Signs Of The Times

By Humra Quraishi

As President of India Pranab Mukherjee takes charge , I have to request him to take charge of at least one family of this country .That particular mother and her family who had to sell off their four month old baby for a mere rupees sixty – two ! Being the President of the country its assumed he will look after our collective welfare and well being .Let him start off by adopting the family of Shannu Khatoon of Bihar’s Madanpur village in the Araria district of North – Eastern Bihar. In fact, last week when she was finally traced with her two other children ( one of the twins and one older child ) , even hardened cops were said to be taken aback seeing her plight .She and her children had not eaten for days and had been roaming around in search of food ,whilst her physically challenged husband Mohammad Shaheed was found sitting helplessly.

And though the district administration is said to have taken this family under their care ,but for how long ? After all, the hue and cry will soon die down .Also , poverty and disease is widespread and rampant in North -Eastern Bihar . Probably that’s why you have parents selling off their children for a price which wouldn’t even fetch you a kilo of potatoes or tomatoes or even fodder !

No , I haven’t recovered from this shocker and I feel that for the sake of humanity Shannu Khatoon’s sold baby – sold to a Nepalese couple – be got back from Nepal or wherever they are traced and re-united with family and immediately, that is before this Nepalese couple also embarks on a selling spree.

Let the new President of India who comes from the State of West Bengal – home of Mother Teresa – come forward and set an example . Adopt the entire family of Shannu Khatoon and with that re-unite her with her sold baby .Let him shift this family to one of the outhouses of Rashtrapati Bhavan , so they can re-start their lives, living in the safe confines of the sprawling estate …Let Pranab Mukherjee set this trend of reaching out and adopting human forms who are in severe need of compassion and anchorage


With news trickling in of the marriage of Congress man RK Dhavan at 74 , it sure seems the very take off of another of those healthy trends .Its first marriage for him , though a re-marriage for his spouse who is her late fifties .And all those who have been interacting with him comment he blushes and looks all happy and content whilst narrating details of how he’d decided to go ahead and take the plunge; muttering and murmuring ‘better late than never’ .

If I’m not mistaken though the couple tied the knot some months back but kept it under wraps all these months. Probably too busy settling down .RK Dhavan has sure gone up the graph of those who possess the very guts and that courage to announce their love …I think its great if one can find a compatible companion at any given stage or age. For , though you could be blessed with a dozen children or grandchildren but they can not fulfill the companion – slot .

In fact, I know of only few couples on the Indian scenario who did not let age or any of their high positioning come in way , as any of those intruding hurdles .Can very spontaneously think of Lord Meghnad Desai and his writer wife Kishwar . Second marriage for both and though they re-married few years back, when Kishwar was almost fifty and he was around seventy , but the going seems great .Another of those who’s who ,who listened to his heart and re-married rather late in life is Arun Singh – former minister in the Rajiv Gandhi cabinet .And the best aspect is that neither he and nor his second spouse did not indulge in any of those publicity gimmicks but gently packed their bags and moved far away from New Delhi , towards Kausani. To live happily after ….

But such daring couples are rare on the Indian scenario . Most Indian men end up being sissies and silly cowards , with pretences intact. A wife at home and a mistress or two tucked in those backyards .And to compound the scenario the poor mistress is called ‘good friend’ !


And with the passing away of Captain Lakshmi Sahgal we have lost a truly remarkable woman .A close associate of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose , she was one of those who opted to live far away from the media glare . Spotlight on her around the summer of 2002 ,when she was Left’s candidate for the President of India .And I had interviewed her around that time and though then she was almost 87 years old but her grace and very personality , her views, left an impact. What impressed was the fact that this trained medical doctor /gynaecologist was treating patients in Kanpur ,where she had settled down …yes , she was treating poor patients and free of cost and this when she was well past the retirement age and stage …Reaching out till the very end .

Why no Bharat Ratna for her ! She was a crusader in the real and actual sense of the term .And till her end she was busy reaching out to those who needed medical assistance and support.


If you think that you have written and published an offbeat cum in depth article on humanitarian issues linked to a situation of armed violence, you could email a copy with complete details at murali{at} or newdelhi{at} or post to Press Institute of India, Rind Premises, Second Main Road, Taramani CPT Campus, Chennai 600113 .

The focus is on :Reporting on the fate of victims of armed violence – Humanitarian stories .For further queries you could get in touch with PII (Press Institute of India , Chennai) or with ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross , New Delhi) .


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here