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Stewardship and Trusteesh
  By A.J. Philip  
  I ACCOMPANIED Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on his visit to South Africa on the occasi  
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  DEVOTIONAL  
 
   
Letter to Metropolitan
  By Rev A.P. Jacob and five other priests  
  Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan Most Rev. Dr. Philipose Mar Chrysostom Mar  
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  COUNSELING
 
Back to infancy -- they n
 
  By Shaheen Chander  
  ENJOYING a relaxed weekend, I was checking updates on the Facebook page. I came across a b  
     
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  THOUGHT  
     
 
   
Tap, tap, tap
  By Raja Jaikrishan  
  Home Minister P. Chidambaram told the Rajya Sabha on April 29 that the government had not authorized tapping of phones of Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and CPM general secretary Prakash Karat.

The government was willing to act on the disclosures of the magazine (Outlook) and its ongoing probe. Suitable action would be taken against the person ordering unauthorized tapping.

He quoted the Central Board of Direct Taxes clarification that the Income Tax Department has 'not recorded any telephone conversation of influential businessmen, politicians and advertising professionals as alleged by The Pioneer report.

The report had quoted the Income Tax Department saying that there was "communication between the IT Department and the CBI regarding records of telephonic conversations between a person by the name of Nira Radia and others" about the allocation of 2G spectrum franchise.

Underlining the need to delink the debate from the phone-tapping in the 2G Spectrum case, Mr Chidambaram shared the concern of Leader of opposition Arun Jaitley and CPM leader Sitaram Yechuri. Mr Jaitley had referred to media reports on the 2G Sepctrum scam and said that "it tapping) is very much authorised and contents of conversations are easily available".

Mr Chidambaram said the Indian Telegraph Act of 1885 regulates electronic surveillance undertaken by the intelligence agencies. Section 5(2) of the Act allows the Central or state governments to intercept people's phones in public emergency or in the interest of public safety, in the interest of: the sovereignty and integrity of India; the security of the state; friendly relations with foreign states; public order; preventing incitement to the commission of an offence.

In the People's Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) public interest petition in December 1996, the Supreme Court held that telephone tapping was "a serious invasion of an individual's privacy". It affirmed that the right to privacy was guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution; hence, it could not be curtailed unless permitted under the procedure established by law. The ruling laid down that the order for tapping could only be issued by the home secretary of the Central or state governments.

Mr Chidambaram added that there was a need to improve the structural safeguards against the unauthorised use of the provisions. After making the statement, the minister responded to Mr Jaitley's observation that phone-tappings had been authorised by the NDA government also.

In an affidavit before the Nanavati Commission, RB Sreekumar, IPS (retired) has stated that he had been asked to tap the phones of Haren Pandya, minister of state for revenue in the Modi government in 2002. He didn't comply with Chief Minister Narendra Modi's order saying that it did not form part of his duty in the state intelligence bureau.

In the nineties IB sleuths bugged the office of the then Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar, apparently, at the behest of the Congress party which lent outside support to the government of the former 'young Turk'. MK Dhar, former IB officer, mentions in his book that the IB officers acted in such unlawful manner obviously to curry favour with the Congress party.

"There can be absolutely no justification for snooping on political leaders for partisan ends. There is sanctity attached to the fundamental rights of a citizen enshrined in our Constitution, and anyone violating them to please his or her political masters should be immediately and severely punished and not rewarded as generally believed to be the case," says Ved Marwah, Chairman Task Force, NSCJS.
 
   
   
War against Naxalites
  By Raja Jaikrishan  
  WHEN a cultural squad sang a chorus:
"Won't leave village,
Land, forest;
How we survive;
Won't leave fight...
during a public meeting organized by the Forum Against War on People at Gandhi Peace Foundation here on April 24, I was reminded of the audacious tone of Jibananada Das's poem
'Go where you will -- I shall remain on
Bengal's shore...

Das had written the poem in response to the British division of Bengal, which resulted in dislocation of people like Salwa Jhudam has done in Chattisgarh today.

Speakers ranging from scholars, writers activists of progressive persuasion from across the country made a case for unconditional halt to Operation Green Hunt and the plunder of people's resources in the violence-affected heart of India.

Prof. Randhir Singh, prominent political thinker, noted "the present government has armed itself with all kinds of laws and security forces to wage a war against people. The terror unleashed by the state on the people, their land and resources for the big corporations was bigger violence than the one caused by guns.

The ruling classes have repeatedly flouted people's democratic verdict. So the people need extra-parliamentary sanctions to pursue the democratic aspirations of the people. Both the Congress and BJP are helping MNC s and further marginalizing the impoverished.

Ruling classes, be them in Iran, Brazil or Chile, never accept people's democratic action. The Maoists' alternative path of development has brought them to the center stage of Indian politics, he underlined.

Dr. B D Sharma, the former Commissioner of SC/STs, Government of India and Vice- Chancellor, North Eastern Hills University, Shillong, who has been working among the adivasis of Bastar, noted that after 1947, in the name of industrialization and development, the resources of the adivasis have been plundered continuously.

Quoting the Samata case judgment of the Supreme Court, he said that the government does not have the right to hand over adivasi land to the non-adivasis and corporations. But the government, while concluding hundreds of MoUs with foreign and Indian companies, has conveniently set this judgment aside.

Varvara Rao, the revolutionary poet, said that from 1987 till now the Naxalites have been keen on talks with the government to address people's basic issues like land, irrigation, education and health.

In the Dandakaranya region, the Naxalites have distributed lakhs of acres of land to the landless peasants, created alternative forms of agriculture and irrigation, healthcare and education. Naxalites are fighting with the masses and for the masses.

When the question of justice to the people has been firmly put on the agenda by the Maoists, Home Minister P. Chidambaram has forwarded the condition of 'abjuring violence'. Talks must take place immediately, but it should take place on the question of justice and not on violence. For this, an atmosphere needs to be created. The democratic forces, the media and the civil society have a crucial responsibility.They did it in Andhra for years, he added.

Arundhati Roy said the reality is that the government badly needs war, not peace. The money generated by the mining industry can buy off the government, the political parties, the judiciary, everything. Mr. Chidambaram is waging this war on their behalf.

The government is confident, as in Telangana, Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur or Kashmir, it will be able to crush the ongoing movements of the adivasis as well. But the government needs to be reminded that it has got embroiled in wars in Kashmir and North East like the USA has got entrapped in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Is it simply possible for the government to kill people in Dantewada because they are Maoists? Roy asked. We can and we should pressurize the government to sit for negotiations. We must demand immediate cease-fire on both sides, halt of Operation Green Hunt and scrapping of all MoUs aimed at draining people's resources and the adivasis displaced by the war must be rehabilitated.

Badshah Mandi from Jangalmahal (Lalgarh) spoke about police atrocities in the area. He said the struggle is not between the Maoists and the paramilitary forces, but between the people and the Indian government, between the 'development' polices of the government and people's alternative development."

Aparna of the CPIML (New Democracy), said people fighting for the constitutionally mandated rights in Kosambi and Ghoorpur in Uttar Pradesh, Kalinganagar, Narayanpatna, Jagat Singhpur and Niyamgiri in Orissa are facing police atrocities.

Malem of Committee for the Protection of Democracy, Manipur (CPDM) spoke about repression in Kashmir, Manipur, Nagaland, Asom. Prof. Jagmohan, the nephew of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, pointed out that the people's war against the anti-people policies the Indian government has reached Delhi through Kashmirand and the Northeast. The disparities between the rich and the poor have become so intense and sharp that the genuine anger of the people cannot be held back for long.
 
   
   
Heat of conviction
  By Raja Jaikrishan  
  THE death sentence on three alleged Islamic Front activists in the 1996 Lajpat Nagar bomb blast case has agitated political activities in the Kashmir Valley. A host of separatist leaders and their allies have called the sentence "the murder of justice". The bomb blast on May 21, 1996, killed 13 people in the crowded South Delhi market.

The two factions of the All Party Hurriyat Conference have united in calling the "Indian judiciary biased against the Kashmiris and Muslims".

The People's Democratic Party has joined the chorus and termed the sentence "most unfortunate". "Such tragedies flow out of the inability of India to resolve the six-decade old Kashmir question. The Lajpat Nagar case was not the first in the long story of bloodshed associated with the Kashmir problem," said PDP president Mehbooba Mufti.

Moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq added to it. "The judgment is deficient as far as delivery of justice and fairplay go... Awarding of death sentence is not only harsh, but there is also an element of revenge reflecting in the judgment."

After a legal battle of 14 years, District and Sessions Judge S P Garg said in his order that "the apparent motive of the convicts -- Mirza Nissar Hussain, Mohammad Naushad and Mohammad Ali Bhat -- was to inflict maximum casualties. It was not mere desperate act of a small group of persons... the convicts took an active part in a series of steps to pursue the object of conspiracy."

Refusing to consider any leniency to the convicts, the court said that their "participation was not the result of helplessness, but a well-designed action with their free will to make their part of contribution to the unholy plan and wicked. At no stage they pleaded that they acted under force or domination."

It was on April 16 that Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani dropped in at Tihar Jail, here, to meet Mohammad Afzal Guru, who is on death row in the 2001 Parliament attack case. The 80-year-old Geelani was in New Delhi for the past few weeks harping on the self-determination theme.

"Guru is resolute in jail. He has sent a message to the Kashmiri nation to continue the freedom struggle till it reaches its logical conclusion. If the Centre hangs Afzal, he will become another Maqbool Bhat, who was hanged in Tihar in 1982, but continues to live in the hearts of the people. His hanging will never be tolerated and there will be an uprising," said Geelani.

Geelani joined Mirwaiz in calling a one-day strike on April 23 (Friday) to protest against the death sentence in the Lajpat Nagar case.

Meanwhile, the PDP has decided to take to the streets on April 26 in all district headquarters of the state. The issues on which the former Congress partner in the state government is agitating are the amicable resolution of the Kashmir problem; the repeal of the Armed Force (Special) Powers Act; release of political detenues and re-negotiation with the NHPC on projects allocated to it.

Interestingly, the PDP agitation call followed the Mirwaiz-led APHC demonstration plan on identical issues.

The Friday hartal and stone-pelting between supporters of Mirwaiz Umar and Chief Minister Omar will heighten temperatures in the Valley. The tough approach of the state police had brought these incidents to manageable levels. Whether their resumption will impact the tourist rush to the salubrious environment is anybody's guess.
---
The writer is a senior journalist based in Noida. He regularly monitors developments in Jammu and Kashmir.
 
   
   
Serious at last
  By Sarvjeet Singh  
  "MY conscience is clear and I hope that my departure will help the Prime Minister and his colleagues focus on greater challenges," said an embattled Shashi Tharoor on the floor of the House. Tharoor's conscience, unfortunately, is not the only thing that is clear in the murky affair of the IPL Kochi franchise.

The reported presence of his close aide during the bidding process gives clear indication of his interest in the matter, which has opened a can of worms for the entire IPL. The allocation of "sweat equity" to another close aide of his in violation of company law provisions is a clear indication that his interest went well beyond the promotion of cricket in Kerala.

It would surely be small consolation to Tharoor that Lalit Modi, the man who raised the stink on the affair, is actually in a bigger mess over financial dealings in the IPL. Modi's very clear BJP affiliations, coupled with his colourful past that includes an arrest on drug charges in the US, would have certainly been taken note of in government circles. However, it served little to change Tharoor's status, which read 'indefensible' in bold letters.

In sharp contrast, Tharoor's friend Sunanda Pushkar's conduct has been quite dignified, as exemplified by her surrender of the Kochi stake. Tharoor's professed concern for greater challenges' has come too late in the day, as his tenure has been marked by his penchant for the frivolous as reflected in his 'cattle class and holy cows' comment on Twitter.

He unabashedly and regularly brought important state issues on the networking domain. His unnecessary comments on stricter visa norms in the wake of the Headley arrest showed that he was concerned about posing as a fearless liberal on Twitter; one who was prepared to chart out a course different from his government's.

Did he deem it fit to discuss and air his concerns within the government? Did he not violate the collective responsibility principle of the Council of Ministers? Merely ensuring that vested interest do not take advantage of the liberal visa regime does not make a nation less welcoming. The insecure environment that is bound to follow any terrorist strike makes a country less welcoming to foreigners. Travel advisories issued by Western governments in the immediate aftermath of a terrorist strike bear witness to it.

Tharoor even went to the extent of saying that the Pakistani terrorists who came to Mumbai did not come on any visa. This statement, glaringly devoid of logic assessment, overlooked the role played by Headley who during his extended stay in the country carried out detailed survey of the targets, allowing terrorists to move about and cause widespread destruction with precision.

Similarly, his statement on Saudi Arabia’s role in the Indo–Pak dialogue showed him at total variance with the government's stand on the issue. We all live in the television age and that in many ways influences our thinking and perception.

Tharoor's suave demeanour and articulate ways had raised hopes of the country getting an effective voice in the international arena, just like Jaswant Singh and Omar Abdulla during BJP's rule, but alas it was not to be.
---
The writer is Assistant General Secretary, New Delhi YMCA
 
   
   
Right to education
  By A.J. Philip  
  IT took 62 years for India to make elementary education a fundamental right of children in the 6-14 age-group. What made this possible was the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, one of the most enabling legislations ever attempted, which came into operation on April 1. It signifies a revolution in education.

Of course, the Act is not a panacea for all the ills that afflict the system. There are many rough edges to be smoothened before it becomes a transformative tool. There are now eight million children who are out of the school system. Poverty compels them to work or do household chores like baby-sitting.

Successful implementation of the Act would, thus, mean an end to child labour. Non-availability of school within a short distance from their dwelling, lack of proper teaching in schools, inability to cope with the overloaded curriculum are some other reasons that force them to opt out of the school system.

Studies show that 25 per cent children leave the school before reaching Class 5 and 50 per cent before Class 8. It is no mean task to retain all of them in the schools, particularly when facilities are minimal. While India has the largest pool of technically qualified people in the world, its school system is in a shambles.

Education has become big business. It is no longer uncommon to find schools in cities like Delhi which provide air-conditioned classrooms and facilities for horse-riding and swimming. But, at the other end, there are 1,20,000 single-teacher schools where classes are often held under trees. There are over half a million vacant posts of teachers.

The Act, to be implemented over a 12-year period, will entail a huge cost. The Centre has earmarked Rs 15,000 crore for the programme this year. Yet, there will be a deficit of Rs 7,000 crore. The total cost the Central and state governments will have to incur is to the tune of Rs 1.78 lakh crore in five years. However, money is just one problem.

The Pratichi Education Report, done by a Trust set up by Nobel-laureate Amartya Sen, released early this year, found that even the poorest of the poor, who never had the benefit of education, want their children to study. But it is easier said than done. There is little teaching in government schools as absenteeism is rampant among the teachers.

On their part, the teachers are heavily burdened as they have to do even non-academic work like supervising cooking and serving of mid-day meals, preparing electoral rolls and gathering census details. The curriculum is heavy and they are unable to finish it in time. Thus home work becomes a necessary evil. But in many cases the children are unable to do home work because there is nobody educated enough at home to help them do the work. Some of them are so poor that they even a kerosene lamp is a luxury.

The Report found that a majority of the students obtained the benefit of private tuition, of course, at tremendous cost. The real victims are the very poor who cannot afford private tuition. As a result, they drop out while the rich move up the educational ladder. Tragically, primary students have to learn about world wars, depletion of the ozone layer and the finer features of Shakespearean drama.

Thankfully, no student is detained even if he fails in all the subjects. But as he moves into a higher class, he is unable to cope with the pressures of studies because he does not have a proper grounding in any subject.

Last year I met Red Cross Nayak, a Class 4 student in Jagatsinghpur district in Orissa. He got the peculiar name as he was born at the Red Cross building where a large number of people had taken shelter when a Super Cyclone hit coastal Orissa 10 years ago. Features on him have appeared in newspapers all over the world.

But when I asked him to write his own name on a paper, I found the spelling wrong. He could not write his name correctly even in his mother-tongue Oriya. This substantiates Pratichi Report's finding that a majority of the students in Class 3 and 4 could not write their own names correctly.

All this underlines the fact that the Act will be beneficial only if the Central and state governments make necessary investments and reform the system so that a few years from now, every child would have the benefit of proper education. Otherwise, it would be like the Directive Principles of the Constitution under which free and compulsory education would have become a reality within 10 years of India becoming a Republic in 1950.
 
   
   
Educate to transform
  By Sarvjeet Singh  
  THE Right to Education Act, enacted recently by the Central Government, offers a plethora of opportunities in terms of social empowerment. A tardy and casual implementation mechanism, on the other hand, can mar this praiseworthy initiative and bleed it to slow death.

If we are to prevent this from happening, it would be appropriate to objectively examine the existing education system and its ability to influence, empower and liberate the thinking process. Such a process is sure to enrich any knowledge stream and lend it an edge in terms of its ability to affect a qualitative change in the community.

Education, even at the primary level, needs to have a community focus. Issues that have a bearing on the lives of people need to be integrated in the curriculum, so that education becomes a tool of transformation in the early stages itself.

With 75 per cent of India's population living in villages, the importance of eco-friendly and sustainable agricultural practices in primary education curriculum is easily understood. Even students in urban and semi-urban areas need to be aware of the relentless toil that farmers employ in order to feed us. We need to imprint on our collective mindset the colossal role played by farmers in feeding a gigantic population of ours against all odds. This orientation will certainly erode the apathy that exists about their plight. It may also slow down the reckless and thoughtless decimation of cultivable land to make way for structures aimed at feeding the urban economy.

Harnessing of alternative and renewable energy resources is an area that has profound significance for our future. The enormous resources deployed by the government to promote renewable energy are not showing visible signs of success, as they are devoid of people's participation. If their promotion is taken up through a project-based approach in schools, it is bound to make an impact.

The city of San Antonio in the US has shown how human waste or 'biosolids' can be reprocessed into natural gas and used for power generation. India, which pioneered the use of bio gas, has been left far behind.

Citizenship is another area that needs to be firmly integrated in the primary education curriculum. Students should be encouraged to take up projects on socially relevant issues like hygiene, sanitation, awareness against social dogmas, etc. Education should thus become a tool not only to acquire information, but transform self and communities for a better tomorrow.
 
   
   
Indian sports mess!
  By Balvinder Singh  
  RECENTLY Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Manohar Singh Gill reportedly stated that cricket, of late, had turned totally commercial. How true! However, one is unable to decide if we should lament the game's commercialisation or the helplessness of our country's sports minister.

The Sports Ministry lacks funds to set up infrastructure for other popular games to match that of cricket, which is being run like a profitable commodity by the private sector.

What hurts most is the fact that even available sports facilities, which the government provides to its sportspersons and bodies, though scarce and insufficient, are not used efficiently. Rather, these are misused.

The real culprit is rampant corruption that allows the blatant abuse of these facilities. For, rarely is allocated money spent solely on sports; and the available sports-reservations of jobs and seats in educational institutions are rarely provided to deserving players.

To top it, the so-called sports writers, who get more than sufficient space to write their columns, rarely expose these very important aspects. They remain busy in publishing articles and pictures of bureaucrats, politicians and influential rich businessmen who often remain lifetime heads of almost all sports bodies in our country.

These pen-pushers never tell people that the majority of sports bodies, more than often, spend more money on their own upkeep than on actual games or players.

I know from personal observation how lavish gifts and cocktail parties are thrown for the media during every election (only in name) of these organisations; they can perhaps be called dens of corruption.

If our so-called sports clubs or associations run hard liquor bars on their premises, (Chandigarh Sports Complex at the Lake and Punjab Cricket Stadium at Sahibzad Ajit Sing Nagar, contemptuously called Mohali, are two such examples), the common dope stories about our sportspersons seem simply silly.

Recently when Gill expressed concern over the use of liquor at IPL matches, I wrote him an email. Some Srinivas, a bureaucrat who has always been quick and courteous in responding to every email that I have been sending to the Sports Ministry, sent me a funny reply: "The Ministry of Sports does not grant licence for liquor. It is the State Excise department. So please realize that your question is misdirected. The Sports Minister has expressed his stand. It is the State Governments that have to take a call on the matter."

When medals are taken back from our druggy sportsmen in the international sports arena, it is the Sports Minister's moral responsibility to accept the rot. He cannot exonerate himself by saying that the basic problem lies in local sports clubs and that they are state subjects.

I remember our school principal announcing, after every win of our leading kabbadi team, a free supply of any amount of milk for the whole week for each of the players. Now, we celebrate occasional sports wins with champagne alone!

During my college days as a teacher, I personally asked scores of my fellow teachers, other than sports ones, if they knew anything about games like korf ball and soft ball.

Believe me, no one, not even a single soul, had ever heard of such games, of which there exist at least a dozen 'recognized' sports bodies, in and around Chandigarh!

How do they work? Get hold of a few certificate-hunting gullible students from Chandigarh (UT), Chandigarh (Haryana), Chandigarh (Punjab) and Chandigarh (Himachal) and you can hold a state-level championship that entitles them for government grants and licences to collect money from private parties, in a jiffy.

Other than minting money and getting cheap popularity through the publication of pictures of their office-bearers rubbing shoulders with big wigs, members of these sports bodies abuse youngsters sexually; rather commonly.

It is another matter that rarely does a Ruchika case of such an unrecognized sports body comes to the fore and that too with no result, even after two decades of the sad incident. No wonder all these fearless wolves in the guise of sports promoters get emboldened!
 
   
   
Astrologer's visit
  By Cherian Thomas  
  WHEN one serves as an official of the Government of India abroad, it's an opportunity to render public service to fellow citizens in a measure more than what a fellow government official does in India. A member of the public who meets a government official in India can always be asked to come back the next day if the work cannot be done the same day. He/she will be more than happy to come back. People from villages visit government offices in cities prepared with arrangements for stay. However, such response is of little use abroad when a fellow citizen becomes a destitute in a foreign country with the added disadvantage of language and money. Standard statements are: "My passport and purse were robbed at the airport! I have no money! I have not eaten anything since morning! Where do I go now? Can I stay at the Embassy? Please arrange for my return."

Imagine the dire situation of an official when a person makes an appearance during closing hours. I faced a similar situation while serving at one of our Embassies abroad.

Our office was located on a busy street with a lot of noise and high-pitched gospel sermons reverberating from all corners of the street. I had just alighted from the car outside my office when I heard two people speaking in Malayalam, my mother-tongue. I turned around to see an old man (about 70 years) with long hair and a beard. He had dried sandalwood paste on his forehead. He was talking to a young man, who was informing him that they were at the Embassy and that they should go inside. I turned and requested them in Malayalam to follow me.

On the way to the reception and later in my office, they told me the story of their visit to that country. The old man was a famous astrologer from Kerala. The younger person was his nephew. He had reportedly predicted the rise to fame of several well-known politicians, film stars and businessmen, and had been widely consulted in known circles. He had reportedly even predicted the tragic death of a famous person! He then showed me a photo album that had pictures of him with famous persons.

As they continued with their story, I arranged for some water, tea and biscuits. A businessman of Indian origin from the city had invited them and arranged for a month's visa; a purely commercial tie-up. However, when they arrived at the airport, the sponsor businessman was nowhere to be seen, and the telephone number left by him turned out to be a fictitious one. Somebody at the airport then guided them to the Embassy, where we met. It was the nephew who did most of the talking, while the astrologer sat in mediation. I presumed he was too tired to speak.

The next moment, I was startled when the astrologer asked me to show him my palm. He held my hand in meditation for a minute and soon began reciting some slokas and proverbs, with his nephew interpreting it to me in Malayalam. Our office boy was curiously watching us from behind the slightly ajar door. I was thoroughly embarrassed, as I had only been seen attending to business visitors in my capacity as Commercial Attache. When the astrologer started saying that my hand was blessed, I stopped him and told him that we should try and locate his sponsor. For the next five minutes, I repeatedly tried to locate the absconding businessman, but to no avail.

I thought the best way to handle the situation was to refer them to our Consular Wing, but, before doing so, I decided to consult my immediate boss, who happened to be the second person in charge at the Embassy. I discussed the situation with him and waited for him to call the Head of our Consular Wing. But nothing of that sort happened, and to my astonishment, he said he wanted to meet the astrologer. For the next 30 minutes, I was engaged in using all my linguistic skills as an interpreter between the astrologer-nephew team and my North Indian boss!

It was getting late. My boss was wrapping up work. I was sure I would miss my transport home. The head of our Consular Wing had already left office. I sought my boss' nod to get in touch with the Kerala Association to accommodate the astrologer team for a night. The association's President and Secretary happened to be from my place in Kerala. I told them about the situation and invited them for dinner. At home, we searched for families in the city that could accommodate the duo, at least for a night. After several phone calls, we finally found a person whose family was away in India and there was place in the house.

Interestingly, in a few days, news about the astrologer spread. People started consulting him and recommending their friends to do so. The astrologer team stayed in the city for the next one month, making good fortune. While the Kerala Association arranged for an interpreter, I remained the interpreter for his engagement with my North Indian colleagues and their families. To date, these colleagues are very respectful towards me, because they know I am privy to personal details of their life!
 
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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