Saturday, August 30, 2014

Home no more: when parting is such sweet sorrow

August 31, 2014

Vinod Jain

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                                                                                       The Hindu

The bags were all packed; the furniture was stacked in a corner. The curtains, the fans, the family photographs — of his parents, of him with his wife just after his wedding on a trip to a quiet hill station, the one he liked the most, of his children with their spouses, of his granddaughter — had all been taken down. The rooms were empty, the walls bare.

He had signed all the papers with the realtor the previous day. He remembered how the realtor was shaking his hand vigorously, mumbling something about a deal well done, while he looked at him blankly, speechless and not knowing how to respond.

The packers will now come and shift the meagre belongings, the ones still left with him. He would be moving out the next day.

He walked about the empty rooms in a trance. Each wall, each corner, had its share of memories; the family space, where they had held birthday parties for their children and later for his grand-daughter; the terrace, where he had helped them out with their studies; its far corner, where he had helped his grand-daughter sail paper boats during the rain, which invariably turned turtle and sank near the drain.

He remembered the morning tea he would have with his wife on the terrace. She would point at the swallows that would gather on the malshree tree near it, and the koel singing there during the summer months. The swallows had disappeared lately; he didn’t know why. Someone told him it was because of a mobile phone tower in the vicinity.

He looked at the kitchen, now bare. Not so long ago his mother and later his wife had cooked the evening meals on the fire here, making chapatis while the entire family sat around it warming itself in the cold winter nights.

He once again lingeringly looked at the room, where not so long ago he and his wife had performed the griha pravesh ceremony. They had slept on its floor that night. A small Ganesh idol and an earthen pitcher were placed in its corner.

He looked out towards the small garden and the lawn that he and his wife had painstakingly tended to over the years. His wife was very fond of the flowers and their small garden.

He looked out at the tall kachnar tree, which they had planted together years ago. It would blossom, soon after Basant Panchami with its silver-and-mauve flowers. Come Holi and its leaves would begin to pale and fall: one by one, a few at a time sometimes. But the bell-shaped flowers would bloom, even as its branches gradually became bare. Day after day, it would be a fascinating sight. The tree would be bereft of all its leaves, while the flowers would be in full bloom, like small, delicate cotton balls, tucked away gently amidst the craggy twigs in those crimson and gold evenings in March. It seemed to symbolise life itself. Life, which struggles to grow and blossom — despite impossible odds, despite the realty of the all-pervasive evil around it.

The kachnar used to have a short blossom. It would be over within a fortnight. But by then, it was the turn of the amaltas, standing next to it. Its lemon-yellow flowers would fill out one whole corner of the garden. In the hot April afternoons, they would shimmer with an almost ethereal quality: like a Van Gogh Painting.

And then, when the summer heat was really on, the majestic Gulmohar in the far corner would turn flaming red. Its brilliance would match the flaming sun, up in the heavens. And, as if not to be overshadowed by the giant Gulmohar, the lowly lilies, which had lain supine for almost the whole year, would suddenly come alive, stand erect and burst into off-white and brick-red flowers. The whole garden would become a riot of colours, a feast for the eyes.

In another corner was the bael tree. People would come reverentially during the month of Shravan to a pick up a few leaves from it for the Siva temple. And, then there was the jamun tree, which would bring in the neighbourhood children, for a handful of jamuns picked up with a surreptitious glee.

The kachnar was, however, his favourite. He felt a strange kinship with it, he knew not why. Perhaps because it symbolised life itself, which struggles to grow and blossom. He had often just stood and stared at its fragile beauty as those crimson and gold evenings in March disintegrated outside.

His children had left for distant shores for a ‘better’ life. They had their careers to look after. He wondered where he had failed them. His wife had gone home several years back. They would be shifting him to an old age home with all ‘modern’ facilities, all for a reasonable package. He looked once again at the walls, the photographs, the terrace. And he just stood and stared at the garden uncertain of the days that were to unfold ahead, uncertain of the road he was to follow.

Will the kachnar tree continue to blossom in silent memory of someone, who had often stood and stared at it in admiration in those crimson and gold evenings like a lone morning forest star? Long after, the deep would have claimed him back into its own.

vinodjain30@gmail.com

Source: The Hindu

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Indian marriages are now made in Mauritius

Indo-Asian News Service | August 28, 2014 1:15 pm

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Mauritius, the Indian Ocean island that is home to a sizable Indian diaspora, is targeting this segment in a serious manner, a senior official said.

With destination weddings catching up amongst rich Indian families, which in turn rakes in good money for hotels and others, Mauritius, the Indian Ocean island that is home to a sizable Indian diaspora, is targeting this segment in a serious manner, a senior official said.

“We have started talking to wedding planners in India. We took a group of wedding planners from here to Mauritius and plan to take another group soon to showcase what Mauritius offers,” Mauritius Tourism Development Authority (MTDA) deputy director Vijaye Haulder told IANS here.

Haulder, whose forefathers hailed from West Bengal and settled in Mauritius several generations ago, is here to conduct road shows in four Indian cities – Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore. He said Indian wedding planners or organisers would also be given handsome incentives that are offered to meetings, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) operators from India.

“Duty free liquor is also offered,” he added.

Mauritius is a well-known wedding destination for European celebrities and sportspersons.

“In the case of Europeans or other nationalities, the wedding group would be not more than 10-15 people. In many cases only the to-be-married couple would come here. But Indian weddings are different,” Haulder said.

He said the size of Indian wedding groups coming to Mauritius ranges between 350 and 800.

Such a large size bodes well for Air Mauritius – the sole airline flying direct to Mauritius out of India – the hotels and other tourist players there.

Haulder said around 8-10 Indian weddings are now being held in Mauritius. According to him, annually around 10 celebrity weddings happen in Mauritius. The celebrities are from varied fields – movie actors (China, Japan, Hollywood), football players and others.

Queried about promoting such weddings among Indian celebrities, he said: “We are open. We can have it free of cost. It would be a brand building exercise for us among Indians.”

While celebrities would like to have their wedding in privacy, they do talk about it in their social media, which is a good branding activity for Mauritius Tourism, Haulder said.

“It is not only marriages, even engagement ceremonies and pre-engagement photography is being done in Mauritius by Indians,” said Medha Sampat, founder, Knack Marketing, a travel marketing and representative company in Mumbai.

The company is the India representative for Sun Resorts Ltd that runs star hotels in Mauritius.

Sampat said the Indian wedding group size would be between 200 and 500 people, giving good food and beverage revenue to the hotels.

Normally members of Indian wedding groups would spend two or three nights in Mauritius.

Meanwhile, Mauritius Tourism hopes to attract around 60,000 Indians to Mauritius this year, up from around 58,000 people who travelled there last year.

According to Haulder, the island nation is confident of attracting more than one million tourists this year up from over 900,000 who visited in 2013.

“It is a medium-haul destination (travel time around six hours) and has got a European feel. It is a year-round tourist destination. The hotels and resorts are on the beaches and one need not go out in search of a beach,” Vivek Anand, MTDA country manager-India, told IANS.

He, however, agreed that in terms of air fare Sri Lanka and the Maldives are much cheaper destinations.

Anand said Mauritius is a family destination where there are fun and adventure activities like submarine rides, undersea walks, walking with the lions et al for the entire family.

Air Mauritius connects Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore with Mauritius with its Airbus A-330 aircraft.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

For the love of God

Navin B. Chawla
August 26, 2014

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UNDYING SPIRIT: Mother Teresa was optimistic that the Missionaries of Charity would remain committed to providing for the poorest of the poor. Picture, by noted photographer Eddie Adams, shows Mother Teresa and an armless child at her order’s orphanage in Calcutta in 1978.

We need to take a leaf out of the book of Mother Teresa’s continuing work to better understand why we are still so shamefully placed on the Human Development Index

Kusum was a child of about six when I first saw her in one of Mother Teresa’s ashrams, very close to where I live. Two things struck me at once. The first was that she was crippled and the second was her lovely smile. In those days, I went quite often to that Home, and little Kusum was always there to greet me. I soon learned that she would never be able to stand on her feet because of her many disabilities, and so the Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity would wait on her hand and foot. They fed her, bathed her, dressed her in new clothes every morning, and carried her to the toilet every time she needed to go. They changed her clothes each time she inadvertently soiled them. Painstakingly, she learned to say “Hello” to me when I came by and one day I was delighted to hear her add “uncle” to complete her little sentence. The Sisters had found Kusum somewhere between two busy roads where she was being forced to beg for alms.

On the afternoon that they found her, it was pouring with rain and the drenched child had a wracking cough. They looked for a parent or a guardian. They found none. They reported the matter to the local police. They needed to take her to a hospital for medical attention. After she stabilised, they brought her to their ashram, where she joined about 60 children who all suffered from mental or physical disabilities. More than one orthopaedician to whom she was taken opined that her legs had broken either in an accident or perhaps deliberately. But when anyone asked her who had done this to her so that she could be made to beg, she would burst into tears. That was the only time she would cry. For the rest of the time, Kusum’s smile would invariably reach her eyes.

“Implementers like us hardly ever ‘adopt’ an area in the country to see if the schemes that look good on our files are being implemented on the ground”

Kusum could well be the child whom we see from the comfort of our cars, when we stop at a traffic intersection. We react with disgust (“Why doesn’t the government do something about these beggars?”) or a sense of guilt, as we either give the child some money or look in another direction, hoping the traffic light will change to enable us to speed away. But while we salve our consciences in some way or the other, we seldom, if ever, do anything to help with our own hands.

Providing lifelong care

Little known to most of us, there is an intrepid band of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity Sisters and Brothers who spread out each day into streets, slums and ghettos. They do so not just in our cities, but also in urban clusters in 136 countries. They rescue the homeless. They feed the hungry. They treat the sick and leprosy-affected. They rescue abandoned children like Kusum from predatory streets and provide them lifelong care with the love they should have rightfully received from their real mothers — who cast them aside because the children were either challenged, deformed or illegitimate. The Sisters perform these daily miracles without expectation of reward or favour.

For the 23 years that I knew Mother Teresa, I witnessed the growth of her organisation till it had covered almost 600 orphanages, old age homes, leprosy and feeding stations, and schools and homes for the dying, in 123 countries. However, I used to worry about what would happen to the Order that she had founded when she passed away. I had seen many Orders decline steeply after their charismatic founders died. In the course of writing her biography, I felt the need to ask her how an organisation that had grown exponentially during her lifetime could possibly survive without her at the helm.

The first time that I attempted to do so, she did not answer, but instead pointed a finger heavenwards. A few weeks later I tried again, but this time she just laughed my question away. It is very awkward for most of us to repeatedly discuss the death of a parent or elderly relative or a friend with the person directly. But as a biographer, I had to persist. On the third occasion, she finally gave me her answer. She told me that I had visited so many of her “homes” — in India, in Europe and the U.S. Her Sisters everywhere did the same kind of work, wore the same saris woven by ex-leprosy sufferers, lived and worked the same rigorous schedule; yet Mother Teresa was not everywhere. And then in a gentle dig, she asked why her organisation could not be as well organised as one in the government. She added a crucial caveat. As long as the Missionaries of Charity remained wedded to its special fourth vow — that of providing wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor — and did not end up serving the middle classes or the rich, “we will be all right,” she said.

Many friends have asked me how Mother Teresa’s organisation has fared over the years since her death in 1997. My answer is based on the underlying spirit of the Sisters and Brothers of her Order whose abiding faith in God is their anchor. That is what propels these brave and always cheerful women and men to step out each day to scour the streets for those who have fallen by the wayside. For in the act of rescuing or caring, they are one with their God. Mother Teresa once explained this to me simply but meaningfully. “You can, at best, look after a few loved ones in your family. I can look after everyone, because for me they are all God.” This also helped in explaining her answer to a rich lady who visited her and saw her cleaning the ulcers of a leprosy patient. “I can never do this work for all the money in the world,” the lady said. “Nor can I,” answered Mother Teresa cheerfully. “But I do it for my love of Him.”

Divorced from reality

Ending this on a less cheerful note, after 41 years of experience in the government, I have had to conclude that the world of bureaucrats and planners, of which I too was a part, remains divorced from the reality of our poor. While we are still determining where to draw the poverty line, implementers like us hardly ever “adopt” an area in the country to see for ourselves if the schemes that look good on our files are being implemented on the ground — in whole or even in part.

Arguably, we need to take a leaf out of the book of the Ramakrishna Mission, or of Baba Amte’s and Mother Teresa’s continuing work, to better understand why we are still, 67 years after our Independence, so shamefully placed on the Human Development Index.

Five years ago, Kusum developed several complications related to her early deprivation. She died in a city hospital where the Sisters rushed her. She had enjoyed just a dozen years of love and security. She was just 18 when she died.

(Navin B. Chawla, former Chief Election Commissioner, is the author of Mother Teresa: The Authorized Biography. Today, he commemorates Mother Teresa’s 104th anniversary. E-mail: navinbchawla@hotmail.com)

Source: The Hindu

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

President Pranab Mukherjee greets nation ahead of I-day: Full text

IndiaToday.in  New Delhi, August 14, 2014 | UPDATED 19:40 IST

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President Pranab Mukherjee

Fellow citizens, on the eve of 67th anniversary of our Independence, I extend warm greetings to you and to all Indians around the world. I convey my special greetings to members of our armed forces, paramilitary forces and internal security forces. I also congratulate all our sportspersons, who have participated and won laurels in the recently-concluded Commonwealth Games held at Glasgow.

Friends, freedom is a celebration; independence is a challenge. In the 68th year of freedom, we have reaffirmed the power of our individual and collective liberties by electing through a remarkably peaceful electoral process, a stable government with a clear majority for a single party, after three decades. The increase in voter turnout to 66 per cent from the last election's 58 per cent shows the vitality of our democracy. This achievement has given us an opportunity to take up the challenge of governance by reforming the policies, practices and systems of governance so that the enormous aspirations of our people can be fulfilled with vision, commitment, integrity, speed and administrative capability.

Stagnant minds create immobile systems which become roadblocks to growth. India demands creative thinking in governance that enables fast-track development and ensures social harmony. The nation has to be placed above partisan impulses. The people come first.

In a democracy, good governance is exercise of power for efficient and effective management of our economic and social resources for the well-being of the people. This power has to be exercised within the framework of the Constitution through the institutions of state. With the passage of time and changes in the eco-system, distortions do appear making some institutions dysfunctional. When one institution does not function in the manner expected of it, phenomenon of overreach sets in. While some new institutions might become necessary, the real solution lies in re-inventing and restoring the existing ones to serve the purpose of effective government.

Good governance is critically dependent on rule of law, participatory decision-making, transparency, responsiveness, accountability, equity and inclusiveness. It calls for wider involvement of the civil society in the political process. It calls for deeper engagement of the youth with the institutions of democracy. It calls for quick dispensation of justice to the people. It calls for ethical and responsible behaviour from the media.

A country of our size, heterogeneity and complexity calls for culture-specific governance models. It calls for cooperation in the exercise of power and assumption of responsibility, by all stakeholders. It calls for constructive partnership between the state and the citizen. It calls for taking a responsive administration to the door step of every hut and habitation in the land.

Fellow Citizens, the decisive challenge of our times is to end the curse of poverty. The focus of our policies now has to move from alleviation of poverty to elimination of poverty. The difference is not mere semantics: alleviation is a process; elimination is a time-defined objective. In last six decades, the poverty ratio has declined from over 60 per cent to less than 30 per cent. Even then, nearly one-third of our population still lives below the poverty line. Poverty is not a mere statistic. Poverty has a face, which becomes unbearable when it scars the visage of a child. The poor cannot, and will not, wait for yet another generation to see the very essentials of life - food, shelter, education and employment - being denied to them. The benefits from economic development must percolate down to the poorest of the poor.

In the last decade, our economy grew at an average rate of 7.6 per cent per year. Though the growth rate was subdued at below 5 per cent during the last two years, I sense renewed vigour and optimism in the air. Signs of revival are visible. Our external sector has strengthened. Fiscal consolidation measures are beginning to show results. Notwithstanding occasional spurts, inflation has started moderating.  However, food prices still remain a matter of serious concern.  Record food grains production last year helped agriculture sector to grow at a healthy 4.7 per cent. Employment has increased by an average of about 4 per cent per year in the last decade. Manufacturing sector is on the rebound. The stage is now set for our economy to move on a high growth trajectory of 7 to 8 per cent, which is essential to ensure the availability of adequate resources for equitable development.

Fellow Citizens, economy is the material part of development. Education is the essential part of it. A sound education system is the bedrock of an enlightened society. It is the bounden duty of our educational institutions to provide quality education and inculcate the core civilizational values of love for motherland; compassion for all; tolerance for pluralism; respect for women; performance of duty; honesty in life; self-restraint in conduct, responsibility in action and discipline in young minds. By the end of the Twelfth Five Year Plan, we would have achieved a literacy rate of eighty per cent. But would we be able to say that we have provided quality education and skills to our children to be good citizens and successful professionals?

Our thoughts are influenced by our environment. "Yadrishi Bhavana Yasya; Siddhir Bhavati Tadrishi". It means, "Whatever are one's thoughts, so will be the outcomes". Clean environment breeds clean thoughts. Cleanliness is a mark of self-respect. Ancient travellers like Megasthenes in the 4th Century BC, Fa Hien in the 5th Century AD and Hiuen Tsang in the 7th Century AD, when they came to India, have written about the efficient administrative systems, with planned settlements and good urban infrastructure. What has gone wrong with us now? Why can't we keep our environment free of filth? The Prime Minister's call to honour the memory of Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary, by making India a clean country by 2019 is commendable, but it can be achieved only if each Indian converts this into a national mission. Every road, every path, every office, every home, every hut, every river, every stream, every particle in the air around us can be kept clean, if we but cared just a little. We must nurture nature, so that nature continues to nurture us.

Though an ancient civilization, India is a modern nation with modern dreams. Intolerance and violence is a betrayal of the letter and spirit of democracy. Those who believe in the poison drip of inflammatory provocation do not understand India's values or even its present political impulses. Indians know that progress, economic or social, is difficult without peace. This may be the appropriate moment to recall the great Shivaji's letter to Aurangzeb when the latter imposed jizya. Shivaji told the emperor that Shah Jehan, Jehangir and Akbar could also have levied this tax "but they did not give place to bigotry in their hearts, as they considered all men, high and low, created by God to be examples of the nature of diverse creeds and temperaments". This 17th century epistle of Shivaji carries a message, which is universal. It must become a living testament that guides our behaviour today.

We can least afford to forget this message at a time when an increasingly turbulent international environment has sparked off rising dangers in our region and beyond, some clearly visible, and some crawling out of the debris of unprecedented turmoil. Across parts of Asia and Africa, attempts are being made by radical militias to redraw the maps of nations to create a geography for theocratic ideology. India will feel the heat of blowback, particularly as it represents the values that reject extremism in all its manifestations. India is a beacon of democracy, equilibrium, inter-and-intra faith harmony. We must defend our secular fabric with vigour. Our security and foreign policies must combine the steel of strength with the velvet of diplomacy even as we persuade the like-minded as well as the hesitant to recognise the substantial dangers that breed within indifference.

Fellow Citizens, our Constitution is a consequence of our democratic culture, which reflects our ancient values. It pains me to note that this great national asset is becoming increasingly vulnerable to rash excess. Our right to freedom continues to flourish, and may that always be the case, but what about our duty to the people? I sometimes wonder: has our democracy become too noisy? Have we lost the art of contemplation and calm thinking? Is it not the time to restore the grandeur and glory of our institutions that have sustained and nourished our beautiful democracy? Should not Parliament again become the great hall of sombre thought and well-debated legislation? Should not our courts of law become temples of justice? This calls for collective action by all the stakeholders.

A nation is very young at 68. India has the will, energy, intellect, values and unity to claim the 21st century. The vision to win the battle of freedom from poverty is set; the journey will seem formidable only to those without conviction. As an old saying goes, "Sidhir Bhavati Karmaja", which means, "success is born of action".

Now is the time for action!

Jai Hind.

Source: indiatoday

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President Pranab Mukherjee warns: ‘Poison drip’ of bigotry…fading institutions

Express News Service | New Delhi | August 15, 2014 4:36 am

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He also emphasised the importance of institutions in good governance. (Source: PTI)

Quoting Shivaji’s letter to Aurangzeb decrying bigotry, President Pranab Mukherjee, in his Independence Day-eve address to the nation on Thursday, warned against “the poison drip of inflammatory provocation”, and “intolerance and violence”.

He also emphasised the importance of institutions in good governance. “I sometimes wonder: has our democracy become too noisy? Have we lost the art of contemplation and calm thinking? Is it not the time to restore the grandeur and glory of our institutions that have sustained and nourished our beautiful democracy? Should not Parliament again become the great hall of sombre thought and well-debated legislation? Should not our courts of law become temples of justice? This calls for collective action by all the stakeholders,” he said.

“With the passage of time and changes in the ecosystem, distortions do appear making some institutions dysfunctional. When one institution does not function in the manner expected of it, phenomenon of overreach sets in… While some new institutions might become necessary, the real solution lies in re-inventing and restoring the existing ones to serve the purpose of effective government,” said Mukherjee.

Describing “intolerance and violence” as a “betrayal of the letter and spirit of democracy”, he said, “Those who believe in the poison drip of inflammatory provocation do not understand India’s values or even its present political impulses. Indians know that progress, economic or social, is difficult without peace. This may be the appropriate moment to recall the great Shivaji’s letter to Aurangzeb when the latter imposed jizya. Shivaji told the Emperor that Shah Jahan, Jahangir and Akbar could also have levied this tax but they did not give place to bigotry in their hearts.”

He said this message is particularly relevant at a time when India risks a “blowback” from the turmoil in parts of Asia and Africa.

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Constitution prone to rash excess, says Pranab

Home                                          New Delhi, August 14, 2014
Updated: August 15, 2014 02:30 IST

Amit Baruah

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“Those who believe in the poison drip of inflammatory provocation do not understand India’s values or even its present political impulses," President Pranab Mukherjee said in his address to the nation on the eve of Independence Day in New Delhi on Thursday.

In his customary Independence Day-eve address, the President wondered whether Indian democracy had become too noisy and should not Parliament again become the great hall for sombre thought.

The Constitution was becoming “increasingly vulnerable” to rash excess while institutional dysfunction led to the “phenomenon of overreach,” President Pranab Mukherjee warned on Thursday.

His comments came on a day when Parliament passed two key Bills that allow for fundamental changes in the method of appointing judges to the higher judiciary.

In his customary Independence Day-eve address, the President wondered whether Indian democracy had become too noisy and should not Parliament again become the great hall for sombre thought.

Pointing to institutional decay, Mr. Mukherjee said, “Should not our courts of law become temples of justice? This calls for collective action by all the stakeholders.”

Welcoming the emergence of a stable government with a clear majority for the first time after three decades, the President said the country demanded fast-track development with social harmony.

Dwelling on institutional dysfunction, Mr. Mukherjee stressed that while new institutions might become necessary, the real solution lay in re-inventing existing ones.

The President felt the economy was all set to grow at seven to eight per cent as signs of revival were visible. “However, food prices still remain a matter of serious concern.”

Warns of blowback from abroad

He warned that “intolerance and violence” were a betrayal of the letter and spirit of our democracy.

“Those who believe in the poison drip of inflammatory provocation do not understand India’s values or even its present political impulses,” the President stated.

Indians, he said, knew that progress was difficult without economic or social progress.

Pointing to the turbulent international environment at a time when the country was focused inwards, the President was frank about the dangers in the region and beyond of the ongoing unprecedented turmoil.

“Across parts of Asia and Africa, attempts are being made by radical militias to redraw the maps of nations to create a geography of theocratic ideology,” he said.

“India will feel the heat of blowback, particularly as it represents the values that reject extremism in all its manifestations…we must defend our secular fabric with vigour,” the President stressed.

In words of advice for the Government, the former Defence, Home, External Affairs and Finance Minister said India’s security and foreign policies must combine the “steel of strength with the velvet of diplomacy”.

India, he was of the opinion, must engage in the task of persuading the like-minded as well as the hesitant to recognise the substantial sangers that breed within indifference.

“Our Constitution is a consequence of our democratic culture, which reflects our ancient values. It pains me to note that this great national asset is becoming increasingly vulnerable to rash excess,” he stated.

“Have we lost the art of contemplation and calm thinking? Is it not time to restore the grandeur and glory of our institutions that have sustained and nourished our beautiful democracy?” .

Source: The Hindu 

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Saturday, August 02, 2014

DBS Therapy Effective for Parkinson’s Disease, Says Expert

By Express News Service   |   Published: 02nd August 2014 08:03 AM
Last Updated: 02nd August 2014 08:03 AM
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Dr Charulata Sankhla of Hinduja Hospital at Mumbai speaking on Parkinson’s disease organised by the Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences in Hyderabad on Friday. | A Suresh Kumar

HYDERABAD: Although medication can provide respite to the patients affected by the Parkinson’s disease, it is advisable for them to opt for deep brain stimulation (DBS) therapy as long-term treatment measure,  Dr Praveen, neurosurgeon of the Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences here, has suggested.

In order to educate patients on the modern methods to treat the disease, the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorder Society and the NIMS jointly conducted an awareness programme here on Friday.

The second most common neurodegenerative disease in the world, the Parkinson’s disease, primarily affects movements and speech, usually starting with tremors, stiffness and slowing of movements.

“In DBS therapy, the brain is stimulated by putting in a lead. These leads are connected to a pacemaker that delivers continuous stimulation to the brain. The therapy uses an implanted device, similar to pacemaker, to deliver electrical stimulation to precisely target areas of the brain. Stimulation of the se areas enables the brain circuits that control movement to function better,” he explained.

Dr Rupam Borgohainr of the department of neurology said, “For patients not capable of controlling their movements despite various combinations of medications and requiring significant relief due to their work requirement or experiencing serious side-effects of the medication, DBS therapy presents an effective solution.”

Source: The New Indian Express

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Friday, August 01, 2014

శ్రీ కౌముది ఆగస్ట్ 2014

Historic step: Pandharpur temple allows non-Brahmin and women priests

Kamlesh Sutar   |   Headlines Today  |   Mumbai, August 1, 2014 | UPDATED 23:29 IST

Amidst of the Maalin tragedy, a historic development went unnoticed in Maharashtra. A path breaking leap that perhaps can be seen a strong step towards the annihilation of caste system and patriarchy that still rules the minds of India.

For the first time in its history of almost nine centuries, Non-Brahmin and female priests performed the Pooja of Lord Vitthal and Rukhmini on Friday.

The historic transition started with the Supreme Court verdict on January 15, 2014. The apex court had taken away the ancestral rights claimed by the Brahmin families, known as Badve and Utpat to appoint priests.

After the verdict the temple trust interviewed 129 candidates for the post temple priests. Highlight of the selection process was that most of the candidates that appeared were non-Brahmins and even 16 women candidates were interviewed.

Finally on Friday, five priests belonging to backward classes performed Pooja along with upper caste Brahmins at the historic Vitthal temple and 2 women priests performed pooja at the Rukhmini temple in Pandharpur.

In a society that is still dominated by caste system and patriarchy, allowing women and people of lower castes to perform pooja at the temple may be seen as historic and pioneering by many. But those aware of the Maharashtra's social essence will see this development as a perfect complement to the very quintessence of the medieval Bhakti movement.

Poetry, literature and Social reforms flourished in the Bhakti movement. Saint Poet Dnyaneshwar (3th Century BC ) is seen as the pioneer of the Bhakti movement. Several great saint Poets Like Tukaram and Namdev were among others. All these saint poets worshipped Vitthal of Pandharpur.

At a time when caste system strongly dominated the society, these saints professed the message of equality. It was initially considered unorthodox, as it rebelled against caste distinctions and disregarded Brahmanic rituals which according to Bhakti saints were not necessary for salvation. In the course of time, however, owing to its immense popularity among the masses and even gaining royal patronage it became 'orthodox' and continues to be one of the most important modes of religious expression in modern India.

The bhakti movement is also seen as a prominent emancipator movement against the Brahminical caste domination. The devotees and the proponents of the movements mostly hailed from Non Brahmin castes. Dnyaneshwar and Eknath were Brahmins but were strictly against caste supremacy. Progressive Thinker and saint Poet Tukaram belonged to the Kunbi Community. Chokha Mela hailed from the untouchable Mahar community. Similarly , Savata belonged to the Mali(Gardener) caste, Sena belonged to Nhavi (Barber) caste, Goroba was a Kumbhar (Potter),Namdev- a Shimpi (Tailor) and so on. Similarly, women Saint poets like Saint Sakhubai, Muktabai, Kanhopatra, Janabai contributed immensely to the Warkari Sect.

Given the fact that the Bhakti movement was always above caste hierarchy and Brahmnical assertion, the new development in Vithhal temple of Pandharpur should be viewed as a continuation of the progressive thought that was professed by the great saint poets. From now on lower caste priests and women too have got the right to perform Pooja. A couple of years ago, another decision in Maharashtra was hailed by rationalist and that was allowing women into the main sanctorum of the Mahalakshmi temple in Kolhapur.

Though caste system is abolished in India long ago , the discreet existence of the caste supremacy and patriarchy still hampers the social fabric of the country. But now the step to allow Lower castes and women to perform pooja in Pandharpur will be a giant leap in the long drawn efforts to annihilate caste from the society and giving women equal rights. The humanitarian message in the system is loud and clear, everybody is equal before the almighty. Just as Saint Chokha Mela who hailed from the untouchable caste wrote "Chokha Donga par bhaav naahi donga" which means Chokha may be from a inferior caste, but his devotion is not. Chokha Mela's thoughts have been given justice in spirit after 900 years.

Source: indiatoday

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