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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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
JAI SHREE RAM
THE TRAGEDY THAT STRUCK JAPAN AND HOW THE BRAVE PEOPLE FACED ITIT 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.
Dheerna Parmar, Tokyo
Dheerna Parmar, Tokyo
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.
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.
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.)
THE GOOD AND BAD OF GUJARATNarendra 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 â€” 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 )