1. FESTIVALS: Buddha Jayanti also known as Buddha Purnima is the full moon day of Baisakh falling on May 6 this year. One of the greatest spiritual teachers of mankind which Bharat has produced is, undoubtedly, Buddha. Edwin Arnold has fittingly called him the ‘Light of Asia’. Buddha’s message has travelled far and wide and captured the hearts and minds of billions of people outside Bharat also.
According to the Buddhism, sorrow and desire are the main cause of all the evil and suffering of this world. Lord Buddha advocated the Eightfold Path consisting of precepts like right conduct, right motive, right speech, right effort, right resolve, right livelihood, right attention and right meditation to gain mastery over suffering. It is only after following this path one can reach the ultimate aim of Nirvana. Nirvana is the transcendental state of complete liberation. Buddha passed into eternity after completing his Sahasra Chandra Darshan i.e. thousand full moon days (80th year) on Vaishakha Punrima—the day of his birth and also of his Enlightenment. And to this day, Buddha lives on as a beacon-light to billions the world over, who yearn for the peace and well-being of all living creation.
2. BHAURAO DEORAS SEWA SAMMAN: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh Sahsarkaryavah Dr Krishna Gopal said that RSS is doing excellent work in North-Eastern states to promote nationalism. But the missionary forces are doing exactly the opposite and are encouraging separatists. He was speaking at a function organised in Lucknow to present Bhaurao Deoras Sewa Samman for the year 2011-12. Dr Suresh Kumar Sangal of Vardan Sewa Sansthan, Ghaziabad and Rinomo Sungoh of Meghalaya Shiksha Samiti were felicitated with the Sewa Samman. Speaking on the occasion Swami Abhayanand Sarawati said the service to the deprived people is service of the God. He advised the people engaged in service activities to refrain from selfishness and. Senior BJP leader Rajnath Singh and many other prominent personalities were also present on the occasion.
3. AUDIO CD ON RSS FOUNDER DR HEDGEWAR: "Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgewar founded the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) with a certain motive and vision. Now the time has come to realise his vision of organising the good and virtuous people of the society to make Bharatmata the world leader once again. In this endeavor CDs like ‘Keshav Shatak’ will prove to be instrumental in arousing the innate strength of good people inspiring them to tread the path shown by Dr Hedgewar,” observed RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat in Nagpur on March 29.
He was speaking after the ceremonial release of the audio CD ‘Keshav Shatak’, a composition by senior RSS Pracharak Lakshmi Narayan Bhala ‘Animesh’ at the Scientific Society Auditorium. ‘Keshav Shatak’ is a poetic tribute paid to RSS founder Dr Hedgewar by way of 101 couplets of 28 poems beautifully composed by Shri Bhala who is popularly known as ‘Lakhhida’. It was first published by Burra Bazaar Kumarsabha Pustakalaya, Kolkatta, in 1989 during the centenary celebrations of Dr Hedgewar.
The CD, Keshav Shatak Swaranjali, has been produced by Sanskar Bharati, Jaipur under the music direction of Padmakar Mishra.
4. MODI ABSOLVED IN GULBARG CASE: The Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) has found no evidence against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the riots following the killing of 58 kar sewaks in the Sabarmati Express inferno at Godhra on February 27, 2002. Metropolitan court, delivered its ruling on the application filed by former MP Ahsan Jafri’s widow Zakia Jafri, seeking a copy of the SIT report. Zakia Jafri had approached the Supreme Court accusing Narendra Modi and 62 other leaders, bureaucrats and police officials of the Gulbarg Society massacre in which her husband, along with 68 others, was killed in 2002.
5. BHARAT ENTERS ELITE CLUB: Defence Minister AK Antony on April 4 formally inducted the Russian-made nuclear-powered submarine INS Chakra into the Navy at Eastern Command, Visakhapatnam. The submarine has been taken on a 10-year lease from Russia at a cost of more than one billion dollars. The induction of this Akula class submarine, takes Bharat into the elite league of the countries that have such submarines. The other countries are US, Russia, UK, Germany and France. Chakra is 100 metres long and weighs about 12,000 tons.
The submarine is powered by 190MW nuclear reactor and can attain a speed of more than 30 knots and dive up to 500 feet in the sea and remain submerged underwater for long periods of time thereby making its detection difficult by the enemy. It has a crew of 80 personnel and carries state of art sensors and an impressive array of weapons including cruise missiles and torpedoes.
6. LEADING THE WAY IN POLIO ERADICATION: The World Health Organisation has announced that there had been no new cases of wild polio virus in Bharat for one year. That leaves only three polio endemic countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. The achievement is a validation of the work of the United Nations, the public and private partners of the Global Polio Eradication initiative, the government and the people of Bharat, all of whom united to solve what seemed like an insurmountable problem. The victory over polio is evidence that fast-growing nations like Bharat can embrace economic development and sustainable development at the same time.
7. FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF HINDU HELP LINE: A 24X7 Hindu Help Line service started in April 2011 in Indore for helping Hindus in difficulties, like problems in travel such as car break down, accident, natural calamities while in travel away from home/office etc; medical emergencies such as need for urgent blood, ambulance, medicines, immediate hospitalization while away from home etc.; Teerth Darshan – facilitating visits to various temples, cultural, tourist places in Bharat etc; religious information like correct time for a particular worship, astrology, books & CDs, products made of panchgavya etc.
Speaking at the first anniversary of the helpline recently, VHP International Working President Dr Pravin Togadia said, “Hindu helpline strives to be a reliable friend of Hindus as much as it can. With such a rich cultural, economic, social & educational heritage, today Hindu as an individual feels lonely when in emergency. Hindu helpline aims at being his/her friend in need. The 1st Anniversary program had a Kathak & Folk Dance fusion by the noted classical dancer Sanjay Mahajan & his troupe. The ‘Hindu Ratna’ Award for the Nandan Samvatsar that is the year 2012 was conferred on Dr Yashodhar Mathpal, a 70 year old cave paintings & rock art expert.
8. BRAND BHARAT: The Tata Group is the largest manufacturing employer in the UK; Ireland's richest person - Pallonji Mistry - is a Bharatiya; Coal India is the single largest coal producer in the world; Bharat is the largest whisky manufacturer in the world and the Taj Group is the largest chain of hotels in Asia.
Brand Bharat today is not just about economics. According to Bhaskar Chakravorti, senior associate dean of international business & finance, The Fletcher School, Tufts University, this "soft" presence is Bharat's greatest asset in making sure it counts on the world stage. Household brand names such as Citigroup, Pepsi and Motorola are associated with a Bharatiya CEO.
Bharat is also working its way through innovations. Nano, the cheapest car in the world from Tata Motors; Aakash, the cheapest tablet PC in the world, priced at $46; and other cheap tablet PC initiatives by private companies.
However, "Bharat should surely move forward in the area of innovation where we can capture the value from our intelligent cheap resources from being just a provider of cheap labour. As of today, most companies (Apple, Microsoft, Google, Intel, etc) especially in IT that generate maximum value from innovation, rely on resources from Bharat and we are clearly not getting the deserved share of the value created,'' said Thomas Kuruvilla, MD, Arthur D Little, a consulting firm.
Richard Rekhy, head of advisory practice at KPMG, a global consulting firm, believes: "Bharat, with 100 companies of over a billion dollar market cap, has established its position globally which is why GE set up its first R&D centre outside US in Bengaluru. Bharatiya banks have only 2% bad loans versus 20% in China."
In the mid-90s, on a representation made by Bharatiya exporters, the government had removed the mandatory use of the 'Made in Bharat' tag from goods exported. But, today, no one is shying away from using the tag.
9. ‘DOCTORS FOR SEVA’: A project that provides health services to deprived sections of society in and around Bengaluru, has decided to extend operations to Gulbarga district. According to Sinu Joseph of the Youth for Seva Trust, the trust had decided to first concentrate on Afzalpur taluk where health parameters were low.
Started in June 2010, Doctors for Seva project comprises a team of medical professionals who are willing to provide medical service on a voluntary basis. While the team of paediatricians, dentists, gynaecologists, surgeons, psychiatrists, pharmacists, diagnostic labs, general & specialty hospitals, medical and dental colleges and students, a large number of non-medical volunteers assist in coordinating its various projects and activities. In Bengaluru, the trust, with the help of a network of doctors and hospitals, provides voluntary services to economically backward sections of society. There are 53 doctors and 27 hospitals who provide health services in Bengaluru schools and slums.
As per government records, Aland and Afzalpur taluks had no specialists in government hospitals.
10. BHARAT STILL THE WORLD'S BPO HUB: Bharat has successfully fought off competition from new and emerging outsourcing regions such as the Philippines, South Africa, East Europe and Latin America to retain its position as the world's BPO hub, shows data released by Nasscom.
While the emerging regions focus on voice-based work (essentially call centre jobs), Bharat has graduated to data analytics, accountancy, finance and other domain-specific work. It continues to have a 36% market share in global off-shoring work.
According to Nasscom, the number of people employed directly in Bharat‘s BPO sector grew by 17% from 2009-10 and 2011-12 to 8,76,000.
11. MODI CONTINUES TO GRAB EYEBALLS IN WESTERN MEDIA: The Time magazine featured Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on its cover last month. And on April 5, The Washington Post put the Modi story on its front page. The 1,400-word story begins with how widely Modi is being touted as a possible future Prime Minister of Bharat and how some in Bharat call him the country’s most competent leader, even a role model.
While sketching Gujarat’s rapid growth under his stewardship, it says how business leaders fawn over him for the way he has rooted out corruption and promoted an annual growth of more than 10 per cent since he took over in late 2001, something that has attracted investments not only from all over Bharat, but from American majors like Ford and General Motors.
“Almost every village in Gujarat is served by a paved road and has a reliable supply of electricity and drinking water. Agriculture is also growing fast, thanks to investment in irrigation,” the Post report says, adding: “It is that record, his reputation for ‘getting things done,’ that has positioned him as one of the favorites to become Bharat’s next prime minister after elections due in 2014.”
“Countries other than US are not so troubled by Modi’s record,” it notes, adding: “Modi’s warm reception on a visit to China last November would not have gone unnoticed.”
12. MOBILE DISPENSARY FOR NAXAL-HIT VANAVASIS: With an objective of providing healthcare and creating health awareness among the vanavasi brethren residing in the remote regions of Aheri, Etapalli, Bhamragarh and Mulchera regions of Gadchiroli district in Maharashtra, Dr Hedgewar Janmashatabdi Seva Samiti started a mobile dispensary 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.
The mobile clinic is being run by Dr Suresh Dambole from Aheri. Required medicines are arranged free of cost by seva samiti karyakartas. People from the region constructed a building for running this clinic regularly at Petha through shramdaan.
About 1500 patients are examined and treated per month through this mobile clinic. Patients affected by chronic ailments need to be shifted to the hospitals at Nagpur and Chandrapur in case of casualty. A woman needs complete healthcare during pregnancy. Meena Mattami, Sheetal Weladi, Munni Atram from the village have been given Arogya Rakshika training. Pregnant women in the village are regularly examined and are given necessary healthcare by these Arogya Rakshikas.
13. A NEW DOCUMENTARY ON SRI RAMJANMABHOOMI: Pune based Creations Entertainment has produced a 45 minutes documentary Ram Mandir: Adalat aur Aastha, both in Hindi and English.
“The prime objective of producing this documentary at this moment is to back the aastha (faith) of the common man in Sri Ram and Sri Ramjanmabhoomi with the archaeological evidences that have been accepted by the court and also could not be questioned by the Muslims there.” said Smt Angha Ghaisas, producer of the documentary, while talking to mediapersons at Press Club in New Delhi on April 9.
Apart from providing historical background of Ayodhya and also the information about the battles for Sri Ramjamabhoomi, the documentary has comments from top Hindu religious leaders, experts, advocates and the legal luminaries. (Hindi version can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_MSXoWBiMs)
14. HSS WORKER SWADESH KATOCH GETS HUMANITARIAN AWARD: Swadesh Katoch, a prominent face of Bharatiyas in Georgia and who owner of an IT company has been awarded with a humanitarian award of $1000 by the Georgia Association of Physicians of Indian Heritage (GAPI) for his outstanding work for resettlement of Bhutanese Hindu refugees. Swadesh Katoch announced to use this $ 1,000 for an eye health project for Bhutanese and helping Hindu widows in Pakistan.
Swadesh is a volunteer of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh since his childhood. He is Sewa Pramukh and Sah-karyawah of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh's Shri Sakti Sakha of Atlanta He has dedicated this award to thousands of Sewa and Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh karyakartas who are working relentlessly for the society around them. Sewa International USA provided financial help, essential materials such as blankets, winter jackets, clothes, toys etc. To make the refugees financially empowered SEWA provided employment assistance, job search assistance, and sponsorship of vocational training.
15. SIGNALS 'DISTURBING', BUT NOT 1991-TYPE SITUATION NOW: Reserve Bank governor D Subbarao has said that rising fiscal deficit and short-term debt levels are "quite disturbing" but the nation is not facing a repeat of a 1991 balance of payment crisis. While the 1991 crisis was triggered by high oil prices almost drying foreign reserves and currency crash, large fiscal deficit and current account deficit are lead indicators of stress building up in the system again, he said at a panel discussion on Bharat's economic reforms and development on March 14.
Stating that the structure of the economy has changed in fundamental ways, he said financial markets are more matured, more diverse and much deeper and have "resilience to absorb shocks".
While fiscal deficit was not entirely structural in nature, current account deficit was high because of high oil prices and gold imports, he said adding Bharat's foreign exchange reserves today are much larger than those in 1991.
16. BHARATIYA PARLIAMENT SHOULD PROVIDE SOLUTION TO BLACK MONEY: "It is time parliament gave Bharat solutions to three important problems - a solution to the ogre of black money, a solution to the related demon of corrupt practices, including the use of intimidation in elections, and a solution to what Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan (former rashtrapati) called widespread inefficiency and gross mismanagement of resources," said former governor of West Bengal Gopalkrishna Gandhi in Chennai on April 14 at a function organised by Prime Point Foundation to honour MPs.
Citing the laws against dowry, domestic violence, untouchability and right to information passed by parliament, Gandhi said the legislatures have responded to public opinion and campaigns.
Shiv Sena's Anandrao Adsul, BJP's Hansraj Gangaram and Arjun Ram Meghwal and Congress's S.S. Ramasubbu were awarded the Sansad Ratna Award-2012 for raising the highest number of questions and participating in parliamentary debates.
17. JAIRAM CALLS FOR INCREASED FUNDING FOR WOMEN SHGs: Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has called for bringing women’s self-help groups (SHGs) under the priority sector lending (PSL) norms and increasing the credit flow to them.
“I want women’s SHGs to get bank funds at the priority sector lending rates,” Mr. Ramesh said in Mumbai on April 15.
Calling for more flexibility in rural lending, Mr. Ramesh said flexibility was needed in lending to SHGs too.
18. LSR, IIT GRADS SET TO BECOME COLLECTOR AIDES IN NAXAL-HIT DISTRICTS: Katha Kartiki (B.A. in English Literature from LSR College, Delhi, and Masters from Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK); Rajendra Kondepati (B.Tech in Chemical Engineering from IIT-Madras and Masters in Public Policy from Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore); are among the 156 set to become the Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellows.
Following the training of two months, these professionals of 21-30 age group will be assisting collectors in planning, coordination and monitoring of developmental activities in 78 worst Naxal-affected districts for a period of two years.
The 156 fellows — two for each district — were selected through a meticulous process of screening overseen by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). Over 8,500 had applied following the announcement of the fellowship late last year. .
19. NEW NORMS FOR SCHOOLS AS SC BACKS RIGHT TO EDUCATION: The Supreme Court upholding the Right to Education Act or RTE Act has directed all schools, including privately-run schools, irrespective of the board they are affiliated to, to admit from this academic year (2012-13) at least 25% students from socially and economically backward families. These students will be guaranteed free education from class I till they reach the age of 14.
This means the nature of the classroom will change. Until now, several schools were holding a separate shift for students from poor families after the main school was over. Under the RTE Act, they will have to induct these students in the main class - in other words, 25% of every class will have students from socially and economically disadvantaged families.
While many educationists feel the resultant social integration will make education more meaningful, the reaction of some expensive schools as well as of some parents hasn't been positive. Also, the need to give free education to 25% students is expected to increase the expenditure of schools, with likely load of another round of fee hikes.
20. BENGAL SCHOOLS GET READY TO DUMP MARX FOR MANDELA: At long last Bengal is preparing to bid farewell to Marx, Engels and the Bolsheviks. On the contrary it is ‘welfare’ time for Rousseau, Voltaire, Mandela. Ringing aloud the ideological bell of Paribartan (change), the State has decided to weed out of school text books Communist icons, seen as the legacy of the Basu-Buddha era.
Educationist Aveek Majumdar, the chairman of the designated syllabus committee, says the new programme of study is aimed not at manipulating young minds but “making available a bouquet of information” before them.
“It will be wrong to suggest that the syllabus is loaded with anti-communist thoughts as we have only done away with chapters that were redundant and retained those which are contextual” he says insisting Lenin and the People’s Revolution of China had been retained in the syllabus.
Trinamool MP Derek O’Brien made it clear that the Government was not trying to doctor history. “Marx, I believe should be studied as a historical phenomenon but not at the expense of Mahatma or Nelson Mandela,” he said, adding “Bengal is redressing balance, not doctoring history.”
Interestingly the new syllabus is likely to have a chapter called “Dharma” or religion which would include information on Deen-e-Ilahi, Ramayana and Mahabharata, sources said.
21. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Pravas: Shri Saumitra Gokhale, samyojak Vishwa Vibhag will return to US after touring UK. Shri Ravikumar, sah samyojak will be going to Singapore, hongKong and South Korea. Visitors: Ma.Ramdevrai Sood – USA, Shravan Bajoria – Myanmar.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Youth is not the prime of life, but a state of mind. You are as young as your faith and as old as your doubts; you are as young as your self confidence and as old as your fear. – Yadav Rao Joshi.
JAI SHRI RAM
STRONG CENTRE, STRONG STATES
The recent Assembly elections have been an earth-shaking political event.
Mandalisation lost ground in Uttar Pradesh to development, as it did in Bihar last year. The Bihar election saw the eclipse of one national party and the Uttar Pradesh election the virtual annihilation of both national parties.
The regional parties in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, are now very strong. The regional parties have been repeatedly humiliating the government at the Centre, enfeebled by mega corruptions and trying to stick to power at all costs.
Whether over petrol price hike, FDI issue, Teesta waters, Lokpal Bill, the Railway Budget, or now the UN resolution on Sri Lanka, the Centre has had to eat the humble pie. Coalition dharma is now blatant survival dharma. The UPA is on life support and can brazen it out till 2014 or collapse earlier, when life support is withdrawn.
The longer this lame duck government lasts, the greater the harm to governance and the grand old party itself. Chances of it returning to power will also become much less. The Congress needs to reinvent itself as an Opposition to restore its health and come back to power after five years or even earlier, if the successor government fails to hold together. Indira Gandhi, after a stunning rout in 1977, came back to power in three years with a resounding victory.
There have been two recent incidents in the theatre of the absurd. First, former railway minister Dinesh Trivedi presented the Railway Budget approved by the Cabinet, which the Prime Minister and the finance minister publicly lauded but which Mamata Banerjee disapproved. She forced his resignation; a new railway minister was appointed and partial rollback made.
Second, the finance minister presented a lacklustre Union Budget while his minister of state from an alliance partner was not present in Parliament. He was supervising an Assembly byelection for his party.
Our Constitution has both unitary and federal features. Given our history of the past millennium, we need both a strong Centre and strong states. A strong Centre and weak states can degenerate into dictatorship, a taste of which we had during the Emergency. A weak Centre and strong states can lead to national disintegration. The Uttar Pradesh election has shown our two national parties in total disarray. While struggling for the third place, 60 per cent of the candidates of these parties lost their security deposit. And while one party is facing revolt in Uttarakhand and by-poll defeat in Andhra Pradesh, the other is trying to cope with blackmail in Karnataka and a by-poll defeat in its Gujarat citadel.
The Oracle of Delphi was asked as to what could destroy Sparta. It replied, luxury. If today the Oracle is asked what can destroy India’s two national parties, the reply will be sycophancy for the Congress and squabbles for the BJP. Our national interest demands that both these parties become strong. It is still not too late for them to reinvent themselves.
Sycophants have destroyed empires and emperors. The slogan of the Congress Party has changed from “Indira is India and India is Indira” to “dynasty is democracy and democracy is dynasty”.
A mortal blow was delivered to the dynasty in its family citadels of Amethi and Rae Bareily, with the loss of 10 out of 12 Assembly seats. Initially, Rahul Gandhi did well in refusing to be parachuted to the top, like his father in the special circumstances of 1984. The sycophants and the fawning media started projecting him as a youth icon and a messiah of the Indian nation. He rightly preferred to build the party before succeeding to his inheritance in government. He was misled by the army of sycophants.
He played the role of a benevolent prince showing concern for the poor and repeatedly harking back to his great ancestry. He was surrounded by smart, well-educated youth who are sons of old loyalists, but out of sync with the masses. He failed to develop ground-level party organisation, relying on abject appeasement policy. No doubt he worked extremely hard, but that was of no avail.
After the poll debacle the sycophants owned up responsibility to shield the heir apparent. The Congress observer in Manipur stated that the Congress had won a sweeping victory there due to the leadership of Rahulji, even though he never once visited that state during the election.
Rahul did well to discard the shield being provided by his sycophants and owned up full responsibility for the debacle. He needs to build his party from the ground level, discarding his sycophants and developing a mass base. A spell in Opposition will be good for his party’s and his own political health.
From a party with a difference, the BJP is now a party beset by differences. There are several capable leaders in the party who are prime ministerial material. However, quite a few BJP leaders are pulling in different directions. The BJP has two mass leaders with a national support base in the country. They are L.K. Advani and Narendra Modi.
The former was the architect of the BJP’s astounding progress from a mere two seats in Parliament to the single-largest party in the Lok Sabha in 1998, with close to 200 seats. Today, his long experience of public life, impeccable integrity, no filial nepotism in politics and physical ability at his advanced age are unmatched in the country. His detractors for their vested interests make heavy weather of his age. They ignore that at his age, Morarji Desai was Prime Minister and Prakash Singh Badal is chief minister of Punjab.
M. Kaurnanidhi is over three years older than him. An NRI millionaire in his 30s, who is an upstart and interloper in politics, had arranged to go to Rajya Sabha with the BJP’s support. He had the arrogance and audacity to suggest that older BJP leaders, particularly Mr Advani, should retire from the party.
Mr Modi has proved himself to be a brilliant administrator who has brought about miraculous development in Gujarat, appreciated not only within the country but also internationally.
He has been persistently demonised by the media, the so-called secularists and, of course, the minority. This hampers support for him from many. This can only be overcome after the law courts give him a clear chit in the ongoing cases against him. Unless the BJP chooses to put faith in one leader and all rally behind him, it has a bleak future.
A Third Front without a common positive ideology will not hold together. National interest may get overlooked by regional considerations, as happened over Teesta waters and over the Sri Lankan resolution. Regional parties may be very strong in their states but have hardly any presence outside.
The foray of Janata Dal (United) and Trinamul Congress outside their respective states in recent elections drew a blank.
The need of the hour is both a strong Centre and strong states. The former requires a strong ruling party and a strong Opposition, and the latter no encroachment on state autonomy, as formulated in the Constitution. India is a nation of all Indians and not a nation of states.
The writer, a retired lieutenant-general,and has served as governor of Assam and Jammu and Kashmir.—The Asian Age, March 30,2012.