1. FESTIVALS: Vietnamese celebrate New Year at Hindu temple: More than 50,000 Vietnamese, almost all Buddhists, prayed at the Mariammam Temple, in Ho Chi Minh City through the day and the entire night during the Vietnamese New Year on January 22 as a part of 7-day Tet festival. "Vietnamese believe that worshiping at this temple during the New Year festival will bring good luck," Atul Kumar, a businessmen who has been in HCMC since the 1980s said.
Ho Chi Minh City with three Hindu temples, all built nearly 150 years back, presently has less than 1,000 resident Bharatiyas. The Mariammam temple draws the maximum number of local worshippers.
Devotees observed both Hindu and Buddhist rituals to please the gods at the temple. They believed that Hindu gods are generous about granting the wishes of worshippers. Food offerings were made to idols of Lakshmi, Muruga and Ganesha besides the main idol of goddess Mariammam.
2. FESTIVAL FOR DIFFERENTLY ABLED PEOPLE: “Vishishtarigagi Vishishta Mela,” was organised by Asha Jyothi, the forum for the challenged and their parents, on January 22 at the Canara High School ground at Dongerkeri in Mangalore. The kids enjoyed all the fun activities, educative programmes and the free refreshments and food. The fest was conducted to encourage the differently abled people and to create awareness among the parents and public about the developments in treatments and about the different beneficial programmes and schemes for the differently abled. Seva Bharathi Trustee Dr U V Shenoy said that though the government is announcing many schemes, the institution has not received any government help and is being run with the help from donors.
The special day began with a procession from the Loyola Hall at St Aloysius PU College to the venue at Canara High School.
“The fact that we are challenged is not a curse, but instead it helps us to show what all talents we have with us,” said State Rajyotsava awardee Sabita Monis who does not have both hands. “All the people are talented in one or the other way. Finding out that talent and giving proper encouragement on time is the most important thing,” she added.
Sabita Monis, Special Olympics winners Pramila Pinto, Dhanya Rao, Roy Pinto, Anil Mendonca and their trainers Mahesh, Lakshminarayana Upadhayaya, Narayan S, Vasanth S were felicitated on the occasion.
3. Hindu Shakti Sangama-2012: The 3 day mammoth convention of RSS Swayamsevaks, Hindu Shakti Sangama-2012 was held at outskirts of Hubli North- Karnataka. From Jan 27 to Jan 29 near Tarihar bypass off Gokul Road named 'Vijayanagar', remembering the glorious legacy of Vijayanagar Dynasty Kingdom of Hampi.
Inaugurating the Sangama RSS Sarkaryavah Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi said ‘Whenever our society witnessed attacks from foreign invaders and imbroglio within the country, the Hindu society has shown its potentiality to digest such challenges. The Hindu Shakti Sangama reminds us the potentiality of Hindu Society.’
D V Sadananda Gowda, Chief Minister of Karnataka, Sri Rajayogeendra Swamiji of 3-thousand Mutt -Hubli, RSS Joint General Secretary Dattatreya Hosabale, Dr Satish Jagajinni, Justice Parvat Rao alongwith several sangh adhikaris and socio-religious leaders were present on the occasion.
21,554 swayamsevaks from 1894 villages of 13 districts of North Karnataka participated in this 3 day residential camp. Around 2000 swayamsevaks worked as Prabandhaks The Hindu Shakti Sangama was held to commemorate 75th anniversary of visit of RSS founder Dr Keshava Baliram Hedgewar to Chikkodi of North Karnataka on January 16, 1937 from where RSS activities began in Karnataka.
RSS Sarsanghchalak Dr. Mohan Bhagvat while addressing the concluding function put emphasis on the strength (of the society), saying that the moral character should be accompanied by the strength, to bring about the positive change to the world.
“As said by Dr Kalam we forgot the worship of power, due to which, we were under slavery for thousand years. We need to regain the power, make our society stable. RSS is doing this job of making the countrymen stronger to regain the power to make a strong and prosperous Bharat (India).” Citing some quotes from the autobiography of Dr.Vergese Kurien, which criticise the mindset of people for entirely remain dependant on the Governnment, he said that this attitude still persists and is harmful for the nation building.
“This country is not just a piece of land for us. It is worshipped as motherland since time immemorial. Our ancestors called it Mrunmayi. The society should remember 3 things, first - the concept of Mathrubhoomi, Second - proud of our Culture and third - respect towards our ancestors. The one who always respects his ancestors and their contributions and values is a Hindu” opined the RSS Chief.
Prior to the speech of Sarasanghachalak, spectacular demonstrations of various Sangh physical exercises by swayamseavaks, attracted the gathering.
In his presidential speech veteran scientist Lt.Gen. Dr V J Sundaram said “Bharat got political freedom in 1947, but it was not economical. We had problem in several sectors, later we successfully achieved green, white and technological revolution. Bharat has proved its potentiality in technology; our missile technology is one of the best on the world. While constructing Pruthvi Missile, I realised the strength of Bharat. “ The event was blessed by Sri Rajayogeendra Mahaswamy ji.
4. BHARAT CREATES VIVEKANANDA CHAIR AT CHICAGO VARSITY: Throwing open a new opportunity for the West to know Bharat, New Delhi on Jan 29 created a faculty chair — named after Swami Vivekananda — at the University of Chicago. Supported by a $1.5 million endowment grant from the ministry of culture, the University of Chicago will establish “the Bharatiya Ministry of Culture Vivekananda Visiting Professorship” for Bharatiya studies.
According to a University of Chicago release, “The one-quarter visiting professorship will be given to distinguished scholars from a variety of disciplines with an interest in the fields of study most relevant to the teachings and philosophies of the Swami, such as Indian philosophy, politics and social movements.”
Dedicating a plaque of Vivekananda at the AIC, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said, “Swami Vivekanda was practically Bharat’s first cultural ambassador to United States.” He also inaugurated an art exhibition of Rabindranath Tagore at AIC.
In a release, university president Robert J. Zimmer said, “The ministry’s generous support will allow us to expand on the university’s tradition of rigorous scholarship in Bharatiya studies.”
5. Surya Namaskar Yajna 2012: Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh USA (HSS) concluded its sixth annual Yogathon on January 29th. The 16-day event that began on January 14th saw the participation of over 11,000 participants from 37 US states and these Yoga enthusiasts have reported completion of over 1 million repetitions of the sun salutation .
The Surya Namaskar Yajna (Yogathon) is an open-to-all program, designed to create awareness about Yoga and its advantages in achieving a healthy body, mind and spirit.
Like every year, this unique “Health for Humanity Yogathon” saw the participation of community groups, Yoga centers, school and college students, and several government officials. Mayors from 19 cities signed proclamations in support of the event, while 2 Congressmen provided letters of support to the program. Hon. Governer of the State of Colorado - John Hickenlooper proclaimed Jan 14th to 29th the Health for Humanity Yogathon weeks.
6. AGNI-IV, C-130J, IAF WOMAN OFFICER AMONG FIRSTS AT R-DAY PARADE: The latest nuclear capable Agni-IV missile, its C-130J special operations plane, and a woman officer leading the IAF unit on Rajpath were among the firsts at the 63rd Republic Day parade on January 26. Agni-IV, successfully tested in November 2011, was on display as part of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) tableau. A potent and technologically advanced arsenal, Agni-IV, which can hit targets 3,500 km away, adds a new dimension to the country's capabilities in strategic deterrence. The DRDO also showcased the new tactical battlefield support high-speed missile Prahaar and the medium altitude long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle Rustom-I. Indian Air Force's (IAF) latest acquisition, the US Lockheed Martin C-130J transport plane, made its debut at the parade.
Three C-130Js were part of the IAF's 29 aircraft fly past, including three Su-30MKIs and MiG-29s.
India bought six C-130Js from the US for over $1 billion. Ft Lt Sneha Shekhawat made history when she led the IAF contingent down Rajpath, becoming the first woman officer to do so.
7. SEWA USA Helps Flood Victims in Pakistan: Sewa USA led a multi-group effort with Hindu American Foundation (HAF) to raise funds for Pakistan’s flood victims . Sewa funded Hare Rama Foundation in December to help start the relief efforts for the extremely poor and desolate flood victims in Pakistan’s Sindh province.“We are really encouraged by the reports we received from the Hare Rama Foundation (HRF) in Pakistan. Donors’ money is put to good use by the foundation” said Professor Sree Sreenath, President, Sewa International USA.
Floods in 2010 and heavy monsoon downpour last year caused extensive damage in Sindh province in Pakistan. Millions of displaced people are hungry, homeless and desperately seeking help. Sewa USA is working through Hare Rama Foundation, a local, registered non-profit organization based in Punjab, Pakistan.
The Hare Rama Foundation works very closely with marginalized sections of the Pakistani society. Registered with the Government of Pakistan as a non-governmental and non-profit organization, the Hare Rama Foundation focuses on providing education in rural areas, creating awareness on gender and women rights and building interfaith harmony.
8. DRDO LAB TESTS UAVs: The Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) — a lab under DRDO — has flight demonstrated three Micro Air Vehicles named Black Kite, Golden Hawk & Pushpak with sizes ranging from 300 to 450 mm with a maximum ‘all up’ weight of 300 gms to 500 gms having an endurance of 30 minutes and carrying a miniature daylight video camera as payload that relays the imagery of the gaming area to ground control during its flight. The vehicles are designed and developed to meet requirements including countering low intensity conflicts, counter terrorism and for rescue operations during natural calamities. These small vehicles are capable of flying in full autonomous mode and transmitting live day and night video to the portable Ground Control Station (GCS) in real time. Two mini UAVs categorised under 2 Kg class vehicles with endurance of 1 hour were also demonstrated.
9. SOLID BRONZE CAST SHIVA STATUE IN AMSTERDAM MUSEUM: Prestigious Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam recently conducted an X-ray of its thousand-year-old monumental Shiva-Nataraja statue as a part of research and was surprised to know that it was cast in solid bronze.
This Dancing Shiva statue was X-rayed using high-energy digital radiation, along with the lorry transporting it, in the most powerful X-ray tunnel for containers of the Rotterdam customs authority. It is said to be the first research of its kind on a museological masterpiece.
At 153 cm x 114.5 cm, this 300 kilograms Shiva statue is claimed to be the largest known bronze statue from the Chola Dynasty kept in a museological collection outside Bharat. "This solid bronze Shiva is evidence of a high level of mastery of bronze casting", a Museum release says.
10. NATIONAL YUVA VARG, HOUSTON, 2012: The 4th National Yuva Varg of HSS USA was held Jan 14- 16 in Camp Woodmen in Bellville, TX. 54 yuvas from 17 US universities attended the camp. After Ish Chintan and parichay, Vishwa Vibhag Samyojak, Saumitra Gokhale explained how Sangh is planning to celebrate Swami Vivekanand’s150th birth anniversary in 2013. They also learnt about experiments tried out in different campuses to run a successful yuva shakha. The night Katha session by Yelloji was on Eknath Ranade and Vivekanand Rock Memorial. Feedback sessions were held on how to run different model yuva shakhas: i.e., of graduate students, undergrads, grad and undergrads and young professionals.
Philip Goldberg from LA talked about influence of Hindu Dharma on the American society. Dr. Ram Vaidya, Saha Samyojak Vishwa Vibhag talked about Integral Humanism and Sangh vision in the Samarop Bauddhik.
11. VIVEKANANDA STONE COT CONSECRATED IN SAMSKRITI BHAVAN:
On January 11 evening, after puja and aarati by Swami Thathwaroopananda of Ramakrishna Ashram, the Shila Manch (cot) was placed in a Rath and accompanied by traditional Kerala Panchavadyam, Thalapoli and hundreds of youth in cars and bikes, it started its journey towards Samskriti Bhavan.
The Rath arrived at the Martyrs Square at 5.45 pm where former Union Minister O Rajagopal offered puja and in a procession led by him and VHP leader Kummanam Rajasekharan, it proceeded to Samskriti Bhavan. There BVK Director Padmasri P Parameswaran performed aarati and the Shila Manch was placed on specially made granite pedestal.
On January 12, Swamiji’s birth day, a huge youth rally with thousands of students in Vivekananda inscribed T Shirts, was inaugurated in front of Kerala University headquarters by cricketer Sreeshanth, Kerala Sports Council President and Asiad Gold Medaller Padmini Thomas and Asiad Medaller Selvam.
12. REPORT: TIBET RIGHTS SITUATION WORSENS: The human rights situation in Tibet has deteriorated as the Chinese government has “increased its repressive policies towards the political, religious and cultural rights of the Tibetan people”.
These allegations have been levelled in a 108-page annual report of the Tibetan Centre of Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), an NGO based at Dharamsala, which was released on Jan 24 in Dharmashala.
The report says the Chinese government follows highly repressive policies in ethnic minority areas such as Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia.
The situation throughout Tibet remained tense in 2011 following a massive crackdown on protests that swept the plateau in 2008. The Chinese security forces maintain a heavy presence and the authorities continue to restrict access and travel to Tibetan areas, particularly for journalists and foreign visitors.
The report further alleges that the Chinese government continues to build a “new socialist countryside” by relocating the Tibet population, including nomads.
13. 2 IAF women fly high, break altitude barrier: Two officers of the Indian Air Force have created history by becoming the first woman pilots to land their aircraft on two of the world’s most difficult runways — Daulat Beg Oldie airstrip on the Sino-Indian border, which is at an altitude of 16,200 feet, and the 10,600-feet-from-sea level Leh airfield. Squadron Leaders Teji Uppal and Veena Saharan performed the feat last month, Air Force officials said Jan 24. Uppal, who has piloted aircraft to the advanced landing grounds of Mechuka and Vijaynagar in the Northeast, landed her An-32 at the strategic Daulat Beg Oldie airstrip in Ladakh.
Saharan landed an IL-76 military transport aircraft, the largest in the Air Force’s fleet, at the Leh airfield.
14. YOGA ROOM OPENS AT SFO: 50-sft public yoga studio for passengers, possibly the world’s first inside and airport was inaugurated at San Francisco International Airport on January 26th with a performance of Surya Namaskar by the Airport Director John Martin, a yogi of 18 years. The Yoga Room, as it's called, is located beyond the security check point in Terminal 2, and so is only open to flyers. There's no teacher or TV inside, just a few chairs and some yoga mats. It cost between $15-20,000 to build and was born of the idea from a visitor to the terminal, said Martin. It's a self-service operation where silence is appreciated as per rules.
15. PU. RAJJUBHAYYA REMEMBERED AT PRAYAG: A memorial speech was organized by ‘ Prof. Rajendra Singh Memorial Trust’ at prayag on the occasion of 89th birth anniversary of Late Pujjya Rajendra Singh (Rajju Bhaiyya) the 4th Sanghsanghchalak of Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh. Shri Tarjun Vijay, senior journalist and Rajya Shaba Member delivered speech on the occasion at Prayag on 26th Jaunary in the premises of Jawala Devi Saraswati Inter College, Civil lines. He said Rajju Bhaiya was a true patriot and his charismatic personality attracted the masses. Presiding over the program, Pujya Sanhkaracharya Shri Badrkashram Peeth said that Rajju Bhaiyaa was a ‘Samajik Sant’. The dignatries present in the program were ex minister Dr. Narendra Kumar Sainh Gaur, Virendra Kumar Singh Choudhary and others. .
16. US SENATORS SUPPORT SOUGHT: A group of Bharatiya American IT professionals have asked US Senators to support a key immigration reform legislation, which will drastically reduce the "Green Card" waiting period for highly skilled workers from countries like Bharat and China. "This as an important step in the effort to reform immigration policy in response to the changing global situation," said Khanderao Kand of the Global Indian Technology Professionals Association (GITPRO) on January 23. Currently pending the Congress, Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act proposes to eliminate the per nation cap on employment-based visas in favour of a more fair, "first come, first serve" system, and to increase per-country limits from seven to 15 per cent in the family based immigration system.
17. BHARAT BECOMES 6TH NATION TO JOIN ELITE NUCLEAR SUBMARINE CLUB: Bharat on January 23 became the world's sixth country after the US, Russia, France, the UK and China to operate nuclear-powered submarines when the Russian Akula-II class submarine `K-152 Nerpa' was commissioned into Bharatiya Navy as INS Chakra on a 10-year lease under a secretive almost $1-billion contract inked in 2004.
Nuclear-powered submarines are stealthy since they can operate underwater at long ranges for months unlike diesel-electric submarines that need to surface every few days to get oxygen to recharge their batteries and have limited endurance due to fuel requirements.
INS Chakra will be armed with the 300-km range Klub-S land-attack cruise missiles, which Bharat deploys on its Kilo-class conventional submarines and other missiles and advanced torpedoes.
18. NZ school teaches Sanskrit and claims it helps children understand English: Ficino School in Mt Eden area of Auckland (New Zealand), calls itself a 'values-based academic institution' and offers education for girls and boys from year one to eight. It says about Sanskrit: "It has a wonderful system of sound and grammar, which gives the child an excellent base for the study of any language. Children love its order and beauty."
According to Peter Crompton, principal of this school founded in 1997, where curriculum includes "food for the mind, food for the spirit, food for the body", "Sanskrit with its almost perfect grammatical system...provides children with a roadmap for understanding English." Sanskrit not only gives young learners a clear understanding of the structure of language, it also heightens their awareness of the process of speech, creating a greater understanding of and ability to, enunciate words clearly, Crompton adds.
19. BHARAT 6th on innovative list: Study: Bharat has been ranked the sixth most "innovative" country in the world in multinational conglomerate GE's Annual Global Innovation Barometer.
The report, based on a survey of 2,800 senior business executives in 22 countries, including 200 respondents in Bharat, identifies the top enablers for innovation in the country as talent ('creative' talent and people with technical expertise), financial support from public authorities and long-term support from investors.
20. Rs 1.50 crore diamond crown donated to Meenakshi temple: A diamond crown, costing Rs.1.50 crore, was donated to the Meenakshi temple. Temple joint commissioner Jayarman said the crown had been made from pure emerald, diamond and 1.5 kg of gold. The crown had been donated by an industrialist.
21. SARASWATI PUJA RINGS IN SPRING IN DHAKA: Heralding the season of Spring, Saraswati Puja is being celebrated across Bangladesh with Dhaka University's Fine Arts faculty students claiming their 35-foot idol is the biggest in the world. A Hindu festival meant to seek the blessings of Saraswati, students and educationists cutting across religious divide join in the festivities to honor the deity of wisdom, education, fine arts and performing arts. The puja is held on the day of Vasant Panchami every year. Like other years, students of DU's Fine Arts Faculty have created Jagannath Hall's Saraswati idol this year, too. Made of jute, it has been placed in the hall's pond. "Thirty-five people worked daily for a month to create the idol," DU Fine Arts student Chanchal Karmakar said.
22. SABARIMALA PILGRIMAGE CONCLUDES: The 66-day annual Mandalam-Makara Vilakku pilgrimage at the Lord Ayyappa temple among Kerala’s Sabarimala mountains concluded on Jan 21 with the closure of the sanctum sanctorum in the morning. The shrine will reopen on February 13 for the monthly rituals.
The special concluding poojas started with a Ganapati Homan held at 5 pm under the temple’s traditional chief priest, Tanthri Kantararu Maheswararu. After this, the Thiruvabharanam (holy attires) put on the idol of the deity on the occasion of Makara Jyoti on January 15 was taken down the 18 holy steps that led to the shrine.
By 6.30 am, Kaippuzha Koyikkal Hari Varma, representative of the Raja of Pandalam Palace, Lord Ayyappa’s ancestral home as per the legend, had darshan at the shrine.
23. KASHMIRI PANDITS PROTEST OUTSIDE RAJ BHAWAN ON 22ND ‘HOLOCAUST DAY’: Hundreds of displaced Kashmiri Hindus under the banner of different organisations demonstrated outside Jammu & Kashmir Governor residence on Holocaust Day in the winter capital of the state on January 19. The protestors wearing black badges and carrying placards in their hands raised slogans against terrorism and Government’s pro-separatist policies.
The Joint Forum of Kashmiri Pandit Organisations held the demonstration outside Raj Bhawan to mark the beginning of the mass exodus of Kashmiri Hindus from Kashmir. They recalled the events of January 19, 1990 that set the process of exodus in motion after the separatists warned the community to leave the Valley within 24 hours. They said the government of the state as well as Centre, which watched like a mute spectator to this entire episode, is now giving clean chit to separatists and Jehadi forces that waged a war to India.
24. US TV SHOW HOST JAY LENO SUED: Randeep Dhillon, a Bharatiya-American has filed a libel suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against US TV show host Jay Leno for his "racist" comments on the Golden Temple and ridiculing the entire Sikh community by portraying the holy shrine as a possible summer home of Mitt Romney, a leading Republican presidential hopeful. The suit adds that Leno's joke "clearly exposes plaintiff, other Sikhs and their religion to hatred, contempt, ridicule and obloquy because it falsely portrays the holiest place in the Sikh religion as a vacation resort owned by a non-Sikh." In New York also Sikhs for Justice has filed its complaint with regulator Federal Communications Commission against Leno.
Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee president Avtar Singh Makkar terming the unwarranted comments on the Golden Temple as a 'mischevious act' of Jay Leno has exhorted other Sikh organizations of US to file similar complaints against Leno.
25. PER CAPITA INCOME CROSSES RS 50,000: “The per capita income at current prices is estimated at Rs 53,331 in 2010-11, as against Rs 46,117 for the previous year, depicting a growth of 15.6 per cent,” said the Quick Estimates of National Income released by the Central Statistical Office (CSO). The growth in per capita income comes on the back of 8.4 per cent expansion of the Indian economy during the last fiscal.
26. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Visitors: Priyanka & Dr.Anil Asthana, Sanjiv Bhakhri AustraliaPravaas:
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: The tempter masters the lazy and irresolute man who dwells on the attractive side of thing, ungoverned in his senses, and unrestrained in his food., like the wind overcomes a rotten tree. But the tempter cannot master a man who dwells on the distatsteful side of things, self controlled in his senses, moderate in eating, resolute and full of faith, like the wind cannot move a mountain crag. – Gautam Buddha
JAI SHREE RAM
Republic Day: Let's believe in India
APJ Abdul Kalam
I have seen three Indias in my life. The first one was the country of my childhood - a nation ruled by a foreign colonial power. It was a country struggling for independence . That country had a vision for independence which was led by great mass leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru.
After we got independence in 1947, I witnessed another India. That India was independent but it still strived for recognition as it recuperated from the injustices of the colonial rule that lasted for more than a century. It was an India of hopes and dreams. It was an India that dreamt of having self-sufficiency in food, a strong economy and a position of respect in the international arena, which it really deserved. Many leaders, scientists, servicemen and social reformers worked very hard to build the newly independent nation through economic development coupled with social equity and democracy.
Then I saw the third phase of India, an era which belongs to present-day youth. Now, India is a land of opportunities, growth at previously unimaginable rates, a strong workforce and technological leadership . Six decades back, few would have dared to imagine that a nation of such diversity - often termed by some as an experiment in democracy - would eventually find its place amongst the top economies of the world. Who would have imagined that one day India would have worldclass educational institutions and it would be the first country to discover water on the lunar surface.
The three Indias I have lived in and witnessed are quite different from each other. We have come a long way since 1950, when we became a republic. Of course, there are still many important issues such as poverty , illiteracy and corruption that need to be addressed.
The Indian economy was growing at an average of 9% per annum till 2008. In 2009-10 , our economy was affected by global economic turbulence, but still it managed to grow at more than 7% at a time when many other countries were facing recession . Even in the last quarter of 2011, with the economic scenario in the US and Europe looking quite bleak, India grew at 7%. In the present circumstances, I often ask myself what type of innovation is needed to enrich the Indian economy and make other world economies better. I have been talking about this important issue with many experts including those from the Indian Institutes of Management.
On the basis of these discussions, I believe that our economy will not be affected by the current financial crisis. India will escape this turbulence because of the following reasons:
The liberalization process in India has its checks and balances which are consistent with the unique social requirements of the country
The Indian banking system has always been conservative which has protected from the global crisis The Indian psyche is generally savings oriented and living within one's means is part of our mindset The purchasing power of the 350-millionstrong Indian middle class While developed nations are in turmoil, in India sectors such automobile, cement and financial services have been posting significant gains. We have reached a level of development where innovation has become part of our thinking. Now we need to apply this thinking to rejuvenate the agricultural sector. It's time to make value addition to the agriculture sector and to small- and mediumscale industries and enterprises so that they can all make greater contribution to India's growing GDP.
I foresee tremendous possibilities for creating new markets and jobs. This can be done by tapping the potential of the rural population and by creating more employment in the countryside. There is huge potential for what I call public-private-citizen (PPC) partnerships and international cooperation in these areas.
India's performance in information technology, pharmaceuticals, small-scale industries and infrastructure has given a new dimension to our economy. With a credible legal framework , robust banking and financial system, skilled manpower and a dynamic 600-million-strong workforce , India has become an attractive proposition for the global order.
At the domestic level, India is focusing on bringing sustainable development to its people through rural and urban infrastructure , quality education, healthcare, environmental upgradation, efficiency in public institutions for better and enhanced delivery of essential services on time, reforms in the financial system for better global integration and a proactive regulatory system.
All this is critical to India becoming a truly global player. More than 60 years of democratic vibrancy - which has provided good leadership to the nation -- gives us confidence to manage socio-economic turbulence. It also helps us in providing leadership to 1.2 billion people in a democratic, multicultural, multi-linguistic and multi-religious environment.
With such a positive outlook, here is how I visualize India in the year 2020. Eight years from now, India will be a nation, where The rural-urban divide is reduced to a thin line There is equitable distribution and adequate access to energy and quality water Agriculture, industry and service sectors work together in symphony Education is not denied to any meritorious candidate because of social or economic discrimination.
(The writer was President of India from 2002 to 2007. He is the author of 'India 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium')
- Times of India, Jan 25, 2012.
MEET TOP JUDGE WHO SAVED PAK FROM MILITARY TAKEOVER
Omer Farooq Khan
Speculation about military takeover in Pakistan amid escalating political crisis over the last few months has so far turned out to be false.
Analysts say Pakistan's assertive judiciary has been among the reasons that have discouraged generals, who have ruled the country for more than half of its existence , from staging a coup.
But the judiciary has not always been like this. Pakistan's 64-year-old chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry is seen as the man behind its resurgence . The judiciary had a dismal record of endorsing military rulers besides being inept and pliant until November 2007 when Chaudhry took military ruler Pervez Musharraf on and eventually ensured his ouster a year later.
Chaudhry issued an order declaring Musharraf 's imposition of emergency as "unconstitutional and illegal'' for the first time in the country's history in March 2007.
Musharraf had imposed the emergency to get rid of judges, who gave him sleepless nights. Chaudhry's courage to stand up to the military strongman brought tens of thousands of people onto the streets for a movement that ultimately led to return of exiled leaders, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, elections in February 2008 besides Musharraf 's ouster.
The ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP), which came to power in February 2008, ended the detention of judges that Musharraf had ordered, but was reluctant to restore many of them including Chaudhry. The government said they can be restored if they take a fresh oath of office, an offer which many had accepted but some including Chaudhry had refused.
Chaudhry and his supporters believed a fresh oath would amount to admitting to the legality of their sacking . Lawyers led by Chaudhry again started a campaign for the restoration of judges. The government finally gave in to pressure and PM Yousaf Raza Gilani restored the judges through an executive order in March 2009.
The restoration was a win-win situation for the judiciary and Chaudhry's popularity increased as a judge who stood for justice, rule of law and democracy. People turned to the apex court for all sorts of things.
But Chaudhry's restoration proved nightmarish for president Asif Ali Zardari as he struck down an amnesty law promulgated by Musharraf to pave way for Bhutto's return to the country.
Chuadhry's firm stand on reopening of cases against Zardari further enhanced his standing. He sent a strong message to the military that the judiciary would not approve any extra constitutional measures to topple the elected government. –Times of India, Jan 24, 2012