline between countries. He asks me then why it is not interfering when Israel bombs kill thousands of Palastinis. He asks me is it worth having fight over Kashmir as millions of rupees and hundreds of lives of both countries getting wasted year after year. He hears both Gen. Musharaf and Mr Manmohan Singh speaking of bilateral peace. He asks me why should people protest against the visit of George Bush, the President of a great country. Is it proper to show ‘go back’ signs when another country head makes a friendly visit to our country? He also asks me why can’t big corporates adopt some of our villages? I did not have any immediate answer to any of these and hundreds of other questions he ask me every day.

The third set of problems after my son started having interest in news is related to the investigative reporting of some news channels. Video footages of crime scenes and violence, reports about anti social activities, and scandals and scams about widely respected political, bureaucratic and religious leaders have created mixed feelings in him. There is possibility of children becoming vulnerable to violent images and messages due to viewing of reality footages in the news channels. As stories of crime, violence and different types of abuses are hot cakes for competing news channels, they rarely seem to edit that suitably. They thrive on most explicit presentation of events. Most of the spicy stuff is aired over and over. Repeated viewing of such stuff can result in having a deformed perception about the society around. I had to tactfully persuade to switch the channels when my son watches many such reality shows.

Now, I am relieved when he watches cartoons. I have started encouraging him to watch stuffs like the popeye show, Noddy, Tom and Jerry , Mr Bean or Nicktoons rather than watching the numerous news channels. Both my children seem to laugh and enjoy a lot while watching those stuff. Let them not for the time being, get upset over either the emotional outbursts in movies and serials or the ‘reality bites’ aired in the news channels. Let them face real life as it comes.

(From a Worried Father)

An Ordeal called School Admission

Providing education is considered as a noble service.
It is also one of the lucrative businesses in many parts of the world.
Many work with sincerity and devotion to impart education of high quality.
 A few work for the sole objective of earning income.
Read some thoughts on the subject below.

As another school year begins, it is time for thousands of parents in all Indian cities to frantically knock at the doors of mighty school heads. Though admission process starts almost six months earlier, March witnesses the zenith of seat seekers in various private schools. Many fortunate parents might have obtained the application forms months earlier after standing in long queues for hours. Others try their luck on several subsequent dates with the staff in charge of the admission for obtaining the application form. Those parents who come out triumphantly after submitting the forms wait for the day of the entrance examination. Meanwhile, you may have several doubts and needed clarifications on the fee, syllabus, deadlines, language electives etc. Rarely you get somebody to clarify your queries.

Tried to get an appointment with the school heads? If you get one, you are the luckiest. You thought your high sounding letters in the visiting card would gain you smooth entry. You are wrong. The principals are always busy. You might get a blurred image of him reading news papers or chatting with ‘confident’ employees through the tinted glass doors. He may also go past the reception in supersonic speed several times during the day. He would not see parents waiting for hours outside. He knows it better as he learnt the lessons hard way. Lack of access increases demand and the supply can be priced high.

You may meet your district collector , police chief or your tax commissioner without much difficulty. But think twice before seeking an appointment for a quick word with your neighbourhood school head. Do not get misled by the charity objectives or the logo proclaiming equality, honesty and empathy of the school. These are applicable only to the students and not for the management. These are the only places were it can be rightly said that right of admission is reserved. None of the other establishments, irrespective of the distinction of public sector or private sector, which provide services (viz. hospitals, banks, public utility providers etc) behave in such non-transparent manner.

Conditional admissions are granted in these schools stating ‘anticipated’ vacancies in order to build further pressure. You may also be warned that your ward may not get requested language stream. You would also be told that your ward has done badly in the entrance exam. All these would add up for determining the advance price you have to pay for the seat. And you will be given less than twenty four hours to pay the ‘admission fee’ which may be several times your monthly income. Pay it or leave the seat. This stage of admission process is extremely simple and quick. You try to tell them that you belong to the same community as of the management. You try to yell out that you belong to a minority community. You cry before them that you are in a transferable job and cannot afford to pay such huge admission fee year after year in different places. Nothing works. Angrily you come out of the premises to find an alternative place. Then you think about your daughter who is at home preparing herself with enthusiasm to join the new school. You forget and forgive every thing. You break your head and manage the requirement with much difficulty. Struggle continues to buy the school bag, uniforms, Friday dress, branded shoes, books, stationery- all from the vendors pre-decided by the school.


Such hegemonic conduct of several private educational establishments are beyond anybody’s scrutiny. It needs to leave to their conscience whether they are fair and reasonable in their activities. Do they uphold the greatest ideals of equality, honesty and social justice which are the primary objectives of education? Can their conduct make them guilty while claiming all privileges and governmental concessions as an educational institution?

And lastly, a very fair question from those academic heads:-- We need to maintain ourselves and therefore allow us to survive the competition. Who is forcing you to come to us for admissions? -- And I don’t have any answer.

Click to read related articles:

Stop this harassment: A cry for deschooling India
The institutional child abuse
My mid-day break with out of school children
My son! Don't watch news!
A mother who learned from her teenage daughter
A man who left the commissioner's chair

All that glitters is gold !

(The Power of the yellow metal -for everyone from women to Gods)

By Dr Sibichen K Mathew

Income Tax sleuths were busy conducting a raid on a big business man in his residential premises. Unfortunately for him, the taxmen could gather several incriminating documents indicating large scale tax evasion. Most shocking was the discovery of bundles of currency in gunny bags from various nooks of the house. Officials counted the same with the help of counting machines which totaled them at two hundred and twenty five lakhs. Obviously, the man had to just sit helplessly while the taxmen sealed the currency in suit cases. The man had omitted to pay the taxes due by him all these years while sweating hard to earn every rupee of those amounts seized. Bad luck!

The silence in the house was suddenly broken with a sudden hue and cry from the man and his wife the moment the officials started another exercise. That happened when the sleuths started weighing the gold jewellery in the house. Though the jewellery was worth only about five lakhs of rupees, both the husband and wife became very much disturbed by the process of weighing the jewellery. It is really surprising that similar emotional pressure and depression never surfaced at the time of counting and seizing crores of currency from the residence. They begged with the officials for not seizing the jewellery and tried to give every possible explanation regarding the source of funds for the jewellery.

The above incident is just one of the manifestations of the extent of emotional bond Indians have to the yellow metal. As in many societies and cultures, the life of an Indian centers around a number of familial, social and religious functions. This is irrespective of and usually thrusted upon by his primordial affiliations. In almost all functions, the presence of (or presents of) gold jewellery is inevitable. Even when the child is in the womb of the mother, a ritual called ‘valaikappu’ is performed on the pregnant woman in most of the places. All the elderly women and her parents adorn her with gold ornaments. Later, after the delivery it is a common tradition to feed the child with gold and honey (within hours of the birth). Gold chain is put on the baby’s waist on the twenty eighth day after the birth. After a few months, the naming ceremony is conducted wherein the child is given new ornaments by the close relatives. It is customary to receive gold jewellery during ceremonies and functions like tonsuring and ear-boring ceremonies, annaprasannam (first meal ceremony), vidyarambham (initiating the child to learning alphabets by writing on her tongue, mostly with gold), upanayanam (sacred thread wearing ceremony among the Brahmin community), puberty ceremony, marriage (where jewellery with thali or mangalsutra is tied and adorned on the bride by the bride groom. All these are occasions for people to run to the nearest jewellery shop. Thus the jewellery has become an important cultural artifact for Indians.

Apart from the above cultural significance attributed to gold, it is also a metal which brings along with it emotional and social security, empowerment and social status. For Indian women gold is both a source of security as well as power. Unlike many other family assets, women hold the role as the custodian of the gold jewellery in many homes. That has made the attempts of many men to dispose of the jewellery not as smooth as in the case of other family assets. It also gave the women emotional and economic security as they have the option to pledge or sell a part of the jewellery for personal emergencies.

However, it is also a source for frequent fights between couples and between both families. Gold jewellery takes the form of a villain in many relationships. People make and break marriages in the name of the quantity and quality of gold jewellery. There are several instances were desperate fathers have adorned their daughters with gold coated imitation jewellery to keep up their status amidst financial troubles. Only misery awaited to those daughters who landed in the hands of equally avaricious in-laws. Relationships in society are embedded with several sovereigns of gold jewellery which in turn defined the nature of reciprocity between people.

The possession of gold as a valuable asset providing easy liquidity at the time of financial crisis is widely recognized by many Indian families. It is an asset which is transacted more widely and frequently than any other asset such as land, cash deposits, shares, debentures etc. Though many still consider gold as a poor choice for investment as compared to real estate and bank deposits, the overall price fluctuation of various assets as compared to gold need to be considered. The price of 10gms of gold in the 1950s was less than Rs 100/- , and the same costed about Rs 4500 in the year 2000. The gold price almost touched a whopping 10000 mark in May 2006. It is not only a good hedge against inflation, but also increasingly recognized as akin to other liquid assets like bank deposits as financial institutions give loans on retail gold reserves.

India’s stock of gold is conservatively estimated at about Rs 500,000 crores and it continues to be the world’s largest consumer of gold. At least one-fifth of world supply of gold reaches India. It is projected that the dwindling global gold reserves, combined with increasing demand from countries like India and Japan will result in further steep rise in gold prices. One does not know what prompted Henry Ford to comment that the gold is the most useless thing in the world.

Though the demand for gold and gold jewellery has increased irrespective of the sharp increase in prices, the younger generation seem not much inclined to adorn themselves with the heavy stuff. These days, the preference is for lighter ornaments of latest fashion and craftsmanship. Young brides take pride in more costly but less crowded diamond studded gold jewellery to massive necklaces and other matching accompaniments. Platinum is yet to pick up its market for various reasons.

If people are not so fascinated with gold these days, the elasticity of demand is maintained by anther set of consumers. They are the Gods and Godmen. Famous temples are replacing the silver plating on their idols with gold. Many temple trusts have started renovating their temple domes with more quantities of gold. Many famous temples in India receive gold jewellery as offerings from the devotees. It is reported that major temples in South India receive an average of about ten kilograms of gold from the devotees every week. The Saibaba Sansthan Trust has recently decided to buy a gold throne weighing 325kgs for the Shirdi saint at a cost of 22 crores.

Thus the demand for gold is here to stay and the price could go to unpredictable heights. Even if it is argued that it is an investment fetching only conservative returns, it guarantees to give social and economic security to the Indian middle class. Also it will continue to be a cultural symbol and a source for women empowerment. The new slogan is ‘all that glitters is gold!’



It is said that Iridium and Ruthenium (both from the Platinum family) are added while making god jewellery. In 2006, Bureau of Indian Standards had issued a circular to all hallmarking centres to look for Iridium and Ruthenium (Times of India 30 January 2009)


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