20160109_093324

Return Gift-Touching Short Film

 

My friend Achyut Chopade, an IT professional turned into a film professional, has come up with another of his short film. I had talked about his earlier award winning short film Ardhaviram here on this blog. I finally got to watch this film titled as Return Gift. It is a Marathi short film with English subtitles. I have been indirectly associated with this film, since the he had narrated the script almost 8-9 months back, during the Sunday when we had gone for watching a play which was being arranged under a new concept of Sunday Morning Breakfast with Play in Pune.

The story of the film is simple. Poor maid’s daughter wishes to celebrate her birthday. And her wishes are gone for toss because of her drunkard father. Film ends on a happy note where, her father goes under transformation and kid gets celebrate her birthday. It is approximately 22 minutes’ short film. It begins with a scene at maid’s shack, where kid is nagging her sleepy mother for celebrating the birthday next day. Next scene is where the duo lands into house where maid works, and incidentally, the house is also busy enjoying birthday party. This where emotional turmoil begins in the mind of the kid which is portrayed beautifully. The maid succeeds in lending money for kid’s birthday. But their plans get shattered due to kid’s father who is habitual drinker. The scenes of loving father and his relationship with his daughter are also portrayed very well, by the actors. The drunkard father realizes his misdeeds and the film ends on happy note and with a power message against liquor abuse and addiction which is a major social issue in the country. To understand what transforms the father, one needs to wait to watch the movie. I don’t want to be a spoiler here.

The film is shot entirely in the housing society where me and Achyut live. I still remember the frantic activities on a fine Saturday of January this year, when he and his team(which includes another friend of mine, Bhushan Kulkarni, who volunteers with me at Schizophrenia Awareness Association-SAA, and a budding film professional and another common friend Atul Khade, amateur photographer) had gathered for a film shooting near my house. It had created much of excitement to onlookers as to what was going on. Achyut had also looked my house for birthday party scenes before going for my neighbor’s house instead. There are many intense scenes, filled with emotions, but during the shooting we did not notice that intensity. The process of making film, and watching it turn into a impacting story is absolutely different experience, and many of use were in awe. The impact it creates is very different when one watches a movie in its entirety.

I will share the short film’s YouTube link once it is made available by Achyut. Don’t miss to watch that to appreciate not only the message but also way it comes across the viewers.

आपली पूर्वीची संस्थाने आणि संस्थानिक

मी फार पूर्वी Outlook Traveler या मासिकाचा वर्गणीदार होतो. बऱ्याचदा त्यात पूर्वीच्या संस्थानिकांच्या गावांची, राजवाड्यांची, किल्ल्यांची, तसेच तेथील पर्यटनाबद्दलची माहिती येत असे. एकदा त्यांनी एक भला मोठा नकाशाच त्यांनी दिला, जो भारतातील १९४७ मध्ये,  स्वतंत्र भारतात विलीनीकरण होण्यापूर्वी असलेली वेगवेगळी संस्थाने(princely states) यांचा होता. त्यावेळी ६५०च्या वर संस्थाने भारतात होती. त्यांच्या इतिहास, तसेच त्यांच्या विलीनीकरणाचा इतिहास आपल्याला थोडाबहुत माहीत असतो. लोहपुरुष सरदार वल्लभभाई पटेल यांनी कार्य, तसेच मुत्सद्देगिरी यामुळे भारताची आणखी शकले होण्यापासून वंचित राहिळा, आपण देश म्हणून एकसंध राहिलो.काश्मीर संस्थान, तसेच निजामाच्या हैदराबाद विलीनीकरणाचा थोडा त्रास झाला खरा.

मी हा ब्लॉग लिहीत आहे, योगायोग असा की आज(१५ ऑगस्ट) खरे तर भारताचा ७०वा स्वातंत्र्यदिन आहे. बऱ्याच संस्थानांनी, तसेच संस्थानिकांनी, त्यांच्या काळात, आणि नंतरही, बरेच चांगले काम केले होते. जसे आपल्याला माहीत असलेले कोल्हापूर संस्थानाचे शाहू महाराज, बडोद्याचे सयाजीराव गायकवाड इत्यादी. भारतातील शास्त्रीय संगीत देखील ह्या संस्थानिकांच्या आश्रयानेच पोसली गेली आणि वाढली, हे नक्कीच नाकारू शकत नाही. पण बहुतांशी संस्थानिक विलासी, दूरदृष्टीचा अभाव असलेले, तसेच ब्रिटिशांचे मंडलिक होते. संस्थानिकांबद्दल हे सर्व लिहिण्यास कारण असे झाले की मला काही दिवसांपूर्वी एक जुने इंग्रजी पुस्तक मिळाले. त्याचे नाव ‘Maharaja: The Lives, Loves and Intrigues of the Maharajas of India’. लेखक आहे दिवाण जरमनी दास. त्यात त्यांनी काही वेगवेगळया संस्थानिकांच्या खासगी आयुष्याबद्दल, त्यांच्या विलासी जीवनाचे वर्णन केले आहे. दास स्वतः कपूरथळा आणि पतियाळा संस्थानांच्या महाराजांच्या पदरी होते आणि त्यांचा अनुभव मोठा होता असे त्यांचे जीवन पाहिल्यास समजते.

तर हे पुस्तक तीन विभागात आहे. पहिला विभाग-Maharaja’s Private Life. यात ६० प्रकरणातून वेगवेगळया संस्थानिकांच्या विलासी जीवनाचे, त्यांच्या विक्षिप्त सवयींचे वर्णन केले आहे. कपुरथळा आणि पतियाळा संस्थानिकांच्या गोष्टी त्यात अधिक आहेट. वाममार्गी तांत्रिक साधनेचा आश्रय घेवून त्याच्या नावाखाली बाहेरख्याली वर्तणूक होत असे, पोहण्याच्या तलावात ४० स्त्रियांबरोबर रात्री मेणबत्तीच्या प्रकाशात जलक्रीडा चाले, शाही विवाहासाठी वधू परीक्षेची माहिती येते. संस्थानिकांच्या परदेश दौरे, त्याची वर्णने, त्यांनी केलेले परदेशी स्त्रियांशी विवाह, तसेच परदेशी आणि ब्रिटीश अधिकारी जेव्हा त्यांच्या दरबारात येत तेव्हा घडत असलेले प्रसंग, रिती रिवाज याची माहिती येते. एकूणच राज्यकारभाराकडे दुर्लक्ष, स्वार्थ, ऐषोआराम आणि विलासात सर्वकाळ बुडालेले असे राज्यकर्ते, ब्रिटिशांच्या नीती पुढे शरणागती, त्यामुळे भारताचे स्वातंत्र्य पुढे जात राहिले असेच म्हणावे लागले. १८५७च्या उठावानंतर ब्रिटिशांना फार मोठा धक्का बसला होता, त्यांनी हाय खाल्ली होती. त्यामुळे त्यांच्या कुटनीतीचा एक भाग म्हणून संस्थानिकांना वाटेल तशा सवलती, आणि सैल देऊन त्यांची मर्जी हासिल करण्याचा डाव होता. त्यामुळे संस्थानिक गाफील राहिले, प्रजेकडे दुर्लक्ष झाले, आणि आपल्याच मस्तीत ते राहू लागून निष्क्रीय बनले. पुस्तकातील २७२व्या पानावर दास लिहितात, ‘The policy of the Paramount Power was to give unlimited powers of administration to the rulers of the Indian States for making them the bulwark against the political aspirations of the people of British India. Divide and Rule was the motto of the Britishers and for this game of political diplomacy the Britishers were well-known…..In this transformation of outlook they became megalomaniacs and in this process they developed peculiar habits in their day-to-day life’. ह्या विभागातील शेवटचा लेख आहे The Cradle of Culture या नावाने, आणि तो आहे काश्मीरवर. गेल्या काही दिवसात, पंतप्रधान मोदी यांच्या भाषणानंतर,  काश्मीर आणि प्रामुख्याने गिलगिट(Gilgit), बलुचिस्तान भागाचा उल्लेख येत आहे. ह्या लेखात काश्मीरची महती तर आहेच, आणि तसेच गिलगिट हा भाग ब्रिटीश साम्राज्याचा(पर्यायाने भारताचा) शिरपेचातील तुरा आहे(jewel in the crown of British Empire), आणि त्याला त्यांनी Gibralter of India असे देखील म्हटले आहे. ब्रिटीशांनी तो भाग डोग्रा संस्थानाकडे न जाण्यास नाना चाली खेळल्या.

दुसरा विभाग-Maharaja and Politics. यात ४ प्रकरणातून संस्थानिकाचे ब्रिटीश सरकार बरोबर असलेले संबंध, त्यांना आपल्या टाचेखाली राखण्यासाठी ब्रिटीशांनी योजलेल्या नाना युक्त्या, कुटनीती याची माहिती येते. उदा. ब्रिटीशांनी तोफेच्या सलामीची प्रथा महाराजांच्या सन्मानार्थ वेगवेगळया समारंभाच्या वेळी, सुरु केली. मिठावरील करवसुलीसाठी ब्रिटीशांनी कशी कुटनीती वापरली याचे मी वाचलेल्या एका पुस्तकात मी वाचले होते, त्यबद्दल मी येथे लिहिले होते, ब्रिटीशांनी भारतात घटनाचा सुधारणेसाठी तीन वेळेस गोलमेज परिषद (round table conference) बोलावल्या, त्यात वेगवेगळया संस्थानिकांच्या प्रतिनिधींना देखील आमंत्रण केले होते, त्यावेळच्या परिस्थितीची माहिती येते. तसेच ब्रिटीशांनी संस्थानिकांच्या समस्येची चर्चा करण्यासाठी Chamber Of Princes सुरु केले त्याची देखील माहिती मिळते. तसेच स्वतंत्र भारतात सामील न होण्यासाठी संस्थानांनी केलेल्या कुटनीतीची, तसेच सरदार वल्लभभाई पटेल यांनी ते सगळे प्रयत्न कसे खुबीने हाणून पडले,  याची देखील सविस्तर माहिती येते.

तिसरा विभाग-End of an Epoch.यात २ प्रकरणातून विभागाच्या शीर्षकाप्रमाणे ही सर्व संस्थाने खालसा झाल्यानंतर, नामशेष झाल्यानंतर, त्यावेळच्या राजांची, महाराजांची स्थिती काय झाली, त्यांनी पुढे काय केले याचे काही मासले त्यांनी दिले आहेत. उदा. काही जण भारत सरकारच्या कारभारात, मंत्रिमंडळात निवडून गेले, आणि वेगवेगळी पदे, विभाग सांभाळू लागले. त्यांना बदलत्या काळाची चाहूल लागली, आणि ते जमिनीवर आले अशी त्यांनी उदाहरणे दिली आहेत.

मराठीतील प्रसिद्ध लेखक चिं. वि. जोशी ह्यांनी सुद्धा चिमणरावाचे चऱ्हाट या पुस्तकात रावसाहेब चिमणराव-स्टेट गेस्ट नावाची एक संस्थानिकाच्या हालाखीची तसेच बडेजावपणाची कथा लिहिली आहे. ते स्वतः बडोदा संस्थानाचे अधिकारी होते. त्यांना देखील संस्थानिकांना जवळून पाहता आले. वि. ग. कानिटकर यांच्या पूर्वज या लेखसंग्रहातही त्यांनी औंध संस्थानाच्या पंतप्रतिनिधी यांच्या दुसऱ्या विवाहाची कथा रंगवली आहे. गंगाधर गाडगीळ यांची कादंबरी ‘एक होता राजा’ यात त्यांनी बडोद्याचे सयाजीराव गायकवाड यांच्यावर त्यांनी लिखाण केले. ‘संस्थांनी माणसे’ हे अजून के पुस्तक नरेंद्र चपळगावकरांनी लिहिलेले, जे हैद्राबादचा निजाम राजवटीतील काही व्यक्तींची चित्रणे असलेले आहे. ह्या पुस्तकाबद्दल नतंर लिहिण्याचा विचार आहे.

दिवाण जरमनी दास यांचे हे पुस्तक ह्या इतर पुस्तकांच्या मानाने बरेच मोठे आहे आणि विविध महाराजांबद्दलचे अनुभव कथन करणारे आहे. त्यांनी याच विषयावर आणखीही काही पुस्तके लिहिली आहेत. महाराणी(‘Maharani: A Fabulous Collection of Adventures of Indian Maharanis and Royal Mistresses’) हे पुस्तक संथानिकांच्या राण्या-महाराण्या यांचे जीवन कसे होते हे सांगणारे आहे. ते मी अजून वाचले नाही. तुम्हाला काही ह्या विषयावर माहिती असलेली पुस्तके असतील तर जरूर कळवा. आजकाल आपण ह्या राजे, महाराजे, त्यांच्या वेगवेगळया गोष्टींचा अभिमानाने वारसा म्हणून पाहतो, लोकांना दाखवतो, पण त्या मागे बराचसा असा काळा इतिहास आहे हे बऱ्याचदा आपण विसरले गेलो असतो.

दोन स्पेशल

ह्या वेळचा स्वातंत्र्यदिन सोमवारी आला. शनिवार, रविवार सुट्टी असल्यामुळे लागोपाठ कमीतकमी ३ दिवस सुट्टी. गेल्या weekendला आंबोली/गोवा करून आलो होतो. एकूण होणाऱ्या गर्दीच्या पार्श्वभूमीच विचार करून घरीच राहिलो. सोमवारी संध्याकाळी जितेंद्र जोशी आणि गिरिजा ओक यांचे सध्या गाजत असलेले ‘दोन स्पेशल’ हे नाटक पहावे असे ठरवेले होते. शनिवारी दुपारी सहज करता करता स्टार माझावर प्रशांत दामले आणि राहुल देशपांडे बोलत असताना दिसले. रेंगाळलो. ते बोलत होते त्यांच्या नाटकाबद्दल-संगीत संशयकल्लोळ. असेही समजले त्या नाटकाचे प्रयोग लंडनमध्ये Peacock Theater मध्ये होणार आहेत, जी मोठी अभिमानाची गोष्ट आहे.

बोलता बोलता गाडी घसरली ती मराठी नाटकांच्या सद्यस्थितीकडे. प्रशांत दामले त्याबद्दल अगदी पोटतिडकीने बोलत होता. या ना त्या कारणामुळे मराठी नाटक पाहणे हे लोकांच्या यादीत सर्वात शेवटी असते असे तो म्हणाला. ते मला देखील पटले. मी नाटकवेडा असून देखील, आणि पूर्वी कितीतरी नाटकं पाहत असून देखील, ते माझ्याबाबतीत खरे झाले होते. मी गेली सात-आठ महिने नाटक पहिलेच नव्हते(जानेवारीत पाहिलेले unSEEN). का? चांगली नाटकं आली नव्हती? तसे काही नाही. कित्येक चांगली नाटके आली होती.उदा. महेश एलकुंचवार यांचे वाडा चिरेबंदी आणि मग्न तळ्याकाठी असे दोन लागोपाठ नाट्यप्रयोग असलेले नाटक मध्यंतरी लागले होते, आणि जे मला पाहायची जबर इच्छा होती. पण नाही गेलो. माझ्या बाबतीत तरी सध्या प्रश्न असा आहे की रस्त्यावर असलेली वाहतूक, आणि परत सुट्टीच्या दिवशीपण त्यात अडकण्याची भीती आणि जवळपास नसलेले नाट्यगृहे. पिंपळे सौदागर भागात, जेथे मी राहतो, तेथे, गेल्या काही वर्षात, एक सोडून, तीन-तीन सिनेमागृहे उभी राहिली आहेत. पण नाट्यगृह एकही नाही. औंध मध्ये आहे, पण तेथे नाटकं होतच नाही. दुसरे नाट्यगृह जवळ  असलेले आहे ते चिंचवड मध्ये.

असो, थोडे विषयांतर झाले. मी लिहायालो बसलो आहे ते  कालच ‘दोन स्पेशल’ नाटकाबद्दल. नाटक बेतले आहे ते प्रसिद्ध लेखक ह. मो. मराठे यांच्या एका ‘न्युज स्टोरी’ ह्या कथेवर. मराठे हे मुंबईत पत्रकार म्हणूनही काम करत. त्यांच्या लेखनावर आधारित आलेले हे दुसरे नाटक. पहिले म्हणजे ‘निष्पर्ण वृक्षाखाली भर दुपारी’. ह्या नाटकाला १६ पुरस्कार मिळाले आहेत. आणि तसे हे काही महिन्यांपूर्वी आलेले नाटक, अगदी नवीन नव्हते.

नाटक घडते ते एका वृत्तपत्राच्या कार्यालयात. उपसंपादकाची कार्यनिष्ठा, आणि प्रेम ह्यातील आंदोलने दाखवणारे नाटक. मला आवडले ते नाटकाचे अतिशय वास्तवादी नेपथ्य, आणि पार्श्वसंगीत. वृत्तपत्र कार्यालय आणि तेथे रात्री चालणारे काम, आणि आजूबाजूला होत असणारे आवाज ह्या मुळे ते वातावरण अतिशय छान निर्माण केले गेले आहे. नाटकाचा पहिला भाग छान. त्यात आणखीन मला आवडलेला म्हणजे पहिलाच प्रसंग. नव्या उमेदवाराला कामावर ठेवून घेण्याचा प्रसंग. छानच वठला आहे. वृत्तपत्तव्यवसायातील, पत्रकारितेमधील वेगवेगळया पैलूंची प्रेक्षकांना थोडीफार ओळख होते. मी फार पूर्वी Institute of Typographical Research मध्ये काम करायचो. आमचे वृत्तपत्रांसाठी लागणारे सॉफ्टवेअर आम्ही तयार करत होतो. त्यावेळेस page setting, columns, fonts, typography, page design वगैरे गोष्टींची ओळख झाली होती. त्या सर्वांची आठवण झाली.

आता हा नायकाचा पेचप्रसंग(वर थोडासा उल्लेख केला आहे, पण बाकीची माहिती हवी असेल तर नाटक पहा!) कसा सोडवला जाणार, काय होणार असा विचार करता करता, मध्यंतरानंतर, मात्र निराशा होते. नाटक नेहमीच्या वळणावर जाते. नायकाला असणारा पेचप्रसंग सोडवण्यासाठी, वरवर कारण म्हणून दुसऱ्या महत्वाच्या बातमीला प्राधान्य दिले जाते, पण मूळ मुद्दा असा, की नायकाने, आपली तत्वनिष्ठा सोडली असेच दिसते. आणि तेथेच नाटक संपते. त्यामुळे हे ‘दोन स्पेशल’ नाटक खरंच स्पेशल आहे का आपणच ठरवायचे आहे. अगदी परवाच पुण्यात बालेवाडीत एका चालू असलेल्या इमारतीचे काही बांधकाम पडून बरेच लोक दगावले, त्या प्रसंगाची आणि त्यावेळी वृत्तपत्र-विश्वात काय काय झाले असेल नसेल याचा अंदाज करता आला. नाटक आहे १९८९ मधील, आणि अजूनही असे प्रसंग होतात, आणि परिस्थिती विशेष बदलली नाही हेच जाणवते.

नाटकाला बऱ्यापैकी गर्दी होती, अगदी नाटक सुरु होई पर्यंत तिकीट विक्री चालू होती. नाटकाची तिकीट मात्र दिवसेंदिवस वाढत चालली आहे. पहिल्या २० रांगांसाठी, ३०० रुपये, आणि नंतर २५०…त्याखाली काही नाही. चित्रपटांची तिकिटे ह्या पेक्षा नक्कीच कामी आहेत. अर्थात त्याला कारणही आहे. तिकिटांची किमंत हा ही मुद्दा नाटकांनाकडे प्रेक्षक न वळण्याचे एक महत्वाचे कारण आहे, त्याचा विचार व्हावा.

S R Ranganathan, Colon Classification

I am avid radio listener. I am generally hooked on the state run(Prasar Bharati) radio channels under All India Radio, in city of Pune. It provides, besides entertainment, many informative programs, which surprise me again and again. This week, it ran a short program on life of S R Ranganathan who was pioneer of library and information science in India. The occasion was that his 125th birth anniversary year was to start on Aug 12. After listening this program, I went down the memory lane, about my encounter with his book on colon classification.

This was in the year 2007. I was working at Saba Software, Human Capital Development and Management(HCDM) software company. I was handling project related localization(L10N) and internationalization(I18N) of their software. This project gave me world exposure to world of languages, one my favorite subjects, further, from technical perspective. We happened to get a consultant from Canada, Steven Forth, travel to Pune to work with me to define strategy on L10N and I18N. During discussions with him, I came across words such as taxonomy and ontology which are related to categorization and classification. Incidentally, around the same time, due to my association with Indology course, and subsequent exploration in Indian philosophical systems, particularly, Nyaya and Vaisesika Darshan(also called Indian Logic), I had encountered similar terminologies.

Steven Forth, being avid reader himself, ventured into Pune city for shopping for books. I accompanied him and we went to then landmark Maney’s book stall(which is now closed). Among other books, he also bought S R Ranganathan’s book titled Colon Classification. During my discussions with him about that book, I was surprised to know about this Indian mathematician and information scientist, who has done such a pioneering work, of which, I was completely unaware of it. All of his work, was achieved way back in 1950s and even earlier. I am sure many of us are not aware of it. Subsequently, I also bought that book.  He is considered as father of library science in India, also rest of the world. His birthday(Aug 12) is observed as National Library Day in India. Subsequently, I learnt that his thoughts around classification came from concepts of classification and world view of Nyaya and Vaisesika Darshan. He also was instrumental formulating five laws of library science which are:

Law#1: Books are for use.
Law#2: Every reader his / her book.
Law#3: Every book its reader.
Law#4: Save the time of the reader.
Law#5: The library is a growing organism.

I am particularly fascinated by his thinking on information classification. I am still exploring this field. I am sure many of these concepts are useful in this age of big data analytics. His information retrieval concepts might be relevant for digital age of today where there is explosion of data. They all apply principles of information science. I intend to write a series of blogs here on his work subsequently. Today I wanted to introduce about this lesser known personality(outside small circle of library science fraternity) from India and his pioneering work on the occasion of his 125th birthday.

Buddhist caves of Kondane near Rajmachi fort

My trekking journey#7

In this series related to my trekking journey over years, I am going to detail out my expeditions in the year of 2004. Please refer below links for blogs on earlier trekking years.

1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003

The year of 2004 happened to be another blockbuster year for me in terms of trekking. In the moth of January, we headed towards coastal Maharashtra(Kokan) to visit forts of Sumargad and Mahipatgad. We had to battle humid coastal weather, also lack of proper trails on the way to the top on both these forts. I went for another minor self-exploration to fort of Rohida near Pune, which is happens to be significant in the history of Shivaji, as this was one of the forts he conquered.

The month of February, we saw ourselves again heading towards coastal Maharashtra(Konkan) to visit forts of Alibaug(also called Colaba fort), Revdanda and Korlai, both sea side land forts. We were accompanied by Sachin Joshi, archaeologist, who had interest in exploring nearby Chaul area based on the certain evidences he had with him. In the summer month of April, visited fort of Rajmachi, and later trailed to ancient Buddhist cave of Kondane.

In the month of monsoon, went to hills of Neelkantheshwar near Pune. My seventy three year old father also hiked with us. Later in the month, we hiked the fort of Peb(alias Vikatgad) near popular hill station Matheran. One can get other side of Matheran from Peb, also views of other forts such as Prabalgad can be seen from the top. In September, we visited forts of Ramdarane, Thal, Sarjekot and Hirakot as well. Sachin Joshi, wanted to take GPS coordinates for the Ramdarane fort, for mapping purposes. Sachin is using cutting edge technologies to contribute towards fort conservation. Towards end of September, we went on trekking expedition covering five forts in one go, all of them in the Nashik/Dang region. We visited Hatgad, Achala, Ahivantgad, Taula and finally Kanhergad. Hatgad happens to be near to popular hill station called Saputara on the boundary of Gujarat and Maharashtra.

The year ended with a trip towards north of Mumbai to forts of Tandulvadi and Jivdhani near Virar. Jivadhani, of course, is more famous because of temple which has become a pilgrimage place.

Prasannagad

My trekking journey#6

In this series related to my trekking journey over years, I am going to detail out my expeditions in the year of 2003. Please refer below links for blogs on earlier trekking years.

1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002

At the beginning of the year itself, I got opportunity to venture outside of Sahyadris. I went for a business trip to Delhi, and my wish to visit land forts in and around Delhi came true. I happened to visit Red Fort and also Purana Qila, Tughlaqabad Fort. All of these forts been capital of Delhi at different times. In fact, it is said that Delhi had ancient seven capital areas or cities, of which Purana Qila and Tughlaqabad are part of it. Red Fort Lutyen’s New Delhi are more modern capital areas of Delhi.

I happened to visit Delhi recently, about which I have written elaborately hereespecially about landmark of Lutyen’s architecture Rashtrapati Bhavan.

In month of March that year, I joined Yuvashakti group from Pune for a trek to Ratangad. There are more than 3-4 forts named as Ratangad in Sahyadri mountains. This is near Bhandardara near Pune. The Amruteshwar temple at the base is also very beautiful.

In the month of April, visited fort of Tung which stands tall, now by backwaters of Pavana dam. This fort has been immortalized by Go Ni Dandekar’s novel Pavanakathcha Dhondi(पवनाकाठचा धोंडी). I also have in my collection the audio book of this novel, which I listen to many times. I also happened to trace the trails on the hills in and around Pune. This has been long dream of mine. I started from Chaturshringi Temple hill and trailed all the way to Chandani Chowk via Vetal hill. i have written about hills of Pune in another blog.

After some break on trekking for few months, my next trekking opportunity came in the rains, in month of September, when I visited fort of Kamalgad near, historic and heritage laden town of Wai about which I have written here. As the country reaches end of monsoon, the top of the hills and forts turn in to literally valley of flowers. And Kamalgad was no exception. One can get a majestic view of Dhom dam from the top of the fort.

The winter season is best for trekking, and I did not miss, with four treks in the space of October, November and December months of the winter. First, during my vacation to Mumbai, we trekked to fort of Malanggad(or Haji Malang).

Haji Malang

Fort Malanggad

The fort vista from far is majestic due to its several cliffs. But the fort top is not so pretty sight due to constant rush of crowd due to pilgrimage place. Later in the winter, I made a yet another trip to twin forts of Lohagad and Visapur, which is so near to Pune on the way to Mumbai. Next month, visited fort called Chawand or Prasannagad near town of Junnar in Pune district. This is famous for its array of water storage tanks on the fort which are still in good condition. One can get a view Manikdoh dam backwaters from the top of the fort. We also were able to visit nearby Kukadeshwar temple, which is ancient temple built in stone.

Later I also visited highest peak in Maharashtra which is Kalasubai, again near fort Ratangad which I had visited earlier this year. My year ended with visit to Daman and Silvasa, erstwhile Portuguese colony, like Goa, towards north of Mumbai.

This was my Christmas vacation. During that trip, visited land forts by the creek of Daman Ganga river in the Arabian seas, called Nani and Moti Daman forts(literally means small and big Daman), which were built by Portuguese. There used to be a bridge over the creek between these forts which happened to be on the both banks of the creek, collapsed few months before our visit.

 

Mental Health Care Bill

Last week parliament passed GST bill amidst much hype and publicity. At the same time, Rajya Sabha passed Mental Health Care Bill as well, which hardly anyone noticed. This is major milestone for the bill which was formulated in 2013.

I am associated with Schizophrenia Awareness Association(SAA) which works in the area of mental health area. The president of SAA, Amrit Bakshey has been championing this bill and has keenly following its journey. He has written an articles on its journey which I am reproducing it below:

Stake holders’ wait for it become a law will end soon! Much to the joy of the mental health community, the Rajya Sabha passed the Mental Health Care Bill 2013 with a voice vote on Monday the 8th August 2016. As the news spread that the Bill is listed on the business of the day, thousands of stake holders left their other engagement and were glued to the TV channels, sending minute to minute reports to their groups. The Bill should have an easy passage in the Lok Sabha and President’s assent should come soon.

For those of us who have been following the passage of the Bill from day one, it was a great historic moment. Six years back, with a view to harmonize the Mental Health Act 1987 (MHA 1987) with the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD) which India had signed and ratified on 30th March 2007 and 1st October 2007 respectively, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MHFW) decided in the National Consultation Meet held on 22nd January 2010 to amend or replace the MHA 1987. The work was assigned to a senior and a highly qualified psychiatrist with vast experience in drafting mental health laws of several nations on WHO assignments and a legal expert from a reputed law college of the country.

After a rigorous participative process stretching over 3 years, consisting of regional and national consultations with stake holders, including psychiatrists, family care-givers, user survivors and NGOs and consultations with states and various ministries and after 3 drafts ( the first two were amendments to Mental Health Act 1987), the 4th and final draft bill, repealing the MHA 1987, was cleared by the Cabinet on 13th June 2013 and was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on 19th August 2013 as Mental Health Care Bill 2013 (MHCB 2013). On 20th August 2013, the Chairman Rajya Sabha referred the Bill to the all-party Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare. The Parliamentary Committee after due deliberations and consultations with experts signed its favourable report on 11th November 2013 and presented to the Chairman Rajya Sabha and Speaker Lok Sabha on the 20th November 2013. The Cabinet approved the recommendations of the Parliament Committee on 30th January 2014.

The Bill cleared by the all-party Parliament Committee fell in the category of consensus bills and not much debate as such was required to pass it. The Bill, a property of the House, however, awaited an agonizing 3 years for Parliament’s time to discuss and pass to become a law.

MHCB 2013 is a highly progressive and beneficial legislation in offing. Right to access mental health care facilities, community living, protection from cruelty, inhuman treatment and right to equality and non-discrimination in treatment are some of the most laudable features of the Bill.

This chapter V of the Bill provides far reaching rights and elaborate benefits to the persons with mental illness (PWMI). The benefits provided as rights are unparalleled in the history of Indian legislation. What is offered is comparable to the best in the World. Section 18 makes mental health care and treatment at affordable cost and nearer home as a right and free for those below poverty line. Section 19 gives PWMI the right to live in the community rather than languish in institutions. This will reduce stigma. Sections 20 to 28 protect the basic human rights of PWMI including the right to equality and non-discrimination, to know about their illness, the treatment being given, the confidentiality and free legal advice. It enables the PWMIs admitted in mental health establishments (MHE) to enjoy basic amenities as are available to patients in other hospitals. Section 21 (2) provides for medical insurance policies for PWMIs by insurance companies the same way as for physical illness.

Sections 29 to 32 of Chapter VI cast responsibilities on State to promote mental health, launch preventive programmes, create awareness, reduce stigma and develop human resource. Sections 94 to 108 of Chapter XII regarding admission to, treatment  in and discharge from mental health establishments protect human rights fully without diluting the need for appropriate treatment. Sub Sections (4), (5) and (6) of Section 96 take adequate care to prevent molestation of minors in a MHE especially of minor girls. Section 103 on Emergency Treatment is a highly practical and helpful provision. Section 104 prohibiting certain treatments, such as unmodified ECT and sterilization and restrain on chaining are highly desirable pro human right provisions. Section 105 provides safeguards in regard to psychosurgery. Section 106 is a human right provision curbing physical restraint and seclusion, to be used only to prevent harm to self or others.

The Bill in its 4 year journey was debated and discussed and changes made after due process of consultation with all stake holders. Consultative process at the regional and at national level was all inclusive. Psychiatrists as well as other stake holders were invited and they participated. IPS Representatives also sought and got exclusive meetings with the Ministry Officials.

During this period of 4 years, there were several controversies and acrimonies. Some Human Right Activists criticized the Bill vehemently as in their view the Bill did not protect the human rights of persons with mental illness adequately. Some families felt that the provisions in regard to nominative representatives and advance directives would pose practical problems in caregiving. The Indian Psychiatrists Society (IPS) seemed unhappy that they were denied their due role in the drafting of the MHCB 2013. The MHA 1987 was drafted by IPS.

Their demurrals were banning of unmodified ECT which was for the attending psychiatrist to decide, the high cost of modified ECT, risk due to anesthesia and also non-availability of anesthetists for modified ECT. The IPS was also opposed to the registration of general hospitals with psychiatric beds.

The counter view of the framers and the supporters of the Bill was that ECT without anesthesia and muscle relaxant caused suffering and could cause injuries and therefore it was violative of human rights. It had been shunned by lot many nations. The country had over 16000 anesthetists against some 4500 psychiatrists. As a surgeon would not perform a surgery without an anesthetist, a psychiatrist should not administer ECT without an anesthetist. One time simple registration of mental health care establishments (where PWMI were kept overnight) including General Hospitals with psychiatric beds was required for statistical purposes and also to ensure that minimum standards were maintained and incidents like Erawadi, (28 chained inmates with mental illness died in a fire) did not occur again and patients were not exposed to abuse and neglect in ill-equipped mental health facilities both in the private and public sector. If a mental health establishment was registered under Clinical Establishments Act, (which was to be the case with general hospitals), registration under the proposed MHCA would have been waived.

Some IPS members also took cudgels on behalf of caregivers and said that the Bill was modelled after the western concept of institutional psychiatric care and would marginalize the families. It was also said that the nominated representatives would dupe the patients, taking major decisions on their behalf in regard to care and property.

Those associated with the drafting of the Bill quoted clause 17.c of the Bill and stated that a nominated representative had no role in regard to the property. His/Her role was limited to providing support to PWMI in making treatment decisions only. The Bill complied with the UNCRPD. The concept of mental health care and protection of human rights related thereto, was universal and not a country or region specific. It was a Mental Health Care Bill to provide mental health care to PWMIs. What was good for the PWMIs was also good for their families.

MHA 1987 which was a robust act when it was enacted had outlived its utility and needed to be replaced with a new law which inter alia protected human rights of PWMI. Its provisions had become outdated and were prone to struck down if challenged in a court of law leading to a vacuum which would have been dangerous.

The Caregivers and the PWMI are thrilled at the prospect of getting a beneficial law for them in a few months’ time and look forward to the passing of the sister Bill ‘’Rights of Persons with Disability Bill’’.  One hopes that all stake holders including senior and well respected members of psychiatric community and human right activists will also welcome the Mental Health Care Act 2016 which should soon become a reality and which is in the interest of the entire mental health community. The battle is half won as an equally important part would be the implementation of the new act. Many salutary provisions remain on paper only for want of proper implementation. State authorities, judiciary and mental health activists will have to be on their toes.

Indian Express also had article on this explaining various topics in this bill. Please find the link here. Hope this bill, once passed in Lok Sabha, with proper implementation, will change the lives and plight of persons with mental illness.