Nun Suma Sebastian : Justice for the poor is her mission

 

Suma Sebastian is a nun with a difference. For the 42-year-old human rights lawyer from Kerala, the idea of ‘service’ is not limited to acts of piety. Suma joined the Human Rights Law Network in 2009 after helping destitute people in different parts of the country over 17 years. “Law is my weapon with which I can become a voice of the poor. Most of them are migrants who came to Delhi for work and were accused of crimes and put in jail. Many are implicated in false cases and languish in jail for years while the real criminals walk free using their financial influence,” she said.

The BCom graduate has a diploma in community development from Stella Maris College in Chennai, and an LLB from Jamnagar in Gujarat. She has also studied theology for a year in Bangalore. Standing five-feet-two-inches tall, Suma hardly seems a saviour, but she has rescued prostitutes in Mumbai and HIV patients in Gujarat, besides forming 75 women’s selfhelp groups in Uttar Pradesh.

Suma was offered comfortable quarters while working with a Supreme Court lawyer in 2009 but chose to live in a rented room with two other nuns in a Ghaziabad slum to help in community development. Now she lives in a centre funded by her congregation near the slum that houses 50 physically handicapped children. She visits the poorest prisoners in Tihar to fight their cases and brings them small comforts as a ‘family member’.

While her legal work requires Suma to shuttle between district courts and the high court, she leaves no opportunity to help the poor. Last year, she stopped an illegal demolition drive in Sarita Vihar by standing in the path of bulldozers. “I was visiting one of my clients in the area when I saw 75 houses being evacuated for demolition,” she said. Suma ran to face the bulldozers, and demanded to see the legal order for the drive. As the demolition squad did not have an order, she filed a PIL in the high court.

In her family’s eyes, Suma has always been a miracle child — doctors had advised her mother to terminate the pregnancy due to complications — but she never considered joining an order till the age of 20. The feisty woman wanted to be a newscaster instead. She had auditioned for the position, and while waiting for the result attended a threeday workshop with the Sisters of the Destitute to observe how the congregation functioned.

“I was deeply impressed and the smiles of the poor touched my heart and filled a vacuum. I was a fashionable girl studying in one of the hippest co-ed colleges in Kerala. I cut my waist-length hair and let go of all worldly pleasures and dreams. I have never looked back since,” she said.

Suma had found the inspiration but her family was opposed to the idea of entering the church. “I met with opposition from all sides. My relatives wept, threatened, pleaded with me. I was locked up and gave up eating. Finally, a day before I was to take the vows, my father relented,” she said.

Since 1990, she has visited villages in Kerala, Mumbai, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi NCR; worked with Dalits, victims of trafficking, HIV patients and women and children. Despite an 18-hour schedule, Sister Suma never seems to tire.

MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Suma Sebastian was offered comfortable quarters while working with a Supreme Court lawyer in 2009 but chose to live in a rented room with two other nuns in a Ghaziabad slum to help in community development

Prema Jayakumar : Autorickshaw driver’s daughter tops CA examination

Surmounting all odds, Prema Jayakumar, daughter of a Mumbai-based autorickshaw driver, has topped the all India Chartered Accountancy (CA) examination.

Residing in a crammed one-room chawl in suburban Malad with her parents and brother, the 24-year-old told on Tuesday she was ecstatic to have secured the first rank in the examination conducted in November 2012 by the Institute ofChartered Accountants of India, results of which were announced on Monday.

“It’s my lifetime achievement. For me, the key to success is hardwork,” an elated Prema said.

Her family, originally from Tamil Nadu, is settled for the last several years in Mumbai where her father Jayakumar Perumal drives an auto-rickshaw for a living.

Prema, who secured an impressive 607 marks out of 800, credits her parents for the success and now wants them to live a life of comfort.

“It would not have been possible without their support and blessings. My parents always motivated me. I would now want my parents, who did so much for me, to live a life of comfort,” Prema, who did her articleship with Kishore Seth and Company, said.

Prema said she was proud of her father and homemaker mother who never allowed money to come in the way of her academic pursuit and that of her 22-year-old brother, who also cleared the tough CA examination with her.

Both siblings had registered together with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India to take the test in November last year.

Displaying academic excellence earlier too, Prema had stood second in her B.Com Third year examination conducted by Mumbai University, securing 90% marks.

Help citizens in distress without fear: Delhi Police (Daro mat…….aagey barho or share karo)

The Delhi Police have releasedadvertisements assuring citizens they can now rush people in trauma on city roads to hospital and “leave immediately, with or without revealing their identity”. The measure comes weeks after the ghastly Nirbhaya gang rape, when on December 16 the profusely bleeding victim and her wounded friend lost precious minutes because not one motorist stopped to help them. 

Realizing that most people hesitate to help because of possible harassment and legal complications, the police advertisement says: “The priority is the victim. So, now save a life readily, it is free of harassment.” 

The police department describes the new campaign as an effort to reach out and reassure people they won’t be pressured into acting as witnesses and snared in legal tangles. “We want to tell everyone nothing comes before humanity,” said Tajinder Luthra, JCP (Northern Range). 

Our punch line makes this clear. It reads: When seconds count, questions don’t. We want tell everyone that saving an accident victim is now easy. The very first golden hour is critical, it decides the victim’s fate,” Tajinder Luthra, joint CP (Northern Range), said. 

Luthra added that the police would also reach out to hospital staff and doctors. “We need to educate them that they’ve no business questioning a Good Samaritan. Instead, they should focus on the victim. There’s no need to wait for the police to reach the hospital before accepting a medico-legal case.” 

The Delhi Police advertisement repeats that there are “clear directions from the Supreme Court that doctors in government and private hospitals must promptly attend to accident victims without waiting for the police to arrive.”

Source : Times of India (13 Jan 2013)

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 190,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 3 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe!

Click here to see the complete report.

A weak student – Inspirational

It was difficult for me to think of a good career as my low academic profile snatched all my confidence and made me suffer from inferiority complex for a long time. When I failed in class 7th it was less shocking for me, but all my hopes of getting in to a good career shattered when I failed in class 11th. I passed my SSC-CBSE (10th standard) with a miserable score of 44% and did my HSC – Punjab Board (12th Standard) privately and passed with 53% Marks. I appeared for some entrance exams for getting in to army but failed in first attempt itself. Being from a middle class family the expectations and academic failure frustrated me and literally has lost my mental balance to some extent.

Somehow I managed to get admission in BBA (Bachelor of Business Administration) and have completed it with 56% marks. During my graduation I realized that for a middle class family only supporting factor is studies and to survive with self-respect I have to be sincere towards my studies.

After my graduation I tried again and appeared for recruitment exams for the army but failed again. I also attempted for CAT to get into IIM’s, and many bank recruitment exams but my preparation was not good enough to even crack the first round.

At last my father asked me to start a business with a loan because he was sure of my failure in all attempts, which I might take further.

I found myself not suitable for business and requested my father not to force me into that and spare me some more time. A golden opportunity came to me when one of my uncle who is a businessman offered a financial assistance if I go abroad for computer studies. After this offer my family thought it as a ray of hope for my career but I knew my weakness in the technical subjects like maths etc and have never studied computers as a full time option so I tried to convince my family to let me peruse a management degree abroad but my father has directly decline my request and I also decided to stick to my area of interest as business management hence have missed the opportunity to study abroad also.

By the virtue of a newspaper I came across an advertisement an institute in Indore offering masters in Foreign Trade and have applied for the same. Finally got admission because the institute was newly opened and admission was easy.

I went for my masters with a determination to do better. Initially it was difficult for me to concentrate because my past started troubling me every now and then. The environment was also not friendly so I had difficultly in going along with people also.

But everyday I kept remembering that it’s the last chance for me to do my best in the studies and to make my future so I have started spending most of my time in library,cybercafes and with my books. My first presentation in my institute was utter failure because as I wasn’t comfortable with the language and was also not systemically prepared. After reaching hostel I felt humiliated but I elevated my spirits by motivating self to again strike back.

I have not looked back this incident and have done extremely good at all further presentation as well exams. I started identifying my SWOT and have identified many areas for self-improvement. Day and night I have worked on my attitude and have made it positive. I learnt that if you want others to motivate you then first we have to start motivating them and in this way I made the environment around me full of motivation and joy. I stood at third position in my third semester and was my first and last academic excellence, which is really difficult for me to forget. I always remember it as a movement of pride. All of my efforts and academic successes in my masters have positioned me in my institute and friend circle as a sincere and innovative person.

At last I passed my masters degree with 71% marks and stood in top 10 students of my class. Two years of my master’s degree has taught me the value of fortitude & sincerity and I have also realized the meaning of self-motivation during the same.

I got selected through the campus interview and have started my career as management trainee in their export deptt. with a soybean processing company with a stipend of Rs.3500/- per month. I worked sincerely during my 1 year of my work in my first job and have left the job for a better opportunity in Nagpur with a monthly salary of Rs.6000/- per month. I have worked on some of the crucial export projects successfully and made my mark in the company. Then after the span of 1 year and 3 months I left Nagpur company and moved to Mumbai to work for a biotech company with a monthly salary of Rs.15000/- per month.

After a year I got an opportunity on a package of Rs20000/- per month, which I have accepted and now working on the scale of Rs.25000/-after two years.

Today , after 10 years I am working on a Rs.60k per month salary and have traveled over 16 countries.

I have never used any type of canvassing in my job and have explored all new job opportunities by my own efforts. I have overcome my academic low profile, ignorance and severe inferiority complex to regain my mental stability to peruse my career. I have not forgotten my grounds and my hard work to keep my career going on a right direction.

I was a total failure some years back but I am happy that now I mean something to world!!

The Del Monte Blogger Recipe Carnival – My recipe is Del Monte Sweet & Chilled Pasta

1 lb Del Monte Authentic Italian Gourmet Pasta

4 shredded carrots

1 green bell pepper (chopped)

4 Serving spoon Del Monte Fiesta Fruit Cocktail

2 Serving Spoon Boiled Del Monte Whole Kernel Corn

½  cup distilled white vinegar

1 cup white sugar

2 Serving Spoon Del Monte pasta sauces

14 ozs sweetened condensed milk

2 cups mayonnaise

12 tsp black pepper (ground)

1 Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
2 In large bowl, combine Del Monte Authentic Italian Gourmet Pasta, Del Monte pasta sauces & carrot. In medium bowl, combine vinegar, sugar, condensed milk, mayonnaise, Boiled Del Monte Whole Kernel Corn, salt Del Monte Fiesta Fruit Cocktail and pepper. Toss salad with dressing and chill 4 hours in refrigerator before serving.