Falgun Amavasya Vik Samvat 2070. Yugabda 5115: March 1, 2014

1.  FESTIVALS: Varsh Pratipada, also known as Gudi Padwa falls on Chaitra Shukla Pratipada (31 March this year) and considered as first day of Hindu New Year. In the celestial measurements, Hindu scriptures consider it to be the origin of the universe. Year is known by the term Yugabda. A sankalpa taken on this day reads ‘Atha Shri Brahmane Dwitiys Parardhe Shwetavaraha kalpe Vaivaswat Manwantare Ashtavimshati tame kali pratham charne Yugabde’ which links the present time to the start of the universe. The year starting on March 31st will be Yuagbda 5116.
It is also remembered as the day when SriRama entered Ayodhya after his victory over Ravana and also remembered by RSS swayamsevaks as birthday of its founder Dr.K B Hedgewar. 

2. ‘COUNTRY HAS A HINDU IDENTITY WHICH IS OUR NATIONAL IDENTITY’: MOHAN BHAGWAT: RSS Sarasanghachalak Dr. Mohan Bhagwat has said ’Country has a Hindu Identity which is our National Identity’, at Bhopal in a recent RSS gathering.
Dr. Bhagwat was addressing a RSS gathering, a ‘kshethra’ level baitak in which representatives from 4 pranths namely Malwa Pranth, Madhya Bharat Pranth, Mahakoshal Pranth and Chattisgarh Pranths were participating.
On February 23, Bhagwat would observe a ‘Pathsanchalan’ (march past) that would be taken out in various parts of the city. Following the pathsanchalan, he would address a meeting of RSS workers at the Model School.

3. ‘INDIA HEALTH LINE’ LAUNCHED: A much needed social service in socio-medical field launched now. ‘INDIA HEALTH LINE’ national launch took place in Hyderabad in presence of eminent specialist doctors & representatives of medical fraternity on February 16. ‘INDIA HEALTH LINE’ is to have a National Call Center to attend to patients’ calls who, after seeing the neighbouring General Practitioner doctor, want to consult specialist doctors for further advice & necessary treatment.
Launching the healthline, renowned Cancer Surgeon, & VHP International Working President Dr Pravin Togadia said, “There are untreated diseases only because patients after primary examination by the doctor do not approach specialist doctors as advised. It is mainly due to poverty, fear of increased medical expenses if some serious diseases is detected & sometimes even ignorance. ‘INDIA HEALTH LINE’ aims at connecting medical Fraternity with the needy & poor patients. Doctors are a part of this great nation & the society.
The National Call Center number is 18602333666

4. NHSF CELEBRATES 21ST BIRTHDAY AT LONDON PARLIAMENT: National Hindu Students’ Forum (UK) celebrated its official 21 years of achievements on February 3rd 2014 in the Palace of Westminster London at a reception hosted by MP Seema Malhotra. The organisation has 5,000 members and it aims to encourage and celebrate Hindu Dharma through practice, preserving, promoting and protecting Hindu Dharma through a variety of sporting, spiritual and social events for their members.
A host of Labour MPs viz Sadiq khan, Keith Vaz, Barry Gardiner, Gareth Thomas attended the reception including Leader of the Opposition and MP for Doncaster North, Ed Miliband who commented, “I wanted to congratulate the National Hindu Students' Forum for reaching 21 years and come here to recognise the work you do not just for the Hindu community but for the wider community. The Hindu community is part of the mosaic that makes our country stronger."
Please visit www.nhsf.org.uk for more information or contact prteam@nhsf.org.uk.
5. IS YOGA THE SECRET TO OLYMPIC GOLD?: Instead of going to Disney World after winning gold in the women's snowboarding slopestyle event, Jamie Anderson said she'll be headed to Wanderlust -- a yoga retreat on the North Shore of Oahu -- to celebrate.
The 23-year-old snowboarder told that she always practices yoga. "My favorite poses are variations on the handstand and the scorpion," she said. "You have to use your whole body, it's physically and mentally challenging. You have to find your balance in this uncomfortable position, so when you do it, you feel like you're really overcoming an obstacle."
Anderson credits yoga practice with helping her stay physically and mentally strong, and she's not the only one who feels that way in Sochi. In fact, we discovered so many Olympians-cum-yogis that if the United States Yoga Federation ever succeeds in making yoga asana, or posture yoga, an official Olympic sport, we'll most likely see some cross-sport competitors.

6. AMMA REJECTS CHARGES, SAYS MUTT IS OPEN BOOK: Spiritual leader Mata Amritanandamayi, fondly referred to as Amma by her disciples, has rejected the allegations leveled against her and her Ashram, the Mata Amritanandamayi Mutt at Amritapuri, in Kerala’s Kollam district, by one of her former disciples by saying, “My Mutt is an open book.”
Addressing disciples at the Brahmasthana Mahotsavam at Puthur in Palakkad , Amma said that the recent controversies were being propagated by certain forces which were trying to create problems by whipping up religious sentiments. She said that the Mutt had nothing to hide and that it had been giving financial details to the authorities every year.
Amma’s statement came in the context of the controversies spreading through Kerala about the Mutt on Facebook and other social networks on Holy Hell: A Memoir of Faith, Devotion and Pure Madness, a book written by Australia-born Gail Tredwell aka Gayatri, who had served at the Mutt till 15 years ago as a disciple of the Mata.

7. BEYOND THE GHETTO: Supreme court ruling on minorities adopting kids via secular law is welcome - The Supreme Court’s ruling, stating personal law can’t prohibit Muslims and other minority faith members from adopting children under the secular Jevenile Justice Act, is a positive move forward. Like the Special Marriage Act, this ruling emphasizes the growing flexibility of secular legal recourses communities administered by religious laws can have. This is a judicious step towards a uniform civil code enjoined by directive principles in India’s Constitution, whereby all citizens enjoy the same rights. And this makes individual lives richer, permitting these to be fuller with possibilities of joy – not starker by orthodox limitations on the same.
India’s lack of a uniform civil code relates to the tensions of our newly-free polity. India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru faced stiff resistance – including from conservative Congressmen such as first President Rajendra Prasad – when he mooted reforms for religious laws. Driven by conviction, Nehru pushed through the Hindu Code Bills.
But he lacked the confidence to push similar reforms – re-reshaping marriage, dowry, inheritance, adoption andother spheres of life – for many minority groups. Partition’s inheritance of unease steered Nehru away from presenting minorities with modernity, permitting them to be internally governed by customary internal laws instead.
The result hasn’t been happy. Given the imbalance in key laws majoritarian critics have a field day knocking the state’s ‘pseudo-secularism’. But such critics overlook how different laws governing crucial zones of personal life meant the deprivation of minority women’s rights. Facing disputes, the polity has been famously infirm. In the Shah Bano case, where the Supreme Court ruled a Muslim divorcee was entitled to alimony, the ruling was overturned by Rajiv Gandhi responding to pressures from orthodox men’s organisations.
But modernizing voices within minority groups are speaking up today. The restriction on adopting children has been challenged by a Muslim woman while moves to bar female worshippers from entering Sufi shrine sanctums have been countered my Muslim’s women’s groups. With its ruling, the Supreme Court has given greater access to empowerment and happiness for minority groups while highlighting the deeply humanitarian act of adoption, enriching the lives of abandoned children along with those longing to love a child themselves. All human beings must have the right to lead fuller, not narrower, lives. Young and modern voices within the Muslim community are saying this. It’s high time India’s polity hears them. (Editorial, Times of  India 21 Feb 2014)

8. SEWA MELBOURNE FUNDRAISING: In response to the appeal made by Sewa International (Bharat) for fundraising towards a computer center in Uttarakhand, Sewa (Melbourne) arranged a fund raising event on Sunday, the 23rd February at Annual Street Festival of Clayton. Funds were raised through two activities i.e., hand painting (Hena) with the help of lady Sewa volunteers and sale of cold drinks with the help of male Sewa volunteers.
Sewa is also participating in Annual Australia Clean Up Day on 2nd March, which will be attended by Mayor, Monash City Council and local Councillor.

9. BHARAT’S $1.3MN HELP TO DISASTER-HIT ISLANDS: Bharat has contributed over US $ one million to St Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, and Commonwealth of Dominica towards disaster relief assistance in the aftermath of flash floods that struck these islands in December last year.
Permanent Representative of Bharat to the UN Ambassador Asoke Mukerji handed over the contributions of USD 500,000 each to the Permanent Missions of St Vincent and Grenadines and St Lucia to the UN, and USD 300,000 to the Commonwealth of Dominica. The flash floods had struck the three Caribbean islands and resulted in the deaths of 15 people.

10. NO FORCE IN THE WORLD CAN TAKE ARUNACHAL FROM US: MODI: BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on February 22 countered China's frequent claims over Arunachal Pradesh, saying no force in the world could take the state from Bharat.
"It is because of the brave martyrs of the state that the Eastern frontier of the country is safe. Times are changing now and China must change its attitude towards Arunachal Pradesh. I am here to assure you that no force in the world can take Arunachal Pradesh from Bharat," Modi said at a massive public rally in the state's Pasighat town.
At the Silchar rally, the BJP leader assured that if his party comes to power in the general elections, it would resolve the burning issues like illegal infiltration from Bangladesh, Hindu refugees and 'D' (disenfranchised/doubtful) voters within 60 months.

11. COURSES FROM 3 IITS, IISC ARE IN GLOBAL TOP 50: Four Bharatiya universities, including the IITs at Delhi and Mumbai, are among the global top 50 in at least one of the 30 disciplines covered under the QS World University Rankings by Subject.
IIT-Delhi achieved the country's highest position, ranking 42nd in electrical engineering. IIT-Bombay was 49th in electrical engineering and 50th in civil engineering, IIT-Madras 49th in civil engineering and the Indian Institute of Science 46th in materials science.
The five life sciences disciplines feature only two Bbharatiya institutions, while Bharat draws a blank in six of the eight social sciences disciplines. The exceptions are statistics, in which five Bharatiya institutions feature, and politics, in which Jawaharlal Nehru University appears in the 101-150 grouping.
All round, IIT-B emerges as the top institution with four of its courses making it to the rankings.
On the other hand, the lack of world-renowned Bharatiya programmes in arts, humanities and social sciences continues to be a concern, Sowter said. "The latest QS rankings highlight the excellence of the specialist Bharatiya institutions in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) area and also identifies the need to improve the global competitiveness of our universities, in particular the large and comprehensive institutions," said Mohandas Pai, chairman, ICAA — Indian Centre for Assessment & Accreditation.

12. NRI FINDS SOLUTION TO ORGAN PRESERVATION WOES: .Dr Hemant Thatte, a senior cardiovascular surgeon at Harvard University worked out a 21-chemical solution that could preserve a donated organ for up to a week before a transplant.
Preliminary studies have shown that hearts stored in SOMAH solution (as the new preservative is called after the Sanskrit name for the elixir of immortality) for 24 hours can be resuscitated without medicines as against other solutions that allow for only four hours. In studies conducted on pigs, the solution has been effective in preserving tissues for up to a week.

13. PIO DEVELOPS CHEAP PAPER TEST TO DETECT CANCER: A Bharatiya -American scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has developed a cheap, simple, paper test that can detect cancer, circumventing expensive approaches such as mammograms and colonoscopy.
The diagnostic, which works much like a pregnancy test, could reveal within minutes, based on a urine sample, whether a person has cancer, The star at the center of this breakthrough is MIT professor and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator Sangeeta Bhatia, already a star in the US scientific firmament. The US born Bhatia explained that the paper test essentially relies on nanoparticles that interact with tumor proteins called proteases, each of which can trigger release of hundreds of biomarkers that are then easily detectable in a patient's urine.

14. RASHTRA SEVIKA SAMITI CALLS FOR A STRONG CENTRE: Rashtra Sevika Samiti calls upon sevikas to beware of self-proclaimed ‘anarchists’ as well as naxalites.  Both of them are wreckers of the system, the Samiti points out.  The Samiti, therefore, feels that a strong Central authority should emerge in the country—this was the idea of a resolution passed by Rashtra Sevika Samiti at its Akhila Bharitya Karyakarini and Pratinidhi Sabha Mandal Bitak held at Coimbatore from February 7 to February 9.  The Samiti also took a dig at Government of Bharat for opposing a Supreme Court order upholding Section 377 which declares that unnatural sexual relationships are an offence.  The Coimbatore meet was attended by Pramuk Sanchalika Shantha Akka and Pramukh Karyavahika Seetha Akka.

15. DESIGN OF WORLD'S FIRST THORIUM BASED NUCLEAR REACTOR IS READY:  The design of World's first Thorium based nuclear reactor is ready. It is the latest Bharatiya design for a next-generation nuclear reactor that will burn thorium as its fuel ore.
The design is being developed at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), in Mumbai, and aims to meet the objectives of using thorium fuel cycles for commercial power generation.
The AHWR is a vertical pressure tube type reactor cooled by boiling light water under natural circulation. The unique feature of this design is a large tank of water on top of the primary containment of vessel, called the gravity-driven water pool (GDWP).
Dr R K Sinha, chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, said, "This reactor could function without an operator for 120 days."

16. SWAMINARAYAN TEMPLE REPLACES QUEEN’S PROPERTY: The Maninagar-based Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan is all set to redevelop McNicholas House, a heritage property, into a modern temple in the Kingsbury borough of London by August this year.
The temple, constructed at a cost of £20 million by London-based support group Shree Swaminarayan Siddhant Sajivan Mandal is being developed on land once owned by the Queen of England.
“The pran-pratistha ceremony for the temple will take place in August," said Swami Bhagwatpriyadasji, a religious leader of the community.

17. ISRO TAKES ANOTHER STEP TOWARDS HUMAN SPACEFLIGHT: Bharat's hopes of sending humans on a spaceflight to demonstrate its technological advancement is moving in the right direction with ISRO starting the instrumentation process in a crew module structure.
ISRO which had announced that it will test the crew module and escape systems on a Geo-synchronous Launch Vehicle-MK III (GSLV-MK III) during 2014-15, has already obtained its first 'crew module structural assembly'.
A senior official from the space agency said: "The structure is in Thiruvananthapuram and our team has begun the process of instrumentation, likely to be completed in four to six weeks."

18. BHAGAT SINGH’S HOUSE IN PAKISTAN TO GET RS 80 MN FOR RESTORATION: Legendary Bharatiya freedom fighter Bhagat Singh’s ancestral house, school and his village in Punjab Province in Pakistan will be restored for Rs 80 million. “We have allocated Rs 80 million for restoration of the house and school of Bharatiya Independence war hero Bhagat Singh. The amount will also be spent for the upliftment of Singh’s village, where clean drinking water is not available and drainage system is in a bad shape,” Faisalabad District Coordination Officer Noorul Amin Mengal told PTI.
Mengal said that people in Faisalabad “take pride in the fact that Bhagat Singh was the son of their soil” and want the place to be known as “the town of Bhagat Singh”. The celebrated revolutionary was born September 28, 1907 at Bangay village, Jaranwala Tehsil in the Faisalabad (then Lyallpur) district of the Province. Singh’s village, Bangay, some 150 kilometres from Lahore, would also become a tourist attraction for people, especially Bharatiyas, once his house is restored by this year end, he added.

19. VHP HAS NO POLITICAL AGENDA: TOGADIA: Stating that they were not backing any political party or individual, Vishwa Hindu Parishad International Working President Pravin Togadia has asked people to vote for candidates with a clean slate and stature in Lok Sabha elections.
"VHP has no political agenda and the organisation is not supporting anyone. We are with those who are credible and committed to protect the interests of millions of Hindus," he said.
Criticising the formation of Minority Development Corporation by the UPA with a financial allocation of Rs 700 crore, he question its propriety and said that the majority population (Hindus) is deprived of such privileges.

20. SIKH AWARDED FOR VOLUNTEER SERVICE IN SINGAPORE: An 82-year-old Sikh Sujan Singh has been honoured for his outstanding volunteer service in Singapore. On February 22, he received the Ministry of Social and Family Development Volunteers Awards for helping some 60 boys, mostly involved in petty crimes such as theft.
Singh, a retired teacher, had one of the longest serving volunteer probation careers. He served for 42 years. "Trust is crucial. You cannot succeed as a probation officer if they (the boys) or their parents don't trust you," Singh was quoted as saying by The Straits Times.
"I stuck on with this (volunteering work) because I believe that human beings are basically good. This is one way I can help in society," said the Malaysia-born Singh, whose parents arrived in Malaya in the early 1930s.

21. HOMAGE TO DEENDAYALJI ON MARTYRDOM DAY: Rich tribute was paid to Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya on his martyrdom day on February 11. Functions were organised across the country. Veteran BJP leader Shri LK Advani paid tribute at the BJP head office in Delhi. RSS Sahsarkaryavah Shri Suresh Soni paid tribute at a function held at Deendayal Research Institute in Delhi.
Shri Suresh Soni highlighted three aspects of Deendayalji’s life—individual, ideologue and conduct. He also spoke about the integral humanism and said this kind of economic thinking suits the nation even today. At Pt. Deendayalji’s birth place in Nangla Chandrabhan, Mathura, a three day event was organised from February 9 to 11. At the event free dental and health camps were also organised. 

22. BLOOD DONATION CAMP ON SRI GURUJI JAYANTI AND BIRTH CENTENARY OF YADAVA RAO JOSHI: Rashtreeya Svayamsevak Sangh’s Govidaraja Nagar unit in Bangalore, in association with of Rashtrotthana Blood bank, Yadava Seva Samiti Sheshadripuram and Nachiketa Manovikasa Kendra Vijayanagar, organized the blood donation camp on the occasion of RSS’s second Sarasanghachalak Golwalkar Guruji’s 108th birthday (25th February) and birth centenary year of Shri Yadava Rao Joshi.
The annual blood donation camp on the occasion of Guruji’s birthday, being organized since 2006, was held on 23rd February 2014 at the premises of Nachiketa Manovikasa Kendra, a school for mentally challenged kids.
Well known dentist Dr. Girija inaugurated the function and explained the importance of blood donation. Vijayanagar Bhag  Vyavastha Pramukh Shri Subramanya narrated the inspirational life of Pa. Pu. Guruji and Shri Yadava Rao Joshi and elaborated the Seva activities in Sangh. Shri Ishwar of Rashtrotthana Blood bank gave an introductory account of Rashtrotthana Raktanidhi and also apprised on the benefits of donating blood.

23. “UNEASY NEIGHBOURS: INDIA AND CHINA AFTER FIFTY YEARS OF THE WAR”: New book “Uneasy Neighbours: India and China after Fifty Years of the War” by RSS functionary Ram Madhav is available in market.
 Interested persons can get copies from India Foundation office at discounted prices.
Mail ID is: mail@indiafoundation.in
“This book deals with the history of the 1962 War and highlights Bharat’s failure to understand its neighbor well. Bharat continues to suffer from same deficiency as she continues to tread the perilous path that it had tread before the war. This book proposes that the two countries remain fierce competitors and hence it is imperative for Bharat to understand the thinking, tactics and tantrums of her ‘Uneasy Neighbour’ China” said Ram Madhav in an interaction to www.samvada.org

24. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Pravas: Dr. Ram Vaidya sahsamyojak Vishwa Vibhag arrived in Bharat for ABPS baithak. Visitors: Brahma Rattan Agarawal, Abhinav Dwiwedi – USA, Keshav Agnihotri – Canada
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Leave past memories behind and aim for reaching the stateless state of cosmic harmony. That alone will extinguish the need to worry over what goes on in the mind throughout the course of day and night. – Prasna Upanishad.


Indonesia- Our Cultural Cousin
Shyam Parande
Swami Veda Bharati of Himalayan Institute, Dehradun, was invited to teach Vedic science by the Balinese a decade earlier or so, he conducted classes and his comment while returning is illustrative. He writes, “When I was called to Bali it was to teach and preach the Vedic teachings. But I came back with a humble realisation that I have to learn more from Bali than I can actually teach them.” This article from Swami Veda Bharati was sent by a friend and reading that while travelling to Bali helped me a lot in understating the Balinese Hindu Dharma, culture and the society.
Representing International Centre for Cultural Studies, I visited Bali first fortnight of October 2013 and I realised that there cannot be a different opinion on Bali other than what Swami Veda Bharti has stated about the native Hindu society and culture than what most visitors to Bali from Bharat have mentioned.
Accompanied by Prof Amarjiva Lochan I travelled to Bali, East Java, Sumatra, West Java and Jakarta, all of them being part of Indonesia- a country comprising of 13,500 islands. There are many lessons for Bharatiya Hindus provided we have an open receiving mind and try to understand the culture of the Island. There might be many issues on which Bharatiya Hindus might feel differently and worth criticism but there are many that we need to learn.
There are two most important factors for consideration. One of the most impressive factors of this insight is preservation of the culture of Bali, despite being part of a Muslim country and secondly being the most favoured tourist destination globally, attracting tourists from the West and Australia. The challenge is two folds and yet they preserved the tradition. The Hindu society of Bali has undauntedly shoved off the influence of western life and welcomed the tourists while regaling them with paramount hospitality, not compromising on their own culture. The history of Bali, of course, is replete with valour and courage for protecting this Island from the avalanche of invaders.
First impact of the Balinese society that any visitor cannot deny is the aesthetic sense of this community aided by the serenity of the nature. Bestowed by rich flora and fauna, the visitor is impressed by every little thing that one visualises or experiences, be it the architecture or arts or performing arts and music or pleasing decorations or charming flower pots or alluring food served on the table or the colourful attire they dress, Bali fascinates strikingly. Aesthetic is all over there, whatever they do. I became a great admirer of this society since I visited the island.
Bali is proud of its cultural heritage that they boast of the Vedic descent and that all the schools in Bali teach tradition of Vedic Rishis like Markandeya, Bharadwaja, Agastya and so on.
 It takes a lot of contemplation for a visitor like me to understand that the Balinese Hindu students learn these names and their achievements as History -Puranas- and not as fables or mythology. This makes a Hindu visitor from Bharat ponder about the history lessons that are taught in Bharat as Bharatiyas are the legitimate inheritors of the great Vedic knowledge and yet are deprived by the establishment while in a Muslim country like Indonesia this is most precious. Certainly, there are many more things that provoke a Hindu like me from Bharat for introspection. This makes every Balinese proud of being a Hindu and a Balinese and an Indonesian.
Most of the people we met, except for the official meetings, were proudly sporting the traditional wear like dhoti and the exquisite Balinese cap. Entering a Mandir without the traditional attire is prohibited and all the temporal traditions are followed precisely.
Entry to Balinese Hindu Mandirs is allowed to people who wear Dhoti and the Balinese cap that is simple but lovely. All the rituals in the Mandirs are followed without dilution and people have patience to sit and participate in all rituals that many times are time consuming- no short cuts allowed.
Pretentions like being modern made Bharatiya Hindu society sacrifice many precious traditions and this realisation occurs to every visitor from Bharat, provided the visitor tries to understand the prominent features of Balinese Hindu Dharma. One of the most prominent traditions is that of the ‘Lontar’ what we call ‘Talpatra’.
This is probably the only community world over which is struggling to preserve the ancient tradition of writing on the palm leaves and bamboo skin. Lontar is a part of the syllabus for students studying Hindu Dharma at undergraduate level. We were amased to be witness to Lontar writing in skilled beautiful handwriting, first carved on the palm leaf and then filled in with ink- a spotless writing. An amasing experience it was. Every student is supposed to write the Dharmik lessons on Lontar for preserving his lessons for a lifetime this being sacred to them.
While performing religious poojas, everyone reads from the Lontars that they have written and preserved, and not the printed books like others. Ramayana Kakavin (Balinese Ramayana Granth) is very much valued for a family and is preserved by consecrating the Lontar Ramayana written by a family member and used for the Ramayana discourse or for the ‘Paath’.
We probably are the noisiest country in the world with highest level of noise pollution while Bali has the least noise pollution, a visitor experiences. The Balinese Hindu community celebrates a festival called Nyepi Day in total silence, no traffic including air traffic, no offices, no work, no vehicles, no TV, no entertainment, least possible movement on roads, everyone busy contemplating on what he or she did last year and planning the next year that too in total silence sitting at home, of course, worshiping the ‘Ishtadevata’ by maintaining ‘mauna’ (silence). It is just unbelievable for someone from Bharatiya society, where honking is ‘safety’ and the young motor cyclists scream your ear dead on the road.
Trikala Sandhya is another aspect of Bali that cannot be missed. Every student performs trikala sandhya and chants Gayatri Mantra thrice a day, as this is part of the curriculum. Many radio stations in Bali broadcast Trikala Sandhya three times every day.
We had an opportunity to visit a family that had lost a young son. Despite mourning the adornment for the funeral was so rich and the gathering of relatives and friends for days together was indeed huge. Whole village or town joins the funeral procession and mourning and shares the grief. Death in Bali, I could not stop myself thinking, is charming celebration.
For centuries together Balinese Hindu Dharma, Balinese Buddhism and Baliyaga, the traditional Balinese religion that exists since pre-Hindu, pre-Buddha times, live together in harmony and even participate in each other’s festivals, sharing the spiritualism. Shaivism and Buddhism living together without a tussle or a murmur is exactly what every other society would love to live like and Bali basks in that glory.
However, contemporary Bali is concerned about fast demographic degradation of the Island with Hindu population going down from 94 per cent to 84 per cent in a decade or so. The Hindu intellectuals of Bali express this concern in no uncertain terms. Bali being the most sought after tourist destination world over, the serene beeches, natural green carpet bedecked with diverse flowers, matched by exotic floral designs and splendid architecture donning tiled roofs, and the most outstanding factor – Balinese people with their incessant hospitality and smiling faces, attracts tourism and this pulls in investors from other parts of Indonesia, bringing in more and more Muslims creating demographic alteration. This worries them a lot. The contemporary challenge before the Balinese Hindu community is how to preserve the tradition that they and ancestors have so fondly preserved.
Balinese Hindu Society is facing huge internal challenges also, the severest, considering that this is emerging from within the society itself. Balinese Hindu society had been living on the island for centuries together and the dormant internal schisms are trying to raise their heads. This society fought back valiantly keeping the external forces away, preserving their tradition and faith and were victorious, for centuries together. However, the differences based on rites, rituals and sects are dividing the society- like sectarian ones. This society will have to rise above all such differences for the glorious future.
Well, I will not hesitate to mention here that interaction with Bharatiya Hindus worries the Balinese many a times. Various religious organisations and sects from Bharat, without understanding the Balinese Hindu Dharma, comment in various ways and try altering them to match ‘us’ and this is a threat in itself that is experienced by the Balinese. Bharatiya Hindu will have to understand that the ritual part is just superficial and belittling these would only distance the Balinese from Bharatiya and not bring them closer. Appreciating Balinese Hindus for their bravery and courage in preserving their tradition and culture will encourage the society and bring them closer to Bharat. This will be the best contribution of Bharatiya Hindu society to Bali, I feel strongly. (Shyam Parande is Asia Zone coordinator of International Center for Cultural Studies. The Organiser Weekly, March 2, 2014)

Falgun Krishna 1 Vik Samvat 2070. Yugabda 5115: February 16, 2014

1. FESTIVALS :Holi 2.  Parliament is the gangotri of BHARATIYA democracy: Pranab
3. Sarasanghachalakji attends ‘DHARMASOOYA’ yajna in Kerala 4.  Create an Apple, a Mircosoft, a Google in Bharat: Narendra Modi:
5. Dalai Lama considers himself 'son of Bharat': 6. Bharat Ratna CNR Rao:
7. Local Kashmiris work to preserve beloved culture: 8.  Yoga Has Healing Powers: Study:
9.  For UK Hindus, River Soar is their 'Ganga': 10. Open Doors: Visa-on-arrival is great, follow up with comprehensive measures to boost tourism
11.   BRO assures trouble-free Char Dham pilgrimage: 12. ‘Kashmiri Kutumb Milan’-II
13. Konsam Himalaya Singh first from NE becomes Lt. Gen in BHARATIYA Army 14.  UNIVERSITIES TO offer courses in spoken Sanskrit
i.           Dinanath Batra:Here comes the book police

II.       Why Not Hindu India?

III.       Give Stateless Indians Their Due

1. FESTIVALS: Holi, the full-moon day of the month of Phagun – Phalgun Poornima, falls on March 16 this year. Traditionally, a bonfire is lit in the night and next morning sees the play of colours. In the area of Braj comprising Mathura, Vrindavan, Gokul and Barsana, Holi is a two-week-long festival. Here, the men of Nandgaon and women of Barsana play 'latthmar Holi' in remembrance of the playful throw of colors by Krishna on 'Gopis' and their resistance. The festival features play of colors, folk songs called 'Hori', folk dances such as Raas-Lila, and staging various aspects of Radha and Krishna's love." -go Top

2.  Parliament is the gangotri of BHARATIYA democracy: Pranab: Rashtrapati Pranab Mukherjee said that Parliament is the Gangotri of Bharatiya Democracy. Rashtrapati said that the Parliament represents the will and the aspirations of billion plus people of Bharat and is the link between the people and the government. He was unveiling photographs of Presidents of Central Legislative Assembly and portraits of former Speakers of Lok Sabha at Central Hall of Parliament House on February 10.
Pranab said if Gangotri gets polluted, neither Ganga nor any of its tributaries can stay unpolluted. It is incumbent upon all parliamentarians that they maintain the highest standards of democracy and parliamentary functioning.
Rashtrapatiji said the Parliament, like other organs of the government, is not sovereign and “owes its origin and authority to the Constitution”. The prime function of the Parliament is to enact legislations to empower the people on every front - social, economic and political, to exercise control over the Executive and making it accountable in all respects. The validity of a law, whether Union or State, is tested by judiciary as defined in the Constitution.
The Parliament functions through debate, dissension and finally decision and not through disruption. In order to strengthen the functioning of our Parliament and other democratic institutions, it is important that all stakeholders – government, political parties, their leaders and parliamentarians do some introspection and follow sound parliamentary conventions and rules. Rashtrapatiji also said that our Parliament has evolved well-developed processes and procedures.
Upa-Rashtrapati and Chairman Rajya Sabha, Mohammad Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Speaker, Lok Sabha, Meira Kumar were present on the occasion. -go Top

3. Sarasanghachalakji attends ‘DHARMASOOYA’ yajna in Kerala: Rashritya Swyamsevak Sangh Sarasanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat participated in ‘DHARMASOOYA’ yajna at Palakkad in Kerala on February 6. Former ISRO chief Dr G Madhavan Nair praised Dr. Bhagwat’s leaderrship skills. ‘Bhagwat is a great visionary of Bharat, only because of the vision and action, the organisation which he belongs to can teach the new generation and the society to preserve our nation.” ‘All our traditional knowledge is derived from rishis. That consists of all the scientific and daily life knowledge. This type of yajna and ritual will give us strength to preserve our traditional Knowledge’ said Dr Madhavan Nair.RSS Sarsaghchalak Mohan Bhagwat in his brief speech said, “Our rashtra needs a positive change. For this, great efforts have to be made with selfless and pure mind. -go Top

4.  Create an Apple, a Mircosoft, a Google in Bharat: Narendra Modi: "Do whatever you can to make Bharat innovative and to be competitive. Recently, Sathya Nadella became CEO of Microsoft. Most of you must be dreaming to reach the heights of Nadella," said Narendra Modi, the BJP prime ministerial candidate addressing the ninth convocation of SRM University near Chennai on February 9.
"My advice to you is to create a similar enterprise here. Create Microsoft here. Create an Apple. Create a Google here in Bharat. And then own it and manage it," he added. Observing that knowledge would be the biggest bridge between education and nation building, he said it is sad that no university in Bharat has attained top global ranking status. "What is lacking we have to identify and work upon it." Pointing out that skill development is the need of the hour, he said "if there is no skill, there will not be employment." -go Top

5. Dalai Lama considers himself 'son of Bharat': A total of 54 years I am having Bharatiya rice, chapati, tea. Now I consider myself as the son of Bharat, son of the soil. "I am very happy," said the spiritual leader who was in Guwahati to inaugurate a five-day Festival of Tibetan Art and Culture and to deliver the First LBS Founders' commemorative lecture on 'A Human Approach to Peace and the Individual'. He also addressed an Interfaith Conclave on Peace and Religious Harmony. Following the invasion of Tibet by China, the Dalai Lama had passed through Guwahati in 1959 after his escape from his country via the Khenzimani Pass in Arunachal Pradesh with 80,000 Tibetans. -go Top

6. Bharat Ratna CNR Rao: Bharat's highly regarded scientist Professor CNR Rao, on Feb 4 joined the pantheon of three other pre-eminent people from the field of science who have been conferred the Bharat Ratna in the past - Nobel Laureate and physicist CV Raman who was given the same award in 1954; civil engineer M. Visvesvarayya in 1955 and most recently aeronautical engineer APJ Abdul Kalam in 1997. Rao is former director of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and currently works at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research in Bangalore.
One of the most prolific chemists, who at age 79 still spends several hours every day in his laboratory and has published over 1500 research papers on materials science, his latest craze was to work on thin films of carbon called 'graphene'. He has been in the running for the Nobel Prize for many years. Rao gets most animated when discussing science and says "If you are not childlike, you cannot be a scientist."
 An avid educationist, he is responsible for unleashing the reforms seen in science education in the last five years and was the driving force for the setting up of the new high profile Indian Institute Science Education and Research. -go Top

7. Local Kashmiris work to preserve beloved culture: For 5,00,000 Kashmiri Hindus who were forced to flee their native land in 1989 and later, preserving their culture has been quite difficult. About 4,500 families out of them call the United States home, including 70 in South Florida.
In April 2013, Chandramukhi Ganju and her husband Deepak Ganju formed ‘Preserve Our Heritage’, a nonprofit based in Miami Shores doing business as Kashmiri Hindu Foundation. Preserve Our Heritage’s mission is to promote and preserve Kashmiri culture and heritage through music, dance, drama, art, cuisine, literature, history and the humanities. It aims to showcase the “richness of Kashmiri culture and interact with other cultures.”
Former North Miami mayor Andra Pierre named the third Sunday in November, ‘Kashmiri Hindu Heritage Day’ and the organizations holds annual events at the North Miami Public Library. Chandramukhi Ganju said the heritage day events have three purposes: to keep younger Kashmiris abreast of their native language and culture, for members of different cultures in the county to represent themselves and so the different groups can learn about each other. To preserve her culture Ganju writes dramas as well as recipes.
A social issue Kashmiri children, parents and grandparents have to handle in the United States is adjusting to American culture. Chandramukhi Ganju said “We are like cultural orphans. You don’t want your child to feel alienated but at the same time it is important to preserve our heritage.” -go Top

8.  Yoga Has Healing Powers: Study: In the minds of the 20 million or so devotees in the U.S., Yoga helps people to relax, making the heart rate go down, which is great for those with high blood pressure. Now, by a study of yoga that used biological measures to assess results, led by Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, professor of psychiatry and psychology at Ohio State University, and published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, it has been found that meditative sun salutations and downward dog poses can reduce inflammation, the body's way of reacting to injury or irritation. Researchers looked at 200 breast cancer survivors who had not practiced yoga before. Half the group continued to ignore yoga, while the other half received twice-weekly, 90-minute classes for 12 weeks, with take-home DVDs and encouragement to practice at home. In the study it was found that the group that had practiced yoga reported less fatigue and higher levels of vitality three months after treatment had ended.
The study didn't rely only on self-reports. Kiecolt-Glaser's husband and research partner, Ronald Glaser of the university's department of molecular virology, immunology, and medical genetics, went for stronger laboratory proof. He examined three cytokines, proteins in the blood that are markers for inflammation. Blood tests before and after the trial showed that, after three months of yoga practice, all three markers for inflammation were lower by 10 to 15 percent. That part of the study offered some rare biological evidence of the benefits of yoga in a large trial that went beyond people's own reports of how they feel. -go Top

9.  For UK Hindus, River Soar is their 'Ganga': Officials in the east Midlands city of Leicester have designated a quiet, leafy spot on the River Soar where, instead of travelling to Bharat, members of the city’s large community of Bharatiya origin can scatter ashes of the deceased.
Residents of Leicester say it is often difficult for people to go to Hardwar or Varanasi to scatter the ashes, due to the cost and travel problems faced by older family members. -go Top

10. Open Doors: Visa-on-arrival is great, follow up with comprehensive measures to boost tourism - The governments decision to clear visa-on-arrival and electronic travel authorisation facilities for citizens of all countries barring eight is a significant reform that augurs well for Indias tourism industry. The move marks a welcome departure from the principle of strict reciprocity which guided the Indian visa regime in the past. Hitherto India offered visaon-arrival to tourists from only 11 countries. But the new policy will dramatically extend the facility to 180 nations. With tourism creating the maximum number of jobs for every rupee invested, a larger influx of foreign tourists on account of a liberalised visa regime will boost inclusive growth.
Given its diverse landscape, rich history and myriad religious traditions, theres no doubting Indias huge tourism potential. However, the tourism industry is hamstrung by woeful infrastructure. In 2012, around 6.5 million foreign tourists visited India. In comparison, a tiny country such as Thailand received around 22.3 million visitors the same year. The latter has emerged as a veritable Asian tourism giant on the back of concerted efforts to create a conducive tourism ecosystem. Since the 1960s, the Thai government has invested heavily on infrastructure, resulting in improvements in road construction, power supply, banking, communications and other government services that aid tourism.
In the same vein, tourism in India requires a complete change in mindset. While measures such as tax concessions for the tourism industry are welcome, implementing the time-honoured philosophy of atithi devo bhava requires a comprehensive approach. Most of Indias historical monuments and sites lie in a deplorable state of neglect. Roping in private organisations for their refurbishment and upkeep Aga Khan Trusts work on Humayuns Tomb is a great example can be a solution. Similarly, dedicated tourist police units must not remain on paper alone. Infrastructure, connectivity, safety and cleanliness are all important if India is to monetise its natural tourism assets and bolster its foreign exchange reserves. -- Editorial, Times of India, 10 February 2014. -go Top

11.   BRO assures trouble-free Char Dham pilgrimage: In a meeting on February 8, DG Lt Gen AT Parnaik ascertained Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Oscar Fernandes and Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat that all roads leading to the pilgrimages would be operable by April 2014. The BRO (Border Roads Organization) has been entrusted with the task of repair and reconstruction of damaged roads leading to the famous Himalayan shrines of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Yamunotri and Gangotri. “The BRO has been asked to submit its requirements to the State Government by February 15. The State in-turns, if it deems necessary will further forward a formal request to the centre, if it fails to give funds from its own resources,” said an official from the Ministry of Roads. -go Top

12. ‘Kashmiri Kutumb Milan’-II, a concept to celebrate together the culture and heritage of “Kashmiri Pandit”, was organised by KP Youths of Bangalore, on 2nd February 2014, at Bangalore. The event was associated with a noble cause & organised in association with KMECT (Kashmiri Medical Emergency & Charitable Trust.) to generate funds to help the Kashmiri people in medical emergencies. It was inaugurated with Deep Prajavalan by Pt. B.L Kaul. Children’s participation in the program was as grand as it could be. The variety of presentations by young children added the kashmiri spice to the program and made it chatpatta in real sense. The audience was still enjoying the songs, dance, shlokas, bhajans by talented kids when yet another enthralling program “Vohrvoudh” (birthday) celebration in Koshur (kashmiri) way was presented.  Children of the community performed the birthday pooja as per the tradition & Tahar (Yellow Rice) was prepared & served as Naveedh. Audience was equally participative and this was highly appreciated by one & all. A presentation on KMECT (Kashmiri Medical Emergency & Charitable Trust) followed where Pt. Jatinder Kaw and Pt. Maharaj Pajan enumerated journey traversed by the trust. -go Top

13. Konsam Himalaya Singh first from NE becomes Lt. Gen in BHARATIYA Army: Major General Konsam Himalaya Singh of Manipur has become the first Army officer from the North-East to become a Lieutenant General. Major General Himalaya, who hails from Charangpat in Thoubal district, Manipur is an alumni of Sainik School, Goalpara (Assam) and the National Defence Academy. He was commissioned into the Second Battalion of The Rajput Regiment (KALI CHINDI) in June 1978 and later commanded 27 RAJPUT.
The General Officer is a graduate of the Defence Services Staff College, College of Defence Management and the prestigious National Defence College. He was General Officer Commanding (GOC) of 25 Infantry Division in J&K and was awarded with 'Ati Vishisht Sewa Medal' in 2013.-go Top

14.  UNIVERSITIES TO offer courses in spoken Sanskrit: As per a new proposal by the University Grants Commission (UGC), universities across the country must foster centres offering certificate courses in spoken Sanskrit. The objective behind the introduction of this course is to inculcate basic knowledge related to the subject among students and teachers. Lack of awareness about Sanskrit is thought to be one of the main reasons behind the diminishing curiosity.-go Top

15. SHREE VISHWA NIKETAN: Pravas: Shri Saumitra Gokhale samyojak Vishwa Vibhag arrived Bharat for ABPS baithak in March. Dr Ram Vaidya sahsamyojak would reach Bharat by end February.
Visitors: Shri Om K. Tondon & Smt. Ann Tondon – USA. Kalpana Vekaria – UK.-go Top

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: All people are basically nice. One should deal with every person by believing in his goodness. Anger, jealousy, etc. are the offshoots of his past experiences, which affect his behavior. Primarily every person is nice and everyone is reliable. – Prof. Rajendra Singh (Rajju Bhaiyya), the fourth Sarsanghchalak of RSS. -go Top

i.           Dinanath Batra:Here comes the book police
In his modest office above a school in Naraina Vihar in southwest Delhi, Dinanath Batra is wreathed in smiles. He’s been on the phone all morning, fielding questions from journalists. “I feel 84 years young”, he says. The reason lies on the chequered plastic cloth of the small coffee table in front of him—a mustard-yellow folder with the words “Penguin Book India Pvt. Ltd” printed boldly on the front and “Delhi Police” in the top left corner.
Batra is the subject of renewed interest because Penguin Book India chose to settle a civil suit he filed in 2011 against the publisher and the American scholar Wendy Doniger over The Hindus: An Alternative History, deliberately conceived (the title makes it clear) as a response to the prevailing narrative about Hinduism. “Part of my agenda in writing an alternative history”, Doniger notes in her preface, “is to show how much the groups that conventional wisdom says were oppressed and silenced and played no part in the development of the tradition—women, Pariahs (oppressed castes, sometimes called untouchables)—did actually contribute to Hinduism.”
This lengthy (over 700 pages), scholarly volume, more anvil than book, attracted protests in March 2010 in New York when it was nominated for a prestigious literary award. The protesters got in touch with Batra, he says, “to campaign to stop the book in India”. He read the book and “felt instantly angry”. Doniger, an academic of repute, was accused by Batra, and members of his group the Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti, of having a “hateful mentality”.
A pamphlet distributed by the group read: “On book’s jacket Lord Krishna is shown sitting on buttocks of a naked woman surrounded by other naked women just to outrage religious feelings of Hindus.” Doniger, 69 when she wrote the book, was accused of being “jaundiced...her approach is that of a woman hungry for sex”. The group is made up of volunteers: teachers, intellectuals, parents, essentially anyone devoted to a particular ideal of a culturally appropriate education. Batra wants to go further, to create a national non-governmental commission to examine and approve syllabi. He has already begun holding monthly meetings with proposed committee members.
Batra, a mild, affable man, tall and still upright, maintaining the posture of the school headmaster he once was, does not seem unhinged by rage now. But he is implacable in his belief that Doniger’s book is malevolent, has no place being read or discussed in India. In his petition to the court, The Hindus is described as “shallow, distorted...a haphazard presentation riddled with heresies and factual inaccuracies”.
Doniger herself is driven by a “Christian Missionary Zeal and hidden agenda to denigrate Hindus and show their religion in poor light”, the petition said. The Mint February 12, 2014 -go Top

II.            Why Not Hindu India?
Germany, with its minority religions, still calls itself Christian. Why not call India Hindu?
  Though I have lived in India a long time, there are still issues here that I find hard to understand. For example, why do so many educated Indians become agitated when India is referred to as a Hindu country? The majority of Indians are Hindus. India is special because of its ancient Hindu tradition. Westerners are drawn to India because of Hinduism. Why then is there this resistance by many Indians to acknowledge the Hindu roots of their country? Why do some people even give the impression that an India which valued those roots would be dangerous? Don’t they know better?
This attitude is strange for two reasons. First, those educated Indians seem to have a problem only with “Hindu” India, but not with “Muslim” or “Christian” countries. Germany, for example, is a secular country, and only 59 percent of the population are registered with the two big Christian churches (Protestant and Catholic). Nevertheless, the country is bracketed under “Christian countries” and no one objects. Angela Merkel, the Chancellor, stressed recently the Christian roots of Germany and urged the population “to go back to Christian values.” In 2012 she postponed her trip to the G-8 summit to make a public address on Katholikentag, “Catholics Day.” Two major political parties carry Christian in their name, including Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union.
Germans are not agitated that Germany is called a Christian country, though I actually would understand if they were. After all, the history of the Church is appalling. The so-called success story of Christianity depended greatly on tyranny. “Convert or die” were the options given—not only some five hundred years ago to the indigenous population in America, but also in Germany, 1,200 years ago, when the emperor Karl the Great ordered the death sentence for refusal of baptism in his newly conquered realms. This provoked his advisor Alkuin to comment: “One can force them to baptism, but how to force them to believe?”
Those times, when one’s life was in danger for dissenting with the dogmas of Christianity, are thankfully over. Today many in the West do dissent and are leaving the Church in a steady stream. They are disgusted with the less-than-holy behavior of Church officials and they also can’t believe in the dogmas, for example that “Jesus is the only way” and that God sends all those who don’t accept this to hell.
The second reason why I can’t understand the resistance to associate India with Hinduism is that Hinduism is in a different category from the Abrahamic religions. Its history, compared to Christianity and Islam, was undoubtedly the least violent as it spread in ancient times by convincing arguments and not by force. It is not a belief system that demands blind acceptance of dogmas and the suspension of one’s intelligence. On the contrary, Hinduism encourages using one’s intelligence to the hilt. It is an enquiry into truth based on a refined character and intellect. It comprises a huge body of ancient literature, not only regarding dharma and philosophy, but also regarding music, architecture, dance, science, astronomy, economics, politics, etc. If Germany or any other Western country had this kind of literary treasure, it would be so proud and highlight its greatness on every occasion. When I discovered the Upanishads, for example, I was stunned. Here was expressed in clear terms what I intuitively had felt to be true, but could not have expressed clearly. Brahman is not partial; it is the invisible, indivisible essence in everything. Everyone gets again and again a chance to discover the ultimate truth and is free to choose his way back to it. Helpful hints are given but not imposed.
In my early days in India I thought every Indian knew and valued his tradition. Slowly I realized I was wrong. The British colonial masters had been successful in not only weaning away many of the elite from their ancient tradition but even making them despise it. It helped that the British-educated class could no longer read the original Sanskrit texts and believed what the British told them. This lack of knowledge and the brainwashing by the British education may be the reason why many so-called “modern” Indians are against anything Hindu. They don’t realize the difference between Western religions that have to be believed (or at least professed) blindly, and which discourage, if not forbid, their adherents to think on their own, and the multi-layered Hindu Dharma which gives freedom and encourages using one’s intelligence.
Many of the Indian educated class do not realize that those who dream of imposing Christianity or Islam on this vast country will applaud them for denigrating Hindu Dharma, because this creates a vacuum where Western ideas can easier gain a foothold. At the same time, many Westerners, including staunch Christians, know the value of Hindu culture and surreptitiously appropriate insights from the vast Indian knowledge system, drop the original Hindu source and present it either as their own or make it look as if these insights had already been known in the West. As the West appropriates valuable and exclusive Hindu assets, what it leaves behind is deemed inferior. Unwittingly, these Indians are helping what Rajiv Malhotra of Infinity Foundation calls the digestion of Dharma civilization into Western universalism. That which is being digested, a deer for example, in this case Hindu Dharma, disappears whereas the digester (a tiger) becomes stronger.
If only missionaries denigrated Hindu Dharma, it would not be so bad, as they clearly have an agenda which discerning Indians would detect. But sadly, Indians with Hindu names assist them because they wrongly believe Hinduism is inferior to Western religions. They belittle everything Hindu instead of getting thorough knowledge. As a rule, they know little about their tradition except what the British have told them, i.e., that the major features are the caste system and idol worship. They don’t realize that India would gain, not lose, if it solidly backed its profound and all-inclusive Hindu tradition. The Dalai Lama said some time ago that, as a youth in Lhasa, he had been deeply impressed by the richness of Indian thought. “India has great potential to help the world,” he added. When will the Westernized Indian elite realize it? -- MARIA WIRTH, 63, a freelance writer, has lived in India for the past 33 years. https://www.hinduismtoday.com -go Top

III.       Give Stateless Indians Their Due
V Suryanarayan
The twelfth edition of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) was held in New Delhi on January 7-9. Representatives from diverse overseas Indian communities spread worldwide assembled in the national capital where they interacted with one another and with the government. Prime minister Manmohan Singh, minister for Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) Vayalar Ravi, cabinet ministers and chief ministers from various states exhorted them to avail of investment opportunities and be valuable partners in Bharat’s economic development. The festival was capped with gala dinners and cultural performances by renowned artistes.
But one section of the overseas Bharatiyas was conspicuous by its absence. They were the stateless people of Bharatiya origin. Most of them are descendants of the labourers who migrated to different parts of the British Empire under the protective umbrella of the imperialists. They provided the labour for the development of plantations, construction of roads and ports and other activities which laid the foundation of the British Empire. The sufferings undergone by the Bharatiya “coolies” under British Raj are innumerable. For example, the verdant carpet of green in the central parts of Sri Lanka, which has made it a veritable “island paradise”, was due to the sweat and toil of Bharatiya Tamil workers. C V Velupillai, the Indian Tamil poet, has described the workers’ lives as follows: “Here is but a row of tin roofed lines, the very warehouse where serfdom thrives, with a scant space of ten by twelve, there is the hearth, home drenched in soot and smoke, to eat and sleep, to incubate and breed, to meet the master’s greed”.
As time went on the Bharatiya immigrants became permanent settlers and citizens, and through sheer hard work and perseverance moved up in life. Their descendants have made a niche for themselves in their chosen professions. They include Nobel laureate V S Naipaul, Shridath Ramphal, Anerood Jugnauth, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Muttiah Muralitharan. As former prime minister Vajpayee put it, “Few people who entered foreign lands can claim such a testimony.” But unfortunately, sections of them still remain stateless.
The estimated number of members of the Bharatiya diaspora, according to the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA), is approximately 25 million. It would be simplistic and naïve to assume that the problems these people face and what the future holds for them are identical. Their problems are intertwined with the nature of their migration, their social and economic status, their educational attainments, the numerical size of the community and the majority-minority syndrome in the countries they have settled in.
In terms of legal status, the Bharatiya diaspora can be divided into four groups. Firstly, people of  Bharatiya origin who have taken citizenship of the countries in which they have settled. Secondly, Bharatiya citizens, who have gone abroad for work and retain their Bharatiya passports. They are non-resident Bharatiyas. Thirdly, Overseas Indian citizens (OIC). The scheme was introduced in response to the demand for “dual citizenship” from developed countries. The scheme was launched in the PBD in Hyderabad in 2006. Under this scheme, persons of Bharatiya origin who were citizens of Bharat on January 26, 1950, or thereafter and have acquired citizenship of foreign countries can apply for OIC. The OIC does not confer any political rights in Bharat. People living in Pakistan and Bangladesh are not entitled for OIC. Latest statistics of OICs are not available. But according to the MOIA, as on May 31, 2013, 13.25 lakh OIC registration booklets and visa stickers have been issued.
The fourth category is the stateless persons of Bharatiya origin. They have not been granted citizenship of the countries they live in nor have they taken Bharatiya citizenship. Most of them, for example, in Myanmar and in Malaysia, are second- or third-generation settlers and by any yardstick should have been granted citizenship. The host governments, to say the least, are callous and adopt a discriminatory policy towards them. What’s worse, the government of Bharat seems to be adopting a hands-off policy towards them.
According to the Singhvi Committee Report on the Bharatiya Diaspora, the maximum number of stateless persons reside in Myanmar (400,000), followed by Kuwait (2,95,000), Malaysia (50,000, Hindu Rights Action Force maintains this is an underestimated figure), Italy (71,500) Jamaica (61,500) and lower numbers in Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya and the Philippines.
It should be pointed out that the problem of the stateless people vitiated Bharat-Sri Lanka relations in the years soon after independence. The two governments later maintained that the Sirimavo-Shastri Pact of 1964 and Sirimavo–Indira Gandhi Pact of 1974 would solve the problem once and for all. But when the agreements expired in October 1981, it was realised that the problem of statelessness still continued. It is to the credit of Tamil leader Thondaman that he was able to pressurise recalcitrant Sinhalese leaders to grant citizenship to the stateless people of Bharatiya origin in 1988. However, the problem of Bharatiya passport-holders and their natural increase, yet to be repatriated to Bharat, continued. At last they were also granted Sri Lankan citizenship by prime minister Ranil Wikramasinghe.
The stateless people of Bharatiya origin in Myanmar deserve special mention. Most of them are rice cultivators and continue to reside there under the work permit system. They were retained by the Burmese government because it was keen to expand rice production, one of the mainstays of Burmese economy. When former Bharatiya ambassador T P Sreenivasan visited them a few years ago he found they were “totally impoverished”. Ironically, they did not even have rice to eat, as the procurement authorities “lifted their produce wholly”. They had to eat low-quality rice which the state did not want to procure for export. What were more saddening, efforts made by Sreenivasan to make South Block take interest in the subject turned out to be a futile exercise. Has the position of these people improved during  the last few years? South Block should issue a clarification.
Let us hope the PBD in future devotes some time at least to analyse the problems faced by stateless people of Bharatiya origin. It will be a welcome step if a committee of experts is appointed to analyse the problem in depth and make recommendations for a solution. Simultaneously, New Delhi should impress upon the host governments the necessity to confer citizenship on stateless people of Barratiya origin without any delay.
(Prof V Suryanarayan is former senior professor, the Centre for South and Southeast Asian Studies, University of Madras. The New Indian Express, Feb 10, 2014) -go Top