Bhadrapad 16 Vik Samvat 2067. Yugabda 5112: September 1, 2010

1. FESTIVALS: MALAYALEES CELEBRATE THE FESTIVAL OF ONAM: Keralites on August 23 celebrated Onam, the spring festival commemorating the egalitarian utopia under the reign of mythical King Mahabali during which people lived in plenty, prosperity and equality.
People cutting across caste, class and religion decorated their homes with floral carpets to welcome the annual re-visit of Mahabali.
The legend has it that 'Asura' king Mahabali was banished to the netherworld by Lord Vishnu, who took the incarnation of Vamana (the dwarf), under pressure from 'Devas', who were jealous of the King's popularity. Before his departure, the King secured an assurance from Lord Vishnu that he would be allowed to visit his subjects on 'Thiruvonam' day of Malayalam calendar every year.
The festivities scaled to its crescendo in the last couple of days with towns and villages thronged by men, women and children going out for their festive shopping. The state officially honoured renowned actor Kamal Hasan, who was the chief guest at the Onam-Tourism Week celebrations.
2. TEMPLE IN AYODHYA TO FULFILL ASPIRATIONS OF MILLIONS OF HINDUS- MOHAN BHAGWAT: Inaugurating the ‘Hanumatshakti Jagarana Abhiyana’ at Nagpur’s famous Agaram Devi Temple premises on August 16 coinciding Tulsi Jayanti, RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat said that Sri Rama embodied all the highest values of human life which can guide the entire humanity on the path of peace and progress.
Bhagwat said that already a small temple existed at the birth place of Sri Rama and what was needed was to convert that into a grand, magnificent temple fulfilling the aspirations of millions of Hindus for whom it has been the matter of faith since eons.
The RSS Sarsanghchalak opined that Hanuman was all devoted for the cause of Rama. He had no personal ambitions of any kind. His was a fully devoted life at the lotus feet of Sri Rama. Like him, we have to arouse this strength in our society; and lead such awakened society to establish the grand temple at Ayodhya for the welfare of entire humanity. Earlier, Shri Barai Maharaj and VHP Central Committee member Sriramji Joshi alongwith other VHP functionaries of Nagpur and Prant appealed to the people to be ready for construction of Rama Temple at Ayodhya and create a social awareness through this unique awareness campaign of Shakti Jagarana in presence of prominent people of Nagpur.
3. CONGRESS TICKS OFF CHIDAMBARAM OVER 'SAFFRON TERROR' REMARK: With the BJP, Congress on August 27 distanced itself from its home minister.
"Saffron or bhagwa or kesariya (Hindi equivalents of saffron) is not the issue here. The issue is terrorism. Terrorism does not have any colour other than black," said Janardan Dwivedi, Congress general secretary and head of the party's media department.
Making plain the party's disapproval of Chidambaram's controversial formulation, Dwivedi said terrorism could not be associated with any colour, "be it saffron, green, white or red". He further said, "Terrorism is terrorism and should be opposed in whatever form it comes." Significantly, he also stressed that "saffron colour has been part of our ancient tradition and is associated with our freedom strggle".
4. DEVOTEES COME DRESSED IN RED TO CELEBRATE AADI PURAM: Dressed in different shades of red and maroon, more than 600 Hindu devotees carried earthen pots filled with rice porridge on a 3 km-long procession to celebrate the Aadi Puram festival.
A procession of 600 Hindu devotees, all dressed in shades of red and each carrying pots of rice porridge chanted Om Sakthi and Parasakthi as they walked barefoot from the Agni Muniswarar Temple in Permatang Tinggi to the Om Sakthi Spiritual and Charitable Association Prayer Centre in Taman Sukun Indah on August 15 in Malaysia.
5. OBJECTIVE OF SEWA IS TO STRENGTHEN THE HINDU SOCIETY-BHAYYAJI JOSHI: "The ultimate objective of all our service activities, started in 1979 in an organised manner all over the country, is to strengthen the Hindu society. The sewa activities have now assumed the form of a big movement and there is hardly any section of the society where RSS workers have not started any welfare activity. Even then, we have yet to go miles and have to ensure that not a single person of the society remains deprived," said RSS Sarkaryavah Bhayyaji Joshi. He was addressing a meeting of women activists involved in service activities all over the country. The meeting was organised by Sewa Vibhag of RSS in Nagpur from August 21-22 under the banner of Akhil Bharatiya Mahila Sewa Prakalp. A total of 127 women delegates representing 45 women organisations participated in the two-day meeting.
Many prominent functionaries including Pramukh Sanchalika of Rashtra Sevika Samiti Pramilatai Medhe and Akhil Bharatiya Mahila Samanvya Pramukh Gitatai Gunde, were also present on the occasion.
6. BILL FOR NRIs VOTING RIGHTS TABLED IN RS: Bowing to repeated demands of non-resident Indians (NRIs) for voting rights, the government on August 21 introduced a bill in the Rajya Sabha to enable them to register their names in electoral rolls. Moving the Representation of People (Amendment) Bill 2010, law minister M Veerappa Moily said the fresh move would allow Bharatiyas living abroad, who have not acquired the citizenship of any other country, to register themselves in the constituencies where their place of residence falls, as mentioned in their passports.
7. VHP URGES PM TO SAVE GANGA: Thanking Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh for scraping two hydro power projects on the Bhagirathi and for deciding to declare the 135-km stretch between Gomukh and Uttarkashi as an eco-sensitive zone under the Environmental Protection Act and not to allow any developmental project in the zone, VHP president Ashok Singhal urged him to save Mandakini and Alaknanda rivers also. He also urged him to confer the status of ‘national heritage’ on the Ganga.
8. BEACON OF HOPE: Bangladesh snubs Islamists -- In the midst of rising Islamist fundamentalism across the world that among other things even seeks to impose a dress code on people, a Muslim country, Bangladesh, has shown the way to reconcile the tenets of Islam with liberal attitudes. Rapping religious bigots on the knuckles, the country’s High Court recently ruled that women could not be compelled to wear burqa or for that matter any religious dress in workplaces or educational institutions. That the court should have intervened by taking suo motu notice of a report that said the principal of a college had restricted entry of girl students who turned up in the campus without a burqa, is even further evidence of the heightened sense of appreciation in the country that personal choices should not become hostage to religious diktats of mullahs. The overzealous principal will have a lot of explaining to do in the court before which he has to soon appear, for not only did he insist on the burqa but that he had also scrapped all sports and cultural activities in the institute, ostensibly because it went against the Islamic way of life. The order comes barely four months after another Bench of the High Court there had ruled that women teachers could not be forced to wear a burqa or cover their heads against their wishes, as such insistence would be violation of the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution. While the recent court orders will further strengthen liberal thinking there, they also offer a lesson to secular nation like ours that baulks at taking strong measures against Islamic fundamentalism for fear of annoying the minority community and being branded communal. Remember that only too recently students of a Muslim university in West Bengal prevented a teacher from taking classes for weeks because she refused to bow to their demand for wearing a burqa. The shocking case did not shake the conscience of the ‘secular’ State and Union Governments, who remained mute spectators for long. When Islamic countries can show courage to repudiate religious fundamentalism, why should we be so defensive? --Exceprts from the Editorial, the Pioneer, August 25, 2010.
9. VOICES RAISED IN SUPPORT OF TASLIMA CITIZENSHIP: The voices in support of the Bengali writer have grown louder even as the government decided to extend her visa for another year. Several human rights organisations such as Human Rights Defense or HRD (Bharat), freedom of speech activists, Delhi High Court and Supreme Court Bar Associations, lawyers and other members of the liberal Indian intelligentsia recently signed a “Delhi Declaration” demanding permanent Indian citizenship for the author.
10. U. B. DAY 2010: Vishwa Adhyayan Kendra, Mumbai celebrated the Universal Brotherhood Day on August 27th. The Keynote Address was given by Ajit Doval - a highly decorated police officer who had an illustrious career and retired as Director, Intelligence Bureau.
He said that be it the faith based religions or the science based theories like Darwin’s Theory or Primordial Soup Theory, we are increasingly converging to the idea that the entire living beings including human beings came from the same evolutionary process and hence have same heritage. His speech was a perfect blend of logic, caution and motivation.
The programme was attended by 150 distinguished audiences from various walks of life ranging from students to CEOs and included 65 who attended for the first time.
11. “HINDUS SHOULD START A HINDU FREEDOM MOVEMENT IN BHARAT.”: Said Upananda Brahamachari in his maiden speech in a strong gathering of over 1,000 people at Birnagar, Kaliachak III block in Malda District in a grand celebration of 64th Independence Day by Hindu Samhati (HS) local committee. “The influx of Bangladeshi Muslims, uncontrolled Muslim population, Pak supported Jihadi activities, Muslim appeasement and Muslim Vote Bank Politics are vehemently jeopardizing the very texture of Bharatiya democracy and integrity”, said Brahmachari “Each and every martyr sacrificed their life for the cause of Independence of Akhanda Bharatvarsha (Undivided India). But for personal gain some political leaders of English Culture supported the division of Mother Bharat”, he added.
12. SECULAR STATE CAN’T PAY SALARIES TO IMAMS: The Congress appears to be increasingly willing to bend over backwards to accommodate the stunningly absurd demands of its allies and those who help keep the UPA in power. Nothing else explains why the Government should have offered to favourably consider paying salaries to imams as demanded by the Trinamool Congress of Ms Mamata Banerjee, who also happens to be Minister for Railways, and the Rashtriya Janata Dal led by Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav. It is patently clear that Ms Banerjee and Mr Yadav, as if working in tandem, have fished out a 17-year-old judgement pertaining to salaries for imams of mosques covered by the Wakf Act to pander to the Muslim voters of Bihar and West Bengal where Assembly elections are due. And, it is extremely unfortunate that vote-bank politics should have reached a point where politicians are brazen enough to demand in Parliament that imams should be paid salaries from the public exchequer. Surely India’s taxpayers do not part with a portion of their hard-earned money to keep imams — or, for that matter, padres and pandits — in comfort. – Excerpts from the Editorial, The Pioneer, August 23, 2010
13. KARNATAKA GOVT. SEEKS ASSENT ON ANTI-COW SLAUGHTER BILL: Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa took a delegation comprising of BJP MP’s and his Cabinet colleagues, to meet Rashtrapati Pratibha Devisingh Patil, requesting for her assent for the Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter & Prevention of Cattle Bill 2010, on August 9.
Karnataka Govt. decided to enact a comprehensive legislation to prohibit the slaughter of cows and calves of she-buffaloes, bull, bullock, buffalo male or female and for the preservation and improvement of the breeds of cattle and to endeavour to organise agriculture and animal husbandry in terms of Article 48 of the Constitution of Bharat.. Accordingly, the Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill, 2010 was introduced in both the Houses of the Karnataka Legislature and was considered and passed. The Bill prescribes stringent punishment for violation, makes the offence cognisable and non-bailable.
14. RAKSHA BANDHAN AN OPPORTUNITY TO UNITE AND GET UNITED- MOHAN BHAGWAT: "Raksha Bandhan is a festival that unites and ensures protection. Aggressive and expansionist forces are invading us from all sides. The message of Rakshabandhan becomes more relevant in this situation." said RSS Sarsanghachalak Bhagwat during a meeting with noted Jain saint Acharya Jayantsen Suri in Vijayawada on August 24. National president of Tristutik Jain Shwetambar Sangh and treasurer of Madhya Pradesh BJP Chaitanya Kashyap were also present on the occasion. The Acharya is observing ‘Chaturmas’ in Vijaywada.
15. DIVINE INTERVENTION SAVES GOLDEN MAHSEER: Hindu temples dotting the river in Pauri and Nainital have become isolated sanctuaries protecting the mighty, but threatened, golden mahseer from ruthless illegal fishing methods by the locals. Mahseer is a prized freshwater species having high culinary demand in the Ramganga region.
Be it the famous Garjia shrine, the ancient Baijnath or the array of smaller austere temples, these holy places have become isolated sanctuaries for the endangered fish. The priests of these shrines have prohibited fish catching in the area and its absolute reverence among natives makes the mahseer flourish even in the absence of any official guard.
16. SEWA BHARATI PRESENTED RS ONE CRORE FOR LEH RELIEF: Pravinbhai Maniar, Paschim Kshetra Samparak Pramukh presented Rs one crore for relief and rehabilitation of flood victims in Leh. The money, presented in New Delhi on August 21 at a function in Seva Bharati karyalay , has been deposited in Ladakh Apada Sahayata Kosh. After receiving the cheque, Jaidev, Sewa Pramukh of Jammu and Himachal region, said the Sewa Bharati has decided to rebuild about 100 houses for the victims. He said 100 houses for animals will also be built.
17. THOUSANDS CONDUCT BUDHA AMARNATH YATRA: Thousands of devotees conducted Budha Amarnath Yatra. They left on the pilgrimage on August 11 and returned on August 15. Budha Amarnath is done in Punchch district of Jammu and Kasmir, about 250 kms away from Jammu. Bajrang Dal conducts this Yatra every year.
The devotees had left for the pilgrimage in buses from Delhi. It is believed that Rishi Pulatsya, the grandfather of Ravana, used to go to the holy cave of Swami Amar Nath. When he became old and was unable to reach the cave, Baba Amar Nath appeared at the place in the form of rock Shivlinga. Since then, the place became famous as Baba Budha Amar Nath. The river nearby is called Pulasti and the place is called Punchh.
18. PEJAWAR MUTT SWAMI GOES ON PADAYATRA IN DALIT COLONY: Blazing a new trail aimed at ending exploitation of dalits in the name of untouchability and creating a sense of social harmony, Vishweshwara Theertha Swami of Pejawar Mutt on August 28 went on a padayatra in a Dalit Colony and offered 'Vaishnava Deeksha' (initiation). So overwhelmed were residents of the Devaraj Urs Colony, inhabited predominantly by 'Pourakarmiks', engaged in sweeping roads by the City Corporation that some of them shed tears of joy and mixed freely touching the feet of the septuagenerian Swami, one of the highly respected seers.
The Colony itself wore a festive look with the lanes and by lanes decorated with festoons and rangoli drawn in front of their houses to receive the Swami, who is also one of the founders of Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
19. SPANISH MAHABHARATA PUBLISHED: The Hastinapur Foundation of Buenos Aires has published a Spanish version of Mahabharata. This is the first time that the full version of Mahabharata, the Bharatiya epic, has been translated into Spanish. The translation in 639 pages was done by Hugo Labate over a period of seven years.
20. MAKE SURE FOREIGNERS ARE NOT TO BE ENUMERATED IN CENSUS – ADVANI: Senior BJP leader L K Advani said every care should be taken to ensure that foreigners are not enumerated in the ongoing 2011 census. Advani was speaking at a function organized in New Delhi on August 23 to launch North-East India Sampark Cell of BJP.
Advani said the north-east is facing ‘external aggression’ in the form of massive infiltration from Bangladesh. “The problem has not only endangered the very survival of Assam, but is also threatening other north-eastern states.” BJP national president Nitin Gadkari and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley also spoke at the function.
21. VANVASIS SHOULD GET THE FRUITS OF INDEPENDENCE-KRIPA PRASAD SINGH: "It is our collective responsibility to help the Vanvasi brethren to get the fruits of Independence as they also fought for the freedom," said Kalyan Ashram national joint general secretary Kripa Prasad Singh. He was addressing the annual meeting of PEEP, a voluntary organisation working in Kerala in association with Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, at SKMJ High School Auditorium in Kalpetta on August 15. Representatives from 28 colonies where the PEEP works attended the meeting.
PEEP has been working for the last five years among the people of Paniya Vanvasi community settled in Wayanad, Malapuram, Kannur and Kozhikkode districts of Kerala.
22. BARCing UP RIGHT TREE: SKIN, LIVER TUMOUR CURE SOON: In a major breakthrough in cancer research involving a non-invasive medical procedure, scientists at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) have developed therapeutic radionuclides — also known as radio pharmaceuticals — for curing neuro-endocrine, skin and liver tumours.
The scientists have reached the conclusion that Lutetium-177 (Lu-177) and Phosphorus-32 (P-32) are extremely effective radio pharmaceuticals to treat neuro-endocrine and skin cancer patients respectively, at advanced stages. Confirming the development, Meera Venkatesh, head of BARC's Radio pharmaceuticals Division, said on August 18: “We have made an effective use of Lutetium-177 in five leading hospitals in the country.”
23. JAMMU'S ‘3 IDIOTS’ DESIGN: Ever seen a car rotating 360 degrees on its axis? Three budding mechanical engineering graduates from Jammu have designed this amazing car which could usher in a revolution in auto engineering. The “baby car” is smaller than even the Nano.
Showcasing their small-car model — AXI-RO, which can rotate 360 degrees on its axis with a zero-metre turning radius — in Jammu on August 16, the trio claimed their baby car offers the best possible solution to those who find it difficult to reverse their vehicles in congested parking spaces. At top speed, the two-seater AXI-RO races beyond 40kmph and promises a mileage of 22 km per litre even on hilly terrain.
Instead of hunting for jobs, they chose to spend time on their dream project and finally came up with the design of AXI-RO to address the issue of parking congestion on busy Bharatiya roads. They felt the invention would be a practical solution to the common problem.
24. 5th CENTURY BUDDHIST SITE FOUND NEAR KABUL: Archaeologists in Afghanistan, where Taliban Islamists are fighting the Western-backed government, have uncovered Buddhist-era remains in an area south of Kabul.
"There is a temple, stupas, beautiful rooms, big and small statues, two with the length of seven and nine meters, colorful frescos ornamented with gold and some coins," said Mohammad Rasouli, head of the Afghan archaeological department. "Some of the relics date back to the 5th century AD. We have come across signs that there are items maybe going back to the era before Christ or prehistory," he said.
25. ANCIENT SPORT OF INDIA TOUTS TIES TO BUDDHA, AND MALE CHEERLEADERS: Essentially a game of tag mixed with elements of wrestling, Judo and yogic feats of lung capacity, kabaddi traces its roots on the Bharatiya subcontinent back some 4,000 years. Long regarded by Bharatiyas as a pastime for villagers and children, it now has international and even Olympic ambitions.
The northern state of Punjab held a "World Cup" of kabaddi this April that drew crowds of more than 50,000. Italy, Iran, Canada and the U.S. sent teams. Plans are under way to launch a World Kabaddi League early next year with city-based teams, playoffs and an off-season.
Kabaddi is played on a rectangular court. Teams of seven players take turns sending "raiders" across the dividing line to tag opponents. All the while, they chant "kabaddi"—derived from a Hindi word meaning "holding of breath"—to prove they aren't inhaling.
26. THREE BHARATIYAS IN MIT LIST OF WORLD’S TOP INNOVATORS: A young Bharatiya-origin aerospace engineer from the US, Rikin Gandhi, 29, presently CEO of Delhi-based Digital Green, 34-year-old Ranveer Chandra, who has been recognised for delivering high-speed wireless Internet connections over longer distances in the US, and 32-year-old Indrani Medhi whose effort at building interfaces for the illiterate has been recognized have made it to the annual list of young innovators published by the Technological Review magazine. The magazine is put out by an independent company owned by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The list, called TR35, is a collection of the top 35 innovators under the age of 35 in a particular year
27. BHARAT IS LARGEST COTTON FIELD, VIDARBHA RIDES BT BOOM: Bharat has registered 106 lakh hectares under cotton so far this year – for cotton, this is a new world record, beating the 104 lakh hectares recorded in 1934 in the United States.
Confirming this, Anupam Barik, Director, Department of Cotton Development, said: “So far, the area is 106 lakh hectares. This is set to go up to 110 lakh hectares when another 2.5-3 lakh hectares will he added in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in the rabi season.”
In 2009-10, the area under cotton was 101.71 lakh hectares. Much of this increase, about 5 lakh hectares, has come from Maharashtra, always in the news for suicide by farmers of the cotton belt in Vidarbha.
28. BHARAT FIRST CHOICE OF UK FIRMS FOR OUTSOURCING JOBS: Two-thirds of British companies intending to outsource jobs offshore prefer Bharat over China. This is the finding of a study jointly carried out by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development here and the accounting firm KPMG. The remaining one-third will go to China and Eastern Europe. The corporates are seeking to export call centre, IT and finance jobs abroad.
CIPD and KPMG's Labour Market Outlook research claimed a decline in the qualities of those who are emerging out of the British education system, which is driving companies to look overseas.
29. TWO SIKHS IN AFGHAN POLL FRAY, WANT TO BE FIRST ELECTED NON-MUSLIMS: Pritpal Singh Pal and Anarkali Kaur Honaryar are running for positions in Afghanistan’s Wolesi Jirga, the 250-seat lower house of parliament, elections for which are scheduled on September 18.
If they win, they will become the first democratically elected non-Muslim parliamentarians in the country — Afghan Hindus and Sikhs have held parliamentary positions before through nomination.
30. BANSILAL SONEE PASSES AWAY: Veteran Sangh Pracharak Bansilal Sonee passed away at Bisuddhananda Marwari Hospital on August 21. He was 80. His elder brother Anantlal Sonee was also a Pracharak and died three years ago. All his seven brothers are swayamsevaks. Born in Kolkata he became a swayamsevak in early forty and dedicated his life to nation in early 1960s.
31. DEFIANT BANGGARMA SHOWS HER HINDU FAITH: S Banggarma, who was declared “a Muslim” by the Penang High Court on Aug 4, defied the Islamic authorities and demonstrated her Hindu belief by carrying “paal kudam” (pot of milk) at a temple festival in Parit Buntar on August 20.
The mother of two offered her penance to Hindu goddess Mariamman at Sri Muthu Mariamman Kovil fire-walking festival in Dennis Town Estate in the morning together with hundreds of Hindu devotees. She carried the paal kudam for a kilometre from nearby Sri Muneeswarar Kovil to Sri Muthu Mariamman Kovil seeking the divine’s blessing and intervention to help her overcome her battle with the Islamic authorities.
32. JAYAKUMAR, RECIPIENT OF 2010 AKHIL CHOPRA MEMORIAL AWARD: Dr. Jayakuar Srinivasan, a winner of the 2010 Akhil Chopra award presented by Hindus of Greater Houston, was a bright student since his childhood. After graduating in IIT Madras, he went to Purdue University and earned himself a masters and doctoral degree in chemical engineering.
The trade off of this academic success was that he missed the learning and appreciation of the great Bharatiya values. He felt deep void and thus the stage was set for the arrival of his guru. A chance visit to a talk by Swami Dayanand during his visit to Purdue University was the spark. His attendance to H.H. Swami Dayananda Saraswati ji’s talk in 1996 on Brihadaranyaka Upanishad turned his life around completely and helped him grasp the essentials of Hindu Dharma. He started teaching Hinduism and was nominated twice to head Vedic Heritage School. He also initiated AIM for SEWA, a non profit fund raiser in Houston which helped to build two Chhatralayas in Tamilnadu.
33. PROTEST IN PAK FLOOD CAMP AFTER BEEF SERVED TO HINDUS: Hundreds of minority Hindus rendered homeless by the devastating floods in Pakistan were served beef by authorities at a relief camp in Karachi, triggering protest from the community members.
The Hindus belonging to the Baagri and Waghari nomadic tribes, who numbered around 600, are among 4,000 flood victims of different faiths living in the relief camp in Lyari area.
“We are Hindus and consumption of beef is prohibited in our religion but we were given beef, which is unacceptable,” Mohan Baagri, a Hindu living at the camp, said. Following the protest, officials of the Minority Affairs Ministry of Sindh province rushed to the camp and intervened to resolve the issue.
34. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Pravas: Ravikumarji, sah samyojak Vishwa Vibhag will be visiting Chile & Argentina. Shyam Parande, Secretary – Sewa International will be visiting Finland, USA and Caribbean countries viz. Trinidad, Barbados and Dominica. Visitors Dr.Anil Nene, Himanshu Sobti-UK, Deepak Sharma-USA.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: The earth is supported by the power of truth. It is the power of truth that makes the sun shine and the winds blow; indeed all things rest upon truth. – Chanakya
Hundreds of people got killed and thousands are missing and numerous were injured in worst ever cloud bursts and flash floods in Leh which caused unprecedented destruction in the entire district in general and Leh town in particular on August 6. In these adverse conditions, volunteers of the Sewa Bharati, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarathi Parishad (ABVP) and the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram started all-out rescue and relief operations. The leaders of all these organisations met the Dy Commissioner Leh, Chief Executive Councillor of LDHC and Brigadier Dutta of Army and submitted them written letters extending full support to relief and rescue operations. They appreciated the relief operation by all these organisations.
According to reports, a RSS training camp (ITC) was underway near Leh when the disaster struck. Suspending the camp activities, all the swayamsevaks rushed at the catastrophe site and immediately started the rescue and relief operations. In the meantime, the Sewa Bharati J&K through its unit in Leh in association with the Ladakh Phande Tsongpa had already established a relief operation camp in Leh and is looking after the needs of the affected people.
According to reports, five villages - Nimmo, Basgo, Shaboo, Faing and Ney, apart from Choglamsar and Leh town, have been very badly hit. Before the people and administration could wake up to the prevailing situation, the natural calamity had caused unprecedented damages everywhere. The district hospital was flooded, bus stands flattened and vehicles were seen floating in the heart of town. The communication equipment of BSNL got completely damaged in the flash floods thereby tying the hands of the administration in starting early relief and rescue operations as damage to the telephone exchange rendered all mobile and landline phones useless.
Flooded hospitals, flattened bus stands, washed away houses and floating cars amidst echo of wailing people were all that was left after the flash floods. What to talk of road connectivity with Kargil, the road link of Leh town with adjoining villages got completely snapped as numerous culverts and bridges got washed away in the floods.
According to the latest conservative estimates till August 16, 179 bodies have been recovered, more than 600 are still missing besides the injured whose number is around over 1,000. The link roads to Leh from Kulu Manali as also National High Way 1D connecting Ladakh to rest of the State and country have been blocked. The Choglamsar was reportedly inhabited by around 150 houses but the cloud bursts and the flash floods devastated it completely and there is no trace of any inhabitant. Ladakh, the second largest district after Kutch in Gujarat in terms of area, is also known as land of high passes or broken moon. Surrounded by Kunlun mountain range in the North, Himalayas in the South, it is the sparsely populated regions of Jammu and Kashmir State. Renowned for its remote mountain beauty and culture Ladakh has Tibet to the East, Lahul Spiti to its South, Jammu and Kashmir to its West and Kunlun region to its North. Leh also has the distinction of being one of the few remaining abodes of the Buddhism in north. The Himalayas create a rain shadow denying entry to monsoon clouds. The average rainfall is 90mm. It is with such geographic conditions that houses in Leh and other parts of Ladakh are mostly constructed of mud and mud bricks, which also helps them to maintain heat during the extreme winter months. This is one of the reasons that massive amount of mud got accumulated on the streets and inside the houses creating hindrance in the rescue operations.
In Jammu, the Sewa Bharati organised an emergency meeting in which social workers of many organisations were present to chalk out the strategy to provide immediate relief to the victims of the disaster. All members paid homage to those who died in the disaster and formed a relief committee under the name of Ladakh Aapda Sahayata Samiti to assist the victims and affected families in Leh. Brig. (Retd.) Shri Suchet Singh has been unanimously elected president of the Samiti. Dr Kuldeep Gupta is secretary and Shri Abay Pargal will be treasurer.
As an immediate measure, some cash donations were immediately transferred from Jammu to the group of swayamsevaks working in Leh. They purchased whatever relief material they could get from the nearby local markets and started distributing them. According to latest reports, a relief package of 2,000 blankets, a set of utensils for 500 families, 2,000 clothes and 500 shoes is on the way and will soon reach the calamity site. Some injured from Leh who have now arrived at Jammu are also being contacted by Sewa Bharati workers to provide them necessary help.
"The devastation of this magnitude needs restoration on all fronts. On psychological front expression of sympathy and nearness with those who lost their near and dear ones, who lost their belongings etc., and on economic front immediate mitigation of the problems of those who survived the calamity but who lost every bit of their saved and secured future. No help, howsoever, of what-so-ever measure it may be, can restore the original peace and tranquility. The task is gigantic and beyond the competence of one agency or one organisation. The affected people need beddings, clothing, utensils, stores and many items of day to day need. Above all they need a roof over their heads to protect them from the ensuing harsh winter which when comes stays on and on," said Brig. (Retd) Shri Suchet Singh.
He said on an average a family requires at least 4 quilts, 4 blankets and equal number of mattresses 4 pillows and a big darri. All this material is necessary for high altitude places like Leh where the temperature goes below zero degree Celsius during winter months which start from October, latest by early November. The approximate cost of these items works out to Rs 6,500 per family of four members. In clothing sweaters, warm shirts, inners, jeans/warm trousers, jackets are required. The average cost works out to around Rs 8,000. As regard to the utensils the minimum requirements are one pressure cooker of at least 5 liter capacity, 6 plates for lunch/dinner, 6 glasses, 6 katori, 2 patila with lids, 2 buckets per family. The approximate cost works out to around Rs 2,000. "The cost of constructing dwelling units comprising two rooms (one room 12X12 and the other one 12X15 including kitchen) in mud with tin roof will cost approximately Rs 2-2.25 lakh without labour component for which we intend to involve the beneficiary. The estimates are only tentative and may vary depending upon the requirements of the site. Similarly, the requirement is based on an assumption of four member family the factual position can be assessed only after the connectivity is restored," Shri Suchet Singh added. (Organiser, August29, 2010)