Shaahasoonosshivasyaisha mudraa bhadraaya raajate
2. 1ST NEW ZEALAND HINDU YOUTH CONFERENCE: The Hindu Youth Foundation, a division of the Hindu Council of New Zealand Inc, organised the 1st NZ Hindu Youth Conference at the Hindu Heritage Centre, Mangere, Auckland on 2nd May 2009. The theme of the youth conference was "Living in Modern New Zealand with Traditional Values".
More than 130 delegates participated in the youth conference. Six parliamentarians including Hon. Pansy Wong, the Minister for Ethnic Affairs & the Minister of Women's Affairs; Hon. Phil Goff, Leader (Labour Party), Leader of the Opposition, and the former Minister of Foreign Affairs; Hon. Chirs Carter, the former Minister for Ethnic Affairs & the Minister of Education; and the Members of Parliament Dr Rajen Prasad, Kanwaljit-Singh Bakshi, and Su'a William Sio, participated in the inaugural session. There were also a number of special invitees (Government and non-government agencies), community and business leaders, and members of the Hindu Elders Foundation who participated in this event. Their participation has been heart warming and boosted the morale of Hindu youth. The buzz at the Conference was that Positive development of Hindu youth is vital towards building a stronger and more dynamic New Zealand society.
Speeches given by youth leaders Meena Lakshmanan, Nikita Sharma and Deepal Singh were well received and drew enthusiastic applause from the audience.
All speakers praised the efforts of the Hindu youth leadership in terms of putting the conference together, and for their positive contributions for the overall development of the country.
The conference was designed to be informative. The topics of discussion during the workshops were Bullying; Mental health & wellbeing of Hindu youth; Youth leadership; and integration of Hindu and New Zealand cultures.
The discussion panel during the conference provided an opportunity for the youth to network, and discuss their concerns/issues directly with government agencies and other service providers. The New Zealand Hindu Students Forum, for university students, was launched during the conference.
3. PAUSE, REVIEW, RESUME: BJP should prepare for long haul: Following the BJP’s stunning defeat in the Lok Sabha election, it has been suggested that the party faces an ‘existential dilemma’. That’s a rather severe judgement, although with a tally that is lower than what it scored in 1991 and way behind the target it had set for itself in this election, anything less harsh may appear to be misplaced sympathy. The commentariat will no doubt cite several reasons to explain why the BJP lost the race. We have heard these reasons earlier. Had the BJP won this election, then those very reasons — among them the party’s declared candidate for the Prime Minister’s job — would be cited as having played a decisive role in propelling it to power. Hence, there really is no percentage in agonising over what pundits doling out instant analysis and critics gloating over the BJP’s loss have to say in newspapers and news channels. The party has been obsessed with securing media endorsement for far too long without achieving any success; this is a self-defeating exercise that needlessly saps energy and distracts attention from real issues that require urgent attention. Nor will any purpose be served if the BJP’s leaders were to indulge in self-flagellation and mutual recrimination, whether in the privacy of conference rooms or before gleeful mediapersons. Let the BJP not take on the task of providing grist to the media’s mills. That way does not lie the path to serious introspection, which alone can convince the party’s strategists where exactly they have gone wrong, and corrective action, which has been long overdue in the manner the party organisation functions.
In the past, the BJP has skirted any serious internal bare-all discussion, ostensibly to prevent the exchange of acrimonious words. But this presumption — that any open and free discussion on the party’s strengths, weaknesses and opportunities behind closed doors will hurt the feelings of individuals — is not only wrong but also damaging for the party. What this has resulted in is there for all to see. Yet, none of the problems, ranging from indiscipline to indifferent performance of elected representatives, which the party faces is insurmountable. They require discussion and deliberation, followed by decisive action. To pretend these problems do not exist would be far more damaging. Second, the BJP needs to see itself as an alternative to the Congress and not merely as a party of agitprop constantly striking a contrarian position. For this, it will have to frame a set of distinctive policies and programmes, and constantly update them. More importantly, these have to be communicated to the people in an effective manner over the next five years. There are no shortcuts to power, not even with the best men and women leading the election campaign. It is the long haul between one election and the next that matters most. Defeat in an election should at best be seen as a momentary pause to reflect, re-strategise and resume work with renewed vigour. (Editorial, Pioneer, 18 May 2009)
4. ‘BHARATIYA COMPANIES WORLD’S MOST REPUTED’: The US-based brand and reputation management consulting firm Reputation Institute has named five Bharatiya firms among the top-50 in its annual list of the world’s most reputed companies.
While the global list has been topped by Italy’s chocolate maker Ferrero, Sweden’s retailer IKEA, and Johnson & Johnson in the US, the Tata group has been ranked 11th. Among Bharatiya companies, Tatas are followed by SBI (29), Infosys (39), Larsen & Toubro (47) and Maruti Suzuki (49th).
There are 22 other Indian companies on the list of 600 largest companies ranked in terms of their reputation which include like ITC, Canara Bank, HPCL etc. “Corporate India has the best reputed companies. Of the 27 Bharatiya companies ranked among the 600 largest in the world, almost 90 per cent received scores above the global mean, with five ranking among the Top 50,” the Reputation Institute said in its annual study for 2009.
5. ZUMA & THE HINDU CHANT: The 67-year-old charismatic ANC leader Jacob Zuma was on May 9 sworn in as the President of South Africa at a ceremony here attended by a number of world leaders, including Vice President Hamid Ansari.
The ceremony began with recitation of Gayatri Mantra by a religious leader. South African Air Force jets staged an impressive fly-past and a 21-gun salute boomed as supporters clad in ANC T-shirts danced in joy. Paying tributes to anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, he said, “Madiba (Mandela’s clan name) healed our wounds and established the rainbow nation very firmly.”
6. BLAST FROM THE PAST: CIA ‘mole’ in Mrs Gandhi’s Cabinet
The Central Information Commission has done right in asking the Government to reveal the names of the alleged moles in Mrs Indira Gandhi’s Cabinet during the 1971 war. The Central Information Commission’s order comes after author and journalist Anuj Dhar sought details regarding the leaks of information relating to national security by a CIA agent. Rumours of a spy in the former Prime Minister’s Cabinet at the time of the war have been circulating for years but have never been confirmed. This spy was allegedly passing on information to the CIA, including crucial information relating to the war. In 1983 journalist Seymour Hersh in his book The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House, alleged that Morarji Desai had ‘spied’ for the CIA. This allegation had caused an uproar in India. Thereafter, the United States declassified the documents pertaining to this period and relating to these facts. Anuj Dhar has compiled these records in his book CIA’s Eye on South Asia. These records contain crucial information such as that pertaining to a meeting of then External Affairs Minister Swaran Singh and then US Secretary of State William Rodges in October 5, 1972. They also contain the names and details of the people who had connections with the CIA and provided it with information, which included the proceedings of the Congress Working Committee. The compilation also contains information regarding the missing records of the MEA on the recurring allegations that a Minister had ‘betrayed’ India during the 1971 war.
Strangely enough, the MEA has so far refused to release information and documents in its possession on the absurd grounds that the request for these was based on reports of foreign Governments, newspapers and books, and that the Government of India did not take cognisance of such reports. It has also suggested that according to the RTI Act, authorities were obligated to divulge information of only those events which have happened within the last 20 years. These are patently untenable grounds and amount to a misreading of the RTI Act. If a Cabinet Minister or somebody else was leaking information to a foreign Government it is a serious matter that merits investigation. It becomes even more serious if these leaks took place when the country was at war. It is in the interest of the nation that all the information the Government has in its possession regarding alleged spies be made public. It is difficult to understand why the Government has been reluctant to do so — almost as if it has something to hide. Clearly the public interest that is involved in this case far outweighs any other consideration. The Government should, therefore, come clean and tell all, if only to set the record straight and end speculation. --The Pioneer Edit Desk May 2, 2009
7. WE WANT ACCESS TO CREDIT, NOT BAILOUT: TATA TO BRITAIN: Criticising the British Government for ignoring the manufacturing sector, Ratan Tata has said he was not asking for a bailout but only a “facilitation of access to credit on commercial terms” for his businesses in the UK.
In an interview published in British newspaper Sunday Times, Tata said: “We’re responsible for the fortunes of the company but this is a bone-dry situation in terms of access to credit. Nobody can operate on that basis unless you have large cash balances, which we don’t. My concern is that the Government doesn’t appear to care about manufacturing.”
Tata, however, said British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was “a very sincere person. I have to believe he is genuine in his desire to see British industry supported. There hasn’t been implementation of that desire.”
8. ARMY CONCLUDES 72-HR-LONG HIND SHAKTI EXERCISE: Bharatiya Army concluded a major training exercise named "Hind Shakti" on May 6. It was a 72-hour-long exercise conducted in the Punjab plains from May 3 and focused on practicing its premier corps, the Kharga Corps, in conduct of offensive tasks. Army chief General Deepak Kapoor and western command chief Lt General TK Sapru witnessed the exercise.
The exercise witnessed participation by mechanised and re-organised plains infantry division in a blitzkrieg type armoured incursion, emphasising rapid penetration into enemy territory. The manoeuvres also included effective offensive support by air power and attack helicopters.
9. ICICI BANK TO OPEN 580 NEW BRANCHES, NO FRESH HIRING: KOCHHAR: Top private lender ICICI Bank plans to open nearly 600 branches this year, but will not hire as part of the current workforce would be redeployed to manage the expanded network of 2,000 branches.
"We will set up 580 new branches this year ... One and half years ago we had 750 branches and one year from now, once we open these 580 branches, we will have 2,000 branches," ICICI Bank Managing Director and CEO Chanda Kochhar told the news agency in an interview.
Kochhar, however, noted that the bank might not increase the headcount, currently at about 36,000, as it would be "re-skilling and re-training" some people in accordance with the needs of the expanded branch network.
10. ORDINARINESS CAN BE UNUSUAL AS IN THE UNUSUAL gathering of ordinary people on May 1, 2009 in Hyderabad, where author Kandukuri Ramesh Babu released four works of `Samanyashastram' , in a tribute to the unsung heroes of the ordinary milieu. And behold! They were there in all possible hues: Ramakrishna, a footpath dweller from Secunderabad earns his living by guarding the footwear outside a temple, and donates part of the income. Vijaya, a pavement dweller from Kacheguda, refused the help of NGOs which were patronising enough in hoping to "rehabilitate" her. She vows to rear her ten children from the footpath. Uttakalla Lakshmi, a roadside tailor from MLA Colony and Vimalamma, a visually challenged beggar who "retired" from her place near Secretariat after educating her children. Daripalle Ramaiah, a pedestrian environmentalist from Khammam, arrived with his slogan `Vriksho Rakshati Rakshita'. Pola Pitchaiah, an ingenious inventor of broom-cutting machine that catapulted the production manifold. A. Baburao, the self-made owner of Café Niloufer who feeds the attendants at MNJ Cancer Hospital.
11. GUJARAT TOPS AGRI-GROWTH TABLE AT 9.6%: Gujarat has recorded the highest agricultural growth among states between 2000-01 and 2007-08, a report by US-based research body has said.
Thanks to investment in agricultural infrastructure mainly irrigation, diffusion of new technologies and power reforms, Gujarat registered 9.6 per cent expansion in farm production, followed by Rajasthan at 8.9 per cent, according to the report by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
A well-known economist and author of the report Ashok Gulati gave credit to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for "commendable job and turn around" in the state agriculture.
12. MALAYSIA HINDRAF: The Malaysian government gave signs it plans to release three leaders of a banned ethnic Bharatiya protest group along with 10 others who have been held without trial.
“If they (Hindraf) want us to reconsider the status, they have to make an appeal. When they do make the appeal, I will reconsider the status,” Home Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein told reporters.
Hindraf chairman P Waythamoorthy declared that he wanted to return to Malaysia from self-imposed exile in London. The home minister said he would not speculate on Waythamoorthy’s status, but that the ministry would review his application, if he had made one. The Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), protesting against racial discrimination, staged a massive street demonstration in November 2007. Hindraf was subsequently banned by the government and its leaders arrested.
13. 1 MILLION BHAGAVAD-GITAS IN US-CANADA MOTELS: On April 22-25, 2009, at a convention center just outside Washington, D.C., members of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) met for their annual national convention and trade show. Amidst various booths stood a booth of a different kind, in which a group of earnest volunteers passed out copies of Bhagavad-Gita and made a humble request to the assembled hotel and motel owners: “Please let us provide copies of Bhagavad-Gita to place in your rooms alongside the Gideons Bibles.”
The volunteer members of Pancajanya Project (www.MotelGita.org), a branch of ISKCON place at least 1 million Bhagavad-Gitas in guest rooms of hotels and motel across the U.S. and Canada.
The Project started when Dilip Patel, owner of Sea Breeze Motel in Pacifica, California, began placing Gitas in his own rooms. In April of 2008, Patel teamed up with Milan Doshi and began approaching other motel owners in the San Francisco area. By 2009 they had placed Gitas in over 10,000 rooms in California. Gitas have been supplied to motels of numerous chains including Days Inn, Econolodge etc and guests frequently express their gratitude and interest in the Bhagavad-Gitas provided in the rooms.
14. PORT-OF-SPAIN, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: Trinidad and Tobago celebrated an unusual puja on April 26. The “Balka or Volcano Puja” takes place annually at the Columbia Estate on the southwestern peninsula, on the site of an existing volcano. It is ritualistically observed in the month of April.
This Puja has been taking place for well over 120 years or four generations. According to one villager, the Balka Puja is performed to “Shanti Karo,” the volcano deva. Durga is also worshiped.
“Stream of Hindus took the long trek to worship and make offerings
15. SISTERS BAG NASA PRIZE FOR PROJECT: A rocket design-based on Orissan temple architecture prepared by two sisters of Bhubaneswar was adjudged the best at the space settlement design contest organized by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), US.
Pooja Bhattacharya and Swastika Bhattacharya of Bhubaneswar have won the grand prize from among 309 projects submitted by 875 students.
These projects were sponsored by 96 teachers from across the world. Students from US, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Dubai, UAE, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Romania, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Uruguay participated in the competition.
16. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Visitors: Shri.Rikesh Patel UK, Shri Rajeev Chandegra UK.
17. FOOD FOR THOUGHT:Hatred and anger lead to unhappiness,pain and misery.So one should always be soft spolen and all karma yogis should tread the path of reghtousness. - YajurVeda
JAI SHREE RAM
THE GREEN MAN
Jitendra Patel, an environmentalist is transforming a dry creek in Gujarat into a thickly-wooded nature park. VN Balakrishna reportsHe is a man with a green thumb. Jitendra Patel, an environmentalist known for his penchant for planting trees, is now busy transforming a dry creek into a thickly wooded land replete with fruit and spice-bearing plants.
He has taken up this Herculean task in Derol village in neighbouring Sabarkantha district, about 80 km from Ahmedabad. He has purchased the land to transform it into a nature lover’s paradise.
“This new park is coming up on 68 acres of land and rests on a dried-up creek on a riverbed refill and is similar to my Tirupati park,” Jitendra Patel, a civil engineer by qualification, told IANS.
Patel had earlier planted more than 200,000 trees in his Tirupati Nature Park in Mehsana district, 100 km from here.
“I believe nature is a kind mother and trees are sacred objects. You respect nature and she will keep you healthy. It is the way our life functions and we must understand at all times that we are part of nature,” says Patel.
He is a recipient of the prestigious Priyadarshini Indira Gandhi Vruksha Mitra environmental national award, which carries a cash prize of Rs.50,000.
Born into a farming family and a diploma holder in civil engineering, 47-year-old Patel says, “The main charm of the place lies in its creeks and estuaries. This is where modern man, exhausted as he is from pollution and tension, can enjoy the freshness of nature far from the madding crowd.”
“A combined effort of a farmer within and an engineer without helped me design my dream,” Patel says.
The park promises to be a refreshing getaway for people from towns like Himmatnagar, Modasa and Disa.
“It won’t be long before the area will be agog with the chirping of migratory birds and wildlife — even crocodiles and snakes, if the forest department allows me to bring them here. I am fond of snakes, they are good friends, Patel says.”
Apart from a building, the open areas consist of a nature trail, space for camping, a future botanical field, and recreation and training programmes. According to Patel, the park has almost all varieties of fruit — bananas, oranges and almonds. There are as many as 150 spice trees and ayurvedic plants commonly found in the Balaram-Ambaji wild sanctuary in north Gujarat and in high altitude areas in northern and southern India.
“I want to plant one million trees here,” says an optimistic Patel. He has also built 15 check dams to meet the water needs of the Derol park. Solar energy will be used to run the park. The park sits on a one-metre deep garbage fill, which is a reclaimed part of the creek. Several projects, including landscaping, a water reservoir and recreation centres are the main attraction of the garden.
“We have more than 200,000 plants to make the park green,” said AK Patel, a former joint director of agriculture who shoulders the responsibility of the plantation drive jointly with Jitendra Patel.
“Through the collaborative efforts of the National Orchard Board as well as people, the park intends to demonstrate the reversal of pollution and is bent on providing a thickly wooded area,” he said.
Inspired by Jitendra Patel’s enthusiasm, Banaskantha district official RJ Patel has now approached him.
“I have invited Jitendra Patel to turn the large tracts of barren areas in Banaskantha into a green belt as he has done elsewhere in Mehsana and Sabarkantha district. I have asked him to plant 10,000 neem trees,” RJ Patel said. -- IANS The Pioneer 10 May 2009
THIS VERTICT WILL FORCE LEADERS TO THINK NATIONALLY
SWAPANDAS GUPTAFor a country confronted by two formidable challenges - an economic downturn of colossal proportions and a security threat stemming from a turbulent neighbourhood - the outcome of the General Election is reassuring for two reasons. First, the election has led to a stable government that will not have to succumb endlessly to the irritations of coalition politics and the threat of a midterm breakdown; and secondly, it has produced a broad national mandate and not been reduced to a clumsy aggregate of different state elections.
The second point is particularly significant in view of the fears that the idea of India was not being translated into political reality. The election result should go some way towards forcing our leaders to be mindful of regions but also think nationally.
Regardless of the fact that there was no outright majority for any pre-poll alliance, Election 2009 was an unqualified victory for the Congress. Contrary to initial fears of greater political fragmentation, the Congress has succeeded in renewing itself quite spectacularly. It has won seats from all corners of the country and its gamble of distancing itself from regional players with personalized agendas has paid handsome dividends. Its decision to persist with the PM's image of innate decency has proved a success, as has been its emphasis on the youth vote. In hindsight, the decision to have no truck with the Left was applauded by the people of West Bengal and Kerala. No wonder, Mamta Banerjee was unquestionably the woman of the match.
In 2004, the Congress didn't win the election, the BJP lost it. Election 2009 is the nearest India has come to a positive mandate since Atal Bihari Vajpayee won the day in 1999. With an estimated 9% swing in its favour, the Congress will be justified in treating the verdict as its victory.
Predictably, a mandate of this nature comes with onerous responsibilities. Spared the torture of having to constantly accommodate sectional demands, the new government has no choice but to perform. Having won the 'weak' versus 'strong' debate conclusively - the PM's contribution to the victory should not be underestimated - Manmohan Singh must now live in the faith reposed in him and actually exercise the tough options. Will he take steps to curb a fiscal deficit that has become unmanageable? Will be inject a sense of urgency into the security establishment so that terrorists, and not citizens, become the hunted? The voters have been very generous to an incumbent government which allowed too many things to drift in the past five years. but the season for excuses ended on Saturday afternoon
This has been a terrible election for the BJP. It is not merely that a truncated NDA performed worse than in 2004 but that two consecutive general defeats has shown up its shortcomings more starkly. The BJP was lax about reading the writing on the wall in 2004 and lulled itself into believing that anti-incumbency would do the trick. It tried to juggle between the imperatives of a modern party with strong policy thrust and the comforts of old certitudes. The end result was a an identity crisis that let to the loss of allies, its absence from a large swathe of India and the truncation of a hitherto reliable middle class vote. In the 1990s, the BJP was the natural party of the youth; today, the Congress is the beneficiary of India's demographic transformation. The party must ask why the children of BJP voters aren't comfortable voting for the BJP.
After the 2004 defeat, the BJP desisted from asking the hard political question that arise after a defeat. The belief that organizational consolidation alone can secure victory is self-deluding. the party's surge in the 1990s and the Congress' awesome performance in Uttar Pradesh weren't on account of organisation. Voters are moved by politics. In the process, a ramshackle organisation gets thrown up. The BJP must once again ask the question it once addressed but has conveniently forgotten to ask of late: is it content to being a sectional player or does it want to be a serious contender for power?
If it wants to be a serious challenger to the Congress in the coming years, the party would avoid preaching to the converted. There is vast constituency in India that is instinctively uncomfortable with the "Congress culture". Yet, it is uneasy with a party that shows a lack of intellectual depth shows inconsistency (as on the nuclear deal) and is perceived to be preoccupied with peripheral issues.
As a democracy, India needs both a strong government and a robust opposition. Unfortunately, this election has only thrown up only one of these. Fortunately, even that is a huge step forward. -- The Times of India, May 17, 2009
APPRECIATING SANGH FROM AN OUTSIDER'S PERSPECTIVE
Dr Vijay RajivaThe family of organisations (the literal meaning of Sangh Parivar) or more precisely the community of organisations-led by the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS), established by Dr Hedgewar in 1925) and its sister organisations and affiliates considers itself to be a movement both for Indian national unity and the larger cause of the well being of the global community of nations and peoples world wide. Hence its motto: Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam or the whole world is one single family.
The Sanskrit word ‘Vasudha’ stands for ‘Earth’ and this word as well as its cognates Prithvi, Bhu, Bhumi etc. are all found in the Veda, the collective name for the sacred book of the Hindus , which are classified as Shruti (revealed truth) and Smriti (commentary). The four Vedas (Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, the Sama Veda and the Atharva Veda) along with the Upanishads are considered Shruti or revealed truth, because they were revealed to the rishis, saints and sages several millennia ago.
Traditional Western scholarship whether in Indology or Sanskrit studies, views the Veda in a variety of ways from the literary to the spiritual interpretation but they uniformly emphasise the importance of celestial deities of the cosmos and the elements as primary, with earth deities of water, hills, rock, trees, flora and fauna as of secondary importance, and thus the extraordinary environmental and ecological dimensions of the Veda are lost. Both these aspects are significantly the central tenets of the Sangh Parivar. Unearthing this ‘earthly’ ‘earthy’ origins of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam is an urgent task for anyone seeking to understand the Sangh Parivar. Dr. Hedgewar, the founder of the RSS, was clear about the aim of the organisation as one which protected Indian interests. While not ruling out the need for militant defence of the Indian subcontinent (which even Mahatma Gandhi advocated) this is a philosophy that is inclusive, non-violent and is yet open to self-expression as can be seen in the writings of MS Golwalkar (the second chief of the RSS and popularly called Guruji) notably in A Bunch of Thoughts. Shri Guruji has been systematically misrepresented by liberal/left writers and here again both Indian and Western scholars have rejected this misinterpretation.
The message has been further updated and renewed in the life and work of Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya (1916-1968) of the Jana Sangh. His work Integral Humanism (1965) is the contemporary expression of the unity of the earthly family of nations and peoples.
With the support of universal knowledge and our heritage, we shall create a Bharat which will excel all its past glories, and will enable every citizen in its fold to steadily progress in the development of his manifold latent possibilities and to achieve through a sense of unity with the entire creation, a state even higher than that of a complete human being. This is the external divine form of our culture. This is our message to humanity at the cross roads...(Fourth Lecture, Integral Humanism).
This Integral Humanism was adopted by the Bharatiya Janata Party (the BJP since 1980) and has been reiterated in the statements from the BJP.
This connection with the earth- family is not accidental as seen above, because it is derived from the entire corpus of the Veda.
It received a partial and incomplete statement as Hindutva in V.D. Savarkar’s Essentials of Hindutva (1922). Although much maligned, much misunderstood, much misread and much misrepresented, Savarkar’s work has stood the test of time. In his book he has clearly stated that Hindutva is the culture of all communities that live in Hindustan. Furthermore, he goes on to say that despite the fact that not all communities may look on Hindustan as their Punyabhumi (sacred land) they will be equal citizens in an Independent Hindustan after the departure of the British.
That crucial step which he took towards universalism (as opposed to the particularism of limiting Hindutva only to Hindus) and advocating it for all communities, obviously derived from his Vedic legacy. His social work in removing caste distinctions, especially that of untouchability, pre-dates even the efforts of Gandhiji. That work, also started by Dr. Hedgewar is being continued in the work of the RSS and affiliated organisations.The metaphor of the banyan tree has been used to describe Hinduism’s rootedness in earth and its outreach to other cultures and other peoples and sums up well the unity-in-difference of the Sangh Parivar’s philosophy and ideology. The turn to the metaphor of the tree is crucial since this is very much an earth centered movement, presently localised in the subcontinent of India but which has global implications for today’s world.
The Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP) is the cultural wing of the Sangh Parivar and is entrusted with the job of both preserving and renewing/updating (for our times) the Vedic heritage.
The RSS itself with its many dedicated leaders and swayamsevaks and more than 70,000 social welfare projects, and attendant organisations continue to lead as they deservedly should, the Indian branch of the Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. The moving prayer of dedication to the Motherland (in Sanskrit) is also simultaneously a prayer for the protection of Mother Earth, the entire globe. There is here no politics of hate (as has been alleged) only an all encompassing love, compassion and a determination to defend Mother Earth, the Punya Bhoomi of the entire Earth and the global family. This might on occasions, require the determined struggle against those who seek to destroy both India and Mother Earth.
Indian intellectuals, especially academics who are fearful of the consequences of questioning the status quo (the establishment negation of anything sympathetic to the Hindu tradition) because of the impact of this on their careers.
Ideologues, hacks, opportunists and careerists who are gainfully employed in attacking the Sangh Parivar. The rewards are not just monetary, but include professional advancement and honours.
Indian intellectuals who are genuinely concerned that the rise of the Sangh Parivar might signal the return to casteism and the negative features of Hindu society. They, of course, are not aware that the Sangh does not condone casteism and in fact works for its eradication.
Upholders of monotheistic faiths who genuinely have no understanding of Hindu polycentrism and are fearful that their faith may be left behind.
Why is the concept of Nation (Rashtra) important for the Sangh Parivar?
Distinguishing between the state and the nation is significant for the Sangh Parivar because the former is an institutional organisation for the exercise of political power, while the Rashtra is a civilizational notion and for the Hindus it traces the trajectory of the land and culture they have lived in continuously for several millennia. This lived in quality or characteristics gives a special meaning to sacred land or Punyabhumi. Many Hindus feel that it is also because in this land sacred scriptures were created and sacred figures, saints, sages, avatars lived there.
That gives an important dimension to the word Punyabhumi but is not the only link to Rashtra or Nation. (To be concluded)
(The writer taught Political Philosophy at a Canadian university.) --The Organiser Weekly.