1. FESTIVAL: ‘BAHUBALI IS AN ICON OF NON-VIOLENCE’ - MOHAN BHAGWAT Bahubali is an icon of non-violence, represents national integrity. Bahubali brought the religion in practice in life. He is a Mahapurush” said RSS Sarasabghachalak Mohan ji Bhagwat while participating in the Maha-Mastakaabhisheka celebrations of Sri Bahubali at Venoor Jain Shrine on January 31st. Udupi Pejawar Seer Vishwesha Theertha Swamiji, Jain Seer Sri Charukeerthi Bhattaraka Swamiji of Shravanabelagola, Seetarama Kedilaya, Akhila Bharatheeya Seva Pramukh of RSS and other RSS top functionaries were present during the ceremony.
Dr D Veerendra Heggade, Dharmadhikari of Dharmasthala temple, felicitated RSS Sarasanghachalak Mohan Bhagwat.
Bahubali, also called Gomateshwara is the second of the hundred sons of the first Tirthankara, Rishabha, and king of Podanpur. An esteemed figure in Jain hagiography; his story exemplifies the inner strength of Bharatiya culture. He won everything from his brother and could have become an emperor, but he returned everything to the brother. Bahubali is considered the ideal of the man who conquers selfishness, jealousy, pride and anger.
(Maha-Mastakaabhisheka* is a festival held once in 12 years, when the image of Gommateshvara is bathed in milk, curds, ghee, saffron and gold coins.)
2. MAMMOTH GATHERING OF SWAYAMSEVAKS IN KANYAKUMARI: RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat addressed a huge gathering of swayamsevaks at Nagerkoil in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu on February 12. The event was organised as part of the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. A total of 15,906 swayamsevaks in complete uniform participated in the function from 2542 villages. More than 51,699 people from the general public including a large number of women also witnessed the event. Addressing the swayamsevaks, Shri Bhagwat said mere celebration of Swami Vivekananda’s birth anniversary is not sufficient, real remembrance of him would be through implementing the values he propagated.
In his presidential address, Sri A R Ramalingam, Retd Justice of Chennai High Court remarked, “I have heard of Sangh. Today I am seeing in front of me. I can feel the qualities of Discipline, Patriotism, Service, and Sacrifice in you.”
A book “Thirai” translated from Kannada novel “Aavarana” was released by Sri Mohan Bhagawat. Several mathadhipatis, dharmacharyas and senior sangh adhikaaris participated in the gathering.
3. PIL AGAINST BHAGAVAD GEETA IN SCHOOLS REJECTED: The petition filed by Catholic Bishop’s Council against introduction of ‘Geeta Sar’ or Essence of Bhagavad Geeta in school curriculum, has been dismissed by the Madhya Pradesh High Court on 27th January. The petition was filed in August 2011. The petition was filed by the Council spokesman Fr Anand Muttungal.
The court upheld the fact that Bhagavad Geeta contained no religious teachings, but contained only the philosophy of life. Earlier, the court had given the petitioner’s counsel a time limit of 2 months to study the holy text in entirety and then come to any decision.
According to Additional Advocate General Prashant Singh, the Division Bench comprising of Justice Ajit Singh and Justice Sanjay Yadav asked the petitioner a few questions. Not satisfied with the answers given, the court declared that the Bhagavad Geeta was Bharatiya Philosophy and not a religious text. The petition was dismissed thereafter.
4. MOBILE DISPENSARY FOR NAXAL-HIT VANAVASIS: Gadchiroli district that lies along the edge of Maharashtra is regarded as one of the most undeveloped and backward tribal region of the country. This district is gripped by various development-related problems such as health, education and employment. Also, the naxal menace and malnutrition are at their peaks. Government initiated a number of schemes for the up-liftment of the region but whether those schemes reached up to the common people is really a matter of concern.
Deriving inspiration from Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Dr Hegewar Janmshatabdi Seva Samiti, since several years, is striving to reach healthcare and educational facilities up to the vanavasi brethren residing in the remote regions of the country. With an objective of providing healthcare and creating health awareness among the people of Aheri, Etapalli, Bhamragarh and Mulchera regions of Gadchiroli District through mobile dispensary, the samiti initiated this work in 1988 to mark the centenary year of RSS founder Dr Keshav Balirampant Hedgewar.
The samiti adopts one major village situated in the remote region where government aid cannot reach and provides healthcare to the people in the surrounding region. Petha village in Etapalli taluka, Kishtapur in Mulchera, Nagulwahi, Kolpalli, Guddigudam in Aheri taluka, and a number of villages in Bhamragarh taluka have been benefitted by this project.
Initially, through people’s contribution, a jeep was used for the project. After the expiry period, Member of Parliament Hansraj Ahir arranged for an ambulance that regularly visits the health centres and serves the need of the people. Along with this ambulance service, seva samiti’s mobile clinic is also being run by Dr Suresh Dambole from Aheri. The medicines required for the mobile dispensary is arranged free of cost by seva samiti karyakartas. They collect these medicines from the doctors and medical stores located in the city. Inspired by this project, people from the region constructed a building for running this clinic regularly at Petha through shramdaan (self labour). This clinic has given a great relief to the patients in the surrounding region.
About 1500 patients are examined and treated per month through this mobile clinic. Patients affected by chronic ailments need to be shifted to the hospital in case of casualty. Such needy patients are shifted to the hospitals at Nagpur and Chandrapur by the samiti. After shifting them, the samiti also takes a regular account of their health progress. Check-up camps are conducted from time to time regarding contagious diseases, eye ailments, cardiac diseases, etc by a team of experts. Till now, a number of camps have been conducted by the samiti in the remote villages such as Binagunda, Thodewara, Gobnar, Midadhapalli and Laheri located in Bhamragarh taluka on the border of Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh.
A woman needs complete healthcare during pregnancy. However, this fact is ignored by elderly people due to illiteracy and lack of awareness. This proves fatal for woman many a times. To create awareness among villagers regarding this aspect, a team of Arogya Rakshikas was constituted by Dr Hedgewar Janmashatabdi Samiti. Meena Mattami, Sheetal Weladi, Munni Atram from the village has been given Arogya Rakshika training. Pregnant women in the village are regularly examined and are given necessary healthcare by these Arogya Rakshikas.
Due to all these aspects, the sapling that was planted by Dr Hedgewar has now turned into a banyan tree. A number of seva activities are being run in the entire country; this mobile clinic is one of them that served as an angel for the vanavasi brethren residing in the remote regions of the country. (www.newsbharati.com)
5. SIT GIVES CLEAN CHIT TO NARENDRA MODI IN ZAKIA CASE: The Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate the 2002 Gujarat riots case has submitted its report on a petition filed by the widow of slain Congress MP Ehsaan Jafri against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi over his alleged involvement in the Gulbarg Society massacre case. The report gave a clean chit to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi over allegations of his involvement in the 2002 riots.
Zakia Jafri, widow of slain Congress MP Ehsaan Jafri, and Citizens for Justice and Peace, the non-governmental organisation led by Teesta Setalvad, have filed a petition in the court alleging that the SIT report on the Gulbarg Society massacre in the post-Godhra riots in Gujarat was not complete.
In March 2010, the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team had questioned Modi in connection with a petition by the widow of Congress leader Ehsaan Jafri, who was among 70 people killed by rioters in Ahmedabad's Gulbarg Society on February 28, 2002.
In February 2011, the SIT that probed the 2002 Godhra riots has indicted Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi on many counts, but said there was not enough substantiation to prosecute him.
6. 7 BHARATIYA -AMERICANS FIGURE IN INTEL SCIENCE FINALIST IN US : Seven Bharatiya -Americans have figured among the 40 finalists for the Intel Science Talent Search; which is the most prestigious Science and Maths competition for high school students in the United States.
The Intel Science Talent Search finalists, who represent America's most promising high school seniors with the greatest potential to solve pressing challenges in the world, will gather in Washington, in March to compete for USD 630,000 in awards with the top winner receiving USD 100,000 from the Intel Foundation.
"The US needs these talented innovators to go as far and as fast as they can, solving the world's most critical challenges, imagining and creating - a new and better future for us all," said Wendy Hawkins, executive director of the Intel Foundation.
7. A DREAM REALISED: GURU GRANTH SAHIB IN BRAILLE: He could have been like any other 'raagi' after his retirement in 1998 from the Golden Temple, where he worked for 30 years. But Bhai Gurmej Singh had a wish: Being blind, he wanted many like him to read the holy Gurbani.
He was 12 years away from his dream project. Today, Bhai Gurmej Singh is proud of having transliterated Guru Granth Sahib into Braille. Talking to The Tribune, he said the Braille copy has 2,153 pages in 18 volumes. It has a page size of 11 x 12 inches. "It isn't possible to get the entire work in a single volume due to technical difficulties," he said.
It took him almost two-and-a-half years to get the first copy. "I received volumes of the holy book for proof reading from Mumbai one by one. It consumed a lot of time. Moreover, those involved in the printing work could not decipher corrections made by me. Later, my nephew Jagjit Singh came to my rescue. He joined a Sikh institution in Ropar to learn Gurmukhi especially to help me out. We both then went to Mumbai where we finished proof reading during our stay," he said.
8. DRDO COCHLEAR IMPLANT TO COST ONLY RS1 LAKH: The Naval Science and Technological Laboratory (NSTL), based at Visakhapatnam, a unit of DRDO - Defence Research and Development Organisation has developed an affordable cochlear implant, which will cost around Rs1 lakh. This is much cheaper than similar imported device which costs about Rs 8 lakhs. Bharat is now the fifth country besides US, Austria, Australia and France in the world to produce such a complex device.
Cochlear implant which is also known as bionic ear is surgically implanted electronic device that provides a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing due to loss of sensory hair cells in their cochlea.
In Bharat, there are nearly one million people who need cochlear implants and every year nearly 10,000 children are born with this impairment. The indigenously developed device will bring great relief as it is much cheaper as compared to the imported device and the DRDO device will go for clinical trials within next four months, Dr V Bhujanga Rao, Chief Controller(Research and Development) DRDO said on Feb 13.
ERA SEAL DISCOVERED IN PAKISTAN:
archaeologists have discovered a rare Indus
Valley civilization era seal in
steatite dating back to 2,500-2,000 BC at Wattoowala, located near Derawar Fort
- Cholistan area of Punjab
province. The seal features the carved figure of an ibex with two pictographs. It
was found by a team of archaeologists led by Punjab University Archaeology
Department chairman Farzand Masih. The team also conducted excavations at
Sui-Vihar, which was the only existing example of Sankhya doctrines in
Masih said the excavation revealed a circular platform at Sui-Vihar built with sun-dried bricks and a number of supporting walls to hold the platform and the cylindrical structure.
The remnants of a votive stupa suggested that the place might had been converted to a Buddhist establishment when Kanishka-I embraced Buddhism, he said.
10. FRI HELPING TO CONSERVE TREES AT CAMBODIA TEMPLE COMPLEX: The Forest Research Institute (FRI), Dehradun, has been doing considerable work for the conservation of trees at the Ta Prohm temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia, a world heritage site. Earlier this month, Dr VK Bahuguna, Director General of the Indian Council of Forestry Research & Education (ICFRE), Dehradun, visited the site and inspected the work being done by the FRI along with members of the team. Dr Bahuguna appreciated the work done and gave useful suggestions for future work. Dr Bahuguna also inaugurated a two-day workshop for Cambodian stakeholders under the capacity-building programme for monitoring and treatment of trees at the Ta Prohm temple complex.
11. BHARATIYA WOMAN AS FIRST TEACHER FOR US SPACE PROGRAM: Vandana Suryawanshi, a Bharatiya middle school teacher, is selected as the first international teacher for a prestigious US space education program.
Vandana, who teaches at the Vidya Valley School in Pune, Maharashtra, is teaching biology, earth science and general science for 20 years and would join the 19 other outstanding American educators who were selected for their active promotion of space and science education by the Space Foundation. The new flight of Teacher Liaisons will serve as advocates for space-themed education across the curriculum and will use Space Foundation-provided training and resources to further integrate space principles into the classroom.
12. BHARAT AMONG WORLD'S HAPPIEST PEOPLE: Despite economic woes, wars, conflicts and natural disasters the world is a happier place today than it was four years ago. Indonesians, Bharatiyas and Mexicans seem to be the most contented people on the planet.
"The world is a happier place today and we can actually measure it because we have been tracking it," said John Wright, senior vice president of Ipsos Global, which has surveyed the happiness of more than 18,000 people in 24 countries since 2007. "It is not just about the economy and their well being. It is about a whole series of other factors that make them who they are today."
Perhaps proving that money can't buy happiness, residents of some of the world biggest economic powers, including the United States, Canada and Britain, fell in the middle of the happiness scale.
"Relationships remain the No. 1 reason around the world where people say they have invested happiness and maybe in those cultures family has a much greater degree of impact."
13. BHARAT SUCCESSFULLY TEST-FIRES MISSILE INTERCEPTOR: Bharat on February 10 tested a ballistic missile interceptor from a defence base in Odisha to create a shield against incoming enemy missiles, a senior defence official said.
The indigenous Advanced Air Defence (AAD) interceptor missile was fired from Wheeler Island off the state coast near Dhamra in Bhadrak district, about 170 km from here.
It successfully destroyed an incoming ballistic missile - a modified variant of the Prithvi fired from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur on sea in Balasore district, about 70 km away from Wheeler Island.
"The interceptor directly hit the target and destroyed it," SP Dash, director of the test range, said. The interceptor was fired a few minutes after the target missile was fired.
14. 33RD HERAKA CONFERENCE- NORTH-EAST’S CULTURAL AFFINITY WITH HEARTLAND: The 33 Conference of Zeliangrong Heraka Association North-East was held on January 3 to 5 at Kepeujung village near Peren town, 80 km from Dimapur. A total of 800 delegates including 200 from Assam and 100 from Manipur attended the conference wherein 400 women delegates joined the function. The function started with hoisting of Zeliangrong Heraka Flag by the Chief Guest – Shri Som Kamei, Director, North East Zone Culture Council (NEZCC), Dimapur. Dr Krishna Gopalji, RSS incharge of North-East zone and others were also present in the function. While delivering welcome address President of Nagaland unit of Heraka Association, Dr Wilubo said that Zeliangrong Heraka Association has been tirelessly working for preservation of indigenous faith and culture of Zeliangrong Nagas living in all the three adjoining states.
The function was marked by dance and flute competitions. A colorful procession was taken in Peren town in the evening of January 5, led by Heraka leaders.
15. WORKSHOP ON ETERNAL CULTURE OF NORTH EAST JANJATIS: It was for the first time that a unique workshop was organised on the topic ‘Philosophy and Spirituality in Eternal Religions (Sanatan Dharma) and Eternal Culture (Sanatan Sanskriti) of janjati communities of Karbi Anglong’ under the aegis of Janjati Dharma Sanskriti Suraksha Manch from January 27 to 29 at Diphu in Assam. Total 153 delegates from nine janjati communities hailing from Karbi Anglong participated in the workshop. Among them 29 were women.
The participant communities included Karbi, Dimasa, Mantai, Boro, Tiwa, Khasi, Rengma, Adivasi and Thengal Kachari. There were some other community representatives also hailing from other states. They were Chakma, Reang, Mizo, Nepali, Hajong and Oriya.
After prolonged discussion among various scholars it was found that though different janjati groups seem to be different in language, tradition, attire, food habbits and mode of worship etc but philosophically and conceptually every janjati community is one and the same. It was revealed that in every janjati community, the concept of atma and parmatma , paap and punya hell and heven, birth and death, rebirth or salvation, festivals, rites and rituals, etc were same with no variation.
Those who addressed the gathering include Shri Lunse Timung, president of Reception Committee and Shri BB Jamatia, president of the Forum. The workshop adopted three resolutions to stop conversion, work for promotion of sanatan dharma and sanatan sanskriti and to codify customary laws.
16. ONE FOR GIRL CHILD: MP PRIESTS ADD 8TH PHERA: In a country where marriage vows mostly remain just that, there is a community in Bundelkhand that has introduced an eighth ‘phera’ to save the girl child. The extra solemn round of the sacred fire would signify a pledge to save the girl child.
Rampant foeticide in the Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh has brought the child sex ratio here to alarmingly low levels. This prompted the Gahoi-Vaish Samaj, a trading community of Chhattarpur district, about 350 km north-east of Bhopal, to formally pass a resolution adding an additional ‘phera and vachan (vow)’ to the existing seven.
The first of the marriages to see this additional solemn round would take place on February 12. Radheshyam Bilaiya, a professor at the government college, Maharajpur, has voluntarily agreed to the addition in the rituals of his daughter’s marriage. The bride, Harsha, who is an assistant manager at a private company in Mumbai, and the groom, Sameer, an assistant manager with a mobile phone company, are happy to lead the community in the unique initiative.
Samaj president Prem Narayan Rusia told that the unique initiative to raise awareness on the social issue was discussed. It was then decided to make it a part of the marriages solemnised by the samaj.
“In the next meeting, I put the formal proposal of the eighth ‘phera’, which was unanimously endorsed. Initially, we were apprehensive that the priest may not approve of the change in marriage rituals, but he applauded the initiative.” Rusia added chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s ongoing ‘Save girl child campaign’ was the inspiration for the 650-family strong samaj.
17. LK ADVANI UNVEILS DR HEDGEWAR’S STATUE IN DELHI: Senior BJP leader Shri LK Advani on February 5 unveiled a statue of RSS founder Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgewar at a MCD park in Keshav Puram. Speaking on the occasion Shri Advani said Dr Hedgewar played a key role in cultural awakening of the country by establishing the RSS as an institution. He said as Swami Vivekananda formed Ramakrishna Mission and Dayananda Saraswati formed Arya Samaj, Dr Hedgewar by forming the RSS developed a generation of patriots and dedicated people.
Besides Shri Advani, veteran BJP leader Shri Kidarnath Sahni, Mayor of Delhi Prof Rajni Abbi, RSS Sahprant Sanghachalak Dr Shyam Sunder Agrawal, former Delhi Prant Sanghachalak Shri Ramesh Prakash Sharma, and many other senior functionaries from RSS, BJP and other organizations also attended the function.
18. ABVP’S ‘THINK
CONFERENCE IN BENGALURU: Akhil
Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) organised a two-day academic conference
‘Think India’ from January 28 to 29 at IISC in Bengaluru. The conference was
inaugurated by Shri Sateesh Reddy, Director of Inertial Systems, DRDO. ABVP
national president Prof Milind Marathe spoke on wide ranging subjects,
including disapproval of the Bill that permitted universities from abroad to
set up respective institutes in Bharat. INDIA
RSS National Executive Member Shri Ram Madhav spoke on threat from China. IIM Professor, Shri Awasthi, BJP MP Shri Balasaheb Apte, Shri Anand Kumar of Super 30, Shri Shraddhalu Ranade, scientist and Dr YB Ramakrishnan renowned educationist also spoke.
19. SIKHS GET FIRST OFFICIAL GURDWARA IN UAE: – The UAE’s first official Sikh Gurudwara, Guru Nanak Darbar, has been opened in Jebel Ali area, ending years of demand from the Sikh community for a place of worship. The Gurudwara is believed to be the first of its kind in the entire region.
Spread over an area of 25,000 square feet near the Jebel Ali Hospital, the Gurudwara has a dedicated floor for community feasts (langar) and a huge hall for devotional songs (kirtan). Arrangements can be made for langar for about 5,000 people at a time, those associated with the project said. There are an estimated 50,000 Sikhs in the UAE, hailing from both Bharat and Pakistan.
20. $500BN STASHED IN TAX HAVENS, SAYS CBI CHIEF: Putting an official estimate on unaccounted wealth stashed in foreign havens for the first time, the Central Bureau of Investigation chief A P Singh said around $500 billion (around Rs 24 lakh crore) is deposited in foreign accounts. He was speaking at the maiden Interpol global programme on anti-corruption and asset recovery, "It is estimated that around $500 billion of illegal money belonging to Indians is deposited in tax havens abroad. Largest depositors in Swiss Banks are also reported to be Indians," Singh said. There have been various estimates of Bharatiya black money - ranging from $500 billion to $1,500 billion.
Singh said there is a lack of political will in leading tax haven states to part with the information because they are aware of the extent to which their economies have become "geared to this flow of illegal capitals from the poorer countries".
21. KANNADA PARICHAY VARG – UNIQUE INITIATIVE OF TECHIES OF RSS: Bangalore, like other major cities of Bharat, attracts lakhs of people from different parts of the country, every year. This huge influx people who do not know Kannda form a significant percentage of city’s population.
A proverb says ‘an idea moves the world’. Pravatchandra of RSS IT Milan who is originally from Orissa, says it all started with an idea of teaching Kannada during a conversation with friends and all of them agreed without much deliberation. Without delay, whole of IT Milan team was involved in preparing for the event.
The initiative that they took resulted in the ‘Kannada Parichay Varg’ which fructified on Feb 11th and 12th, 2012. The event that took place in over 200 apartment complexes from 2PM to 6PM on both these days, witnessed more than 3000 non-Kannadigas being introduced to Kannada. Close to 330 enthusiastic software professionals, not only Swayamsevaks of IT Milans, were involved in teaching Kannada on these two days.
The impression that non-Kannadigas are not interested to learn Kannada was a myth. ‘While about 5 centres had more than 40 pupils, most of the centres are receiving requests from the participants to continue it during the coming weekends is a proof of this’, says Supradeep Subrahmanya, who is a software engineer and volunteered to teach Kannada.
22. LORD BALAJI’S MAIDEN TRIP TO NEPAL: Leaving his Tirumala abode in Andhra Pradesh, Lord Venkateswara, popular as Balaji, will travel nearly 3,000 km northwards to Nepal this month to meet devotees. Malayappa Swami, the presiding deity of Lord Venkateswara Temple, along with his two consorts, Sridevi and Bhudevi, will be kept at the Tundikhel ground in Kathmandu on February 24 for public viewing.
Kathmanduites will also get a chance to witness the wedding ceremony of the deity with his consorts. Known as sriniwas kalyanam, the ceremony is likely to be viewed by 35,000 devotees.
"Nepali people will have the opportunity to see the same idol that is worshipped at Tirumala," said non-resident Nepali businessman Upendra Mahato, organizer of the event. "This is the first time idols of Malayappa Swami and his consorts are being taken to Nepal. Earlier they were taken to Dubai, Kuwait, UK and the US," said Ravi Thalari, PRO at TTD.
23. SENIOR BJP LEADER V S ACHARYA PASSED AWAY: Senior BJP leader and Karnataka higher education minister VS Acharya (71) passed away in Banglore on 14th Feb. Acharya who was attending a function in the city collapsed on the dais and was rushed to the hospital where he was declared dead. He is survived by his wife, four sons and a daughter.
A medical practitioner by profession, Dr Acharya was a rare politician known for his integrity and public probity. He started his political carreer as President of Udupi Municipality at the age of 28 in 1968, playing a key role in bringing the erstwhile Jana Sangh to power. In later years, he became the Udupi district and State BJP President.
24. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Pravas: Shri Saumitra Gokhale, samyojak Vishwa Vibhag will visit Sri Lanka from Feb 21-28. Visitors: Ramesh Mathur – Japan, Chamanlal Gohil, Sudhir Gupta, Bharat Vadukul, Balbir Raslhan, Damjibhai Tank and family – UK, Shridhar Damle, Vandana Jhingan, Dr. Radheshyam Dwiwedi, Dr.Ashok Gupta – USA.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: “India is not only the heir of her own religious traditions; she is also the residuary legatee of the Ancient Mediterranean World's religious traditions." "Religion cuts far deeper, and, at the religious level, India has not been a recipient; she has been a giver. About half the total number of the living higher religions are of Indian origin.” – One World and India - By Arnold Toynbee.
JAI SHREE RAM
UPA FACES A CRISIS OF OWNERSHIP
The way the UPA is being run, the way almost with unmistakable regularity blunders are being committed one after the other and the way persons at the helm of affairs continue to give a false impression of business as usual, one wonders as to who is the maai-baap of this Government. Is there a single soul around who would own up the acts of omission an
Serial blunderers at the helm of affairs of this Government have not only added to the overall cynicism but also severely damaged popular confidence in their ability to lead. No Government in the past had reduced itself into a virtual lame duck regime due to its own non-performance. In the 1980s, Mrs Indira Gandhi had at least promised a Government that works. Her daughter-in-law seems to be happy presiding over a Government that shirks.
Event after event, the Government seems to be in competition with itself as to how further messy can things be made. Anna Hazare and the complete saga of his Lokpal movement was the height of complicating simple things. The fact that none of the senior members of the Cabinet has had any brush with a popular movement became more and more telling when senior UPA functionaries appeared clueless in dealing with Team Anna. The Government could have easily rectified its initial mistakes by roping in the Opposition in the consultation process, thus making it a broad-based negotiating platform. As if the earlier mistakes were not enough, in the Winter Session the Government’s sheer inability on every front — from media management to floor management — was on full display.
Expectedly, the new year dawned with no fresh approach towards a better management of the multi-dimensional task of running a Government. The near total relationship breakdown with Ms Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress, the abysmal lack of tack and dexterity in dealing with the issue of date of birth of the Army Chief, and the highly disappointing weak-kneed approach in handling the Salman Rushdie visit are three cases in point.
Ms Banerjee is known for being unpredictable. After having agreed to play second fiddle to her,it was not difficult for the Congress to pre-empt some teething problems. Right at the beginning of the partnership, the Congress could have played hardball with Ms Banerjee, making her accept an institutional set-up like that of a coordination committee. Besides, the party would have lost almost nothing had it chosen to call it a day after her insulting treatment and reminded her that, like marriage, alliances endure only when both the partners realise the need for it.
The unseemly controversy over the date of birth of the Chief of Army Staff speaks volumes about the lack of the Government’s administrative acumen. The UPA leadership appeared devoid of foresight, essential for preventing any institutional damage such incidents cause. Forget preventive measures, even the semblance of damage control mechanism also seemed to have been in short supply. Was it inevitable? Were all the available options for avoiding this public controversy tried?
If mishandling of the Lokpal issue and the avoidable relationship-breakdown with the Trinamool Congress betrayed a sheer lack of political management, the dispute over date of birth of Army Chief brought to the fore the insensitivity and the lack of politico-administrative decision-making on the part of the Government. This ineptness by the UPA leadership is also seen as an insult to the entire community of ex-Army men.
As if all this was not enough, the Salman Rushdie episode was handled with abject lack of imagination. Perhaps, it was wrong on the part of the liberal fraternity to expect the UPA leadership to be taking a truly secular approach while dealing with this issue. The international literary fraternity realised that both the liberal establishment as well as the Government here readily crawl when, in fact, they are just asked to bend a little, when it comes to caste and community politics. Again, adroit handling of this issue was certainly not all that difficult.
The latest is the series of crises emerging out of the multiplicity of approaches on the part of different arms of the Government is the controversy over Indian Space Research Organisation scientist Madhavan Nair. Merits of the case apart, how can the Government move without taking the head of the Prime Minister’s Scientific Advisory Council on board when the issue is so very sensitive and involves some leading lights of the nation’s scientific community? Besides, how can the chief of the Prime Minister’s SAC go public and assail the Government’s move so very brazenly?
At the root of this series of failures is a crisis of ownership. Whose Government is this, after all? Is it a Manmohan Singh Government managed by Sonia Gandhi from behind the scene or a Sonia Gandhi regime with governance outsourced to Mr Singh? Who owns this Government? Who is responsible for repeated mistakes? Are the Government officials and Ministers out to hoodwink us by pointing fingers at one another? Is there any internal assessment mechanism? In these days of acute power shortage, do the UPA leaders ever turn the searchlight inward?
Remember, a division of responsibility on the political and the administrative lines is not only meaningless but also against the popular interests. In an arrangement like this, one can hardly expect any accountability and transparency. In a situation like this, accountability is shrouded in mystery and transparency has become illusionary, as what is being seen is not what is happening in reality.
India has witnessed several coalition Governments in the past. UPA1 could easily pass the burden of its non-performance on the recalcitrant Left parties. But if UPA2 is delivering almost nothing, it is mainly because of the ‘mutually beneficial’ arrangement of ‘coalition of convenience’. Once and for all, the nation needs to be told as to who is running this Government? If at all, who owns UPA2?
(The writer is Director of Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini, Mumbai.) Daily Pioneer 6 February 2012.