1. FESTIVALS: Vasant Ritu: “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” – P. B. Shelley. Spring season, the transition period between winter and summer, is the most favourite season in Bharat and starts on the fifth day of the bright fortnight of Magha, known as Vasant Panchami, falling on 28th January this year. Spring is seen as a time of growth, renewal, of new life (both plant and animal) being born. Many flowering plants bloom this time of year, in a long succession sometimes beginning even if snow is still on the ground, continuing into early summer. The season is celebrated as a festival in different parts of the world in different ways.
2. BHARAT MY GRAND MOTHER-LAND: TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO PM – “Trinidad is my motherland and Bharat the birthplace of my grandparents, is my ‘grand motherland’, said 68-year-old Kamla Persad Bissessar, the first woman Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, addressing the Pravasi Bharatiya delegates in Jaipur on January 8.
Starting her address with traditional Hindu greeting of “Sitaram”, she said when her forefathers like those of many of her countrymen left shores of East India, they did not carry with them either mobile phones or tweeters or facebook accounts, but only copies of holy Bhagvad Gita and Koran. The values they carried with them have stood with them through generations and this is why most of the people in her country still remain attached to the rich cultural heritage of their forefathers.
“More and more countries are becoming aware of the power of the diaspora to contribute not only for the socio-economic development in their homeland but also to shape and sustain positive images of the country of their origin,” she said.
On January 11, Smt Kamla Persad Bissessar, accompanied by husband Gregory Bissessar and other relatives who came from Port of Spain, visited her ancestral village Bhelupur in Bihar wherefrom her forefathers migrated to a far-off place, where she said that they were not educated people but they had vision for better life. “When they went, they had no gold, no diamond, no traveller cheque and they had no facility of cell phone, Internet, Blackberry and Facebook. What they took with them was Ramayan, Gita and Koran and the lifestyle, tradition, values from this land,” she said as audience clapped and cheered.
Kamla had a message for the villagers. “Education is the only way to get rid of poverty. … Get your daughters educated. For future generations, do what my ancestors did: give education to children.”
3. SURYA NAMASKAR BY 50 LAKH STUDENTS: 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekanand on January 12 was celebrated with the offering of Surya Namaskar by 50 lakh students across Madhya Pradesh with state chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan leading from the front. "Surya Namaskar is not associated with any particular religion. It is a yogic exercise having a unique coordination of mind and body aimed at keeping a person perfectly alright." Chouhan told reporters after the exercise. Large number of students took part in the sun salutation exercise in the entire state with ministers leading it at divisional and district headquarters. Sheikh Bilal, a student of class X, got up at 6 in the morning, facing chilly wind at 7 degree Celsius, to reach his school at 8am. He reached Government Naveen Higher Secondary School to be a part of the world record feat. At the venue, where chief minister performed, number of muslim students were also seen participating in the Surya Namaskar, defying the fatwa issued by the clergy a day ago. Taufeeq of class VIII said that his parents had no objection on his doing yoga or surya namaskar, which was a good exercise for his body. The department embarked upon a novel idea to organise the Surya Namaskar at the same time across the state. To achieve the goal a Surya Namaskar programme was aired live on Akashvani. The students and other participants in various districts, blocks and villages in the state listened to the Yoga instructions through radio to perform Surya Namaskar.
4. HEALTH FOR HUMANITY YOGATHON COMMENCED WITH NATIONWIDE WAVE OF SUN SALUATION: Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), USA volunteers and fitness enthusiasts from all across the nation began the 6th year of annual “Health for Humanity Yogathon” or "Surya Namaskar Yajna (SNY)" by offering 69190 Surya Namaskars in 88 different places from 27 states. In a nationwide wave or lehar, 1984 participants performed total 5322 sets of Surya Namaskar (13 Surya Namaskars per set). This fifteen day Yogathon that began on January 14, 2012 will continue till January 29, 2012. All participants and beneficiaries of this unique event will continue exercise practice sun salutation yoga individually at home or collectively at community centers or other public gathering places all across the United States.
Hon. Congressman Frank Wolf from 10th District of Virginia commended HSS for promoting healthy activities such as Yoga. Hon Mayors Town of Morrisville, NC and that of City of San Antonio, TX also appreciated the Yogathon by proclaiming in their respective town and City. Many more public events in schools, Universities and other locations are planned at various locations. This program is open to people of all ages, gender, and races. Details of this event, training resources, and advertising aids are available on the official HSS SNY website: www.hssus.org/sny.
5. 15TH WORLD SANSKRIT CONFERENCE: “Sanskrit is the soul of India. It is indeed much more than a language, a complete knowledge system. It represents a culture that is not narrow and sectarian but open, tolerant and all-embracing,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said inaugurating the 15th World Sanskrit Conference in New Delhi on January 5. Chirapat Prapandvidya, 70 an Assistant Professor and Adviser to the Sanskrit Studies Centre at Silpakorn University, Bangkok was conferred the title of “Vachaspati” (D Lit) at the end of the five-day conference. Prapandvidya discovered that he must study Sanskrit first) but it has endured the test of time and has made him write his finest works - Thai translations of Sanskrit texts like Kalidasa’s Meghdootam, part of Budhacharita and precious inscriptions of Bharat , Cambodia and Thailand.
6. HUMBLE TULSI A ‘POTENT SHIELD’ AGAINST RADIATIONS: The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has applied for patent of the new formulation of tulsi, a traditional Bharatiya cure for common cold and cough. The DRDO is believed to be the first research organisation in the world to have come up with a herbal alternative to fight ill-effects of radiations.
“We are working on that property of the plant to develop medicine to protect against radiation poisoning. Herbal radio protectors such as tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum or basil) will have an advantage over chemical compounds, because these would have lesser side effects. Besides the widely available tulsi, podophyllum hexandrum (Himalayan may apple) and sea buckthorn hold similar properties,” Chief Controller of Research and Development at DRDO Dr W Selvamurthy said.
7. US SHOULD CLEAR STAND ON PAK-SPONSORED TERRORISM- MODI: Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi on January 13 told the US Republican Party delegation that their country should make its policy clear on Pakistan- sponsored terrorism against Bharat.
A seven-member delegation of the Republican Party of the US, led by Paula Dobriansky, also discussed the issue of Indo-US relationship and that between Gujarat and China.
"Indo-US relations have been cordial. But since both-- India and the USA have been victims of terrorism and India faces it from across the Pakistan border, the latter (the US) should clear its stand on the issue," Modi told. "India is not expecting the USA to publicly condemn Pakistan-sponsored terrorism towards India, but can change its attitude towards the problem," Modi said.
8. SEVA BHARATI SPREADS WINGS IN J & K: The entire life of this region has scattered due to to strange geographical, political and social set up. Because of the immense cold and snowfall, maximum number of people from Kashmir and Laddakh come to Jammu and stay for over half a year. Terrorism has forced Hindus to take shelter at the rehabilitation camps located in Jammu and other lower regions. The plight of terror-hit brethren is very grave. The paucity of infrastructure and other facilities has added fuel to the fire.
Due to the lack of schools and colleges in appropriate number, percentage of illiteracy is more in this state. A single school serves the educational need of students from a number of villages. Moreover, being a mountainous region, students have to cross several hurdles for reaching the school. This causes spurt in dropout rate and the children engage themselves in traditional business. Not much avenues are available for higher education; hence those who want to study further have to migrate.
Same is the plight of health sector also. Government hospitals, private hospitals and doctors are constrained only up to cities and towns. Villages located in the far-flung regions lack good doctors and hospitals. Sub-standard and even bogus doctors have polluted the rural health of J & K. Terrorism has endangered the security of common man. Lack of social harmony and mutual co-operation is a common scenario. Ethical values are being eroded. People are moving away from their glorious culture. Cultural and social life of J & K people is getting swept away in the wave of terrorism. Seva Bharati work started in Jammu in mid 80s when terrorism was at its peak. Seva Bharati carved a niche in the hearts of people through its various social and health related works. Its Seva Kunj office comprises of computer training centre, tailoring training centre and a library. Also, due to the various projects such as Ved Mandir Pathshala, Bharatiya Vidya Mandir School, Swami Vivekanad Medical Mission Hospital, Vedadhyayan Kendra, etc, the entire surrounding atmosphere has filled with an aroma of seva.
Total 417 Seva Bharati projects are being run in Jammu at present. Out of these, a maximum number of 313 projects are education-related. Out of the 313 educational projects, 298 projects are related to primary education and vocational training is provided at 15 centres. Educational centres comprise of bal sanskar kendras, adult education classes, ekal vidyalayas, hostels, libraries, computer and tailoring training centres, etc.
Health projects comprise of activities such as organizing health check-up camps, running dispensaries, neurotherapy centres, creating awareness about AIDS, looking after the patients at government hospitals, ambulance, blood donation camps, etc.
Seva Bharati work is progressing in multiple directions because of the physical, moral and economic support from various organizations and kind-hearted donors from the society.
9. ENCYCLOPEDIA OF HINDUISM: India Heritage Research Foundation, involving some 2,000 scholars based all over the world, has brought out an 11-volume, 7,086 page ‘Encyclopedia of Hinduism. “Hinduism isn’t a religion, it’s a powerful intellectual system. It is a kind of manual for living based on ethical materialism. It is also deeply and widely interpretative. Like nuclear science, Hinduism is essentially a system of knowledge and this encyclopedia attempts to explain various elements for both the scholar as well as the student of ideas,” said Kapil Kapoor, former Jawaharlal Nehru University professor, the editor-in-chief. A separate team was hired and it worked from 2008 to 2011 under the editorship of, collating, editing and proof-reading each entry.
There are many reference books that deal in a scholarly, non-religious manner on Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Sikhism. This ‘Encyclopedia of Hinduism’ fills a gap that was there for readers in English who wish to pursue knowing about one of the most prevalent thought and social systems. The encyclopedia has been published by Rupa Publishers, Delhi and its 11 volumes are priced at Rs 21000.
10. SIKHS WIN TURBAN CASE AGAINST FRANCE AT UN: The UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) has concluded that France had violated the religious freedom of 76 year old Ranjit Singh when he was asked to remove his turban for his ID photograph. The UNITED SIKHS had filed a communication on behalf of Ranjit Singh to the UNHRC in December 2008. United Sikh is a UN-affiliated international NGO that works for humanitarian relief, human development and advocacy organisation, aimed at empowering those in need and Sikh community across the world.
The UNHRC observed that "even if the obligation to remove the turban for the identity photograph might be described as a one-time requirement, it would potentially interfere with the freedom of religion of Ranjit Singh on a continuing basis because he would always appear without his religious head covering in the identity photograph and could therefore be compelled to remove his turban during identity checks."
11. DRDO BUILDS DEFENCE AGAINST DIRTY BOMBS: An overt nuclear war may be a remote possibility but the threat of non-state actors unleashing "dirty" nuclear bombs, biological or chemical agents to wreak havoc remains a clear and present danger.
Keeping in mind the seriousness of the threat, Bharatiya armed forces have inducted NBC defence equipment worth Rs 1,200 crore and another Rs 1,200 crore is in the pipeline. These range from nerve agent detectors, dosimeters, portable gas chromatographs, autoject injectors and first-aid kits to NBC integrated field shelters, respiratory masks and suits, roentgenometers, NBC reconnaissance vehicles and decontamination systems.
Armed with a fresh "detailed'' NBC threat analysis, DRDO estimates military as well as civilian forces in Bharat will need to induct NBC defence equipment worth around Rs 10,000 crore over the next 5 years.
"Today, 85% of NBC defence inventory held by armed forces has been developed by DRDO, and produced by defence PSUs and around 60 private companies," said DRDO chief controller Dr W Selvamurthy.
12. SERVING THE SICK: Mumbai with its large hospitals like Tata Memorial and KEM (King Edward Memorial) providing affordable treatment for critical diseases like cancer, attracts thousands of patients from all over the country. However, accommodation for the duration of hospitalisation for patients and the accompanying family members has been a major problem. Nana Palkar Smruti Samiti (NPSS), founded in 1968, sought to bridge this gap. It provides free accommodation and food to the patients and their two attendees as well as transportation to hospitals.
NPSS was founded in the memory of late Nanasaheb Palkar, writer, orator and a well-known pracharak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), who was also a social crusader with keen interest in patient-care. NPSS started with one room in Parel (mid-town Mumbai). The services of the organisation gained popularity by word of mouth and more patients started seeking the help of NPSS. So, a plot of land was granted by the then municipal commissioner.
In 1997, NPSS got approval to build a 10-storey structure. The building is known as Rugna Seva Sadan. It can accommodate 76 patients and 152 accompanying attendees. At times, there are patients who can afford nominal fees. For them, NPSS charges Rs50 per day for monthly accommodation and Rs25 per meal. “With the help of donations from the public, we strive to give accommodation and other facilities to people who are poor and traumatised by the illness,” says AM Joshi, former secretary and trustee of NPSS.
Patients are given the facilities on obtaining a certificate either from a member of the RSS or the medical social worker of the hospital from where the patient has been referred. The organisation provides free ambulance service to the patients to take them to hospitals like Tata Memorial, KEM and Sion Hospital and charges Rs5 each to the patient’s attendees.
In 2004, NPSS started a dialysis centre with a nominal charge of Rs350. It has 12 haemodialysis machines treating 36 patients a day. Additionally, it also runs a low-cost pathological laboratory and provides free medicine and counselling to TB (tuberculosis) patients, among others. These services are free for poor patients; for others, a nominal fee is charged. NPSS has lithotripsy centres in Matunga (Mumbai) and Aurangabad (Maharashtra), providing treatment at Rs3,500. NPSS gives financial assistance to poor patients undergoing treatment; for this, its monthly budget is Rs1.5 lakh.
NPSS provides and arranges for blood donor registry and blood donation camps every year for major hospitals. It also has a branch in Borivali, where doctors provide medical care at a nominal rate. It hires out equipment like walkers, wheelchairs and water beds on low rent. Please see firstname.lastname@example.org. www.npss.org for more info.
13. MAKAR SANKRANTI CELEBRATION BY HSS – NAIROBI: Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh Nairobi nagar celebrated Makar Sankranti Utsav on Sunday, January 15 2012 at Deendayal Bhavan.The Chief guest was Hindu Council of Kenya, National Chairman, Shri Vanrajbhai Sarvaiya. A total gathering of 165 people attended, with 130 in Poorna Ganavesh (Sakha members).Ten committee members of Hindu
Council of Kenya also attended the event as invited guests.
Shri Vanrajbhai Sarvaiya, gave a talk about the relevance of Makar Sankranti in individual spirituality and harmony of Hindus as a Samaj
(community). He emphasised on the importance of Hindu unity and recognition by the Kenya Government of Hindu social and developmental
efforts. He said that being a swayamsevak (selfless volunteer) and attending shakha is what has disciplined him in virtues with which he has been able to perform as the National Chairman of Hindu Council of Kenya. Shri Ramchandraji Pande, HSS Pracharak also spoke at the occasion.
14. TN SWAYAMSEVAKS MATCHED SPEED OF THE ‘THANE’ STORM : Gusty winds and torrential rains of Cyclone ‘Thane’ hit the coastal areas of Chennai, Cuddalore and Puducherry (UT). Several trees, street lamp posts and electric poles were uprooted causing extensive damage to the road and electrical network. The Prathamic Shiksha Varga of Puducherry Vibhag was concluded on December 30, one day in advance in order to carry out the relief work.
Rescue services faced difficulty in reaching the affected areas due to damaged roads. Swayamsevaks cleared the uprooted trees and electric poles which helped the line men to attend and restore electricity immediately in some parts of Puducherry town. Mosquito coil, match boxes, candles, bread packets, water packets were distributed to 600 houses at five places of Puducherry town and to 1000 houses of the villages surrounding Villiyanur, Thirukannur, Kalapattu Panchayats of Puducherry.
In Cuddalore district, 3 kgs of rice were distributed along with candles, match boxes, mosquito coils etc. to 1200 houses of Vandipalayam and Pudupallayam villages.
In North Chennai, food packets were distributed to 5 most affected fishing hamlets for 100 persons in each hamlet for two days. The Swayamsevaks who undertook this quick relief work were in fact undergoing training in a seven day camp of RSS. They attached greater importance to serve the needy and therefore were at the doors of the storm hit.
15. ABVP 57th NATIONAL CONFERENCE: “It has been more than six decades since independence yet constitutional rights have not reached the masses. The dream of Ram Rajya cannot come true unless economical, political and social rights are granted to the citizens in proportionate way. To embark on this journey for the fulfillment of Ram Rajya we need to reinvent the philosophy of the Bhagwat Gita and Gandhiji.” These were the energetic lines of former chief justice of Bharat Shri R. C. Lahoti on the eve of the inaugural session of 57th National Conference of Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad at Talkatora Indoor stadium, New Delhi on January 4th.
He expressed distress over the existing predicament and travails of the innocent people whose life has become pathetic and miserable due to highly political motive and lost morality.
Smt. Manan Chaturvedi, who received Prof. Yashwantrao Kelkar Yuva award, asserted that for the establishment of an empowered society, woman’s power has to shoulder the responsibility of the next generation for a well cultured and developed outfits.
Prominent among those present on the occasion were Dattatreya Hosbale, Suresh Soni, Ravishankar Prasad, Sunil Ambekar, Prof. Milind Marathe.
16. FIRST HINDU CHAPLAIN IN US MILITARY: Returning service members from Iraq and Afghanistan often struggle with readjusting to civilian life, health issues, and guilt. Until recently, the 1,000 or so Hindus serving in the US military - and their families - lacked a military confidant who understood their religion and culture. But now Captain Pratima Dharm has been appointed as the US military's first Hindu chaplain. She says her position is significant not just to her military congregation, but also to the religion's one billion.
17. VISUALLY CHALLENGED WILL NOW GET A PEEK INTO THE RAMAYANA, thanks to a 17-years old student who has made the epic available in Braille. Pranav Raghav Sood, a grade XI Bangalore student, chose the great epic as it was not available to the visually challenged. After encouragement from his family, this young boy took 120 days to type out C Rajagopalachari's Ramayana in English in MS Word format. Any text in this format can be directly programmed into Braille and this does not require any further editing.
18. BHARAT TO COMPLETE YEAR WITHOUT NEW POLIO CASES; On January 13, Bharat will reach a major milestone in the battle against polio as it will mark a year without a fresh case of polio in the country. Once all samples collected till January 12 have been cleared, Bharat will be off the World Health Organisation’s list of polio-endemic countries, to be released on February 12.
To be “polio free”, Bharat will need to keep this performance up for two more years, and ensure that all samples stored in laboratories are free of the virus — this, officials said, was the bigger challenge. The last polio case reported in Bharat was that of a two-year-old in West Bengal on January 13, 2011. The two “hotbeds” of the disease, western Uttar Pradesh and central Bihar, have been polio free for close to two years now.
“We are very happy but the goals get steeper. The pulse polio drive has taken off well, even Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are reporting a coverage of 99 per cent or more. Internationally we are being lauded because even in Washington, 6 per cent of children are not immunised. WHO wants us to guide other endemic countries,” said Anuradha Gupta, joint secretary in charge of reproductive and child health.
19. BRITISH PHARMA COMPANY'S BID TO PATENT GINGER FOILED: Bharat has foiled an attempt by a British pharmaceutical company to claim a patent on using ginger for the treatment of cold.
While Bharatiyas have been gulping down 'adrak chai' for generations as a home remedy, Nicholas John Larkins, London, filed a patent application (GB2436063) titled "Pharmaceutical composition for the treatment of excess mucous production" on March 16, 2006 at the British patent office. The firm claimed a "unique finding" in the use of ginger ( Zingiber officinale) and kutki (Picrorhiza kurroa) for the treatment of cough and lung diseases.
"Within two weeks of India providing evidence, the attempt to pirate India's traditional medicinal knowledge was struck down by the UK patent office in 2011," a health ministry official said.
20. YUVA-2012 AT PANTNAGAR, organized by Vivekananda Swadhyay Mandal (an initiative by alumni of Pantnagar University in Uttarakhand) was formally inaugurated on the 149th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. The chief guest, Shri Pranav Pandya ji, Vice- chancellor of Dev Sanskriti Vishwavidyalay inaugurated the 4 – day International Youth Conference with a theme ‘Youth for Inetgral Humanism’ by deep prajvalan. Other honorable dignitaries included Nivedita ji, Vice President of Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari, , Dattatreya Hosabale, a renowned social activist, Shri Jagdish Upasane, senior editor, India today (Hindi) and other eminent scholars and well wishers.
Shri Dattatreya expressed his thoughts by acknowledging the Vedas and the ancient culture of this vast country, where the greatest saint of
all times have lived. Sri Pranav Pandya ji said that it is only through sheer perseverance and constant struggle that one achieves a mammoth will power which moves the entire universe.
21. KALAM FORMULA: SMILING MOMS KEEP NATION HAPPY: "If my mother is happy, my home is happy. If my home is happy, society is happy. If society is happy, my nation is happy." Former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam imparted these words of wisdom to an audience made up of students from over 120 schools from across New Delhi at a function organised by the Times of India's Student Edition in association with What Can I Give ( WCIG), an initiative started by Kalam on Jan 17.
“There are many dimensions to make our mother smile which is based on one's own interest... There are four rules to succeed in life -- aim high, continuously acquire knowledge, hard work and perseverance," he said.
The session also saw a question-answer round where the students bombarded Dr Kalam with questions like, why is Bharat so weak when it comes to mathematical aptitude. How can creativity make my mother smile? How can I make my mother smile?"This aim can be achieved if you see five people who cannot read and write and teach at least one to do so," said Kalam.
22. CAN PUJAS BE ALLOWED IN GOVT OFFICES? WHY NOT, ASKS HC: Is Ayudha Puja or Saraswathi Puja in government offices a non-secular activity deserving to be banned? 'No', rules the Madras high court.
"Showing respect to the place of work and the objects of work will in no way offend the feelings of others or affect secularism. Ayudha Puja is referable to prayer, reverence or respect given to objects through which an individual performs his profession or occupation. Ayudha Puja in its real terms transcends all religion," a division bench of Justice R Sudhakar and Justice Aruna Jagadeesan of the Madras HC has said. Dismissing a public interest writ petition the bench said an individual showing respect to his occupational tools cannot be said to offend the secular nature of the state.
23. DATTOPANT THENGADI CHOWK IN MUMBAI: A crossing at Mulund (West) in Mumbai was named after Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh founder, late Dattopant Thengadi recently at the hands of BJP leader Ravindra Bhusari. The crossing was named due to the efforts of corporator Shri Vishwanath. A proposal to this effect was placed before the BMC in 2005 and it could be materialised only in 2011.
24. MN SUKUMARAN NAMBIAR PASSES AWAY: MN Sukumaran Nambiar, son of the late legendary actor MN Nambiar, passed away in Chennai on January 8 following heart attack. He was 60. He joined the BJP in 1991 and held key positions including the post of Treasurer. He also served on the Ayyappa Sewa Samajam and Dharma Rakshana Samiti. Promonent political leaders including BJP president Shri Nitin Gadkari, Chief Minister Jaylalita expressed grief at his sudden demise.
25. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Pravas: Visitors: Ma.Vedji Nanda, Shridhar Damle-USA; Arjunlal Sharma, Ravi Solanki – UK, Shriniwas Kale – Caribbean.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: His preeminent characteristic was kingliness. He was a born king and nobody ever came near him either in India or America without paying homage to his majesty. – Romain Rolland on Swami Vivekananda
JAI SHRI RAM
A catalyst for modernity
The manner in which our languages are losing their cultural contexts and gibberish (kolaveri di) is replacing literary merit of poetry, at least in terms of popularity, it may seem that Sanskrit and sanskriti (culture) are both obsolete, quaint and out of context. But, since the rest of the world has begun to chant the Vedic hymns and is looking up to Sanskrit to offer panacea for global issues, we are forced to take note of it, despite our fixation with everything English. Considering that we have a tendency to politicise and communalise our languages — we did it to Urdu and killed a language system of great finesse — some efforts were made to communalise Sanskrit too by some militant secularists who filed a petition against the teaching of Sanskrit in the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) on grounds that it was against secularism. The apex court refuted the absurd proposition in 1994 to save the language from its further communalisation.
Yet, merely introducing a language, as rich as Sanskrit, at school level in a three language formula is not enough to explore its linguistic richness. Nor is it enough to run degree courses in the universities, because of the ‘scoring’ advantage of the subject. Compared to the gains reaped by Germany and the USA, by their research and scholarly studies conducted on the vast reservoir available in Sanskrit, in India we are still stuck at our Akashvani broadcast in Sanskrit, which is highly Hindi-ised, according to foreign scholars of Sanskrit. The advantage of this reservoir of knowledge — may it be Panini’s treatise, Sanskrit dramas, Vedas, Vedangas, epics, kavya ( poetry), science, philosophy, aesthetics, medicine, Kautilya’s Arthashastra — the treasury is lost to us in the absence of serious conviction and research. The timeless wisdom contained in the language needs more than rhetoric and symbolic seminars. It needs to attract the best talent available in linguistics to help it enrich other streams of knowledge by its reservoir.
Despite leaders like B R Ambedkar and Pt Jawaharlal Nehru, who supported the cause of Sanskrit, it is due to our colonial mindset that the language still gets identified with pundits and Hindu rituals. While our Sanskrit scholars deliver speeches in English, the foreign scholars of Sanskrit compose songs in this heritage language, thereby lending it a modern appeal. (Editorial, Tribune 11 January 2012 )
AN ABIDING FRIENDSHIP
Good relations with Israel are in India’s interest
More than a decade after Mr Jaswant Singh became the first Minister for External Affairs to visit Israel, incumbent SM Krishna’s three-day visit to that country from January 8 to 10 marks a welcome surge in India’s relations with Israel. Even though formal diplomatic relations with Israel were established in 1992, the Jewish nation has since then emerged as one of our most reliable allies. Both countries have a shared experience of hostile neighbours and remain deeply affected by the scourge of terrorism. The brutal terrorist attack on the Chabad House in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, is perhaps the most poignant example of the grave challenges jointly faced by both countries; much like the tremendous Israeli support that poured forth in the aftermath of the Mumbai carnage served as a powerful reiteration of the strength of our bilateral ties. Against this backdrop, it is no wonder then that India and Israel are already committed to and actively engaged in strategic cooperation on defence, security and related areas. Although details remain hazy for obvious reasons, since 2007 Israel has been this country’s second largest supplier of defence and security hardware after Russia. Moreover, bilateral trade has also grown significantly from a mere $200 million, diamond-centric transactions in 1992 to a far more diversified business worth $5 billion last year. The numbers are expected to increase dramatically once the Free Trade Agreement, which is already in the pipeline, is inked.
However, to fully enjoy the vast potential of a strong bilateral relationship with Jerusalem, New Delhi must be more understanding of Israel’s concerns. The varying positions of the two countries towards Iran and Palestine, particularly, have to be finely balanced so that they don’t lead to needless misunderstandings. On several issues, differences can be narrowed to a large extent. For instance, Israel has genuine reasons to be concerned about Iran’s bomb-in-the-basement nuclear programme. India, too, believes that a nuclear Iran is not in its national interest. Yet, for reasons related to India’s energy needs, New Delhi cannot afford to strike out blindly or in rage; it has to calibrate its response. Israel should understand India’s compulsions. Similarly, India must appreciate Israel’s compulsions when it comes to dealing with the Palestinian issue. From New Delhi what appears to be a problem with a simple solution is in reality a problem that defies a solution, no matter how flexible Jerusalem may want to be. Both India and Israel must realise that friendship between nations is not without differences. In pursuit of good relations, countries focus on areas of mutual interest and not on differences. Twenty years after India corrected a historic wrong; it should make every effort to take its friendly relations with Israel to a new level of cooperation. (Editorial, Pioneer 11 January 2012)