Basant Panchami (Magh Shukla 5), Vik.Samvat 2073, Yugabda 5118

1. FESTIVALS: Swami Ramakrishna Paramahamsa Jayanti 2. Rashtrapati Pranab Mukherjee bats for tolerance yet again
7. Beam me up: India doesn't need subsidies or punitive taxes to leapfrog into the era of digital payments 8. MOHAN BHAGWAT CALLS FOR REACHING OUT THE GRASS ROOT LEVEL
9.  HINDUS CANNOT LIVE FREELY IN PARTS OF BHARAT: MOHAN BHAGWAT 10. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose's 120th Birth Anniversary Celebrations in Tokyo
13. SWAYAMSEVAKS RECEIVING TRAINING AT-3 DEGREE TEMPERATURE 14. IITs world number four in creating billion-dollar startups
15. Vadodara's special school children sing national anthem in sign language 16. Bharatiya-American to head communications commission
17. `In future, US can even have a Hindu prez' 18. BHARATIYA techie sells company to Cisco for $3.7 billion
19. Three BHARATIYA - origin conferred with Australia's highest civilian award 20. KIRTI CHAKRA FOR MAJOR WHO LED SURGICAL STRIKES
21. Hindu American Foundation Executive Director Named "Faith Leader to Watch in 2017" 22. Sewa International Appeal to Help families of Martyred Soldiers in Kashmir


reconnect with roots


1. FESTIVALS: Swami Ramakrishna Paramahamsa Jayanti falls on Phalgun Shukla Dwitiya corresponding to February 28 this year. Swami Ramakrishna said, "I have practiced Hinduism, Islam, Christianity - and I have also followed the paths of the different Hindu sects. I have found that it is the same God toward whom all are directing their steps, though along different paths. You must try all beliefs and traverse all the different ways once. Wherever I look, I see men quarrelling in the name of religion-Hindus, Mohammedans, Brahmos, Vaishnavas and the rest. But they never reflect that He who is called Krishna is also called Shiva, and bears the name of primal energy, Jesus and Allah as well-the same Rama with a thousand names." He also said, "A man cannot live without God as a lamp cannot burn without oil."

To celebrate the birthday of such a great master is very important for the whole world as it would remind it what its journey and what its destiny must be. -goTop


2. Rashtrapati Pranab Mukherjee bats for tolerance yet again: Rashtrapati Pranab Mukherjee in his address to the nation on the eve of 68th Republic Day described pluralism as Bharat's greatest strength. "We have a noisy democracy. Yet, we need more and not less of democracy," he said. He suggested a return to the "practice of the early decades when elections to Lok Sabha and state assemblies were held simultaneously", an idea which the Modi government is very keen on debating.

Rashtrapatiji cited Swachh Bharat Mission for a clean Bharat, MGNREGA for employment generation, Aadhaar for direct transfer of benefits, Digital Bharat for creating a knowledge economy, Start-up Bharat and Atal Innovation Mission for fostering new-age entrepreneurship and Skill Bharat initiative for skilling 300 million youth by 2022. -goTop


3. PM: OUR YOuth has resisted radicalisation: Pradhan Mantri Narendra Modi on January 19 said that youth in Bharat have successfully resisted radicalisation, which has affected several parts of the world today. Interacting with a delegation comprising Muslim Ulema, intellectuals, academicians and other prominent persons, Modi said the credit for this must go to the long, shared heritage of our people. He added that it is now our collective responsibility to take this heritage forward. -goTop


4. BHARATIYAS ACROSS THE WORLD CELEBRATE GANATANTRA DIVAS: Patriotic fervour gripped Bharatiyas across the world as they celebrated the 68th Ganatantra Divas by unfurling the tri-colour and organising cultural festivities. Bharatiya envoy Vijay Gokhale unfurled the tricolour at the Bharatiya Embassy in Beijing where a large number of expats had gathered. In Nepal, Bharatiya Embassy in Kathmandu organised a function during which Bharatiya Rajdoot Ranjit Rae felicitated 14 retired soldiers and widows and next of kins of deceased soldiers of Bharatiya Armed Forces by distributing cheques worth Rs 3.75 crore and a blanket each from Defence Attache Welfare Fund.

In Egypt, members of the Bharatiya community as well Egyptian friends of Bharat and students of Bharatiya languages at the The Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture (MACIC) attended the celebrations held at the India House premises in Zamalek.

In Singapore, Ganatantra Divas event was organised by Bharat's High Commissioner Jawed Ashraf, who read out Rashtrapati Mukherjee's message which was followed by a cultural programme where students from Bharatiya schools in Singapore presented patriotic songs.

In Bangladesh's capital Dhaka Bharatiya High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Harsha Vardhan Shringla hoisted the flag of Bharat at the High Commission premises and read out the message of the Bharatiya Rashtrapati. Childrenperformed in different dance programmes.

68TH GANATANTRA DIVAS CELEBRATED WITH ENTHUSIASM IN ALL CORNERS OF BHARAT: The majestic Rajpath in New Delhi saw a fascinating display of Bharat's military might and resplendent cultural diversity on January 26 with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan attending the event as guest of honour. From rain in Delhi to freezing temperatures in Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir to the tight security in Assam and Manipur, the Ganatantra Divas was celebrated. Punjab, Haryana and UT Chandigarh celebrated the Ganatantra Divas amid tight security arrangements and rains. Security personnel from Bharat and Pakistan exchanged sweets at Wagah Border on the occasion.The exchange of sweets also took place between border guards at Bharat-Bangladesh border.

The Ganatantra Divas was celebrated in all nine districts of Manipur despite a boycott call by militant outfits. Dr. Najma Heptulla, Rajyapal of Manipur, was the chief guest at the main function held at Kangla, where over 97 contingents, including 44 from schools and colleges, NCC, 19 cultural troupes, 12 bands, the Manipur Fire Service and 12 tableaux participated in the parade and display.

In Tripura, the main programme of the state was organized at the Assam Rifles parade ground in Agartala, where Rajyapal Tathagata Roy, unfurled the tricolour. He also inspected the parade and took the guard of honour.

Mukhya Mantri O Panneerselvam hoisted the national flag in Tamil Nadu near the Mahatma Gandhi statue on the Kamarajar Salai, along the Marina Beach, in Chennai and took the salute.

In Himachal Pradesh hundreds of people assembled at the historic Ridge Ground at the state level function in Shimla braving intense cold and heavy rains where Rajyapal Acharya Devvrat unfurled the tricolor and took salute at an impressive march past by contingents of Army, ITBP, Police Home Guards, Fire brigade, Scouts and Guides and Mounted police.

The Ganatantra Divas function was held at Bakshi Stadium in Srinagar with Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Khan taking salute at the march past by contingents of police, security forces and school children.

In Maharashtra, Mukhya Mantri Devendra Fadnavis unfurled the national flag at his official residence this morning and later visited Shivaji Park in Dadar to celebrate the occasion in presence of senior bureaucrats. -goTop


5. PADMA VIBHUSHAN FOR PAWAR, M.M. JOSHI, YESUDAS; KOHLI GET PADMA SHRI: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar, former Speaker of the Lok Sabha P.A. Sangma and senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi were on January 25 conferred the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian honour in the country.

This year more than 15 unsung persons were chosen for the awards and special emphasis was laid on recognition to people who rendered selfless service at the grassroots.

Noted Sanskrit scholar Professor Devi Prasad Dwivedi has been felicitated with Padma Bhushan, while another scholar Harihar Kripalu Tripathi has been honoured with Padma Shri award. Educationist Cha Mu Krishna Shastry has been honoured with Padma Shri. Dwivedi, who served as the head of the department of modern languages and linguistics at Sampurnanand Sanskrit University (SSU), is presently on deputation with Union Service Public Commission. Born in 1956, Shastry modernised Sanskrit pedagogy through three decades of consistent efforts. Shastry and friends started an organisation more than three decades ago to promote Sanskrit as a spoken language. Now, 'Samskrita Bharati' spans all corners of the country and has presence in many major countries such as the US, Canada, the UK, Australia and Middle East.

Journalist and political satitrist Cho Ramaswamy, who died last year, was conferred the Padma Bhushan while spiritual guru Jaggi Vasudev was awarded the Padma Vibhushan. Late Madhya Pradesh Mukhya Mantri Sunder Lal Patwa was given the Padma Vibhushan posthumously.

This year Rashtrapatiji has approved conferment of Padma Awards to 89 persons comprising seven Padma Vibhushans, seven Padma Bhushans and 75 Padma Shri awards; 19 awardees are women.

Among NRIs to be awarded this year are pioneering AIDS researcher Dr. Suniti Solomon, surbahar artist Imrat Khan and Anuradha Koirala from Nepal for social work. -goTop


6. SURYA NAMASKAR YAJNA RECOGNISED IN US CONGRESS: The annual "Surya Namaskar Yajna" or "Health for Humanity Yogathon" has been recognised in the US House of Representative on the occasion of its 10th anniversary. The 16-day event will raise awareness about yoga and its advantages in achieving a healthy body, mind, and spirit, Congressman Bill Foster from Illinois said in his remarks on the House floor on 25th January. "Mr Speaker, I rise today to recognise Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh's tenth annual "Health for Humanity Yogathon" or "Surya Namaskar Yajna," Foster said.

"Each year, Hindus worldwide celebrate January 14th as Makar Sankranti--a day that marks the change of season as the sun enters the sign of Capricorn or Makar.

To mark this occasion, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh has organised the "Yoga for Health, Health for Humanity Yogathon" from January 14 to January 29," he said. -goTop


7. Beam me up: India doesn't need subsidies or punitive taxes to leapfrog into the era of digital payments: Recently, two independent developments marked the advent of a new phase in financial inclusion. India Post Payments Bank received permission from RBI to start operations, making it the third such bank. Separately, government announced over 99% of adult population has been assigned an Aadhaar number. When juxtaposed, these developments promise to overcome traditional barriers which have for all practical purposes kept many poor Indians out of the formal financial system. Consequently, not only will India see a spurt in financial inclusion, it will allow people to leapfrog into a digital era.

Advances in communications technology have upended the staid world of banking. Today technology in banking has overcome barriers of physical inaccessibility. Therefore, a mobile phone with basic features has the potential to perform many banking functions, including money transfer. In this context, India Post along with telecom companies represents the entry of improbable banks. These banks, dubbed payments banks, are licensed to perform limited functions. Their asset is unparalleled reach right from the start. For instance, India Post starts with access to 1.54 lakh post offices, of which many are located in places without bank branches. Telecom companies, in turn, will be able to use millions of telecom recharging shops and an existing customer base.

By virtue of being granted a banking licence, payments banks will be able to combine their reach with infrastructure regulated by RBI to facilitate electronic payments. Simply put, in the next few years banking in India will spread wider and deeper on account of inherent strengths. This attribute will push people into cashless modes of transacting. In other words, digital payments will gain in importance in an organic fashion.       

Given this context, it is important government create a conducive environment for the spread of digital payments. What is not needed is a policy which relies on complex cross-subsidies or punitive taxes on use of cash. These are anachronistic approaches. Instead the emphasis should be on creating an institutional architecture which facilitates competition. For instance technology fulfils its potential when there are no silos, so interoperability should be the touchstone of the regulatory framework. Government, therefore, should focus on removing regulatory hurdles to the spread of technology in the financial sector. This approach will do more for moving India to a predominantly cashless economy. What's more it can be done without raising fresh taxes. - Editorial, Times of India, 30.1.2017. -goTop


8. MOHAN BHAGWAT CALLS FOR REACHING OUT THE GRASS ROOT LEVEL: RSS Sarasanghachalak Mohan Bhagwat has called for reaching out the grass root level and creating an atmosphere to spread ideology of the organisation. Bhagwat, who was in Kolkata to participate in a five-day long gathering of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh at Gujarati Sanatan Samaj, Bistupur, was addressing a meeting of on January 28.

Addressing representatives of various regions across the State, Bhagwat motivated the participants to lead a disciplined life. He emphasised that exercise is essential for a healthy body and mind and leading a disciplined life with proper eating habits and regular exercise is the need of the hour. -goTop


9.  HINDUS CANNOT LIVE FREELY IN PARTS OF BHARAT: MOHAN BHAGWAT: RSS Sarasanghachalak Mohan Bhagwat on January 14 said that Hindus cannot live freely in parts of Bharat and that their rights are not protected because they are not united.We have formed this organisation not to oppose anybody but to strengthen ourselves.

Earlier, the Kolkata police had denied permission for the rally. However, in a snub to the Mamata government, the court on January 13 allowed the rally to go ahead. -goTop


10. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s 120th Birth Anniversary Celebrations in Tokyo: Team Netaji Japan along with Hindu Swaymsevak Sangh organized Netaji Bose's 120th birth anniversary celebrations on 22nd January. Mitsuru Toyama's grandson & Sugiyama's great grandson came all the way from Fukuoka to attend the event. They were honored by HSS Japan for their ancestor's great support to Bharatiya freedom fighters. Senior Japanese member of Team Netaji, Negishi shared the memories of Netaji, which he heard from his father who had worked with Netaji. -goTop


11. BHARAT CANNOT BE UNDERSTOOD ON WESTERN PARAMETERS: RSS Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh Dr Manmohan Vaidya said that it is difficult to understand Bharat on the Western parameters, concepts or definitions. Political system has not been much significant in Bharat because the society here is habitual of not depending upon the government. They make their necessary arrangements themselves, which is not there in the West. Dr Vaidya was interacting with the students of Makhalal Chaturvedi Rashtriya Patrakarita Vishwavidyalaya in Bhopal.  -goTop


12. RUN FOR GIRL CHILD ORGANIZED BY SEVABHARATHI IN HYDERABAD: More than 4000 IT employees along with families from gated communities in Cyberabad area participated in the run which started from Gachibowli stadium. More than 1000 girls who are enrolled in existing Kishori Vikas centers led by coordinator Jayaprada and Dr. Jaya Sri took part in the run. Seva Bharathi representatives Raghu Verabelli, Rama Murthy along with many volunteers are among several others who championed the cause of Girl Child Education, planned and executed the event. Seva Bharathi's Kishori Vikas program is designed to educate and empower adolescent girls in slums, bastis and villages. Seva Bharathi is currently running more than 100 Kishori Vikas centers benefiting more than 2500 girls. Each center provides education, vocational, health and other developmental activities to 25 girls in a slum for 2 hours Monday to Saturday. -goTop


13. SWAYAMSEVAKS RECEIVING TRAINING AT-3 DEGREE TEMPERATURE:  A total of 205 swayamsevaks between the age group of 16 to 40 years from 150 places of Himachal Pradesh attended the first year Sangh Shiksha Varga in Shimla from January 8. It is a different kind of camp on several counts. It is first of its kind camp in Shimla. Secondly, the day it began, there was huge snow fall in the eastern parts of the State; about 2 to 3 feet snow fall in Shimla and 1.5 feet of snow at the camp venue. Since the roads were blocked due to snow fall, many swayamsevaks reached Shimla by walking 15 to 20 kms and some walked for even 100 kms. At the time when the temperature of the city is below -3 degree, water and electricity supply has been adversely affected and the entire life coming to a standstill, the swayamsevaks underwent training with full enthusiasm. -goTop


14. IITs world number four in creating billion-dollar startups: In a study listing the universities that have produced the most unicorn founders, Bharat's premier institution chain, the IIT's, bagged the fourth spot. US-based Stanford University claimed the top rank with 51 unicorn founders followed by Harvard with 37. University of California comes in third with 18 and IIT follows with 12. Unicorns are startups with valuations of more than a billion dollars. Bharat is home to 10 unicorn companies, making them the posterboys of the country's startup ecosystem. From e-commerce giants Flipkart, Snapdeal and ShopClues to Ola, Zomato, Quikr and Paytm, from InMobi, to Hike and Mu Sigma, these startups have grabbed spots in the elite club and almost all of the founders have had stints at one of the IITs. -goTop


15. Vadodara's special school children sing national anthem in sign language: A school in Vadodra saw its specially-abled children pay their tribute to their motherland by singing the national anthem in sign language during their Republic Day celebrations. Rashmi Mehta, Principal of the Mook Dhwani Trust said that the special children have their own way of communicating, and have an equal right to express their love for the country. -goTop


16. Bharatiya-American to head communications commission: US President Donald Trump has picked Ajit Vardaraj Pai, an outspoken opponent of new net neutrality, to head the crucial Federal Communications Commission. Pai is the fourth Bharatiya-American to become part of Trump's administration.The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent agency of the US government to regulate interstate communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable. -goTop


17. 'In future, US can even have a Hindu prez': As long as the US recognised merit and provided equal opportunity to all, it would have not just a woman president but could also see a Latino, Jewish, and a Hindu president in the future, America's first mixed-race President Barack Obama said in his final press conference in the White House. "We're going to see people of merit rise up from every race, faith, corner of this country. Because that's America's strength," Obama said."We'll have a whole bunch of mixed up presidents at some point that nobody really knows what to call them." -goTop


18. BHARATIYA techie sells company to Cisco for $3.7 billion: Jyoti Bansal, an IIT Delhi graduate, has just sold the company he founded eight years ago in the US, AppDynamics, to Cisco for $3.7 billion. Bansal now owns 14% of the company, after having diluted his stake to many venture funds over the years. So he'll get about $520 million (Rs 3,400 crore).

After graduation in 1999, Bansal shifted to Cupertino on an H-1B visa to work for a startup. In 2005, Bansal joined Wily Technology as an architect. CA (Computer Associates) bought the company in 2006, and two years later, Bansal left CA to start AppDynamics. -goTop


19. Three BHARATIYA - origin conferred with Australia's highest civilian award: Purushottam Sawrikar, a Sydney-based medical practitioner, received Order of Australia medal for the year 2017 announced on the Australia Day in General division category for his service to medicine, and to the Bharatiya community.

Makhan Singh Khangure from Perth was given the award for his significant service to medicine in the field of neuroradiology, to education, and to a range of professional medical associations.

Vijay Kumar, a nuclear medicine specialist and a researcher, was given the award for his significant service to medical research in the disciplines of nuclear medicine and biology, to professional organisations, and to the community. -goTop


20. KIRTI CHAKRA FOR MAJOR WHO LED SURGICAL STRIKES: Major Rohit Suri, who led one of the Special Forces teams to carry out surgical strikes inside Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) on September 29 last year, has been awarded Kirti Chakra, the second highest peace time gallantry medal on the occasion of Republic Day. Terrorist launch pads were destroyed in the cross border action besides 35-40 terrorists were killed in the operation. Suri is from 4 Para (Special Forces).

Besides Kirti Chakra, officers and jawans of the Special Forces teams of 4 and 9 Para, who took part in the surgical strikes, also bagged at least five Shaurya Chakra, the third highest gallantry medal.  Twelve personnel got Sena Medal (gallantry) apart from Yudh Seva medals for commanding officers of 4 and 9 Para Special Forces. Lt General Praveen Bakshi and Lt General PM Hariz, who were superseded by General Bipin Rawat in the race for Army chief, were amongst those awarded Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM). -goTop


21. Hindu American Foundation Executive Director Named "Faith Leader to Watch in 2017": Suhag Shukla, Executive Director, Legal Counsel, and co-founder of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), has been named one of twelve "faith leaders to watch in 2017'' by the Center for American Progress (CAP). CAP says, "Shukla has positioned HAF as a strong voice in the national debate about the separation of church and state, consistently speaking out about issues of Hinduphobia and the rights of religious minorities." -goTop


22. Sewa International Appeal to Help families of Martyred Soldiers in Kashmir: While the whole country proudly celebrated the 68th #RepublicDay, the spirit was dampened by the sad news about the death of our soldiers protecting our snow-capped borders. So far, 15 bravehearts have been martyred and many still missing; as a result of the #avalanches triggered by fresh snowfall in #Kashmir since 25th Jan.

Sewa International expresses its deepest condolences to the families of the martyred soldiers. We plan to provide succor to their distressed families and help them in these testing times.

If you would like to contribute towards the benefit of their families, please go to "" and donate as appropriate. 100% of the proceeds received would be sent to the aggrieved families.

Sewa International, 49, Deendayal Upadhyaya Marg, New Delhi -110002, India

Tel: +91 11 43007650, +91- 9654116997

Email:  -goTop


23.  BANGLADESH KEEN ON 'VISA-FREE' MOVEMENT FROM BHARAT AND VICE VERSA: Describing the two countries as "Siamese twins," Bangladesh on January 23 said, "It is trying its best to establish a co-operative visa regime, while expressing its keenness to eventually have a system of 'visa-free movement' of people from both sides of the border." Bangladesh High Commissioner to Bharat Syed Muazzem Ali said while addressing a gathering at the opening of the 'International Conference on Indo-Bangladesh Multi Sectoral Cooperation' in New Delhi.

Bharat's Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar said, "Everything depends on shared security and principal threat to that shared security is terrorism and terrorists, who distort faith to further chaos." The two-day conference was organised by Kolkata-based Institute of Social and Cultural Studies (ISCS) and supported by different ministries of the Centre was inaugurated at the Indira Gandhi National Centre of Arts (IGNCA). Others who spoke in the conference were Bangladesh Minister for Liberation Mozammel Haque, Union Ministers Smriti Irani and Dharmendra Pradhan, Shakti Sinha - Director Nehru Memorial and others. -goTop


24. BURJ KHALIFA IN DUBAI LIT UP IN TRICOLOUR: Burj Khalifa tower, the world's tallest building located in Dubai, was lit up in the colours of the Indian National flag on 25th January to celebrate India's 68th Republic Day. The lighting comes as the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, being the guest of honour for Bharat's Republic Day. -goTop


25. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Visitors: Hemant Rastogi, Jagdish Sehwani - USA, Shivi Tripathi - Tanzania.


FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Effortless awareness of one's true nature is meditation. - Swami Tejomayanand. -goTop




reconnect with roots

British bharatiyas fall in love with 'kho kho'

Shivani Naik 

Over the weekend, a team of 15-odd British Bharatiyas played their first Kho international - dubbed Bharat vs England - in front of a crowd of 3000 at a school ground in Navi Mumbai. The official English kho kho team, decked in red, with a solitary British Lion scrambling forth on the logo crest, will next travel to Ajmer (Feb 2) and Delhi (Feb 4), where they will face an acrobatic desi side with boys flinging themselves in pursuit when chasing opponents like in rugby's touchdowns - their falls cushioned by the mat on which kho kho gets played now.

Kabaddi's gone hip in Bharat with the league, but kho kho - owing to its simplicity and easy connect, given almost everyone's played it in school - has surfaced in pockets of Britain from Wembley Park to the predictable Birmingham to the unlikely Highlands.

While the force behind Kho's transplanting in England is Brij Haldania, a Brtish Airways ground engineer, who left Ajmer for UK back in 1978 and carries with him the infectious energy of a sports-proselytiser, the numerical thrust comes from a cultural organisation - the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh.

While it introduced a generation of adolescent enlisters - mostly second and third generation NRI offsprings - to yoga, prarthana, keertans and geets, it also built a formidable base of casual kabaddi and kho kho players in distant England. 500 children grow up playing a variant of Kho in UK at the various 'shakhas'. And though Haldania had to drill in the correct rules (for some reason, Kho in UK saw all nine players running rings round the kneeling chasers in what could only wind up as a chaotic scrum), he didn't exactly struggle to raise 16 clubs in two year's time to conduct the UK nationals.

Local competitions

A bulk of his team is drawn from among British Gujaratis - with inter-community local competitions between the Oswals and Matanas of UK, pretty common. Bhavik Vara's parents - mum from Tanzania, dad from Kenya - moved to the UK in the early 80s, and the 24-year-old from Croydon - started Kho as a pre-teen on a small pitch with chasers cramped closer together, oblivious to the exact rules.

Vara plays both football (recreationally) and Kho, but adds that kho kho was rooted in his attempt to culturally reconnect with his country of origin.

"Kho was taught to us in the shakha with emphasis on the Hinduism concept of 'your team is your family.'

But the sport has a mixed culture, and is open to all. I mostly de-stress with kho kho," says the pharmacy student from Kingston, Surrey.

In fact, there's a large number of British Bharatiyas who've carried the Kho flame in their hearts taking the circuitous route from Africa where they went in the 50s and 60s. Kaushal, a 23-year-old, says, "My parents used to play the sport in school, before they moved to Kenya - Nairobi and Mombasa. When I told them I started playing Kho in the park, they were delirious. It was the only link - even if tenuous - to my grand-parents' in Bharat."

For Haldani, it was a chance sighting of a bunch of British Bharatiya boys playing a sport somewhat resembling kho kho in 2001 at Wembley Park. "It brought back memories of home which I'd left behind in 1978. I was so happy, I almost cried. And then I decided I'd teach children how the sport was really played - how to run, how to chase," says the man in his mid-50s.

More technical

Kho had gotten faster, far more technical in the years he had been away working with British Airways. But memories of days spent playing Kho in Ajmer, strengthened his resolve to reconnect the lost link of his childhood, and ultimately resulted in him reaching out to the Bharatiya kho kho federation, which culminated in this visit. "When I started coaching these were mixed teams of boys and girls, now I have separate squads," he says. "We have shakha boys in our team, but I am pretty non-political and want to take the sport to as many players as possible."

Many non-Bharatiya whites would stop and watch and join in, and Haldani is chuffed about 'unifying the codes' and bringing out a rule book, helped greatly by Bharatiyas who sent across video recordings to the Londoner.

"A lot of families of players get involved enthusiastically. They are happy Kho is played alongside football, and their kids are still attached to something 'Bharatiya'," he explains. Manoj was born in the UK, where his father emigrated to in 1966 at age 17. He's now Haldani's assistant and was a young starter in Kho at age 7, with football, volleyball and cricket slowly fading out of his teenage years. Is there truly a cultural connect with Bharat - which his London Wembley shakha hopes gets triggered - or is it just a sport which some like Vara dig for fitness and recreation, we ask.

"It's a religious grouping yes, but for me it was more of reconnecting with 'Bharatiya' roots. We have boys from Kerala, a couple of Muslims in the team, and once women are convinced it's not intimidating (because of the chasing and tackling), even they join. There's 2-3 white guys, though that's where you want the sport to head - get non Bharatiyas playing. It's closer culturally though cricket is obviously the first sport you'd think Bharatiyas play," he explains.

The sport might be played for a lark in Bharat - as the Brit boys found out. But it's exploring its acrobatic contours - on Saturday, January 28,  the Bharatiya team decked out in light blue vests and laced up in local trainers, mouthing instructions in Bambaiyya Marathi saw a local boy, chaser, Suresh Sawant sensationally dived around to raucous cheers, now that Kho had moved to the mat.

It's what the England defenders had seen only on rugby paddocks where lunging tries were scored. "It's still not seen as 'cool' back home in London, but it's how we stay in touch with Indian-nees," Manoj says. (Indian Express January 30, 2017) -goTop

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