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Today's Highlight

Quick Divorce

There is an update on the forthcoming amendments in marriage laws in "Are We Heading for Quick Divorce?"

Bob's Banter

Flying Risks

Bob has a light take on the increasing hazards of flying in India in "Simply Don't Fly..!"

For more insightful articles by Bob, hit his website – www.bobsbanter.com

CocktailPlaza

Also have a look at our trivia/sublime, random quotes, Indiana and recycled humour in this sectionas and when we schedule them afresh – or in the archives.

The Laughter CD is on the website for you to view/download.

The CD on laughter is loaded in the archives of this website for free downloading and use. Alert your friends who may be interested.

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- John B. Monteiro

Are We Headed For Quick Divorce?

By John B. Monteiro

No jealousy their dawn of love overcast,

Nor blasted were their wedded days with strife;

Each season looked delightful as in past,

To the fond husband and the faithful wife.

- James Beattie, Scottish poet (1735-1803).

The delight, fondness and faithfulness sung by Beattie over two centuries ago is progressively exiting from many marriages as many failed and failing marriages are making a beeline to the courts with applications for divorce. Seeing the flood of applications and desperate hurry, the Central government is now amending the relevant acts and expanding the ground for granting divorce, including "irretrievable breakdown of marriage". This could have far-reaching consequences on the institution of marriage and on the larger canvas of family and society. But, first the facts.

As part of the continuing effort to attune Indian matrimonial laws with changing times and the complex legal issues that the courts have been grappling with, the Central government is set to effect amendments to two legislations by incorporating "irretrievable breakdown of marriage" as an additional ground for divorce. The Cabinet on June 10, 2010 approved a bill that seeks to amend the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, and Special Marriage Act, 1954, to provide for the above as a ground for divorce. This would make it possible for a man or woman to seek divorce by proving that his or her marriage had suffered an irretrievable breakdown and escape delays and harassment caused due to reluctance on the part of spouses to turn up in courts.

Briefing reporters, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill 2010 was approved by a meeting of the Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. "The bill would provide safeguards to parties of marriage who file the petition for grant of divorce by consent from the harassment in court if any of the party does not come to the court or willingly avoids the court to keep the divorce proceedings inconclusive," she said. The minister added that the marriage laws were being amended as per the recommendation of the Law Commission as well as the Supreme Court's observation.

A few years ago judgments emanating from the Madras High Court had recognized that "Irretrievable breakdown of marriage" could be a ground for divorce, although several other high courts took a different opinion and struck to the grounds enshrined in the existing legislations. The Law Commission of India in its 217th report had recommended incorporating "irretrievable breakdown of marriage" as another ground for grant of divorce. The Supreme Court in the case of Jorden Diengdeh versus S S Chopra and in the case of Navin Kohli versus Neelu Kohli had made the same recommendation.

At present various grounds for dissolution of marriage by decree of divorce are laid down in section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. The grounds include adultery, cruelty, desertion, conversion to another religion, unsoundness of mind, virulent and incurable form of leprosy, venereal disease in a communicable form, renouncement of the world and not heard as being alive for a period of seven years or more. The Section 27 of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 also lays down similar grounds.

However Section 13-B of the Hindu Marriage Act and Section 28 of the Special Marriage Act provide for divorce by mutual consent as ground for presenting a petition for dissolution of marriage. The sections provide that a petition of dissolution of marriage by mutual consent, if not withdrawn before six months after its presentation or not later than 18 months, the court may, on being satisfied after making inquiry, grant decree of divorce by mutual consent.

But Soni said it has been observed that the parties who have filed petition for mutual consent suffer in case if one of the parties abstains himself or herself from court proceedings and keeps the divorce proceedings inconclusive. This has been causing considerable hardship to the party in dire need of divorce, she added, explaining the rationale of the amendment.

When it comes to Christians, who are covered by a separate Act, the starting point is the wedding vows by the bride and bridegroom. The solemnization of matrimony vows from the Book of Common Prayers reads: "To have and hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, and in health, to love and cherish, till death do us part." Added is the imprimatur from the Bible which is enjoined by the priest after the vows are taken: "What therefore God hath joined together let no man put asunder". Mathew XIX-6.

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Today's Highlight

Medical Tests

Modern diagnostic tools are pressed into action often to recover costs, rather than being need-based. The subject is put into context in "Are Medical Tests Over-rated?"

Bob's Banter

Flying Risks

Bob has a light take on the increasing hazards of flying in India in "Simply Don't Fly..!"

For more insightful articles by Bob, hit his website – www.bobsbanter.com

CocktailPlaza

Also have a look at our trivia/sublime, random quotes, Indiana and recycled humour in this sectionas and when we schedule them afresh – or in the archives.

The Laughter CD is on the website for you to view/download.

The CD on laughter is loaded in the archives of this website for free downloading and use. Alert your friends who may be interested.

Stay with us and help us to grow!

- John B. Monteiro

Are Medical Tests Over-rated?

By John B. Monteiro

Better to hunt in fields for health unbought

Than fee the doctor for the nauseous draught.

The wise for cure on exercise depend;

God never made his work for man to mend.

- John Dryden, English poet (1631-1700).

Now the health scene has gone beyond the traditional doctors, with diagnostic instruments and machines and their handlers leading doctors by the nose. They seem to say: "What are you going to treat? What is the disease? We can tell you with our probing gadgets" Time was when doctors felt the heart beat, the pulse, examined the tongue and eyes and, in some cases, tapped the knuckles and joints gently with a wooden mini-hammer. If it is a homeopath, he asked a score of questions to determine his line of treatment. He still doe it But, the allopathic doctor resorts to a number of tests, most of them expensive, before he determines his line of treatment.

The doctors of olden days had an either or option offered by Francis Quarles, English poet (1592-1644): "Physicians, of all men, are most happy: whatever good success they have, the world proclaimeth and what faults they commit, the earth covereth". So, now they want to share the blame for their failure with those who provided the diagnostic back-up to them. But, there is an increasing awareness that often diagnostic tests are not only expensive but also often unnecessary and sometimes damaging to health. This is brought out in a recent Associated Press report from Washington titled "Most medical tests are useless".

More medical care won't necessarily make you healthier – it may make you sicker. It is an idea that technology-loving Americans find hard to believe. Anywhere from one-fifth to one-third of the tests and treatment that we get are estimated to be unnecessary and avoidable care is costly in more ways than the bill: It may lead to dangerous side effects. It can start during birth, as some of the nation's increasing C-sections are triggered by controversial fetal monitors that signal a baby is in trouble when really everything is fine. It extends to often futile intensive care at the end of life.

Over-treatment means someone could have fared as well or better with lesser test or therapy, or may be even none at all. Avoiding it is less about knowing when to say no, than knowing when to say yes. "Wait, doc, I need more information." The Associated Press combed hundreds of pages of studies and quizzed dozens of specialists to examine the nation's most overused practices. Medical groups are under way to help doctors ratchet back avoidable care and help patients take an unbiased look at the pros and cons of different options before choosing one.

"This is not, I repeat not, rationing," said Dr. Steven Weinberger of the American College of Physician, which this summer begins publishing recommendations on overused tests. It's trying to balance, to provide appropriate care rather than the most care. Rare are patients who recognize they have crossed the line. "Let me tell you, with additional tests and procedures comes, significant harm," said Dr. Bernard Rosof, who heads projects by the nonprofit National Quality Forum and an American Medical Association panel to identify and decrease overuse. "It's patient education that's going to be extremely important if we're going to make this happen, so people begin to understand less is often better," he said.

There are numerous reasons that one of three US births now is by caesarian, but Dr. Alex Friedman blames some on imprecise monitor strapped to labouring women. Too often, he has sliced open a mother's abdomen fearing the worst, only to pull out a pink, screaming bundle. Electronic fetal monitors record changes in the baby's heart rate, a possible sign of too little oxygen. They became a tradition – now used in 85% of births – years before research could prove how well they work. Guidelines issues last recently, aim to help doctors better interpret which tests are worrisome, acknowledge the monitors have not reduced deaths or cerebral palsy. But they do increase the chances of a C-section.

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Simply Don't Fly..!

"..Two more disasters averted at airport…" TOI, June 10th

I wonder what's happening; there's not a day gone by without reports of plane crashes, near misses, wheels falling off, aircraft plummeting, and runway lights shutting off! Somebody tell me what's happening?

"Nothing sir, nothing, you don't have to worry you're safe and sound!"

"You're sure?"

"Of course!"

"And what's this you're asking me to fill?"

"An insurance form; for the price of one more air ticket, your kith and kin will receive ten times the cost of the plane ticket once it crashes! Imagine sir, the odds are better than buying a lottery ticket! Just think how they will thank you once you are gone! Sir, sir…"

And as I near the airport, I see dozens of men and even women in black coats.

"Who are they?" I ask an attendant.

"Lawyers!"

"Are they going for some conference?"

"Do they look like they are traveling?"

"No," I admit sheepishly, "They look like they are hanging around for business! Hey what are you guys doing here?"

"Have you made your will sir? If you haven't I'll do it for a hundred rupees!"

"I charge only fifty sir!"

"I'll do it free if you leave me a thousand rupees in your will sir!"

"I don't want a will!"

"Then sign this, it says that the window next to seat number 26 is broken!"

"But I have not got into the aircraft yet!" I shout, "How would I know if it is broken or not?"

"It is!"

"It is?"

"It is sir, so if you sign it, we will say that the aircraft flew with a broken window and your kin will get double!"

"Why don't you get the window repaired?" I whisper.

"What and lose our fees? You must be joking!"

I walk to the aircraft, up the ramp and a pretty airhostess greets me and looks at my ticket, "Take the aisle seat sir, it's better than the window seat! There you won't be able to look out and see the engine's caught fire. The last two passengers fainted, even before the crash!"

"Ladies and gentlemen, "says the pilot, "This is to announce the air-conditioning isn't working. You may open your windows once we take off, please see you have fastened your seat belt so you won't be sucked out!"

"Let me out!" I shout, "let me out of here! I'll take a train!"

"Ha, ha, ha!" laugh the Maoists as I hear the home minister in his new sad looking avatar address the nation and say, "I think it is time India stayed at home..!"

Hi Folks! Welcome To Reason!

Today's Highlight

Filthy Lucre

Should we make a background check on the donor before accepting his cheque is the theme of "Should We Spurn Filthy Lucre?"

Bob's Banter

Misguided shot

Bob has a light take on the alleged shooting at a Bangalore ashram in "A Potshot at The Shri..!"

For more insightful articles by Bob, hit his website – www.bobsbanter.com

CocktailPlaza

Also have a look at our trivia/sublime, random quotes, Indiana and recycled humour in this sectionas and when we schedule them afresh – or in the archives.

The Laughter CD is on the website for you to view/download.

The CD on laughter is loaded in the archives of this website for free downloading and use. Alert your friends who may be interested.

Stay with us and help us to grow!

- John B. Monteiro

Should We Spurn Filthy Lucre?

By John B. Monteiro

He never considered it loth

To look a gift-horse in the mouth

And very wisely would lay forth

No more upon it than it was worth.

-Samuel Butler, English wit and poet (1612-1680).

Imagine a beggar receiving a bounty of cash from a well attired gentleman and pausing to think about the motive of the man's generosity and suspecting it to be tainted money refusing to accept it. You might say that even a beggar has a conscience and he would not have anything to do with what the Bible calls "filthy lucre" (Timothy III-3). Move on to Robinhood who robbed the rich to reward the poor. Would he stop robbing a man because his money was made by fraud or cheating. Or, move on to modern day Robinhoods, the ubiquitous do-gooders who go by the name of NGOs. They don't rob but persuade donors to loosen their purse-strings. Should the NGOs, standing on a moral platform, demand character certificates of the donors or affidavits declaring that the donor has paid due taxes on the money doled out? A similar situation has now arisen, as noted by New York Times News Service in an article by Steven Erlanger titled "UN in a delicate bind over science prize tied to dictator. But, first the facts.

The UNESCO-Obiang prize, tentatively scheduled to be awarded by the end of June 2010, has been roundly criticized by scientists and human rights organisations as little more than a clumsy effort to burnish the reputation of Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the president of Equatorial Guinea. Obiang has been accused by rights groups and anti-corruption activists of embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars from his tiny oil-rich West African state, while most of its people scrape by in dire poverty.

The irony of having Obiang's name attached to a prize that honours achievements that "Improve the quality of life" is not lost on critics, who say UNESCO – the Paris-based U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation – is undermining its own credibility by awarding it. With the first prize scheduled to be announced soon, efforts to delay, abandon or modify it have gained urgency. But at a meeting in April, UNESCO's 58-nation executive board dismissed concerns the award would damage the organization, and UNESCO officials say that African countries on the board have maintained their unanimous backing for the prize.

The United States, France and other members that opposed the prize when it was approved in 2008 voiced no objections at the April 2010 meeting. Wary of appearing anti-African or colonialist, western diplomats said that any initiative to alter or drop the award would have to come from the board's African members. That leaves the agency's new Director-General, Irina Bokova, who is obliged to follow the wishes of the executive board, in the awkward position of trying to appeal to the African leaders to rebuff one of their own for the good of the agency. UNESCO's spokeswoman, Sue Williams, said that Bokova had raised the issue with the board. She said, "The Director General has expressed her serious concern over UNESCO's prestige and urged member states to live up to their responsibilities and discuss the future of the prize. She is continuing consultation with member states to find a solution to the difficulties being encountered with the prize." In addition to having to navigate touchy regional and historical minefields, Bokova finds herself objecting to what, on its face, is a generous gift for a worthy cause.

Obiang, who has ruled Equatorial Guinea since 1979, has committed $3 million a year for five years; half the money is to go to five awardees, who receive $300,000 grants, and half to cover the cost of selecting the winners. The administrative budget of $1.5million a year struck some UNESCO diplomats as ripe for corruption that has often marked UNESCO programmes. But the larger concern is Obiang himself. His adviser for international organisations contends that critics are unfairly singling out Equatorial Guinea for scrutiny. The tactic of opponents "to this African prize", he said, is "to add an endless list of criteria" about human rights and discrimination. "There are around 30 prizes in UNESCO why is it that so many additional criteria are added only to this first, and so far only, scientific donation of this kind from an African member state?" Scientific grants, he said, benefit everyone. "Africa needs science even more so than developed countries…Without science, the continent only clean the train that is taking others to the technological age of tomorrow."

The dilemma goes back to ancient times. Sample what Lucius Seneca, philosopher and moralist, Spain (BC4-AD65) had to say on the subject: "Other men's sins are before our eyes; our own behind our backs." And again: "We are all sinful. Therefore whatever we blame in another we shall find in our own bosoms."

It takes us back to the New Testament of the Bible wherein a woman caught in adultery is brought to Jesus by his adversaries so that they can trap him. They tell Jesus that under the law such woman has to be stoned to death. Jesus tells them that one who is without sin should throw the first stone and finds that the accusers melting away, leaving the woman alone with Jesus. He tells her to go away and sin no more. It is from here the concept of 'hate sin but love the sinner' has emerged.

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A Potshot at The Shri..!

"Bullets aimed at stray dogs, not Sri Sri…" Bangalore Police

Poor Sri Sri after all the hullabaloo about him feeling there was an attempt on his life, after all the brouhaha, hue and furore and even the uproar that a so called godman was targeted and nearly killed, it was discovered that a neighbour of his annoyed with stray dogs barking near his home had pulled out his licensed revolver, had a potshot at the dogs, and lucky dog must have bent his canine head at the right time and stray bullet went all the way across the road into Sri Sri's ashram.

I can imagine the scene the next morning!

"Hey neighbour!"

"Yes?"

"You sure you shot at the dogs?"

"What are you trying to say?"

"Could you change that statement!"

"And say what?"

"That you shot at me!"

"Why ever should I say that?"

"Because I told the world that somebody shot at me, then I told the world that I forgave the person who shot me, then I invited the person who shot me to come over and feel the peace I have to offer.."

"So?"

"Now that I have said so much, can't you just say you shot me?"

"But you had already left in your car when I had a shot at the dogs!"

"Yeah but I already told the police I hadn't left!"

"You lied?"

"No, no I heard a sound!"

"You mean you heard the sound of my gun, sitting in your sound proof air- conditioned car, with me firing two and a half thousand feet away and five minutes after you had gone?"

"I did hear a sound!"

"Of gunfire?"

"I don't know what sound, I am a sadhu, I don't know the difference between sounds!"

"Must have been a car backfiring! Goodbye!"

"Neighbour wait!"

"What do you want?"

"Say that you shot at me! Please, please!"

"I'll go to jail!"

"Let it be, I'll come to jail and forgive you! Please..!"