2. COMMONWEALTH BATON RELAY STARTS WITH RIGVEDA : Chanting of Vedic hymns in Sanskrit was adopted at the kick-start of Commonwealth Games 2010 in the presence of Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain and Rashtrapati of Bharat Smt. Pratibha Patil in London in a spectacular ceremony. Chanting of Vedic hymns by British children in chorus for several minutes in fluent Sanskrit that too without reading any script was indeed worth-appreciating.
3. THE DALAI LAMA VISITS ARUNACHAL PRADESH: A shadow of grief descended over the mountains of Itanagar and its adjoining areas when the Pawan Hans chopper took-off from the Raj Bhawan helipad at Itanagar in the morning of November 15 with Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
The week-long visit of the spritual leader to this frontier state amid protest from China was successful and was completely peaceful without any untoward incidents.
The 76-year-old Dalai Lama mesmerized thousands of people in this Himalayan state with his divine oratory skill, as people from all walks of life thronged every venues where His Holiness delivered discourse.
The Dalai Lama arrived at Tawang on November 8 with his ten-member entourage. He stayed in the district for four days and addressed religious discourse at Yid Gha Chozin besides visiting various monastries in the district including the famous Tawang Monastery. The Tibetan leader also inaugurated a multi-speciality hospital at Tawang for which he had donated an amount of Rs 20, 00,000.
On November 12 enroute to Bomdila from Tawang, His Holiness has sanctified Thupsang-dhargye-Ling monastery and planted Christmas tree at Dirang. While addressing devotees at Dirang stadium the Dalai Lama categorically stressed on four noble thoughts of Buddhism. He also visited Kalaktang before he left for Itanagar.
At Itanagar, the Dalai Lama visited the Thupten Gatsalling Gompa and the Theraveda Buddha Vihar at Vivek Vihar belonging to the Hinayana Sect of Buddhism. He also interacted with intellectuals at Banquet Hall in the evening.
4. VISHWA MANGAL GOU GRAM YATRA: By and large the mass awakening campaign of the Vishwa Mangal Gou Gram Yatra is proving to be a success. There is high enthusiasm among the people for the cow protection and sustainable development of villages. It is getting touching response in all the states it passes through. People turn to the welcome meetings in large number and also resolve for cow protection.
“If the cow slaughter was not stopped today the cow will soon become a history. There is an urgent need that all modes of worship in the country should join hands against this heinous crime against humanity,” said Sant Balak Nath addressing a gathering of gobhaktas at Khalikot Stadium of Brahmapur on November 10, the last day of 4-day sojourn of Vishwa Mangal Gou Gram Yatra in Odisha. Addressing the gathering Paramhans Sant Prajnanand Maharaj of Hariharpuri said the cow slaughter is going on due to ignorance and there is a need to eradicate that ignorance.
On November 11, the first day in Andhra Pradesh, when the Yatra reached Visakhapatanam a caravan of two-wheelers welcomed it accompanied by traditional music instruments. The Yatra passed through various streets of the city for about two hours in which local people in large number welcomed it by showering flowers and dancing on the tune of drums. The welcome meeting was organised at the Sea Beach in which Shardapeethadhishwar Shankaracharya Swarupanand Maharaj and many saints and central leaders of the Yatra addressed the goubhaktas.
On November 12 evening, the yatra reached Rajahmundry where Swami Amit Krishna from ISKCON temple, Belgium, said the cow has been highly regarded in Bharat since time immemorial. He said he has been living in Bharat since the last 15 years and been taking cow milk everyday. “That is why I am fit and free from any disease,” he added. He pointed out that not only in Bharat very critical diseases are being cured through panchgavya but also in foreign countries. He appealed to the Government of India to declare the cow an asset and enact a central law banning cow slaughter. On November 13, the scene in Vijayawada was totally different to the party politics seen in New Delhi. Many MLAs belonging to various political parties including TDP, Congress and BJP, were present at the dais, not as representative of their political parties but as gobhaktas. They all extended their support to the campaign for cow protection.
In Vardhman Pet on November 14, noted Vanvasi saint Swami Sangram said “the cow gives milk and other things to each and everyone and other things to all irrespective of their caste, creed, religion, etc., then why this cruelty against her?” He stressed the need that the cow should be reared and protected as was protected during the ancient time if we really wish to live a healthy life.
A cow never discriminates between Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs or Christians or others and the person of every mode of worship takes her milk. In this way the cow feeds the whole world. Despite it, the cow which is regarded as mother is sold to butchers for merciless killing in the slaughterhouses. This is nothing but suicidal practice which will prove to be highly costly to the nation,” said Jagadguru Shankaracharya of Gokarna Peeth Shri Raghaveshwar Bharati Swamiji. He was addressing a gathering of gobhaktas at Exhibition Ground of Hyderabad on November 15.
5. SET UP COW-BASED INDUSTRIES THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY – K S SUDARSHAN: Former RSS Sarsangha-chalak Shri KS Sudarshan appealed to the industrialists to set up cow-based industries on large scale, as it is the most effective way of preserving and protecting the govansh and also encouraging the common man for herding the cow. He was addressing a gathering of gobhakta industrialists in New Delhi on October 29. The meeting was attended by many eminent industrialists already running successful cow-based industries in different parts of the country.
Veteran Sangh Pracharak Shri Omprakash who is dedicated to the cause of cow protection, said the Vishwa Mangal Gou Gram Yatra has successfully exhorted the people about the significance of the cow. "There is no lack of respect to the cow among the masses. But it would not be protected even if a central law is enacted. The economic aspect of the cow is very important," he said.
Shri Purushottam Toshniwal appealed to the industrialists to use the cow urine and cow dung as raw material in their factories to earn good profit.
6. RSS SERVICE PROJECTS MULTIPLY TEN-FOLD: Recording an impressive growth, the service units of the Sangh parivar grew ten times in little over one decade.
'Sewa Disha' a special journal published by RSS front organisation released to the media on November 3 reveals that its service projects all over the country that numbered 15,063 in 1997 have grown into a massive network of 1,57,776 in 2009. The journal, published once in five years, gives full account of the service work done by the innumerable units of the Sangh.
The service projects are engaged mainly in four fields-- education, healthcare, social work and economic self-reliance. Of the total 1.5 lakh projects, nearly 40% or 59,498 are into imparting education. This work is mainly done through Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (3147 units), Rashtriya Sewa Bharti (20,500 schools), Vishwa Hindu Parishad (25, 922 units), Vidya Bharti (9682) units, Rashtriya Sevika Sangh (149 units) and Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (98 units). Similarly, 38,582 health-related units are being currently operated through mainly Seva Bharti, VHP, Bharat Vikas Parishad and Vanvasi Kalyan Ashrams. While the number of social projects that do village development to disaster management have now grown 42,304, economic activity is being executed through 17,392 projects, according to the journal.
It is in Kerala that the RSS projects have grown the most-- from 688 in 2004 to 8921 this year while Karnataka follows with 9662 projects, up from 2535 in five years ago. Practically every state has RSS presence through these projects. Special attention is paid to north-eastern states that are reeling under insurgency problem and in difficult terrains like jungles, hills and the strife-ridden Jammu and Kashmir to spread education and health in places where the government facilities are non-existent or neglected.
7. A NEW SHAKHA/BALAGOKULAM IS BORN IN COLORADO, US: The first shakha on November 1 was attended by around 25-30 families and every one was on time with lot of curiosity, total sankhya 65 (35 Balas and shishus and 30 adults). The shakha kicked off with warm up exercises followed by surya namaskars. For khel session, there were four groups – Tarun, Sevika, Bala and Shishus. The whole hall was reverberating with enthusiasm. Shloka/ story session for kids and Yoga session for adults were other attractions. There was a presentation on Balagokulam and its purpose was explained by Krishnamurthy ji, Colorado Vibhag Karyavaha. Karyakarthas from other shakhas and vibhag did pravas for the new shakha. Ashok Pukale ji, Mukhya Shikshak of Longmont Shakha, Milind ji fromi Westminster Shakha, Rohini ji Woonnimani, VIbhag Sevika Pramukh helped local karyakarthas for the first shakha so that local volunteers team could experience and enjoy.
8. FOUNDATION STONE FOR RIWATCH CAMPUS AT ROING, ARUNACHAL PRADESH LAID: “To have a better understanding of the richness of age-old cultural assets of any region or state, it is very important that we initiate comparative and cross cultural studies of ethnic societies and I trust, once established, this institute will be the flag bearer of such endeavours covering different countries, and also with that of Bharat in general, and north east in particular, said Arunachal Pradesh Governor Gen JJ Singh, while laying the foundation stone of the proposed campus of Research Institute of World’s ancient traditions Cultures & Heritage at Iduli Village, near Roing in Lower Dibang Valley on November 8.
MP Mukut Mithi, local MLA Laeta Umbrey, Deputy Commissioner Y W Ringu and SP Tojo Karga were present on the occasion along with public and RIWATCH members. Speaking on the occasion, Vice President of International Centre for Cultural Studies (ICCS), USA and representing the organization, Janardan Bhatt said, the institute aims to bring different ethenic groups and learn about them so that they do not wipe out due to on-slot of modern civilization.
Welcoming the dignitaries to the proposed campus, RIWATCH Executive Director Vijay Swami gave a brief on the background of the organization and its objectives. He informed that RIWATCH is an affiliated unit of International Centre for Cultural Studies (ICCS), Pennsylvania, USA. The basic objective of RIWATCH is to cater to the needs of research scholars in studying different ethnic groups of north eastern Bharat and initiate comparative and cross cultural studies of various ethnic groups of different countries with that of India in general and north east Bharat in particular.
9. FIRST NEW ZEALAND HINDU ELDERS’ CONFERENCE: The Hindu Elders Foundation, a division of the Hindu Council of New Zealand Inc, organised the first NZ Hindu Elders Conference at Hindu Heritage Centre, Mangere, Auckland on October 3. The theme of the conference was "Old is Gold".
Welcoming the participants to the historic event, the conference coordinator Pravin Patel said the aim of the conference was "to facilitate and empower the community so that the Hindu elders live with confidence, and be productive and participating citizens of New Zealand".
More than 160 delegates participated in the conference. Three parliamentarians graced the conference with their presence. Ross Robertson, Opposition spokesperson for Senior Citizens, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi representing the Government and Dr Rajen Prasad participated.
10. FULL CIRCLE: BHARAT BUYS 200 TONS GOLD FROM IMF: More than 18 years after New Delhi pawned 67 tons of gold to tide over a balance of payments crisis, the Reserve Bank of India has bought thrice that amount of gold from the International Monetary Fund to diversify its assets. Welcoming the purchase of 200 metric tons of gold by India's RBI, IMF MD Dominique Strauss-Kahn said, "I strongly welcome this transaction with RBI."
For India, the purchase, apart from signaling that its economy has come full circle, is a way of spreading its assets which are said to be currently over-weighted with foreign currency, mainly in the form of sovereign US Treasury bonds. In other words, it is a hedge against a falling dollar.
11. BANGLADESH CABINET APPROVES LAW TO RETURN 1965 WAR HINDU PROPERTY: The Bangladesh cabinet on November 2 approved a proposed law to return Hindu property which were confiscated during the 1965 Indo-Pak war, when the country was eastern wing of Pakistan, ending a major violation of the rights of minorities in the country.
The final cabinet approval for the law came after some amendments were made to it in line with the cabinet directives two months ago.
Many Hindus were unable to recover landholdings lost because of discrimination under the now-defunct Vested Property Act, an East Pakistan-era law that allowed the Government to expropriate "enemy", in practice Hindu, lands.
The then Pakistani government had seized approximately 2.5 million acres of land from Hindus, affecting nearly 10 million Hindus in the country until parliament scrapped it in April 2001.
The 2001 law stipulated that land that was seized under the law be returned to its original owners, provided that the original owners or their heirs remained resident citizens.
12. Ministers of Himalayan States Sign Declaration on Sustainable Himalayan Development: In a bid to protect the Himalayas from global warming, Chief Ministers of five Himalayan states signed the Shimla Declaration concluding day of a two-day meet. Chief Ministers of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim issued a detailed action plan.
Experts from the five Himalayan states discussed in detail the impact of climatic change in Himalayan region and its bearing on people living in the zone.
13. LEARNING HINDI IS GOOD FOR YOUR BRAIN: Learning Hindi, or Sanskrit or any other language of this family has an advantage over English: it exercises more areas of the brain. Scientists at the Manesar-based National Brain Research Centre (NBRC) have for the first time studied the processing of an Indian script-Devanagari- in the human brain using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). English, which uses the Roman script, is alphabetic. That is, it has vowels and consonants that are written linearly from left to right. Reading English-and other alphabetic languages-involves activation of areas in the left hemisphere of the brain. In contrast, Devanagari has the properties of both alphabetic and syllabic scripts. Scientists have found reading the language involves activation of the left and right hemisphere.
14. MUSLIMS DEFY 'FATWA', SING VANDE MATARAM: Defying the 'fatwa' issued by Jamiat-Ulama-e-Hind against rendition of Vande Mataram, a group of Muslims led by a clergyman joined people from other communities in singing the national song in front of a mosque in Betul, Madhya Pradesh.
A large number of people from a cross section of the society collected in front of the Jama Masjid at Betul Bazar at the invitation of its Imam Hafiz Abdul Razique and recited the song yesterday.
The event was organised by "Rukmani Balaji Mandir", its founder Sam Verma, an NRI, said.
15. NINE BHARATIYA-ORIGIN PEOPLE WORK IN WHITE HOUSE: At least nine Bharatiya-origin people work in the White House, with some getting $100,000 or more a year, official figures released by President Barack Obama's office have revealed.
According to the figures, Sonal Shah, who's the deputy assistant to the US President and director at Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, gets an annual salary of $120,000.
Both Rachana Bhowmick, who is the director of special projects, and Aditya Kumar, also director of special projects as well as special assistant to Office of Chief of Staff, earn $99,000 a year each. Those in the salary slab less than $90,000 are Anisha Dasgupta who works as a Counsel at an annual package of $86,927 and Pradeep Ramamurthy, the Director of Response Policy, whose gross salary is $86,927.
Kavita Patel who is the Director of Policy for the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement gets USD 65,000 annually, while Shomik Dutta, the Special Assistant to White House Counsel, earns $62,000.
Likewise, White House Policy Advisor Manashi Deshpande earns $54,000 a year while Taara Rangarajan gets $40,000 for her services as Deputy Associate Director.
16. GLOBAL COOPERATION NEEDED TO WARD OFF TERROR: ADVANI: Speaking at a summit organised by Modern School, Barakhamba Road, on November 11, Advani said, "As far as Bharat is concerned, we must become strong and resolute in fighting this scourge of terrorism which has been imported from outside. A weak nation cannot face this campaign of terrorism which imperils our national unity, integrity and security. India must become strong in every sense of the word." While sharing his views on the importance of good governance and clean politics, Advani said, "I have been a political activist for nearly six decades and I have always tried to serve my nation honestly. My political life has taught me that politics is a noble profession and there should be a commitment to clean politics." Advani further said there is no doubt that Bharat has made tremendous progress in many fields in recent decades. The Commonwealth Games next year will make New Delhi even more attractive, he said on the occasion.
17. SPEAKER ON CAMPUS REPORT, NEW ENGLAND VIBHAG: Speaker on Campus (SoC) is a project that was taken up by the HSS yuva team a few years back. The idea is to spread awareness about Hindu Dharma on university campuses by organizing talks by eminent speakers.
· Linda ji was in Boston from November 1st to November 6th. She delivered talks at three universities – Northeastern, Boston University, and Harvard – and met with a few prominent Hindus in the community.
· This was the first time we had an SoC speaker of non-Bharatiya origin; this gave great exposure and a new perspective on things we may think we already know. It was inspiring to hear Linda ji’s experiences, such as how she came to embrace Hinduism when she was 16 and her time studying with yogis in India.
Northeastern University (Sunday, November 1, 2009): Topic: Living Dharma: Why Hinduism Matters · The sankhya was 14. The audience were mostly undergraduate students, a high school senior, and a couple of young professionals.
Boston University (Tuesday, November 3, 2009): Topic: Karma and Reincarnation · The sankhya was 20. The audience were mostly undergraduate students, a couple of young professionals, a professor, and the BUHSC advisor.
Harvard University (Friday, November 6, 2009): Topic: Hinduism’s Influence on Ancient Western Cultures (Greek, Roman, etc) · The sankhya was 30+. The audience were mostly students and a couple of professors.
Three more universities – UMass Amherst, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Brandeis University – wanted to organize SoC, but the timing could not work out. It has been decided to organize talks at these places by local speakers in the next semester.
18. CHHATTISGARH TO LAUNCH ITS OWN AIR SERVICE: Chhattisgarh will have its own domestic air service within a month as the Chief Minister Raman Singh has given orders for the same to Chhattisgarh Aviation Academy.
“Chhattisgarh will be first State to have its own domestic air service” Singh said, adding, the facility will not only boost tourism, commerce and business in the State but also in times of medical emergency enable people from remote areas to seek prompt medical treatment and care.
The domestic air service will begin in two sectors initially. While the first sector will cover to-and-fro flights touching Bhilai, Raipur, Bilaspur, Korba Raigarh, Ambikapur and Jashpur, the second sector will include Raipur, Bhilai and Jagdalpur, Bastar’s central town.
19. CALIFORNIA GETS ITS FIRST SIKH MAYOR: Bharatiyas, predominantly Sikhs, began migrating to California and other parts of the United States more than 100 years ago. This week, Yuba City in California, regarded as the oldest and largest settlement of Punjabis in the US, has made history by electing its first-ever Sikh Mayor.
Kashmir Singh Gill, better known as ‘Kash Gill’ in these parts, has been sworn in amid great fanfare. “We have made history tonight, and everyone is part of that history,” the 46-year-old Gill exulted as outgoing Mayor Leslie McBride passed the gavel to him. “
“Everybody may have a different definition of the American dream,” he said. “To me, I guess I’m living it right now.”
A native of Lakhsian village in Punjab, Gill arrived in Yuba City as a three-year-old child with his parents. The US’s Sikh community regards Yuba City as the Californian pindh (Punjabi village).
Yuba City has 15,000 Bharatiya Americans, making up 12 per cent of the city’s population.
20. SITARAMJI AGRAWAL (85), PASSES AWAY: Shri Sitaramji Agrawal (b. 1924, March 16) found his peace and left for his heavenly abode at 05.00 A.M. on November 03, 2009 at his hometown Kota (Rajasthan, Bharat) leaving us all Karyakartas deeply saddened and in shock, while celebrating a life fully lived that brought joy to so many - especially the needy people in the remote areas of Bharat who got the divine music of his loving care, warmth and compassion. He was fully conscious till his last breath and satisfied that he tried to do his bit for the welfare of the needy brethren and consolidation of the Putraroop Samaj of Bharat.
He was a Central Secretary and Akhil Bharatiya Seva Pramukh of Vishva Hindu Parishad. Sri Sitaramji, a chemical engineer from HBTI-Kanpur by training but a Samaj Shilpi (Social Engineer) by choice and passion, was a man of culture and had great empathy with the underprivileged, oppressed and ignored - especially among the remote Vanavasi and Girivasi (tribal) brethren - and deeply cared for their allround welfare - physical, mental, intellectual, spiritual, socio-economic, et al. He firmly believed in the signature tune and motto of Hindu scriptures articulated by Bhagwan Vyasdev that: "Paropakaaraaya PUNYAAYA, Paapaaya Para Peedanam" [Serving the needy is a great PUNYA (best of spiritual merits), and harming the innocent is wickedness and an unpardonable sin.]. Our deepest condolences to his Sahadharmini, elder son, younger son and all family members who have been a source of great strength and support during his long service mission and the last days of his brief illness. We pray to Sri Sachchidanand Bhagwan to grant the departed noble soul a pride of place in Baikunth Dham and strength to the bereaved family to bear the irreparable loss!
21. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Pravas: Dr. Tatwawadi, Samyojak, Vishwa Vibhag, will be in Bharat after touring Sri Lanka and Hong Kong and leave for UK in the third week of November. Dr.Yashwant Pathak, sah samyojak will be in Bharat to attend ICCS meeting. Visitors: Shri Hasmukh Shah, Shri Hasmukh Patel and Shri Navinchandra Joshi from UK; Shri Mohankumar fromVietnam; Shri Rameshbhai Shah from USA,
22. FOOD FOR THOUGHT: The flowing river has one day to fuse into the vast and endless ocean. If it refuses to do so in order to retain its own identity, then one day it will dry up and cease to exist. To attain immortality, we have to fuse with God and move on. That is the secret as well as the eternal law of evolution. - Sw.Satyananda
JAI SHREE RAM
GOING BACK TO SQUARE ONEThe resolution adopted by Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind at its annual conference at Deoband endorsing the fatwa of the Darul Uloom Islamic Seminary that Muslims should not recite Vande Mataram because it is against the religious principles of Islam, has once again reminded us of how some people can disturb the secular rhythm of India by raking up issues which were settled long years ago when we adopted our Constitution and chose to become a democratic republic.
A Surya Prakash
A Surya Prakash
Even more annoying is the fact that the arguments that are now being advanced against the National Song by Muslim leaders, is a rehash of the arguments that were put forth by the Muslim League when it demanded the country’s partition. Mohammed Ali Jinnah raised a dispute over the National Flag, Vande Mataram and Hindi while addressing delegates at the Muslim League Conference in 1937. He argued that the flag, the song and the language were all Hindu symbols and that, therefore, they were unacceptable to the Muslims. Anxious to avert partition, India’s political leaders offered to treat only the first two stanzas of Vande Mataram — which describes the bounteous gifts that nature has showered on India — as the National Song. But, despite this and many other concessions offered to him, Jinnah achieved his ambition of vivisecting the country and carving out an Islamic state a decade after he announced his opposition to Vande Mataram, the tricolour and Hindi.
However, despite the partition and the creation of a separate Muslim state, secular India’s political leadership, in deference to the religious sensitivities of the Muslims who chose to stay back in India, decided to retain only the first two stanzas of Vande Mataram as the National Song. It is therefore sad to see present day Muslim clerics — all citizens of secular, democratic India — echoing the views of Jinnah, who wanted the communal division of India.
We need to ask those who oppose Vande Mataram as to what their objection is. Here is Sri Aurobindo’s translation of the first two stanzas: Mother, I bow to thee!
Rich with thy hurrying streams, bright with orchard gleams, cool with thy hands of delight, dark fields waving Mother of might, Mother free; Glory of moonlight dreams, Over thy branches and lordly streams, Clad in thy blossoming trees, Mother, giver of ease, laughing bow and sweet!; Mother, I kiss thy feet, Speaker sweet and low!
Mother, to thee I bow.
Pray, what is the problem with this song? This is an ode to our motherland which talks of the abundant riches that nature has showered on her including the many rivers, the lush fields and the trees in full bloom. Poets in hundreds of languages have, over many centuries, paid such eulogies to nature and to their lands of birth. Shall we all now begin to view the work of every poet through the prism of religion and expurgate much of the poetry that is taught in our schools?
India’s founding fathers and Constitution makers had no doubt in their minds about the exalted status that the people accorded to Vande Mataram. Just take a look at what transpired in the Constituent Assembly on the day India became independent and on the day its members signed the first copies of the Constitution. The Constituent Assembly met at 11 pm on August 14, 1947. This historic session, which marked the transfer of power from Britain at the stroke of midnight, began with the signing of the first verse of Vande Mataram by Sucheta Kripalani. The session concluded with Kripalani singing the first lines of Sare Jahan Se Accha and the first verse of Jana Gana Mana. The Constituent Assembly met for the last time on January 24, 1950. This meeting began with a statement by its President, Rajendra Prasad on the National Anthem. Prasad said: “The composition consisting of the words and music known as Jana Gana Mana is the National Anthem of India …………and the song Vande Mataram, which has played a historic part in the struggle for Indian freedom, shall be honoured equally with Jana Gana Mana and shall have equal status with it. I hope this will satisfy the members”.
The meeting ended with members signing the English and Hindi copies of the Constitution. After the signing ceremony was over, Purnima Banerji and other members sang Jana Gana Mana. This was followed by Vande Mataram sung by Pandit Lakshmi Kanta Maitra and other members, after which the Assembly adjourned sine die. Thus, the Constituent Assembly, which wrote the Constitution, declared that Vande Mataram “shall be honoured equally with Jana Gana Mana and shall have equal status with it”. This is non-negotiable. Nobody can now be allowed to re-open this issue or to show disrespect to the National Song.
Jamait Ulama e-Hind’s stand may be compatible with an Islamic state, but it is certainly against the fundamental tenets of a democracy like India. The Preamble to the Constitution expects all citizens to promote fraternity. Further, the chapter on Fundamental Duties says it is the duty of every citizen “to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities”.
National symbols offer a point of convergence in a democracy whose citizens belong to different races, cultures, languages and religious persuasions. When the polity is so diverse, as in India, the national flag and the national songs constitute the focal point of unity and act as the secular adhesive that holds the mosaic together.
It is through these devices that fraternity and common brotherhood are achieved. What prevents those who question Vande Mataram from raising a dispute tomorrow about Jana Gana Mana or the National Flag? If Vande Mataram is ‘un-Islamic’, is Jana Gana Mana compatible with tenets of that religion? What about the Asoka Chakra inside the National Flag and the tricolour itself? Shall we now await the verdict of the mullahs on the Ashoka Chakra and on the colours of the flag? We just cannot grant this veto power to Muslim clerics in a secular, democratic country. Nor can we take minority rights to such lofty heights that they begin to dwarf the few secular symbols that unite us all. – The Pioneer, November 17, 2009.
TAKE A VOTEThe Left Front government in West Bengal has not exactly been the Kremlin whose imposing edifice would collapse if only someone hammered down the door. Rather, the Left’s “impregnable” Fortress Bengal appears to be crumbling all over simultaneously, with Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee looking like the patriarch surprised by sudden ageing and weakening, humiliatingly relegated to contemplating in silence the piling ruins around. Perhaps it is easier and more pertinent to discuss what can be done to avoid total political and administrative disaster in Bengal than dwell on Bhattacharjee’s predicament. What began in Nandigram and Singur, routed through Lalgarh and a most embarrassing engagement with Maoists, as well as cadre-related political violence, has since the Lok Sabha results exposed itself as a near-total collapse of governance. Bhattacharjee’s government has long lost the will, to say nothing of the way, to govern. It would not be an exaggeration to remark that the promise offered by Bhattacharjee taking over as chief minister has been ingloriously belied on all fronts. Given the current political circumstances in Bengal, the Left Front government should resign and call for assembly elections. In technical terms, the 32-year-old state government has not lost the mandate to rule, since the Left’s defeat in the Lok Sabha polls, in the recent assembly by-elections and in civic polls earlier does not negate the 2006 assembly election verdict till 2011. However, for practical purposes, Bengal has no functioning government and the Left Front’s administration is popularly per-ceived to lack legitimacy. Not surprisingly, the rumblings are shaking the Left Front from within, with a veteran minister in Bhattacharjee’s cabinet calling for his resignation and fresh polls. The fracture within the Left Front characterises the state CPM too and, despite the terseness and evasiveness of official comments, the chief minister is not exactly being looked up to within his party. Meanwhile, residents of Bengal are being increasingly exposed to the Maoist menace and the crossfire from Trinamool-CPM cadre battles. Not only should the violence stop but the state must also have a government capable of taking decisions and acting on them. Above all, it cannot persist with a paralysed administration that cannot provide security and a socio-economic direction.A fresh mandate, no matter who wins, will have the benefit of conferring perceptible legitimacy on the state government and, hopefully, help to halt outbreaks of violence. A new administration is more likely to display the will and ability to govern. And the very process of bidding for a fresh mandate would cleanse the Left of some of its internal contradictions. The use-by date on the Left’s singular institutional mechanism in Bengal has expired. The vacuum created by the overlap of party and administration needs now to be filled afresh. -- Editorial, Indian Express, November15, 2009.