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
JAI SHREE RAM
MUSLIMS MUST INTROSPECTIt 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