Jayeshta Krishna 11, Vik.Samvat 2073. Yugabda 5118: 1 June 2016

1. festivals: Shivrajyabhishek Din 2. RSS 3RD YEAR PRASHIKSHAN VARG STARTS IN NAGPUR




1. festivals: Shivrajyabhishek Din, the day on which Chhatrapati Shivaji coronated himself as a Hindu King in 1674 falls on Jyeshth Shuddha 13. It was a momentous occasion for the whole Hindu society across Bharat to have a Hindu King after centuries of foreign invasion, subjugation and plunder. The event itself instilled a flame in the society to fight such aggressions and rejuvenate the Dharma. Shakhas of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh celebrate the day as Hindu Samrajya Divas.  It is also observed as Hindu Sangathan Divas at many other places. -goTop


2. RSS 3RD YEAR PRASHIKSHAN VARG STARTS IN NAGPUR: RSS Saha Sara Karyavah Dattatreya Hosabale, in his inaugural address on 16th May to the Tritiya Varsh varga at ReshimBag - Nagpur gave a brief history of RSS and the vargas. "The annual Tritiya varsh prashikshan varg of RSS provides an opportunity to all the participants to know, understand, experience and imbibe 'Bharat' in their hearts", he observed. Varg Sarvadhikari Prof Dr. Vanyarajan, Karyawah Harish Kulkarni, Palak Adhikari Swant Ranjan and Sahsarkaryawah Bhagayya were present on the dais. 981 youth swayamsevaks, drawn from all the states of Bharat are participating in this training camp.

Hosabale said that after completing this training no degree is given to the swayamsevaks, but this training is necessary for them so that they can perform their roles more effectively He appealed to the participating swayamsevaks to take advantage of this 'sadhana' and 'tapasya' of Sangh Shiksha Varg' and enhance their life along with RSS mission and vow to follow this lifelong.-goTop


3. 'INDIA' STAYS IN CALIFORNIA TEXTBOOKS: More than a hundred Hindu American children, parents and Hindu community organizations testified in front of the California Department of Education (CDE) about the negative portrayal of Bharat and Hinduism in California textbooks in the last week of May 2016. Many children narrated instances of bullying, stereotypes and harassment they have to face in their classrooms due to such depiction. 'Why is Hinduism - their religion and Bharat - their country of origin being singled out for such inaccurate and inequitable depiction, the children sought to know. The Hindu American groups and individuals also opposed attempts by a group of academics named 'South Asia Faculty Group' (SAFG) to delete the word 'India' in over 30 places in the textbook framework. The letter written by the group of academics with links to radical Left and Islamist groups such as Forum of Inquilabi Leftists (FOIL) and Friends of South Asia (FOSA), had argued that all mentions of 'India' before 1947 had to be deleted and in some places had to be replaced by "South Asia". The Hindu community had disapproved of these changes and had raised strong objections. Many individuals who testified at the commission's meeting on May 19th brought out comparisons with other ancient civilizations like Greek and China that are known by their names in the textbooks but only Bharat was being objectified by replacing it with a geographical moniker.

The Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) which seemed to have accepted the suggestions of SAFG in March, rejected most of them when scholarly objections to these contentions were brought to its notice.

The SAFG had made a desperate last minute attempt to try and discredit the scholars and groups who were disagreeing with them by making wild allegations and had also tried to portray Hindu community's genuine attempts to bring equitability to the content as "revisionism". The Commission paid no heed to this and reversed many suggestions by SAFG that had been accepted earlier. So in a sense it is a victory to the Hindu Americans in their quest for equality and fair portrayal of their religion and culture in California textbooks. 'India' was reinstated, so was 'Hinduism', and mentions to Rishis Vyasa and Valmiki saw their way back into the textbooks.

With the keen participation of Hindu organizations like Hindu Education Foundation (HEF), Hindu American Foundation (HAF) and Uberoi Foundation (UF), in the textbook framework adoption process, the Commission could be convinced to include Hindu teachings, philosophy, art, music, dances and architecture in the textbooks over the period of last two years. But the content on Hinduism and Bharat is still not on par with the content on other religions and cultures. -goTop


4. NATIONAL HINDU BUDDHIST CONFERENCE AT COLOMBO:   A National Hindu Buddhist conference was organized by All Ceylon Hindu Buddhist Council 14th May at Buddhist Cultural Centre, Colombo. The conference had the blessings from Most Venerable Kirama Vimala Jothi thero, Chairman Buddhist Cultural Centre and Swami Sarvaroopanandhaji Maharaj President Ramakrishna Mission - Colombo. Shri D. Easwaran who built the biggest Buddha stone statue in Srilanka presided over the conference.

Shri D.M. Swaminathan Hon Minister for Resettlement and rehabilitation, Hindu Cultural affairs & Prison reform, delivered his special address and emphasized the need of Hindu Buddhist unity in Srilanka.      Prof Praneeth Abeysundhara President All Ceylon Buddhist Congress and seven other speakers spoke on various topics. In his speech, Prof Praneeth glorified the Hindu traditions and Bhagvath Geetha. He said that Srilankan Hindus and Buddhist should come out from Political agenda and should unite as same traditional religions.

Sri N.K.S Thiruchelvam, history researcher delivered an inspirational talk in Sinhala language on Contribution of Buddhist kings to Hindu temples. Sri N. Arunkanth President of Hindu federation presented the facts on how several goals were achieved through the Hindu Buddhist unity. He mentioned that in Eastern province construction of Mosque at a Hindu's place was stopped because of Buddhist monks' intervention and a statue of Swami Vipulananda - renowned Hindu monk in Eastern provinces, was erected there. 

A total of 300 delegates from 53 Hindu and Buddhist organizations participated from all over the island. -goTop


5. ASSAM CLASS 10 TOPPER IS A MUSLIM BOY FROM RSS-BACKED SCHOOL: Sarfaraz Hussain topped the Assam state board's Class 10 exam with 590 marks out of a maximum 600 when the results were declared on 31st May.  16-year-old Sarfaraz is the first Muslim to pass from a school run by an affiliate of Vidya Bharati, the RSS's education wing with such distinction.

He is not the only Muslim student of Sankardev Sishu Niketan, one of the many schools run by the Vidya Bharati-affiliated Sishu Shiksha Samiti, Assam. The school at Betkuchi on the outskirts of Guwahati has 24 Muslim students, most of whom - like Sarfaraz - have won prizes for reciting the Bhagwad Gita.

"They have never complained about what we teach because our emphasis is on academic excellence apart from giving the students a grip on Indian culture and values," told Akshaya Kalita, the school's headmaster.

Ajmal Hussain, Sarfaraz's father credited his son's success to his hard work, the support from his schoolteachers, and also to the Hindu goddess of learning, Saraswati. Sarfaraz was the secretary of the school's Saraswati Puja celebrations. "The school shaped my life, and I hope to achieve greater academic glory as my teachers expect," Sarfaraz said. -goTop


6. HINDU DHARMA SEMINAR FOR THE RICHARD LEE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Several HSS swayamsevaks and sevikas came together to host the seminar for elementary school teachers conducted by HSS in partnership with Hindu University of America (HUA) on April 25th in Richard Lee Elementary, Irving TX. About 57 teaachers participated in both seminars.

Quite a few interesting cultural stations were designed for teachers to give them a taste of Bharatiya culture. This set up helped the attendees learn in small groups; it was a guided, uninhibited and intense walkthrough of different aspects of Bharatiya culture. Most popular was the language station where the attendees tried saying 'how are you' and 'I am fine' in languages - Hindi, Gujarati, and Telugu. A few curious teachers visited the station about various Gods in Hindu dharma. Another colorful station about festivals was a huge center of attraction. Making rangoli, getting henna on the palms, draping saree and rolling of rotis were few more interesting stations well taken by female teachers who did not want to miss a chance to try their look in an altogether different getup. -goTop


7. SRI SRI GUIDES AFRICA IN MEDITATION: The Art of Living foundation has conducted the 'I Meditate Africa' campaign where Sri Sri Ravi Shankar guided 21 African countries, as well as the international community, via webcast in a special Africa peace meditation. Luzira prison in Uganda saw 250 inmates join Sri Sri via the live link up for the peace campaign, with several on the ground events in South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Zimbabwe among other places. -goTop


8. INDUS ERA 8,000 YEARS OLD, NOT 5,500; Scientists from IIT-Kharagpur and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) have uncovered evidence that the Indus Valley Civilization is at least 8,000 years old, and not 5,500 years old, taking root well before the Egyptian (7000BC to 3000BC) and Mesopotamian (6500BC to 3100BC) civilizations. What's more, the researchers have found evidence of a pre-Harappan civilization that existed for at least 1,000 years before this.

"We have recovered perhaps the oldest pottery from the civilization. We used a technique called 'optically stimulated luminescence' to date pottery shards of the Early Mature Harappan time to nearly 6,000 years ago and the cultural levels of pre-HarappanHakra phase as far back as 8,000 years," said Anindya Sarkar, head of the department of geology and geophysics at IIT-Kharagpur.

The researchers believe that the Indus Valley Civilization spread over a vast expanse of Bharat - stretching to the banks of the now "lost" Saraswati river or the Ghaggar-Hakra river - but this has not been studied enough because what we know so far is based on British excavations. "At the excavation sites, we saw preservation of all cultural levels right from the pre-Indus Valley Civilization phase (9000-8000 BC) through what we have categorised as Early Harappan (8000-7000BC) to the Mature Harappan times," said Sarkar.

They took their dig to an unexplored site, Bhirrana - and ended up unearthing something much bigger. The excavation also yielded large quantities of animal remains like bones, teeth, horn cores of cow, goat, deer and antelope, which were put through Carbon 14 analysis to decipher antiquity and the climatic conditions in which the civilization flourished, said Arati Deshpande Mukherjee of Deccan College, which helped analyze the finds along with Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad. -goTop


9. BHARAT SUCCESSFULLY LAUNCHES INDIGENOUS REUSABLE LAUNCH VEHICLE:  Taking baby steps towards developing a reusable launch vehicle capable of sending spacecraft into orbit and returning to the earth's surface, the Indian Space Research Organization ISRO, successfully tested the country's first winged-body aerospace vehicle on 30th May.

The technology, when developed completely, would launch spacecraft, including satellites, into space and re-enter the earth's atmosphere withstanding extreme pressure and heat conditions and land in an intended spot, helping to cut costs on launch vehicles substantially.

A booster rocket, carrying a winged-body aerospace vehicle (RLV-TD), took off from the spaceport at Sriharikota, some 100 km from Chennai, at 7 a.m. It climbed for about 90 seconds before its burnout. Coasting to an altitude of 56 km, where it was separated from the booster, RLV-TD inclined further to 65 km, an ISRO release said. From an altitude of 65 km, the vehicle made a re-entry into the earth's atmosphere at Mach 5 (five times the speed of sound) and steered by its navigation, guidance and control system for safe descent, it glided down to the defined landing spot in the Bay of Bengal, 450 km from Sriharikota. K. Sivan, director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram, says, "These are just the first baby steps towards the big Hanuman leap." -goTop


10. GURUVANDANA AT AARYA CHANAKYA SHAKHA TROY - MICHIGAN The  program was held in the Old Prayer Hall at the Bharatiya Temple. The students of Troy Balagokulam were asked to invite their teachers to Guru Vandana program. 22 teachers from the Troy School District, Bharatiya temple, Gurukul Montessori, and Brookfield Academy, along with 65 students and parents attended.

Discourses and recitals on Guru Vandana, brief introduction to the goddess of knowledge Saraswati, the Guru as equivalent to the almighty God, the benefits of Surya Namaskar, Hindu Dharma and Guru-shishyaparampara were highlights of the event.

The chief guest, Dr. Richard Machesky, in his message, mentioned that he was impressed by the importance given to education in Hindu culture. Dr. Yashpalji Lakra spoke about Guru-Shishya tradition in ancient Bharat and how the wisdom of Vedas was passed on from more than 6000 years ago. Similar Guruvandana programs were held at various HSS shakhas in USA viz Vivekananda Shakha, North Carolina, Jai Ganesh shakha Smyrna Georgia etc. -goTop


11. ATLANTA SEVIKA EKATRIKARAN was held on April 9th at RadhaMadhav Society, Duluth from 10.30 to 3.30 pm. The goal was to focus on Achar paddhathi, learn how to conduct khel and Geeth/sholka in shakha. Ganesha Vandana, Sanghik Geeth, games, the Mahakhel, a combination of cricket, soccer and baseball, bauddhik on the significance of Achar paddhathi were main events. Everyone could appreciate the logic behind following agjans and why we do what we do in shakha. Practicing Aachar padhathi, testing agility in following the the Aajnas, Geet Abhyas, Charcha about "My role and my contribution (towards Society)" were other attractions of the Ekatrikaran. Saiji Patil gave inspiring stories from Taiji Apte's life. -goTop


12. BHARATIYA ARMY MOUNTAINEERS SUMMIT MOUNT EVEREST: Bharatiya Army mountaineers led by Lieutenant Colonel Ranveer Jamwal and a team of six army mountaineers successfully scaled the Mount Everest (8848M) at dawn on May 19. The 30 member Bharatiya Army’s Everest Massif Expedition 2016 was flagged off by Lieutenant General MMS Rai, Vice Chief of the Army Staff on March 30. These were amongst the initial lot of mountaineers to successfully climb Everest after a hiatus of two years as the peak was closed due to the devastation caused by the earthquake in Nepal last year. -goTop


13. THE KUMBH OF MANY IDEAS : Modi Government must try some of these out

Kumbh melas are associated with many things: From religion and tradition to commerce and crowds to Harvard studies and lost siblings. However, they are rarely seen as deliberative events, similar to the modern-day conference organised by think-tanks, even though, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned at the Vichar Kumbh in Ujjain last week, Kumbh melas in the olden days served a similar purpose. Of course, there was the religious aspect of the mela but the large gatherings were also an opportunity for leaders and thinkers to take stock of national developments and plan ahead. The melas were platforms for debate and discussion; fresh ideas were generated and action plans produced. Over time, however, this aspect of the Kumbh died out  theparampara (ritual) of the fair remained, the pran (soul) was lost. This is where the Vichar Kumbh sought to make a course correction. The three-day conference organised on the sidelines of the Simhastha Kumbh in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, last week, brought together scholars and sages from all over India and abroad to deliberate on the right way of living. One example of how this played out was Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's announcement at one of the plenary sessions that his Government will set up a Ministry of Happiness on the lines of Gross National Happiness concept pioneered by Bhutan. 

The conference focused on four key areas  sanitation, agriculture, cottage industry, and women's empowerment  but also dealt with cross-disciplinary subjects such as climate change, environmental conservation and sustainable development. Under sanitation, several speakers highlighted how cleanliness was a core element of the Indian civilisation even though today India's public spaces are considered to be filthy. For example, long before the rest of the world started brushing their teeth, Indians were doing dant-manjan. The problem of open defecation and the Government's efforts to end the practice were also widely discussed. Even seers supported the slogan of toilets before temples. Notably, Chief Minister Chouhan highlighted that even though many districts had been declared Open Defecation Free, after the construction of a toilet in every household, not everyone had given up defecating in the open. This must draw attention to the bigger challenge of changing individual behaviour in ending open defecation. Under the agriculture sub-theme, the focus was largely on organic farming while the cottage industry segment advocated priority attention for small-scale and medium-scale enterprises, which will serve as the actual engines of economic growth, bringing jobs and prosperity to people. On women's empowerment, experts deliberated upon an internalised approach to feminism instead of the current Western approach which, according to some speakers, seeks to empower from the outside through external forces. (Editorial, Daily Pioneer, 17 May 2016)  -goTop


14. BHARATIYA SKILLED WORKERS GROUP LARGEST IN THE UNITED KINGDOM: Bharatiya nationals living in the United Kingdom constitute largest working group among all the other group of foreign nationals. Bharatiya citizens were granted 57 percent of skilled visas which counts to 52,108 out of the 91,833 visas granted. The American nationals occupy the second place with 9,981 skilled visas; according to the UK's national statistics data. Presently, 10,705 Bharatiya students, 70,515 Chinese students and 13, 970 US students entered the United Kingdom with valid study permits. -goTop


15. BHARAT, WHO INK PACT TO PROMOTE YOGA, AYURVEDA: AYUSH Ministry secretary Ajit M Sharan and Marie Kieny, Assistant Director General, Health Systems and Innovations, WHO have signed in Geneva on May 13 an agreement for cooperation in promoting traditional medicine, a move which will deliver for the first time WHO benchmark document for training in yoga, ayurveda, unani and panchakarma. The agreement titled 'Co-operation on promoting the quality, safety and effectiveness of service provision in traditional and complementary medicine between WHO and AYUSH, India, 2016-2020', aims to support WHO in the development and implementation of the 'WHO Traditional and Complementary Medicine Strategy: 2014-2023. Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Yesso Naik who was also present at the function recalled the long history and rich heritage of traditional medicine in Bharat and its growing relevance in providing holistic and comprehensive health care. -goTop


16. `NOTHING WRONG': NAJMA, VP'S WIFE ON SAME OM PAGE: Union minister for minority affairs Najma Heptulla has said that she sees nothing wrong in chanting "Om" echoing the sentiments of Salma Ansari, wife of Vice-President Hamid Ansari on the matter. On May 23, the Vice-President's wife had said that there is nothing wrong in saying 'Om' while referring to the controversy over chanting of vedic mantras during the International Yoga Day celebrations scheduled to be held this year in Chandigarh. Speaking to reporters, Salma Ansari said, "Nothing wrong in saying `OM' don't you say `Allah' or God or `Rab'? What is the difference?" When asked if she agreed with Salma Ansari's view, Heptulla said, "The vice president's wife is right and I agree with her. She also knows yoga so she knows the benefits." -goTop


17. YOGA MAY HELP PREVENT AND CONTROL DIABETES TYPE 2, STUDIES: Yoga can be helpful in prevention and management of type 2 diabetes mellitus in adults, scientific reviews of over 25 trials conducted globally shows. Systematic reviews of trials conducted on Bharatiyas as well as Americans show yoga can help control blood sugar levels, improve the lipid profile and manage body weight, all of which can be very effective in preventing type 2 diabetes. The reviews were recently published in two international medical journals - Elsevier and the Journal of Diabetes Research. The health ministry has also commissioned similar large-scale studies in Bharat through S-VYASA, a Bharatiya university for Yoga. -goTop


18. ROYAL NAVY FACILITATED "MURTI VISARJAN": 12th May was a historic day for Hindu community in UK and the Royal Navy. For the very first time Royal Navy facilitated "Murti Visarjan" (idol immersion) ceremony at sea in partnership with Shree Geeta Bhawan Hindu Temple, Birmingham. The ship chosen for the purpose was RFA Wave Ruler.

The 'Murti Visarjan' ceremony was conducted for a damaged Murti of Bhagwan Vishnu belonging to Shree Geeta Bhawan Hindu Temple, Birmingham. The ceremony, on board RFA Wave Ruler, was conducted by the Hindu Chaplain to the Armed Forces, Shri Acharya Krishan Kant Attri ji, accompanied by Shree Geeta Bhawan Hindu Temple's own priest, Acharya Dharm Dutt Vashista ji, witnessed by invited guests from the Birmingham, Plymouth Swindon, Newcastle and wider Hindu communities. Aarti of the ship was performed by Shri Acharya Krishan Kant Attri ji and commodore Dain Morritt with Shankh dhwani (divine conch sound) in the background. The ship then  sailed towards the pre designated spot for the immersion in Weymouth bay. At around 11:00 AM, the immersion ceremony began with traditional mantras and offerings of milk, sweets, flowers, akshat (unbroken rice) and water. Murti of Lord Vishnu was then lifted and lowered in the sea by the cranes of Wave Ruler.  -goTop


19. CAR MADE BY IITIANS SET FOR RACE ON GLOBAL STAGE: A racing car developed by over 75 IITians from the Bombay branch is set to compete against similar models designed by over 100 student teams from around the world. It took the team nine months to design the car, named 'ORCA'.

"With an acceleration of 0-100kmph in 3.47 seconds, ORCA is faster than any other sports car made by Porsche, Tesla or Audi. Not only is its acceleration a record, it is the first time we have a special steel-frame chassis with carbon-fibre manufactured body, which not only reduces the weight but also stabilizes the car at high speeds," said Rishabh Kappasia, a 4th-year student of Engineering Physics and leader of Team ORCA. -goTop


20. 12-YEAR-OLD BHARATIYA-AMERICAN GENIUS EYES TO BECOME DOCTOR AT 18: A 12-year-old Bharatiya-American boy, who was congratulated by President Barack Obama after he became the youngest ever to graduate from a US collage, is eyeing to become a doctor by the time he turns 18 as he has been accepted to two prestigious university campuses,  "I think I'll be 18 when I get my MD (medical degree)," Abraham was quoted as saying by CBC Sacramento television station on May 22. Abraham graduated from American River College in Sacramento alongside 1,800 students last year. He said that he wanted to become the President of the United States.Abraham, is the youngest to graduate from the college last year. He became one of the youngest ever in the US to graduate high school. -goTop


21. HEARING IMPAIRED BOY BRAVES DISABILITY: D. Mariappan, of Bedarahalli Government High School in Karnataka, has scored 375 out of 400 marks. His 85 per cent hearing impairment and his poverty paled in front of his scores - a centum in Math, 90 in Tamil, 95 in social science, and 90 in science. The school went the extra mile to get a medical certificate to help him avail the concession. "He wouldn't wear his hearing aid fearing taunts," says headmistress K. Kala. But nobody teased him. -goTop


FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Like the appearance of silver in mother of pearl, the world seems real until the Self, the underlying reality, is realized. - Adi Shankaracharya -goTop




Modi’s outreach to Iran will help pull India out of the narrow straitjacket of South Asia

 Talmiz Ahmad

The signing of the Chabahar port development agreement and the trilateral trade and transit pact between India, Afghanistan and Iran during Prime Minister NarendraModi's visit to Tehran have the potential to significantly change strategic equations in the region. These agreements will put in place geo-economic, political and military relationships that will pull India out of the narrow straitjacket of South Asia and make it a role-player in the security and stability of its extended neighbourhood.

The personal bonhomie between the Indian and the Iranian leaders, their understanding of the historic and civilisational context of the bilateral relationship, and their highlighting of the real synergies that bind the two nations constitute solid foundations for a new partnership, firmly putting behind the recurrent bitterness and anguish of the sanctions era.

While energy will remain central to the relationship, the two leaders have envisioned much broader ties. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani noted that his country was "rich in energy" while India had "rich minds", factors that, operating in tandem, would yield achievements in frontier areas such as ICT, bio and nanotechnology, and space and aerospace.

The trade and transit corridors will enable India and Iran to contribute to Afghanistan's economic development and its stability. They will also be able to take joint action against the scourge of the Taliban and Pakistan’s pernicious role in Afghanistan, which have destroyed Afghanistan's integrity and threaten stability in South and Central Asia as well.

The Chabahar corridor is complemented by the India-supported International North-South Transit Corridor that goes north-westwards from the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. Both corridors go to Central Asia, Russia and Europe. The Central Asian Republics, which were in the vortex of competition between the US, Russia and China a decade ago, have been anxious to see a larger Indian presence in the region.

However, India's outreach has till now been restricted by the absence of land connections, while global sanctions had prevented Iran from pursuing its interests in the region. The new corridors will change this situation dramatically: they have rightly been described by Modi as "new routes for peace and prosperity".

Naturally, there will be other nations competing for influence in Central Asia: China will loom large, particularly with the One Belt One Road (OBOR) projects that, when completed, will recreate the old Silk Road that dominated Eurasian commerce and culture for over two millennia. Iran has a major place in these OBOR-related connections.

While some Indian commentators view OBOR as a manifestation of China's hegemonic intentions, India should actually see an opportunity in OBOR to merge its own logistical connections with this important enterprise. For several centuries before the imperialist era, Indian economic participation in the Silk Road, with its goods and merchants, was central to the promotion of regional commerce and ultimately in the shaping of the great Eurasian civilisation that resonates to this day.

Still, there is little doubt that China is also attaching the highest importance to developing ties with Iran and the Arab Gulf states. China's stakes in the region remain significant, primarily on account of its energy and economic interests. Again, partnership with Iran will enhance its strategic presence in the regional scenario. It has, however, avoided giving any hint of playing a diplomatic role to douse fires in the region.

India is much better placed in this regard due to its millennia-old links with the region, the high level of cultural comfort it enjoys, its crucial interests in regional stability due to its own energy and economic interests and, above all, the presence of its eight-million strong community in the Gulf.

Modi's visit to Iran has come soon after his engagements with the Arab Gulf states of UAE and Saudi Arabia. All three interactions have reshaped political and economic ties to make them relevant to contemporary times; and, all three relationships have been imparted a "strategic" value since the countries concerned share concerns relating to extremism and terrorism and regional stability.

In Tehran, Modi affirmed this when he noted that India and Iran "share a crucial stake in peace, stability and prosperity" in the region, and also have shared concerns relating to "instability, radicalism and terror". As in Abu Dhabi and Riyadh earlier, in Tehran too both countries have agreed to enhance cooperation between their defence and security institutions.

However, these words will have little meaning unless major players in the region with an abiding stake in West Asian security, actually take the initiative to engage actively with the region's nations now engaged in "existential" contention. Modi clearly set out the principles of the new regional order when he said during his Japan visit last year: "Today, the watchwords of international ties are trust, not suspicion; cooperation, not dominance; inclusivity, not exclusion."

These principles can shape the India-led initiative to bring competing Islamic giants to a discussion platform. The leaders have shown the way; it is now for officials to take up the challenge. For none of the visions of connectivity and cooperation will have much value if West Asia remains locked in conflict. Instead of altering the course of history, as Modi has envisioned, we will only witness another missed opportunity.-The writer served as Bharatiya ambassador to several countries in West Asia. (Times of India May 25, 2016.) -goTop

Shri Vishwa Niketan,,