Pausha Krishna 7, Vik. Samvat 2072. Yugabda 5117: January 1, 2016
1. FESTIVALS: Republic Day: Bharat became a republic on 26th of January 1950 with promulgation of her carefully drafted Samvidhan by the Constituent Assembly. A magnificent parade on Rajpath stretching from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate is the main attraction of the day. The parade consists of columns from the three wings of armed forces, achievements reflected in the tableaux from various states and entertaining presentations by school children. The day is celebrated with flag hoising and Rashtragan in various institutions, schools, offices, residential complexes and establishments with fervor and joy. --goTop
2. VISHWA SANGHA SHIVIR 2015 was held in the beautiful surrounding of the sprawling campus of Emerald Heights International School in the historic city Indore of Madhya Pradesh from 29th December 2015 to 3rd January 2016. Theme of the Shivir was 'Vayam Vishwam Jagaryem' - Let us Awaken the World. 746 participants from 45 countries attended the Shivir. Notable numbers among them were about 120 from UK, 82 from US, the biggest ever till now, 42 from Kenya, 32 from Thailand, 64 from Nepal, 45 from Srilanka, and 25 from South Africa. Participation was mostly by whole of the families. Although there were many activities common for all, yet much of the camp proceedings were conducted for men, women folk and children separately. Men and women were provided separate accommodations. Some families carried kids as small as 1 year. Ladies were active in Sevika Samiti activities while children's activities were conducted in the campus of Nursery School. Games and other activities of children's interest were specially devised for the camp.
Inaugurating the Shivir in the evening of December 29, Lok Sabha Speaker Smt. Sumitra Mahajan called the participants "Bharat's cultural ambassadors". She noted that people of Bharatiya-origin were members of many parliaments world over, and they are raising people's issues in those houses. She added whenever Bharatiyas went to other countries, they didn't go with the intention of enslaving others, but went to give the message of peace and universal brotherhood. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh Sarakaryavah Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi said on the occasion that an "awakened" Hindu community can lead the entire world on a path of happiness, peace and harmony. He said that we are treading the path from self to 'we'. Journey from self to family, family to society, society to humanity and ultimately to Paramatman is quite long. We are the guide of this journey.
An exhibition portraying Bharatiya culture was inaugurated by the Videsh Mantri Sushama Swaraj praising Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh and saying that it will make new generation familiar with rich Bharateeya samskriti in foreign lands.
America zone Sanghachalak Prof Ved Prakash Nanda, US HSS Karyavah Yelloji Mirajkar, HSS UK Sanghachalak Dheeraj D Shah, , Dr. Manohar Shinde, Dr Bhishma Agnihotri, Dr. Jatindra Kumar from US, Arun Kankaniand Prof Sreenath from Sewa USA, HSS Hongkong SahSanghchalak Nirmal Laungani, Shri Pravin Patel from New Zealand, Nairobi HSS Sanghachalak Raghupati Shetty and Shantibhai Shah from Kenya, Dr Vidula Ambekar, Ms. Anjali Patel from US, Kitti Navani from Thailand, Myanmar Sanghachalak Bajrang Sharma, Swami Aksharanand from Guyana, were some of the distinguished participants in the Shivir.
Many of the Shivir participants came to Bharat for the first time. Some of them are fourth or fifth generation Bharateeyas in their countries of residence. Many participants came weeks earlier and went on Bharat Darshan while many of them have stayed back and are visiting places of interest and pilgrimage. Many of the participants are visiting their near and dear ones while many of them are enriching their knowledge of their forefathers' land by various other means.
Mornings in the shivir began with Isha-chintan followed by Yog and Shareerik, Aavartan dhyan and prarthana. Evening shakhas were held separately for swayamsevaks and sevikas.
There were daily two interactive sessions, one in the morning and one in the evening, in Hindi as well as in English. There was an inspring lecture by RSS Sarasanghachalk Shri Mohan Bhagwat on the life of Shri Balasaheb Deoras, the third Sarasanghachalak of RSS. He mentioned that those who never saw Dr Hedgewar could see him in Balasaheb Deorasji. One session was conducted by Rashtra Sevika Samiti Pramukh Sanchalika Shantakkaji on nature worshipping the Hindu way of Life, and one by Akhil Bharateey Saha Karyavahika Alka Inamdar. Saha Sarakaryavah Dr. Krishna Gopal said that ancient civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia are nowhere to be seen today but Bharatiya civilization is still alive and the lifeline of this is the spirituality of this country. In one of the sessions, Akhil Bharatiya in-charge of Kutumb Prabodhan activity Subramania Bhat stressed on compactness of the family. One of the sessions was conducted by Dr Omanand Pathak on holistic health.
There were also parallel sessions on the topics of interest to the participants such as on media, acupressure, rangoli, Hinduism and Buddhism, importance of Bharatiya culture based education, media's role in highlighting cultural renaissance of Bharat.
Cultural programmes were held every night to entertain the participants. The welcoming cultural programme was presented by the students of Emerald Height International School. One cultural programme featured Mallakhamb. On first of January the Shivir participants presented entertaining items of their countries of residence.
Sarasanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat, Sarakaryavah Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi, Sahasarakaryavah V Bhagayya and Dattatreya Hosbale, Dr. Shankarrao Tattwavadi, HSS Global Co-ordinator Saumitra Gokhale, joint coordinators Ravi Iyer, Dr. Ram Vaidya, Seva International Co-ordinator Bharat Shyam Parande, Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh Dr. Manmohan Vaidya, ABVP organizing general secretary Sunil Ambekar, were among the resource persons for various sessions and also helped in smooth functioning of the Shivir and proper hostage of the participants.
Important visitors to the shivir were External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Madhya Pradesh Mukhya Mantri Shivrajsingh Chauhan, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah, BJP Akhil Bharatiya Sangathan Mantri Ramlal, Shri Dinesh Chandra ji and Champatrai from VHP, Chamu Krishna Shastri from Sanskrit Bharati, Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram general secretary Chandrakant Devand Atul ji Jog , Sardar Gurucharan Singh Gill from Sikh Sangat.
Addressing a public program at the shivir venue on 2nd January, RSS Sarsanghachalak Mohan Bhagwat said that it is but natural swayamsevaks who reside abroad continue to strive for our practicing and propagating our cultural values abroad. He appealed them to work hard by contributing towards the efforts for universal peace and oneness through the values given by our age old civilization.
Shri G Madhavan Nair, former ISRO chief and the Chief Guest of the program stressed on the ancient Bhartiya way of learning. He said, "We had nice town planning, dwelling system, well organized townships... scientific computation behind astrology was very unique," he said, adding that the movements of stars, planets, celestial objects and their trajectories had been very precisely tabulated in ancient Bharat. --goTop
3. KNIGHTHOOD TO HARPAL SINGH KUMAR: On 31 December 2015, a Bharateeya-origin cancer research expert Harpal Singh Kumar was conferred with a Knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II in London for his influential work on prevention and treatment of cancer. Over the years it has become increasingly evident that Bharateeyas have made a huge impact overseas. They have integrated and excelled greatly in vital fields such as medicine, engineering, technology and business, to name a few. Whichever country Bharateeyas have settled in, they have ensured that they do their utmost to be upstanding citizens and contribute greatly economically. --goTop
4. MAMMOTH GATHERING OF SWAYAMSEVAKS IN PUNE: "Leadership, Constitution and government are not enough to make the nation great and developed. An awakened society with unimpeachable national character and positive strength can take the country on to the path of development and glory", observed Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Sarsanghchalak Dr Mohanrao Bhagwat in Pune on January 3. He was addressing the massive 'Shivshakti Sangam' of over two lakh RSS swayamsevaks in uniform from seven districts of Western Maharashtra at Marunji situated at the tri-junction of Nere, Jambhe and Marunji villages near Hinjewadi - Pune's IT Hub. Over 50000 citizens also witnessed this historic gathering held after a gap of 33 years. Similar event was held in 1983 at Taljai near Pune where 35,000 swayamsevaks had gathered from the entire Maharashtra state excluding Vidarbha region. RSS Sarkaryawah Suresh alias Bhayyaji Joshi, Kshetriya Sanghchalak Dr Jayantibhai Bhadesia, Western Maharashtra Prant Sanghchalak Nanasaheb Jadhav and Prant Karyawah Vinayakrao Thorat were present on the dais.
The RSS Sarsanghchalak said, "The world always listens to the language of the strong people and treats nations that have acquired strength and power. It is therefore, necessary that we need to develop a collective power of the society in order to create proper place for our country in the world. Such strength must have a strong base of ethics and values, he added.
The presence of lakhs of swayamsevaks is not just the expression of strength of the Sangh, he said adding that it is the acknowledgement of RSS' reach in all the sections of the Hindu society.
The unique, historic event : The Shivshakti Sangam was held at the sprawling 400 acres land in Marunji. A total of 1,58,778 swayamsevaks had registered for this Shavshakti Sangam by January 1. In the last couple of days this figure swelled to over two lakh. Amongst the swayamsevaks 35,713 were college students, over 35,000 employees, more than 33,000 businessmen, over 8,000 doctors, lawyers, chartered accountants, company secretaries, over 8,000 retired persons and more than 20,000 farmers attended the Shivshakti Sangam. They included 102-year-old Shridhar Ballal and 95-year-old Chandulal Mehta of Talegaon Dabhade in full uniform standing in the formation. Four generations of swayamsevaks also participated.
Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadanvis, Union Minister Prakash Javdekar, Pune's Guardian Minister Girish Bapat, Social Justice Minister Dilip Kamble, Tribal Welfare Minister Vishnu Savra, Pune MP Anil Shirole, Amar Sable, State BJP President Ravsaheb Danve, Shivshahir Babasaheb Puradare, Dr Majumdar of Symbosis, P D Patil, Industrialist Abhay Firodia, Saints, Muslim religious scholars and clergy, activists of Muslim Rashtriya Manch, were amongst the prominent guests for the program. --goTop
5. HINDU SPIRITUAL AND SERVICE FAIR 2015 HELD IN BENGALURU: A five-day mega Hindu Spiritual and Service Fair-2015 held in Bangalore concluded on 13th December. The fair encouraged people to offer selfless service to the society, inspired patriotism and promoted awareness to preserve the environment. The fair, first of its kind in Karnataka, was organized to represent the service activities of Hindu religious organizations of the state. Fair had representatives from nearly 200 major socio-religious service organizations who had set up their stalls to display the various activities undertaken by them and to involve the public to be part of the process of social transformation.
In a special programme 'Param Veer Vandana' spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravishankar addressed the gathering. "Our temples are not just centers of worships. But are the centres of social transformation," said Dinesh Kamat, National organising secretary of Samskrit Bharati , quoting the example of Siddaganga Math in Karnataka for its great service for education. Head of Mangalayan Project and noted Scientist Dr Mailaswamy Annadorai mentioned that Science and Spiritualism will always work together in service of humanity. A special dance show featuring various Yoga postures was also performed in the afternoon by 'Yogashree' group, a forum for Yoga in Bengaluru. 5 former soldiers were also felicitated on the occasion. --goTop
6. HINDUISM HAS ROOM FOR ALL FORMS OF BELIEF: SC: The Supreme Court on 16th December sought to dispel the notion about rigidity of Hinduism harboured in certain quarters and said it was the "collective wisdom and inspiration of the centuries" even as it delivered a landmark judgment saying the state could not have a say in who should be appointed a pujari (priest) in a temple.
"Religion incorporates the particular belief(s) that a group of people subscribe to. Hinduism, as a religion, incorporates all forms of belief without mandating the selection or elimination of any one single belief," a bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and N V Ramana said.
"It is a religion that has no single founder, no single scripture and no single set of teachings. It has been described as Sanatan Dharma, namely, eternal faith, as it is the collective wisdom and inspiration of the centuries that Hinduism seeks to preach and propagate," it added.
Deciding a petition by Adi Saiva Sivachariyagal Nala Sangam which had challenged a Tamil Nadu government order of 2006 deciding to take up appointment of priests to temples, the SC ruled that priests could be appointed as per norms prescribed by the scriptures so long as the selection did not violate the Constitution's cardinal non-discrimination mandate. --goTop
7. YOGA IS NOW GLOBAL HERITAGE: NARENDRA MODI: Noting that Yoga is now a global heritage with the world embracing traditional Bharatiya medicine with great enthusiasm, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 3rd January said that his vision for healthcare is an integrated system that understands and builds on the best and most effective of different traditions.
Modi was in Bengaluru to address the 21st International Conference on Frontiers in Yoga Research and Its Applications at the Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana. Its founder Dr. H.R. Nagendra is "Across the world there are moving stories of transformed lives and rekindled hopes due to Yoga. Across cultures and geography, people are increasingly taking to yoga to redefine their lives. The overwhelming global support is a mark of Yoga's growing international popularity," he added. --goTop
8. HARMANDIR SAHIB, SARNATH AMONG 46 SITES ON TENTATIVE UNESCO LIST: Sarnath, where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon, Sri Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar, Sikhism holiest shrine, Assam's river island Majuli and Mughal Gardens in Srinagar are among 46 Bhartiya sites on UNESCO's tentative list for consideration for nomination as World Heritage Sites.
Thirty-two cultural and natural sites in Bharat already figure in the World Heritage list, Culture and Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma told the Lok Sabha. The tentative list includes Temples at Bishnupur in West Bengal; Mattanchery Palace, Ernakulam in Kerala; Group of Monuments at Mandu in Madhya Pradesh; Ancient Buddhist Site, Sarnath, Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh; Sri Harimandir Sahib, Amritsar in Punjab; and River Island of Majuli in midstream of Brahmaputra River in Assam. --goTop
9. TREWYN SCHOOL FIRST GRADERS CELEBRATE DEEPAVALI WITH PEORIA SHAKHA SEVIKAS: After being informed by their teacher that their reading tutors were going to celebrate the Hindu festival of Deepavali with them, the Trewyn School first graders anxiously awaited the day. The day of celebration began with decorating the first grade room with toran, kandil and lamps by the sevikas. All the 60 first graders were delighted to see all their tutors dressed in sarees. The children were greeted with a Namaste and its explanation. An introduction about the festival, explaining the meaning and significance of Deepavali followed. The children learnt about Goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. The definition of wealth was discussed as not only material wealth but also more importantly health, loving family and good education. A short story of Lord Ram and Sita was narrated. It was followed by an animated video on Ramayana. The children loved the Diwali sweets (Homemade pedha in shape of modak). Treat bags were gifted to each child which had Parle G packets, rangoli coloring pages and crayon box along with other goodies. Children had lots of questions which were answered at the end of the presentation. As part of the Peoria Shakha Sewa projects, Diwali food drive was organized. The granola bars and other children snacks that were collected were donated to the school. --goTop
10. PSLV-C29 PUTS 6 SINGAPORE SATELLITES IN PRECISE ORBIT: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has put in orbit six Singapore satellites. A core-alone version of the PSLV (without solid strap-ons) took off from the first launch pad of Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, 100km north of Chennai, at 6pm on December 16. A little more than 18 minutes later, the rocket ejected the 400kg TeLEOS-1 into a 555km circular orbit. The other five satellites (two micro satellites and one nano satellite) were put in orbit within another three minutes before the fourth stage of the rocket re-started to move away from the satellites before. Soon after the last of the satellites was put in the orbit, ISRO chairman AS Kiran Kumar announced the mission a success. It was PSLV 32nd flight, and the 31st consecutively successful one. --goTop
11. ADHIVAKTA PARISHAD'S 14TH NATIONAL CONFERENCE HELD AT BENGALURU RSS inspired forum for lawyers, ADHIVAKTA PARISHAD's 14th National Conference was held at Art of Living Ashram in Bengaluru. The 3-day national conference began on December 27 and concluded on December 29, 2015.
Sri Sri Ravishankar Guruji, Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh Dr Manmohan Vaidya, Supreme Court Judge Deepak Mishra, Union Law Minister DV Sadananda Gouda, Judge of Karnataka High Court Ashok B Hinchagiri and other prominent functionaries were present during the inaugural.
RSS Sah Sarakaryavah V Bhagaiah addressed at the valedictory. --goTop
12. BHARAT LARGEST REMITTANCES RECEIVING COUNTRY IN 2015: WORLD BANK: Bharat became the largest remittances receiving country at $72 billion this year followed by China at $64 billion, the World Bank said on 17th December.
The US emerged as the largest remittance source country with an estimated $56 billion in outward flows in 2014. "India was the largest remittance receiving country, with an estimated $72 billion in 2015, followed by China ($64 billion), and the Philippines ($30 billion)," the World Bank said in a report.
In outward flow, the US was followed by Saudi Arabia ($37 billion), and Russia ($33 billion) in 2014, the Bank said in the report. --goTop
13. TATA MOTORS: THE BHARATIYA FIRM ON TOP-50 GLOBAL R&D LIST: Tata Motors has entered the top-50 league of the world's biggest companies in terms of their R&D investments, topped by German automaker Volkswagen.
On the annual Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard for 2015, prepared by European Commission, Volkswagen is followed by Samsung, Microsoft, Intel and Novartis in the top-five.
Tata Motors has moved up from 104th position last year to 49th now and has also shown the largest increase in R&D (Research and Development) investments on the list. However, most of this R&D is at its UK subsidiary Jaguar Land Rover.
Bharat is overall placed at 15th position in terms of the number of companies on the list. --goTop
14. US GROUP ASKS BANGLADESH TO PROTECT HINDU COMMUNITY: A US-based Hindu advocacy group has requested Bangladesh to take steps for protecting the minority community in view of two recent terrorist attacks targeting temples in the country.
Hindu American Foundation's (HAF) request comes after two separate attacks targeting a religious congregation at the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) and a gathering of over 5,000 people at the historic Kantaji temple took place within a week in Bangladesh.
"We have directly called upon the government of Bangladesh to fully investigate these incidents and to protect the lives and properties of the Hindu community," HAF's director of Government Relations Jay Kansara said on 15th December.
"The Foundation has also requested US Ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat and other US officials to visit the sites of the attacks in order to assure the Hindu minority of Bangladesh that the US stands with them in their time of need," he said. --goTop
15. OBAMA TO PRESENT NATIONAL MEDAL OF SCIENCE TO BHARATIYA -AMERICAN PROF: President Barack Obama will present the National Medal of Science to Dr. Rakesh K. Jain, a Bharatiya-American professor at Harvard Medical School and director of tumor biology laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Jain, a B. Tech in Chemical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur, will receive the honour along with 16 other winners of the National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology and Innovation at a White House ceremony early next year.
Jain is regarded as a pioneer in the area of tumour micro-environment and widely recognized for his seminal discoveries in tumor biology, drug delivery, in vivo imaging, bioengineering, and bench-to-bedside translation. --goTop
16. ATAL SETU OPENS, TO IMPROVE CONNECTIVITY WITH HIMACHAL, PUNJAB: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar inaugurated the strategically important 592-metre-long cable-stayed bridge 'Atal Setu' on Ravi river near Basohli in Kathua district that will provide close connectivity to three states - Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.
'Atal Setu', an engineering marvel, is the fourth bridge of its kind in the country. The other three cable-stayed bridges are Hooghly Bridge at Kolkata, Naini Bridge in Allahabad and Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link in Mumbai.
The bridge will act as a catalyst for further development of the region with payoffs in terms of providing alternative connectivity to Doda and rest of the Kashmir Valley in addition to the existing NH-44. It will lead to a surge in commercial and tourism-related activities in the area, including water and adventure sports also. Militarily, the strategic bridge on the Pathankot-Doda axis will help quick induction of armed forces to Kashmir and improve the overall security calculus of the region during war and emergency situations. --goTop
17. CALL FOR YOGIS TO TEACH IN MEXICAN PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Yoga is now being added to physical education programs in Mexico's schools in order to address major problems of childhood obesity and bullying. There are two "sports yoga" pilot programs now operating, one in the state of Jalisco and the other in the Mexico City Federal District. Another pilot program will begin early next year in the state of Quintana Roo, in Yucatan. Approval for the expansion of these programs to schools across the country is expected.
In Tulum Mariela Rosales Ruiz has announced the call, by the Mexican Federation of Sport Yoga (FEMYD), for professional yoga instructors to teach these classes. It is estimated that at least 2,000 teachers will be needed to meet the demand and there could be more. "One would need to be certified by the Federation to be part of this project," she said. Requirements are already on the web site. She also observed that Tulum is "a huge portal for yoga and there is the possibility of the Federation also certifying people who are not Mexicans, those who have the training and experience". --goTop
18. ISRAEL INAUGURATES ROUNDABOUT TO HONOUR GANDHI: The first roundabout honouring Mahatma Gandhi was inaugurated on 4th January at Kiryat Gat - Israel celebrating 60 years of this Israeli town's establishment.
"It is a symbol of the warm friendship enjoyed between the people of India and Israel and the two countries politically. It is a proud moment for us to be honouring a leader whose message remains relevant till today," the Mayor of Kiryat Gat, Aviram Dahari, said.
Calling upon local students gathered at the ceremony to learn from the great Bharatiya leader, Dahari said it is also an "educational initiative for local children to learn about other cultures and their greats". Kiryat Gat is a small township in the south of Israel with about 2,000 Bharatiyas from the Bene Israel community living here. --goTop
19. OVER 3,300 VANVASI SPORTSPERSONS IN THE VANVASI KREEDA MAHOTSAVA: Seventh Akhil Bharatiya Vanvasi Kreeda Mahotsava organized by the Akhil Bharatiya Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram concluded at Khel Gaon of Ranchi on December 31. Around 3,300 Vanvasi sportspersons from across the country displayed their talent and received huge applause from the audience and the sports experts assembled at the Khel Gaon. It was a show of national unity more than that of the sports meet, which is organized every five years to tap the sports talent of the Vanvasis. Since its inception in Mumbai, the Meet has so far discovered scores of sports persons who excelled at national and international level and earned sports persons for Bharat. Limba Ram in archery and Kavita Raut who won medal during the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010 are the proud products of such sports meets.
The meet was inaugurated by Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das and RSS Sarkaryavah Shri Bhaiyaji Joshi, Kalyan Ashram president Shri Jagdevram Oraon and many other dignitaries from sports field as well as Union ministers addressed the gatherings. --goTop
JAI SHRI RAM
Scrap Article 370 to reverse worst act of intolerance in recent Indian history: Exile of Kashmiri Pandits
I speak to audiences, wherever i go, about the plight of my brethren - the Kashmiri Pandits - who have been horrific victims of intolerance. Over 300,000 Pandits had to flee the land of their forefathers, arguably the finest countryside on this planet, overnight on January 19, 1990.
It was the culmination of a long list of attacks against Kashmiri Hindus by militants from Pakistan aided by the citizenry; a tale of murders, kidnappings and rape which had been going on unchecked by the state government since 1988. Not surprisingly, virtually none of the perpetrators of such violence have been arrested.
On the days preceding January 19, the ominous word had gone out everywhere that Pandits should either embrace Islam and stay on, or leave the homeland of their ancestors. Of course Pandits were also told that they could leave behind their womenfolk - the Panditas - for reasons which you might correctly surmise.
Overnight the Pandits decided to flee for their safety and honour of their women. It was not a 'migration' as the media and 'secularists' continue to term it; it was India's first and only instance of ethnic cleansing.
And this ethnic cleansing has been wilfully kept under wraps by a cabal of politicians, bureaucrats and sections of a celebrity-chasing media. I recently went to the Jagti camp, the largest settlement of Kashmiri Pandits in Jammu, which houses about 7,000 refugees from the Valley. They have left behind pastures, apple orchards, clear streams, the mountain air and their homes for matchbox one room plus kitchens in crumbling PWD-built tenements on the outskirts of Jammu.
Almost all the men were graduates - the Pandits were highly educated folk - but few currently find employment. I went to deliver a message of hope. But what message could i deliver to a people who are refugees in their own country? A people whose struggle successive administrations have tamped down during the past quarter century.
These were the worst victims of intolerance in our country since Independence - whose existence has eluded public consciousness - and yet the debate of the so-called growing 'intolerance' around us swirls in the cocktail circuits of our metros, completely ignoring the plight of the Pandits!
I am besieged by hordes of people, the old, the middle-aged and the young. All of them have hope in their eyes and a request on their mouths. Many of them thrust chits of paper in my hand. These are requests for a job, for a word to be put in the right places, a recommendation and, sadly - money for cancer treatment. I meet many people who have been struck by the deadly C and ponder over the link between cancer and stress.
I know it is my duty to keep their story alive by telling and retelling it wherever i go. Just as the victims of the Holocaust have kept their stories alive globally, to remarkable effect.
'Don't give us hope, give us solutions,' shouts a youngster. I have a solution, i tell them. We must scrap Article 370 of the Constitution. We must amend the Constitution because the article was made as a temporary and transitional provision. It accorded a special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir under which citizens of other states of India cannot purchase property and settle down.
Faced with terrorism fostered across the border for decades, and with an anti-national militancy movement to boot, the special circumstances Kashmir currently finds itself in call for special measures.
What has led to the cauldron being allowed to simmer is that no elements from the rest of India have been allowed to play a neutralising role. Ironically, all the while rogue elements from across the border continue to play havoc and lead public discourse.
The influx of a large number of people from across the country will reshape political equations and restore sanity and peace to a land troubled by militancy and wracked by violence for decades. It will also spur investment as corporates will chase talent flooding into the Valley.
Finally, the restoration of peace will pave the way for the return and rehabilitation of original inhabitants of the Valley, the Pandits. (The writer is a film actor. Views are personal, Times of India January 5, 2016). --goTop