1. FESTIVALS: Sri Krishna Janmashtami, the birth day of Bhagwan Sri Krishna, is celebrated on eighth day of Bhadra Krishna paksh, falling on August 10 this year. Born in the dungeons of Kamsa, who was out to kill him at the very moment of his birth, Sri Krishna’s life is replete with many mortal dangers which he successfully triumphed over. Sri Krishna Jayanti signifies the lighting of the spark of the Divine Power in every one of us, which spurs us on to play in this world of practical and hard realities with a sense of high spiritual purpose. Besides Bharat, Sri Krishna Janmashtami is celebrated in all the Hindu temples and homes spread over all parts of the world.
2. Upanishads to fire Sunita Williams’ spiritual odyssey in space: When Sunita Williams is thousands of miles above the earth taking a bird's eye view of the universe from her space shuttle window, she will try to understand universal truths of the Upanishads. The Bharatiya American astronaut — who will spend six months in space from July 14 — is carrying with her an English translation of one of the most important Hindu scriptures. Her father, Deepak Pandya, is hoping that the farther she goes from earth, the closer she will come to understanding her Bharatiya roots.
"The last time she went into space, I had given her a copy of the Bhagavad Gita," Pandya said. "She was full of questions when she came back. She wanted to know why it became necessary for Krishna to narrate the Gita, what were its eternal teachings, was it not possible to gain similar knowledge from other works, and many such questions. I feel that she will find some of the answers in the Upanishads."
3. Bhagavad Gita quiz contest in Pakistan: Shlokas from Bhagavad Gita reverberated in a school in Karachi, on July 1, where young Hindu boys and girls took part in a quiz contest to test their knowledge of their religion -- Sanatan Dharma. Buoyed by the success of the event, the organizers, Pakistan Hindu Seva (PHS), a welfare trust, has decided to hold such contests more often.
The competition was organized at Sancta Maria School, Gizri lane, Karachi, which is a Muslim majority area. The next Gita contest will be held at Lanchore Line, also known as mini Mumbai, which has more than 5,000 Hindu members.
4. South African teacher finds his roots in Bharat: A South African Parvesh Gangaram Hardin Parmeshwar Nepal Singh visited his ancestor’s Nimia village in Sasaram district on July 10. A great grandson of a Girmitia labourer Parmeshwar Singh, the descendant interacted with his relatives during an emotional reunion a century after the Singh Sr. had boarded South Africa-bound ship to work there as an indentured labourer on November 16, 1902. “I am overwhelmed for getting the opportunity to meet my kin,” he said.
Singh, who is based in Durban and works there as teacher thanked the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for helping him find his roots and meet his relatives during his sixth visit to Bharat.
Stating that his was a hazardous journey in search of his relatives, the South African teacher of Bharatiya origin urged the Government of Bharat to set up a mechanism which can find out the native place of the migrant people and identity their relatives to facilitate a reunion.
5. World Hindu Economic Forum: 2012: Mauritian Vice-Prime Minister, Anil Kumar Bachoo emphasized on the need to develop new economic models which are sustainable and will generate wealth for eradicating poverty, creating employment, and reducing environmental degradation, since prevalent models are collapsing across the world, leading to global political instability and increasing disparity between the rich and poor as well as leading to environmental degradation. He was inaugurating the first World Hindu Economic Forum (WHEF), which was held in Hong Kong on June 30-July 1, 2012. WHEF-2012 was attended by over 250 prominent businesspersons, industrialists, economists, bankers, international traders, and business association leaders from different countries from Europe, Asia, Africa, and Pacific region.
Dr. Subramanian Swamy former Union Minister of Commerce and Law, an alumnus and professor of the Harvard University delivered the keynote address. Prof (Dr.) Gautam Sen who taught at the London School of Economics & Political Science emphasized the need to organize Hindu economy not only for creating wealth, but also for promoting economic equity across the world and help underdeveloped countries, and communities.
Prof (Dr.) R. Vaidyanathan, Professor of Finance at IIM Bangalore elaborated on the linkages between the ongoing economic crisis in the Western world and the breakdown of the institution of family in Western societies. Subhash Thakrar, Chairman London Chamber of Commerce and Industry briefed the Forum on emerging sectors of business in current turbulent world.
The Forum also intently listened to Dr. G. Madhavan Nair, ex-chief of Indian Space Research Organisation and head of Chandrayaan (Bharat Moon Mission) on how innovations in aerospace technologies are opening up new markets, wide range of products, and economic possibilities. Dr. Vijay Bhatkar, ex-Director Centre for Developing Advanced Computing, and inventor of PARAM supercomputer made a very strong case for investing in innovation and education. The Forum has also launched Young Hindu Business Leader Forum, which will offer diverse services to aspiring entrepreneurs in areas pertaining to mentoring, capital access, training, networking. Young Hindu Business Leader Forum will hold its first meeting in Mumbai, January 2013. World Hindu Economic Forum will meet next in Bangkok in 2013.
6. 18 Chola inscriptions found in Pudukottai shrine: As many as 18 inscriptions belonging to the later Chola period, especially that of renowned Chola emperor Raja Raja, were found at a Lord Siva temple at Visalur village near Keeranur in Pudukottai, Tamil Nadu.
The Siva temple at Visalur village near Keeranur in Kulathur taluk was an early Chola edifice, attributed to the period of Parantaka I. The temple is a small ekatala structure made of granite with vimanam, ardhamandapam and mahamandapam.
The inscriptions that have come to light date back to the period of Raja Raja I, Rajendra Chola II, Kulothungachola III, and Rajathiraja besides those of some local chieftains. The inscriptions throw much light on the Chola administration in this region.
7. ‘saffron terror’ proves a conspiracy against Hindus: The reported clean chit to Lt Col Srikant Purohit, an accused in 2008 Malegaon blast, by Army’s Court of Inquiry (CoI) has exposed a deep-rooted conspiracy against Bharat, Hindus and the patriotic people of the country.
The clean chit proves beyond any doubt that the Hindu saints including Sadhvi Pragya, Swami Aseemanand and others, who were put in jails alleging their hands in some bomb blasts including the Samjhauta Express train blast, are innocent and they have falsely been implicated in all these cases. This clean chit to Purohit also puts a question mark over the hurried release of all Muslim accused, suspected to be SIMI, HuJI and LeT operatives, arrested for Malegaon blasts.
The development takes the wind out of NIA’s sails as the agency is already struggling for material evidence against Purohit and others after taking over the case from Maharashtra ATS last year and has been locked in a court battle, as yet unsuccessful, to get Purohit’s custody.
8. 39 sites in Western Ghats get world heritage status: A cluster of 39 sites spread over 7,953.15 sq km in the Western Ghats will now be inscribed in the World Heritage list. These include tiger reserves, national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and reserved forests in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Kerala leads with 20 sites being inscribed in the heritage list followed by Karnataka with ten, Tamil Nadu five and Maharashtra four. In Maharashtra, the Kas plateau, the Koyna wildlife sanctuary, the Chandoli national park and the Radhanagari Wildlife sanctuary in the Sahyadri range have been given the world heritage site tag.
The decision to include the 39 sites was taken by a 21-nation panel of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) at its meeting at St Petersburg, Russia.
9. RathaJatra at Madison: RathaJatra was held at Madison, Wisconsin in USA on June 24, 2012. Madison is a small town known for a world-class University. Jagannatha Bigraha Pranapratistha was organized by American Hindu Association, Madison.
RathaJatra celebration was well planned and organized with SnanaPurnima, Netroshaba and GundichaJatra. On June 24th, Gundicha Jatra was attended by more than 250 people mostly non-Oriyas. Odia families from nearby places like Milwaukee, WI and Dubuque, IA also attended this function. Odissi and Bharatnatyam were performed in front of Ratha. Devotional songs were flowing throughout. Elaborate Prasad arrangements fitting to 56-bhog offered to the LORD were made for all devotees who attended RathaJatra. Lasis, water and watermelon were provided while Ratha was being pulled. The entire temple premise of 7 acres bore festive look with tents all over the property. BahuraJatra, the return journey took place on July 1.
10. Hindu festival IN MALAYSIA draws 50,000: More than 50,000 Hindu devotees, people of other faiths and foreign tourists, including from Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Bharat, thronged the Arulmigu Sree Maha Mariamman Devasthanam Temple for the annual week-long festival in Butterworth, Malaysia recently.
The festival started with a fire-walking ritual in Jalan Mengkuang in which more than 2,000 devotees walked across a seven-metre-long by two-metre-wide poo-kuli (fire pit). Others walked around the pit. Temple chairman, S. Partiban said the festival has been celebrated at the same place for more than 140 years.
He said in conjunction with the festival, a four-day cultural drama and stage show was held at the Dewan Sree Mariamman in Jalan Menkuang.
The silver chariot bearing the deity of Arulmigu Sree Maha Mariamman was taken on a 20km procession in the north of the town on the third day. On the fifth day, the procession went round the south of the town, covering more than 30km.
Thousands of devotees, with trays of offerings filled with fruits, flowers, incense sticks, burning camphor and perfumed joss sticks, lined the streets to offer prayers and receive blessings as the chariot passed through the town on both days.
The festival ended with the goddess being carried by devotees on a specially decorated dais to the Sree Sithi Vinayagar Temple about a kilometre away in Jalan Bagan Luar before heading back to the Arulmigu Sree Maha Mariamman Devasthanam Temple.
11. Gujarat woman milking millions in dairy den: Ramilaben Govindbhai Patel hasn't been to college. But at 43, she earns what some CEOs take home. She milks cows every day and supplies milk to a dairy co-operative. She milked Rs 1.10 crore - Rs 1,10,17,675 - net profit in 2011-12, to be precise!
At Pentarpura village in Sabarkantha district, Ramilaben's dairy farm churns out 5.55 lakh litres of milk per annum. What had started as a backyard business in 2000 is now a full-fledged family business. She is an outstanding success story of the change, the White Revolution has brought about in Amul capital. Ramilaben is an inspiration to other women in Gujarat who are the backbone of the dairy industry. Out of the total 16,117 milk societies, 2,124 are run by women. Of the 31.8 lakh members in 15 district unions, 8.2 lakh are women.
12. bharat must find a way to be an ally with China: Ratan Tata: China's overpowering economic strength is not a real concern but a way should be found by Bharat to be an ally with it, according to Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata. Describing Bharat-China relationship as "not adversarial, but it is not the best", he, however, added, "you know China has never done anything adversarial to Bharat, and Bharat, I think, has been more concerned about China's economic strength overpowering Bharat, which we really don't see".
When asked if he is worried about China, he said: "No, I am not worried. I wish we could find a way to be allies with China."
13. Resurrecting a hero - Post-Higgs Boson, SN Bose is season’s flavor: Six months ago was the birth anniversary of Satyendra Nath Bose. Five months ago was that great scientist’s death anniversary. No one then had remembered him — neither the Government nor the media nor the chattering classes who are moving around with puffed chests now after the near certain discovery of Higgs Boson, for which Bose had done some of the groundwork many decades ago. All of a sudden, even the publicity wing of the Government of Bharat has woken up and begun issuing Press statements praising Bose to the skies and calling him a “forgotten hero”. However, the Government is as responsible for this forgetfulness as anybody else. But as it is said, better late than never. Along with Albert Einstein, Bose developed the theory that describes the particle-like qualities of light and laid the foundation for quantum physics as we know it today. The Bose-Einstein Condensates referred to a new state of matter in which thousands of sub-atomic particles come together to form a single atom that behaves like a wave. Particles that followed Bose’s theory are called Bosons, and the Higgs Boson is just one kind of a Boson. No doubt, Bharatiyas are thrilled to know that the ‘B’ in Higgs Boson is derived from the Kolkata-born scientist’s last name. As a result, after decades of ignoring the exemplary life and work of Bose, they are now rediscovering him. Bose is already trending on Twitter — supposedly the most effective way to gauge popular interest in a particular topic in the age of social media—while mainstream media has dutifully expressed its annoyance at the manner in which the Bharatiya scientist was airbrushed from history on July 4 when the discovery was announced but his name was not mentioned in Geneva.
Many have also rightly pointed out that given Bose’s path-breaking research, he was a natural candidate for the Nobel Prize, and the fact that he was never given the prestigious award is “nothing less than a scandal”, as one of his students who is himself a retired physicist, pointed out recently. After all, at least ten Nobels have been given out for work that has been done in the field of particle physics based on concepts like the Bose-Einstein Condensate or the Boson. Bose should have been awarded the Nobel not for his own glory but for the sake of the award. This is not the first time that the stellar contribution of a Bharatiya scientist has been ignored by his country, his scientific community and the world at large. His namesake, Jagdish Chandra Bose, who pioneered work on radio and microwave optics, too never received his due, even though his first public demonstration of wireless signaling came before that of Italian scientist Guglielmo Marconi’s, who is now credited with the invention of the telegraph. -- The Editorial, The Pioneer, July 7, 2012
14. Chinese infra for Mansarovar pilgrims: China is building a wide range of infrastructure to increase the flow of Bharatiya pilgrims visiting Mansarovar in Tibet, according to S Jaishankar, the Bharatiya ambassador in Beijing, the first envoy to visit Tibet in the past decade.
Once the planned facilities are created, the number of pilgrims and visitors from Bharat to Tibet is expected to rise from the 14,000 seen last year. China has indicated it will improve traditional rest places, which are viewed by some pilgrims as old Hindu temples, in Kailash area. The government is also planning to upgrade existing guest-houses into hotels, improve road and transportation facilities in both the Kailash and Mansarovar areas. It may also relax visa and permit controls to allow more visitors to Mansarovar to extend their journey to other Tibetan areas like Lhasa..
15. More bharatiyas get global role in Yahoo rejig: Yahoo's reorganization over the past year has raised Bharat's strategic position in the company's global operations.
Bharat now has six senior executives with global roles, up from one a year ago, Shouvick Mukherjee, CEO of Yahoo India R&D, said. He himself is now also leading consumer platforms for Yahoo globally. These platforms include the core content platform, social platform, mobile monetization platform and localization platform. Hari Vasudev is VP of connections, the area that focuses on connecting the company's 700 million users and includes search, email, the Flickr photo-sharing service, and the question-and-answer feature. Amit Dayal heads global engineering for the marketplace (commerce) properties such as auto, real estate, small business, travel and shopping.
Anindo Roy, who moved to Yahoo recently from Fair Issac India, leads engineering for many regional and global media products such as the Yahoo homepage, news, finance and cricket. Suresh Hosakoppal leads the complete end-to-end operations of Yahoo products and the underlying infrastructure that spans the globe, ensuring that sites are always up and available. Ashish Vikram drives the advertising and data solutions, providing essential data and analytics to maximize value for Yahoo and its users.
Bharat has been a critical part of Yahoo's R&D work for several years. The Bangalore centre has accounted for over 20% of the company's patent filings. It has 2,000 employees, a sixth of Yahoo's global workforce of 12,000.
16. BJP calls on PM to save Ganga, Dhari Devi temple: As part of its Save Ganga campaign, a high-level delegation of the BJP on July 7 met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking his intervention in saving the ancient Dhari Devi shrine in Uttarakhand that is facing threat of submergence in Srinagar Dam in Garhwal. The leaders — including LK Advani, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Uma Bharati — told the PM that the BJP was not opposed to the several hydro-electric and other development projects along the Ganga but was opposed to measures that lead to extinction of the river’s ecology and cultural-spiritual heritage along its banks.
Dhari Devi is situated on the banks of river Alaknanda, at a distance of about 15 km from Srinagar (Pauri Garhwal) on the Srinagar-Badrinath highway. Perched atop a 20-metre-high rock, the temple attracts tens of thousands of devotees on their way to Badrinath.
17. BUDDHIST Sammelan in Delhi: Dharma Sanskrit Sangam organised a Buddhist Sammelan in Delhi on July 1. Addressing the gathering, the RSS National Executive Member Indresh Kumar said the Buddhism shows the way to eradicate corruption, untouchability, terrorism, separatism and restore peace in the society. He said China killed 12 lakh Buddhists to capture Tibet and the statutes of Buddha were razed in Bamiyan. RSS was in forefront to condemn these acts and demanded immediate restoration of the statutes.
18. Reject interlocutors' report on Kashmir in toto: Advani: Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation, a BJP think tank, on July 10 organised a function on the occasion of Mookerjee's 111th birth anniversary. The veteran BJP leader LK Advani said that what the three interlocutors' report had suggested was against national interest, so much so that for the first time they had used the word Pakistan-Administered Kashmir (PAK) instead of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) which is against the Constitution and hurts the Bharatiya position. He said this report should be rejected completely.
He also felicitated Manju Mookerjee, the grand daughter of Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, saying that it was a great occasion that his grand daughter, who is herself a social activist in Pune, is here to share her memories about her grand father.
Tarun Vijay, Director of the Foundation said that Manju Mookerji and her husband Biman Mookerji have lived the ideals of their grand father, who is the source of inspiration to all the workers in BJP.
19. Nation rejects interlocutors’ report: The entire nation has rejected the interlocutors’ report on Jammu & Kashmir in one voice. Various social, religious and cultural organisations of the country joined the nationwide protest on July 6, the birth anniversary of Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee who had sacrificed his life for saving Jammu & Kashmir. Burning the copies of interlocutors report at some places the protestors warned in clear words that no attempt to tamper with the integrity of J&K would be tolerated.
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, Jammu Kashmir Study Centre, Jammu Kashmir Bachao Manch and several other like minded organisations extended full support to the protest. In Karnataka the protest was held on July 6 in front of Town Hall, Bangalore. In Agra region of Uttar Pradesh the protest was organised on July 6 while in Meerut it was organised on July 8. In Jaipur, the protest meeting was organised at Bari Chaupad on July 6.
The protest in Delhi will be organised on July 16.
The awareness campaign against interlocutors’ report had basically begun on June 23, the martyrdom day of Dr Mookerjee, by organising seminars and symposiums all over the country. Till now seminars have been organised in all the major metro cities including Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, etc.
20. EIGHT BHARATIYA COMPANIES RISE IN FORTUNE 500 LIST: Seven Bharatiya, three state-run and four private, firms have ascended in the list of world's 500 largest companies compiled by Fortune magazine. With an annual revenue of $86,016 million, Indian Oil is now on the 83rd spot up from 98th last year and Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Limited ($76,119 million), has risen to 99th position from previous year's 134. Bharat Petroleum with the revenues to the tune of $44,582 million has gone to 225th place from 272nd last year, Hindustan Petroleum ($38,885 million) to 267th from 336th, SBI (36,950 million) to 285th from 292nd, Tata Motors ($34,575 million) to 314th from 359th, and ONGC (30,746 million) to 357th from 361st. The eighth, Tata Steel ($27,739 million) has come to 401st position from the 370th last year. The list also features Citigroup and Arcelor Mittal, led by people with Bharatiya roots.
21. DOCS GROW EYE CELLS IN LAB: There is new hope for millions of people suffering from irreversible blindness due to retinal degeneration or damage. Scientists at Chennai-based Sankara Nethralaya say retinal cells grown from the remains of eyes donated for corneal transplant can be used to correct blindness and retina degeneration. The scientists said they drew pigment cells from the iris (circular structure in the eye) and ciliary (circumferential tissue) from the donated eyes after the cornea was removed. When these cells were cultured in a Petri dish and mixed with growth factors, it produced more cells.
22. Fun, knowledge chug along: A thousand girls from across 36 Delhi University colleges set-off for a train journey to five destinations in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and Kartanaka in a unique educational train journey.
The journed of Gyanodaya Express, the educational train with 940 students and 80-odd teachers will take the students to Ahmedabad, Wardha, Mumbai, Goa and Bangalore and educate them about Navy and dockyards, Sabarmati Ashram and non violence, ISRO and new technologies — all aiming to broaden their learning horizons. This train jouney will be a unique experience and a great way of learning about the country.
The train is equipped with a library comprising 400 titles. Students can also access internet on laptops though wi-fi. The journey is a fine balance of fun-filled learning experience since the students will also be engaged in project works during the journey — they can choose from 100 projects divided into science and humanities.
Each student must read a book from the library and by the end of the journey they will have to produce a review of the same, along with a group project.
23. Girls’ strength reaches 100 at IIM-B: For the first time in the history of IIM, Bangalore, 100 women have managed to get admission in the 2012-2014 batch. Although the fairer sex constitutes only 26% of the total class strength of 377, this is a commendable achievement because the institute had been striving to improve its gender ratio for the last three years.
“Internationally, the percentage of women in good management schools is 40-50%. We are still way behind. But this is a small step and we will strive to improve it gradually,” Prof M Jayadev, Admission Chairman, said.
Describing this as a great step towards improving gender balance, an alumni of IIM Bangalore said: "When I was studying, there were around 10-15 girls on the campus. I am very sure the increase in the number of girls will bring more diversity on the campus.”
While IIM Ahmedabad has this year admitted 64 students (16.8%) 51 girls (11%) have got admission in the two-year programme of IIM Calcutta.
24. Redwood City council meeting opens with Hindu invocation: Rajen Zed from Reno, on July 9, delivered what is believed to be the city's first invocation that combined scriptures spoken in Sanskrit, the classic language of Bharat and Hinduism, woven with English translations.
Wearing saffron-colored attire, Zed sprinkled a few drops of holy water from the river Ganges around the podium before the three-minute prayer in the Redwood City Council in California.
Among his petitions, he urged the council to "Act selflessly without any thought of personal profit. ... Do your work with the welfare of others always in mind."
City Council Mayor, Alicia Aguirre said that Zed's prayer "was a wonderful experience."
25. DRDO and ISRO working on cutting cost of access to space: Kalam: Inaugurating a six-day Space Festival 2012 at Bharathiar University, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, on July 9, former Rashtrapati APJ Abdul Kalam said smart designing of the material being used for solar power plant and reducing the weight of the solar panel from 20 kg / KW to less than one kg /KW would aid in bringing down the cost of the space solar power installation to reasonable limits within the near future.
The festival, said to be the first of its kind in the country to create awareness among students about space science, is being jointly organised by the varsity, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), and Tamil Nadu State Council for Science and Technology (TNSCST). T.S. Sridhar, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Higher Education, Government of Tamil Nadu, T. Ramasami, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, Government of Bharat, and representatives of the participating scientific organisation, besides school students, were present.
26. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Pravas: For the first time Vishwa Vibhag is organizing its Sangh Shiksha Varg 2nd year (VSSV2012 2nd year) training camp for Swyamsevaks in Trinidad this year in the month of July-August. For this varg Akhil Bharatiya adhikaris from Bharat including Ma. Sarkaryawah Shri Bhaiyaji Joshi, Sah-Sarkaryawah Shri Kannanji, Bauddhik Pramukh Shri Bhagaihji and vishwa vibhag adhikaris are traveling to Port of Spain in this fortnight. Visitors: Shri B. S. Deshmukh from Japan; Shri Sukhdev from U.S.A.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Faith is the one essential thing. God exists. He is very near us. Through faith alone one sees Him. – Swami Ramakrishna Paramhansa.
JAI SHREE RAM
Why Bharat needs an elected Prime Minister
I am astonished at the speed with which some people, who never tired of singing praises of Pranab Mukherjee earlier, have started denigrating him no sooner than he turned his back on the Ministry of Finance.
I am even more astonished at the touching faith that these people have placed in the prime minister, who has temporarily taken charge of the finance ministry, to turn the economic situation around. It is being projected as if an era has ended and a new era is about to begin. It is also being made out as if Pranab Mukherjee alone was responsible for the policy paralysis in the government. Nothing could be more erroneous.
What is the relationship between the prime minister and the finance minister? How is the budget prepared? How are other economic policy decisions taken in government? The only person outside the finance ministry that the finance minister takes into confidence about his budgetary proposals is the prime minister.
So, between the finance minister and the prime minister, at least four-five meetings take place to discuss the budget. In these meetings, the PM and FM discuss the general approach to the budget in the context of the prevailing economic situation, the detailed expenditure proposals, the detailed revenue proposals, the fiscal and revenue deficits, and finally, the budget speech. Every proposal that the FM includes in the budget is approved by the prime minister. Every word of the budget speech is seen and approved by him.
If the prime minister himself is a former finance minister, who has not only presented five budgets but has spent his whole life in the finance ministry, the RBI and the Planning Commission, the depth of his interest in and understanding of the budget can be easily imagined. The same applies to all major policy pronouncements made by the finance minister separately from the budget during the course of the year.
Was this arrangement followed when Pranab Mukherjee was the finance minister? If not, will the prime minister explain why it was not followed? And, if it was, then is it right for the prime minister to distance himself today from the decisions of Pranab Mukherjee? The malaise which afflicts the UPA government runs deeper than merely the relationship between Manmohan Singh and Pranab Mukherjee.
In May 2004, when Sonia Gandhi appointed Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister of Bharat, a section of the media went to town praising the new arrangement.
We were told that Sonia Gandhi would look after politics and Manmohan Singh would look after governance; that never before in the history of independent Bharat had this kind of out-of-the-box arrangement been tried before; that given Sonia Gandhi's mastery of politics and Manmohan Singh's mastery of government this arrangement was bound to work wonders for Bharat.
For a while, these predictions seemed to come true when the economy was booming and the country was moving forward. Now, this arrangement has come unstuck. It has failed because it was flawed ab initio. The Constitution of Bharat envisages that the prime minister will not merely be the head of government but also the tallest leader of his party.
The distinction between politics and governance is untenable. If it was not so, then the Cabinet Secretary could easily have been designated as prime minister and he would have ruled in the company of other secretaries. The whole system of accountability of the government to Parliament and its collective responsibility is predicated upon the prime minister being both the leader of the government as well as of the people of Bharat.
Such a prime minister alone can exercise total authority of his office. If the authority is split between the prime minister and the leader of his party - who is also the chairperson of UPA and NAC - clearly we are dealing with a severely handicapped prime minister. This flaw has been further compounded by the fact that though in the last eight years we have had two general elections, Manmohan Singh has not contested either.
This is why he was described as the 'unelected' prime minister by The Economist in a recent article. If being unelected is such a virtue, then why has the Constitution of Bharat provided for a directly elected Lok Sabha and why have so many of us wasted our time and energy contesting elections?
The answer is simple. Contesting elections, nursing a constituency, keeping in daily touch with the people, roaming from village to village and tackling problems at the grassroots give one an insight and experience which is unparalleled and which no textbook can teach.
I was an IAS officer for over 24 years, worked in the field as well as the secretariat but would like to assert that the rich experience I gained from dealing with the people as an elected representative is something I could not have acquired anywhere else. When did the prime minister last visit a village?
It is true that the Constitution of Bharat does not prescribe that the prime minister should be an elected member of the Lok Sabha. I wish it had. But the established convention of the Constitution is that the prime minister, even if he is a member of the upper House, should seek the first opportunity to get elected to the Lok Sabha.
This convention has been violated with impunity. Instead of protesting against it, the intellectual class has actually applauded it. I have nothing against Manmohan Singh personally. My grievance is against those who constantly overrate him. The crisis in Bharat today is not merely an economic crisis. It is a crisis of leadership in the UPA. The Prime Minister of Bharat cannot be a bureaucrat. He/she has to be an elected or electable leader of the people. Authority is not bestowed merely by the post one occupies, but is acquired through qualities of leadership. (The writer is a former finance minister) — The Economic Times, July 6, 2012.