DAWN - Features; May 20, 2002

May 20, 2002


Saindak to creak back into motion

By Siddiq Baluch

SAINDAK Copper and Gold Project is moving ahead with the arrival of Chinese officials, technicians, engineers and experts in different fields to resume production.

The Chinese are reaching Saindak in small batches following a ban on over-flights in December last by India, disturbing the schedule of arrivals from Beijing.

They are planning to recruit afresh the old employees of Saindak project having a clean and efficient record, discarding the political appointees.

The Metallurgical Construction Company of China sent an advance party of officials for making arrangements for resumption of production. The Chinese bank officials offering credit facilities to MCC in the Saindak Project accompanied the MCC staff during a visit to Quetta. They held talks with the Pakistani bankers seeking better banking facilities in operating the project.

According to reports, they held talks with the top officials of the National Bank of Pakistan and the Muslim Commercial Bank seeking banking facilities.

According to an estimate, there will be a turnover of around $80 million a year once the Saindak resumed production of copper, gold and 11 other by-products.

The Chinese Bank will be offering a credit facility to the MCC for establishing its own refinery. It will cost around $24 million. After its establishment, the Saindak gold and copper will be refined and gold separated from blister copper at Saindak Copper City in the coming months.

Initially, the Chinese were found more interested in resuming power generation so that electricity is provided to the plant and water (around 50 cusecs a day) is pumped from Tal Ap.

The officials, technicians and engineers who performed duty at the 40 megawatts Power House under the past management, are being recalled and offered jobs with an attractive package of salary of other benefits.

Once the power generation started, the plants will be receiving power supply for overhauling and repair, if need be. The job of proper maintenance and upkeep of machinery will start first. Once the job is done, the Chinese intend to operate the mines seeking the services of miners, crane operators, drivers and operators of huge earth-removing machines at the gold-mine fields.

In all, the Chinese will be needing the services of over 500 people, an overwhelming majority of them had already performed the same job in Saindak Metals Limited, a public sector organization.

The remaining employees who served at the smelter and concentrator will be called last. Thus the number of employees will jump close to one thousand.

The MCC of China and its officials sent a clear message to all concerned that there is no room for political appointees, inefficient workers or trouble-makers at the Saindak gold-mine complex. There were around 1,200 employees at the Saindak Metals Limited. There were around 200 employees who were given jobs by the previous Governments or influential people on political grounds. They were believed to be trouble-makers as they got protection from their political bosses who used the good offices of ministers and prime ministers.

The Chinese have already experienced some humiliation during the so-called investigations against corruption or corrupt practices. Some petty officials of FIA and other investigating agencies off and on summoned the Chinese officials and technicians and tried to harass them under this pretext. At the same time, they planted cock and bull stories in the newspaper columns, using the services of ill-informed or junior journalists.

The Chinese officials clearly said that they were employees of the MCC and had nothing to do with the Pakistani officials and engineers and they built and constructed the whole Copper city with the blueprints provided by their engineers and top officials. Ultimately, they inducted the Chinese embassy to end the uncalled-for harassment of Chinese nationals.

In brief, the Chinese are ready. They became mobile by first repairing the fleet of vehicles. They hired the services of ex-employees and other mechanics repairing the vehicles. Now they are repairing and maintaining the cranes, dumpers and huge earth-removing machines for operating the mines.

Vajpayee toying with the Sharon script?

INDIA seems hell-bent on ‘punishing’ Pakistan for the woes it has brought on itself through what seems to be its own cussedness. The emergence of the BJP from the ashes of Babri Masjid was a signal for the entire region to take cover. Not that the extremists in the majority community in India had ever reconciled to the idea of living along side its minorities in peace and tranquillity. But the emergence of the BJP seemingly gave voice to their suppressed feelings and infused so much over- confidence among these elements that they virtually swept away all saner voices and got hold of the political centre stage in India within a matter of few years. The Kargil clash came just in time for New Delhi to whip up enough national frenzy against Pakistan so that hate-Pakistan became a past-time of most of the Indians even before guns went silent on the Kargil heights. This had never happened even during or after the 1948, 1965 and the 1971 wars which in a way were started by Pakistan itself. In the post-Kargil India the media (with the exception of a couple of newspapers) both in its current affairs as well as in the entertainment sections, including the movies, started glamourizing anti-Pakistan sentiments. It was good business for even the multinationals operating in India to sponsor anti- Pakistani patriotic programmes. The failure of Agra served to fuel the emotional flare-up further. Not that Pakistan did not contribute its own share to this national hysteria in India. Both by initiating Kargil and then turning the Agra summit into a virtual Sharjah-style one-dayer, which Pakistan often won to the lasting frustration of cricket loving Indians, Islamabad had in a way provided BJP with just the handle to beat Pakistan within its anti-Islamabad propaganda. Never in all its hate-India history of 53 years, was Pakistan ever able to bring out such hostility in its people against the Indians as the BJP has done by holding Pakistan responsible for everything going wrong within India since it came to power. Even after the 1971 war which the Indians used successfully to dismember Pakistan, the people at large in this country had difficulty in consigning India to a hate-corner for ever.

Kashmir, in a way is not Pakistan’s problem like the crisis in the then East Pakistan was not India’s problem when it erupted in 1970. What happened in East Pakistan in 1971 was of our own making until India took over in the last stages of the crisis and imposed its own military solution when the people of Bangladesh had already won their independence in psychological terms. This is not to say that Pakistan is not trying to do a Bangladesh on India in occupied Kashmir. What, however, is too glaring for any one to miss is the fact that the Kashmiris are already on their way to winning independence from the Indian yolk psychologically without any help from Pakistan. In fact India itself is to be blamed for what is happening inside the occupied territories. And Pakistan is hardly in a position to make any difference one way or the other even if it made its own feeble attempts to accelerate the freedom struggle. By continuing to blame Pakistan for what is getting out of its grip on its own strength, Indians are simply trying to cover up their own political follies which they have been committing in the occupied territories over the last 53 years. That the freedom struggle of the Kashmiris is coming to its fruition in the tenure of the BJP. This is, perhaps, making the Indian government even more desperate and even more frustrated. And that is perhaps why it is dying to take a deadly swipe at Pakistan to get even with its imaginary tormentor. It was perhaps this very frustration of the Indian extremists led by the BJP which, after finding no outlet to express their sentiments against Muslim Pakistan, turned on its own defenceless and helpless Muslim minority in Gujarat.

Like Israel, India too has been justifying its own slaughter in Gujarat by trying to uncover a non-existent link between the Muslims of this state groaning under the bayonets of the extremists from the majority community and the international terrorism against which the whole world has been lined by the US. The Indian Prime Minister believes that Muslims the world over are troublemakers. So, they should suffer the fate that the extremists in India’s majority community has designed for them!! This boundless hatred of a community against another much smaller and much weaker is indeed a matter of bewilderment for even those who a couple of generations ago had suffered almost similar kind of treatment, if not identical from the extremists of the same majority community.

Sharon had ‘allowed’ the suicide bombers to continue devastating Israel’s civilian population for months together before he moved his tanks into the Palestinian territories. By this time even those Israelis who had wanted to live in peace with the Palestinians had lost their patience. He also had behind him by that time the ‘opinion’ of the ‘civilized’ world. So, when he massacred the unarmed and helpless Palestinians nobody came to their help. It seems perhaps the Indian government is toying with the idea of using the Sharon script in the region with suitable amendments to take care of the fact that unlike Palestinians Pakistanis are not only fully armed but they also possess nuclear weapons. New Delhi has already ensured that the Indian public opinion would be fully behind it whatever action it would take to ‘punish’ Pakistan. And the civilized world has already started asking Pakistan to do ‘more’ to curb what the Indians call ‘cross-border infiltration’ as it used to ask Arafat to do ‘more’ to stop the spree of suicide bombing. But then no matter with how many amendments Vajpayee would use the Sharon scrip against Pakistan the end result would only be a colossal human disaster in the entire region. And then has anybody taken into account the fact that India is not Israel and also that the Sharon script itself is coming unstuck despite the rampage it had let loose in the Palestinian territory?—ONLOOKER

‘The old will die and the young will forget’

HOW does the Jewish mind think? Some time ago, Mr Khurshid Anwer sent me the following set of questions I want to share with you today:

“I don’t know something called International Principles. I vow that I’ll burn every Palestinian child (that) will be born in this area. The Palestinian woman and child is more dangerous than the man, because the Palestinian child’s existence infers that generations will go on, but the man causes limited danger. I vow that if I was just an Israeli civilian and I met a Palestinian I would burn him and I would make him suffer before killing him. With one hit I’ve killed 750 Palestinians (in Rafah in 1956). I wanted to encourage my soldiers by raping Arabic girls as the Palestinian woman is a slave for Jews, and we do whatever we want to her and nobody tells us what we shall do but we tell others what they shall do.” — [Ariel Sharon, now prime minister, in an interview with Gen Ouze Merham, 1956]

“There is a huge gap between us (Jews) and our enemies; not just in ability but in morality, culture, sanctity of life, and conscience. They are our neighbours here, but it seems as if at a distance of a few hundred metres away, there are people who do not belong to our continent, to our world, but actually belong to a different galaxy.” — Israeli president Moshe Katsav, The Jerusalem Post, May 10, 2001

“The Palestinians are like crocodiles, the more you give them meat, the more they want ...” — Ehud Barak, former prime minister of Israel, Aug 28, 2000, The Jerusalem Post, Aug 30, 2000.

“[The Palestinians are] beasts walking on two legs.” — Menahim Begin, speech to the Knesset, quoted in Amnon Kapeliouk, “Begin and the Beasts”. New Statesman, June 25, 1982.

“The Palestinians would be crushed like grasshoppers ... heads smashed against the boulders and walls.” A former Israeli prime minister in a speech to Jewish settlers, New York Times, April 1, 1988.

“When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do about it will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle.” — Raphael Eitan, former Chief of Staff of the Israeli forces, New York Times, April 14, 1983.

“How can we return the occupied territories? There is nobody to return them to.” — Golda Meir, March 8, 1969.

“There was no such thing as Palestinians, they never existed.” — Golda Meir, former Israeli prime minister, June 15, 1969.

“The thesis that the danger of genocide was hanging over us in June, 1967, and that Israel was fighting for its physical existence is only bluff, which was born and developed after the war.” — Israeli Gen Matityahu, March 19, 1972.

David Ben Gurion (the first Israeli prime minister): “If I were an Arab leader, I would never sign an agreement with Israel. It is normal; we have taken their country. It is true God promised it to us, but how could that interest them? Our God is not theirs. There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They see but one thing: we have come and we have stolen their country. Why would they accept that?” Quoted by Nahum Goldmann in Le Paraddoxe Juif (The Jewish Paradox), pp 121.

Ben Gurion said in 1948: “We must do everything to insure they (the Palestinians) never do return.” Assuring his fellow Zionists that the Palestinians will never come back to their homes. “The old will die and the young will forget.”

“We have to kill all the Palestinians unless they are resigned to live here as slaves.” Chairman Heilbrun of the Committee for the Re-election of General Shlomo Lahat, the mayor of Tel Aviv, October, 1983.

“Every time we do something you tell me America will do this and will do that ... I want to tell you something very clear: Don’t worry about American pressure on Israel. We, the Jewish people, control America, and the Americans know it.” — Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, Oct 3, 2001, to Shimon Peres, as reported on Kol Yisrael radio.

“We declare openly that the Arabs have no right to settle on even one centimetre of Eretz Israel... Force is all they do or ever will understand. We shall use the ultimate force until the Palestinians come crawling to us on all fours.” Rafael Eitan, Chief of Staff of the Israeli forces — Gad Becker, Yediot Ahronot April 13, 1983, New York Times April 14, 1983.

“We must do everything to ensure they [the Palestinian refugees] never do return,” David Ben-Gurion, in his diary, July 18, 1948, quoted in Michael Bar Zohar’s Ben-Gurion: the Armed Prophet, Prentice-Hall, 1967, pp 157.

“We should prepare to go over to the offensive. Our aim is to smash Lebanon, Trans-Jordan, and Syria. The weak point is Lebanon, for the Muslim regime (there) is artificial and easy for us to undermine. We shall establish a Christian state there, and then we will smash the Arab Legion, eliminate Trans-Jordan; Syria will fall to us. We then bomb and move on and take Port Said, Alexandria and Sinai.” David Ben-Gurion, May, 1948, to the General Staff. From Ben-Gurion, a Biography, by Michael Ben-Zohar, Delacorte, New York, 1978.

“We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population.” Israel Koenig, The Koenig Memorandum.

“Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you because geography books no longer exist. Not only the books do not exist, the Arab villages are not there, either. Nahlal arose in the place of Mahlul; Kibbutz Gvat in the place of Jibta; Kibbutz Sarid in the place of Huneifis; and Kefar Yehushua in the place of Tal al-Shuman. There is not a single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.” Moshe Dayan, address to the Technion, Haifa, reported in Haaretz, April 4, 1969.

“We walked outside, Ben-Gurion accompanying us. Allon repeated his question, What is to be done with the Palestinian population?” Ben-Gurion waved his hand in a gesture which said ‘Drive them out!’” Yitzhak Rabin, leaked censored version of Rabin memoirs, published by The New York Times, Oct 23, 1979.

Rabin’s description of the conquest of Lydda, after the completion of Plan Dalet: “We shall reduce the Arab population to a community of woodcutters and waiters” Uri Lubrani, Ben-Gurion’s special adviser on Arab Affairs, 1960. From The Arabs in Israel by Sabri Jiryas.

“There are some who believe that the non-Jewish population, even in a high percentage, within our borders will be more effectively under our surveillance; and there are some who believe the contrary — that it is easier to carry out surveillance over the activities of a neighbour than over those of a tenant. I tend to support the latter view and have an additional argument....the need to sustain the character of the state which will henceforth be Jewish...with a non-Jewish minority limited to 15 per cent. I had already reached this fundamental position as early as 1940 [and] it is entered in my diary.” Joseph Weitz, head of the Jewish Agency’s Colonization Department. From Israel: an Apartheid State by Uri Davis, p.5.

“Everybody has to move, run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements because everything we take now will stay ours... Everything we don’t grab will go to them.” Ariel Sharon, then Israeli foreign minister, addressing a meeting of militants from the extreme right-wing Tsomet Party, Agence France Presse, Nov 15, 1998.

“It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism, colonialization or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands.” Yoram Bar Porath, Yediot Aahronot, of July 14, 1972.

“Spirit the penniless population across the frontier by denying it employment... Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly.” Theodore Herzl, founder of the World Zionist Organization, speaking of the Arabs of Palestine, Complete Diaries, June 12, 1895, entry.

Later, Mr Khurshid Anwar wrote to say: Benjamin Franklin, an inventor, statesman and philosopher was one of the founding fathers of the United States, a signatory to the Declaration of Independence and of the US Constitution. A speech he made at the constitutional convention in 1789, is very relevant even today:

“There is a greater danger to the United States. This great danger is the Jew. Gentlemen, in whichever land the Jews have settled, they have repressed the moral level and the degree of commercial honesty. They have remained apart and unassimilated. They attempt to strangle the nation financially, as in the case of Portugal and Spain.

“For more than 1,700 years they have lamented their sorrowful fate ... namely that they have driven out of their motherland; but, gentlemen, if the civilized world of today should give them back Palestine and their property, most of them would immediately find pressing reasons for not returning there. Why? Because they are vampires, and they must live among Christians and others.

“If the Jews are not excluded from the United States through the Constitution within less than one hundred years, they will stream into this country in such numbers that they will rule and destroy us and change our form of government for which we have given so much. If the Jews are not excluded within 200 years, our children will be working in the fields to feed the Jews”. “I warn you gentlemen, if you do not exclude the Jews forever, your children and your children’s children will curse you in your graves. Their ideas are not those of Americans even when they have lived among us for ten generations. The Jews are a danger to this land, and if they are allowed to enter, they will imperil our institutions.”

Mr Anwer then concluded: “The Americans may have adjusted themselves, willy-nilly, to the presence of the Jews because of their guilt over the Nazi holocaust, for domestic political reasons and for the role of their watchdog over the Middle East oil, but every word of Benjamin Franklin is true when it comes to the Palestinians.”

Thank you, Mr Khurshid Anwer, for putting things in perspective.

Tweedledum Vs Tweedledee

By A. B. S. Jafri

EVERYBODY in Pakistan is talking of democracy. Everybody around is talking about nothing but democracy. Those who once agreed with dictator Zia that democracy and elections did not exist in ‘the book,’ and on that premise sat in his cabinet, are leading the fight (crusade?) for democracy. In the vanguard you see the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, with the Jamaat-i-Islami heading the charge.

In this city we are now governed, administered and served by a democratic outfit. This ‘devolved’ self-governing apparatus is duly elected, ceremoniously inducted, and installed with well-orchestrated fanfare. Within the first nine months of his administration, our elected city Nazim (the equivalent of Lord Mayor) has already made his mark — more of it abroad than at home. Are we not told to go to China in search of enlightenment? Our Nazim has duly been to China, and also to Saudi Arabia and Iran.

So, Karachi now has a democratic local self-government. Look what they are making of this gift. The ‘local’ part is being amply supplied by our footloose Nazim’s frequents trips overseas. That should partly explain why he has been unable to spare much time for the garbage heaps in Lyari or the overflowing drains in Malir.

As for the democratic part of our self-governing performance to date, one is trying hard to forget last Thursday’s scenes in the City Council chamber. On Friday we were spared a repeat of that extravaganza. Our city councillors chose to stay away from the Council hall, after the rather exuberant workout of the day before. Thus, the house could not muster the quorum. It was like the ‘rain, no play’ notice on a wet summer day in English cricket season.

For the devotees of democracy, of whom we have more than our capacity to endure, Thursday’s drama in the City Council Hall was not exactly enthusing. Our elected representatives conducted themselves in a style that put them in a class apart from the generality of us who voted them to the City Council. Most of us do not shout at one another, do not call names, and usually refrain from using fisticuffs. Most of us believe in the spoken word as the currency of civil exchange.

Karachi newspapers felt obliged to use expressions like ‘scuffle’ and ‘brawl’ to describe Thursday’s lively action inside the august City Council Hall. It could well be out of an ‘action’ film from our Lollywood. The issue was water. Not abundance but near absence of it, notably in Lyari and Malir, even Gulshan-i-Iqbal. Does one see an irony in the ‘Gulshan,’ named after the ‘dreamer of Pakistan,’ without water?

Nobody should blame those who are having to live in this hot and humid weather and feeling rather uncheerful about it. They have a right to ask for water. Also a right to feel bad about its shortage and make it known they do not fancy this kind of a situation. If the City Fathers have an explanation they should offer it. But the citizens would rather receive water than an explanation why they cannot get it.

If the matter had remained at that civil level, the citizens of Karachi would have borne the torment as bravely as they have been doing all this long, hot summer. But the councillors made an angry match of it, doing no good to themselves. Those who had elected them to that honourable position were not amused. The City Fathers had better remember they are elected by perfectly decent citizens of this city.

Service to the electors is what elected offices are all about. Allah be praised that in the Karachi City Council the row was between the ‘Al-Khidmat’ and the ‘Al-Khadim.’ Put in common English language the adversarial action was between the ‘Service’ and the ‘Servants.’ Some people may be tempted to think of it as Tweedledum Vs Tweedledee.

One can understand confrontation between opposites. For instance, a tiff between the servants and masters would be in order. How do the standard-bearers of service — the Al-Khidmats — clash with self-appointed servants — the Al- Khadims? Where is the point of conflict, if both parties are as nice as their names? It would take some very special genius to set these two on opposite sides and then to make ‘box on.’

Shorn of veils, the Al-Khidmats are the transparent cover for the Jamaat-i-Islami. Whatever the bizarre circumstances that helped them get there, we shall have to accept the Al-Khidmat without demur. But the Jamaat stalwarts would do well to realize that a race for a much bigger prize is set for next October. The JI will be rated on its record of the ‘Khidmat’ it renders, not the sermons it preaches.

The City Fathers should not forget that once this city was the cleanest in South Asia. The present city administration’s target should be to restore it to that distinction. The councillors’ task is fairly clearly cut out, whether they be the Al-Khidmat or the Al Khadim.

Clean up this city — and please look sharp about it.

Living in a ‘posh’ area

PEOPLE who live in Defence and Clifton are often told by people who don’t live there that they are lucky to be living in such an affluent area. Apparently, many people from other parts of Karachi seem to want to move to these two areas, though those who live there sometimes wonder why.

Take, for example, the roads there. Like most other localities of the city, the main thoroughfares in Clifton and Defence are smoothly carpeted and well looked after, though not in all cases. However, venture into any of the side streets and you will find that around two-thirds have potholes in them or a cut left over from digging by some government agency or the other. A good example of this is the road that leads to Aunty Park in Clifton, used by hundreds of cars every day for dropping off or picking up students from the Convent of Jesus and Mary and Karachi Grammar School.

A friend who goes to the park all the time said that the road has dozens of potholes and chunks missing and that its condition has actually worsened in the past year. “I mean it’s so obvious to anyone that this street needs immediate re-carpeting but the CCB and the DHA seem to be sleeping. I guess all the VIPs who visit the park and whose children attend these schools and have to travel on this joke of a road every day cannot even get anything done,” she says.

This is just one case. There are hundreds of such cases all over Defence and Clifton and it seems both the DHA and the CCB are lethargic to say the least in fulfilling their responsibility of providing good motorable roads to area residents.

Then there is the problem of water. As most people know, if you live in ‘posh’ Clifton or Defence there is a very slim chance that you will get water through the pipeline. Almost everyone gets their water through tankers, and this despite the fact that they pay water charges to the CCB. Moving on to garbage collection, and here too these so-called (used ad nauseum) ‘posh’ areas have heaps of waste piling up at every other street corner. Most residents seem to have no civic sense and are quite content to let their servants or cleaning maasis throw the katchra into the empty plot next door.

Actually, that’s what the reasoning seems to be: it doesn’t or shouldn’t matter how dirty your immediate neighbhourhood becomes as long as your own house is clean and free of rubbish.

As if all this isn’t enough, people in Defence and Clifton also have to contend with stray dogs. On any given day — and this is no exaggeration — one can find several wild dogs on any street. People cannot go out for a walk with their families and children have to think twice before going out to play.

Clearly, living in a ‘posh’ area doesn’t seem that enviable a proposition. Especially if the DHA and CCB continue to do the dismal job that they seem to be doing in terms of providing decent roads, collecting household waste, providing water and eliminating wild dogs.

A passing interest

It was almost 11 at night. A colleague happened to be passing through NIPA roundabout flyover, travelling on the ramp going from the Safari park side towards Aladdin Park. The traffic was moving at a steady pace when suddenly it slowed down. Looking ahead, the colleague could see a yellow cab parked in an awkward position blocking almost half the road.

There was enough space on one side for passing motorists to manoeuvre their vehicles past the taxi. Meanwhile, the colleague then saw a traffic sergeant go by on his motorcycle. He stopped for a second to look at the taxi and then moved on as if nothing unusual had happened.

When the colleague’s car came next to the taxi, she saw the driver sitting behind the steering wheel with his head slumped forward as if he had fallen asleep, been drugged or passed out.

The way he was slouched seemed to suggest that something serious might have happened but no passing motorist tried to investigate the matter further.

The colleague seemed quite piqued even by the traffic sergeant’s behaviour who at least, she says, should have bothered to get off his motorbike and seen what was wrong with the taxi driver. This kind of behaviour was quite contrary to what one normally sees on the road in the case of, say, an accident where everyone from a radius of two kilometres assembles around the scene of the crash as if a wedding is happening.

Time is money

Trust the police to make money out of just about anything — even Daylight Saving Time or, as people now call it, Musharraf Standard Time.

A friend’s driver was recently stopped on his way to work by a cop who asked him the time. When the poor soul told the policeman that it was eight, the cop frowned and said it couldn’t be.

The driver suddenly realized that he was still running on the old time, as he was unable to put his watch forward because it had jammed.

Sensing a great opportunity to make a quick buck, the cop looked extremely perturbed and told the driver that this was a very serious crime. Hadn’t he heard that it was illegal to continue living according to the old time?

Claiming that there were orders from above that a fine should be imposed on those failing to put their watches forward, the cop demanded 100 rupees from the stunned man. After a heated debate, the cop managed to persuade the man to part with a red note, convincing him that he was not demanding a bribe but just doing his duty.

The poor driver reached home and told his story and is now feeling very stupid indeed. The smart cop, meanwhile, is richer by a hundred rupees. Is this what they mean when they say time is money?

Graduation day

Parents always want the best for their children. Given the numbers, only a lucky handful are able to obtain admission into the city’s best schools. The rest have to contend with studying in all kinds of rackets that try to pass off as educational institutions.

A colleague who recently attended a function for a Montessori school came back quite amazed by the lack of professionalism that she saw.

She said: “I was given the invitation by a staff member of the school at the FTC auditorium when I was covering another school’s play for a weekly publication. Noticing my press card, the woman quickly handed me an invitation.

“The card was for a concert and a graduation ceremony. Since the woman was from an elementary level institution, calling the event ‘graduation ceremony’ sounded a bit strange. I attended the function simply out of curiosity. The music programme was all right. The performers were all students, and most of them must have been under five or six years old. The ‘graduates’, dressed in blue silk graduation gowns and hats, were the children who had been promoted to Class I,” she said.

The colleague said that after this ‘graduation’ from the Montessori level, parents had to get their children re-admitted for which they were required to pay admission fees all over again. They also have to pay for the costumes that their children wear to the concert and the ceremony (this, however, is a common practice anywhere).

It seems the proprietors had thought up all possible ways of making money. Parents were told not to take photographs on their own but rather to get them from the school after paying a fixed amount. And, as expected, the English on the brochure printed for this ‘graduation day’ was quite bad and full of grammatical mistakes.

Perhaps, one saving grace was that there was no chief guest. However, a doctor who owns his own hospital near the school came up to say a few words in the end. He profusely praised the school’s owner and congratulated her on behalf of his hospital for doing such a fine job. Incidentally, the owner was his wife.—BY KARACHIAN