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Basanti Roy is a Trustee of Women's Movement for Peace and Prosperity

At a time when we are bombarded with images of note-flashing politicians, it is heart-warming to know that there are still people who refuse to submit to corruption. There are many unknown persons who di their duty come what may.

Rumi Sethna

The following article titled 'Wah Basanti' appeared in the Bombay Mirror dated: Sept 18th 2008

Divisional Secretary of SSC Board, Basanti Roy, finds out the hard way, the desperate lengths parents will go to for a few marks




   We know parents will go far to protect the interest of their children, but Basanti Roy, divisional secretary of the Maharashtra Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary education, will tell you exactly what lengths some of them will go to.
   On Monday,
Roy had a narrow escape after a parent who is also a principal and against whom Roy had initiated an inquiry for forging her son's answer books, staged an elaborate charade to trap her in a bribery case.
   This is how the story goes: In March 2008, a class X examiner brought it to
Roy's notice that the main answer sheet and the supplementary answer sheet of the maths paper of a student, Sanket Patil did not match. In addition to the discrepancy in writing,what was startling was that in the questions answered in the main sheet the student had scored only two marks while in the supplementary sheet he had managed to procure 25 marks.
   "When we checked, the handwriting in both the books did not match. We then called for specimen signatures of all the supervisors on duty that day and shockingly the signature on the supplementary book did not match any of the signatures," said Roy.
   Subsequently the Board conducted an inquiry and found that the student in question was the son of the principal, Anjali Patil, of Paranjape School at Andheri from where he was appearing for his exam. Anjali Patil was also the centre head for the board exam. "We called the student to the board for questioning him, and he himself denied having written any supplementary book. He maintained that he had only given the main answer book. We suspected some foul play at the principal's end," said a senior official from the board not wishing to be quoted. A further inquiry was then ordered against the principal by the school management.
   That's when Patil and her husband who is an RTO official started pestering
Roy to "consider their case." Roy duly informed the school management about this. Not finding any leeway there Patil and her husband then approached Roy's neighbour, a certain dentist called Suresh Devappa. "One day he requested me to come to the clinic and I was shocked to see the couple sitting there. I was furious and asked my neighbour to not get involved in official matters. At this point Patil's husband offered me Rs one and half lakh. I warned my neighbour that I would call the police, and forced the couple to leave," said Roy.
   Some days later Patil's husband called up Roy and asked her why the inquiry had not been stopped as she had taken the bribe. "That's when I learnt that the dentist had taken the money on my behalf and assured the Patils that their work would be done," says a seething Roy. "I reprimanded the dentist and asked him to return the money."


On Monday, the dentist approached Roy on the pretext of solving a leakage problem from her residence to his clinic below. "After a couple of minutes he again brought up the topic of the Patils and this time I was livid. My brother joined in and he (the dentist) was forced to walk out," admitted Roy.
   Just a few minutes after that a lady dressed in civvies approached
Roy on the pretext of official work but was told that she did not entertain official work at home. It turned out that she was from the anti-corruption bureau who had been called in by the Patils in the hope that Roy would accept money. But after Roy raised a hue and cry the dentist was found with the marked notes and has been arrested. "The couple had laid a trap for me and had alerted the ACB. It was sheer coincidence that he did not throw any money at my house. The couple stated to the bureau that it was Devappa who promised that he would get their work done through me. This is a shame that even government officials stoop to such level. I did not lodge a complaint purely considering that he was my neighbour, But it was a 33 year career record that was at stake," said Roy.
   The board as procedure found the student guilty and has debarred him from next 6 board exam including the one that he appeared for this year.
   K Subramanayan, additional director general, anti- corruption bureau told Mumbai Mirror, "We have arrested the dentist and he is in judicial custody now. There was no evidence found against board official."

Ram and Maya

 The world was expected to end by the year 2000.

I think it did. The world the way we knew it.

Because I feel that a new world was born soon thereafter. 

A Thinking World!

I have always believed that Human Consciousness grows when it goes through crisis and pain.

And the world has had a big chunk of that. 

Terrorism struck Bombay in 1993 killing people and damaging buildings and confidence of its inhabitants.

The vicious earthquake hit Gujarat on the 26th of January 2001.

The world gaped in horror as it witnessed a horrendous terrorist operation on Sept 11, 2001, in America, the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world.

And then Godhra ‘happened’ in Gujarat, and its aftermath.

And then Ram and Maya were reborn.

Ram Maheshwary is the General Manager of the Times of India. He came up with the idea that one of the ways to unite the world was to spread the knowledge that was common to all religions. He calls it ‘Singularity of All Faiths’.

Maya Shahani, a multifaceted charming, lady, is instrumental in bringing together interesting thinking people from different religions and different walks of life to the group.

I was introduced to Ram and the group, through Maya.

Ram and Maya make a great team! Maybe the names are not a coincidence.

Now it is to be seen whether with the people that came together under their aegis, a new world is born.

I am going to share with you a few ideas, conversations, suggestions that peeped through the crevices of the thinking minds.

Maybe these observations will inspire, maybe they will be the parents of something new that will be born through them…Here goes:

At one of our first meetings we met Rashmi Mayur the director of the International Institute for Sustainable Future connected to the UN.

He believes in an education that teaches the children to smile forever. He believes that if ‘we all continue on the present path of brutality and exploitation, humanity may be extinct before long. Already, the human savagery has killed more than 100 million people during the last century…’

At our last meeting at ‘The Times’ some interesting observations were made.

We shared:

  1. It is woman’s wisdom that could bring peace into the world.
  2. One of the worst acts according to the Koran is a divorce.
  3. That one has to allow a certain period to elapse before ‘Talaq’ (divorce) is pronounced 3 times, to allow the differences to be dissolved.
  4. Jesus will appear on top of the ‘Kaaba’ on the day of ‘Kayaamat’ (End of the world)
  5. Islam is the 1st Religion to grant property rights to women
  6. That the Koran does not need to be reformed, it needs to be understood.
  7. The Vedanta Branch in Hinduism believes in ‘Advait’ One God.
  8. Hindus believe that because God is Omnipresent, God is present in the idols
  9. That Hindus and Muslims do coexist and respect each other’s beliefs in Kashmir. I was told that by and large, Hindu Kashmiris do not eat pork and Muslim Kashmiris, do not eat beef!

We all cheered as our Australian friend Geoffrey said that he likes the Hindu concept of ‘Vasudeva Kutumbakam’(The world is God’s family).

Then Maya shared with us information about innovative approaches adopted, to promote coexistence between Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel. It believes that while accepting that disagreements will remain, and total love and friendship may not be possible, one can still make an attempt to co-exist.

Could we do the same in India?

How does a regular person help?

By opening homes and listening hearts.

Let us open our homes to neighbors of different creeds, and listen to understand, not to argue!

 Ram suggested that each of us present, belonging to different religions write out the ‘Gems of our particular faith’

I feel that the world requires more than quotes.

I believe that after the horrifying incidents, the world has to look at ‘Who stands most to benefit by the incident’ and stop being exploited by them.

 We could argue at nauseam as to who started all the trouble. I believe that one has to stop judging the past and start afresh. In the world of Electronic Mail that we live in, we have to use the ‘pen’ rather than the ‘sword’.

If we are conscientious, and do not give in to incendiary lashes, we have the ‘Times of India’ with us!

If all of us commit ourselves to save the only home we have, this beautiful planet. Can we fail? I don’t think so!


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