Buddha passed into eternity after completing his Sahasra Chandra Darshana i.e., 1000 full moon days (80th year) on the full moon day of Vaishaakha - the day of his birth as also of his Enlightenment. Pilgrims come from all over the world to Bodh Gaya to attend the Buddha Poornima celebrations. The day is marked with prayer meets, religious discourses; continuous recitation of Buddhist scriptures, The Mahabodhi Temple wears a festive look and is decorated with colourful flags and flowers. The Chinese scholar, Fa-Hien has recorded celebration of this festival.
2. TRIBUTE TO MA. SHEKHAWATJI: Former Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat passed away on May 16 at Jaipur. Shekhawat, 87, who was suffering from lung infection, died of cardiac arrest.
Born on October 23, 1923, in Khachariyawas, a small village in Sikar district, he was sworn in as the country's 12th Vice President on August 19, 2002.
Shekhawat was the only member of the Rajasthan Assembly to have won in every assembly election since 1952, except 1972 when he lost from Gandhi Nagar in Jaipur. He was also elected to the Rajya Sabha from neighbouring Madhya Pradesh in 1974. Shekhawat enjoyed the distinction of heading three non-Congress governments in the state in 1977-1980, 1990-1992 and 1993-1998.
His brainchild - the Antyodaya scheme to help the poorest of the poor, brought international accolades for Shekhawat with the then World Bank Chief Robert McNamara describing him as the Rockfeller of India.
3. A SAINT WHO LIVED TO SERVE HUMANITY: Renowned Jain saint and 10th spiritual head of the Terapanth Anuvrat sect Acharya Mahapragya passed away at Sardarshahr town of Churu district in Rajasthan on May 9. He was 90. He was taking rest in the afternoon at Terapanth Ashram when he suffered a cardiac arrest. He was in the town for chaturmaas.
Born on June 14, 1920 at Tamkor village under Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan in a traditional family, this extraordinary boy Nath Mall – became the disciple of Acharya Tulsi from his childhood and had transformed himself into a thinker, philosopher-monk who had spearheaded the Anuvrat movement propounded by his mentor Acharya Tulsi.
He was a great practitioner of meditations, spirituality, mantras, Anekaant and non-violence and wrote extensively on these subjects. . His writings on economics provide a detailed model of economic structure which works for the benefit of each and every individual. He has given vision for a peaceful society free from evils. He has suggested conduct for people to lead a happy individual as well as a social life.
He traversed over 10,000 km on foot, covering 10,000 villages, towns and cities, and addressed many public meetings during the Yatra. He walked across the length and breadth of Bharat from Kachchh in Gujarat to Kolkata and from Punjab to Kanyakumari, and undertook travel on foot earlier under the leadership of Acharya Tulsi and later himself being the leader.
In his condolence message, RSS Sarsanghchalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat described the passing away of Acharya Mahapragya as ‘unbearable setback for the mankind’. “The RSS was always blessed with his eternal affection and love. I got the opportunity to meet him many times. I practically realized his unbiased compassion, style of finding simple but unfailing solution to the problems, capacity to lead all to the right path and his profound knowledge. The passing away of such a great personality is highly painful and unbearable for all. The memories of his life are now eternal guide to the human beings. Now, we have to depend upon on those memories. I offer my personal tribute and that on behalf of the RSS”.
4. SANSKRIT IS NOT A MERE LANGUAGE BUT A CIVILIZATION – JUSTICE (RETD) MN VENKATACHALAIAH: “Sanskrit is not a mere language but a civilization. The literature of Sanskrit should not be understood as a literature of the rituals, it is something extraordinary. The world is going to change in next ten years beyond recognition, because all branches of knowledge will coverage and the results will be spectacular. But will that change necessary be a progress? In this given situation the values in Sanskrit will provide you a touchstone to take the mankind to happiness. Extract this universal and eternal values laid through Sanskrit language. Universalisation of this language should be propagated through the International Sanskrit Book Fair”, said the former Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Bharat MN Venkatachalaiah. He was speaking at a meeting organized in Bengaluru on behalf of Sanskrit Bharati on May 7 for the preparations of the First International Sanskrit Book Fair which will be held in Bengaluru from January 7 to 10, 2011.
5. IIT BOMBAY ALUMNUS NAMED HARVARD B-SCHOOL DEAN: Nitin Nohria, a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School (HBS), has been appointed the 10th dean of the world famous institution. This is the first instance of a Bharat-born individual being appointed to the post in the prestigious institution’s 102-year history.
Nohria, 48, will take up new role on July 1. Nohria has been a professor at HBS since 1988, and is an alumnus of IIT Bombay, from where he received his bachelor of technology degree in chemical engineering. He received his PhD in management in 1988 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management.
Nohria is a specialist in the area of leadership and business ethics. He is co-author or co-editor of 16 books. His most recent book was Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice, brought out on the occasion of the HBS’s centennial celebrations.
He is currently co-chair of the Leadership Initiative and has previously served as senior associate dean of faculty development and head of the organisational behaviour unit.
Nohria and his wife Monica live in Lexington, Massachusetts, with their two daughters. He is the son of KK Nohria, former chairman of Crompton Greaves.
6. RSS SARKARYAVAH BHAYYAJI JOSHI STRONGLY condemned the attempts on the part of a section of the media to defame the RSS by involving its name in some destructive activities. In a statement issued in New Delhi on May 3 he said: “The news of the arrest of some of the persons by ATS in connection with blasts at several places in the past has been reported by newspapers. The newspapers have, however, also linked these incidents to the RSS. The RSS condemns this in strongest words.
“The RSS always believe in the due Constitutional process. The Sangh office bearers have relieved the individual charged in this particular incident of all responsibilities. There should be proper investigation and the appropriate legal action should be taken against the guilty, the innocent should not be harassed”.
7. DAD KILLED BY ULTRAS, DOCTOR FROM KASHMIR TOPS IAS: Dr. Shah Faisal, a 26-year-old MBBS, comes from a remote village in Kupwara district of strife-torn Kashmir and studied in a village school. Eight years ago, his father was gunned down by militants. But Dr Shah Faisal, a 26-year-old MBBS from Srinagar’s Sher-i-Kashmir Medical College, became the first Kashmiri ever to top the civil services exam.
8. TRITIYA VARSH STARTS AT NAGPUR: The annual month long third year training camp for RSS karyakartas was inaugurated by sah sarkaryavaha Dattatreya Hosbale on May 10 at Smriti Mandir Reshimbaug – Nagpur. This is the culmination of RSS training program called Sangh Shiksha Vargas which span over 4 years. Kerala has topped the list of participants with 59 shiksharthis out of total 881 from 39 provinces. Kshetra Sanghchalak of Pashchim Uttar Pradesh Darshanlal Arora is the Vargadhikari, Malwa Prant Karyavaha Ashok Sohni is Varg karyavaha while Vinodji is Mukhya Shikshak.
9. HINDU – YUVA WINS AWARD: Hindu YUVA (youth of unity, virtues and action) has won outstanding new group award and diversity award. Hindu YUVA started at the University of Cincinnati, US in April 2009 has grown to more than 110 members on list and many successful events and activities across the campus.
Hindu YUVA proudly list outs few of its activities which were recognized by the ‘Student’s Activities Board’ at UC, while felicitating it with the awards: Weekly get-together—Shakha, Surya Namaskar Yagna, Speaker on Campus, Work with refugees from Bhutan, Youth camps, picnics and many more fun events.
10. BHARAT IN AN ASIAN FRAMEWORK: SUBRAMANIAN SWAMY: The Kuwait Chapter of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICWAI) organized a lecture on “Bharat in an Asian Framework” by eminent Bharatiya economist, author and politician Dr. Subramanian Swamy, on May 6, at the Aerican University of Kuwait (AUK).
Dr. Swamy began his lecture by saying that Bharat has a long history of strong relations with the other countries of Asia. Bharat’s attempt to assert Asian unity was first made in 1947, when the Bharatiya Council of World Affairs organized the first Asian Relations Conference. But in the intervening forty years, until 1987, Bharat’s relations with its Asian neighbours remained at best sluggish.
Dr. Swamy elaborated by saying that much of East Asia, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore and others have a large Chinese population who form a powerful market savvy community that influences political policies in those countries. However, Dr. Swamy cautioned against unrealistic expectations.
Dr. Swamy said that Bharat needs to have a mindset change to emerge as a major economic power. If Bharat can make changes in agriculture and have three annual crop harvests instead of the current one, we can become the world’s leading supplier of food. Similarly, if Bharat can improve its infrastructure and have pro-business rules and regulations, it will be able to attract more trade and commerce from South East Asian countries.
The lecture was presided over by CA. M.S. Mathew, Chairman of Kuwait Chapter of ICAI.
11. MOBILES IN AMARNATH YATRA: Families back home need not worry about the well-being of their dear ones out on the long, arduous Amarnath yatra. This year, the 'network area' will follow yatris to the holy cave right from the departure point and keep them in touch with family members on mobile phones.
The Union communications ministry has got a green signal from BSNL that there will be nine towers erected in time to bring the yatra, which begins on July 1, under the mobile network.
12. TIBETAN PARLIAMENTARY DELE-GATION TO KARNATAKA: A Tibetan Parliamentary delegation headed by Deputy Speaker Mrs. Dolma Gowri returned to Dharamsala after successfully concluding visit to the south Bharatiya state of Karnataka. The delegation comprising of T.T. Karma Chophel, Ven. Lopon Sonam Tenphel, Gyari Bhutuk, Ven. Serta Tsultrim Wozer and Mrs. Tsering Youdon honoured Parampujaniya Sudarshanji, former Sarsanghachalak of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
The delegation called on the chief minister S. Yeddyurappa and leaders of all the political parties in the state, including the leader of the Opposition Sitaramia, Former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy (JD(S)), Dr. Gowda (JD(U)), M.P.Prakash, (Former Minister) and R. Deshpande, (President of Congress(I) Karnataka). The Bharatiya leaders received the delegation with great affection and expressed their support for the nonviolent initiatives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
13. HSS, The Hindu Student Sangam at the University of Chicago organized a ‘Yoga Retreat’ program with Professor NV Raghuram, on May 2nd 2010. The program was in two sessions; the first session was about ‘Stress Reduction using Mind Sound Resonance Technique (MSRT)’. Raghuram informed about various ongoing projects of Yoga Bharati at numerous hospitals and organizations in Bharat, Japan, Germany, Italy and USA. In Turkey hundreds of people participate in Yoga activities and follow vegetarian diet. He spoke in great detail about Yoga and its relationship with the health.
In the latter session he explained ‘Karma Yoga’ based on the teaching of the Bhagvad Gita in very simple way how one can act without being attached to the fruits of one's deeds, with many insightful stories.
14. HSS, NETAJI (IRVINE) SHAKHA CELEBRATES GURU VANDANA: The Irvine Shakha of the Hindu Swayamsevak angh (HSS) celebrated Guru Vandana (Teacher Appreciation Day) on Sunday, May 2, 2010. The event was a huge success with over a dozen teachers attending the event and the total attendee list crossing the three digit mark. The event was inaugurated by Swami Bhajanananda Saraswati, of Kali Mandir. Gnanashanmugam Elumalai ji, a HSS Karyakarta, explained that the word “Guru” is made up of “Gu” – darkness or ignorance – and “Ru” – the remover. Hence, the Guru is someone who removes the ignorance and replaces it with knowledge. The significance of Bhagwa Dwaj as the Guru of HSS was also explained.
The bala and kishore gana presented a cultural program where Sanskrit sholkas were recited in honor of the Guru. Swami Bhajananda Saraswati spoke on the importance of Guru, and on the ancient Guru-shishya tradition in Bharat.
Teachers expressed that they learned something new about the importance of a teacher in Hindu traditions, and the true meaning of the word Guru.
15. 'STARVING YOGI' astounds BHARATIYA scientists: Prahlad Jani spent a fortnight in a hospital in Gujarat under constant surveillance from a team of 30 medicos equipped with cameras and closed circuit television. During the period, he neither ate nor drank and did not go to the toilet.
The long-haired and bearded yogi was sealed in a hospital in the city of Ahmedabad in a study initiated by Bharat's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the state defence and military research institute.
The DRDO hopes that the findings, set to be released in greater detail in several months, could help soldiers survive without food and drink, assist astronauts or even save the lives of people trapped in natural disasters.
During the 15-day observation the doctors took scans of Jani's organs, brain, and blood vessels, as well as doing tests on his heart, lungs and memory capacity.
16. IGNOU’s GIFT TO TIHAR INMATES : free courses: The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), which runs a study centre at the jail to facilitate distance education, has decided to waive off fees it would have otherwise charged from inmates to pursue its courses from the next academic year.
Apart from the waiver of fees, IGNOU is also set to introduce a few additional graduate/post graduate level courses such as Masters in Social Work, diploma/certificate courses in HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and Family Education.
17. BHARAT FIGHTS PATENT CLAIMS ON TRADITIONAL REMEDIES: Bharat has challenged 36 attempts by international companies to get patents on Bharatiya traditional knowledge at the European Patents Office (EPO) over the past one year.
The applications were from the US, the UK, Italy, Spain, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, South Korea, China, Kenya and Bharat.
While the EPO set aside two cases — on the patents of pistachio and musk melon — 11 patent applicants have withdrawn their application when offered data from Bharat’s Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL), set up after the Bharat’s long battle over neem and turmeric patent infringements.
Other patent applications before the EPO include use of Bengal gram to treat obesity and diabetes (China), turmeric, cumin, ginger and onion as slimming agents (Denmark), using aloe vera to treat obesity (Germany) and arjuna as an anti-ageing agent (Germany).
18. IGI AIRPORT REDEVELOPED IN JUST 37 MONTHS!: The renovation-cum-modernisation work of Indira Gandhi International Airport in the run-up to Commonwealth Games in October 2010 started in February 2007 and is slated be completed by June-end.
The progress of Terminal 3 is on track despite several major challenges. Numerous encroachments, which include entire villages and industrial units, had to be shifted before work could begin. Additionally, protected wildlife species present at the site had to be relocated. The masterplan of the airport also had to undergo a redraft without any delay in the commencement of construction due to constraints placed by the orientation of the site.
19. BHARATIYA APPOINTED UN ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR PEACEKEEPING: Atul Khare, a veteran Bharatiya diplomat has been appointed Assistant Secretary-General for UN's Peacekeeping Operations.
Khare, 51, served as Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste and Head of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste from December 2006 to December 2009.
Earlier, he had worked as Chief of Staff, and later Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, with the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor.
During his tenure with the Bharatiya Foreign Service, Khare served in France, Mauritius, Senegal, Thailand and the United Kingdom, as well as the Mission of Bharat to the United Nations in New York.
20. CRPF GOES ON WITH TRIBAL WELFARE PLANS: The Dantewada massacre and the hunt for its perpetrators notwithstanding, the CRPF has decided to continue with the launch of a community welfare schemes as part of its confidence-building measures and to win over the hearts and minds of the local tribal population.
At heart of the civic initiative is the geography and demography of the area. Only 30 per cent of the locals living in the 65 per cent forested area is literate. Besides dense forests and low-literacy level, the inaccessibility and backwardness of the area have led the Maoists to gain a grip over the tribal population.
To win back the villagers, the CRPF will organise medical camps to give free treatment and medicines to the villagers. Apart from this, plans are afoot to lace the schools and hostels with items like computers, laser printers, computer tables, colour TVs with DTH connections, radio sets, pedestal fans and solar home-lighting systems.
21. Narad Smriti Patrakarita Samman presented: Veteran journalist of Chhindawada Deendayal Verma has been honoured with the Narad Samman. Ninety-year old Verma has been active in journalism for the last 60 years. The award for best journalist in print media was presented jointly to Gopal Krishna Awasthi of Nai Dunia and Paritosh Verma of evening daily Jailok. The award for electronic media was presented to Sanjiv Chaudhari of the NDTV. The best photographer award for print media was presented to Sugan Jat of Nai Dunia. The best cameraperson award for electronic media was presented jointly to Ram Sachdev and Vinod Shrivastava. Apart from it, three readers were also honoured on the occasion.
Presenting the Samman Panchjanya editor Baldevbhai Sharma expressed concern over the degradations in media surfacing every day.
More than 200 journalists from Mahakaushal region were present on the occasion.
22. MATH WHIZ' SUPER 30 IN TIME LIST: Time Magazine has selected mathematician Anand Kumar's school - Super 30 - in the list of Best of Asia 2010. Last year, all the 30 students of the coaching institute set up by Kumar in Patna cracked the IIT-JEE examination.
"Super 30 centre has a pass rate of 100 per cent. What makes that feat even more remarkable is that these students are the poorest of the poor who would otherwise never be able to afford full-time coaching," the Time magazine said.
The institute's founder Kumar who missed a chance to study at Cambridge for lack of money gives full scholarships, including room, boarding and travel to all the students in a batch of 30 students.
Expressing happiness over the recognition, Kumar said, "It is a pleasurable moment for us as 'Super 30' has become an example of “what’'s possible when human potential is tapped." The project has won the notice of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who met Kumar in February to hear his plan to launch a national program for talented rural children.
23. LANDSLIDE WIN FOR PIO ALLIANCE IN MAURITIUS: Mauritius ruling Labour Party steered to victory in 9th General Elections which is seen as a, Landslide Win for Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam. Jubilant re-elected Prime Minister announced that his philosophy of "Unity, Equality & Modernity with Teamwork along with pre-election Alliance with Pravind Jugnauth & Xavier Duvall Worked and resulted in comfortable 2/3 majority”. "I have been able to rally a majority of the population. It is vote for national unity," he added.
New Government of The Republic with 25 Ministers, mix of experienced 5 seniors, others, mostly youngsters in 35 / 45’s age group were sworn in on at the State House by President Anerood Jugnauth, the architect of political alliance of keeping the PIO vote intact which left opposition, led by Paul Berenger with very little (Just 18 seats out of 70).
Mauritius is regarded as one of Afro-Asia’s social and economic success story with effective democracy and has enjoyed years of constitutional order.
24. HSS, UNC Charlotte Hindu YUVA conducted a program, named Bridging the Gap, involving Hindu dharma, Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Sikhi. The program went well; the overall sankhya for the night was about 30. There was one speaker representative from each religion.
25. IT COMPANIES OFFER DESI LURES TO GLOBAL CUSTOMERS: Downturn or upturn, customer continues to be the king and is now a pampered lot. Domestic tech providers are out to woo their global patrons with a full-fledged Bharat experience, ranging from authentic desi cuisine, culture show, sight seeing, shopping jaunts to exotic ayurvedic spa sessions and Kerala house boat cruises.
Well, all these come after a traditional welcome ceremony, headed by a decorated tusker, accompanied by flower arrangements, drum beats, art shows and a welcome thaali.
Krishna Prasad, global head (delivery) of tech firm, UST Global says: "Enterprises, big and small, take a lot of care to win the heart of their customers right from their first visit. Our client welcome ceremonies are really grand and always involve a tusker, traditional lamps, kathakali and quality hospitality."
26. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Pravas: Dr.Shankar Tatwawadi, samyojak Vishwa Vibhag will be coming to Bharat for Sangh Shiksha Varg and other pravas. Visitors: Manohar Lal – Malaysia.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: There are two ways of contemplation of Brahman; in sound and silence. By sound we go to silence. The sound of Brahman is OM. With OM we go to the End; the silence of Brahman. The End is immortality, union and peace. Even as a spider reaches the liberty of space by means of its own thread, the man of contemplation by means of OM reaches Brahman. – Taittiriya Upanishad.
JAI SHREE RAM
GETTING INDIA INTO ORBITUS President Barack Obama wants to change the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) priorities. According to the new budget proposed for the US space agency in February, the Obama administration wants NASA to outsource rocket development for human spaceflight to commercial companies such as Space Exploration Technologies Corporation and the United Launch Alliance, a collaboration between defence contractor Lockheed Martin and aeroplane giant Boeing. Speaking at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida sometime ago, Obama tried to muster support for his NASA vision.
Saswato R Das
Saswato R Das
If the Obama plan gets approved by the US Congress, in future NASA astronauts will pay for orbital launches in commercial spacecraft developed by private companies. NASA's change of direction provides a big opportunity for India to step up to the plate and take leadership of manned spaceflight.
It is probably a safe bet to predict the US companies will slip in delivering spacecraft capable of leaving earth's gravity. One of the companies has already missed its initial projections. The reason is simple: such technical expertise is hard won. NASA has the expertise, but not the companies. They will need to build it up (and, realistically, it is not something that a company can easily hire away). Russia has expertise to launch crewed spacecraft, but has never sent men to the moon. Besides, its space programme is in dire straits.
This is where India could come in. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has proved it can launch spacecraft headed to the moon. Not only did Chandrayaan-1 reach lunar orbit, it has been a scientific success. It has spotted a lot of ice on the moon, and Indian scientists have partnered NASA counterparts in scientific experiments.
China has spotted this opportunity as well, and is itself interested in the conquest of space. Chinese astronauts have done space walks, and China is supposed to be building a heavy thrust rocket that can carry men to the moon. While officially the Chinese government has not said it will try to send humans to the moon, it seems to be investigating the possibility. Other than the US and Russia, China is the only country that has sent humans into space. Though it has not launched humans into orbit yet, India's space expertise at this point rivals China's and may even exceed it in certain key scientific areas such as lunar landers and telemetry.
If ISRO jumps into the ring, the world will see a space race between India and China reminiscent of one between the US and the Soviet Union in the midst of the Cold War. (NASA was created in July 1958 by US President Dwight Eisenhower in response to the Soviet launch of Sputnik 1 a few months earlier. In 1961, the Soviets sent Yuri Gagarin into orbit. At its peak, NASA's budget was almost 1 per cent of US GDP. On July 20, 1969, America won the race as NASA astronauts took the first human steps on the moon.)
What will India have to do to take the lead? For one, the issue has to become a national priority, with support at the highest levels. It will require a big budget, though ISRO is remarkably cost-efficient. The Chandrayaan-1 project cost just below Rs 400 crore, about $80 million, about a fifth or a sixth of what it would have cost NASA to do something comparable. With ISRO's expertise and India's existing scientific manpower, a focused effort may bear fruit relatively quickly. Arguably, the race with China will spur creativity and speed. There are a few other space hopefuls, such as Japan and South Korea, but at this point China seems India's biggest competitor.
There will be questions as to whether India can afford this. Wouldn't the money be better spent fighting poverty or building schools and dams? India's leaders will have to make the choice. There will be by-products of such a lunar effort (just as NASA research led to better sneakers, better runways, better sunglasses, better solar panels and so on). Maybe Chandrayaan-1's successors will find evidence of helium-3 which could be used to build fusion reactors on the moon, just as Chandrayaan-1 found evidence of water. A lunar effort will inspire thousands of young Indians to become scientists, bettering India's chances for leading the world in science and technology in future. And it will vastly improve India's brand in the world.
Big science projects have always faced questions. Probably one of the best answers to them was given by Robert Wilson, who went on to be the first director of Fermilab, housing the giant multimillion-dollar particle accelerator, outside Chicago. In Congress in 1969, Wilson was quizzed about the value of the accelerator to US security and asked to justify the expenditure. He responded: "It has only to do with...the dignity of men, our love of culture. It has to do with: Are we good painters, good sculptors, great poets?...all the things we really venerate in our country and are patriotic about. It has nothing to do directly with defending our country except to make it worth defending."
If India decides to take the lead in manned space flight, it is quite conceivable Indian manned spacecraft will one day ferry not only Indian but also NASA astronauts into orbit.
The writer is trained in astrophysics. -- The Times of India, May 13, 2010
Volunteerism shows the way: Infusing hope and light into lives of rag-pickers and orphans
J.V. Lakshmana RaoChicago: They were slum children; they were rag-pickers, they lived on pavements, they scooped leftover food from domestic and restaurant wastes; some of them were crippled, disabled and even blind; they were abandoned; they were orphans; they were destitutes; they were begging on streets, they were all street-children in Bengaluru, better known as Silicon Valley of India, and its surrounding suburbs. But their lives have begun to change. They are now on a path to progress. They are intelligent; they learn their culture; they go to school; they are well groomed; they now nurture dreams and ambitions; and they seek to live a respectable life.
Their lives had begun to change when they were picked up by volunteers of Hindu Seva Pratishthana, a non-profit service organization, which runs several service institutions to improve the lives of these neglected lot. Thirty-two such girls in the ages ranging from six years to 16 years now live in Ashakirana Nele, one of the homes run by Hindu Seva Pratishthana. Nele means shelter in Kannada. They are in the classes ranging from LKG to 10th standard. The credit for grooming these girls goes to four devoted and committed matrons, headed by Saroja. These matrons, groom the children, dress them, prepare food for them and help them in their homework and teach them samskaras – like offering prayers, chanting bhajans and respecting elders and teachers.
The Narendra Nele, a spacious building located in a timber factory, donated by a philanthropist. Forty-one boys in the age group of 5-18 years live in.
For this writer, the short two-day tour to some of the institutions in Bengaluru run by Hindu Seva Pratishthana, was a great education of how volunteerism could bring a big change in the lives of disabled and less fortunate children. This writer visited Ashakirana Nele for Girls, Narendra Nele for Boys, Aruna Chetana for Disabled Children, Vocational Training Center for the Disabled Youth, Seva Kirana Tuition Center for Slum Children, Yogashree -- a center for teaching yoga; and theYouth for Seva at Ajithashree, the headquarters of Hindu Seva Pratishthana. It also runs similar institutions in other cities of Karnataka.
Aruna Chetana in Malleswaram is a school for disabled children suffering from mental and physical retardations, behavior problems, developmental disabilities, hearing impairment, emotional problems, epilepsy, incapacities in learning, and hyperactive and deficiency in concentration. Usha Jagirdar, principal and Gayatiri Panja, vice principal, say that each disabled child is unique and needs individual attention.
The Vocational Training Center for the Disabled Youth is operated by Functional Academy Group. The teachers at the center teach various vocational courses to the disabled children and the youth depending on their physical and mental capabilities.
A visit to Seva Kirana Tuition Center for Slum Children in Anjanappa Garden Slum reveals that how the dedicated volunteer-teachers – Shivaranjani and Suhasini – work in the evenings helping the slum children. About 45 students from grade one to grade seven were huddled in a small room and these two teachers were helping each one of them to do their homework. The slum with a population of 10,000 has two such centers. At present there are 20 such centers in various slums in the city
Yogashree -- the center for teaching yoga -- has, in the past 25 years, trained at lest 25,000 people of whom, 750 have become yoga instructors. About 260 people in six batches are being trained at the center on a daily basis. It is interesting to note that about 35 students who were trained under the tutelage of Yogshree are now working as dedicated instructors at the center.
Since Hindu Seva Pratishthana’s theme is service or seva, it lays a lot of importance in volunteerism. Therefore, the Youth for Seva, a wing of Hindu Seva Pratishthana, which was formed in 2007, welcomes youngsters to volunteer their time, services and resources
Nagbhushanji and Krishamoorthyji, who accompanied this writer during the tour, say for as little as Rs. 500 a month, a donor can sponsor a child to provide good education, clothing, healthcare and other needs. It will help the children to grow into responsible citizens, stand on their own legs and help the society. Hindu Seva Pratishthana is helped by several selfless volunteers in serving several hundreds of poor and needy children.
For more information about Hindu Seva Pratishthana, please visit Web site www.nele.org.in and sponsoring a child please visit Web site