1. FESTIVALS: MILLIONS OF WOMEN OFFER PONGALA: Millions of women from Kerala, other states and even from outside the country on March 5 cooked Pongala (rice-jaggery pudding) on open hearths on the streets of Thiruvananthapuram and offered it to the Goddess of the Attukal Devi temple, known as Women's Sabarimala, virtually turning the State's capital city into a Yagyashala. The rush of women devotees of the Goddess on the occasion was so heavy that women had lined up for cooking the Pongala on the city streets in a ten-kilometer radius from the Attukal temple. Women from all walks of life - housewives, bureaucrats, film & television stars, politicians, spouses of VIPs, etc - cooked Pongala for offering to the deity.
The ritual of offering Pongala started after Tantri (traditional chief priest) Chennas Dinesan Namboothiri, handed over the flame from the sanctum sanctorum of the temple to Melshanti (head priest) Kannan Potti for kindling the main hearth in the temple. After this ritual, millions of women devotees kindled the hearths they had set up everywhere in the city. The women cooked the Pongala to be offered to the Goddess in fresh earthen pots decorated with flowers. About four million women participated in the event. -GoTop
2. RSS Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha 2015: The 3-day annual meeting of Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS) of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) concluded at Reshimbag Nagpur on 15th March 2015. Shri Suresh alias Bhayya ji Joshi was re-elected for the third term as Sarkaryavaha of RSS.
In the annual report presented to ABPS, Sarkaryavah Bhayyaji Joshi informed the meeting about the overall growth in shakha work as per the expansion plan formulated in the last ABPS. An increase of 5161 Sthan and 10413 Shakhas was reported. At present there are 51330 Shakhas at 33222 Sthan. 12847 Saptahik Milan and 9008 Sangh Mandali. The number of Shakhas of young students is 6077. Thus, RSS has reached to a total of 55010 Sthan.
There were various sessions on reporting of special programs, achievements etc. Special mention was made of the historic pathasanchalan in Tamil Nadu and Samarth Bharat programme of Karnatak Dakshin Prant, 'Hindu Spiritual & Service Fair' at Chennai etc. Shri Bhayya ji Joshi also announced a new Akhil Bharatiya Karyakarini in which there are 4 sahsarkaryavahas, namely Suresh Soni, Dattatreya Hosabale, Dr. Krishnagopal and V Bhagaiah. Some other names are Sunil Kulkarni as shareerik pramukh, Swant Ranjan as bauddhik pramukh, Mangesh Bhende as vyavastha pramukh and Prof Aniruddha Deshpande as sampark pramukh.
RESOLUTIONS PASSED AT abps-2015:
(i) Welcoming the International Yoga Day: The proclamation by the 69th General Assembly of United Nations to observe June 21st of every year as the International Yoga Day gives countless cheers and immense pride to all the Bharatiyas, people of Bharatiya origin and millions of Yoga practioners across the globe. It becomes all the more delighting that the proposal for an International Yoga Day moved by the Honourable Prime Minister of Bharat in his UNGA speech on 27th September 2014 received an unprecedented response. Nepal supported it immediately and 175 member states co-sponsored the resolution which was adopted within a short span of less than three months on 11th December 2014, by consensus without vote. The ABPS wishes to draw the attention to the fact that Yoga is Bharat's civilizational contribution to the world. Derived from the root 'Yuj' - meaning union and samadhi, Yoga is not limited to physical exercise but is essentially a holistic way of life leading to the union of body mind, intellect and soul as envisaged by sages like Maharshi Patanjali. It is verily described in scriptures as cessation of fluctuation of mind (Yogashchittavrittinirodhah), means for calming the mind (Manah Prashamanopayah Yogah) and equanimity (Samatvam Yoga Uchyate) and leads one to peaceful and healthy life. Today growing number of people, be it common masses, celebrities, entrepreneurs and statesmen of different cultures across the world are adopting Yoga as a way of a balanced lifestyle tuned with nature. The ABPS notes with gratitude the contribution of scores of Saints, Yogacharyas and Yoga trainers in espousing the cause of Yoga all around the world. It is the duty of all the Yoga followers to further spread this message of Yoga far and wide across the continents.
The ABPS compliments all those who facilitated the adoption of this historic resolution; Bharatiya diplomats, member states co-sponsoring and speaking in favour of it and the UN officials. It earnestly believes that the observance of Yoga Day and adopting Yoga based integral living will lead the world to a genuine environment of universal oneness and harmony.
The ABPS urges the union and state governments to carry forward this initiative by introducing Yoga as a part of curriculum in education, supporting research in Yoga and make all possible efforts for promoting Yoga in social life. The Pratinidhi Sabha appeals to all the countrymen including swayamsevaks, people of Bharatiya origin and Yoga followers to endeavour earnestly for spreading Yoga to make the globe happy, healthy and sustainable.
(ii) Education in Mother Language: ABPS is fully supportive of study of various languages including foreign languages but it is its considered opinion that for natural learning and to enrich cultural moorings, the education, particularly elementary education should be in mother language or in state languages recognised in our Constitution.
Language is not only the medium of communication but it is also a carrier of culture and value system. Bharat is a multilingual country. All the Bharatiya languages equally reflect national and cultural pride of our country. Although it is a merit to be multilingual but it is scientifically expedient to impart education in mother language for developing the personality. A student educated in mother language can easily grasp other languages as well. A person having elementary education in a foreign language, gets alienated from his surroundings, traditions, culture and values of life, at the same time one also loses his identity, remaining ignorant of ancient knowledge, science and literature.
Eminent thinkers like Mahamana Madanmohan Malaviya, Mahatma Gandhi, Ravindranath Thakur, Sri Maa, Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan and scientists like Chandrashekhar Venkat Raman, Prafulla Chandra Ray, Jagdish Chandra Basu and several prominent educationists and psychologists have opined that it would be both, natural and scientific to impart education in mother language. Various commissions constituted from time to time such as Radhakrishnan Commission, Kothari Commission etc. have also recommended for imparting education in mother language. Taking note of the significance of mother language, the United Nations also decided to observe 21st February as Mother Language Day for whole of the world.
ABPS calls upon the countrymen, including swayamsevaks to play an effective role to establish the dignity of the mother language in education, day-to-day working and public affairs to achieve all-round development, national integrity and pride. In this regard, family has an important role. Parents should have a firm resolve to impart elementary education to their children in their own language.
ABPS calls upon the Union Government and State Governments to review their present language policies and ensure effective system to impart education in mother language or in constitutionally recognized state languages and simultaneously take initiative for use of Bharatiya languages in education, administration and delivery of justice. -GoTop
3. Holi Celebration in Milpitas in US: An estimated 10,000 Bharatiya-Americans from all over the Bay Area congregated March 7 at Cardoza Park in Milpitas to celebrate the start of spring with the Festival of Colors, Holi. The free festival, organized by the Federation of Bharatiya-Americans of Northern California and Fremont Hindu Temple to celebrate Holi, drew in families, devotees and community members throwing colorful powders on one another to the thumping beat of live music. -GoTop
4. BHARAT A BRIGHT SPOT IN GLOBAL ECONOMY-IMF: IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde on March 16 said Bharat will clock 7.2 per cent growth in the current fiscal and its GDP will exceed combined total of Japan and Germany by 2019. "In this cloudy global horizon, Bharat is a bright spot. Recent policy reforms and improved business confidence have provided a booster shot to economic activity", she said while speaking at a function at Sriram College in New Delhi. Lagarde further said, "Just as many countries around the world are grappling with low growth, India has been marching in the opposite direction."
The IMF chief believes that the conditions are ripe for India to reap the demographic dividend and become a key engine for global growth as it (the country) is on the verge of a new chapter, filled with immense promise. -GoTop
5. Strategic Shift: Modi's Indian Ocean tour marks a refreshingly robust approach to foreign policy: Winding up his Indian Ocean tour, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a slew of pacts to boost ties between India and Sri Lanka. Modi's bilateral visit to the island nation - the first by a Bharatiya PM in 28 years - comes within a month of Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena's visit to New Delhi. The back to back trips exemplify a new synergy between the two sides after Sirisena swept to power in January elections, defeating long-time strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa. This has now yielded four agreements on customs, visa, youth development and building a Tagore memorial in Sri Lanka.
But more than the promise of developing Trincomalee as a petroleum hub and extending a new $318 million line of credit for Lankan railways, it's Modi's pitch that's interesting. Emphasising issues of diversity and his own government's attempts at promoting cooperative federalism, Modi urged the Lankan leadership to operationalise the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution and devolve powers to provinces. Simultaneously, he assured the Lankan business community that New Delhi was ready to address trade imbalances and that India's vast market was available for mutual economic benefits.
All of this suggests a shift in India's neighbourhood strategy. For far too long Indian foreign policy has been defined by defensiveness, conscious more of dangers than of opportunities abroad. Refreshingly, the Modi government appears to favour a more robust approach that includes projecting India as a force for stability and development.
It's precisely for this reason that Modi's trip to Sri Lanka - and Mauritius and Seychelles earlier - is more than just an exercise to counter China's growing influence in the region. A conscious Indian Ocean policy finally appears to be New Delhi's priority. Instead of shying away from geopolitical realities, India should leverage its economic and soft power in the Indian Ocean Rim to further its strategic objectives. - Editorial The Times of India, 16, March 2015 -GoTop
6. LEARN FROM EXPERIENCE AND MOVE AHEAD -- MOHAN BHAGWAT: "Before doing any work, one should analyse what will be its impact on the society. Ekal has completed its 25 years and it's time to analyse what we have done in all these years and how we have to move ahead on this path. Learn from the experience and move ahead", said RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat while addressing the concluding ceremony of 'Parinaam Kumbh' organised at Golf Ground of Dhanbad to celebrate 25 years of Ekal Vidyalaya.
About 50,000 Ekal workers from all over Bharat and also from overseas countries like USA, Australia, Canada, Dubai, New Zealand and Germany attended the three day event. -GoTop
8. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Pravaas: Shri Saumitra Gokhale Vishwa Vibhag samyojak would visit Japan, Australia, New Zealand before reaching USA. Dr. Ram Vaidya sah samyojak would return to UK.
THOUHGT OF THE DAY: Science without Religion is lame and Religion without Science is blind. - Albert Einstein -GoTop
JAI SHREE RAM
RSS PRATINIDHI SABHA: A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
What distinguishes the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) from rest of those organizations that vouch their commitment to democratic values and norms but hardly care to follow them?
These organizations, political parties and NGOs do not waste any single opportunity to brand RSS as anti-democracy outfit. Ironically, it is the same RSS that is branded as 'dictatorial', 'fascist', 'obscurantist' etc. that has been following the democratic norms in conducting its organizational matters. And this is the most distinguishing feature of this largest Hindu organization of the world!
The RSS is holding nationwide conclave of its elected representatives - the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS) - at Nagpur from March 13-15, 2015. Every year such a conference is organized at different places in the country. The congregation of these representatives elect the new 'Executive head' or 'Sarkarywah' in RSS parlance, every three years. This ABPS will be electing new Sarkaryawah for the next three-year term.
With the political change at the Centre after the 2014 elections followed by the repeat performance by the BJP in some important states, the RSS, in the eyes of the media, seems to have occupied the prime space. So, speculations are rife as the dates of this conference zero down. Some media channels have telecast 'most authentically' about the prospective changes at the topmost level while some others have quoted 'sources' at their disposal to forecast the 'possible change' in the RSS. But hardly anyone has bothered to go deeper into the matrix of this greatest democratic exercise within the RSS.
The tradition continues:
The tradition of holding such annual conclaves of representatives started in the RSS post-1948 ban. The RSS, founded by Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgewar in 1925 at Nagpur to organize and consolidate the Hindu society by infusing in it a civic-national character, was banned consequent upon the most heinous assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, the apostle of peace. However, the ban was lifted in 1949 after the then government found some face saving device to cover up the injustice and injury it inflicted to RSS as an organization and to countless RSS swayamsevaks and their families. The RSS was then required to submit to the government a constitution or bye laws that would govern its internal affairs!
The first meeting:
At the meeting of the Kendriya Karykari Mandal of RSS held on January 21-22, 1950, resolutions were passed to constitute the provincial level 'Pratinidhi sabha' and subsequently 'Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha' (ABPS) as per the provisions laid down in the constitution of RSS, before its scheduled meeting at Nagpur on March 12, 1950.
Another important resolution passed in that very meeting was regarding celebration of Republic Day. India opted for a sovereign democratic republic and the constitution was put in effect on January 26, 1950. The RSS, which is often accused of neglecting these 'national festivals', has passed a resolution that said:
"That all things considered, the Republic Day 26th January, 1950 be celebrated as a festival in all the Sangh branches throughout the country as a day heralding severance of all connection of the British crown with the Government of the country. Appropriate meetings be held under the auspices of the Sangh and the function should include hoisting and salutation of the state Flag, speeches befitting the occasion and 'Vande-Mataram' at the close." (http://www.archivesofrss.org/Resolutions.aspx)
Active and committed swayamsevaks all over the country elect their representatives or 'Pratinidhis' to participate in this annual congregation. Their proportion varies according to the strength of the organization. This year some 1200 'Pratinidhis' are expected to attend the meeting. Besides, the members of the RSS Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal (ABKM), provincial sanghchalaks and other office-bearers are part of the Pratinidhi Sabha.
Representatives of various organizations owing allegiance to RSS ideology attend the three-day conclave as special invitees. Many of these organisations are now leaders in their respective fields. The Bharatiya Majdoor Sangh is way ahead of all left unions combined together. The Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram has made very deep in roads in the tribal sector. The Ekal foundation schools have actually surpassed the figure of 50,000 making it a big primary educational movement. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has contributed immensely to the uplift of neglected and downtrodden sections of the society.
Since 1950, this tradition has continued uninterrupted except for the two years (1976-77) when the RSS was banned during the infamous 'Internal Emergency' and during the other ban in 1993 following the demolition at Ayodhya in 1992.
Wide spectrum of resolutions:
Besides, transacting its organizational business, the ABPS also expresses its views and opinions through resolutions on various issues of international, national, social, political and economic importance. The list of the topics covered since 1950 is simply mind-boggling and shows the intrinsic insight and in-depth understanding of the RSS leadership regarding these issues. Some of them included about situation in Assam, Bangladesh, China, Jammu & Kashmir, cow protection, minority appeasement, education, national security, north east, religious conversions, Shri Ramjanma Bhumi, natural resources, Dunkel draft, Nepal, Pakistan, Partition of India, Punjab, social issues and so on and so forth. Each resolution is drafted with utmost care and precision using perfect words to convey the meaning in most unambiguous manner. It would be of interest for the scholars to study these varied resolutions as they reflect the situation of that particular time frame.
A shining galaxy of Sarkaryawah:
As stated the top executive of RSS-the Sarkaryawah-is elected every three years by these representatives. This meeting is essentially held at Nagpur-the headquarters of RSS. The term of the present incumbent Suresh alias Bhayyaji Joshi ends this year necessitating election of the new incumbent. The 1200-odd 'Pratinidhis' would elect the Sarkaryawah of their choice in this ABPS.
It would be interesting to have a look at those stalwarts in the RSS who held and adored this topmost executive post. With the beginning of Pratinidhi Sabha, Shri Prabhakar Balwant ailas Bhayyaji Dani was Sarkaryawah from 1950 to 56 and again from 1962-65, the year he died of heart attack. He was succeeded by Shri Ekanath Ranade, who remained Sarkaryawah from 1956-62. He was later relieved to look after the Swami Vivekananda Rock Memorial at Kanyakumari. The memorial there today bears testimony to the vision and far sight of Ranade.
After the demise of Dani in 1965 Shri Madhukar Dattatrey ailas Balasaheb Devras became the Sarkaryawah and remained till 1973 when he was nominated to be the third Sarsanghchalak of RSS by his predecessor Shri M S Golwalkar ailas Sri Guruji. After his elevation to that post of 'friend, philosopher and guide' Shri Madhavrao Muley was elected as Sarkaryawah and he remained at the top till 1979. All these people till then were the direct disciples of Dr. Hedgewar, the founder of RSS and were groomed under his guidance.
Prof. Rajendra Singh alias Rajju Bhayya replaced Muley in 1979 and his term continued till 1987 when he handed over the baton to Sri H V Seshadri who in turn continued till 2000. The present Sarsanghchalak Dr Mohanrao Bhagwat was elected Sarkaryawah in 2000 and remained so till 2009 when he succeeded K S Sudareshan as Sarsanghchalak.
The present incumbent Suresh alias Bhayyaji Joshi is holding the post since 2009.
The Pratinidhi Sabha witnessed some very emotional and touchy moments too. In 1994, owing to deteriorating health, the then Sarsanghchalak Balasaheb Devras decided to step down and made his parting speech at the Pratinidhi Sabha handing over the reins of RSS to Prof Rajendra Singh. This smooth transition of power came as a surprise for many in the country and abroad.
Balasaheb Devras gave the most needed social thrust and dimension to the RSS mission. He played a very important pivotal role in restoration of democratic polity in India post-1975 emergency of politically over ambitious Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. His historic speech at Pune denouncing the scourge of untouchability in most vocal terms made deep impact on the public psyche.
Prof. Rajendra Singh, who otherwise could be a world class atomic scientist, following the footsteps of his predecessor announced his retirement in 2000 Pratinidhi Sabha at Nagpur and anointed the most versatile K S Sudarshan to the post of 'Friend, Philosopher and Guide' of RSS.
It was during the tenure of Rajju Bhayya the first ever BJP government assumed power at the Centre under the leadership of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1996 to 2004.
His successor K S Sudarshan remained Sarsanghchalak till 2009. The major achievements of his tenure were worldwide celebration of birth centenary of second RSS Sarsanghchalak M S Golwalkar and opening of dialogue with Christians and Muslims.
In 2009, to the surprise of all, Sudarshan decided to step down paving the way for the relatively younger leadership to take the RSS on its chartered course unhindered, and handed over the baton to Dr Mohanrao Bhagwat at a simple yet impressive ceremony held at Reshambag ground. The RSS scaled more heights during his tenure. The rest hardly need any repetition as the events are very fresh in public memory.
In India, where many organisations are almost a family affairs, where all major ideological movements have undergone splits over some issue or other including the left, socialists and the grand old Congress, RSS is the one which is growing in leaps and bounds and yet has been able to change the leadership sans power struggle, traits of regionalism and narrow considerations. (www.newsbharati.com) -GoTop
The twain shall meet
Something that was unthinkable and unimaginable has happened. Today, J&K has a coalition government led jointly by the PDP and the BJP.
Written by Ram Madhav | March 2, 2015 12:02 am
When the Jammu and Kashmir BJP gave the call for "Mission 44+" during the run up to the assembly elections in the state, we had our own assessments and calculations for how we could achieve it. We foresaw various post-poll scenarios and worked on different permutations and combinations. But frankly, not even once did we think of a situation where we would be joining hands with the PDP.
Something that was unthinkable and unimaginable has happened. Today, J&K has a coalition government led jointly by the PDP and the BJP. In politics, the lure of power sometimes makes strange bedfellows. Occasionally, politics also provides you with an opportunity to think of impossible things to achieve larger goals. What prompted the BJP and the PDP to form this alliance?
Had it been only the lure of power, there would have been a government in Jammu some six to eight weeks ago. If power were the only objective, better options were available to the PDP - the Congress and the National Conference were ready to support it unconditionally. An "unholy" alliance between these parties would have left the BJP the lone opposition in the state. But besides being unholy, it would have also become an unrepresentative government.
The J&K assembly elections have thrown up a difficult and complex verdict. Any government without BJP participation would have meant the exclusion of one full region of the state in the administration. Thus the options were restricted. And we decided to go for the most difficult, yet most durable, option -a PDP-BJP alliance.
"The results of these elections have been judged as fractured and indecisive by everyone. The reality is that it is not the mandate of political parties that is fractured; it is the polity of J&K that is fractured. Instead of being judgemental about these electoral results, the PDP and the BJP have made efforts to understand the verdict in all its complexity"- this is how the common minimum programme of the PDP-BJP coalition describes the electoral outcome.
It took a full two months to stitch this alliance carefully. As Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed described it aptly, the two parties are like the "North and South Poles". There were difficulties, highs and lows, as well as stalemates during the nerve-wracking negotiations.
There were at least a couple of occasions when we almost decided to call off the talks and pack up. It was like the proverbial war of nerves.
Yet we succeeded in the end because of two factors. First, neither side looked at government formation as arithmetic. We had a much larger objective in mind. We had a distinct mandate that needed to be respected.
There was an opportunity to bring the people of Jammu and the Valley closer. As Mufti pointed out, the geographical distance can be covered in six hours; but the emotional distance couldn't be covered in 60 years. We are also presented with the opportunity to decimate the emotional barriers between J&K and the rest of the country.
Second, our success depended on the fact that we didn't allow any extraneous factors to influence us. We kept the negotiations strictly under wraps, not with any ulterior intention, but to ensure that we don't get distracted.
We finally have a common minimum programme, "Agenda of the Alliance", released yesterday by the new chief minister and his deputy. Have we compromised? A resounding no. Where we have fundamental differences, we have admitted it honestly and given our prescription based on a common understanding - not necessarily consensus - of each other's concerns.
Take, for example, the question of Article 370. "While recognising the different positions and appreciating the perceptions BJP and PDP have on the constitutional status of J&K, considering the political and legislative realities, the present position will be maintained on all the constitutional provisions pertaining to J&K, including the special status in the Constitution of India" - this is what the common minimum programme says. We have agreed to "maintain all constitutional provisions" for the next six years, something we did in 1999, when the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government was formed.
Similarly, on the contentious Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, the common minimum programme has left the onus of taking a "final view" on the Union government, while the state government would, for its part, "examine" the need for "denotifying disturbed areas". Even here, both the parties admit that they "have historically held a different view on the AFSPA and the need for it in the state at present".
The focus of the new coalition government will be threefold: restoring peace, the large-scale rehabilitation of flood victims and ensuring "equitable distribution and balanced development" of all the three regions of the state. Towards that end, the common minimum programme has many social, humanitarian and developmental initiatives for all sections of the state.
The Kashmiri Pandits will return to the Valley with "dignity based on their rights as state subjects". A "one-time settlement" will be worked out for the refugees from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir of 1947, '65 and '71. Measures will be taken to ensure that the West Pakistan refugees who have been languishing in the state for almost 70 years, without their basic human needs being taken care of, will get "sustenance and livelihood". A new dawn is breaking for millions of hapless refugees who will now get a ration card for the first time in their lives.
An ambitious agenda of governance and development guides the new coalition in the state. The challenges are serious. A rotten, corrupt system is what the new leaders have inherited. A near bankrupt economy and the utter misery of the people stare them in the face. Above all, they will have to manage the inherent contradictions between two political parties with distinct ideological predilections.
But the leadership is mature. It may take some time to adjust to the new partnership A faux pas causing PR problems every now and then can't be ruled out. However, if the coalition leadership is committed to the vision enunciated in the common minimum programme, it would open a new chapter in the history of J&K.
A political commentator has observed that this common minimum programme is a document that symbolises the second and de facto accession of the state. This may sound hyperbolic. Nevertheless, it underscores the significance of this historic alliance in J&K. Its success will herald a landmark strengthening of India's integrity and sovereignty. (The writer, national general secretary of the BJP, led the negotiations with the PDP for government formation in J&K) -- Indian Express, 2 March, 2015 -GoTop