Vaishakh Shukla 14 Vik Samvat 2068. Yugabda 5113: 16 May 2011

1. FESTIVALS: Ganga Dussehra is celebrated on Dashmi Tithi of Shukla Paksha of Jyeshta Masa( 11th June 2011 ) when sacred river Ganga had descended on earth from heaven.
During this festival ten days of the month are devoted to the worship of River Ganga venerated by the Hindus as a mother as well as a goddess.
While places such as Rishikesh, Haridwar, Garh-Mukteswar, Prayag, Varanasi etc where Ganga flows hold special significance on this day for taking bath; mela of Himachal and fair named Patang Utsav of Mathura are the major centre of attraction. On this day, construction of wells etc. should be done on different place. Moreover donating umbrella, shoes, clothes and other things which protect from summer heat are considered auspicious on this day.
2. ALLAHABAD HC VERDICT MINUS TRIFURCATION IS RSS’S DEMAND: RAM MADHAV: “The trifurcation of the Ram Janmabhoomi has been stayed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court and daily worship of the Ram lalla has been upheld. It was obvious that court stayed the Allahabad HC verdict, as all the petitioners have asked for the stay on it”, said RSS National Executive Council Member Shri Ram Madhav in Bangalore.
Reacting to a reporter’s question on the demand of RSS on this issue, Ram Madhav said “we are for a magnificent Ram temple in Ayodhya. Ideally we wish the issue to be settled outside the court but it has moved too far in the court. So everyone should wait for the legal process to conclude”.
3. PRESERVING MANUSCRIPTS TO EMPOWER THE PEOPLE: "No nation can prosper on borrowed money, technology, intellect and language. If Bharat has to prosper, we will have to look for solutions to its problems within rather than without," said Dipti S. Tripathi, director of the National Mission for Manuscripts (NMM), an organisation working for the conservation and preservation of Bharatiya manuscripts. "Our ancient manuscripts have dealt with problems related to ecological issues, problems facing society, the education system - you name it" added Tripathi on the relevance of manuscripts today. She concluded, "We have to give young people the opportunity to learn what is theirs, what is already time tested , proven to be efficacious and something which is as scientific as any other science."
The latest project-building a database of digitized manuscripts has taken off with the successful digitization of 9.3 million folios.
4. UTTARAKHAND SETS UP SEPARATE SANSKRIT EDUCATION BOARD: The Uttarakhand government which accorded Sanskrit the status of second official language of the state last year, has set up a separate Sanskrit education board for giving recognition to language schools.
The Uttarakhand Sanskrit Education Board will prepare the syllabus and publish books for class I to class 12 as well as hold examinations, said Dr. Vachaspati Maithani, Director of Sanskrit education. The board will also arrange for the training of Acharyas (teachers) and Pracharyas (headmasters) for the schools.
5. GADKARI SUGGESTS ‘INTERNAL AUDIT’ IN BJP-RULED STATES: BJP chief Nitin Gadkari on May 9 asked Chief Ministers of party-ruled States to go for an “internal audit” to assess the problems, if any, and suggested the organization exploit ‘goodwill’ of the Governments to expand its social base. He also suggested the party dispel misconceptions created about Hindutva.
CMs of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand, who met here for a two-day brainstorming session on ‘good governance’, were ‘cautioned’ about Congress-led Central Government’s designs to target NDA Governments.
With corruption charges haunting certain Governments, Gadkari asked for internal audit - both in Government and in the party - to assess performance and address the loopholes if any. He asked the CMs to be more approachable for Karyakartas and raised the issue of misuse of funds meant for Wakf Board and other minority institutions.Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley told the CMs that Bharat had entered the phase where there is a two-pole coalition.
6. 2010 WAS MIRACLE YEAR FOR GIRLS IN 14 PANIPAT VILLAGES: In 2009 Badoli village registered the birth of merely 593 girls against 1000 boys. The warning signal was loud and clear for those concerned about the skewed sex ratio. It was time to act or let society face the ramifications of the imbalance in the gender ratio.
Persuaded by the authorities, some intellectuals, NGOs and religious organisations initiated efforts to check the downfall, which translated into a victory over the unwritten social preference for a male child. The next year the same village registered the birth of 2,364 girls against a 1000 boys, reaffirming hopes that the social mindset against the girl-child could be changed.
In fact, 2010 turned out to be the year of girl-child in 14 villages of the district. (The Tribune, May13 2011)
7. T-90 MAKEOVER: ‘BHISHMA’ SET TO BE MORE LETHAL: The Army’s main battle tank, Russian-origin T-90 christened as ‘Bhishma’, is being upgraded under a modernisation project that will improve the lethality of the 46-tonne war machine besides improving its rate of survival in a real battlefield environment.
The Army has so far deployed the T-90 along the country’s Western borders in Rajasthan and Punjab. Historically, the Army has been engaged in pitched tank battles on the Western front. Use of the T-55 and the PT-76 in Bangladesh in the 1971 war stands out as the sole exception. Bharat will have 1,650 T-90 tanks in the next few years
8. YASHWANT BACKS ABBOTTABAD-LIKE STRIKE BY BHARAT: BJP leader Yashwant Sinha on May 6 backed Abbottabad-like surgical strike in Pakistan as he hit out at the US for differentiating between 9/11 and Mumbai attacks. He said Bharat would be well within its rights to carry out such operations against terrorists like Dawood Ibrahim and others as it was a victim of terrorism coming out of Pakistan.
He took exception to the comments of Pakistani foreign secretary Salman Bashir warning Bharat against surgical strikes like the one carried out by US Navy Seals which killed Osama bin Laden.
Asked if Bharat should think in terms of surgical strikes, the former foreign minister agreed. "Bharat should reserve the right of surgical strikes and hot pursuit against Pakistan irrespective of the consequences. As and when considered necessary, Bharat should not hesitate to carry out such an attack," Sinha said.
9. VHP LEADER’S CONCERN AT INFILTRATION AND CONVERSION: VHP president Ashok Singhal slammed the political system of the country for unabated infiltration of Bangladesh Muslims in Assam and growing menace of conversions by Christian missionaries, particularly in Arunachal Pradesh. He said even movement against illegal migrants could not stir either the Centre or the State to take effective steps to check it. His call was for united stand by political Parties to create a situation which would force the Bangladeshis to go out, but he did not see such possibility.
Ashok Singhal addressed a press meet in Silchar recently to share his concern with media persons and later on with citizens of the town on the issues at stake.
The VHP leader speaking about the ramification of the trend said 21,000 acres of extra land were under the illegal occupation of Bangladeshis. Forest lands were being grabbed by them. Vast virgin char areas in Brahmaputra valley had gone in their possession. Yet, both the Centre and the State remained unmoved. He expressed his dismay to say after 1951 no register was prepared to deep count of the genuine Bharatiya citizens.
10. LONE MUSLIM MINISTER PENS BOOK ON RSS: A book on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh(RSS) has been authored by the lone Muslim face in the B.S. Yeddyurappa government and minority welfare minister, Prof. Mumtaz Ali Khan.
He told Deccan Chronicle that the book will try to demystify the misconceptions attached to the RSS and the myths propagated by the so-called secular parties.
11. THE WINDS OF CHANGE: Left is history as entrenched regimes fall
Just as nothing can stop an idea whose time has come, no force can stop the people from evicting entrenched regimes to install a new set of people in power. As much was witnessed on May 13, when gale force winds of change swept the Left into the dustbin of contemporary history in West Bengal and sent the Karunanidhi family- run Government in Tamil Nadu crashing like a house of cards. Two feisty women, Ms Mamata Banerjee who heads the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal, and Ms J Jayalalithaa, who leads the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, fought and won a bitter battle against their political foes, and are set to alter, in a profound way, political equations and fortunes beyond the boundaries of their respective States. It's too early to speculate on how Friday's results are likely to impact on the UPA or the 'stability' of the Union Government, but it can be said with certitude that the coming days will see tectonic shifts.
It's a moment of triumph for Ms Banerjee who has been seeking to dislodge the CPI(M)-led Left Front Government for long and has been an implacable enemy of the Communists ever since she defeated Somnath Chatterjee on his home turf. Taunted and lampooned, her party defeated again and again, she refused to give up her fight against the Left Front regime; her perseverance has paid her rich dividends.
Not only is the Left defeated, but the CPI(M) has been washed out across the length and breadth of West Bengal. Stalwarts who seemed invincible till May 12 have had to bite the dust. What till recently were daunting 'Red Forts' now lie in ruin, relics of a past rejected by the people with stunning vengeance. Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and his senior colleagues have been defeated in constituencies where the Marxists were invincible. The world's longest-serving democratically elected Communist Government which has been in power since 1977 has been evicted from office in a very orderly and democratic manner: West Bengal has never witnessed such peaceful, free and fair polls ever before. Ms Banerjee had called for 'poribartan' and the people have responded overwhelmingly by voting for change. It is now to be seen how she goes about bringing about the all-round change West Bengal desperately needs and craves for.
If the people of West Bengal have thrown out an incompetent Government dependent on a corrupt and callous party bureaucracy, the people of Tamil Nadu have shown how wrong the practitioners of cynical politics for allowing themselves to be persuaded to believe that popular opinion is not influenced by the issue of corruption any longer, that caste and kin, sub-nationalism and linguistic jingoism take precedence over the basic expectation of the people from their elected representatives: A certain modicum of probity and integrity in public life. The dark shadow of the DMK-directed Great 2G Spectrum Robbery obviously extends beyond New Delhi -- and, for that matter, even Chennai. The brazen indifference of the DMK, the disregard of popular sentiments and the cocky arrogance of the Karunanidhi clan have collectively cost the party dear. Freebies no longer serve as placebos. But will Ms Jayalalithaa be able to deliver what the people yearn for: A clean administration? A seasoned politician with a good record as an administrator, she could bridge the governance deficit of the last decade if she were to focus on relevant issues.
The Congress, which has been desperately looking for an electoral endorsement to show it's neither down nor out, will have to seek cold comfort in holding on to Assam and winning the election in Kerala by a narrow margin. Tarun Gogoi and the Congress have benefited from the split in Opposition votes with the AGP and the BJP contesting separately; rather than waste their votes on squabbling parties, the people chose to give a more stable mandate to the Congress.
Hopefully, Gogoi will use this opportunity to consolidate the gains of peace and defang the separatists forever. As for Kerala, the Congress may have won the election but it has been denied the mandate needed for effective governance. Meanwhile, the CPI(M) should remain beholden to VS Achuthanandan but for whose towering popularity among the masses, it would have been reduced to a marginal player in the State's politics like it has been in West Bengal. (Editorial, The Pioneer, Saturday, May 14, 2011)
12. LAKSHMI MITTAL STAYS ON TOP OF UK RICH LIST FOR THE 7TH YEAR: Bharat-origin steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal , with an estimated wealth of 17.51 billion pounds, has retained his position as the richest person in the UK for the 7th year in a row in 2011, though his wealth declined by 4.93 billion pounds during the last one year.
The Sunday Times Rich List 2011 shows that Mittal continues to top Britain's wealthiest with a personal fortune of 17.5 billion pounds.
The 60-year-old chairman and chief executive of the world's largest steel producer, has urged governments to support greater growth after the global financial crisis hit demand, the report said.
Mittal is the highest faller in this year's Rich List but still has the fastest growing fortune.
13. CHINA ADMITS BHARAT’S HELP IN SHIP RESCUE: Acknowledging the Bharatiya Navy's effort in rescuing 24 Chinese sailors from a ship hijacked by Somali pirates, China on May 9 said it was working out a new security plan to protect its vessels and crew members from such attacks.
The Chinese vessel MV Fu Cheng, registered in Panama, faced a pirate attack 450 nautical miles off the Karwar Coast of Karnataka while it was on its way from Jeddah to Tuticorin port on May 6. The Bharatiya Navy swung into action after receiving an emergency call from the Chinese authorities and thwarted the attack.
14. 10-DAY ‘VIJAYEE BHAVA’ STARTS IN RAJASTHAN: The 10-day long annual desert exercise ‘Vijayee Bhava’ started in Rajasthan on May 9 to test and validate latest war fighting tactics of the Army in a conventional war scenario. Infantry, artillery and armour are taking part in the exercise along with air support from the IAF backed by network-centric operations and advanced surveillance systems.
The manoeuvers conducted in North Rajasthan near Bikaner and Suratgarh will test the operational and transformational effectiveness of the Ambala-based Kharga Corps as also validate new concepts which have emerged during the transformation studies undertaken by the Army.
This exercise envisages sustained massed mechanised manoeuvres in a simulated environment by composite combat entities, supported by air and complemented by a wide array of weapon systems and enabling combat logistics.
15. ISRO BUILDS BHARAT'S FASTEST SUPERCOMPUTER: Indian Space Research Organisation has built a supercomputer, which is to be Bharat's fastest in terms of theoretical peak performance of 220 TeraFLOPS (220 Trillion Floating Point Operations per second).
The supercomputer "SAGA-220", built by the Satish Dhawan Supercomputing Facility located at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram at a cost of about Rs 14 crore was inaugurated by K Radhakrishnan, Chairman ISRO at VSSC on May 2, ISRO said in a statement.
The new Graphic Processing Unit (GPU) based supercomputer; "SAGA-220" (Supercomputer for Aerospace with GPU Architecture-220 TeraFLOPS) is being used by space scientists for solving complex aerospace problems. With each GPU and CPU providing a performance of 500 GigaFLOPS and 50 GigaFLOPS respectively, the theoretical peak performance of the system amounts to 220 TeraFLOPS.
16. CHINMAYA MISSION'S TWO YEAR RESIDENTIAL VEDANTA COURSE 2011 – 2013: A growing number of people around the world today seek a more lasting happiness than that which comes from material acquisitions. Chinmaya Mission presents an opportunity to such seekers, to find solace among a like minded community, at the Vedanta Course.
The 15th of its kind, the course is open to all spiritual seekers, from any backgrounds, gender and age. It is a two year commitment of body, mind and soul, to an immersive spiritual adventure.
17. RUSSELL IS INTO HINDUISM: KATY PERRY: Singer Katy Perry says she is gravitating towards meditation because of husband Russell Brand, who is into Hinduism. Brand, who married Perry in Bharat last year, even sought the blessing of a Hindu guru before the wedding.
Perry, who had a strict Christian upbringing, says she is very accepting and that's one of the things that keep their marriage going.
18. PANEL DISCUSSION ON GANDHIJI’S HIND SWARAJ: "The life of Gandhiji, right from childhood to old age, was full of struggle. But he never deviated from morality and ethics. Hind Swaraj is the essence of that ethical life,” said RSS Sahsarkaryavah Shri Dattatreya Hosabale. He was participating in a panel discussion organised by Centre for Policy Studies on Hind Swaraj in New Delhi on May 4.
The Centre for Policy Studies has published three editions of Hind Swaraj. It includes original Gujarati version transcribed directly from the facsimile of Gandhiji’s handwritten manuscript; a rendering of Gujarati version in Devanagari script along with a verbatim Hindi translation printed in parallel, and Gandhiji’s translation of Hind Swaraj published from the International Press Phoenix in 2010 with supplementary material comprising a comparison of the original with later editions and some explanatory notes. All these three editions have been published in a single volume.
Former Governor Shri TN Chaturvedi said the presentation of original Gujarati version of Hind Swaraj makes the volume unique. Presiding over the function, Smt Radha Mohan Bhatt, chairperson of Gandhi Peace Foundation, expressed concern that the swaraj that Gandhiji had dreamed is not seen anywhere in Bharat today.
19. SI USA ORGANIZES 5TH NATIONAL CONFERENCE AND WORKSHOP: Sewa International - charitable Hindu-faith based organization held its Fifth National Conference and Workshop in Chicago, IL, from April 29 to May 1, 2011. The event started with lighting of the lamp by Consul General, Mr. Vishwas Sapkal. Shri Shyam Parande, Global coordinator of Sewa International provided an overview of Sewa international activities in over 17 countries and its involvement growth and development of various communities. , Dr. Sreenath, current President - SIUSA disclosed that about 1000 Sewa volunteers have put in more than 70,000 hours of community service in 2010.
Its volunteer driven nature and keen focus on providing services with very low administrative overheads have set Sewa apart from other non-profits. Sewa volunteers across the country will plan and organize several service activities to benefit the local community on the National Sewa Day, September 11, 2011.
Service events such as blood donation and food drives for local homeless shelters would be conducted in 38 cities in 22 states and 20 metro areas across the USA. New Sewa chapter in Chicago has been announced. Others present at the conference included Shri Rameshbhai Mehta, SEWA director from Mumbai and Shrikant Konda, founder President of SI USA.
20. DR HEDGEWAR PRAGYA SAMMAN 2011 FOR SRI KRISHNA MISHRA: The Barabazar Kumar Sabha Pustakalaya – Kolkata presented their annual “Dr Hedgewar Pragya Samman” award 2011 to eminent Bhojpuri writer Krishna Bihari Mishra. Mishra translated “Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita” from Bangla to Bhojpuri. ‘Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita’ is the compilation of teachings & discourses along with the glimpse of the life and times of Sri Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa by Mahendra Gupta.
21. VETERAN RSS PRACHARAK, THINKER, WRITER DR.UPENDRA SHENOY PASSES AWAY: Veteran RSS Pracharak, thinker, writer, Social Worker Dr.Upendra Shenoy passed away on 9th May 2011 evening at 6.15pm at Bangalore. He was suffering from prolonged illness of kidney.
22. FIRST MUSLIM WOMAN MAKES IT TO CIVIL SERVICES IN J&K: Change cannot come to Jammu and Kashmir at the grassroots level unless the youth is part of the change. This is the message to her peers from Ovessa Iqbal, 25, the state’s first Muslim woman to qualify for the Union Public Service Commission exam. Despite the conflict, she said, more and more Kashmiri youths are aspiring to be part of the Bharatiya state. For those who don’t, she had a message: “When we abstain from Bharatiya civil services, we are using an axe on our own feet. Exploitation of Kashmiris will stop only when we take these exams in our stride.”
23. 3 NRI DOCS IN UK TOP LIST: Three general practitioners of Bharatiya origin are among Britain’s 50 best doctors who have helped shape health care, according to Pulse, a leading medical publication. The 3 doctors who figure in the magazine’s annual list of 50 best GPs are Kamlesh Khunti, Chaand Nagpaul and Kailash Chand. Khunti, who graduated from the University of Dundee is a leading diabetes expert.
He was a GP in Leicester for over 20 years, and is currently a professor of diabetes and cardiovascular medicine at the University of Leicester.
Nagpaul, who topped Pulse’s 2010 list of up-and-coming GPs, graduated from the University of London in 1985. Based in Stanmore, north London, Nagpaul is seen as a natural TV spokesperson. Chand, who graduated from Punjabi University, Patiala, in 1974, spent 25 years as a GP in Ashton-under-Lyne.
24. IN A FIRST, WOMEN NO.1 AND NO.2 IN CIVIL SERVICES EXAM: History has been made in this year's civil services' results. In a rare first, the top two candidates are women.
Topper S Divyadharshini is an alumnus of Dr Ambedkar Law University in Chennai. Sweta Mohanty, who did her B Tech in computer science from Gokaraju Rangaraju Institute of Engineering and Technology (GRIET), Hyderabad, has come second. The merit list boasts of five women candidates in the top 25.
R V Varun Kumar, a student of Chennai's Ragas Dental College, has topped among the male candidates. Overall, he came third.
Of the 547,698 candidates who appeared for the preliminary exam held in May 2010; 920 — 717 men and 203 women — made the grade. Now, they will be inducted in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and Indian Police Service (IPS) along with other Central services.
25. DELHI TAKES FIRST STEP FOR WORLD HERITAGE CITY TAG: Backed with more than 1,000-odd heritage monuments, including three World Heritage Sites, and an uninterrupted history of continuous habitation for more then 1,000 years, Delhi has staked claim for inclusion in the Unesco's tentative listing for the World Heritage City tag. Ahmedabad in Gujarat is also in the race for the title, which as and when earned by either of the city, would make it Bharat's first World Heritage City.
With sites dating back to even Harappan era and around 1,200 heritage monuments and structures, including World Heritage Sites of Red Fort, Qutub Minar and Humayun's Tomb, Delhi has far better stake than any other city in the country to be a World Heritage City.
ASI has already forwarded Ahmadabad’s tentative document. In the same way, the ASI can send Delhi's nomination for the 'tentative list'.
But to inscribe the same in the final notification is a long drawn process.
Once any site is included in the 'tentative list', a detailed dossier needs to be prepared. January 31 is the deadline every year for sending this dossier and the Unesco generally takes 18 months before it considers it in its annual meeting in June.
26. ANNUAL FUNCTION OF SEWA BHARATI, KASHI - Work for the uplift of deprived people—Sitaram Kedilaya: “Service removes the feeling of ego. Those people who have love and compassion in their heart for the society should sit together with the deprived people and try to wipe out their tears. It will help them to join the mainstream,” said RSS Akhil Bharatiya Sewa Pramukh Sitaram Kedilaya. He was speaking at the annual function of Sewa Bharati, Kashi on May 1.
Shri Kedilaya called upon the people to spare some time for the deprived people and help at least one person. Chief Guest of the function Shri Shishir Vajpayee said the work of the Sewa Bharati depends upon the social contribution and everybody should contribute in the form of time, money in this yajna.
27. BHARAT NAMES GLOBAL AWARD AFTER TAGORE: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on May 7 said the government would institute an international award named after Rabindranath Tagore in recognition of his contributions towards promotion of global brotherhood. Speaking at a function to commemorate Tagore’s 150th birth anniversary, Singh said the award would be bestowed annually on a public figure whose life and work epitomised the ideals Tagore stood for. The jury will be headed by the PM. Bangladesh is overseeing the joint celebrations of Tagore’s birth anniversary.
28. TAGORE TO BE COMMEMORATED IN LANKA STAMP: Sri Lanka will join the list of countries to have issued a postage stamp in honour of Noble laureate Rabindranath Tagore. Priced at LKR 5, the stamp will be issued to commemorate the poet’s 150th birth anniversary. The postage stamp will have Tagore’s portrait and his name spelt in Sinhala, Tamil and English.
29. 6TH BHARATVANSHI SAMMAN TO PROF.VED NANDA: Bharatvanshi Samman given by Antar Rashtriya Sahayog Parishad (ARSP ) for the outstanding work in NRI / PIO community was awarded to Prof. Vedprakash Nanda, University of Denver on May 14. Shri Sushil Modi, Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar who gave away the award highlighted various achievements of the PIO community despite hardships. Prof. Nanda narrated his experience about the younger generation of NRI’s in developed countries like USA to find their roots. Others who spoke at the function included Shri J C Sharma, Shri Ashok Tandon etc.
30. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Pravas: Dr. Shankar Tatwawadi, former samyojak Vishwa Vibhag will return from weeklong tour of Mauritius and leave for UK on May 31. Shri Shyam Parande- Secretary, Sewa International would return from his tour of Caribbean countries, USA and Canada. Visitors: Shri Vikash Aneroodh – Netherlands, Shri Yoginder Gupta and family – USA, Ma. Dr. Ved Nanda – USA.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: A person is what his deep desire is. It is our deepest desire in this life that shapes the life to come. So let us direct our deepest desires to realize the self. – Chandogya Upanishad


Sandhya Jain
It is strange that Osama bin Laden, who propagated the purist Wahhabi Islam of Saudi Arabia, never articulated a viable path for his followers.
Osama bin Laden’s purported last will and testament and the manner of his death hold vital lessons that the Islamic world, particularly the Sunni Muslim ummah, should urgently ponder over. According to the Kuwait-based newspaper Al-Anbaa, Osama bin Laden instructed his wives not to remarry, thus flouting Islamic law and practice, and putting himself at par with Prophet Mohammed, for whom alone Allah made this exception, as per the Quran. He also asked his children not to join Al Qaeda. By apologising to them for the lack of time he devoted to their upbringing, he virtually repudiated the universal jihad to which he had committed his life, and those of his followers.
Contemporary Islam’s most charismatic figure, comparable with Mohammed ibn Abd al-Wahhab who inspired the rise of the Saudi dynasty as protector of a new Islamic purism, was doomed to fail in his mission to establish an Islamic Caliphate. For Osama bin Laden lacked the autonomy of the Prophet and the early Caliphs; he was trained and funded by Washington, DC to serve American political objectives. He subordinated himself and his movement to serve a nation leading a civilisation at war with his own Islamic faith; a contradiction of ends and means that ultimately proved fatal.
The idea of the Caliphate attracted Muslim youth experiencing the powerlessness of Islam in the modern era; but the dream was part of the West’s cynical manipulation of Muslim societies, a continuum of its patronage of military dictatorships in strategically important countries. Osama bin Laden compares well with TE Lawrence who instigated the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire to extend British influence in the region; Osama bin Laden provided validation for American overreach in many parts of the globe, such as Afghanistan and Iraq. He became the symbol of the West’s systematic demonisation of Islam.
It is strange that a man who propagated the purist Wahhabi Islam of his native Saudi Arabia and never articulated a viable path for his followers should have privately nurtured prophet-like ambitions, with the right to demand beyond-death allegiance from his wives. If Sunni Islam accepts this novelty, the ummah must further introspect and modulate aspects of the faith — specifically jihad — that put it at odds with the world, particularly non-monotheistic societies.
Since the World Wars, many Muslim leaders have surrendered to Western manipulation in exchange for totalitarian power over their subjects. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, pillars of Anglo-American control over much of the Muslim world, face a new challenge. As London recovers from military-economic fatigue and flexes old imperial muscles, and Washington injects fresh adrenaline to maintain sole superpower status, Riyadh and Islamabad must decide if they will continue a ‘friendship’ hated by their own citizens, or rise in defence of fellow Muslim countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, that resist Western powers?
More pertinently, will Riyadh and Islamabad resist Western pressure against Shias as represented by Iran and Syria (Alawite) where the US wants ‘regime change’? Will Saudis make peace with their Shia population in the north-east, Iraq’s Shia majority which is pro-Iran, and Shia-majority Bahrain? The regime is fragile with rising unemployment and local resentment at the lifestyle of 7,000-odd princelings; the royals depend upon former Pakistani soldiers for security. While Saudi oil wealth lubricates the Western economies, Pakistan is critical for America’s renewed interest in Central Asia, where fears of ‘regime change’ again loom. In fact, Iran cannot be contained without a hold in Central Asia.
But the fresh strain in Washington-Islamabad relations following the action against Osama bin Laden has shaken Pakistan’s delicate democracy and made it vulnerable to a military takeover. The question naturally arises: How does America plan to compensate Pakistan — in Afghanistan, or Kashmir, or both? The US has had troops in Afghanistan since October 2001 and is anxious to pull them out; Osama bin Laden’s death provides an honourable exit. A Pakistan-friendly Afghanistan will upset India, but there is no guarantee that the tumultuous Afghan tribes will defer to America’s ‘major non-NATO ally’.
A few words about Osama bin Laden’s death are in order. He was killed by American Navy SEALs on the intervening night of May 1-2, as attested by his wife and 12-year-old daughter, who said her father was caught and shot in cold blood, unarmed. Pakistani policemen found at least three corpses of unarmed men shot through the nose and ears, lying in pools of blood. No arms of any kind were found.
There can be only one reason why the world’s most wanted man would live with his family and associates completely unarmed in a foreign country, which is that the Pakistan Government had assumed responsibility for his security. Only Islamabad could have enabled Osama bin Laden to live in a sheltered mansion in Abbottabad, within yards of the elite Military Academy and in the neighbourhood of retired defence officers. Doubtless this catered to his need for regular dialysis.
Assuming that the Pakistani Army chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and the ISI Director-General, Lieutenant-General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, were not informed about the US raid, and the Black Hawk stealth helicopters evaded radar detection, but four helicopters could hardly land in a neighbourhood unnoticed. Civilian neighbours watched from their roofs, but local police constables slept through the episode, as did the serving and retired officers. All this reeks of complicity.
It seems likely that Osama bin Laden, suffering from serious kidney problems, diabetes and low blood pressure, was turned over to the Americans because he was near his end. Pakistan would not have been able to conceal his death or manage the fallout in terms of a surge in support for Al Qaeda, funeral crowds, and so on. Maybe his native Saudi Arabia gave the nudge, saying it would not accept his body. Washington managed all these issues by killing him and tossing his body into the Arabian Sea. A man who died on land cannot be buried at sea; this was politically expedient. The flip side is that it has humiliated the entire ummah. The militant Sunni Muslims of Jammu & Kashmir who are keen to join Pakistan’s US-serving Generals would do well to recall how India ensured a burial with appropriate rites to the perpetrators of the terrorist attack on Mumbai in 2008, as also those who attacked Parliament House in 2001, after Pakistan refused to accept their bodies. Do they still want to abandon the land of dharma for the land of deceit? -- May 10, 2011, The Pioneer

Vaishakh Krishna 12 Samvat 2068 Yugabda 5113: 1 May 2011

1. FESTIVALS: Vaishakh Poornima (May 17 this year) is celebrated as Buddha Jayanti. The day commemorates his birthday, his attainment of supreme enlightenment and the day of his Nirvana. It is also celebrated in some parts of Bharat as Kurma Jayanti, Kurma being an incarnation of Vishnu.
The main celebrations of Buddha Jayanti take place in Bodh Gaya. On this day a large number of Buddhist devotees from all over the world assemble to pay their respectful homage to Bhagwan Buddha. Besides decorating the temple and area around with colorful Buddhist flags, the
Celebrations include Morning Prayer, colorful procession of the Monks, worship with large offerings, distribution of sweets and snacks etc.
2. RSS HOMAGE TO SATYA SAIBABA: Revered Sri Sai Baba had, in his long spiritual journey of more than 7 decades, rekindled the spirit of eternal human values of Hindu dharma in millions and millions of people all across the world and inspired them to tread the path of righteousness.
Revered Baba had done yeoman service in the field of education, healthcare and socio-economic development of the poor and underprivileged people. He encouraged his disciples to open thousands of schools through which eternal Hindu sanskaras are being imparted to millions of children besides quality education. He brought waters to scorched lands of several districts and supplemented Government efforts in providing drinking waters to millions of people in Andhra Pradesh. Healthcare initiatives of Revered Baba have provided succour to millions across the globe.
Revered Baba had a special affection for the cause of Hindu unity and reform and always showered his choicest blessings on the activists of the RSS and VHP engaged in that mission. In an intuitive gesture revered Baba sent word to the RSS leaders to visit him on March 18, 2011. About 60 senior functionaries of the Sangh visited Puttaparti and received Baba's blessings, which will remain as cherished memory for ever.
Revered Baba had ended his Leela in this Loka and attained Moksha. His spirit and message remain pervading this world eternally. We are sure millions of his devotees would continue to tread the path of Dharma prescribed by him.
On behalf of the RSS we pay our most respectful homage to the cherished memory of the great soul. (Excerpts from The Shraddhanjali to Poojya Sri Satya Sai Baba by Sarsanghchalak Dr.Mohan Bhagwat & Shri Bhayya ji Joshi)
3. PSLV-C16 SUCCESSFULLY PUTS 3 SATELLITES INTO ORBIT: In a boost to Bharat’s remote sensing capability, the PSLV C-16 rocket launched Resourcesat-2 and two other satellites from the spaceport Sriharikota on April 20.
On a bright morning at 10.12 am, the Indian Space Research Organisation’s Rs.90 crore rocket – the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) C-16 – soared towards the heavens to place in orbit Resourcesat-2 and two other satellites, together weighing 1,404 kg.
Apart from its main cargo – advanced earth observation satellite Resourcesat-2 – the rocket also carried two mini satellites – the 92 kg joint Bharat-Russian Youthsat satellite for stellar and atmospheric studies and the 106 kg X-sat for imaging applications built by the Singapore-based Nanyang Technological University.
Just over 18 minutes after the blast-off, the rocket ejected Resourcesat-2 and followed it up with the other two. Sriharikota is 80 km north of Tamil Nadu capital Chennai.
4. SEVIKA SAMITI IN LIMCA BOOK OF RECORDS: Rashtra Sevika Samiti added another feather to its crown, when the Akhand Suryanamaskar Yajna conducted by it during the birth centenary year celebration of Vandaniya Saraswati Apte, joined the Limca Book of Records. The 100 hour marathon Surya-namsakars were conducted by 10,000 Sevikas of Goa and Maharashtra. The event was organised by Paschim Kshetra unit of the Rashtra Sevika Samiti in 2009.
The news to this effect has been published in the latest edition of the Limca Book of Records which was released on March 29 in New Delhi.
Named as Akhand Suryanamaskar Yajna the event began at 6 am on June 25, 2009 and concluded at 10 am on June 29. The exercise was performed continuously during day and night (with short overlapping intervals of five minutes) at 100 different places of Maharashtra and Goa. The performance was open for persons of aged between 3 to 90 years including physically challenged. The message was ‘Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body’
5..PAC DRAFT REPORT RAPS PM, PC: Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee has dropped a bombshell on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, then Finance Minister P Chidambaram and top Government officials for their direct and indirect role in allowing former Telecom Minister A Raja have a free run in distributing 2G spectrum at throwaway price causing huge losses to public exchequer.
In its draft report on 2G scandal, which is estimated at `1.76 lakh crore, the Murli Manohar Joshi-headed panel found the Prime Minister expressing his desire to keep his office at arm’s length (from this controversial issue) was like giving an “indirect green signal (to Raja) to go ahead with his plan and decisions.” It said the Prime Minister’s Office certainly either failed to see the “forebodings or was rendered a mute spectator”.
Chidambaram has also got a rap for having advised the Prime Minister in February 2008 to treat the matter as closed.
6. SANGAY IS NEW PM OF TIBETAN GOVT-IN-EXILE: Lobsang Sangay, a 42-year-old Harvard scholar, has been elected by Tibetans across the world as the new Prime Minister of Tibet’s government-in-exile.
The results of the elections to the 44-seat Tibetan Parliament and Kalon Tripa (Prime Minister) were declared on April 27 after completion of the counting of votes and compilation of the reports received from 56 regional election commissions.
The new Prime Minister would take charge on August 15 after the term of incumbent Prime Minister S Rimpoche ends.
7. HARVARD, MIT LOOKING FOR MORE INSTITUTIONAL TIE-UPS IN BHARAT: Presidents of the prestigious Harvard University and MIT have expressed their keenness to expand collaboration with reputed Bharatiya institutions, particularly in the areas of innovation and research.
Harvard President Drew Faust, who is scheduled to visit Bharat, expressed the hope that the visit would lead to “more institutional linkages and joint projects with Bharat”.
Faust looked back with satisfaction at Harvard’s active engagement with several universities in Bharat, citing examples of JNU, BHU, Jadhavpur University, Indian School of Business in Hyderabad and universities in Manipal and Puducherry, according to a Bharatiya Embassy statement.
MIT president Susan Hockfield voiced similar sentiments, expressing satisfaction with the institution’s ongoing cooperation with the IITs in Kanpur and Chennai, BITS Pilani, IIM Kolkata and IFMR Chennai.
8. DRDO TO MAKE SUN-POWERED UAVS (DRONES) THAT CAN FLY FOR 15 DAYS: After launching development of stealth UCAVs (unmanned combat aerial vehicles), Bharat is now also looking at designing solar-powered spy drones which can cruise in the sky for several days at a time.
The high-altitude, long endurance (HALE) solar-powered UAV will not just reduce Bharatiya military's carbon footprint but more importantly provide a cost-effective and flexible 24x7 ISTAR (intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance) platform akin to "a pseudo-satellite" orbiting closer to the ground.
The drone will harvest solar energy during the day, storing it in fuel cells to provide power for electric motors for night flying.This comes at a time when several international aviation majors are doing cutting-edge research on solar UAVs.
With remotely-piloted spy as well as combat drones being seen as major force-multipliers in modern-day warfare, DRDO has launched a series of UAV programmes for Bharatiya armed forces, which have largely depended on Israeli drones like Searchers and Herons till now.
9. PARSEES EXTEND WARM WELCOME TO MODI: Chief Minister Narendra Modi on April 24 said the standing ovation he received from the micro minorities like Parsees was the greatest tribute to the Government headed by him. Responding to the welcome he received by a gathering of Parsees on the occasion to celebrate 1290 years of the consecration of the Zoroastrians’ Holy Fire ‘Shreeji Pak Iranshah’ at the Fire Temple, Modi said the Parsees were the smallest minority community in the world - with a population of just about 70,000 in Bharat.
The standing ovation for Modi by the Parsees at their holiest place at Udwada – Gujrat was accompanied by their High Priest Khurshid Dastoorji saying that the community wishes that he should attend the 1300 years of consecration of the Holy Fire ten years hence as the Prime Minister.
10.2011-LANDMARK YEAR FOR IT HIRING: The calendar 2011 is expected to be a landmark year for tech hiring and job movements after 2007 as market visibility improves, global customers step up spending and pipelines remain packed.
External head hunters are optimistic of a very bullish trend with hiring requirements going up substantially this year by 60 per cent to 70 per cent, compared to last year's 20 per cent jump over the previous year.
The industry will see around 2 lakh fresh engineering graduates entering the job market this year while another 3 lakh people will move and change jobs within the industry. Also, there will be another over a lakh graduates (BSc computer science, electronics, and bachelor of computer applications) coming to the market from colleges across the country.
Also, some 50,000 mid-to-senior people are expected to join the IT industry from traditional verticals like manufacturing, auto, oil, telecom and logistics as the sector is suffering from an acute shortage of senior talent, say industry observers.
11. MIZO CONFERENCE ON RAMNAVAMI DAY: Naunna Lalhnam, a Mizo cultural organisation, organised a Mizo conference at Thingsulkhia, about 55 km from Aizwal. The conference was held on April 12, the Ramanavmi day to celebrate the silver jubilee of the Naunna Lalhnam. A total of 633 people participated in the conference.
The conference was jointly inaugurated by Shri Rorelliana, Shri Lalchanglliana and Advocate Manavi Aizwal with a hammer on dharma ghanta and a traditional song. Kalyan Ashram joint general secretary Shri Kripa Prasad Singh and senior activist Shri Atul Jog were also present on the occasion. A total of 10 delegates from Burma and 6 from Manipur also attended the conference. Advocate Manavi Aizwal, secretary of the organisation, presented annual report at the conference.
The religious leaders present on the occasion appealed to the community members to work for the preservation of Mizo culture which is facing a threat from the church in Mizoram. "Work for peace, God is everywhere and in all creatures. Educate all girls, because it is the root of our culture," they said. People from more than 60 villages participated in the conference.
Kalyan Ashram is running 15 Single Teacher Schools, 3 hostels and 7 schools in different parts of Mizoram. Dharam Guru Pu Rorelliana appealed to the Kalyan Ashram to come forward for the protection of Sanatni Mizos. (FOC)
12. HINDU MEDIA FORUM LAUNCHED, AIMS AT INTER-ETHNIC HARMONY: The Hindu Media Forum was formally launched at the “Arohanui ki te Tangata” (Goodwill to all men) Marae, Waiwhetu, Lower Hutt in the backdrop of the Second Wellington Region Hindu Conference.
The Forum aims at fostering inter-ethnic harmony by promoting balanced analysis and coverage of community events and developments. One of its key roles is to help engage the New Zealand media with the Hindu community to curb stereotyping and eliminate factual errors, which have seen a spike recently, with certain misinformed “leaders” from the Bharatiya community feeding to a few sensation seeking journalists in order to gain publicity.
The Hindu Media Forum will be coordinated by Mr Rakesh Krishnan Simha.
For more information on Hindu Media Forum, please contact:
13. HINDU-MAORI PERSPECTIVES ON HOLISTIC HEALTH: The second Wellington Region Hindu Conference was held at the Waiwhetu Marae, Lower Hutt, on April 9.
The conference organised by the Wellington chapter of the Hindu Council of New Zealand, Inc (HCNZ) in co-operation with the Waiwhetu Marae had the theme “Hindu-Maori Perspectives on Holistic Health: From Individual and Whanau to Community”..
The conference participants were welcomed by Kaumatua Te Rira Puketapu whose depth of knowledge about cultures and history made a deep impression on the participants. Pancha Narayanan, a member of Community Sector Task Force, led the local Hindu community members and delegates in the Powhiri.
The conference was inaugurated by Peter Dunne, Minister of Revenue and Associate Minister of Health.In this spirit, the tradition of Rongoa Maori (Maori herbal medicine) was described by Mr. Jonas Malamanche of the Waiwhetu Marae, the Hindu practice of Yoga and its scientific basis was elaborated by the renowned Yoga scholar Dr. H. R. Nagendra, Vice chancellor of the SVYASA university, Bharat, and Ayurveda (Hindu medicinal system) was explained by Mrs Prajakta Sapre from Palmerston North.
Mr Paul Quinn, Member of Parliament representing National Party, read out a statement by Hon. Hekia Parata, Minister of Ethnic Affairs.
14. SWAMI AKSHARANANDAJI MAHARAJ, PRESIDENT RKM, DHAKA IS NO MORE: Swami Aksharanandaji Maharaj, the Head of Ramakrishna Math & Mission, Dhaka, passed away on April 18 at 9:57 am at Dhaka Apollo Hospital. He was 82. He was under treatment in Apollo Hospital for some time. Both of his kidneys failed, so he was under dyalysis for more than two years.
15. "MANAVEEYAM" BOOK RELEASE FUNCTION: A book ‘ Manamoo oka Deepam on the subject of service s run by individuals at their own expences , compiled by Shri Sompalli somaiah smarak seva adhyapan Kendra was released on April 10 in a function held at Hyderabad. Sri Bhagaiah ji (Akhila Bharata Bouddhik Pramukh) was the Main Speaker. Sri G.V.Ramkumar Raju Founder of "Manavatha Navodaya Foundation" - for Service activities presided over and Sri Madhava Ksheera Sagar, Smt.Urmila Ksheerasagar from Nagpur were the as Chief guests.
Above 40-60 organisations are listed in the book with full details (Address, Phone, Email, Web etc.).
16. BHARATIYA WIMAX GENIUS TO GET TOP COMMUNICATIONS AWARD: In the early 1990s, when Arogyaswami J Paulraj moved to Stanford University and published a paper on how data communications at rocket speed — in the range of 1 giga bit per second — could be achieved using a system he had invented, few people really believed him.
On August 20, Paulraj, 60, now a professor emeritus in the Electrical Engineering Department at Stanford, will receive one of the highest awards in the world of communication engineering. The Alexander Graham Bell medal has been previously won by the likes of Vinton G Cerf and Robert E Kahn, the founders of the Internet.
The medal, given by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers for “exceptional contributions to the advancement of communication sciences and engineering’’, will be given to Paulraj, a Padma Bhushan awardee, “for pioneering contributions to wireless communication systems”.
17. IN COUNTRY’S RECORD HARVEST, UP’S SHARE IS AN ALL-TIME HIGH: As Bharat expects a record wheat harvest this year, Uttar Pradesh is tipped to produce more than 300 lakh metric tonnes of the crop this year — about 15 lakh metric tonnes more than last year’s production.
Experts say that even if the weather turns unfavourable, the state may lose only 1 to 1.5 per cent of the crop and still be the highest wheat producing state this year.
Uttar Pradesh is one of the top three wheat producing states of the country, competing with Haryana and Punjab. Covering 95 lakh hectares of land, UP is also the largest state in terms of wheat producing area. It produced 285 lakh metric tonnes of the crop last year.
18. PULITZER PRIZE FOR BHARATIYA -AMERICAN DOCTOR: Bharatiya-origin cancer specialist Siddhartha Mukherjee has won the Pulitzer for his first book, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, in the general non-fiction category.
The Pulitzer citation describes Maladies … as “an elegant inquiry, at once clinical and personal, into the long history of an insidious disease that, despite treatment breakthroughs, still bedevils medical science”.
Mukherjee, who grew up in Delhi, left for the US when he was 18 and is now assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University. .
19. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Pravas: Dr.Shankar Tatwawadi, former samyojak Vishwa Vibhag would travel to Mauritius in first week of May. Visitors: Mitesh Sevani, Hasmukh Rabadia UK, Jaydeep Choudhry – USA.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Make your offering. As you make it, be pleased in mind. Make your mind completely calm and contented. Focus and fill the offering mind with the giving. From this secure position you can be free from ill will. – Sutta Nipata


Dheerna Parmar, Tokyo
IT has been almost a month since the big earthquake on March 11 and quite honestly it feels a lot longer. I was in my apartment at 2:46pm when it happened that day. I live on the second floor of a low-rise apartment building and was getting ready to go for a meeting. The building starting shaking violently for a few minutes. In Japan we experience earthquakes fairly frequently and so are used to house shaking slightly, but this was different. I could see clothes in my wardrobe swaying side to side and it wouldn't stop. Usually such shakings take around 10 seconds and then stop but this didn't. I looked around, grabbed a sweater and went for the door. My heart was pounding and all I could think was " when is this going to stop and was this the big one?". I carefully placed a vase on the floor and dashed for the way out, watching my TV swaying back and forth but knew the cable wouldn't reach the floor. It didn't matter anyway.
The Day Japan Shook
Ever since moving to Japan, I have felt little quakes and have known the possibility of the big one coming. Every 70-100 years the Kanto region has had a huge earthquake called the Tokai Earthquake and living here I anticipate it’s arrival. How can I live somewhere with such a possibility, people outside Japan often ask me? It's very simple. I love this country and its people. Anyway, there is always some kind of danger living in any part of the world. As I opened my door, I saw my neighbour standing in her doorway. This gave me reassurance that I could see. As our building shook, we could hear children crying and I asked her what I should do. She just looked at me without a word. Three minutes later it seemed to have stopped shaking. So I went back inside and noticed my apartment was in pretty good shape, nothing broken. The room was still swaying but Internet connection was fine so I set about mailing a couple of friends and my parents to say I was fine. Before I could hit the send button the shaking started again. Beginning with a strong jolt, this time the room was shaking up and down. I stood up and like walking across a swaying ship I went to the door again. My neighbour was there again and we stood holding the frames of our doors. I knew that it wasn't doing much but I had to hold on to something. My palms were sweaty, heart racing and was again wondering if this was it (huge earthquake). I tried to breathe deeply and stay calm.
Experience of Kobe
The shaking stopped after few minutes and I felt sick. I knew somewhere near it would be worse and I couldn’t think straight, wondering if it would start up again. My neighbour is from Kobe where there was a huge earthquake in 1995. I asked her what is the best thing to do if it gets stronger. She assured me that our building was pretty strong so would hold up fairly well. Evacuation areas are always within reach and my friends and I do have a spot in case we ever need to. Children at schools are taught to run under tables and even have special silver hoods they keep in their bags. I could see children walking home with these special hoods after this.They protect against fire and broken glass. It is compulsory in every schoolbag.
Social Media Crucial
The first thing to do after the second tremors stopped was to try and reach friends. The mobile phone networks were jammed and luckily the internet was fine, so facebook, twitter and whatsapp on the iphone were crucial in contacting people. As with most tragedies the worst part can often be not knowing and I felt thankful that at least electricity and internet allowed me to communicate with people. I turned on the TV. Japanese TV has an incredible warning system where during programming if an earthquake is detected the magnitude and location will instantly be shown. I wanted to see where the epicentre was. As I turned on the TV all I could see was the coast around Japan flashing in colors, and fires around Tokyo being shown live. This worried me as I knew people in these areas and anything could have happened. Luckily my friends were all fine and offices closed early so people went home and began watching the news for updates.
Tokyo is an extremely well-organised city. The trains and gas systems have sensors built in so as soon as the earthquakes are detected they are switched off automatically. The earthquake in Kobe ( in 1995) which happened in the morning when people were making breakfast and using gas caused many fatalities from fires. The city ground almost to a halt this Friday, with people unable to get home on trains and all through the night I saw hoards of people walking home outside my apartment. Almost to a halt I would say as buses were still running, people were queuing for taxis and to buy bicycles and there was order and calmness. I was pleased to be surrounded by such calmness and even though Tokyo doesn't always feel like the friendliest of cities with most people keeping to themselves, there was a real air of community.
All night I sat with friends, we felt safer together for some reason and watched the updates, followed the news and spoke to relatives and friends abroad who were waking up to the news and calling. The devastating effects of the Tsunami further north that came shortly after the earthquake is indescribable. Social media and live cameras documenting the disaster as it happened was upsetting to see and hard to imagine. I know as I went to an affected area last week and still cannot comprehend the full damage.
Panic Headlines
In Tokyo, knowing we had got lucky this time was how most people felt. The news of the damage to nuclear plant started to come to light next day and with so much uncertainty there was plenty of room for panic. This is exactly what the foreign media decided to do and with focussing on getting their ratings high there was complete disregard to people living in the affected areas trying to get informative news about the situation. ‘Get out of Tokyo’ ‘Nuclear Meltdown’ ‘Radiation Hitting Tokyo in one hour’ were some of the headlines and this did not help anyone. I know people who left Tokyo since worried family members thought they would never see them again called their ‘last’ skype calls and said farewells. Panic buying in Tokyo meant less resources for the people in the North who needed them. I was careful in monitoring accurate news and although I had no guarantee that everything would work out (and still don’t) I just didn’t think it was time to go. I did seal my doors on the Saturday night with towels and filled a bathtub of water. Just in case.
The nuclear situation is ongoing but one reassuring voice of reason was the British Embassy informing Tokyo residents that there was nothing to worry about. Only if you had been disrupted from not being able to buy things, travel to work or have electricity blackouts should you consider leaving. This made sense, and I hadn’t been disrupted, in fact had new projects starting so was definitely staying.
Foreign Aid
The shock of trying to deal with a) the earthquake, b) the tsunami devastation, c) the nuclear fallout, d) worried family and friends, e) your own news, was definitely stressful, and more than the human brain can actually deal with I feel. After about a week I knew I had to help somehow so started meeting volunteer groups and NGOs that were sending supplies north to the people who really needed things. With the disaster being in a developed country like Japan where everything is available, foreign aid was trying to find a way in meeting import restrictions etc. Japan has rules and I believe we have to respect and help where we can. As much as some countries wanted to send shipments of food and medical supplies, unless items are labelled in Japanese for example, the government has been very cautious of help. I am not affiliated with any group but from my contacts and volunteering at various groups the main thing needed was information about who was delivering where, so the aid effort could be more effective.
The scale of the tsunami has been so huge that plan Bs got completely wiped out and if it hasn't been due to one thing it has been another. Just to give a few examples, many companies like Kirin Bevarages have wanted to donate bottles of water but their factories that produce caps has been damaged. There was a fire at one of the gas refineries so fuel shortages meant people who had supplies and transport didn't have gas to get to the places. The snow in the North meant even after people were rescued, they died from the cold. The government trying to understand and inform the public about the nuclear fallout yet against the foreign media and under criticism from nuclear political parties hasn't helped. Nobody wants to die I keep thinking to myself and we have to let people do what they need to do.
In the Exclusion Zone
I travelled to Fukushima last week with a reporter from Newsweek and a documentary maker. I speak Japanese and have been trying to help how I can. One important way is the documentation of accurate news. I drove up north and in the exclusion zone, interviewing and speaking to people who were living in and near the exclusion zone. It was heartbreaking to see the destruction nature can cause and I'm sure you have seen many images. Inside the exclusion zone had not been documented as yet, and understandably for the most part people are scared to go inside. I was scared too, but meeting people who were allowed back in to pick up belongings and seeing their lives was another story. Imagine a big earthquake, knocking down your neighbours house yet your house is still standing. Imagine a few kilometres away the Tsunami wiping out friends and businesses. Imagine you then are told to evacuate your house as the nuclear plant is having troubles. You are not told where to go but just to leave. One town I visited was like a ghost town, people had left laundry drying, mobile phones charging, pets were left behind. Where the tsunami had reached the streets, they were dusty and like a third world country, far from the impeccable roads you usually drive along. Walking out further towards the sea, the force the waves had come was evident in cars, houses and belongings scattered and went as far as the eye could see. Cracks on the roads in the whole area with parts ripped open reminding you of how powerful the jolt had been.
Let’s Never Give Up
Meeting young people who were in good spirits and had posted messages on their walls such as 'Keep Going Fukushima- I love you' and 'Let's never give up' knowing they had lost friends and had to continue was inspiring. Seeing their parents with grave expressions at the thought of having to decide where to rebuild their lives somewhere yet maintaining composure was touching. I know some of the towns will never be rebuilt and think it's very sad when I have seen how utterly destructive the way in which lives have been lost. For now, I continue to help where I can and have no idea what the future holds, just know having faith is important. Some people, foreign and Japanese have left Tokyo for whatever their reasons, some have returned, and I believe we each have to weigh up and do what is personally best. I don't know about tomorrow but today I feel thankful for all I have and want to help where I can.
As the aftershocks continue, quakes as I write this article, I only pray they stop soon so we can help rebuild the lives and economy so deeply affected by this. (Dheerna born and educated in Bradford, is an active member of Hindu Sevika Samiti and settled in Japan for the last 11 years.)

Chetan Bhagat
Narendra Modi is back in the news. Coincidentally, just last week i was in Gujarat and became acutely aware of how much emotion one chief minister can generate. The youth wing of GCCI, an industry body of Gujarat, had invited me to a felicitation function in Ahmedabad. I have always felt the dynamism of Gujarat's the various industry bodies, which run some wonderful youth initiatives such as career fairs, business plan competitions, mentoring programmes and entrepreneurship guidance cells. It was a wonderful opportunity to visit Ahmedabad, a city that inspires me and to which i owe much.
The function was simple enough. A few speakers spoke about Gujarat's development. The economic numbers were fantastic. The development model seems to be working at the grassroots level too. While Bharat's agriculture GDP growth has averaged 2.5% in the last 10 years (with the government targeting 4%), Gujarat's agriculture grew at a staggering 9.8%.
The entire programme focused on one agenda รข€” development. Industrialists, politicians and IAS officials didn't talk about anything else. It was refreshing to see a part of India functioning well.
But there was someone at the function, whose presence was enough to change the colour of the event, at least in the eyes of those outside Gujarat. Chief minister Narendra Modi, who gave a passionate speech about Gujarat's growth, acknowledged that anyone who was seen with him would be vilified by certain sections of society. He warned that anyone who praises him would be criticized.
When my turn came to speak, I tried to remain neutral. I spoke about the glimpse of youth power in Anna Hazare's movement and how this power needed to be directed at positive goals, such as excellence, good values and entrepreneurship. If Gujarat was doing well, would its chief minister consider getting involved at the national level as we have 27 other states that could benefit from the Gujarat formula, i asked using the analogy that playing for an IPL team is different from playing for the national team. One could have asked as much of any well-performing CM.
But within minutes, my Twitter page was filled with comments, in language too colourful to be published here. There was the hate-Modi brigade and the love-Modi brigade. However, both points of view are incorrect. Yes, i am acutely aware of the Godhra incidents. I wrote a book on it, and in the process, researched the issue for years. I also understand that the CM is implicated. The recent statements by senior IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt on Modi's role are kicking up a storm.
But there is no judgment as yet. And it is very hard to pass judgment in such a situation, especially when it involves several incidents and provocation from both sides. Just like it was extremely hard to prove Congress' involvement in the 1984 Sikh riots. Even if the state were involved, the fact is a lot of the populace was complicit and that guilt will never go away by making a villain of one person. That doesn't, however, mean we don't investigate properly. We must push for justice, and have enough faith in the process to believe the right decision will be made. Even the CM has no choice but to accept that.
However, there is a lot more to Gujarat, the Gujarati people and their CM than Godhra. It is one of the few Indian cultures that celebrates entrepreneurship. That is the need of the hour for the entire nation. It is a state whose now proven development model, if replicated, can dramatically change the country's fortunes. To ignore that would be harmful for the nation. Many rights do not cover up a wrong. But should a wrong be constantly used to cover up many rights?
Let's face it, whether we are pro or anti-Modi, we all want the same thing. We want development and we don't want any more religious riots. As long as both sides of the debate understand that, we won't be as hostile to each other and, maybe arrive at something better than say, an extreme position. In fact, it isn't about a particular personality or CM; maybe seeing the good and the bad together will help us arrive at the kind of CM we actually want. For this, we must never stop listening to each other and accept that good and bad often co-exist. Often, the challenge is not about choosing between good or bad but extracting the maximum good, while keeping the bad at bay. Let's learn what is good from Gujarat, while continuing our quest for justice for the bad that happened. (Times of India Apr 24, 2011 )