Citizens' Issues
Fresh From The Farm – 3: Holy Cow!
Very few goshalas or cattle shelters accept old, injured animals; some sell the animals illegally
My last article was about how it is becoming increasingly difficult for farmers to take care of their cattle and the quiet ways in which they try to get rid of them.
I had heard about goshalas or cattle shelters; indeed, many social and religious organizations that run cattle shelters.
I asked some farmers why they do not leave their cattle at such shelters instead of abandoning them to their fate on the town’s thoroughfares. This was the answer:  Like many old age homes for people, these goshalas also asked for upfront charge if the cattle is accepted. Sometimes, a ‘donation’ or ‘deposit’ will settle the issue, some others also have monthly charges.
With farm incomes sinking, this is an unaffordable, say the farmers.
Also, many goshalas do not accept non-milch cows or cattle that are aged or are physically debilitated. What is more, the goshalas themselves are few and far between, at least in the three districts of coastal Karnataka.
I  have even discovered that the goshala run by a famous accepts only milch cows. Ditto at another, run by a social organization, which also rejects injured or physically deformed cattle.
However, at a goshala at Neelavara in Udupi district run by the famous Shri Vishwesha Teertha Swamiji, the famous seer of Pejawar Math, all types of cattle, including aged and injured ones are accepted. 
It is interesting to note that goshalas have had their share of controversies all over India, and, in many cases, the state government or courts have had to step in to resolve issues.
There have been allegations that some goshalas sell cattle to butchers illegally. Those in the cattle transport business complain of harassment by police or pro-cow activists despite having valid documents.
A Business Standard report on 4 March 2015 says that the Madras High Court has directed the Tamil Nadu government to conduct random checks in goshalas run by temples and maths.
The Court had issued a charter that goshalas should follow in managing donated cows that are sheltered with them, once they have passed the milk-yielding phase. 
The Court banned sale of cows donated by devotees and directed the temples to maintain details of the donors following outrage over temples selling cows to butchers. It also framed guidelines for the maintenance of goshalas, including clean and hygienic maintenance and periodic medical check-up for the cows.
According to The Hindu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had instructed government officials to extend all help to goshalas, soon after coming to power. 
“We will look into the specifics needs of cow shelters and try to meet its demands instead of making just casual visits. Rice bran has also been procured,” said a senior official in the Telangana state’s Animal Husbandry Department, according to the report. 
In Uttar Pradesh, the police have successfully tackled the menace of cattle rustlers and have been delivering the rescued animals to goshalas; but many shelters are now refusing to accept the animals since they are becoming a huge burden.
Here in Udupi, when asked about cattle rustlers who take the animals away for slaughter, the farmers just shrug their shoulders. They just blame it on fate.
A story that is common to this region and elsewhere is that the children are educated and find greener pastures in towns and cities; the daughters are married off into well to do families and nobody has time for the ageing parents.
Sometimes, these busy children send money to parents or provide for their medical treatment and hospitalization; sometimes they cannot even come for their last rites.
If they do come, the first thing they do is sell off their ancestral homes and then abandon their parents in old age homes!
What to talk about cattle?
As they say, we can keep debating the issue till the cows come home…
(This is the 3rd part of the series, Fresh From the Farm. More to follow…)
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(Shrikant N Shenoy has been a journalist since 1980, having worked in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Dubai. He launched a news portal and an online Konkani language channel from Manipal, Udupi, but ran out of money. In 2011, he successfully launched an English newspaper with five editions simultaneously on a shoe-string budget. He tweets as @udupinet.)



B Pugazhendhi

1 year ago

If there is a fear that cows donated to the temple are sold to butchers after they stop giving milk, then the practical solution would be to open common goshalas for temple clusters by the Hindu Religious and Charitable endowments Board of the State (whereever such Boards exist). That would be putting the money of the temples to appropriate use prescribed by the religion instead of spending the temple income on non-religion related issues and projects.

Narendra Doshi

1 year ago

There are several goshalas run efficiently by Jain Institutions and exemplary work is still being done(since last few decades) on a continuous basis by Shri Kumarpal V Shah and his team stationed at Kalikund, Near Ahmedabad, mostly all over Gujarat.

Online rummy on a high roll in India
And in case you're wondering, these online game portals are exempted from gambling laws since rummy is considered as a 'game of skill' according to a 1967 Supreme Court ruling, and the gambling laws only apply to a 'game of chance'
From what was essentially a club-oriented indulgence and would peak among certain sections during Diwali, card games like rummy have now become a year-round indulgence for revellers in India. With the advent of online gaming portals that host these games with an option to bet real money, Indians needn't indulge in illegal gambling activities and yet fulfill their love for betting.
And in case you're wondering, these online game portals are exempted from gambling laws since rummy is considered as a "game of skill" according to a 1967 Supreme Court ruling, and the gambling laws only apply to a "game of chance".
India's prohibitive legislation has paved the way for illegal gambling activities, unlike Macau which is widely heralded as the hub of legalised gambling across the world. According to the Goa, Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act 1976, casinos can be set up only at five star hotels or offshore vessels with prior permission of the government.
Online games like rummy have, however, brought in a change for youngsters and long-time betting enthusiasts who can legally bet and earn money on these portals.
"Skill games like rummy are exempt from gambling laws in India and hence whether they are played with money or not, the legality doesn't change. However, non-skill games are not legal for real money play," Ankush Gera, CEO, gaming company Junglee Games, which introduced, an online destination for all rummy players, told IANS.
These portals, however, aren't operational in Assam and Odisha due to amended state laws. The Assam Game and Betting Act, 1970, and the Orissa Prevention of Gaming Act, 1955, do not create any exception for games of skill.
The buy-ins range from Rs.12 with a point value of 0.1 to Rs.2,400 with a point value of 10 on online card gaming portal , and if multiple users are to be believed, it's standard on most platforms.
The websites host rummy games where players, who are 18 years and older, can bet actual money after buying chips through various online payment options. Although Indians are said to be sceptical when it comes to online transactions, the number of active players has only risen in the past few years, says Gera.
"The market size has grown 400 percent. Rummy dominates real money gaming in India and 'teen patti' (a popular card came) dominates social free to play," Gera said.
Delhi-based online rummy player Gopal Rathore, says that not only the number of players but the number of game portals have also increased over the years.
Most of the participation on the game portals, which promise a safe online environment for players, come from the 25 to 50 year age group.
"Taj Rummy provides a safe environment for gamers who play with real money. Our software is licensed and there are encryptions in place to make sure our players get exactly what they are paying for," Parikshit Madishetty, managing director of Grid Logic Software, the company behind Taj Rummy, told IANS when asked about their online security.
A frequent rummy player, Ranjeet Rajotia, says the game helps him de-stress and he finds it a good way of spending his leisure time.
"It's a fun experience where I get to practice my skills, relax and hopefully win some cash. I've been playing twice a week, sometimes more than that, for the past year," 22-year-old Rajotia said.
The growth of the trend is mainly credited to customer satisfaction, which is why the online portals have a high retention quotient.
"(Our players are) extremely satisfied... and retention is extremely high. People find entertainment and games are one of few things that bring joy into people's lives," Madishetty said.
The peak participation on the websites is seen during holidays and festivals with the portals offering high value prizes and promotional tournaments. In fact, in March, hosted a World Rummy Tournament 2015 in Singapore.
It is interesting to see how card gaming has reached a virtual level where norms and conditions are strictly applied to ensure safety for gaming enthusiasts who do not hesitate to partake in real money gaming.
Although online card gaming has a long way to go in India, the impact it has made in recent years is noticeable and it is clear that the future of the industry may be bright in the country.



Sakshi Jain

6 months ago

Definitely, online rummy is one of the best games ever. You can also play>Indian rummy online and win huge cash prizes.

Public Interest Exclusive
Housing for All: Slogan vs Action

Mumbai’s real estate remains just as manipulated under the new government


Mumbai, one of the world’s most crowded cities, is also known for the most expensive real estate in the world combined with a huge housing shortage. Yet, for the past three years, the industry is in a slump because prices have been hiked to a point where demand has dried up. Thanks to the lack of decisive action by banks, prices have failed to decline making property affordable again. In addition, constant changes in government policies and action against illegal construction have meant that nearly-completed buildings have remained without final clearances for as long as six to eight years, with no impact on prices. It is in this environment that the Maharashtra chief minister, Devendra Fadnavis, announced his ‘Housing for All’ initiative in May this year. The programme proposes construction of 1.9 million affordable homes by 2022.  
While the idea is laudable, it is likely to be stymied by the government’s confused policies, the controversial Development Plan that may be re-written from scratch after widespread protests, and a TDR (transfer of development rights) racket that is being run by a builder-cartel. These builders have possible links to the 2G scam accused.
Real estate sources say that policy changes have allowed this cartel to monopolise the TDR. TDR is a unique tool that allows the excess floor space available on some plots of land to be sold like a tradable commodity. TDR rates in Mumbai used to be in the region of Rs22,000 per square metre (sqm), until just over a year ago. Realty sources say that TDR is now controlled through dubious strategies. 
One example of their action is a tender for 30,000sqm of TDR to be issued through three schemes by MMRDA (Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority). The cartel set out to destroy the tender by bidding at double the market rate for TDR, but for a mere 6% of the TDR on offer. This left the government with two choices. It has to either scrap the tender, or persuade other bidders to match the prices. Since no builder will agree to pay twice the price for TDR, the sale is automatically scuttled and the cartel wins. 
At the time of writing this article, the tender is on the verge of being scrapped. If the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government is serious about economic development, it will have to crack down on land sharks that have kept Mumbai’s realty prices abnormal and prevented trans-harbour connectivity to the hinterland for over 50 years. Unfortunately, the cartel is rumoured to have the support of one of BJP’s powerful national leaders. 




1 year ago

Housing for All: Slogan vs Action./purpose is high lighted the BIRTH OF CIDCO in Mahabharata but after allotting mare 10% development 90% land sold to BUILDERS the purpose veined and BUILDERS have taken ROUTE as the ire POSSESSION on land bank.still time left to REORGANIZE.

J Pinto

1 year ago

Playing with land regulation is the single biggest source of profiteering by politicians and top govenment personnel with insider information.

When politicians become sanyasis we can expect this to end.

By Sanyasis I do not mean the Baba Ramdev's and his saffron clad peers in the present Government.

Shirish Sadanand Shanbhag

1 year ago

Housing for all it worst scheme, which Govt of Maharashtra or Govt of India will not successfully launch, for following reasons.

(1) Govt has no database, to know, who has his/her own house in Mumbai or Mumbai metropolitan region area.

(2) Govt. has no land in Mumbai and in most of Metropolitan area. Existing land of MHADA and CIDCO are all sold to the builders, instead of developing the land to constuct the affordable flats themselves.

(3) All MHADA and CIDCO buildings are allowed to redevelop as their Co-op. Hsg. Stys (CHS) like, by appointing their own private builders.
Even in above type of redevelopments, MHADA or CIDCO has not asked some percentage of flats at construction costs from such CHSs, for allotting them to needy people.

(4) Like price control on commodities, Govt. has no control on prices of the houses. Builders make 200% to 500% profit on their construction, depending upon the region.

(5) Let there be some people's movement, as it has happened in the past, by Late Mrinal Gore, by establishing Nagari Nivara Parishad, an NGO, to construct affordable houses, at Goregaon East, Mumbai-400063


Rajendra M Ganatra

In Reply to Shirish Sadanand Shanbhag 1 year ago

Great observations. Even now the government can retrieve situation if it is serious. The government has to acquire land, adopt high class town planning, construct quality houses through construction contracts awarded though transparent bidding, ensure efficient monitoring, and sell flats at low prices. Safeguards can always be built in to avoid unscrupulous trades. But governments always throw figures without any feasibility studies, and the corruption and lack of commitments remain the government hallmarks.

Banks have allowed the builders to borrow incessantly and have no will to discipline the errant builders.

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