Magh 3, 2065 Vik Samvat, Yugabda 5110, 16 January 2009

1. FESTIVALS: ‘If winter comes, can spring be far behind’ Shelley’s observation reverberates throughout the world. In Bharat Vasant Panchami, the fifth day of the bright fortnight of Magh, corresponding to January 31st this year, is the advent of spring. On this day Goddess Saraswati is worshipped in various names and fames – the Goddess of Learning, the deity of Gayatri, the fountain of fine arts and science, and the symbol of supreme vedantic knowledge. As Vasant Panchami, brings yellow hue to the crops in fields, people adorn yellow clothes and eat yellow food.
2. III INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE & GATHERING OF ELDERS OF ANCIENT TRADITIONS: The Conference is being organized by ICCS (International Center for Cultural Studies) in collaboration with the World Congress of Ethnic religions ( ), the National Council of Elders Mayas, Xinca and Garifuna of Guatemala from February1 to 5, 2009 in Nagpur, Bharat.
This conference is in continuation of the dialogue that was started in 2003 at the first conference held at Mumbai, Bharat, with the theme “Metakuye Oyasin”-We are all related, attended by delegates from more than 30 countries.
The second conference was in 2006 at Jaipur, Bharat, with the theme “Spirituality beyond Religions” attended by delegates from more than 40 countries.
In this third conference delegates from more than 50 countries covering all the continents of the world are expected to participate. The forum World Council of Elders of Ancient Traditions & Cultures has earned the confidence of the Elders from all over the world and is attracting quite a many scholars and Elders for the forthcoming conference.
The conference would be inaugurated on 1st February 2009 in Nagpur by Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, Prime Minister of Govt. of Tibet in Exile, in the presence of Sah-Sarkaryawah of RSS Shri Madan Das.
Ma. Shri Mohan Bhagwat, Sar-Karyawah would be addressing the concluding session of the conference on 4th February evening. All the Elders would be visiting some selected schools in the city of Nagpur for interacting with the students of High Schools and tell them regarding their tradition.
3. CHANDRAYAAN BEAMS BACK 40,000 IMAGES IN 75 DAYS: Forty thousand and counting. The Rs 386-crore Bharatiya Moon mission, Chandrayaan-1, which completes a flawless 100 days around January 30 has transmitted more than 40,000 images of different types since its launch on October 22, 2008, which many in ISRO believe is quite a record compared to the lunar flights of other nations.
ISRO officials estimated that transmission of 40,000 images by Chandrayaan's cameras in 75 days, works out to nearly 535 images being sent daily. The images are first transmitted to Bharatiya Deep Space Network at Byalalu near Bengaluru, from where they are flashed to ISRO's telemetry, tracking and command network at Bengaluru.
They said some of these images have a resolution of up to five metres providing a sharp and clear picture of the Moon's surface. On the other hand, they said images sent by some of the other missions had a 100-metre resolution.
4. INDIA INC BATS FOR NARENDRA MODI AS PM: Corporate leaders Anil Ambani and Sunil Bharti Mittal have showered high praise on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and have hinted that he is the best choice as Prime Minister. Speaking at the valedictory session of the Fourth Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Summit, Ambani said Gujarat has seen progress in all the fields under his leadership and observed what will happen to the nation if he leads the nation. Ambani said a person like Modi should be the next leader of the country. Bharti chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said Modi has a charismatic personality and this has attracted many companies to Gujarat adding that he felt convinced that Modi is a person who can run not only a state, but a whole nation as a CEO.
5. SARKARYAVAH MOHAN BHAGWAT’s RENDEZVOUS WITH INTELLECTUALS: "Hindutva is the remedy to all ills. If all the people who know and understand Hindutva get united, all the problems of the country will be resolved in a very short span. The RSS has been working to unite all such people for the last 83 years. The man making is not an easy task and it has to be done continuously. That is why the RSS does only this work,” said RSS Sarkaryavah Mohan Bhagwat to the retired army, police and administrative officers, former governors and ambassadors, social and political leaders, industrialists, writers, journalists, doctors and religious leaders, about 500 in number in Delhi. Sahsarkaryavahs Suresh Soni and Madan Das, RSS Kshetra Sanghachalak Dr Bajranglal Gupt and Delhi Prant Sanghachalak Ramesh Prakash Sharma were also present. Swami Raghvananda, Baba Prakash Shah and Mahant Naval Kishor Das were among the prominent religious leaders.
The topic of the discussion was “RSS: Achievements and Expectations”. Elaborating on the issue Shri Bhagwat said: “The RSS does nothing but the swayamsevak leaves nothing. The swayamsevaks developed from our man-making process are today working in various fields. There is hardly any sector where the swayamsevaks are not working. They have left an everlasting impression in their respective fields by their work. By and large the name of RSS has reached in every household of the country through various activities of the swayamsevaks. It is the achievement of swayamsevaks and not the RSS.
6. 'SATYAM WILL MAKE PROFITS': The government-constituted Satyam board on Jan 14 appointed KPMG and Deloitte to recast the accounts of the beleaguered information technology (IT) firm even as efforts are being made to make the company financially viable before any merger or sale options are considered.
Raising funds from equity partners and banks top the existing board's priorities to meet the needs of working capital and to be able to pay salaries to staff on the first of next month. The immediate reconstruction of the accounts, which were fudged for seven years by the promoters, would help the administrators to infuse fresh capital into the company. One of the three directors on the reconstituted Satyam board and former NASSCOM chief Kiran Karnik on Jan 14 said that the IT company is still a "very viable organisation" and would make profits in a few months.
He, however, ruled out any bail-out package being considered by the government. "Taking money for the government will send a wrong signal," Karnik said and reiterated that the possibility of the revival of the company was very strong and it could re-emerge stronger on its own with its existing clients backed by a skilled workforce. CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) chief mentor Tarun Das, former president of Institute of Chartered Accountants of India TN Manoharan and LIC nominee Suryakant Balkrishna Mainak have been appointed three more directors on Satyam board. The appointments are further expected to strengthen the new board’s efforts to arrange funds.
7. VISHWA MANGAL GO GRAM YATRA: The yatra will commence on Vijaydashami in 2009 from Kurukshetra and covering different parts of the country will conclude on Makarsankranti Day in 2010. The yatra has been envisioned by Gokarna Peethadhishwar Rageshwar Bharati. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has extended support to the yatra. Besides the RSS and other Hindu organisations, Sri Sri Ravishankar of the Art of Living, Dr Pranav Pandya of Gayatri Pariwar, Swami Ramdev, Jain Acharya Mahaprajna, Acharya Vidyasagar, Vijyaratnasunder Surishwar Maharaj, Mata Amritanandamayee and Swami Dayanand Saraswati have also joined hands in this yatra.
8. A GERMAN IN SEARCH OF HIS BHARATIYA MOTHER: Arun Dohle is a German whose roots lie in Bharat. He is fighting for child rights by highlighting how adoption norms, and the sheer absence of them in many spheres, are leading to trafficking of babies, particularly with growing inter-country adoptions. Through this, the young activist in Dohle is in search of his own family.
He is among the many activists and NGOs who came together from across the country at the two-day National Consultation on `Countering Challenges in Adoption: Combating Child Trafficking', which began on Jan 9 in Delhi. As tales of trafficking and lack of adequate checks unfolded, Dohle's own story revealed how the child in every adoptee yearns to know about his family history.
Dohle was legally adopted by an affluent German couple from an institution in Pune. When he learnt about his adoption, the quest to know his biological parents followed him. After completing his schooling, Dohle came down to Pune with the few details his parents could provide about the institution they had adopted him from. However, he was left shocked when the institution refused to share any details.
Dohle says he loves his parents who adopted him, but still is eager to find his biological parents to know why they had to abandon him. While he claimed to have traced his biological father, he was unable to locate his mother. Dohle then approached the Supreme Court of Bharat raising the question that a child had the right to know where he came from and that no institution or agency can deny this. He demanded all institutions should have the records to reveal the trail. The last hearing of the case was in 2006.
9. NRI PLANS TOUCHSCREEN PHONE FOR BLIND: T V Raman was a bookish child who developed a love of maths and puzzles at an early age.
That passion didn't change after glaucoma took his eyesight at the age of 14. What changed is the role that technology and his own innovations played in helping him pursue his interests.
Born and raised in Pune, Raman went from relying on volunteers to read him textbooks at IIT Bombay to leading a largely autonomous life in Silicon Valley, where he is a highly respected computer scientist and an engineer at Google.
Along the way, Raman built a series of tools to help him take advantage of objects or technologies that were not designed with blind users in mind. They ranged from a Rubik's Cube covered in Braille to a software program that can take complex mathematical formulas and read them aloud, which became the subject of his Ph.D. dissertation at Cornell University. He also built a version of Google's search service tailored for blind users.
Raman, 43, is now working to modify the latest technological gadget that he says could make life easier for blind people: a touch-screen phone.
10. RSS SARKARYAVAH MOHAN BHAGWAT IN SHILLONG: “The RSS is helping everything and everyone who tries to protect his own identity and loves other identities at the same time. RSS is always with all those efforts. The concept of one identity being against other identity itself is not our concept. All identities live together peacefully with some discipline, with good intensions. They can help each other and humanity in general. That sort of society has to be created first, which will demonstrate before the world that we are Bharatiya. We have so many languages, so many castes and creeds and yet we live in peace and harmony,” said RSS Sarkaryavah Mohan Bhagwatji addressing a gathering of eminent people at Shri Aurobindo Ashram in Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, on December 24.
“We can lead life without conflict. We can progress and at the same time preserve the nature. We can propagate the natural surroundings around and at the same time progress can be achieved. This is the tradition of our land—Bharat. This is not a theory,” he added.
11. DHUMAL SPELLS OUT STEPS FOR FOLK ART PROMOTION: The age-old “guru-shishya” tradition would be strengthened in Himachal, known as “Abode of gods”, to promote folk art, Chief Minister PK Dhumal said here on Jan 14. Presiding over the Executive Council meeting of State Language, Art and Culture Academy, he said that rich folk art of Himachal was integral part of hill culture and all possible efforts should be made to preserve it.
Under the scheme, the Government would enhance the monthly honorarium of teachers from Rs 500 to Rs 2,000 and the scholarship of pupils from Rs 300 to Rs 500 per month for learning the traditional folk songs, dances and fine art.
Further, every teacher would be imparting training to a batch of minimum five students in Pahari paintings, sculpture, wood carving, folk dance, folk and instrumental music and handicrafts, besides teaching them the skill to read and understand the ancient scriptures and manuscripts.
12. RECITING RAMAYANA NON-STOP FOR NINE MONTHS...AND CONTINUING: Verses from Ramayan can be heard as soon as one alights at the main bus stop in Jalesar. The chanting emanates from an ancient temple and has been going on non-stop for nine months.
The continuous recitation is part of an 'Akhand Ramayana Path', or a 24-hour reading of the epic, but residents of Jalesar in Etah district of Uttar Pradesh, around 350 km from state capital Lucknow, hope to continue it for another three months to complete a year.
The year-long chanting is being held in a marquee outside the Badhkeshwar Mahadev temple, which is believed to be a century old, in Jalesar's Hathora locality.
13. MORE DOLLARS FOR PAKISTAN: US not bothered about jihad against India: Following in the footsteps of his predecessor, the new chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mr John Kerry, has pledged to promote enhanced American aid for Pakistan, regardless of the fact that billions of dollars provided by Washington, DC, to Islamabad by way of military and non-military aid since 9/11 have disappeared down a big black hole. Oversight audits conducted by American agencies have shown that huge sums of money meant to help Pakistan fight terrorism, especially in the region along the Durand Line, have been siphoned with the help of false vouchers and bogus documents. As for non-military aid, it is obvious to the most casual observer of the situation that prevails in Pakistan that not a dollar’s worth of change has occurred at the social or economic level. If Pakistan’s alleged war on terror is foundering on the rock of that country’s complicit partnership with jihadis of various shades, its claimed agenda for social change and economic reforms has proved to be no more than bunkum. Had it been otherwise, Pakistan would not have been descending so rapidly into jihadi chaos, political instability and economic mess. Indeed, American largesse ever since Islamabad decided to become a handmaiden of Washington, DC, in the Cold War decades has failed to shore up the Pakistani state or guide it towards stability and prosperity. Mr Kerry couldn’t be unaware of the Pakistani reality. Nor could Mr Joe Biden, recently ‘honoured’ by Pakistan with a top civilian award, have been ignorant of the facts when he, as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had pushed for more aid to Pakistan in defiance of the demand on the Hill that all future assistance should be linked to Islamabad demonstrating its willingness to combat jihadi terrorism.
Curiously though, Mr Kerry’s no-strings-tied pledge flies in the face of Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton’s comment that American aid would be linked to Pakistan’s commitment to fight terrorism. A measure of that commitment is provided by Pakistan’s refusal to accept the truth about the fidayeen attack on Mumbai in which, apart from the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba, a section of the Pakistani establishment, including the ISI, was involved. The same Pakistani elements and institutions plotted and executed the bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul and have had a role in every incident of jihadi violence in India. It is equally true that money diverted from American aid has been, and continues to be, used by Pakistan to wage its covert war against India.
The US Administration is fully aware of these and other facts which prove that there is nothing that separates the Pakistani state from Pakistani terrorists. If despite such knowledge the US goes ahead with providing $ 1.5 billion to Pakistan every year for the next five years, as has been promised by Mr Kerry, then we can come to only two conclusions. First, for all its expressions of concern over Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in India, the US is really unmoved by the slaughter of innocent Indians. Second, irrespective of Pakistan’s emergence as the terror hub of the world and the biggest exporter of jihad, Washington, DC, will continue to treat Islamabad as a ‘trusted’ ally. It’s a perverse relationship from which the Americans, whether Republicans or Democrats, just cannot get out. There is, therefore, no reason for India to look towards the US for assistance while dealing with Pakistani perfidy. For, if push comes to shove, the US will always choose Pakistan over India, as it has invariably done in the past. (The Pioneer, Editorial, 15 Jan 2008).
14. SEWA BHARATI AID FOR BIHAR FLOOD VICTIMS: On December 16, Sewa Bharati inaugurated a mobile medical van in Saharasa to serve the flood victims of Bihar. A team of local doctors turned up for the inaugural ceremony and showed their willingness to volunteer in serving the flood victims. Due to the standing flood waters, many waterborne diseases are being reported. Therefore, the van will visit daily to different affected areas of Saharsa, Madhepura, Araria, Supaul and Purnea. Sewa International has also plans to give a family kit comprising of utensils, clothes and day to day utility goods along with foodgrains in Madhepura district. Sewa Bharati has identified about 200 families from Chhoti Phatoria under Alam Nagar Block of Madhepura for rehabilitation. It also identified the artisan groups of the village like carpenter, tailor, potter, fishermen, barber, etc, to give them desired tools. The Sewa International has also decided to build a boys’ hostel at Bihariganj under Madhepura district.
15. SANATAN DHARMA SWAYAMSEVAK SANGH, MYANMAR: Sanatana Dharama Swayamsevak Sangh (SDSS) organised its annual camp at Zeyawadi, Myanmar from 22nd Dec to 28th Dec. 2008. Total participants were 209 including 164 shiksharthis with 15 shikshaks and 30 prabandhaks. 25 shiksharthis opted to work as vistarak in coming summer holidays. SDSS also successfully displayed a Buddha Exhibition on the life of Bhagwan Buddha from 24th Dec 2008 to 3rd Jan 09 at Myaun Mya, Irrawaddy Division.
16. BHARAT, MALAYSIA SIGN MOU ON STAFF RECRUITMENT: Two months after thousands of Bharatiya workers took to the streets in protest against ‘‘ill-treatment’’ in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, Bharat and Malaysia signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to establish checks and balances in the recruitment process.
The MoU sets out the broad procedure for employment of workers and outlines the responsibilities of employees, workers and recruitment agencies.
17. OVERSEAS BHARATIYA PROFESSIONALS CAN WORK IN BHARAT - PM: Qualified overseas Bharatiya professionals can soon practice in Bharat, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Jan 8.
"The overseas Indian citizenship scheme, which we had announced in 2006, has elicited an overwhelming response," the prime minister told delegates at the seventh Pravasi Bharatiya Divas - Bharat's annual convention to connect with its diaspora.
18. CELEBRATION AS BHARTIYA PRIESTS RETURN TO PASHUPATINATH: Hundreds of people cried and sang in jubilation on Jan 8 as Hindu devotees began a victory march to celebrate the return of Bharatiya priests to Nepal’s 17th century Pashupatinath temple and the pledge by the humbled Maoist government not to interfere in its management. “It is a victory for Hindus worldwide,” said Bharat Jangam, a social activist and regular visitor to the temple, who was among the three groups that had asked Nepal’s Supreme Court to intervene after the Bharatiya priests appointed at the shrine nearly a decade ago were replaced by Nepali priests under the new Maoist government.
19. OBAMA OFFERS SURGEON GENERAL POST TO BHARATIYA ORIGIN DOC: President-elect Barack Obama has offered the job of surgeon general to Bharatiya origin doctor Sanjay Gupta, a neurosurgeon and correspondent for CNN and CBS.
The Michigan-born son of parents who were born in Bharat, Gupta has always been drawn to health policy. He was a White House fellow in the late 1990s, writing speeches and crafting policy for Hillary Clinton. His appointment would give the administration a prominent official of South Asian descent and a skilled television spokesman.
20. SAHAKAR BHARATI FOUNDATION DAY: Sahakar Bharati, a national level cooperative movement held its 30th foundation day function in Bhubaneshwar (Visakeo) in the premises of Niladri Vihar Saraswati Sishu Mandir. Noted social activist Dr Rajib Dixit attended the meet and said Sahakar Baharati has dedicatedly performed with a moto of “Bina Sanskar, Nahi Sahakar” and has engaged in building the team of socially devoted co-operative activists.
Sahakar Bharati State President Dr Pramod Sahu, RN Mohanty, State Organizing Secretary Sarat Chandra Sahu, Dr PC Samantray and Chandan Sahu of Patia College were among those present.
21. NE FARMERS TO CONSULT SCIENTISTS VIA SATELLITE: Farmers in Bharat’s Northeast can now interact with top scientists of the country and seek solutions to their problems related to farming, market, health and weather dynamics from their nearest Village Resource Centres (VRCs). The Shillong-based North Eastern Space Application Centre (NESAC) in association with Bengaluru-based Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has set up 34 VRCs across the northeastern region and proposes to set up around 50 more to bring farmers closer to experts who can guide them in various fields.
Farmers across 10 VRCs of Assam interacted with agricultural experts who were stationed at NESAC during the Farmers Virtual Congress as part of the 96th Indian Science Congress on January 5, 2009.
22. BHARAT ON TECHNOLOGICAL RADAR AT LAS VEGAS: With economics sinking all around, business hopes surfaced for Bharat in Las Vegas, US during the four-day Consumer Electronics Show there.
Geeks did come up with innovative products with greener technology, notwithstanding the recession that visibly impacted CES, one of the world’s largest trade fairs. And, Bharat was on the radar of many.
“We are on the lookout for a Bharatiya partner. Right now it would be for distribution and in the second stage we plan for a manufacturing tie-up,” Washington-based Gravitonus Inc CEO Marshall Ferrin said.
Gravitonus, a certified business partner of Intel and Microsoft, has launched the world’s first hands-free computer mouse, which uses the tongue to move the cursor and teeth to click keys on the monitor.
Another innovator FlatWire Technologies is also eyeing Bharat. “We see Bharat as a target for our products, especially for wires needed in audio-video data transfer,” FlatWire president Robert Sexton said.
23. FOREIGN TROUPE IN BHARATIYA HUES: As lights came on, two boys and seven girls clad in traditional Odissi attire came tapping their feet on the stage. Their body movement — hands and feet moved in sync with the music that was being played in the background and expressions rendered emotions perfectly.
But what’s interesting besides the mind-boggling show was that it was a Malaysian troupe, immersed in traditional hues that played tribute to the rich Bharatiya culture.
The performance was a part of Vidya — a two day music and dance festival held at the Kamani Auditorium, New Delhi recently.
24. HEART ATTACK GENE IS IDENTIFIED BY A BHARAT-ORIGIN DOCTOR: Millions of people under the age of 40 are unaware that they suffer from early coronary artery disease, which in many cases leads to heart attacks in later life. Now scientists led by Svati Shah at the Duke University Medical School in North Carolina say they believe they have pinpointed a gene or marker that can help predict in advance whether someone is at increased risk.
They believe that this could lead to a test to identify the latent threat of hardened arteries so that patients could be given dietary advice and other treatment before too much damage is done. "These young patients are a vulnerable population on whom coronary artery disease has a significant long-term impact, but they are particularly hard to identify and therefore to initiate preventive therapies for," said Shah, co-author of the study that has been published by the US Public Library of Science journal.
The scientists focussed on a gene known as neuropeptide Y (NPY), a protein linked to the control of appetite and feeding behaviour.
The research, led by Shah and Elizabeth Hauser, found evidence for six related variations in the NPY gene that show evidence of transmission from generation to generation and association across a population of early-onset coronary artery disease patients.
25. HINDU GROUP OBJECTS TO 'THE STORY OF INDIA': A US-based Hindu advocacy group has taken strong objection to historian Michael Wood's documentary "The Story of India," being telecast on public television, describing its presentation of the Aryan Migration Theory (AMT) as "agenda driven."
Rejecting the theory, the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) said Bharat has always been the cradle of Hindu civilisation and there is no debate about it. "Michael Wood clearly admires Bharat and its people, and this shows through in his passionate depiction of Bharat," said Sheetal Shah, HAF’s Director Development and Outreach.
"We are not seeking to discredit the 'Story of India' in its entirety, but viewers should be aware that a major error was made in the documentary that fails scrutiny and should be corrected," she said.
"There is no debate that Bharat was always the cradle of Hindu civilisation, and the Vedas, the Hindu's holiest scriptures, are the recorded history of our ancestors," said Suhag Shukla, HAF's Managing Director. This "explosive theory" that narrates that Aryans were only the first colonizers -- followed by Greeks, Mongols, Turks, Persians -- was used by European historians to justify the last foreign claim on Bharat, the British Raj, he added.
However, he asserted, it is the latest genetic evidence, based on chromosomal and DNA analysis, that scientists believe definitively discredits the AMT.
26. ASIA’S LARGEST NAVAL SCHOOL OPENED IN KERALA: The Naval Academy at Ezhimala in Kerala, which prime minister Manmohan Singh inaugurated on January 8, 2009, is Asia's largest facility for training naval officers.
The academy, along the Arabian Sea, would churn out the next generation of Bharat's navy officers. These officers would be different in that all of them would be professionally qualified as engineers at the end of the training. As of now a significant number of navy officers hold a simple bachelors degree.
The academy will conduct a four year BTech programme for all newly-inducted trainees. Courses would be offered in electronics and communications and mechanical engineering. future acquisitions of the Indian Navy," says the navy. There will be approximately 450 trainees when the academy goes full steam, and the number would rise to about 1,100 by 2013.
27. IDAM NA MAM: PLAY ON THE LIFE OF SHRI GURUJI IN VARANASI: Nothing belongs to me. Everything of mine—body, mind or Sangh work—is for the society and the nation. Highlighting this feeling of the second RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri Guruji, a play, Idam na mam, was staged at Nagari Natak Mandali Auditorium in Varanasi on January 7. This play is being staged all over the country. The play has jointly been produced by Sanskar Bharati and Bharat Vikas Parishad. The play was staged by the artists of Radhika Communications, Nagpur.
A total of 30 artists worked in the play. Shri Raman Senad played the role of younger Guruji, while the role of older Guruji was played by Shri Rupesh Pawar. The role of RSS founder Dr Hedgewar was played by Shri Ravi Sangwai. Shri Deepak Bhanar played the role of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, Shri Sushant Mangade played the role of Mahatma Gandhi and Shri Shakti Ratan played Swami Akhandananda.
The life of Shri Guruji from becoming a Sangh swayamsevak in 1937 to his last days was performed very effectively and beautifully in the play. The play was written by noted playwright Smt. Shubhangi Bhadbhade and was directed by Smt. Sarika Pendse.
28. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Shri D. Pande from South Africa; Smt. Rakshaben & Shri Harshad Bhai Solanki from UK; Dr. Indrani Rampersaud from Trinidad. Pravaas: Vishwa Vibhag Samyojak Dr. Shankar Tatwawadi reached Bharat from U.K; Vishwa Vibhag Sah-samyojak Shri Ravi Kumar returned Bharat after the pravas of Thailand, Hong Kong & Singapore; Shri Sandip Paithankar has returned from Mauritius. Ma. Shri Suresh Joshi, Sah-sarkaryawah, would be visiting South Africa and Kenya next week.
29. FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Swami Vivekananda who had shaken the whole world with the resounding call of the divine message of Bharatiya Dharma and Sanskriti had declared that he saw God only in his poor, weak and down-trodden fellow-countrymen. Serving such suffering humanity, raising their levels of temporal life and elevating their spiritual vitality was indeed the true service to the God. Vivekanand had also condemned the atrocious practices associated with untouchability and called for the building up of a harmonious society. – Shri Guruji.

One important message that the voters have given, in states where elections were held recently, is a clear preference for performance and development. Bharat's place in global affairs has been enhanced substantially in recent years, largely because of impressive economic growth. The strength of this country and the influence it is able to exert in global affairs would depend essentially on Bharat's place as a global economic power. Political leaders, therefore, must not only live up to the expectations of their individual constituencies but ensure the growing economic strength of Bharat. And also see to it that the benefits reach out to every citizen of the country.
Against this background, policymakers must show extreme sensitivity, particularly as we move along the New Year, to ensure reducing disparities between the rich and poor. This can happen only if opportunities are created for the poor, and if government expenditure is utilised effectively. Development continues to be lopsided in the country.
Bharat has miles to go in improving human development indicators. For instance, of the nearly four million deaths of new-born children globally in 2007, 28% occurred in Bharat. Despite massive efforts towards immunisation, 40% of all the world's children who are not immunised live in Bharat. After 61 years as an independent nation, over half of Bharat's population practises open defecation. Similarly, despite efforts to universalise primary education, more than one in every five of all primary age children out of school, are in Bharat. It is not as though government funding for programmes in the country has been deficient in these areas, but there is clearly a lack of effectiveness in the manner in which programmes are delivered. Officialdom in this country requires urgent overhaul, and to this extent the latest report of the Administrative Reforms Commission has some far-reaching recommendations, which should be given urgent attention. It is necessary to initiate a countrywide public debate on some of these recommendations in which all stakeholders, including government, businessmen, various professionals and civil society must take part actively. Also, given the growth of entrepreneurial capabilities across the entire spectrum of Bharatiya society, there is a need for closer partnerships between government and the private sector. Indeed, in some areas this has worked well already, where government has wisely vacated the field for private sector operators, for example in the case of mobile telephones. A revolutionary change of similar character is required in the field of renewable energy generation as well, which would bring substantial benefits to some of the poorest citizens living in rural Bharat.
The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) has launched a programme called Lighting a Billion Lives, which addresses the sad situation of 1.6 billion people globally who have no access to electricity. Unfortunately, 25% of these — 400 million — live in Bharat. Yet, this problem can be addressed and solved within a year, if required, through provision of solar lanterns which in the aggregate would cost less than the subsidy provided on kerosene. It is well known, based on studies by respectable organisations, that over 40% of this subsidy goes to benefit those who are in the business of adulteration of other petroleum products. Yet, a rational shift of this nature is obstructed largely by political considerations.
As the country gears up for the general elections and while we are at this exciting juncture of carving out new opportunities for the people of Bharat, two lessons are important for political leaders to reflect on. First, some of the basic problems associated with poor human development need urgent redressal. This would happen only if a major overhaul of the government machinery was to take place. Secondly, there is a need for rationalising subsidies and prices that often pervert the very purpose for which they are designed. One hopes that this year will see some new thinking on these critical issues and a change in direction for the benefit of the Bharatiya society.
The writer is chairman, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) -- The Times of India, 11 Jan 2009