Paush Shukla 8 Vik Samvat 2068, Yugabda 5113: January 1, 2012

1. FESTIVALS:  Makar Sankranti, the holy day when the Sun enters the sign of Makara or Capricorn, falls normally on January 14. This most auspicious festival of the Hindus is celebrated in various parts of the country in different ways. In Gujarat and Rajasthan, it is referred Uttararayan while in Northern part of the country it is known as Sankranti, in Tamil Nadu it is known as Pongal. Apart from Bharat it is also celebrated in Nepal, Malaysia, Thailand and all other countries where Hindus have a sizable presence.
The birth of Swami Vivekanand on the Sankranti day is an inspiring indication of the passing of the long night of self-oblivion and birth of an effulgent era of Hinduism. The festival is also the last of six festivals celebrated by HSS and RSS at their shakhas. The closing of the function on this occasion is sweetened by the distribution of til-gul to the participants.
2. RUSSIAN COURT REFUSES TO BAN BHAGVAD GITA: A Russian court on December 28 rejected a petition, described by Bharat as "patently absurd", which had sought a ban on a translated version of Bhagvad Gita, bringing cheers to followers in Bharat as well as those across the world. Prosecutors in the Siberian city of Tomsk had argued that the Russian translation of "Bhagavad Gita As It Is" promotes "social discord" and hatred towards non-believers. The text is a combination of the Bhagvad Gita, one of Hinduism's holiest scriptures, and commentary by A C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, commonly known as the Hare Krishna movement, ISKCON. The prosecutors had asked the court to include the book on the Russian Federal List of Extremist Materials, which bans more than 1,000 texts including Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" and books distributed by the Jehovah's Witness and Scientology movements. The judge, after reviewing the petition from the state prosecutors and the responses against it, dismissed the plea.
3. FDI IN RETAIL UNACCEPTABLE- SARSANGHACHALAK: "Our retail sector provides employment to crores of people and it is not strong enough to even compete with the Bharatiya corporates like Reliance and Tata. Then, how can we expect it to face the economic might of multinational retailers like Walmart? Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi brand retail at the cost of our own people cannot be accepted at all. “ said RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat, addressing a gathering of professors and lecturers in New Delhi on December 19. The topic of lecture was ‘Global Scenario, RSS, Bharat & We’. Uttar Kshetra Sanghachalak Dr Bajranglal Gupt, Delhi Prant Sanghachalak Shri Kulbhushan Ahuja and Sah Prant Sanghachalak Dr SS Agrawal also shared the dais. Hundreds of lecturers and professors including the Mayor of Delhi Prof Rajni Abbi, participated in the function.
In his speech Shri Bhagwat touched many current issues and said the root cause of majority of the problems in the world today is selfishness and greed of the man. About the Communal Violence Bill, Shri Bhagwat said Bharat has provided shelter to all those who were tortured or humiliated in any part of the world. Answering a query regarding the reconstruction of Sri Ram temple in Ayodhya, Shri Bhagwat said it would not take more than two years for building the temple if the land is provided to Hindus now. He said Bharat has to play a vital role in the global scenario and we should make ourselves ready to bear this responsibility. Quoting Rabindranath Tagore who described Hindutva as a binding force, Shri Bhagwat stressed the need to create leaders with high character like Anna Hazare and Dr Abdul Kalam even up to the village level.
4. RIG VEDA TO PARTICLE PHYSICS by G. S. Mudur: Physicist Vivek Sharma who was born in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, and now leads an international group hunting for the Higgs boson sees the search as an attempt to seek out answers to questions posed in the Rig Veda.
Sharma, who went to a Kendriya Vidyalaya in Pune and pursued master's in physics at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, says he was drawn to experimental particle physics after learning Rig Veda hymns from his mother, a Sanskrit scholar. The ancient text has a hymn on creation that speculates on the origin of the universe and describes a period when "all that existed was void and formless".
"It was a shock, it left an impression in my mind. Thousands of years ago people were contemplating our origins," said Sharma, a professor at the University of California, San Diego, and head of a Higgs search team at CERN, the European research laboratory.
He was still a high school student but began thinking how modern technology might be used to probe creation. The Higgs boson, the subatomic particle that Sharma and his colleagues are looking for, was predicted in the 1960s to explain the origin of mass. A discovery of the Higgs boson is important for physicists because it is the last missing, or unseen, piece of a bedrock theory of physics called the Standard Model that explains all the forces and particles in nature except gravity.
Sharma moved to the US in 1984, treating higher studies in the US as a route to plunge intoexperimental physics requiring expensive machines ' particle accelerators ' but spent five years at CERN in the early 1990s where he discovered two new subatomic particles, including a cousin of the proton, but five times heavier.
His enthusiasm for experimental physics emerges in his talks ' whether delivered to fellow-physicists or aspiring students. It also appears to temper any emotions that might spring each time particle detectors at CERN spot signals resembling traces of the Higgs boson.
"Experiments will ultimately tell us what is right and what is wrong," he said. In the coming months, Sharma and his colleagues will refine their analyses and combine the data from the two main particle detectors looking for the Higgs boson.
"Our curiosity about our origins doesn't change anybody's life, but there is a satisfaction from understanding such things," Sharma said in a telephone interview ahead of the CERN seminar where scientists presented their latest results from the Higgs search.
"But when we build machines like the Large Hadron Collider (the particle accelerator at CERN where proton-proton collisions are used to search for the Higgs boson), it requires us to invent new technologies that can change people's lives," he said.
The World Wide Web was created at CERN to help physicists move data around between different computers in a seamless fashion. "It's a great example of how something that is good for physicists turned out to be fantastic for the public," Sharma said.
New technologies and ideas that are born in experimental physics laboratories may have implications in information technology and medicine. "Our goals are esoteric, but what sometimes comes out benefits the public," he said.
Sharma, whose routine in recent years has been eight weeks at CERN and 10 to 15 days with his wife and 7-year-old daughter in San Diego, is also keen on drawing more students to physics.
His homepage has a link to a talk he once delivered to prospective students and their parents. "The popular belief that physicists do not make much money is totally false," the link says. "Physics majors make more money than chemistry or bio majors." ( – Wed, Dec 14, 2011)
5. SSV-2011 OF HSS MAURITIUS: Hindu Swyamsevak Sangh Mauritius, successfully conducted ‘Sangh Shiksha Varga – 2011’ (Sat. 26 Nov. to Sun. 3 Dec. 2011) at D.A.V. College Morceliment Saint Andre. There were 52 Swyamsevaks, 42 Sevikas along with 9 Shikshaks from 25 places.
The shareerik was daily three  and half hours different physical training which included dand, niyuddha, yogasana, padavinyaas, Various Shakha Khel, Yogachap, Samata, Achaar Paddati and Vyayamyog.
Apart from daily charcha & Baudhik Sessions there were special sessions for Management Skill Games, Business Skill Games, Quiz Competition on Ramayana, Traditional Ramayana chanting programme, Treasure Hunt etc.
A sanchalan was held with Ghosh for all Shiksharthis in nearby town “Triolet”. Samarop Programme was held on Sat. 3 Dec 2011 and around 200 parents were present from the beginning.
6. SIXTH ALL BHARAT KHELKOOD COMPETITION COMMENCES IN PUNE: Sixth Khel Kood competition organised by All Bharat Vanavasi Kalyan Aashram was inaugreted by Rashtiya SwayamSevek Sangh (RSS) Sarsanghchalak Dr. Mohan Bhagavat on Dec 29 in Pune Maharashtra. Talking about need to incorporate Vanvasis in main stream society Dr. Bhagwat said, “Vanvasi people are not lacking in their capability but they should be recognised in society. It is important.”
2000 players from 32 states of the country and Nepal have participated in this 4 –day competition. Players will explore their talent in football, Kho-Kho, Kabbadi, atheletics, shooting and marathon.
All Bharat level sports event,"Akhil Bhartiya Khelkhud spardha" is organised every 4 years. The main aim of Khelkhud competition is to give sports exposure to all vanvasi youth.
Sports Authority of India is in close contact with these competitions and supports the best talents for excellent performance. Bharat’s long distance runner Kavita Raut and archer Limba Ram are the few names who got in national and international sports through Khelkhud competition.
7. ROLL BACK COMMUNAL ORDER, DEBAR CONGRESS(INC), SAYS VHP: A High level delegation of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP)  comprising the Int'l Vice President shri Om Prakash Singhal, the newly elected international Secretary General  Champat Rai met the chief Election Commissioner of Bharat ia on Dec 29 demanding withdrawal of order issued by the under secretary to the Govt. of Bharat regarding sub-quota for minority communities just before the date of declaration of election in the five prominent states of the country. VHP also demanded a ban on fighting election by the Indian National Congress (INC) in the polls to come.
In its memorandum VHP said that the religion-based reservation is not only prohibited by Articles 15(1) and 16(2) of the constitution and violative of articles 15(4) and 16(4) of the same too but also divide the country.
8. HSS NEW YORK SAKHI SAMELAN: HSS, Shivaji shakha, Westchester NY conducted “Sakhi Samelan” on the 4th of December wherein nearly 30 sevikas from NY vibhag got together. It was fun filled day learning, playing and knowing each other. Yoga, rapid games, Balagokulam Radio commercial game, shakha geet ‘Charaiveti Charaiveti’, and a bauddhik on motives behind having HSS and RSS by NY Vibhag Karyavah Rudra Upadhyaya were highlights of the sammelan. The granddaughter of Mausiji (Dr. Sanjivani Bakhare) shared with the participants her childhood experiences with Mausiji; the importance Mausji laid on educating women and making them self-independent.
9. HUM HINDUSTANI-KASHMIR HINDUSTAN KA: “Scrap Article 370, ensure employment to Kashmiri youth, retrieve areas forcefully occupied by Pakistan and China in Kashmir”. These are not the demands voiced by some hardcore Hindu organization or leaders. They were raised publically by the Muslims of Bharat including J& K on December 18, 2011 at Jantar-Mantar in New Delhi.
The occasion was culmination of “Hum Hindustani-Kashmir Hindustan Ka”, a unique campaign launched some three months ago by Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM), an organization of nationalist Muslims of India. During the 3 - month campaign the MRM activists conducted prayers in mosques, convened seminars and meetings all over the country. It concluded on Dec 18 when nearly 10,000 Muslims from 23 states and 175 districts of Bharat participated braving the chilling cold and dense fog to raise these demands.
They came from all directions carrying the national tricolors and placards displaying their demands to scrap Article 370, take back the areas of PoK and CoK and ensure peace and progress of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
10. THIS SMALL FARMER HAS OVER 350 VARIETIES OF PADDY - Kestur Vasuki: SR Srinivasamurthy, a 38-year-old farmer of Siddanahundi near southern city of Mysore, is part of a silent revolution in farming sector. This farmer who has proved that farming is a profitable venture is practicing natural and organic farming as his mantra.
This farmer who has collected more than 350 varieties of paddy from across the country has been part of a mission to provide desi varieties to the farmers at affordable rate. Srinivasamurthy is a small farmer and has been traveling, learning and collecting desi varieties of paddy from many States of Bharat. He has been inspired by the fact that the Puri Jagannath Temple which offers 365 varieties of rice in a year, has made him study and collect some of the paddy varieties as part of his promotion to protect desi paddy varieties across the country. Srinivasamurthy is also opposed to BT crop and is aware of its implications on the farming sector.
Talking to The Pioneer, this dynamic young farmer believes that protecting desi seeds would promote sustainable agriculture in all odds. He said, “I have been practicing natural farming and organic farming. We have to protect our own desi varieties of seeds. Many have vanished because of the onslaught of the sustainable campaign by the vested interests in promoting their product. I have been collecting and growing desi seeds promoting our own varieties across the country.”
Srinivasamurthy’s small farm today is a bio diversity hotspot where one can see more than two hundred varieties of paddy seeds meeting growing demand by the farmers from Karnataka and other States. This farmer who has been collecting paddy varieties since 2007 has got native seeds developed in his one-and-a-half acre farm and has answers to all queries by the farming sector. He has varieties which could withstand severe summer to heavy rains, has all answers which would surely bring smiles on the farmers’ face.
His journey of exploration to find paddy varieties across the country began in 2007 as he believes that protecting desi varieties would help bring cheers in Indian agriculture. He has travelled to Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka and many other States which has helped him collect more than 300 local varieties of paddy to augment his mission to grow more without bothering about fertilisers or pesticides. On his exploratory journey this farmer, a graduate in Arts, learnt different agricultural techniques to overcome drought and severe natural vagaries.
“I heard that our country had more than 2 lakh desi paddy verities which have vanished from the agriculture scene giving way to new and very few varieties which are controlled by a few. I learnt in Puri Lord Jagannatha Temple that the deity has been offered every day one variety of rice as part of the ritual. This has made me go mad with understanding diversity in agriculture. I have now collected seeds of so many varieties and giving them to only farmers. I strongly believe that all BT and other crops won’t help us but we need our own desi varieties. This has to be part of our food security,” said Srinivasamurthy.
He has many varieties of paddy which are unique to many States. His technique for many desi varieties is helping farmers across the country to protect and promote desi varieties which cherishes his mission. He has also been guided by an NGO Sahaja Samruddi to promote natural farming.
Srinivasamurthy strongly believes in de-control of seeds from multinational companies and proves a point in Bharatiya agriculture which is predominantly guided by industrial policy. Today he has many rare varieties such as, Sastikasali, believed to be a cure for infertility, Bolga, Madras Sanna, Doddigya, Bheema Saale, Solari, Ratna Chudi, Aanekombina Battha, Atikarya and other varieties to promote desi dynamics in natural farming.: Pioneer, December 26, 2011.
11. GURUJI’S THOUGHTS WILL BRING HARMONY IN INDIA: S GURUMURTHY: “If we understand Hindutva as described by Guruji Golwalkar and practice it the way he explained, we can bring real harmony between communities”, told Eminent Economist and thinker S Gurumurthy. He was talking in a lecture organised by Mythic Society in Bangalore as part of Sri Noor A Alikhan Endowment Lecture Series.  “A renascent India can be achieved if we follow the way Guruji showed. It is not uniformity that we need, it is unity in diversity that can take India to a greater hinght”, Gurumurty added.
12. DEVELOP DEFENCE INFRA-STRUCTURE IN BORDER STATES: Uttarakhand Chief Minister Bhuvan Chandra Khanduri has cautioned the Centre against the tardy development of defence infrastructure in States bordering China. He said connectivity in most of the border States has been neglected and thus poses a grave security hazard. “Reaching some border posts in Bharat still takes two to three days. Comparatively China has gone far ahead with deployment of big vehicles, helipads and extensive border road network in its area,” Khanduri said. He was speaking during the Field Marshal SHFJ Manekshaw Memorial Lecture on ‘Bordering States: The Bulwark of National Security’ in Delhi on December 17. The lecture was organised by the Conclave of Defence Services Veterans.
Shri Khanduri also emphasised on constituting a centralised branch of intelligence agencies which is specialised in collecting vital information regarding infiltration, fake currency, explosives and drugs along the borders.
13. BHARAT-BORN NOBEL LAUREATE VENKY GETS KNIGHTHOOD: Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Bharat-born US citizen whose pioneering work in molecular biology won him the 2009 Nobel Prize in chemistry, has been honoured with a knighthood by the royal establishment, UK in a rare recognition of achievements by foreigners based in Britain. Ramakrishnan, known to most as Venky, is based at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. He has been conferred knighthood "for services to molecular biology" in the New Year Honours List 2012.
14. TRIBAL YOUTH WIN INTERNATIONAL MARATHON: Running barefooted, an 8 membered team of tribal youth of Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram  recently won Runner-Up award in reputed Bangalore International Midnight Marathon. In an event where nearly 8500 athletes participated, this VKA team stood against all odds and won this prestigious Marathon. Midnight International Marathon, first of its kind in the world, was organised on December 10th by Rotary Bangalore’s I.T. Corridor unit, with a motto of ‘Run for a Child’, to create awareness about Child healthcare, nutrition and Child education. With just a delay of 90 seconds, team secured second place in the Men’s 35km section of Marathon relay.
This was the maiden Marathon race for these youth hailing from the dense forest area of Titimati of Virajpet Taluk in Kodagu district, Karnataka. Of this 8 membered team, Maada, a student of class 12 is a known sprinter. Others, Vishwanath, Harish, Papu, Raju PN, Suresh, Timmayya, and Venkatesh are coolie workers having high athletic skills.
15. BHARAT, THE LARGEST MILK PRODUCING NATION: Bharat continues to be the largest milk producing nation in the world with close to 17% of global production with 121m toones in 2010-11, National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) said in Ahmedabad on December 20. NDDB Chairman Amrita Patel said higher GDP growth, increased incomes in rural areas through schemes like MGNREGA and a growing population are contributing to a rapidly growing demand for milk.
16. COURT ASKS WEBSITES TO REMOVE OBJECTIONABLE CONTENT BY FEB 6:  Setting a deadline for 22 social networking sites including Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft to remove all "anti-religious" or "anti-social" content, a Delhi court on Saturday directed the companies to file compliance reports by February 6. Additional Civil Judge Mukesh Kumar, who had on December 20 in a ex-parte order issued summons to the social networking websites, granted around one and half month for compliance of his order.
17. VAJPAYEE TURNS 88: Former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee completed 87 on December 25. A host of senior leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, greeted him on the occasion. BJP observed Vajpayee's birthday as good governance day. "Greetings and well wishes are coming from all over the country for Atalji. He is the tallest leader of the BJP and is our source of inspiration. Though he is not able to work actively, his presence is still a source of inspiration for all party workers," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.
18. GURU PUJA UTSAV was conducted at Bloomington shakha on 17th Dec. 2011. Total 25 Swayamsevaks and sevikas participated in the  utsav and did the Gurupujan. Dharmendra ji Nimavat (Springfield, IL Shakha coordinator) was the pramukh vakta for the Utsav. Hemant ji Kale conducted the whole program. An inspiring video on the HSS work in US was shown. Shkha mukhya shikshak Pankaj Garg sang the vaiyaktik geet “Vishwa Guru Tav archana mein...”Dharmendra ji in his baudhik emphasized on the point of why Bhagwa Dhwaj as Guru  and Guru Poojan as a concept in Hindu Dharma.
19. RASHTRAPATI NOD TO MP COW SLAUGHTER BILL: Rashtrapati Pratibha Patil has given her assent to the Madhya Pradesh Prohibition of Cow Slaughter (amendment) Bill 2010 meant to raise the quantum of punishment for offenders and shift the burden to prove innocence to accused. Under the amended Bill, the punishment for cow slaughter will be at least a year and maximum seven years along with fine of Rs 5,000. Earlier, the punishment for such an offence was three years of imprisonment or fine of Rs 10,000 or both. The amended legislation has also made the provision of punishment for offences like storing or transporting beef with a minimum term of six months, which can be extended up to three years.
20. SURYA KUMBHA IN SURINAM:  Desi Botras, the President of the South American country Surinam will inaugurate the celebrations of Surya Kumbha on January 15 which will culminate on February 1. Intellectuals from Bharat and other parts of the world will participate in the celebrations.
21. POSTAL STAMP BY JAPANESE GOVERNMENT HONOURING MUTHU JI:  Bharadwaj, a youth from Kanchipuram, Tamilnadu went to Japan in the 10th century. To the Japanese he was ‘Baramon’. Today everything with which the Japanese rightly feel proud of as their ancient heritage and culture was given to them by this monk. The Japanese have three scripts - one of them based on Tamil and Sanskrit.
A Japanese delegate Shri Shuzo Matsunoga participated in the Fifth World Tamil Conference held at Thanjavur in 1981 (30 years ago). He presented a paper on ‘Thirukural & Thiruvalluvar in the eyes of Japan’.  Muthu, now 91years young, of Omalur off Salem, Tamilnadu came in contact with Sri Shuzo Matsunoga after the Conference who translated the English version of G U Pope’s Thirukuraal (aphorisms) as guided by Muthu Ji.  Shuzo also translated various books of Subramania Bharathi (Kuil Paatu), Naaladiar, Vallalarr poems, Manimegalai and Silapathigaram into Japanese language.
The Government of Japan has included this Thirukural as a lesson in the text book at college level. To cap it all, when the Japanese Government proposed to release a postal stamp to honour Shuzo Matsunoga for his works, he humbly refused and said, “To translate this tamil literature into Japanese language, Muthu from Salem has helped me. So the credit goes to him”. On his recommendation the Japanese Government released a postal stamp on Muthu (Salem) for 80 Yen (Rs.27/-) in 2007.
Shri Ravikumar of Vishwa Vibhag during his recent tour of Tamilnadu, met Muthu Ji. Muthu ji lauded RSS for its social service and patriotic fervor.
22. 555 ODISSI DANCERS PERFORM TOGETHER: Odissi dancers from across the globe presented a spectacular show together in the biggest ever assembly at the opening of International Odissi Festival in Bhuvaneswar on December 23. Creating history of sorts, the colourful mega dance show by 555 performers together on a single platform heralded the eight-day event aimed at finding a place in the Guinness World Record. The dancers from Bharat and abroad in traditional colourful Odissi attire performed during the grand festival organised by Odisha's Tourism and Culture department in association with Odissi Research Centre (ORC) and US-based Indian performing Arts Promotion (IPAP).
23. BHU TO HAVE CENTRE FOR MALAVIYA STUDIES: Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh announced on Dec 27 that a centre for Malaviya studies will be set up at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU). Addressing a function in New Delhi to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahamana Madan Mohan Malaviya, he said a digital collection of  Malaviyaji's writings would also be compiled for the first time. Lauding Malviyaji’s efforts in building the Indian National Congress, Dr. Singh said Malaviyaji wanted to blend the best of Bharatiya learning with the modern scientific ideas of the west.
24. VHP ANNOUNCES NEW TEAM: Vishwa Hindu Parishad has announced on Dec 18 a new team of office bearers at VHP international meet at Kochi- Kerala. G.Raghava Reddy-new VHP International President, Dr Pravin Togadia  -International Working President,  Ashok Chowgule -  Working President VHP External, Chmapat Rai, Delhi; International, General secretary. Man Ashok Singhal and S Vedantumji will Giude VHP as Advisor.
25. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Pravas: Dr.Sadanand Sapre, sah samyojak Vishwa Vibhag will return Bharat completing his tour to Malaysia, Singapore and Myanmar. Visitors:
THOUGHT OF THE DAY: The end is the beginning of all things, suppressed and hidden, awaiting to be released through the rhythm of pain and pleasure. – J. Krishnamurti.

India's future does not depend on the Lokpal Bill. The fact that the enactment of the draft seems to have gone into a coma does not mean the country has slipped into unconsciousness. Yet, that Bill is an important and crucial framework for our moral self-confidence and for our self-pride as a people.
When the Lok Sabha passed the Bill, I was delighted; in fact, elated for three reasons: first, a national surge, an upsurge of sentiment against the abominable phenomenon of corruption had at last reached the law-making body of the country and crystallised into a legislative text, howsoever imperfect. Here was a people's movement coalescing with the Constitution's rubric to rid India's body politic of its most poisonous toxin.
Second, Team Anna's campaign had put the institution of Parliament to the test. It had placed the onus for change onto the shoulders of elected MPs. Parliament was now passing that test, and passing it most creditably. Here was the highest edifice of our democracy, the repository of a whole people's political trust, doing itself and the nation proud.
Third, we could now look forward to a brand new institution ranking high, with Parliament and the judiciary, comprising some nine individuals of credit selected by a panel of the elected and the 'selected' dignitaries, who would put corruption among public servants on notice. Here was a new vision, a new energy, being gifted by the departing year to the new one just dawning.
These were notable achievements; in fact, they were huge fulfilments. Although compromised by disappointment over the defeat of the proposal for a constitutional amendment that would have put the lokpal beyond any facile tinkering, they were something of which one could say 'Nothing less is deserved by the people of India; and nothing else can be expected by representatives of the world's largest democracy'.
But the spectacle of the Bill collapsing in the Rajya Sabha under the weight of polemics and worse, is a huge disappointment; in fact, it is a disillusionment.
Here was a golden opportunity for Parliament to rise to the occasion, to equal the people's expectations of it - squandered.
There was a great deal of posturing in the House on Thursday. There was a great deal of offending and defending. The past was raked up, intentions were questioned, old wounds opened, new ones inflicted.
But the whole thing - the debating of the Bill's clauses, the disputing of its motives, the rubbishing of the Anna Hazare campaign, the valourising of Parliament's legislative supremacy, all of that seemed to flux into a common crucible - an acknowledgment of the need for a lokpal. No one, except Ram Vilas Paswan asked, in all honesty, if we really need a lokpal. Barring that, the need for a lokpal was as much of 'a given' as the need for checking corruption.
So, what happened?
There will never be a satisfactory or convincing answer to that question.
The puzzlement and utter dejection writ on the earnest face of its chairman, and our Vice-President, the good and high- minded Hamid Ansari, was, at that moment, the face of India.
What is important now and vital, in fact, as much to the future of parliamentary credibility as to that of civil society-powered popular campaigns is that:
- The Rajya Sabha's failure to pass the Bill be taken as a reverse, but not an irreversible defeat.
- The momentum for giving the nation a lokpal not be allowed to slow down.
- The campaign be given, by the campaign leaders, not 'more of the same', but a gear-shift into a fresh powering that takes the campaign into (a) a heightened awareness generation and (b) negotiation with MPs from all parties, without mixing up its high-minded objective with electoral misadventures. Trying to telescope the lokpal campaign with UP's electoral fortunes will be like forcing a rainbow into a dust-storm.
- The campaign be taken by the ruling political combination into a working session with other parliamentary parties in a manner that ensures its passage in the next session of Parliament.
No one has doubted or disputed Parliament's prerogative to legislate transformationally. No one should have to doubt its desire to do so with sincerity. No one has doubted or disputed Team Anna's prerogative to campaign inspirationally.
No one should have to doubt its wisdom to do so with patience.
(Gopalkrishna Gandhi is a former administrator, diplomat and governor.) --Hindustan Times, December 31, 2011.

Bharat must shelter those who seek asylum
The recent case of a group of Pakistani Hindus who entered the country on month-long pilgrimage visas but have since then sought political asylum citing religious persecution back home has brought India’s immigration and citizenship policies under the spotlight. In response to a public interest litigation, the Delhi High Court has stayed the imminent deportation of the 151 Pakistani Hindus whose visas expired months ago and asked the Union Government to explain why they should not be offered refuge. The Government has time till February next year to respond. But, since the Government does not have a specific policy on the matter, and has traditionally dealt with such issues on a case-by-case basis, it has led to enormous dissatisfaction and resentment among those affected. This lack of definite policy guidelines on the matter, especially with respect to people of Indian origin regardless of their religious affiliation, cannot continue to remain. The situation also leaves many asylum-seekers with no other choice but to slip through the cracks in the system and settle in the country illegally — a situation that neither benefits the individual nor the state. For centuries, India has been home to entire communities of refugees — from citizens of erstwhile East Pakistan who feared that they would be butchered by the Pakistani Army to Afghan nationals who wished to escape their war-ravaged country to Tibetan exiles. Yet it has been only in the recent past that the Government has signed a handful of bilateral agreements that provide a legal framework for the problem. However, most of them have been ineffective, as the Sirimavo-Shastri pact that was signed between the Governments of India and Sri Lanka in 1964 to help that country’s embattled Tamil community has shown.More recently, the Government has introduced laws that allow special benefits regarding travel and work within the country to those who are officially recognised as ‘Persons of Indian Origin’, and has offered the title of ‘Overseas Citizen of India’ to some non-resident Indians. However, neither of these measures has satisfied the aspirations of the vast Indian Diaspora that wishes to maintain ties with its homeland, nor have they benefitted the large number of Hindus who have periodically sought refuge in this country. The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs must take the lead in formulating a policy to find a desirable way out. The Ministry is in the best position to do because it interacts directly and regularly with overseas Indians and understands their issues better. No doubt, the Government has to tread carefully keeping in mind the various legal tangles as much as the underlying emotions. But these complications have to be resolved some day. – Editorial, The Pioneer, December 23, 2011.