Saturday, 25 February 2017

Mission has enough space to cover…

Last couple of weeks witnessed some unforgettable moments in our Nation’s history. Some are unforgettable because of the scar they have left and the lessons for the society which has seldom shown the needed alacrity to learn from its mistakes. The mockery of democracy during the course of the power struggle between the convicts and their erstwhile aides, is something which will remain undigested in our minds for a long time to come. The other unforgettable event that happened was the launching of 104 satellites in a single mission. This has shattered the previous record of 37 satellites launched by Russia by a mile.

This moment of national pride and importance was rightly explained by the scientist of ISRO, who said that they are aware that it is not a number game and they are aware that number of satellites launched is not comparable to the runs scored on the cricket field. Our media instead of detailing about the intricacies involved in carrying out such a challenging mission, hyped only on the numbers. There is a lot of engineering innovations required for stacking the tiny satellites in the available space and ejecting them sequentially in the desired orbits without colliding with each other. This is the achievement of ISRO's launch vehicle team that calls for celebration. Not only that, the money earned by carrying them almost halved the launch cost of the PSLV. Buoyant with this success the Chairman of ISRO also said that our country is now ready to setup a space station. It would indeed a real giant leap. All these are made possible by hard working men and women who have nothing else in their pursuit other than excellence. 

See what Sri Sujit Menon, a scientist working with ISRO, has to say about his colleagues. ‘Most of the ISRO employees are ordinary Indians. Most of them did not attend an Ivy League University. Most of them have not graduated from the IITs or the NITs. Most of them do not even have a doctorate. Many of them are from middle class families. Some are even from poor households. I have personally worked under the person responsible for creating ISRO's supercomputer, the SAGA-220 housed at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Center. He has a BSc degree in Mathematics. That's it. No B.Tech, No M.Tech, No PhD, No Post Doc. I have a degree from IIST, a reputed national university. But I'm awestruck at the depth of his intellect.  I asked him how he was able to achieve so much in his career and rise to the highest of ranks. His answer was simple, Perseverance’.

The success of PSLVs, GSLVs, Chandrayaan, Mangalyaan etc that most Indians see on their television screens has been made possible by the consistent hard work of many such individuals. Ordinary people with extraordinary dedication. May their tribe increase.


Wednesday, 1 February 2017

The Marina Breach…

The Jallikattu protests by the students started of just like the people against corruption movement started By Sri Anna Hazare at New Delhi, and it veered off like just that movement. This should be a lesson for the youngsters who started this with good intentions. It is not just enough to start a movement, but sustaining it in the same avowed path is also more important. The chances of such movements getting hijacked by vested interests are more and those who were in the forefront should have been careful about this. Anybody who has witnessed such democratic protests being exploited by vested interests earlier, like the one happened at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, would have said that this will also follow suit. The indications were very obvious from the beginning and any sane mind would have recognized it easily. First and foremost was the fact that Jallikattu is a Hindu Tradition, part of the Hindu Festival Pongal, which is also celebrated as Makara Sankaranti all over India was never told by the people who were protesting. They wanted to whip up the linguistic passion of the people of Tamilnadu and were terming this as a Thamizhan Tradition, meaning Tradition belonging to Tamils. They chose to hide the Hindu identity to get support from the Pseudo secular media and the fringe elements. Never ever there was any voice raised against the cattle trafficking which is the reason for the dwindling number of the native cattle in our country. Ban against Cow Slaughter was not a demand by these misguided youths who were protesting. Ban against Cow slaughter is an inherently important issue upon which hinges the future of our Native cattle breeds. The fact that they didn’t do these also gives rise to the doubt whether these anti national elements who hijacked the movement were there right from the beginning, and whether it was they who goaded the youngsters to drop the Hindu identity from their protest. 

This sinister looking start to the movement meant that it surely going to get deviated at a later stage when the anti-national elements feel that they can carry it on by themselves. The mass hysteria of the people of Tamilnadu, who were ignited by the pseudo pride and linguistic jingoism paved an easy way for anti-nationals to percolate inside and poison the crowd. Many Hindus felt that these protests would enable for a concrete action from the government to bring back Jallikattu, which they dearly wanted. So they too turned a blind eye to the dropping of Hindu identity. When the issue was heading towards a plausible solution, the ugly heads of these poisonous minds started showing up. The state government drafted an ordinance, and it was given assent by the Home ministry and then by the Hon’ble president. At that time these usurpers of the movement started asking various other demands which were not there in the beginning. The people who started the movement also resigned themselves from the protests and were booed for that. Slogans against the central and state governments, especially against our Prime Minsiter were raised much to the anguish of the youngsters who were watching all these helplessly. All these could have been avoided had they not shunned their Hindu identity in the beginning, because these anti nationals are also virulent anti hindus and they would never work for a Hindu cause. It was an unholy alliance formed by the leftists, Missionaries, Jihadis and the Pseudo rationalist tamil Jingoists, trying fish in the troubled waters. It is a lesson learnt in a terrible manner for the Hindus in Tamilnadu. But it has also brought out in the open who their enemies are. Hindus have a weird tendency not to learn any lesson from history. Let’s pray to that almighty that it doesn’t happen this time.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Samartha Bharat

We celebrate Samartha Bharat Parva from 25th December to 12th January. Swami Vivekananda had started his historic meditation of three days on the future of India at the mid-sea rock at Kanyakumari on 25th and 12 January is Swami Vivekananda Jayanti. Swami Vivekananda had harped on the fact that India has to become capable of fulfilling her destined role of guiding the world in spirituality. Therefore, we celebrate this period from 25th December to 12th January as Samartha Bharat Parva focusing in the strength and capability of India and the ways to further enhance it. Samartha Bharat Parva culminates in grand celebration of Swami Vivekananda Jayanti. 

Swamiji said, “The whole world requires Light. It is expectant! India alone has that Light, not in magic mummeries, and charlantism, but in teaching of the glories of the spirit of real religion-of highest spiritual truth. That is why Lord has preserved the race through all its vicissitudes unto the present day. Now the time has come. Have faith that you are all, my brave lads, born to do great things! Let not the barks of puppies frighten you-no, not even the thunderbolts of heaven-but stand up and work… 

Give and take is the law, and if India wants to raise herself once more, it is absolutely necessary that she brings out her treasures and throws them broadcast among the nations of the earth, and in return be ready to receive what others have to give her. Expansion is life, contraction is death. We commenced to die the day we began to hate other races, and nothing can prevent our death unless we come back to expansion, which is life. We must mix, therefore, with all the races of the earth. …Let us calmly and in a manly fashion go to work, instead of dissipating our energy in unnecessary frettings and fumings. I, for one, thoroughly believe that no power in the universe can withhold from any one anything he really deserves. The past was great no doubt, but I sincerely believe that the future will be more glorious still. May Shankara keep us steady in purity, patience and perseverance….

We want thousands of men, and thousands of women, who will spread like wild fire from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin, from the North Pole to the South Pole- all over the world. It is no use indulging in child’s play-neither is there time for it. Let those who have come for child’s play be off now, while there is time, or they will surely come to grief. We want an organization. Off with laziness. Spread! Spread! Run like fire to all places. Do not depend upon me. Whether I live or die go on spreading yourself …When death is so certain it is better to die for a good cause”. 

Thus in the celebrations of Samartha Bharat Parva, we have to organise various functions / camps / exhibitions / programs to reach the youth to give this message. The youth who come in contact with us through written cultural examinations also are to be motivated to celebrate Samartha Bharat Parva or at least the Swami Vivekananda Jayanti in their colleges. By this, they get associated with Kendra. Thus Samartha Bharat Parva is very important period for us to involve all the newly contacted persons in our work and hence, we have to plan properly. 

While sitting at the Rock at Kanyakumari, Swamiji realised his mission of life as to awaken the Hindu Nation which had lost confidence in itself. He decided to talk to the American people about Vedanta, so that if West appreciated it then the educated in India too would turn to it. Due to exploitative British Rule, the people of India were too poor. His compassionate heart also wanted to start some work to help them. Thus, he first went to America with the idea of participating in the Parliament of Religions and for collecting the money for starting some work for the poor in India. The American people responded with great enthusiasm to his exposition of Vedanta. Because of his triumph in America the missionaries undertook vigorous campaign against him. Though it did not affect his popularity, it affected his fund collection. He wrote to Nanjunda Rao, “But you must not depend on any foreign help. Nations like individuals must help themselves. This is real patriotism. If a nation cannot do that, its time has not come. It must wait.” 

But then he found that though his efforts to raise money were frustrated, his triumphant work in America had raised the confidence of India. He observed how West achieved many successes because of organized efforts. He wanted that, rise in self-confidence in India, not to be effervescent but, should lead to some concrete work through organization. For the organization, right types of men are needed. To mould the men to carry forward the work in America he found that he has to put the Vedantic truths in such a way that it moulds character. That was a difficult job. He wrote, “I have succeeded now in rousing the very heart of the American civilization, New York, but it has been a terrific struggle… I have spent nearly all I had on this New York Work and in England. Now things are in such a shape that they will go on. Then you see, to put the Hindu ideas into English and then make out of dry philosophy and intricate mythology and queer startling psychology, a religion which shall be easy, simple and popular, and at the same time meet the requirement of the higher minds - is a task only those can understand who have attempted it.” 

While attempting to take the Vedanta to the modern mind higher purpose of his birth as hinted by Sri Ramakrishna became clearer to him. In one of his letters he wrote about it- “The dry Advaita must become living -poetic- in everyday life; out of hopelessly intricate mythology must come concrete moral forms; and out of bewildering Yogi-ism must come the most scientific and practical psychology-and all this must be put in a form so that a child may grasp it. That is my life’s work.”
It is this work of Swami Vivekananda of ‘making Vedanta practical’ that we are carrying forward. Vivekananda Kendra has to do this work of Swamiji to spread the message of Practical Vedanta. Practical Vedanta in other words is the Yoga way of life. Therefore, Mananeeya Eknathji chose Yoga as the core of Vivekananda Kendra as said in our Prarthana - Karmayogaikanishtha. Our Kendra Prarthana enshrines most of the key points of how Vedanta can be practiced. Eknathji founded Vivekananda Kendra to focus on these life-giving principles and work accordingly in life. 

The prayer starts with Jaya Jaya Paramatman – victory to God. At every moment in our life, we have to choose. Our each action either elevates us or makes us more selfish or narrow. Jaya Jaya Paramatman means exercising our choice of action in the interest of the Samashti i.e. collectives like family, society, nation and the whole creation in such a way that we are elevated; the Divinity in us is more evident. Swami Vivekananda said in ‘Common Bases of Hinduism’, ‘And then comes the most differentiating, the grandest, and the most wonderful discovery in the realms of spirituality that has ever been made. Some of you, perhaps, who have been studying Western thought, may have observed already that there is another radical difference severing at one stroke all that is Western from all that is Eastern. It is this that we …hold in India that the soul is by its nature pure and perfect, infinite in power and blessed.’ This is what we remind ourselves in our prayer as ‘Vayam suputra amritasya noonam’. We can see that each line of our Prayer is to focus on the great Vedantic principles which Swamiji wanted us to practice. Thus not mere chanting the prayer everyday but also contemplating on it and practicing it in our life would make our society strong and capable to fulfill the purpose of India. 
During Samartha Bharat Parva, the Kalpataru Day is also celebrated on 1 January the day Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa granted his devotees whatever they wanted. Swami Vivekananda says that Sri Ramakrishna was born to protect our Hindu Dharma and Hindu society. Therefore, our society should emerge as Kalpataru, which would fulfill the needs of all the individuals. And what is methodology? Our prayer gives it beautifully – Jeevane Yavadadanam syat pradanam tatodhikam Let give far more than what we receive. 

Swami Vivekananda awakened the soul of India. When Swamiji returned from America in 1897, he was given a rousing welcome, - a welcome no one has received till now. It was as if the soul of India had returned to moribund Indians. Today we need to give a rousing welcome to his ideas in our heart and raise our land through organized work, to make India a capable nation – Samartha Bharat. We have to make the Vedanta simple and practical. Being one with the Chaitanya / Divinity pervading everywhere and employing the body-mind complex in the service of the divinity expressed through family, community, society, nation and the whole creation – Nishkama buddhyaarta vipanna seva vibho tav aaradhanam asmadiyam- is the meaning of Practical Vedanta or Yoga way of life. This is what we are working for raising the world to the higher consciousness for spiritual evolution. Today, this work initiated by Swami Vivekananda is the need of the hour for the whole world. Therefore, our celebrations of Vivekananda Jayanti, which is the concluding program of Samartha Bharat Parva, should be a very grand and purposeful involving many persons at all strata of the society. 
Nivedita Raghunath Bhide

Monday, 28 November 2016

Impacts of demonetization.

When the Prime Minister announced about the demonetization on 8th November 2016, it sent a wave of surprise to all in the country and a shocking blow to those who have amassed millions of unaccounted money. While the shock and surprise are yet to dip, the effects of demonetization are already beginning to show. While the hoarders of Black money are shedding crocodile tears about the sufferings of the common man standing hours together at the bank to exchange his old currencies, their allies in the guise of journalists and financial experts are finding loopholes in the arrangements. Many of them argue that this should have been better planned, so that the misery of the common man could have been avoided. This was not only a very bold and selfless initiative done by the government but also a very secretive one, to which only very few people are privy. And Modi baiters very well know that any level of planning and gearing up would have alerted the very men who are the real targets of this action. Don’t think that they are ignorant, they are only being complicit. Hoarders would have immediately converted their ill gotten money into any other form. But it is also not correct to say that the government caught the common man and small time traders unaware. If you look at the various steps taken by the present government you can very well understand that the government is taking a steady but sure step towards bringing the parallel economy to task. First it was the Jan Dhan Yojana scheme which could get a total of 25.51 crore new accounts as on 9.11.16, which basically comprises of farmers and people in rural India. This paved way for a direct link between the common man and the government getting rid of the touts and middlemen who are the reason for the pilferage in all of the government welfare schemes. As a result of this common man could get the benefits directly from the government subsidies. This gave a blow to the corrupt politicians who used to siphon the grants given to the public. This also brought a major chunk of our population into the banking practices.

Then the government announced the voluntary income disclosure scheme, giving a lengthy rope to the wrongdoers to correct themselves. A total of 65,250 crores were disclosed through this scheme. The demonetization step followed these previous actions, which is quite logical. Already around 5.5 lakh crores have been deposited in the bank within 2 weeks of this announcement and various reports are coming about sacks of cut notes being dumped into sewage canals. So if anybody is surprised by the government’s stern action it is only because of the corrupt and callous governance to which they are used to, for the past several decades.

Government is pushing the country towards more banking transactions and more transparent accounting. This may also be a step towards a cashless economy, as many are hinting about. The gradual transition towards digitization and a cashless economy will definitely help curb corruption in the long run. The increased transparency and record of transactions will make it considerably difficult to hold black money and carry out under-the-table deals. The added convenience of using digital payment solutions and virtual wallets can’t be ignored either.

While announcing this demonetization program, Government stressed that it is the only avenue available to curb the hawala market and the funding which comes to the terror groups. Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) network will be dismantled by the demonetization measures. Taking out 500 and 1000 rupee notes out of circulation will have a lasting impact on the syndicates producing FICN's, thus affecting the funding of terror networks in Jammu and Kashmir, North-eastern states and Naxalite hit states. But we seldom see any news channel, discussing about this intent of the government. They probably would have thought that even the very mentioning of the word terror, would hurt the sentiments of a “section of people”. And as if to assuage the wounded hearts of those people they are inventing stories of suffering to common man. It is not to be forgotten that many of these news channels are actually floating on very same corrupt money, which the government want to get rid of.

With nearly five state elections in 2017, demonetization has stunned political parties. Especially, in large states like Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, cash donations are a huge part of "election management”. In one stroke, big parties will find themselves hamstrung as cash hoards are often undeclared money. Parties will have to completely rejig campaign strategies in light of expected cash crunch
We should bow before the Prime Minister for taking such a bold decision, which he very well know, is going to get brick bats from his detractors and also could lose him favors from his own admirers. But he has taken a decision which no one has dared to before. This action has shaken many of our people. This action is intended to purify the national veins from the clogged pollutants it has acquired over several decades, an action to revitalize the values. This is a direct call to our conscience. A positive take away from this action is that many among the youth are welcoming this move. That gives a glimmer of hope about the future of our nation.


Thursday, 3 November 2016

Hindu festivals and the Indian guilt

A thousand-wala is laid on the ground; a shivering hand of a mother tries to fire it with a long Agarbathi; children make bluffing sounds to scare her for fun; the mother pretends to act as if she is scared and let down by the children; the father comes to her help; and when the cracker finally bursts, the whole family erupt in joy. In the darkness of the dawn, their faces are lit by the lights of the bursts; the loud blasts fill their ears leaving no more room for the disturbing noises of daily pressures. The moment when the string is exhausted, the family revels in silence with their minds resonating to the single note of togetherness. ‘Phatt!’ goes one piece left over in the string, cracking alone so late only to bring them back to their senses for the next round of fun. This is not a screenplay for a cracker commercial. This is a regular scene in every Indian household on a festive Diwali day. Clothes, pooja, temples, sweets and all others may add to the festivity, but Diwali will remain seriously incomplete without crackers. 

Type the word “celebration” in Google and hit on images. Result? Ninety of the hundred images thrown will have one thing in common – Firecrackers. Crackers are lots of fun. If there is one thing that can bring out the child in a stressed and worked up adult, it is crackers. While crackers can make even adults feel like kids, every Diwali, the champions of modernity run a campaign to make even the kids feel like adults. They would make a 6 year old child hold a placard and pose for a photograph. The poster would read “The Earth has enough problems already. Avoid crackers”. The poor kid would be able to sight only two of those words herself – “The” and “has”. These silly campaigners would conveniently forget how they advocated child’s rights when children were dressed as Goddess Durga for the previous festival. “Let kids be kids. Don’t burden them telling they are Goddesses”, they told.

Though this howling pack will never dare to suggest about reducing the tint of red in a Bakrid celebration, will rather come rushing to make Diwali green. Never mind. A Hindu is always sane enough to see gold for the sake of larger good. The proposal would seem really pink only if this brigade was forever consistent in fighting the air or waters becoming blacker. If bursting crackers for one day in a year is going to burn the planet to an irreversible state of destruction, one wonders if driving millions of cars everyday for the whole year emitting billions of tons of carbon monoxide, going to drive the planet away to a cooler galaxy? These children used in the anti-crackers campaigns would rather lose their cool if they were educated about the pollution caused from cooling systems at their homes and the mega malls, where the ultra-huge atriums that could have been left open to nature were first closed and then centrally cooled. 

The children are usually polluted with an overdose of the campaign feeds. The smart ones perhaps remain unmoved. Imagine, the mind-polluting demon trying to persuade a smart kid to give up crackers. 

With a hand around her shoulder, the tender child is asked “Well, you may find it fun but the others have a right too; they have a right to sleep, don’t they?” 

The soft-hearted child is moved but is quickly reminded of her brother. “Well, the sleeping ones usually don’t wake up anyway. Look at him! You can try firing this atom bomb below his cot”. 
“Hmm… Have you seen the smog early in the morning? Don’t the vehicles go and crash on each other?” 
Quite a reason! “But uncle, why don’t they stay back home and burst their crackers. Is life so hard to crack? Work from early morning on a festival day?” 
“Beta, what about other living beings, don’t they get scared and psychologically affected?” 
“Uncle, what about polished floor tiles, loud noise of your daily soaps, unnatural confinement to a corner of a house, is all these emotional massages?” 
“Forget all that. You love your fellow children. Don’t you? Think of them toiling in those cracker factories, denied of education, unhealthy and dangerous working conditions” 
“Ahaa… such an old story, the reason why my father skipped crackers for a couple of years. If you are really concerned about child labor, you should stop using that costly American phone of yours. They get made in China. You know? China is the biggest abuser of Childs’ rights. Now, don’t hurt the livelihoods of those parents working hard in the cracker units to get their children educated” 
“You’re getting rude. You don’t seem to have respect for elders. May be, that is why you won’t understand how sick the old and ailing ones feel about the noise of the crackers”
“That’s funny uncle. It always my grandfather who wakes us all with an early burst on the Diwali mornings.”
“Baby, so many fire accidents, so many lives lost. Is all the celebration worth?”
“So many road accidents, so many lives lost. Is all the road drives worth?”

The childish trials have exhausted. It’s time to get a bit scary with more serious stuff. “Okay. It’s time to confess. I tried telling you all those because you are a child. You seem to know more than I thought. So let’s come to the actual reason. Firecrackers release lots and lots of tiny toxic particles on air. Those can enter your lungs and damage the respiratory system. And they contribute so much to the global warming”
“Uncle, I think you need to get a lesson. Daily release of green house gases is the real concern. Not just the burst on one day. Emissions from Industries, automobiles, even from chemical fertilizers are far more dangerous. Moreover, the Diwali rains that the crackers bring along, will dilute the suspended particles if not completely wash them away”

When insignificant reasons are bloated and given mainstream media real estate, and when it happens in recurring patterns for every Hindu festival, we start to wonder if there is motivation behind it. One can keep guessing why the color green has come to signify envy, but the number of green-eyed monsters staring with disdain at anything giving elation to Hindus during their festivals is only increasing. 

They would share their fascination for the Spanish festival of Catalonia building huge human towers while dismissing Dahi handi during Krishna Janmashtami as inhuman and uncivilized. During Navaratri, they will deem Durga as a prostitute while at other times they will work to redeem the prestige of sex workers. Images of polluting broken Ganesha will be flashed after the immersion rituals at the same time maintain a deafening silence about how every river gets sucked and dried due to the soft drinks and breweries industries. Chath pooja will be deemed backward and repressive while burqa will be celebrated as minority rights. They will get Jallikkattu banned calling it animal abuse while enjoying Biryanis made of animals whose throats have been slit and allowed bleeding until death. Ravana will be celebrated on Diwali accusing the Aryan Rama for waging war against the Dravidian Ravana, Mahabali will be paid respects on Onam while Vamana who tamed Mahabali in the very same legend will be declared a fictitious character. 

The pattern attempts to instill a sense of guilt about celebrating Hindu festivals by taking away sheen that nurtures and nourishes its continuity. Dear secular uncle! You may not come with a white gown or a green hat. But your designs are clear. You are caught red handed. We have evidence in black and white. You want to break India exploiting the cracks. We want to celebrate India with fire crackers. 
A. Sudarshan,