Chaitra Shukla 6 Vik Samvat 2070. Yugabda 5115: April 16, 2013

1.   FESTIVALS:  Akshaya Tritiya, also known as Akha Teej, the third Tithi of Shukla Paksha of the month of Vaishakha, corresponding to May 13 this year, is the birthday of Lord Parasurama, the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. This was the day when Lord Ganesha started writing Mahabharata to Ved Vyas's dictation. There is a legend that any venture initiated on the auspicious day of Akshaya Tritiya continues to grow and bring prosperity. Marriages solemnized on this day are considered very auspicious. Akshaya Tritiya is auspicious in Jainism because it is said to have established the very first "ahar charya" a methodology to prepare and serve food to Jain Monks.
2.   Corruption     threat    to     OUR democracy: rashtrapati: Corruption is a threat to the democratic fabric of the country and frustrates efforts to bring equity, Rashtrapati Pranab Mukherjee said in New Delhi on April 6, delivering the 14th DP Kohli Memorial Lecture organised by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). CBI was founded by DP Kohli, who served as its director from 1963-68. The agency enters its golden jubilee year this year. The title of Rashtrapati’s address was "Good governance: Empowering Institutions, Society and Public". Rashtrapatiji said the country was at crossroads, and could not lose the momentum of change. He said basic principles of good governance had already been incorporated into the constitution by the nation's founding fathers.
"Good governance means existence of elaborate architecture that has the good of the people as the only focus," Rashtrapatiji said. Complimenting the CBI on its work, he said it was the "most sought after agency for investigation"by every section of society. He also released the golden jubilee logo of the CBI and gave Rashtrapati's Police Medal for Distinguished Service to six CBI officers.
3. "Bhaskar Rao Smaraka Mandiram should be a converging point for entire Hindu community": Dr Bhagwat : The Bhaskar Rao Smaraka Mandiram, one of the largest convention centres in Bharat was inaugurated on April 6th by Dr. Mohan Bhagwat, Sarsanghchalak of RSS at Kochi in Keral. The air-conditioned convention centre, built in 75,000 square feet area with state-of-the-art auditorium to accommodate 1500 persons, has been dedicated to the memory of K Bhaskar Rao, who spent his entire life for Kerala's Hindu renaissance.  Former ISRO chairman, G Madhavan Nair, P. Parameshwaran, Director, Bharatiya Vichar Kendra and Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Ashok Singhal were among those present.
Delivering his inaugural address at Elamakkara, Kochi Dr. Bhagwat said that the convention centre was not just a venue for members of the RSS to converge, but an exchange centre for the entire Hindu community to jointly assemble and carry forward the ethos of Bharat far and wide.
“The ideals, philosophy and ethos of the Hindu community has always been congenial and vital to the pace of the world, be it ancient or modern times. The philosophy propounded by Hindu culture can never be cast aside or brushed away as something casual because of the identity it has established with core human values. Hindutva is the only concept that focuses on global justice, to eradicate all kind of injustices,” said Mohan Bhagwat.
4. God of small things: For hundreds of Pakistani nationals who migrated to India in search of a better life, 60-year-old Nahar Singh has come as a saviour. Singh has given shelter to around 625 Pakistani Hindus in his two-storey residence at Bijwasan in the national Capital. Singh accommodated the victims from across Pakistan in his house, which used to bring him Rs70,000 per month from rent.
Singh is Superintendent of Central Excise and Customs at Delhi airport, and he is due to retire after two years. But the plight of these ‘innocent’ people touched him so hard that he resolved to lend them a helping hand. “I first saw these refugees on November 30, 2011 near Majnu Ka Tila where they were staying in a makeshift camp. Hearing their stories, I was deeply moved; and at that time I helped them by giving around 1,000 notebooks to children,” he said. There were 145 people from Hyderabad, Sindh, in that camp who were looked after by various organisations, he added.
“The Hindus are brutally treated in Pakistan. The Muslims there do not show mercy even on women and children. There is no law or police, where they can go and complain,” Singh sighed.    
He admitted that he was confused about how to help the migrants, but added that he was committed and so he decided to adopt them. In an attempt to accommodate 145 Pakistani Hindus, Singh asked his tenants to vacate his residence.
After residing at Singh’s house for around six months, they passed on Singh’s contacts to fellow Hindus in Pakistan who were desperate to cross over to India. Subsequently, in March this year, a group of another 480 migrants arrived in the national Capital by the Thar Express. All of them settled in Singh’s building. Singh says, there are others who are certain to follow, because attacks on religious minorities are unabated in Pakistan.
Talking about their visas which are about to expire, Singh said, “We have appealed for the extension of their visas. Copies of the application have been given to the Foreign Regional Registration Office, the Delhi High Court and the Ministry of Home Affairs. Quite a few, who came early in March, have already got their visas extended by a month.” Interestingly, all of them have cited the Maha Kumbh mela as their reason to visit India, while none of them ever visited the religious event once. On enquiring about the funds which take care of the migrants, Singh said “Initially, I bore all the expenses. But now several organisations have come forward to help us. Food, medicines, soaps and various other materials are being provided by them.”
Getting inspired by the act of Nahar Singh, several others have come forward to help for a ‘just’ cause. “I am ready to donate 25 per cent of my salary to these people. I also want to adopt two children from here,” said an excited Sudhanshu Kaushik, an unmarried 30-year-old man.
The Hindu refugees living in his residsence are all praises for Nahar Singh. “He is God for us. He has done so much for us — right from food to clothes to giving us a place to stay. Very few people do that. God will bless him,” said Guria, a 25-year-old refugee.
Commenting on the future of these people, Singh said, “I do not think their fate will be any different from the 145 immigrants who had come previously. The Indian Government neither gave them nationality, nor did it ask them to leave Pakistan. They are citizens of nowhere.”  -- By Sweta Goswami, The Pioneer, 15 April 2013
5. US PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA THROWS WEIGHT BEHIND YOGA:   The White House has wholeheartedly embraced Yoga as a worthy physical activity at a time some schools in America are railing against the ancient Bharatiya practice, saying it promotes Hinduism.
The White House announced that President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will include a 'yoga garden' for children and their parents who attend the traditional Easter Egg Roll festivities on April 4th. "Come enjoy a session of yoga from professional instructors," the White House exhorted thousands of workaday Americans parents and their kids from across the country who will troop into the Presidential lawns, reminding participants that the event's theme is 'Be Healthy, Be Active, Be You!'
It is not the first time that Obama's residence has hosted a yoga garden for Easter, but this year's event is significant because of an ongoing lawsuit in California challenging the teaching of yoga in schools. In fact, the case came up for hearing in a San Diego courtroom on March 31st with a mirthful opening. In an indication of how deep-rooted mainstream yoga has become in the US, it turned out that the presiding judge himself is a yoga practitioner. "Does anybody have a problem with that?" San Diego Superior Court Judge John Meyer was reported asking at the start of the case.
Dean Broyles, representing parents suing the Encinitas Union School District in a lawsuit that has gained international attention, said he was fine with Meyer presiding over the case if the judge can keep an open mind about the plaintiff's argument regarding spiritual connections to yoga, according to reports in the local media.
The yoga garden is conducted by Leah Cullis, a certified yoga teacher who the White House reached out to in 2009 as soon when the Obamas came to office. Cullis, whose husband, event producer John Liipfert, handled Obama's Presidential inauguration, selects yoga instructors from all over the US to put parents and children through basic yoga drills.
6.  124th birth anniversary of Dr Keshava Baliram Hedgewar: RSS swayamsevaks across the nation and abroad remembered Dr Keshava Baliram Hedgewar, the founder of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh on his 124th Birth anniversary by offering him “Adya Sarasanghachalak Pranam” in RSS shakhas on Chaitra Shukla Pratipada, Vikrami Samvat 2070 (‘Vijay’ nam samvatsar), Yugabda 5115 i.e. April 11, 2013. They also celebrated the beginning of Hindu New Year by organizing public processions in mnay cities & Bhagwa dhwaj was hoisted on households.
7.  Impart the education, which arouses glorious feeling —DR. Mohan Bhagwat: “Bharat needs the education, which arouses a glorious feeling towards our language, dress and above all the nation. The objective of entire education should be to make it self-reliant in different fields, ultimately making it beneficiary to the entire world,” said RSS Sarasanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat while felicitating noted educationist Dr HR Nagendra in New Delhi on April 3, in a function organised by Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas.  Secretary of Ramakrishna Math, Delhi, Swami Shantatmananda, president of the Nyas Dinanath Batra, secretary, Atul Kothari were also on the dais.
Shri Bhagwat and Swami Shantatmananda jointly honoured Dr HR Nagendra by presenting a shawl, coconut, and a cheque of Rs 51,000. Dr Nagendra is vice chancellor of Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhan Samsthan, Bangalore. Atul Kothari, appraising the gathering with the activities of the Nyas, said it is working to ensure value-based education to the young generation of the country, and that Dr Nagendra is providing such education in Bengaluru.
8. RSS swayamsevaks rescue passengers at Chitheri: 11 bogies of Bengaluru-bound Muzaffarpur-Yashvantapur Express derailed at Chitheri, a village station in Vellore district of Tamil Nadu, around 90 kms off from Chennai on April 11. Shortly thereafter, RSS swayamsevaks led by Kanchi Jilla Karyavah Vasudevachandar reached the accident spot near Arakkonam to help the victims.  With the help of their dandas, the RSS volunteers extricated many bodies caught between the coach and the track. Under the guidance of the Police and Railway authorities, they also helped to send the injured passengers to various hospitals.
9.   Barack Obama asked to protect Hindus in Bangladesh: Protesting peacefully against the rise in violence against minorities in Bangladesh, Hindus of Bangladeshi-origin from Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council and various other organizations such as Hindu American Foundation, Indian American Intellectual Forum etc., gathered outside the White House in Washington on April 11, asking US President Obama to protect them. Raising slogans like "We do not want Talibanisation of Bangladesh" and "Save Hindus", they asked Obama to save the religious minorities of Bangladesh.
10.  ‘PURUSHOTTAMA SANMAN’ TO FARMERS PRACTICING ORGANIC FARMING: Excessive usage of chemicals is turning the lands poisonous. To revive such lands, ‘Go Raksha’, safeguarding the cow is indispensable said Jayaram Patidar, a progressive farmer from Madhya Pradesh while accepting ‘PurushottamaSanman’ from RSS General Secreatry Bhaiyyaji Joshi at Theerthahalli, Karnataka on April-10-2013.
‘PurushottamaSanman’- the award is instituted by the agriculture research foundation of Kuruvalli in the name of the sage of farming Shri.PurushottamaRai. , Shri Patidar further said that we should grow all food products needed in our daily life using the organic farming methods and thus aim to become self-reliant.
Giving his blessing on the occasion, VishveshwaraTheertha Swamiji of Pejawar Math said that the cow should have been our national animal. Speaking on the occasion General Secretary of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh Suresh Joshi said that the 5-years plans that were implemented without knowing the true spirit of Bharat is the reason for the sad state of our villages today.He further stated that on the occasion of the ‘Green Revolution’ completing 50 years, it is the right time to review the pros and cons of the five years plans.
11. World Hindu Youth Conference: The World Hindu Youth Conference was organised in Bali from March 29 to 31 by Hindu Students and Youth Network (HSYN) on the theme “Shaping the Next Generation of Leaders of Hindu Resurgence”. Hindu youth belonging to a number of countries including Bharat, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Netherlands, UK, USA, UAE, Hong Kong and Singapore attended the conference. Bharat was represented by the ABVP activists like Rohit Chahal from Delhi, Aniket Kale from WOSY and Deepak Goyal from Pune.
The inaugural session was addressed by the Governor of Bali who spoke of the need for the Hindu youth to work towards protecting Hindu culture so that it may continue to survive through several generations. In the beginning, Bhavin Davdra spoke on dharma, the ancient Hindu system of principles, values and duties that has the ability to sustain everything.
Krishna Ramarathnam, in his paper ‘Importance of Education in the Modern Society’, described education as a process of examination. On a slightly different note, Bhakti Mehta, in her presentation titled ‘Ensuring Relevance of Dharmic Education’, mentioned that distortions, factual inaccuracies and stereotypes have ruined Hindu heritage. Sushyant Subramanian outlined the importance of a knowledge-based society for a strong economy.
On the second day, in the discussion on Politics, Swadesh Singh argued that new revolutions are characterised by a faceless leadership without any messenger. Pritika Sharma also participated in the discussion. In the next discussion on Human Rights and Media, Bhumika Modh spoke on the flagrant violation of human rights of Hindus in various countries and Amit Srivastava on the Power of the Social Media. The final session was on Future Hindu Youth and Students.
12. Devotees pay obeisance at newly found cave of Lord Shiva: The newly discovered cave of Lord Shiva in the Pir Panjal range in Banihal (J&K) became the focal point on the first Navratra, as scores of devotees offered prayers at the 11,500 feet high shrine. All Parties Migrants Coordination Committee (APMCC) activists, led by Chairman Vinod Pandit, along with local populace, including Muslims, scaled the mountainous track and performed pooja at the shrine on April 11.
Devotees converged at Banihal town, proceeded to Krawa village on foot to the cave, housing Amarnath like rare Shiva Lingams. Speaking on the occasion, Pandit said that the mention of these kind of caves was also there in 'Neelmat Purana' and in Kalhana's 'Raj Tarangini' (a chronicle of the Kings of Kashmir), indicating that this cave might be thousands of years old. "It is a rare cave where Shiva lingams are formed exactly like the Amarnath, with the only difference of these Lingams being permanent in physical structure," APMCC spokesperson, King C Bharti, said.
13.  I had to continue Kalpana's dream: Sunita Williams: Four months in the International Space Station and several laps around the earth has changed Sunita’s perspective towards life, she said. It has taught her "tolerance" for everyone and made her believe that people are "universal citizens" of a beautiful planet.
On her maiden visit to Bharat after Expedition 33 last year, Bharatiya American astronaut and US Navy officer Sunita shared not just fun anecdotes from her time in space but also experiences that changed her personally. Addressing hundreds of students at the National Science Centre in New Delhi on April 1, Sunita described her latest expedition as a "vacation" from the earth which seemed to fleet away too soon. She screened a short movie with intriguing clippings of her days in the spacecraft. As students listened in awe, she gave them a piece of advice. "Find something that you like doing and you will do it well. Put your mind to it."
"The first thought that came to me was that the earth is really round. It's spectacular. Then there is more you can see-the beautiful blue ocean and even the coral blooms within changing colours. It made me wonder about how lucky we are. Sunita described herself as a "spiritual person rooted to Bharat". Her voice filled up with emotion when she was asked about her close friend and colleague Kalpana Chawla. Her death in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster did not make Sunita nervous. "We had trained a lot and I had confidence in the team that was rebuilding the system. I had to continue Kalpana's dream," she said. She concluded her talk with "hopes for a manned mission to Mars and an asteroid someday".
14. FOURTH TREE PLANTING AT KEREITA FOREST IN KENYA. : As part of the celebrations of 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, 2000 trees were planted at Kereita Forest on Sunday 14th April 2013. The event was organised by Hindu Religious & Service Centre under the auspice of Hindu Council of Kenya and sponsored by The Saffron Group.
A group of 100 enthusiastic environmental volunteers participated in the event. The planted trees are being looked after by Kijabe Environment Volunteers for 18 months and the ones that does not grow are being replaced by them, thus giving us a survival rate of about 90%.
15.  Child prodigy’s own IT firm: Sreelakhshmi Suresh is a child prodigy. At eight, she had wowed the world by designing the website of her school. That was seven years ago. Now, this class X student at 15 has set another record. She has launched her own Rs 50-lakh IT firm and thus found place in the exclusive club of the youngest CEO in the world. A student at the Presentation High School in Kerala’s Kozhikode, Sreelakhmi has set up her own web designing firm ~ Yglobes ~ at the UL Cyber Park in the city. She is mainly assisted by six other students to run the company. They have been inducted into the board of the firm. "Most of us met during an e-learning programme and that became a network of people with similar ideas,’’ she said. Shreelekshmi said the company would become fully functional by July. The company providing web design, web development, web hosting domain registration and slew of other services would have staff strength of 20 to begin with.
16. Lt Commander Abhilash Tomy returns to rousing reception: Kandanadu, a small hamlet situated on the outskirts of the city near  Tripunithura, Kochi erupted in joy as Lieutenant Commander Abhilash Tomy reached home on April 7 after completing his solo circumnavigation of the globe. He was given a hero's welcome by the local people who gathered in large numbers at his residence, Vallyara House, right from the evening. Tears of joy rolled down the cheeks of his mother Valsamma, who has been praying for the last 157 days for her son's safe return. Abhilash, who started his journey on his boat INSV Mahadei from Mumbai on November 1, 2012, returned to Mumbai on March 31 to rousing reception, attended also by President Pranab Mukerjee. On completing his voyage, Abhilash became the first Bharatiya, 2nd Asian and 79th sailor globally to complete such a voyage.
17.  J&K girl among top 5 successful candidates in IFoS: A girl from Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district is among the top five successful candidates who have qualified Indian Forest Service (IFoS) examination, 2012. As many as 85 candidates, including 28 belonging to other backward classes (OBCs), 14 to the scheduled castes (SCs) and six to the scheduled tribes (STs), have qualified the exam. Shaveta Jandial, who hails from the border town of Rajouri under Jammu region, has achieved fifth position in the examination, according to the result declared on April 9.
18. BHARAT-Africa ties stronger with youth participation: Sponsored by the ministry of external affairs (MEA), a two-day Bharat-Africa collaborative workshop which ended on  April 5 saw 72 students (36 Bharatiyas and 36 Africans from across multiple disciplines) debating and pitching their views on challenges and opportunities in areas like energy, environment, healthcare, education, culture, creative exchanges, tourism, governance, food and nutrition in their respective regions at the Young India Fellowship Campus in New Delhi.
The initiative 'Bharat-Africa: A shared Future' by the MEA's public diplomacy division saw these 72 students divided into nine teams pitching for greater collaboration in identifying opportunity areas which are mutually beneficial for developing product and service systems through combined efforts of both Bharat and African nations. Bharat-Africa team members travelled to 16 nations, including Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Nigeria, DR Congo, Tanzania, Congo, Malawi and Gabon which had participated in the programme.
A total of 12 young entrepreneurs, six each from Africa and Bharat were selected as Young Visionaries who earlier went through an intensive six-day entrepreneurship development programme at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad in the last week of March.
19. VHP launches nationwide campaign: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on March 31 launched its nationwide "Hindu Ahead" campaign  in Ahemdabad with the slogan "prosperity and security of Hindus", ahead of the outfit's golden jubilee celebrations scheduled for August 2014. RSS Sarsanghchalak Dr.Mohan Bhagwat and Dr.Pravin Togadia were present at the occasion. Through the campaign, VHP aims to reach one lakh villages across the country. It stated that it has to play a bigger role in the country by aiming at dimensions of Hindu security such as food, education, job and other businesses.
20. Vijay Mahamantra Japa programme begins:  VHP appealed to the Hindus living outside Bharat to support the Vijay Mahamantra Japa programme beginning from Varsha Pratipada, April 11 for liberation of Shri Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya. The programme will conclude on May 13, Akshaya Tritaya. VHP general secretary Champat Rai appealed to the people to join the programme in great numbers as lakhs of people are going to join it from outside Bharat. Hindus have been requested to perform the Yagnas in their areas and to introduce the programme to their family members and friends living in various parts of the world.
21. Schoolkids sign up 100 organ donors: In a door-to-door campaign, boys and girls from classes 3 to 5 of Bosco Public School, Paschim Vihar, West Delhi enlisted more than 100 people for organ donation. 11-year-old Arpis Tripathi said that though many quoted religious beliefs, yet he was able to convince 21 others, including his parents, to donate their organs after death. Aarti Vij, head of Organ Retrieval and Banking Organization at AIIMS, says first time they have received so many donor requests. The bank is now following up and enrolling donors. Each pledge means 34 organs can be harvested on the donor's death. More than two lakh Bharatiyas require transplantation every year.
The students held a door-to-door campaign during the last winter holidays where they spoke of Anmol Juneja, the 21-year-old who saved many lives after his death in a road accident in December last year. Juneja's parents donated his body to AIIMS after he was declared brain-dead.
22.   SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Pravas: Shri Saumitra Gokhale samyojak Vishwa Vibhag will tour Australia and New Zealand in later half of April and May. Dr. Ram Vaidya sah samyojak Vishwa Vibhag will return to UK by end April. Visitors: Several karyakartas visited Delhi while on their way to the meeting of representatives of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh in various countries held at Vrindavan – Mathura.  
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Bow thy head and adore where others worship, for in that form in which man has called on Him, God will assuredly appear. – Swamy Ramakrishna Paramhamsa.

Margaret Thatcher at HSS
A historic event

Dr Shankar Tatwawadi
Margaret Thatcher, first and the only lady Prime Minister of the UK (1979 to 1990) passed away in Ritz Hospital, London on Monday, April 8, 2013. Thatcher was the longest serving Prime Minister of UK for a little short of three terms.
She came from the Conservative Party and evoked mixed reactions for some of her policies and actions while she was the Prime Minister. The Hindus in general and particularly those in UK have a special reason to remember Margaret Thatcher because of her presence at the Sangh function in UK in the year 1990 while she was still the Prime Minister.
The occasion was the Makar Sankranti Utsav of the Finchley Shakha of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh in UK. Finchley is the northern part of greater London with a sizeable Bharatiya population and was also the constituency of Margaret Thatcher. Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) has a good network of Shakhas in London and Finchley Shakha was regularly meeting in a local school. Ghanshyam Master was the karyavah of the shakha which has a regular attendance of about 20 to 25 swayamsevaks including youngsters and the youth. Ghanshyam Master was a friend of the political representative of Thatcher of that area. Ghanshyamji had told his friend about the Sangh Shakha and its activities and had requested him to bring Margaret Thatcher to see the shakha. The friend and through him Thatcher knew about the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh as a non-political cultural group imparting discipline and character building training. Because of her extremely busy schedule of political and administrative engagements, for quite some time she did not get the opportune time to visit the shakha.
In the year 1989, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh of UK had planned a very big gathering of the UK Hindus at a place called Milton Keynes, which is located about 70 miles north of London. The gathering was held on August 26-27 with almost 100,000 (one lakh) Hindus assembling for two days. About 30 religious leaders representing all the major Hindu religious sampradayas were present at this occasion which was inaugurated by Swami Chinmayanand of the Chinmaya Mission. Swami Satyamitranandji Giri was the convener of this event. The speakers included Muni Susheelkumar, Doctor Swami of the Swaminarayan Sampraday, Morari Bapu, Rameshbhai Ojha, Sardar Samsher Singh. Swami Bhavyanand, Chitrabhanuji, Maheshanand Giriji and a host of others. Sudarshanji, the then Sah- Sarkaryavah of RSS also addressed the gathering. It was also the centenary year of RSS founder Dr Hedgewar.
The event was initiated with the chaupais of Ramcharitmanas and shlokas of Geeta chanting by Lata Mangeshkar and in the evening Sudheer Phadke, Anoop Jalota  and other famous artists entertained the audience. This was so far the biggest gathering of Hindus outside Bharat and the whole programme was a talk of UK because of the discipline and the sattwik nature of the programme. The mayor of Milton Keynes was the chief guest. His good comments about this Hindu gathering might have reached the Government and the Prime Minister because a few Members of the Parliament had also participated in the event. We believe that this probably prompted the Prime Minister to visit the Sangh Shakha in her constituency.
It was decided that she would attend the Makar Sankranti Utsav of the Finchley Shakha. It was 19th January 1990. With a short notice of only a few days the arrangements were made. Sanghchalak Satyanarayanji, and Karyavah Dhirubhai Desai along with a few other karyakartas were on the dais. About 50 swayamsevaks and sevikas were present in full Sangh uniform consisting of black trousers, black shoes and socks and a white top.
There was not much of a protocol with the arrival of the prime minister because it was a semi private and non-official function. At around six o'clock she arrived and was given a Swagat Pranam. She was escorted at the dais by the adhikaries. Bhagwa flag was hoisted. All did pranam (in UK they have pranam like a simple namaskar.) and so the prime minister. The Sangh Prarthana was sung with lead and follow style. The prime Minister also stood in the attention along with the other swayamsevaks during the whole prarthana time.
The Sanghchalak then welcomed the prime minister and presented her with a bouquet and then requested her to garland the picture (the bust) of Dr Hedgewar and she quickly adhered to the request. Could anyone have thought that a day would be there when the prime minister of UK would garland the bust of Doctor Hedgewar who was sentenced in Bharat a few decades ago because he was not loyal to the Empire?
A small demonstration of Vyayam Yoga by the swayamsevaks and Yogchap by a group of Sevikas was then presented. After a chorus by all the sangh swayamsevaks Sanghchalak spoke about the importance of the Makar Sankranti among the Hindus and requested the prime minister to give her blessings to the swayamsevaks.
Margaret Thatcher then spoke for about ten minutes. In the beginning she mentioned as to how lucky we all are who can enjoy this change of season. She then spoke about the Hindu contribution to the world. She first mentioned about the concept of Zero (counting on her fingers, one to nine and then saying  "naught" i.e. zero. She also spoke highly about the Hindu Family system and said that "we Christians also have similar family bondage". She congratulated the young swayamsevaks and the sevikas for the good physical demonstration. She made an interesting jovial reference to Yogchap ("the wooden musical item"). A set of Sangh books was then presented to her along with a piece of Yogchap to practice. She was offered TILGUD and she obliged without any hesitation. Then there was the lowering of the flag after the conventional Dhwaj Pranam and VIKIR, i.e. the dispersal.
The prime Minister then took a round in the hall meeting informally with the swayamsevaks and also the others present in the hall. She was very casual, informal and in a pleasant mood. The young 6-7 years old grand daughter of Bhaskar Rao Gadre was among the audience standing along with her mother. The prime minister after approaching her, kneeled down and fondled her lovingly.
It was thus a historical moment for the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, UK that a person no less than a stature of the Prime Minister of UK was present at one of the national festivals of the Sangh and gave her blessings to the Hindu youths.
The whole function lasted for about an hour. Fortunately a video of the whole event has been taken and is available at the sangh archives. An audio of the speech of Margaret Thatcher is also preserved at the archives.
Finchley shakha is regularly held even now and is known as Pratap Shakha. It has however been shifted now to another nearby location.
(Prof. Shankar Tatwawadi is a former Professor from Banaras Hindu University and worked as International Coordinator of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh for over 20 years. )