Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
Mental Age vs Biological Age
In criminal cases, quarrelling about 16 and 18 should stop
 
“Murder is unique in that it abolishes the party it injures, so that society must take the place of the victim, and on his behalf demand atonement or grant forgiveness.” —WH Auden
 
Not a day passes without our media publishing something or the other about the recent controversy over adolescent age brought on by the new Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act . Most opinions appear to be of people who feel really sorry for the perpetrators of heinous crimes like murder or rape. 
 
Only criminals above 18 years of age was considered adults below that age, they are to be treated on a different pedestal, even if they have committed the most heinous crime. A recent article made a deep impression on my mind, where a strong push was made for the difference between 16 years and 18 years—the writer thought that the brain growth between 16 and 18 made that cut between adolescent thinking and adult thinking. This writer was a very vocal law-maker and thinks that, unless the brain develops to the level of 18 years, no one can be punished like an adult, even for a heinous crime. 
 
The human mind is not inside the human brain and has very little to do with any organ in the body. The first scientist who connected the mind to the brain was Wilder Penfield, a Canadian neurosurgeon. Fortunately, he did not stop his research and his work even after getting a Nobel Prize. He soon realised that he was wrong when consciousness came into mind which, until then, was an anathema to Western reductionist science.
 
Penfield wrote thus in the latter half of his life: “None of the actions that we attribute to the mind has been initiated by electric stimulation or epileptic discharge… There is no area of the grey matter, as far as my experience goes, which local epileptic discharge brings to pass what could be called the mind-action… what the mind does is different. It is not to be accounted by any neuronal mechanism that I can discover. 
 
To expect the highest brain-mechanism, or any set of reflexes, however complicated, to carry out what the mind does, and thus perform all the functions of the mind, is quite absurd.” In his classic The Mystery of the Mind, which he wrote in 1975, he goes into the deep recesses of the mind to explore it. 
 
Wilder writes, in one place: “I am an explorer, but unlike my predecessors who used compasses and canoes to discover unknown lands, I used a scalpel and a small electrode to explore and map the human brain. Throughout my career, I was driven by the central question that has obsessed both scientists and philosophers for hundreds of years. Are mind and body one? Can the mind—thinking, reasoning, imagination—be explained by the functions of the brain?”
It should now be clear that the mental age is something that has very little to do with physical age. Quarrelling about 16 and 18 should stop scientifically, from now on. One can always beat the government when you want to pull it down; but do it more scientifically. The Act came into force on 15 January 2016. Our archaic Indian Penal Code (IPC), a legacy of our colonial past, can be done away with. 
 
We have enough brains to have a new IPC relevant to our country and the present times, where crime takes newer and newer faces almost by the day. Let us make the laws that deter, if possible, human suffering at the hands of bad minds. Our educational system must also change concurrently, to make education inculcate healthy minds in our students, in addition to imparting the wealthy career obsession of today. Healthy minds have two qualities—enthusiasm to work and enthusiasm to be compassionate.
 
(Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS.)

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COMMENTS

Brij Lal Suthar

10 months ago

Excellent article Sir. Last para is very important and Government should take action on this issue
Brij

Simple Indian

10 months ago

This is yet another insightful article from Dr. Hegde. While the laws always seem to lag behind social ills / crimes, like Dr. Hegde I too always wondered why our "great founding fathers" never thought it fit to review and revise all laws and procedures enacted during the British era. In fact, even during his long uninterrupted stint of 17 years as PM, Jawaharlal Nehru never broached this issue even once in the Parliament. As a result, even after about 69 years after our so-called "freedom" from the British, we continue to follow the very systems - administrative, legal, political - established by the British to suit their rule in India. Not having overhauled these systems is the greatest disservice our political leaders have done to the country. In fact, I wonder why celebrate 15th August and 26th January wnen we continue to practice the British estd systems which our "freedom-fighters" vehemently opposed for over a century. Turns out, we only opposed the British, not their policies, as we continue to follow them even today.
Coming to this debate about age of legally trying a person for a crime, the mental maturity of the person should be considered. Maturity comes to different people at different ages, hence it should be left to the Juvenile Justice Board and Courts to ascertain on a case to case basis, if the offender ought to be tried as a juvenile or as an adult. With increasing crimes by juveniles even below 14 years of age, no age bar set in law will satisfy the purpose of justice.
Moreover, there was a recent case of a juvenile having killed an elderly woman in Delhi, after having relased from the juvenile home for "good behaviour". Shouldn't the JJB and officials who release thus be held accountable for lax review procedures ? Had this juvenile remained in a juvenile home, this crime could have been prevented.
Similarly, I wonder why our Constitution empowers the President of India to pardon a death-row convict, when the eminent judges of the SC review the case on all aspects (social, psychological, mental, emotional, etc.) before approving the death sentence. What merits the President to overrule the SC in pardoning such convicts ? Also, if such convicts commit another heinous crime after their life sentence (thankfully, the President can only pardon the death sentence to convert it into a life sentence), shouldn't the President be held accountable for having "facilitated" the crime ? Moreover, why is life sentence not sentence in jail for life, as in many countries ?

Amit Kumar

10 months ago

i deeply like this post.

Don't break law, bend it for helping citizens, says Dr RC Sinha

Dr Sinha, Advisor to the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, while speaking at Moneylife Foundation’s 6th Anniversary said, while finding out a way in the system, an official may have to take flak from vested interests

 

“Do not break law, but you can bend it and if you do not have any malafide then the government will not take any action against you,” was the advice given by Dr RC Sinha to government officials. He was speaking at Moneylife Foundation's 6th Anniversary in Mumbai on Saturday.
 
Dr Sinha, Advisor to the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways and Ministry of Shipping and former Additional Chief Secretary of Maharashtra said, “You have to get out tactfully from difficult situations. Within the system, we as government employees can do good for public provided we are ready to take risk from those with vested interests.”
 
Dr Sinha is man who turned around Navi Mumbai, built over 40 flyovers in Mumbai, the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, planned the Cybercity and 30 projects in Hyderabad, MIHAN project in Nagpur and several similarly important projects.
 
Dr Praveen Gedam, the keynote speaker at the event and Municipal Commissioner at Nashik, has used technology for better governance, while tackling entrenched corruption in each of his jobs. While there are several measures undertaken by the physician-turned-IAS to help the administration to improve services and provide relief to citizens and resolve their issues faster, Dr Gedam cited four specific examples. One was how he devised a strategy and camp up with sand mining approval and tracking system (SMAT) to curb illegal sand mining. Using the same monitoring and online reporting system, he put a brake on loot at the famous Tuljabhavani temple. He also spoke about the efforts taken by the administration for a smooth and incident free Kumbh Mela at Nashik and new apps launched to provide complete information to citizens and also help them file complaints and get it resolved in transparent manner.
 
Curbing illegal sand mining in Solapur district
The Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) has come out with new guidelines on sand mining, which are largely based on a model developed and implemented by Dr Gedam, while serving as District Collector at Solapur in Maharashtra.
 

Solapur has always been notorious for the illegal sand mining and mafia gangs that operate without fear due to support from politicians. When Dr Gedam took over as District Collector of Solapur in January 2013, he too faced stiff opposition from the sand mafia gangs. Illegal sand mining was rampant in Solapur district as sand excavation was happening from sand beds that were not part of any auction. Once sand was mined illegally over and above the permitted quantity, the sand miners used to even produce forged receipts. The same forged receipts were also used multiple times, Dr Gedam said.

 
The Solapur district administration under the guidance from Dr Gedam came out with a plan for e-tendering, e-auction and digital monitoring for sand mining. The administration set up control rooms at sand ghats on the only access road. All other access roads to sand ghats were closed. The administration also brought in SMS-based transport permits, developed new online software, mahamining.com for multi-layered tracking on sand mining and also installed closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras at several places. The whole system was known as sand mining approval and tracking system (SMAT).
 
The results of this e-governance initiative were astounding. With these measures, the Solapur district administration increased its income to Rs78 crore (in FY2013-14) from a mere Rs22 crore (in FY2012-13) by e-auctioning, increased collection of fines and fool-proof monitoring of sand mining through SMAT. These efforts from district administration also saw about 425 first information reports (FIRs) filed against the illegal cartels of sand mafias in FY2013-14 alone.
 
Plugging the loot at the famous Tuljabhavani temple
Dr Gedam, while serving as District Collector at Osmanabad, not only plugged the loot at Tuljabhavani temple at Tuljapur but also helped the temple to obtain an ISO certificate in the clean-up process. After he sensed that donations were pilfered on a massive scale, Dr Gedam used multiple direct and indirect methods at the famous temple, which led to astounding results. The income of the temple, which was hovering around Rs7 crore a year, some five to seven kgs of gold and 40-45 kgs of silver, jumped four times to Rs24 crore, excluding gold and silver donations.
 
In order to make the pilgrimage of people to Tuljabhavani temple easy and less troublesome, Dr Gedam improved physical amenities including a modern darshan mandap, built three modern bhakt niwas (lodging) using traditional designs, developed gardens and improved roads. He started or completed several works in Tuljapur that enhanced facilities and amenities of the Tuljabhavani.
 
"Tuljapur gets millions of tourists every year. The entire local economy revolves round it. It relates to livelihood as well. Better civic amenities and recreation was needed there. As government appointed trustee of the Tuljabhavani Temple Trust, we tried our bit to improve amenities in and around the temple," is what the humble but determined IAS officer has to say.
 

As the District Collector of Osmanabad, Dr Gedam was ex-officio Chairman of the Shree Tulja Bhavani Temple Trust. Due to the efforts of Dr Gedam and his team, the temple received ISO certification, a first for a religious shrine in Maharashtra. The certificate was issued taking into account the temple's transparent administration, dress code, cleanliness and other matters.
 
Last year in August, a museum conceptualised and whose construction started by Dr Gedam, was completed. This museum will have exquisitely carved silver idol of Goddess Tuljabhavani weighing about 200 kgs donated by one devotee, about 2kgs of gold ornaments as well as replicas of antique and historic documents and articles.
 
The Kumbh Mela
Every 12 years, Nashik witnesses influx of millions of people, including devotees and sadhus. Apart from building, modifying infrastructure, what withstood in last year’s Kumbh at Nashik was the effective use of technology. Be it the use of drones with cameras to control and manage crowds or cloud computing or a system to monitor threat of epidemics and a mobile app that gave information on hospitals, hotels in the city, trains and bus services available as well as information on nearest pilgrim spots like Shirdi and Bhimashankar.
 
For the two-month long Kumbh Mela, the state government had sanctioned a budget of about Rs2,200 crore including Rs1,200 crore buy the Nashik Municipal Corp. Dr Gedam said, “We (NMS) built a 26-kms long underground drainage and a 40kms long water supply line to the Sadhugram, the temporary township created for sadhus. It could accommodate around 3 lakh sadhus. We also increased number of ghats to seven from two.”
 
‘Smart Nashik’ app
Last year in September, the Nashik Municipal Corp launched an interactive mobile app aimed at bringing in transparency and providing facility to citizens. Talking about the idea behind launching the mobile app, Dr Gedam, said, “With the mobile app, citizens can participate in the work of the corporation, give suggestions, register complaints and use the facility on online payment of bills, register births or death, seek building plan approval, all aimed at clean, efficient and transparent working of the corporation.”
 
His emphasis is on increased use of technology for providing civic services as well as brining transparency in all transactions. This is the reason, why all details about a civil work in Nashik, including name of the contractor, value, defect liability period as well as actual photos before, during and after the work are made available online. “If this is not done, we do not pass the contractors’ bills for payment. Not a single rupee in Nashik is spent unknown to the public,” he added.

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COMMENTS

Meenal Mamdani

10 months ago

Thanks ML Foundation for giving a platform to speakers who inspire others with their exemplary work.

Nothing inspires like concrete examples of improved governance and these stories also reduce cynicism and increase trust in govt, which India sorely needs.

I can see from the photos accompanying this article that the auditorium was full to capacity. Hope that some among them will follow in the footsteps of these two great public officials.

R Balakrishnan

10 months ago

Fantastic people, both. Truly inspirational. Thank you, Moneylife Foundation for letting us get to hear them and find out that there are some great Indians around.

REPLY

Shirish Sadanand Shanbhag

In Reply to R Balakrishnan 10 months ago

I fully agree with R. Balkrishnan.

Governance and transformation from within the system can change the lives of citizens

The panellists at Moneylife Foundation’s 6th Anniversary felt that governance and transformation from within the system can change the lives of citizens and technology can play a major role in this

 

“The government is part of the society. And like other elements of the society, government employees are also under tremendous stress all the time, which needs to be evaluated” said, Dr Praveen Gedam, Municipal Commissioner of Nashik. He was speaking during a panel discussion on "Governance and Transformation from within the System".

 

Other participants in the discussion included, Dr RC Sinha, Advisor to the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways and Ministry of Shipping, Dr Anupam Saraph, Former CIO of Pune and former IT advisor to CM Goa, Shailesh Gandhi, Former Central Information Commissioner and Debashis Basu, Editor & Publisher of Moneylife. The Panel Discussion was moderated by Mr Basu.

 

Dr Sinha, who was also Additional Chief Secretary of Maharashtra, said, "People often complain about non-governance. But look at the quality of people they choose as their representatives. The government official may have don't 100s of good things, but even a single case may go against him. We as government officials have no support from the politicians or even the public. There is whole system based on fraud and no reward (for honest officials). There simply no protection for honest officials."

 

Dr Sinha was replying to a question asked by Mr Gandhi, the Former Central Information Commissioner, who is back again to the RTI activism.

 

Mr Gandhi had said, ”We need a government that can consistently deliver what is required for the benefit of citizens. In addition, there are no human resources (HR) specialists for evaluating performance and rewarding employees accordingly. What Dr Gedam has done in Nashik in terms of transparently putting up the Municipal Corporation’s information online, is absolutely fantastic. But then why it cannot be replicated in other cities like Mumbai or Delhi?”

 

Dr Saraph felt that while digital technology is a transforming word, we need to understand that it is a double edged sword. “People are considered different from government and technology can play as enabler. But at the same time, we need to understand that technology alone is not a solution and participation from people can make the while system much better.”

 

Summing up the discussion Moneylife's Editor & Publisher, Mr Basu, said, "A solution that is proven to help ease lives of citizens and also improves the system should be replicated across. But what is more important is it should become a rule".

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COMMENTS

Meenal Mamdani

10 months ago

Mr. Gandhi's question is valid and timely. If a digital enabled method has been shown to work in a govt dept, then why can't it be implemented in similar depts across the state? The smart city project has earmarked crores for digital technology so there is ample money available for such initiatives.

Information about improving governance at the temple is very heartening. Temples have been in the news for all the wrong reasons. May be Maharashtra could foster a competition among temples to get ISO certification.

Shirish Sadanand Shanbhag

10 months ago

A lively intellectual discussion on important issues and administrative reforms in Government machinery, on the occasion of 6th Anniversary day of Moneylife Foundation.

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