Vik Samvat 2067. Yugabda 5112: 16 December 2010

1.FESTIVALS: Makar Sankranti (Sanskrit: मकर संक्रान्ति, Assamese: মকৰ সংক্রান্তি, Telugu: మకర సంక్రాంతి, Marathi: मकर संक्रान्ति, Kannada: ಮಕರ ಸಂಕ್ರಾಂತಿ) or Sankranti or Sankranthi marks the transition of the Sun into Makara rashi (Capricorn) on its celestial path. Traditionally, this has been one of many harvest days in Bharat.
Makar Sankranti, falling on January 14 each year, is celebrated in the Hindu calendar month of Magha. Makar Sankranti is regarded as the beginning of an auspicious phase in Bharatiya culture. Hindus all over the globe, observe Makar Sankranti with great fanfare. Sankranti is celebrated all over South Asia with some regional variations. It is known by different names and celebrated with different customs in different parts of the country.
In Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, it is the sixth and the last festival of the year. Swayamsevaks celebrate it with til and gur. Khichari, the mix of new rice and new lentil, is favourite meal of the day.
Owing to the vast geography and diversity of culture in Bharat, this festival is celebrated for innumerable reasons and in innumerable ways depending on the climate, agricultural environment, cultural background and location.
2. HANUMAT SHAKTI JAGARAN MAHAYAJNAS AND DHARMASABHAS: As per the decision of the “Sant Ucchadhikar Samity” (High-powered steering committee of Hindu Saints and Holy men) on 20th Oct’2010 at Karsevekpuram, Ayodhya, Mahayajnas were performed and Dharmasabhas were organized on 12th December 2010 along the length and breadth of Bharat under the aegis of Shri Hanumant Shakti Jagaran Samiti to launch a mass awareness & mobilization initiative for construction of the proposed Sri Ram Mandir at the Ram Janambhoomi site in Ayodhya.
Addressing a huge 'Virat Hindu Sammelen' at the Reshimbagh ground in Nagpur, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh Sarasanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat said, “The Rashtriya Swayayamsewak Sangh (RSS) has opposed any division of Ramjanma bhoomi as it never solves the issue but deepens the crisis according to the history. This (division) cannot be an option of division of Ramjanma bhoomi while reiterating the commitment to build Ram temple in Ayodhya.
The Lucknow bench of Allahabad high court on December 10, 2010 extended stay on the implementation of verdict in Babri Masjid-Ramjanma Bhoomi case up to February 15, 2011. The verdict was delivered in September 30, 2010 and the three-month deadline on the stay was to expire on December 30. While issuing order three-member special bench consisting of Justice SU Khan, Justice Sudhir Agarwal and Justice VK Dixit fixed January 28, 2011 as the next date of hearing in three review applications filed by advocate M Ismail Farooqui.
Farroqui had moved petitions seeking review in the judgement on the suits of Rajendra Singh, Nirmohi Akhara and Bhagwan Ram Lala Virajman.
"Bharat can be united and unanimous if the Ram temple is built at same place," Bhagwat said adding if a huge Ram temple is built it will create an environment of unity in the country. The division of Ramjanma bhoomi will also divide the society and the politics of anti-national forces will reign upper hand. "In order to attract Muslim votes some parties are pointing fingers at RSS which is serving the cause of Hindus in the country since last 85 years selflessly," Bhagwat said.
"One round of battle for Ram temple is already over and Lord Rama has given us a quite break for relaxation. Now we should resume our fight for the cause. The High Court decision has given us strength as a first step," he told the gathering.
As part of the campaign to organize 8,000 dharmasabhas across the country, both the Mahayajna and the Dharmasabha took place in Delhi at the Ramleela Maidan. Addressing the gathering, Ashok Singhal, President VHP, said that Ram Temple cannot be constructed in a room of 40X90fts area. Therefore the whole 70 acres land must be given to Lord Ram and all political parties of the countries should get united to solve this issue for ever and maintain peace in the country. The Muslims should leave their claim on one third of the land and present an example of communal harmony. Suresh Soni, the joint General secretary-RSS said that those who are in favour of constructing Mandir and Masjid side by side want the issue to remain alive and their vested interests be fulfilled for political gains. As lord Ram is the cultural identity of Bharat, the construction of glorious temple is the need of the country. Sadhvi Ritambhara said that all Hindus must get united to save the country from the clutches of sects and castes so that the movement can be taken to its last destination that is Ram Temple. Prominent saints from different sects and distinguished citizens participated in both the events.
In Kolkata, the program commenced with Vedic hymns and Hanuman Chalisa Path at the Dakshineshwar Kali Mandir. Dr. Pravin Togadia, General Secretary VHP, while echoing the sentiment of the Hindu nation, declared that the Hindu society will neither beg nor request for the temple, it demands the same by its determination and strength. He said that the temple should be grand and befitting of Sri Ram’s stature and grand standing. Saints of different Hindu missions and organizations were part of the gathering of about 10,000. Loud cheers of slogans like Jai Sri Ram, Har Har Mahadev etc echoed the entire temple complex throughout. Dr. Togadia also unveiled the unique VHP initiative to save cows and its progeny, where at present some 200 gaushaalas have undertaken the manufacturing of highly effective, eco-friendly and low cost soaps, shampoos, fairness creams, mosquito repellents etc from gau-mutra (cow’s urine) and gau-gobar (cow dung).
Similar programs were organized im many other parts of Bharat and will be organized in the ensuing weeks throughout the country.
3. KAVITA KARKARE NAILS DIGVIJAY SINGH’S LIE: Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh's bid to once again rake up the controversy over slain Mumbai ATS chief Hemant Karkare's death by suggesting the involvement of Hindu extremists fell flat on December 11 with none other than Karkare's wife herself rubbishing his claims and asking him to stop playing vote-bank politics. She not only denied that Karkare ever spoke to Digvijay but also asserted that her husband was killed by Pakistani terrorists. Kavita Karkare slammed Digvijay for claiming that her husband feared for his safety from hardline Hindu groups, which were upset over his probe into the Malegaon bomb blast.
"When my husband was investigating the Malegaon blast and was looking for Hindu accused, there were reactions from Hindu organisations. Similarly, when earlier he was looking for Muslim accused, there was reaction from that community," she said, adding such reactions were natural.
4. WHO FORMS THE GOVERNMENT? ADVANI: Referring to the leaked conversations between lobbyist Nira Radia and senior journalists, senior BJP leader L K Advani said the nation had witnessed how business lobbyists played a role in government formation. Addressing a press conference on behalf of the NDA on December 15, a day after the winter session of Parliament ended without transacting any business, Advani said, "It appears that UPA government is not formed by the prime minister and, for long, we were under the wrong impression that it is not the PM but 10- Janpath (Congress president) which forms the Cabinet. But now, it has come forward that it's neither the Congress president nor the PM who forms the government.
5. FIRST ARTIFICIAL KIDNEY: US-based Bharat-origin researcher Shuvo Roy has created the world's first implantable artificial kidney. What's sensational about Roy's creation is that the organ, no larger than a coffee cup, will be able to mimic the kidney's most vital functions like filtering toxins out of the bloodstream, regulate blood pressure and produce the all-important vitamin D.
It will be a boon for patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). At present in Bharat, of the 1.5 lakh new patients who suffer from end-stage renal failure annually, only 3,500 get kidney transplants and 6,000-10,000 undergo dialysis. The rest perish due to an acute shortage of dialysis centres and nephrologists to man them.
According to Roy, the device has a filtration section to remove toxins from the blood, alongside a compartment with renal cells to conduct other functions of a kidney. He believes the artificial kidney could last for decades and require no pumps or batteries. Patients wouldn't require anti-rejection drugs (as is required after transplants) either because there would be no exposed natural tissues for the immune system to attack.
“The payoff to the patient community is tremendous," said Roy. "It could have a transformative impact on their lives...With the right financial support; I think we could reach clinical trials in five years. But it's hard to say how long after that it becomes commercially available due to the uncertainties of the FDA and commercialization prospects.'' .
6. PROTECTING THE GIRL CHILD: Narendra Modi Shows the Way Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's 'Beti Bachao Andolan' campaign against female foeticide in the State has proved that when a mission is pursued with dogged determination and earnestness, it yields result. Even as the female to male sex ratio remains skewed in many States like Punjab, Haryana and Delhi, Gujarat's gender ratio has shown great improvement in the last few years, thanks to Mr Modi's prolonged campaign.
The female to male ratio in the State has gone up from 844 per 1,000 in 2002 to 898 per 1,000 in 2008, according to a survey by the Registrar General of Bharat. Though the figure for 2009 is still under computation, Gujarat's sex ratio is expected to go up to 905 females for every 1,000 males. The sex ratio in Bharat has altered consistently in favour of boys since the beginning of the 20th century due to socio-economic factors like dowry and poverty as many consider a girl child a liability. If in rural areas, the mothers and maternal grandmothers are pressurised to kill a girl child by feeding poisonous milk or by choking on paddy husk, in cities female foetuses are selectively aborted after pre-natal sex determination. To his credit, Mr Narendra Modi ordered the State machineries to conduct widespread raids on clinics misusing sonography machines for banned sex determination tests, got erring doctors arrested and their clinics sealed. The impact of the campaign was so pronounced that the Patel community in Surat has taken a pledge not to practice female foeticide or sex determination tests. His action, no doubt, is a lesson to be learnt by other States as sociologists predict that dwindling young girl population can spur 'great social unrest' in coming years as there might not be enough girls for boys to marry.
What is most disconcerting is that the sex ratio is under constant threat, despite laws like Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act are in place. Although no moral or ethical principle can support a procedure for gender identification, women are forced to undergo repeated abortions after prenatal sex determination, all because some doctors would stoop to any level for a fistful of silver. A lack of awareness of women's rights and the indifferent attitude of Governments worsens the situation further. It is high time the Union Health Ministry and the State Health departments strictly implement the available legislation for prevention of sex determination and launch a combination of monitoring and education campaigns. While compulsory registration of ultrasound machines and unannounced raids in private hospitals and maternity clinics could go a long a way, awareness programmes aimed at altering attitudes towards girl child can help change the rigid mindset of the society. Most important, to reverse the trend authorities should focus on empowerment of women and strengthening of women's rights to uplift the social status of women. Editorial, The Pioneer, December 4, 2010
7. NATIONAL GROUP SONG COMPETITION BY BVP: Thirty sixth national Group Song Competition of the Bharat Vikas Parishad (BVP) was organised at Hisar, Haryana, from November 13 to 14. The competition was inaugurated by BVP national president Shri RP Sharma. A total of 42 teams participated in Hindi patriotic songs and 34 teams in regional songs. Speaking at the concluding ceremony Swami Madhab Prapannacharya called upon the children and the youth to know and preserve the Bharatiya culture and heritage. Other dignitaries who graced the occasion included Shri Jaiprakash Agrawal, chairman of National Group Song Competition, Dr Prakashwati Sharma, vice president.
8. TWO DYFI MEN HELD FOR KILLING RSS WORKER: Kerala Police on 5th December at 1.30 am arrested Muriyampotta Ratheesh of Pudussery and Valiyapurakkal Satheesh of Neelikkad, the activists of the pro-CPI(M) DYFI for the murder of RSS worker Ratheesh (24) on December 1. RSS worker Ratheesh was hacked to death by a CPI (M) killer gang on a crowded bus at Puthussery in Palakkad. Three other RSS activists, who had suffered serious hack injuries in the attack, were still under treatment at two different hospitals. Pudussery in Palakkad district, known as a CPI (M) area, had been witnessing violent incidents frequently ever since the announcement of results of the civic polls on October 27. The BJP accused the CPI (M) of resorting to violence due to their frustration in losing the rule in Pudussery panchayat there the Marxists had been in power for a long time.
9. IN A FIRST, BHARAT GOES TO VENICE BIENNALE AS A NATION: For the first time in the history of the 115-year-old Venice Biennale, Bharat will take a showcase of contemporary art to the event as an official entrant. The 54th Venice Biennale will be held June 4-Nov 27 next year in the picturesque Italian town. Lalit Kala Akademi, the country's official arts promotion platform, will facilitate Bharat's participation at the Biennale and fund the move. The Venice showcase will host younger, lesser-known talented artists from around the country rather than the established names.
10. KASHMIR PROFESSOR HELD FOR PROVOCATIVE TEST PAPER: A Kashmir University professor was arrested on December 10 for framing a question paper for first year BSc students that included, 'Are stone pelters the real heroes?' - referring to the three-month agitation across the Valley this summer in which more than 110 people were killed. Another question sought translation of a provocative passage from Urdu to English, which read, "Kashmiri blood is being spilled like water, Kashmiri children are being killed by police, and Kashmiri women are being showered with bullets." Embarrassed authorities issued a show-cause notice to Professor Noor Mohammed Bhatt, who has taught at Kashmir University for the last 20 years.
11. IIT STUDENTS OFFERED Rs 75 LAKH/YEAR; MBA NO LONGER LUCRATIVE: In IIT Delhi this year, well-known finance companies have recruited graduates being offered up to `75 lakh per annum. The finance companies have come to IIT Delhi after three years. The top notch companies like Pacific Investment Management Company (PIMCO), Gold Man Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Mc Kenzie, Credit Swiss, Indusland Bank, Ernst and Young etc., which usually recruit management students from institutes like Wharton Business School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA have chosen our desi IITians over MITians this time.
A company volunteer said, “Engineers have great logical ability. Some MIT students are products of IIT itself. MBA degree is not mandatory for a person to get a job in a finance company. It is the number crunching skill that matters. The volunteer added that we gave preference to IITians because their mathematics is very strong. He also said, “We are offering almost the same salary to the IITians and the MITians.” 12. KEOLADEO BEST ASIAN WETLAND: The Salim Ali Visitor Interpretation Centre, Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, Bharat has been conferred Best Asian Setland Centre Award 2010 by Wetlands Links International (WLI). The network currently has over 100 members, and is an active committee of leading wetland professionals. The award was given in recognition of the role played by the Centre in conserving the national park, building awareness and stakeholder ship amongst local communities and visitors for its prevention.
13. SIKHS, HINDUS NOW PART OF MIDDLE-CLASS BRITAIN: "Long-established" Hindu and Sikh families in Britain are now being categorized as part of the country's middle-class, according to a survey that also revealed the changing societal lifestyles. The lifestyle of a typical middle-class Briton was revealed in a research by Experian that was published on December 13. The researchers examined nationwide data ranging from income and housing type to favourite internet sites and shopping habits. It identified over 400 social and economic factors to define middle-class Britain and produced a detailed ­picture of the country's largest group, accounting for 13.1 million people, or one in five of the population. The middle class has an average annual household income of 47,300 pounds, which is 10 percent higher than the national average.
14. YOGA TO THE RESCUE OF UK PRISONERS: A researcher at the University of Leicester is assessing the role of yoga in British prisons and the possibility of the ancient Bharatiya practice motivating the inmates to survive their incarceration. Former probation officer Rose Parkes, who is a British Wheel of Yoga teacher, is researching the ways in which spiritual activities can empower and motivate prisoners to survive their incarceration. She is investigating whether yoga enables individuals to adjust to the prison environment and post-prison life. She says: "I believe that prisoners can benefit from yoga because it is a practice which helps to foster understanding, self-acceptance, peace and wellbeing." In addition, the study aims to discover whether prisoner yoga practices can help prisons achieve the government's 'healthy prison' criteria set out in 2008 after concerns about prison conditions. These criteria are particularly concerned with eliminating suicide, self-harm and violence in prisons. While working as a part-time probation officer, Parkes witnessed the effectiveness of the technique at forming positive relationships with other offenders, prompting the study to ascertain whether yoga can help people cope with incarceration.
15. CONGRESS PARTY PLAYED RELIGIOUS POLITICS AFTER 26/11: LEAKED U.S. CABLES: Post 26/11, a section of the Congress leadership was seen playing religious politics after one of its leaders, A. R. Antulay, said that Hindutva forces may have been involved in the Mumbai terror attacks, according to a confidential memo by the then U.S. Ambassador to India, David Mulford, released by WikiLeaks.
“The Congress party, after first distancing itself from the comments (of Antulay, the then Minority Affairs Minister), two days later issued a contradictory statement which implicitly endorsed the conspiracy. During this time, Mr. Antulay’s completely unsubstantiated claims gained support in ... Indian—Muslim community,” Mr. Mulford wrote in his secret cable to the State Department on December 23, 2008.
“Hoping to foster that support for upcoming national elections, the Congress Party cynically pulled back from its original dismissal and lent credence to the conspiracy,” Mr. Mulford wrote.
16. ‘I OWE IT TO MY WIFE’: They say behind every successful man is a woman. The saying holds true in the case of Loomba Foundation’s founder and chairman trustee Raj Loomba who has been elevated to the House of Lords in the United Kingdom. “I feel honoured and humbled after receiving such a prestigious recognition. I give all the credit to my wife who has always been with me and has been my strength at every step. I think with this recognition my responsibilities toward Loomba Foundation also go up,” he says. Loomba has worked tirelessly for decades to alleviate the plight of widows and their children around the world.
17. UTKAL PRADESHIK BHAKTA SAMMELAN IN FEB: Nilachal Sarawat Sangh in Puri which is established by Sadguru Srimat Swami Migamanad Saraswati Devji is celebrating the 60th Utkal Pradeshik Bhakta Sammelan in the national Capital between February 17-19. The sammelan will be attended by around 10,000 devotees from Bharat and abroad.
18. HOUSES HANDED OVER TO LANDSLIDE AFFECTED PEOPLE IN KARWAR, KARNATAKA: Return something to the society which has given us everything-Bhaiyaji Joshi : Sewa Bharati and the victims were not known to each other. But humanity and compassion of different donors who helped build the houses donating money and material brought Sewa Bharati and the displaced people together. Fifty houses were handed over to 50 families, who were displaced after a heavy landslide occurred on October 2, 2009 in Karwar, Karnataka. The keys of the houses were handed over to the victim families at a function held at Kadwad village on November 26. The houses have been built by Sewa Bharati for the families of Kadwar Zariwada village in Karwar Taluka.
Minister in Karnataka government Shri Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri inaugurated Madhav Nagar, the rehabilitation centre consisting of 50 houses that were constructed for the victims of landslide. The handing over of keys ceremony was held in the presence of Vamanashrama Swamiji of Haldipur Mutt and Bhaveshanand Swamiji of Ramakrishna Mutt.
Each house has been built in 30’x50´ site consisting of a kitchen, toilet, bathroom and a hall at a cost of Rs 1.65 lakh. An asphalted road and drainage will also be built in the colony.
Handing over the keys RSS Sarkaryavah Shri Bhaiyaji Joshi described it a "small gesture towards the society which has given us everything". He said Sewa Bharati and the victims were not known to each other. But humanity and compassion of different donors who helped build the houses donating money and material brought Sewa Bharati and the displaced people together. He said one should not think of it as help to the victims but only as a responsibility to help those who are in trouble.
19. MAHILA SAMMELAN OF SEWA BHARATI: A woman workers’ sammelan of the Sewa Bharati Delhi was organised at Sewa Dham on November 24. A total of 1,476 workers participated in the day long sammelan. Inaugurating the sammelan veteran Sangh Pracharak and Kshetra Parivar Prabodhan Pramukh Shri Prem Chand Goel underlined the role of woman activists in the growth of Sewa Bharati work in Delhi. Describing women as rashtra nirmatri (nation builders) he said sewa, sadhna and satsang are the foundation of a successful family.
Prant Sewa Pramukh Shri Ajay Kumar ji ,Vice president of Sewa Bharati Delhi Smt. Indira Mohan were also present.
20. VISHWA SANGH SHIBIR 2010: VSS 2010 will be inaugurated with havan on Dec 29th 2010 at Rani Lakshmibai Girl’s Military Highschool, Pirangut,Pune. It will be blessed by Poojya Kakamaharaj Dhekne ( Narayanrao ) in presence of RSS Sarkaryavaha Bhayya ji Joshi. The public function will be held in Balewadi on Jan 2nd 2011 in presence of RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan ji Bhagwat.A team of 30 delegates from Mauritius, on a tour to Haridwar, Amritsar, Rajasthan, visited Keshav Kunj on Dec 11th and had some interaction with Ma. Sudarshan ji and Suresh ji Soni. Over 550 delegates from 40 countries are expected to participate in the shibir which concludes on Jan 3 2011.
5th LBML Lecture: Vishwa Adhyayan Kendra is organizing 5th Lakshmanrao Bhide memorial lecture on Jan 7th 2010 at Alkesh Modi Auditorium, University of Mumbai Kalina campus.
21. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Pravas:,Visitors: Smt. Asha & Shri Kulbhushan Joshi – UK, Smt & Shri L M Sabharwal – Canada, Shri Chetan Merani, Dr.Radheshyam Dwiwedi – USA, Ma. Raghunath Deeal with VSS delegates from Mauritius.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY: "Sensitivity" and values in governance are required to curb the menace of corruption. "Why are we still floundering with our values? Why is it that the people are still helpless? The answer is simple, now it (corruption) has become a way of life... it has been accepted as a way of life." – Senior Supreme Court judge Altamas Kabir addressing a function organised for release of a book, 'Restoring Values', edited by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation's Managing Director E Sreedharan and Tata group's Resident Director Bharat Wakhlu.

Ashok Malik
Better intelligence and a purposeful Union home minister have contributed to India escaping a major terrorist assault since the horror of 26/11. Nevertheless, as the bombing of the Sheetla Ghat in Varanasi indicated, the threat is perennial. The Varanasi attack may have killed just one person tragically, a one-year-old child — but was calculated to cause panic and trigger a stampede that may have claimed many more lives. It was a reminder that Indian Mujahideen (IM), the organisation behind the bombing, is alive and kicking.
India's astonishingly poor record in terms of terrorist convictions remains a critical gap. Between the Parliament attack on December 13, 2001 and the trial of Ajmal Kasab for Mumbai 2008, there have been zero convictions for acts of terrorism in India. This is embarrassing for a country that is among the biggest victims of Islamist terror.
In this context, the history of IM is instructive. An offshoot of the Students' Islamic Movement of India (Simi), IM first came into the public gaze in 2008, after the Ahmedabad bombings. Subsequently, the Gujarat police busted the IM network, made crucial arrests and linked key IM cells and operatives to a series of hitherto unsolved terror bombings in Delhi, Bangalore, Jaipur and other cities.
If the past two years have been relatively calm, the steps taken by the Union government after 26/11 deserve credit. Even so, the Gujarat police also merits special mention for a crippling blow to the IM matrix, one from which it's still only beginning to recover.
About 60 IM members — street troops, religious motivators, explosive technicians — were brought to trial in an Ahmedabad court. In February 2010, just as the case was gathering momentum, the accused filed a petition before the Supreme Court asking for their trial to be moved to another state, alleging they would not get justice in Gujarat. In an unorthodox decision, the apex court issued an ex parte order — without hearing the Gujarat government — and stayed the trial.
That is where the matter rests. The trial of terrorists who bombed a series of Indian cities between 2005 and 2008 is still frozen, in a legal and political limbo.
It's here that one needs to consider the congruence of political partisanship, civil society hyper-activism and terrorism. Nobody is suggesting that political parties or civil society activists are necessarily backing terror groups. Yet, by giving them ideas, by creating precedents and mechanisms for misuse, they are derailing the process of justice.
The IM accused have deftly exploited the demonisation of Narendra Modi and Gujarat in sections of the media and among so-called activists who have made an industry of Modi phobia. Despite being accused of perjury and manufacture of documents, these activists have sought to convey the impression that justice can't be done in Gujarat, that Muslims who seek fair play (or need to prove their innocence) require to have their cases moved outside the state, to have these monitored by the Supreme Court and, when all else fails, go to the United Nations (UN).
Unable to defeat Modi politically in Gujarat, the Congress has lent its shoulder to such dangerous practices. As long as they are affecting an individual politician, it is one thing. However, as is now apparent, the entire edifice of India's most robust challenge to IM has also been put at risk.
It is worth asking where this excessive and mind-numbing focus on Modi is headed. Whether one likes his politics or doesn't, believes he is India's best chief minister or isn't, considers him a future prime minister or too much of a hot potato for BJP allies, the fact remains that he needs to be viewed through a conventional political prism and not one of a fevered imagination.
Consider examples. One, it has been clear for a long time that there is no legal case against Modi for the 2002 violence and he is not guilty of acts of deliberate commission. With even the Supreme Court appointed Special Investigative Team (SIT) said to have to come to the same conclusion, Modi haters — who range from Mumbai-based celebrities to a retired police officer still settling bureaucratic scores — have begun to denounce the SIT and are approaching the UN Human Rights Commission.
Two, the WikiLeaks cables reveal that western intelligence agencies believe the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba threat to Modi is clear and present and did not die out with the elimination of Ishrat Jehan and her accomplices. Jehan, a Mumbai student who fell into Lashkar's grip, was killed in an encounter with the Gujarat police in 2004. Modi's opponents insist she was innocent and the Laskhar plot a concoction. Perhaps now they will argue Modi wrote the WikiLeaks cables.
How long can this continue? If any other Indian politician was found to be mentioned as a Lashkar target in the cables, it would have had the media engrossed. Not with Modi; it's almost as if he's fair game. As for the Union government, it wants to fight terrorists — but not terrorists whom the Gujarat police have found. It's so cynical; those 60 Indian Mujahideen men in Ahmedabad must be laughing.
( Ashok Malik is a Delhi-based political commentator. The views expressed by the author are personal ) – Hindusthan Times December 14, 2010

Shivaji Sarkar
The astounding results of the one-sided Bihar election have established the fact that if someone governs, stokes hopes and improves the socio-politico-economic quotient; he is assured of a massive dividend. What needs to be noted is that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s victory was not based on either majoritarianism, or fundamentalism or extreme populism. The mandate is an acceptance of the fact that he is rebuilding Bihar, socially and economically, and the people want the good work to continue. Nitish Kumar has earned the dividend not just for his political alliance, the NDA, but also for the people of the State, whose aspirations certainly has grown manifold with the State achieving a GDP growth of over 11 per cent – higher than the national average – during the last two years.The 2010 Bihar election has proved that political forces are crucial to economic growth. Nitish Kumar since his coming to power in 2005 has started turning around the state of affairs after a morass had set in 1990. The State has seen a phenomenal rise in Plan expenditure from a mere Rs 4,466 crore in 2005-06 to Rs 12,511 crore in 2010-11. The road network has grown from 415 km in 2005 to 2,417 km in 2010. Infant mortality rate has reduced from 61 to 56 per 1000, maternal mortality rate has gone down from 371 to 312 per 1000. Expenditure in healthcare sector has risen from Rs 607.47 crore to Rs 1,662.8 crore, while education outlay has gone up to Rs 8,344 crore. In crude economic terms all these State expenditure will be considered as subsidies, though in real terms these are investments without which no society can grow. What Bihar is doing is similar to UN’s development programme concepts, rather than the World Bank-IMF corporate economics.The development in Bihar has increased the corporate confidence. Industries for decades have been moving out of the State, but now a change is being foreseen. Investments in hotels and restaurants have grown by 17.71 per cent in 2008-09. This is an indicator that investors have at least started visiting the State and exploring the opportunities it has in store. According to Chandrajeet Banerjee, Director General of Confederation of Indian Industries, the CII is expecting closer ties with Nitish Kumar’s Government. Assocham president Ms Swati Piramal says that so far only 0.5 per cent of corporate investment has gone to Bihar, but it may increase if the Bihar Government improves the power situation. The Nitish Kumar Government has many challenges ahead. To keep pace with people’s aspirations, he has to ensure that the economy grows at least 10 per cent annually. The next five years would be very crucial for sectors like agriculture and power. Power generation, and warehousing and storage facilities have to improve to draw investments. With growing activities, stemming corruptions will be a tough task. Bihar’s progress and changing social dynamics is certain to impact some other States, which thrive on cheap Bihari labour such as Punjab, Haryana, New Delhi to name a few. The social aspiration has brought the Bihari pride back and many Bihari workers, working in other States, have returned home. Indirectly, it will help the labour force in getting better wages and treatment in other States.
( Daily Pioneer, December 8, 2010 )

Margashirsh 16 Samvat 2067, Yugabda 5112: December 1, 2010

1. FESTIVALS: The unique Hornbill Festival, named after the bird, shows just how diverse a country Bharat really is. Held in the Kisama Heritage village near Kohima town, in Nagaland, December 1-7 each year, the festival is one of the largest celebrations of the indigenous warrior tribes of the region. It features traditional arts, dances, folk songs, and games, and music concerts in the evenings. Local handicrafts are also on sale during the festival. Unfortunately, a major drawback is that the festival is not easy to get to. Tourists require a permit to enter the state, and must to travel in groups of four or more people.
2. AWARENESS CAMPAIGN BY SAINTS: “We shall launch an awareness campaign from Jammu to Kanyakumari and from Goa to Myanmar for construction of Ram temple,” was pledged by the saints congregated at Kalka Mandir, New Delhi on November 28. Jagadguru Shankaracharya Madhusudan, Ramanandacharya of Hardwar, Hansdevacharya, National President Sant Samiti Swami Avichal Das, Kalkapeethadheeshwar Surendra Nath Avadhoot and Yogi Rakesh Nath were part of the congregation. They stressed that when Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court consisting an eminent justice, S M Khan, also had concluded that Sri Ramjanmabhoomi is at the very place where Sri Ram Lala sits today, then there is no question of any suspicion. They also averred that Lord Ram is no matter of dispute.
3. GRAFT-FREE SOCIETY WILL LEAD TO GROWTH: KALAM – Former Rashtrapati A P J Abdul Kalam has stressed on the need for a corruption-free society to achieve the dream of making Bharat a developed nation by2020. Kalam, while addressing a group of young students and scientists at the techno-fest organized by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) at the International Trade Fair on November 24, said corruption was a problem faced by the country and righteousness is the solution to it.
“My visuualisation of Bharat in the year 2020 includes: A nation where the governance is responsive, transparent and corruption-free, where the rural and urban divide has reduced to a thin line and the agriculture, industry and service sector work together in symphony,” the former Rashtrapati said. He lauded the efforts of the CSIR in developing a technology for providing clean water.
4. GRAND HANUMAT SHAKTI JAGRAN AT BHAGYANAGAR: 27th November , 2010 was a historical day in the history of Bhagyanagar ( Hyderabad ) with over 45,000 Hindus coming together to chant the "Hanuman Chalisa" at the NTR Stadium from 5 pm to 7 pm. This was part of the Hanuman Shakti Jagaran programs being run across the country. The program was blessed with the presence of Pujya Sree Ramanuja Chinna Jeeyar Swami, over 40 sadhus and sants of various maths and sampradayas and Sri Ashokji Singhal of VHP. Sri Ashokji Singhal threw light on the overall issue of the Ayodhya Ram Mandir and the current status while Pu. Chinna Jeeyar spoke about the need for Hindus to be assertive and not be cowed down when their religion is under attack.
5. MIND AND LIFE DIALOGUE OPENS IN BHARAT: The 22nd edition of the Mind and Life Dialogues that began in 1987 as a joint quest between scientists, philosophers and contemplative practitioners to understand the human mind and the benefits of contemplative practices, the first in Asia, was, as per wish of the Dalai Lama, held in New Delhi from Nov. 20 to Nov. 23. The dialogue here sought to broaden the contemplative Science research by examining practices from the Bharatiya philosophical and cultural heritage including Vedanta, Jain and Yoga.
Dr. Vijaylakshmi Ravindranath, chairman of the Center for Neuroscience of the Indian Institute of Sciences (Bangalore) and founder-director of the National Brain Research Center said holding such dialogues would help neuroscientists find answers to critical questions in understanding the brain.
In his presentation the Dalai Lama dismissed the notion that science is a killer of religion adding Bharatiya philosophical traditions including the Nalanda tradition of Buddhism emphasize the importance of investigation and reasoning in understanding the nature of reality. “There’s no concept of right or wrong,” he said, “Investigate the reality and there’s no danger to religion.” The purpose of Mind and Life Dialogue, according to him, is to simply expand knowledge not only on external matters but also internal matters such as mind. Swami Atmapriyananda, the vice chancellor of Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University and Thupten Jinpa, the principal English translator to His Holiness and a Tibetan Buddhist scholar provided an overview of the philosophical perspectives from Hinduism and Buddhism and discussed the ways the traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism articulating the wider understanding of reality that is the context for contemplative practices. Mr. Jinpa said the primary sources of Tibetan Buddhism are the texts authored by Nalanda masters like Nagarjuna, Dhignath, Dharmakirti, Asanga, Vasobandhu, Shantideva, etc.Dr. Richard Davidson, Director of Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at University of Wisconsin-Madison, in his presentation, said anxiety at anticipation of pain or suffering intensified in novice practitioners compared to expert practitioners.
In one other session focussed on understanding Vedanta practice and its intersection with science, Swami Atmapriyananda made his presentation on the nature of the Advaita Vedanta practitioner. Commenting on Swamiji’s presentation on the ‘small self’ or ego merging into the ‘greater self’ as if understood in Vedanta tradition, the Dalai Lama said the act of merging itself in a way indicates the deconstruction of the self. He then discussed some cases of Tibetan practitioners who were clinically declared dead but their body remained fresh for 2-3 weeks indicating the existence of a subtler form of consciousness long after heart beating and blood circulation had stopped functioning. Three such cases were reported recently in southern Bharat where large Tibetan monasteries are located. He said there needs to be a closer coordination among scientists and contemplative practitioners so that science becomes more complete by carrying out more research work on internal phenomena.Dr. Matthieu Ricard, Buddhist practitioner and the French interpreter to His Holiness said the dehypnotizing process explained by Swamiji was similar to Buddhist practice of undiluting a mind filled with distorted perceptions; the act of deconstructing misconceptional reality leading to pure awareness.In yet another session of the Mind and Life Dialogue, the Dalai Lama discussed the central practices in yoga and Jain traditions with Muni Mahendra Kumar, a multi-linguist versatile Jain scholar and Dr. Shirley Telles, director of research at Patanjali Yogpeeth in Haridwar. Muni Mahendra Kumar presented some empirical evidences of the overall benefits of emotional, mental and physical developments through Preksha (science of living) meditation carried out in over 10,000 schools Bharat. He emphasized the need for a systematic research design to help Bharatiya scientists in implementing contemplative practices in everyday life. Dr. Telles speaking on the physiology of meditation presented some findings from a series of studies carried out in the last 17 years to examine the application of yoga in clinical contexts for mental and physical health. In his presentation on expansion and contraction approaches in Vedanta contemplative practice, clinical scientist HR Nagendra, vice-chancellor Swami Vivekanand Yog Anusandhan Samsthan, University, Bengaluru explained the Samadhi, that level of consciousness when the meditator, the meditated, and the process of meditation merge together and become one.The Dalai Lama, commenting on Dr. Nagendra’s presentation, referred to descriptions of the nine stages of mental development in Samadhi process in Buddhist meditation manuals.Dr. Rajesh Kasturirangan, associate professor at National Institute of Advanced Studies (Bangalore) who completed his doctorate in cognitive science at MIT in his comments suggested the integration of both philosophical and theoretical knowledge base of eastern and western traditions to explore grounds for unity. Citing Bertrand Russell’s quote on the incompatibility of Plato and Mathematics, he said it is possible for Nagarjuna and Neuroscience to be compatible.
6. BHARATIYA FARMERS ADDRESS HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Rajendra Patil, 40 and Hemchandra Dagaji Patil, 50 have travelled to America to explain to academicians at the prestigious Harvard University about the successful drip irrigation techniques. Selected by Mumbai-based Jain Irrigation System to present their story at the Harvard Business School, the duo explained to a rapt audience at the university how they have successfully used drip irrigation to expand their farm holdings. Hemchandra Dagaji told the audience that the land earlier was cultivated by flood irrigation and irregular use of fertilizers due to which the yield levels were marginal and the profits were less and the quality of the farm product was not good. “Whole land was cultivated by micro-irrigation which helps me to raise the yield levels as well as financial position.” he said. In his presentation, Rajendra Patil said his farm land was 1.5 acres and the whole land was rain fed and hence the yield levels were very low. Now, he owns seven acres of land and has about 60 acres of land on lease.
7. BHARAT IN TOP 4 AMONG B-SCHOOL DESTINATIONS: That the US and the UK are the most popular destinations for management studies is not big news. But the findings of a survey conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) which conducts GMAT have thrown up some surprises. Number 4 on the list of the Top 10 preferred destinations for B-school aspirants is Bharat, with Canada at No. 3. Israel and Spain are the other surprise entrants.
According to experts, Bharat's foray into the elite league has a lot to do with the emergence of institutions such as the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, which was ranked No. 12 globally in the Financial Times (London) Global MBA rankings earlier this year. The IIMs, which use GMAT as an entrance test for their executive MBA programmes, are also responsible for Bharat's popularity.
8. JPC IS AN IMPERATIVE: Insecurity, unreasonableness, and stubbornness tend to go hand in hand. Why else should the Congress-led government be dead set against allowing a Joint Parliamentary Committee to try and get to the bottom of the 2G spectrum scandal? With the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of Bharat exposing serious irregularities in the allocation of 2G spectrum, resulting in staggering losses to the exchequer, getting to the truth of what happened has become a moral imperative. While the Parliament's Public Accounts Committee will study the CAG report, this is no alternative to an empowered JPC that can call for all relevant records and summon Ministers, including the Prime Minister, for examination during the course of its enquiry. Moreover, it can probe the scandal in historical perspective — against the backdrop of telecom policy as it evolved, with twists and turns and sometimes carrying the stench of corruption, over a decade and a half. The government's negative response suggests a cover-up. As is evident from the observations of the Supreme Court in the spectrum case, the Central Bureau of Investigation is not doing an earnest job of investigating the matter. Nor will an inquiry by the Central Vigilance Commission carry conviction; the Supreme Court has questioned the appointment as Central Vigilance Commissioner of P.J. Thomas, who served as Telecommunications Secretary during the period of the scam and has a charge sheet pending against him. If, as the Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam insist, A. Raja as Communications Minister only followed the 2G spectrum allocation policy set by BJP-led National Democratic Alliance regimes, it is all the more important for a JPC to go back to the formulation of the National Telecom Policy, 1994 and enquire into everything of material relevance from then on.
An empowered and well-staffed JPC has also become a political imperative. The United Progressive Alliance government faces a crisis of credibility; Parliament has been rendered dysfunctional; and the image of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a leader with a clean personal reputation, has taken a beating. If a JPC can work sincerely and in a businesslike way — on a day-to-day basis, more or less — all significant facts relating to the 2G spectrum allocation affair can be placed before the people of India within the next two months. It bears recall that even the JPC set up to enquire into the Bofors scandal, which had nothing but cover-up on its mind and was boycotted by the Opposition, brought into the public domain a mass of information that proved invaluable to The Hindu's investigation. That the BJP-led government in 2001 did not concede the demand for a JPC into the Tehelka exposé can be no justification in the present situation. The questions involved in the 2G scam are far too serious to be allowed to become part of political tit for tat. – Editorial, The Hindu, November 27, 2010.
9. CHHATTISGARH GETS ‘FASTEST DEVELOPING STATE AWARDS’: Chhattisgarh has become numero uno state in the country in fast implementation of all round economic development projects and schemes. Dr. Raman Singh, Chief Minister of the state was awarded at a ceremony in New Delhi on November 19 for this achievement. The award was presented during the ‘State of the State Conclave 2010’. M Hamid Ansari, the Vice-President of Bharat, presented the award to the CM. The state was conferred with this prestigious award for socio economic development. Speaking at the function, Dr Raman Singh said that Chhattisgarh had laid its emphasis on fighting poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition and upliftment of backward classes and anyone who created hindrance in this initiative was the state’s enemy.
10. BIG PAY DAYS ARE BACK FOR CHIEF EXECUTIVES IN BHARAT: If jobs are back, can hikes be far behind! And when it comes to chief executives, it is more than salary. CEO’s are now moving from one sector to another more frequently, say headhunters, and are negotiating more that just salary. Stock options, performance-linked incentives, cash incentives and long-term payouts are now discussed more than just basic salary. Sign on bonus amounts are also on the rise. One candidate apparently negotiated – and got – a sign on bonus of Rs 40 lakh apart from annual compensation of Rs. 65 lakhs.
11. PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITION ON 19TH CENTURY HERITAGE: An exhibition showcasing a 19th century photographer’s reflections on Bharat’s heritage got underway on November 19 at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, New Delhi. The three-month exhibition peeks into the early 19th century lifestyle and is of immense interest for those interested in photography, said IGNCA member secretary, Jyotindra Jain.
Besides the streets of Kolkata, Lucknow, Bijapur and Gulbarga areas in black and white shades, the monuments like Falaknuma Palace, a slide show of about 3,000 photographs by photographer Raja Deen Dayal is also part of the exhibition, said Jain.
12. UK CAP ON SKILLED WORKERS: The British government, for the first time, has drawn a marker for net migration, which includes a cap on immigration from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) – a policy that will affect the Bharatiyas the most, for they constitute the largest influx among highly skilled and skilled workers. The Conservative party-Liberal Democrat alliance’s tough talking home minister, Theresa May, imposed a 22.06% cut on “highly skilled” migrants on November 23. In other words not more than 21,000 people will be allowed into the UK from outside the EEA on work permit April 1, 2011 onward. Visas for skilled workers without job offer will be down to an even more drastic 1,000 in 2011-12.
13. BHARATIYAS RANKED AMONG TOP 100 THINKERS: National security advisor Shivshankar Menon has been ranked 18th among the 10 global thinkers’ list of the Washingron based Foreign Policy magazine. He has been credited with “dragging Bharat out of its global nonalignment.
Bharat-origin academician and former diplomat Kishore Mahbubani also figures in this list of the top 100 global thinkers. Mahbubani, a professor of Bharatiya decente was appointed Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in 2004 after having served 33 years in the Singapore Foreign Service.
Other prominent international global thinkers honoured this year include US President Barack Obama, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, IMF MD Dominique Strauss-Kahn and World Bank President Robert Zoellick.
14. 12 SERVING WOMEN OFFICERS GET PERMANENT COMMISSION: For the first time, on November 30, the army granted permanent commission (PC) to 12 women officers. Earlier women in the Bharatiya army were only given limited tenure from five to 14 years (apart from those in the medical corps). There are just 1,065 women among 35,377 officers in the army. “This is in accordance with the government decision in 2008 to grant PC to women officers in the legal and education wings of the three Services, as also the accounts branch of IAF and the ‘naval constructor’ department of Navy,” said an officer.
15. BHARATIYA ARMY INSTRUCTORS TO TEACH AT RMA, UK: Bharatiya Army instructors could shortly be snapping out commands — for the first time ever — at one of the finest training institutions in the world: the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in Surrey, UK. The British defence ministry is weighing a proposal to swap instructors between Sandhurst and the India Military Academy, Dehradun. Ordering cadets to do press-ups and pull-ups at Sandhrust will be coveted assignment for any Bharatiya instructor. Started as the Royal Military Academy in 1741, Sandhrust has trained generations of army officers of our former colonial rulers.
16. OBAMA AS NATARAJ UPSETS HINDUS: Hindus are upset over the cover of November 22 edition of American newsweekly ‘Newsweek’ which depicts US President Barack Obama in Nataraj pose, saying that it trivializes their venerated deity Siva. Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement on November 24, said that Lord Siva was a highly revered deity in Hinduism meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be used indecorously or thrown around loosely in re-imagined versions for dramatic effects.
17. KISHORILAL GUPTA JI – HONG KONG PASSES AWAY: Senior swayamsevak of Hong Kong Shri Kishorilal ji Gupta passed away in Hong Kong on November 16. He was 77. With his passing away a glorious chapter in the work of Hindu Swayamsewak Sangh, Hong Kong is over. Kishorilalji was associated with HSS HongKong from its very inception. His continuous and unparallel contribution in the growth of Sangh work helped many karyakartas to work silently and effectively.
17. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Pravas: Dr.Shankar Tatwawadi, Samyojak Vishwa Vibhag will be in Bharat from Dec 8. Shri.Shyam Parande, Secretary,Sewa International will return Bharat after weeklong tour to Sri Lanka. Visitors: Shri Chetan Merani - USA, T. Indrasen Reddy and V. Indrasen Reddy – New Jersey.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY: We can never obtain peace in the world if we neglect the inner world and don’t make peace with ourselves. World peace must develop out of inner peace. – The Dalai Lama XIV.



The drama surrounding the Bihar assembly election outcome was somewhat diminished thanks to firm prognostications by nearly all about a resounding victory for the Nitish Kumar-led NDA. However, while a few believed the staggering prediction of a television channel and the Centre for Study of Developing Societies, none probably expected the huge margin of victory. The victory has drawn a collective sigh of relief that the process of Bihar's turnaround will continue unabated. The state election was initially expected to be tri-polar, but the non-performance of the Congress made it bi-polar between the two titans of Bihar politics, Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad. But the final result revealed that the contest was essentially one-sided. The Congress's failure was understandable because, in spite of the initial euphoria surrounding Rahul Gandhi's sojourns in the state, it could not put up an authentic provincial face to act as its mascot. Further, the absence of party structure and a tangible social base came in the way of its revival. In the process of expanding its base, it often co-opted the most discredited candidates. In contrast, the RJD-LJP combine was expected to come out with a coherent agenda and steal Nitish's thunder. But instead of taking a left-of-centre strategy to help it rebuild bridges with the masses, it tried to co-opt the most lumpen section of feudal elements in the name of opposing possible land reform, particularly 'bataidari'. In fact, the poorest section of the population deserted the RJD-LJP for displaying opposition to radical land management, and reinforced their commitment to Nitish. Even after their defeat, instead of introspecting on their possible follies, these parties sounded brash in their first press conference after the results. Ram Vilas Paswan was more concerned about finding out the reasons for the rout of his brother Pashupatinath 'Paras', candidate for deputy chief minister in the alliance, instead of understanding the changing social configurations on the ground. What is the import of the NDA's victory in Bihar for the nation? One should first note that the victory was not based on either majoritarian fundamentalism or extreme populism. The election had actually adopted the characteristic of a plebiscite-style mandate around Nitish who had assumed an iconic image by rebuilding Bihar, particularly its state structure. Whereas he displayed his talent for being an 'idea-smith', his opponents displayed antediluvian predilections, revealing a drought in the realm of ideas. It will not, therefore, be surprising if in the national election, the NDA opts for a campaign pitching the Bihar model of inclusion. To make oneself strong electorally at the national level, Muslim support is very necessary. Bihar has showed that the BJP is no longer untouchable for the Muslims, indicating a possible new matrix for alliances. One of the most important features of this election is the massive 10 per cent increase in women's participation. Displaying a strong gender identity, possibly for the first time in post-independence India, the participation of women compared to men was higher by five percentage points. This dramatic change is not merely because of 50 per cent reservation for women in panchayati raj institutions, bicycle schemes for girls or 'Akshar Anchal', a dedicated literacy programme for adult mothers. It is primarily due to better functioning of the state structure, which benefits women even more than men. A functioning state provides better security for women, allowing them to move without fear, and ensures better facilities for health sectors and improved possibilities in school enrolment. This high response of women was religion-neutral; even in districts with Muslim concentrations, their participation was very high. Even though Bihar escaped the fruits of renaissance and regeneration in the last century, there is now bottom-up modernisation across the state. Better law and order has ensured better implementation of gender and minority-related schemes. The building and resurrection of the state were carried out almost single-handedly by Nitish in his first term. And this was not limited to techno-managerial strategy alone. A strong element of 'inclusion' was in-built in the whole strategy. The BJP under Sushil Modi supported him to the hilt. In Nitish's second term, the state structure should be strengthened further, so that Bihar gets converted from a functioning to a proactive state and the social sector and development agenda gets fully implemented. When he took over its reins in 2005, the state was in poor shape. It is now a functioning one and has created a strong benchmark. With enhanced political capital, furthering this agenda will not be difficult now for Nitish. But Nitish will have to revisit in the coming days the issue of the relative turfs of the legislature, executive and judiciary and their mutual interaction. His initiative in promoting a dialogue between the executive and the judiciary had an electrifying effect. It ensured more than 50,000 convictions, which immediately augmented the authority of the state. This dialogue between the executive and the judiciary has now to be extended to the legislature as well. Then only will Bihar have an authentic turnaround, which will be a model for the entire country.
The writer is member-secretary, Asian Development Research Institute, Patna.
The Times of India’s Top Article on November 25, 2010.


With the results of the Bihar elections in, it may be time to slay that mythic dragon of Indian politics: 'anti-incumbency'. Nitish Kumar has demonstrated that it's possible for a government to last its full term and yet be voted back to power, perhaps with an increased majority. Of course, other chief ministers too have been there in recent times: Raman Singh, Naveen Patnaik, Sheila Dikshit, Narendra Modi. Even at the Centre, the UPA was able to win a second term in office. When western electorates are caught up in their days of rage - witness the drubbing Barack Obama's Democrats received in congressional elections soon after Obama's triumphant ascent to the White House, or the ejection of a Labour government in the UK after more than a decade of Labour dominance - it's significant that Indian voters are bucking the anti-incumbency trend. It's no coincidence that this is happening roughly at the same time that the Indian economy has entered its high-growth phase. Bihar conforms closely to this model; under Nitish Kumar, it clocked a scorching 11 per cent GDP growth annually. And that has paid off at the hustings, confounding the received wisdom of growth sceptics that economic growth has no political constituency. Political cynics have long subscribed to a version of Indian exceptionalism, according to which the Indian voter, unlike voters elsewhere in the world, doesn't really respond to economic incentives. Indian elections can be won only through complex caste and community manipulations. And Bihar, as one of India's most backward states, was supposed to exemplify this phenomenon. But if even Bihar cannot be fitted into this model any more, surely it is time to question its effectiveness.
'Anti-incumbency', if one cares to examine it closely, is a vacuous concept. Nirupam Sen, the No. 2 man in West Bengal's cabinet after chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, has conceded that the Left Front may face a difficult time in next year's assembly elections because of 'anti-incumbency'. Surely that formulation begs the question, it has little explanatory power. What Sen doesn't say is that the Left Front has enjoyed the benefits of a low-level equilibrium in West Bengal over the past three decades, but those benefits are fast running out. A low-level equilibrium works by keeping people's expectations low so they are happy with little. At that point, throw them a few sops and they'll vote for you. It's akin to what sociologists have named the 'culture of poverty': people may be poor but they don't really see a way out of it, so they are content with their lot rather than suffer the dissonance that comes from trying to improve their condition. A low-level equilibrium also characterised India's polity as a whole in the period 1950-75, when Congress was repeatedly voted to power as India plodded along with its 'Hindu' rate of growth. This can be seen as India's 'pro-incumbency' phase, coasting along on the cachet Congress had acquired by leading India's freedom struggle. The discontents of such a regime exploded from about 1973 onwards, leading to the declaration of Emergency. What followed was anti-incumbency, which V S Naipaul has vividly described as the eruption of a 'million mutinies'. But while anti-incumbency can be effective in undermining an old regime, the problem with it is that it has few ideas about how to build a new order. This process can be seen to work in Bihar as well. Rule by upper castes - principally Rajputs, Bhumihars, Brahmins - was disrupted when Lalu Prasad rose to power in 1990. There's some truth to the claim that the movement of middle and lower castes that he led was a catalyst for social justice in Bihar. Nitish Kumar, too, was a part of the same movement; he was a member of the original Janata Dal from which Lalu's RJD broke off in 1997. Having destroyed the old regime, however, the RJD-led dispensation had few ideas about governance as it imposed economic stagnation on Bihar. Anti-incumbency took over again as the RJD was swept out in 2005, but that anti-incumbency isn't inevitable is demonstrated by the current verdict in Bihar. Rather, the state may have entered what can be described as a post-incumbent phase: whether you've been in power the last time doesn't matter positively or negatively in terms of current electoral results, what matters is how you performed when you were. The Bihar story should hold some lessons in neighbouring West Bengal. There's little doubt that, as Nirupam Sen says, there's an anti-incumbency wave there now. The revolution of rising expectations makes the current political regime untenable. Mamata Banerjee and the Trinamool-Congress alliance can capitalise on Bengal's anti-incumbency wave if they play their cards right. But does Mamata aim to be the Lalu Prasad or the Nitish Kumar of Bengal? We know that she is against land acquisition, but we don't know yet her alternative plans for industrialisation and job generation in Bengal. If she settles on the Lalu Prasad model she will only prolong Bengal's anti-incumbency days, which will boomerang on her. The Times of India, November 25, 2010.

The Times of India View: The Hindu American Foundation's 'Take Back Yoga' campaign asserts that yoga is part of Hinduism and people must be made aware of this link. This unnecessarily complicates matters for practitioners of a set of techniques to mental, physical and spiritual well-being. That these practices are of global relevance is attested to by their international popularity. Around 15 million practise yoga in the US alone, indicating the tremendous appeal of things Indian to people regardless of faith, colour or creed. Yoga gives cultural weight to Brand India, enhancing it by displaying the multifarious facets of our society. Subsuming yoga strictly within Hinduism misconstrues both the practice and the faith. Undoubtedly, there is a multiplicity of forms of yoga, but they may be practised by anyone. To constrict the varieties of the art within any particular religious, cultural or even personal order detracts from the universal availability and applicability of yoga by imposing ownership on the common fruits of Indian civilisation. After all, India has always been an inclusive culture. Nor has yoga been practised exclusively by Hindus. Second, the campaigners in their eagerness to demonstrate the uniqueness of Hinduism actually rob it of its intellectual coherence as a way of life. They mistakenly suppose Hinduism to have a fixed core - as in the Semitic religions - that generated a set of fixed, institutionalised practices. Regardless of whether Hinduism produced yoga, there is no hard and fast rule associating yoga solely with the followers of the faith. Rather than focus on indebtedness and ownership, Indians everywhere would best serve the art of yoga and their fellow humans by demonstrating its applicability to one and all, regardless of what they believe in. Yoga's popularity beyond the land of its invention shows that it is universal.


Counter View: In yet another attempt to deny Hinduism's unique contribution to humanity, many people have questioned the fact that yoga originates in the Hindu faith. Such attempts ought to be thwarted at all costs. This is not to say that people don't have the right to view yoga as a secularised practice in the modern world. But surely that doesn't mean they should go to the extent of denying that it is an integral part of the Hindu religion. The history of yoga as described in our religious texts makes it peculiar to Hindus.Yoga forms one of the six classic systems of Hindu philosophy. The earliest Vedic texts, the Brahmanas, Vedic Samhitas and Patanjali's Yoga Sutras and the like talk at length about the ascetic practices of tapas and various asanas. The term yoga itself has been derived from the Sanskrit word 'yuj', which means 'to unite'. Practised by devout Hindus down the ages, yoga is a mystical and meditative practice designed to unite the soul with the eternal. It is, therefore, not correct to view it as just a physical and mental therapy. If anything, yoga insists on using physical training as a means to attain the higher goal of spirituality as defined in Hinduism. The argument that yoga is not exclusive to Hindus, since it has been practised by followers of other faiths, does not cut ice. It is to fail to see that certain belief systems were offshoots of Hinduism. In that sense, yoga forms the core of a spiritual tradition that spans the history of the Indian civilisation. In fact, you don't find yoga or anything like it in any other culture. Hence the practitioners of yoga should be made conscious of the unique traditions it originates in. Given this, the Hindu American Foundation's 'Take Back Yoga' campaign makes sense and should be supported.