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.