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Saturday, April 28, 2007


Magazine 07 May 2007

Kashgar Diary by Tarun Vijay

Good Karma Is All

To be on a six-week fellowship with Sichuan University's Centre on South Asian Studies must have been a result of a previous birth's good karma. The stay re-educated, even reintroduced, me to Buddha and a strong sense of friendship formed with a people so different from the global power we are accustomed to (note: in a '62 hue). The truth is, if we have a 'Made in China' in every Indian home, every Buddhist home in China also has an India in its heart.
To ask for the moon in China would have been easier than to request the authorities for a pass to Kashgar—the eternal city of Xinjiang and presently a dreaded Islamic terror hub (it used to be better known for its promise in the ancient Silk Route). A dream came true when I boarded the metre-gauge train for the 76-hour journey. Trains are comfortable, attendants smartly uniformed in semi-military fashion—they open doors when the station arrives, check tickets, lock doors when the train moves and swiftly take the broom to sweep the floor, collect garbage and again get on to the ticket-checking business. It's all so natural that it bewilders a caste-conscious Indian. We passed through the ravines of the snow-clad Gobi desert, negotiating 3,100 km from Chengdu, with hundreds of bridges and tunnels as if the barren brown mountains were made of wax. I stopped counting after 173.
Pakistani? Moslem? These were the two questions I faced everywhere, from curious taxi drivers, shopkeepers and other passengers. And with a broad smile I would reply—no, no, Hindostani, Hindu. We met an Uyghur girl, Aike Dan, with her Han teacher, Xu Kun'e, and spent hours discussing their land and our culture, finally singing our respective national songs to the amusement of fellow passengers.
Rants and Raves (feedback to this story)
Selling The Forbidden
Uyghurs are known to be ferocious Eastern Turks and many still nurse a longing for independence. Worried, Beijing tries hard to extinguish the fires of secession through a gentle but firm move to assimilate the Uyghurs into the Han mainstream and putting dissenters into the shooting range. They have not allowed them to disturb the calm and life goes on with huge Mao statues, upcoming malls, wide roads and red flags monitoring progress. Kashgar is literally Kashi to the official Chinese, though they pronounce it 'Kassh.' Indian monks took this route crossing Kashmir to spread Buddhism to mainland China. A city with a silken touch, it sells everything forbidden—tiger skins, lion's big tooth, cheetah cap et al. The square adjacent to the sublime Idkah mosque has unending shows of jugglers and ropewalkers. The city itself has a magic amidst mountains—the ancient pathways connecting Nalanda, Taxila, Kashmir, Rome, Persia, Mongolia and China meet here. The rude warhorses mingle with the spartan 'sama' dance, musical chanting of the ancient Buddhist scriptures overlooking the fabulous Tuenhang grottos. Uyghurs and Hans both love Hindostan and my Indian face received an extra smile everywhere. Xinjiang is closer to Delhi than Beijing and may be fraternally warmer to Peshawar, Kabul and Baku but Hindi songs—often mixed with Uyghur lines—and films have kept Hindostan closer to their heart.
Rants and Raves (feedback to this story)
What's Your Beef?
The taxis are swift and reasonable and we had enough Hindi music in the car decks while visiting the tombs of great warriors and Kashgari poets, the Han Chinese general Ban Qiao who campaigned in the region for 31 years in the first century and the tomb of Xiang Fei, an Uyghur concubine among the 41 wives of Emperor Qianlong in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) who exuded an enchanting fragrance without using any perfume. The Kashi villages on the way to the ancient and protected Mor stupa give a real picture, an insight into the harsh realities here. Mud-plastered houses and the idle youth show up the poverty and unemployment while donkey carts carrying fresh meat passing through miles of snowed out vineyards and the bubbly schoolgirls present another facade. It was beef everywhere, hung and laid out on the tables. I had to frantically search for freshly baked naans and, trust me, nothing on earth will match their sweet crispy taste.
Rants and Raves (feedback to this story)
Sun On The Gobi
The official site describes Mor as the last Buddhist place of reverence after the introduction of Islam in the 10th century. The great Indian monk Kumara Jiva travelled through this point. We started early, at 6, with my friend Liu to reach Mor before sunrise. The seamless expanse of the Gobi combined with chilling -18 degree temperatures made the sunrise (at 9.30!) an extra-terrestrial experience.
Rants and Raves (feedback to this story)
Wail And A Veil
The unusually large number of women in burqas begging at every cross-section makes for a pathetic sight here. Who were these women? Perhaps their husbands deserted them, was the reply I got.
Rants and Raves (feedback to this story)

More Diaries by Tarun Vijay • Balochistan (20-Mar-2006) • China (08-Nov-2004) • Lhasa (08-Sep-2003) • Tezu (24-Feb-2003)

Friday, April 27, 2007

Jitendra Singh's letter

Jitendra Singh 54 Weeden Drive Vermont South Melbourne VIC 3133 AUSTRALIA wrote-

Your series of articles on your China visit are extremely interesting and illuminating. I had an opportunity to visit Kailash Mansarovar when I was in India. Your articles on Kailas Mansarovar Yatra brought back so many memories. I read your articles on Indus, and some of the things mentioned do not seem to be correct. I will write to you about Indus sometime later on. I found books by Swami Pranvananda on the sources of rivers very interesting. I was fortunate to meet SwamiPranvananda at Pithoragarh on my way to Manas. His book on Kailash Mansarovar is also very interestingand informative as he has described all possible routes to Kailash Mansarovar. I admire your effort to keep our culture alive and your effort to addressthe issues that our coutry faces. India is in the most critical phase in last sixty years of its existencedue to traitors in power.Our greatest challenge is to keep the integrity of our motherlandwhile helping the disadvantaged section of the society to share the prosperity irespective of their background. Jai Hind, Jitendra

Thursday, April 26, 2007

8th October, 2005
Dawn, after a long wait
Tarun Vijay

After more than five decades of wait and continuous struggle of public interest societies and movements, finally the Right to Information act shall arrive on 12 th of this month. Though it derives it powers from the fundamental right of expression enshrined in the constitution, it was the Vajpayee govt. who took initiative to draft and introduce, what was know then as freedom of Information Act. Acting fast, it had the ball rolling in 1996 itself when Justice P.B.Sawant, chairman Press Council, prepared a draft bill and later the Institute of Rural Development, Hyderabad also prepared a bill in 1997. Both the bills initiated a national debate on the issue of Effective and Responsive Administration. The Govt. of India appointed a working group on January 2, 1997 under the chairmanship of Common Cause's H.D.Shourie. The group gave its report on 24th May 1997 contributing significantly to make the bill more effective. Besides, organisations like Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangthan, Peoples' Right to Information Movement continued their pressure and came with a lot of suggestions to have a bill created that would be able to change the socio-political profile at micro level in a big way. In fact the bill has been hailed as the single biggest step towards empowering the common citizen and an effective tool to check corruption at all levels.
While introducing the Freedom of Information Bill 2000 the Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee stated, the Government wants to share power with the humblest; it wants to empower the weakest. It is precisely because of this reason that the Right to Information has to be ensured for all. This act was named Freedom of Information act and was passed by the parliament on 4 th December 2002 and the President put his signatures on 6th January 2003. it took a long time to see that the appropriate rules are framed to make it effective at the all India level.
Meanwhile the NDA govt. fell and UPA's newly constituted National Advisory Board thought it prudent not to give credit for it to the previous govt. and in the name of 'adding more teeth' to the bill it got it 'revised and renamed' as Right to Information Bill 2005. One of the 'adding more teeth' acts of the UPA govt. has been to replace the Chief Justice of India from the appointment committee to the Central Information Commissioner being appointed under the act by the Prime Minister's nominee, which has invited criticism from various groups who have alleged that the committee has been made fully political now, with PM, Leader of the opposition and a nominee minister in it. Nevertheless, a good beginning has been made and without going into the partisan politics of the credit gathering, one must hail the bill as a decisive step towards ensuring peoples' empowerment and good governance.
But the moot question is how is it going to be used by the people. So far only a handful of NGOs, especially organizations with distinct and extreme ideological hues have been actively training their workers to make full use of the act. Media has become too politicised to give enough space to such a significant act for the democracy and is rather busy in covering Bihar and other kind of election politics. Given a chance, this Act may change the lives and the pattern of governance forever and help define a real swaraj of Gandhi's dreams. At every level and in public offices a Public information officer has been appointed with an appellate authority over him in case a citizen gets no satisfactory response at the PIO level. If the information is not provided within the stipulated time, a fine of Rs 250 per day (max 25 thousand) shall be levied on the erring officer. It's the easiest procedure and people should be educated about it thoroughly. For instance three steps to get information from any office are these-
1. Apply in writing or through electronic means in English or Hindi or in the official language of the area, to the PIO, specifying the particulars of the information sought for.
2. Reason for seeking information are not required to be given;
3. Pay fees as may be prescribed (if not belonging to the below poverty line category).
And in case you want to know the time limit to receive what you have requisitioned, the act provides that the information should reach you within

1. 30 days from the date of application
2. 48 hours for information concerning the life and liberty of a person
3. 5 days shall be added to the above response time, in case the application for information is given to Assistant Public Information Officer.
4. If the interests of a third party are involved then time limit will be 40 days (maximum period + time given to the party to make representation).
5. Failure to provide information within the specified period is a deemed refusal. And about the fee structure the rules say-
1. Application fees to be prescribed which must be reasonable.
2. If further fees are required, then the same must be intimated in writing with calculation details of how the figure was arrived at;
3. Applicant can seek review of the decision on fees charged by the PIO by applying to the appropriate Appellate Authority;
4. No fees will be charged from people living below the poverty line
Applicant must be provided information free of cost if the PIO fails to comply with the prescribed time limit.
The Act has a list of departments exempted from providing information, and thee include Raw, IB, Cabinet papers and other defence related matters unless some financial irregularities are suspected.
We have laws for everything, but the real problem lies in their use and implementation. For instance, every child is expected to attend school and all voters to vote. But the real scene presents a different picture altogether. Lets hope the citizens in the direction of ensuring good and a transparent governance shall use this Act. Ends
Defiling River Mantra
Tarun Vijay
Nowhere in the world rivers are as worshipped and revered as in India. From birth to death, we need rivers. We need them to live and prosper and even have the right place assured in the heavens for ourselves and for our departed ancestors. Marriages in rural areas in the vicinity of rivers are connected through various rituals to the river’s flow and thousands of folktales and sons are woven around them, including the one in Bhojpuri which says through a lovelorn woman that she will offer a silver if her beloved returns this Sawan (Monsoon month). The Vedic civilization grew around rivers and Vedas are full of praise for them. Aryans set up their best centers of learning as well as cities and trade ports on their banks and so were established age-old pilgrim centers. Krishna would be an incomplete deity without Yamuna and heavens wont admit a departed soul unless the ashes were immersed in Ganga.Adi Sankara’s beautiful poem on Ganga-Devi Sureshwari Bhagwati Gange… remains as mesmerizingly enchanting as Ganga herself. A famous song of a super hit Raj Kapoor film even relates the hero’s national identity to river Ganga—hum us desh ke vasi hain jis desh mein Ganga behti hai!!
Still none would be as cruel and careless to the perennial waters of our sacred rivers as we are. We simply do not connect to them. They exist and some rituals are done because they have been in vogue since long and we do it mechanically, feeling relieved and return home. That’s the end of the matter. We hardly reflect on the banks of Ganga or try to visit the Yamuna in Delhi, so dirty it looks like a sewer, and think about our relation with that flow, which had been nursing and watering a soul called India since ages and when the flow itself in its dying state, never does a thought occurs in our mind why is that happening and is there a duty for me to stop its decay, a duty that I have inherited from my ancestors?
No. It never happens. We try to hide our religious, cultural or umbilical relation with the rivers, till we are dead and it becomes imperative to immerse ashes in the waters. Millionaires, billionaires, rulers and generals and heads of state, have had their ashes immersed at Hardwar and Prayag and in Kaveri and Krishna. They might have written odes to these rivers in beautiful magical sounding words. But none of them, not a single great soul has decidedly worked to secure clean, hygienic flow of these rivers plugging all holes contaminating their flow. Rajiv Gandhi did began a much hyped and ambitious plan to clean Ganga but nothing is heard of it except a few unsustainable claims and blames.
Not only Ganga has become completely unusable for any purpose at kanpur, even nearer to its source, Rishikesh, the Ghats are dirty and the worshippers andf saints and the government departments keep on emptying all the dirt and garbage into the sacred river.I was at Gaumukh last month, the glacier which gives birth to the eternal flow of Bhagirathi and was stunned to find plastic bags, polythene sheets, half burnt incense sticks and other puja-samagri in imperishable packing left by the devout close to the source . New shops and selling points are coming up fast to meet the ever increasing demands of pilgrims and nature tourists, a good number of them being students from urban city centers.
Further north two important rivers of the city of Nirvana, Varanasi, named Varuna and Assi, have almost dried up. As is evident these two rivers gave name to Varanasi and in Shiva Purana, Lord says, whoever takes a bath at the confluence of Varuna and Assi, he gets instant moksha and is verily close to my heart. But while Varuna has been turned into a petty trickle, like a municipal drainage, Assi is invisible now and religious ashrams, sweetshops and residential colonies have come up right in the riverbed.
This happened while the Hindu nationalists ruled Varanasi Municipal Corporation and the city also returned a BJP M.P. to Parliament.
In the land of Gandhi, the river which once witnessed Gandhi ashram, Sabarmati, too has dried up like Gandhian thoughts and the builders mafia is eying to use the river bed as their next colony.
In Kerala, Rajiv Srinivasan has written in his incisive report that once a beautiful river Bharat Puzha (also known as Neel river) has reduced to trickles with a dry bed and many other rivers and water sources in the state are facing a grave threat in this land believed to have been created from water itself.
May be politicians are to be blamed or the corrupt and lethargic bureaucracy or a lack of social leadership. The list of those to be blamed for such a crisis may keep on increasing but ultimately it’s the will and the character of the common citizen that decides the course of such happenings. If the people are lazy and careless and totally dependent on he political and the administrative machinery while they keep on desecrating the river and throwing all the garbage and the chemical wastes into the ‘holy’ river thinking it’s the duty of the state to clean it up, we shall never get a clean Ganga.
After all who messes up with the rivers? The common citizen is as much to be blamed as the unwilling politician. In Delhi, govt. has put huge fences on both sides of Yamuna on Noida Bridge with billboards requesting the devout not to throw Puja articles into the river. Still I have seen people trying to throw their plastic bags full of puja waste into the river. The irresponsible worshippers themselves are to be blamed for desecrating the holy rivers.
Once we were the people who created the best of monuments and reached great heights in art, culture and science. Now the same people are unable even to protect what they have inherited. A society which invented Zero, spread its message of love and peace to the whole world, created wonders like Ang kor wat and Borbodur,is showing signs of a severe cultural decay, only colonized minds display. Ends.
The author can be contacted at
27 September, 2005
Revere Bharat Mata and not her betis?
By Tarun Vijay
It makes me feel a bit outdated when my little daughter, class six champion, sets the profile of my cellular phone and finds a website that’s more important to my work in a manner my teachers in Gandhi School used to tell something new about weather conditions. I get educated and enriched with the experiences and inquisitive dynamics of Shambhavi, that little whiz kid whom I introduce to the world with a pride — oh, yeah, that's my daughter.I am growing up with her scholarship. The only one who can chide me, use a loud voice to stop me doing something she dislikes. She belongs to the brave new world order that sets our time. Nothing is happier than to realise and live with it. So, when a government tries to correct something that was essentially a wrong, we must smile.The world will be a darker, unliveable place without daughters and hence we must say thank you to Dr Manmohan Singh for a Bill that makes them feel better and counted. Since we are living in a society where criticism is considered more important than a positive appraisal, let’s make an exception and clap a little for Manmohan Singh’s small but sweet gesture to help daughters of Mother India. That the Central government shall bear the educational expenses of single daughters in a family is more significant in its message than the real programme.In a nation where every acquirable attribute is sought from a female deity — money and material comforts from Lakshmi, academic virtues from Saraswati and annihilation of foes from Kali — we are inconceivably rogue to kill female foetuses symbolising the same worshipped deities. One has to see the greatest marvels of world like Ajanta and Ellora to understand the high place a daughter or a woman had in our society just a couple of centuries ago.Shiva couldn't find solace without Uma and when Sita rebelled against the wrongs of a dogmatic social order, Rama could never find peace till final refuge in the waters of Saryu. Draupadi was the originator of the Mahabharata, the epic war and she is adored in the scriptures as an embodiment of Dharma.Adi Sankara had to learn a few lessons from a lady scholar and Gargi and Maitreyi defeated the great male scholars of their times and were revered higher than any other rishi.The mother of Nachiketa had the courage to tell Yama she couldn’t remember who had fathered her son. No one burnt her declaring her a bad character or a witch like we had seen in Arab societies and more notoriously in early Christendom where millions of women lost their lives having been declared witches or creatures without a soul. And then came the loot, plunder and rapes with the foreign invaders to our land coming with jihadi flags and missionary evangelism. Woman was as low and dispensable in their eyes as was in vogue in their original lands — a commodity to be used and thrown away or at best to be "tilled" to get a "harvest".That affected the mindset of a subjugated, colonised people and woman acquired a different connotation in our eyes. They had to burn themselves alive to save their honour, and a ritualistic Brahmanical rude order set in where wearing burqa was a better choice, forced Sati became a worshipable ritual, widows for the slow death in Vrindavan and to have a girl became a curse. This was the time when Brahmin priests were blessing the flag of the East India Company in the Kali temple to be victorious and Indian soldiers found it a matter of pride to serve in an army of white men and kill their own countrymen at their orders in the name of military discipline. Yes, we became a degenerate society, hating daughters, burning them for not bringing the "cost" of their nalayak (unworthy) son, and using them virtually as dustbins.The states, where the brunt of Semitic brutalities was more visible, became shell shocked and daughters were killed or shamed into a hiding mode. That’s what we see in Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, UP and Bihar. It’s quite possible that the civil servants who saw the Doctor’s Bill to help daughters passed had taken a really very fat amount in dowry to "oblige" a girl into marrying a high ranking officer. Things have come to such a sorry pass that to imagine an IAS or a IPS officer in the northern belt getting married without a "price tag" is difficult. Manmohan Singh might have passed the Bill to help daughters get educated, but can he ensure that scholarships are given without greasing the palms of babus and his officers are those who have a commitment not to take dowry or to harass the fathers of the daughters? Imrana could not fight back. Neither could other women who faced the same injustice at the hands of some caste panchayat or a personal law board.Political women leaders too make use of such victims for furthering their "pro-woman" image and nothing really helpful comes out.So, in fact, despite several Anu Aghas and Mehboobas, daughters, at the societal level remain unwanted. Those who invite blindness to facts to attack the RSS do not want to recognise that the largest number of dowryless marriages takes place in Hindutva families and Hedgewar, founder of the movement, had the courage to inspire and encourage a women’s reformist organisation at a time when things were far worse than they are today. It’s no use worshipping the motherhood of a woman or performing disorderly aartis of Bharata Mata if her daughters are not equally respected and listed on par with sons.
Nav Bharat Times

Printed from Indiatimes > NBT Online ,
विरोध का अधिकार न देना भी तालिबानीकरण है
[Saturday, April 21, 2007 08:22:33 pm ]
तरुण विजय
संपादक, पांचजन्य

एक ऐसे देश में जहां सौंदर्य और लालित्य देवालयों का भी अभिन्न अंग रहा है और मुक्त चिंतन की ऐसी परंपरा प्रतिष्ठित रही है, जिसमें कभी किसी गैलीलियो को उसके विचारों के कारण फांसी नहीं चढ़ाया गया, उस देश में सभी असहिष्णु विचारधाराओं के आक्रमण तालिबानीकरण का अभारतीय एवं असभ्य दौर पैदा करते हुए हिंदू समाज पर ही उसका दोषारोपण करने का हास्यास्पद प्रयास कर रहे हैं। पुस्तकों पर प्रतिबंध, लेखन और कार्टूनों पर मौत के फतवे तथा बलात्कार की शिकार महिला को बलात्कारी से ही शादी का निर्देश देना कभी भारतीय भाव भूमि का अंग नहीं रहा। लेकिन जुगुप्सा जनक उछृंखलता और वासना का व्यापार सार्वजनिक जीवन और अखबारों के पहले पन्ने पर छाने लगे तो उसके विरोध का अधिकार भी समाज को नहीं देना तालिबानीकरण है। ऐसी घटनाओं का विरोध नैतिक पुलिसियापन नहीं। नैतिक पुलिसियापन तो वे लोग दिखा रहे हैं जो कामुक चित्रों का प्रकाशन करना अखबार की प्रसार संख्या या चैनल की लोकप्रियता बढ़ाने का आसान फॉर्म्युला तो मानते हैं, लेकिन समाज के किसी वर्ग को उसकी आलोचना तक का अधिकार नहीं देना चाहते। अभिव्यक्ति की स्वतंत्रता के पक्षधर इतने एकपक्षीय और आत्ममुग्ध दिखते हैं कि अपनी आलोचना वे तालिबानीकरण मान लेते हैं। अब मुंबई की आइटम अभिनेत्रियां अखबारों में मुफ्त की प्रसिद्ध पाने के लिए ऐसी ही हरकतों का आसान रास्ता अपनाने लगी हैं। इन बातों को पहले पन्ने पर महत्व देना हमारे बौद्धिक दीवालियापन और पत्रकारिता के क्षेत्र में गंभीर विषयों पर मेहनत न करने की प्रवृत्ति का द्योतक है। भोपाल में ही नहीं गुजरात, महाराष्ट्र और उत्तर प्रदेश में भी एक खास किस्म के अभियान का सिलसिला चला है, जिसमें हजारों हिंदू लड़कियों का मुस्लिम लड़कों से विवाह हुआ है। मामला इतना गंभीर है कि इसकी छानबीन के लिए इलाहाबाद हाई कोर्ट की लखनऊ खंडपीठ ने सरकार को निर्देश दिया है। लेकिन सेक्युलर तालिबान आहत हिंदू मन की पीड़ा को अभिव्यक्त होने की भी अनुमति नहीं देना चाहते। जब हिंदू पूछना चाहते हैं कि आखिर क्यों देश के हर बड़े और प्रभावशाली मुस्लिम ने हिंदू युवती से ही शादी करना और बाद में मुस्लिम परिवार बसाना सेक्युलर निशानी मान ली है, उन्हें सांप्रदायिक विद्वेष का तमगा थमा दिया जाता है। आमतौर पर हिंदू यह मानता रहा है कि अगर लड़का-लड़की राजी हैं तो इसमें हिंदू मुस्लिम या ऊंची नीची जात का भी कोई सवाल खड़ा करना बेमानी है। यह एक निजी पसंद और अपने ढंग से अपनी जिंदगी जीने का फैसला होता है, जिसमें किसी को दखल देने का हक नहीं है। लेकिन यदि हिंदुओं की यही उदार सोच उनकी कमजोरी मान ली जाए और इसका सहारा लेकर एक सोची समझी रणनीति के अंतर्गत हिंदू युवतियों का विवाह के रास्ते इस्लामीकरण किया जाए तो संगठित शक्ति से अपने समाज की संस्कृति और धर्म की रक्षा का दायित्व अगर हिंदू नहीं निभाएंगे तो कौन निभाएगा? वास्तव में जिहादी हमलों और सेक्युलर तालिबानों का अंध हिंदुत्व विरोध हिंदू समाज को अपनी प्रतिक्रियाओं को क्रुद्ध जामा पहनाने पर मजबूर करता दिखता है। जिस समाज में प्राचीनकाल में गार्गी और मैत्रेयी रहीं तो आधुनिक काल में मां शारदा, पंडिता रमा बाई, अमृतानंदमयी, इंदिरा गांधी, सुनीता पांडे विलियम्स, कल्पना चावला जैसी प्रगतिशील नारी प्रतीक रही हैं, वहां शिल्पा शेट्टी को वैचारिक मुक्तता और नारी स्वातंत्र्य का प्रतीक बनाना और नग्नता के विरोध को नैतिक पुलिसियापन कहना सतही साइबेरियावादी सोच है। ऐसे लोग बताएं यदि उनकी अपनी बेटी के साथ रिचर्ड गेरे मंच पर वैसा बर्ताव करता तो क्या वे तालियां बजाकर अपनी प्रगतिशीलता दिखाते?
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The Asian Age
19 August 2005
India’s caravan rolls on

- By Tarun Vijay

The first thing I received on August 15 morning was an SMS from a friend greeting me on Independence Day.
Technology has changed the way we used to celebrate festivals, and though August 15 was always a great celebration, yet getting into the usual festive mode like Holi, Id and Christmas was something we had to wait for till the SMS culture arrived. It is a great feeling indeed. We may have a thousand complaints about the way our republic seems to be functioning; yet, a feeling of moving ahead is writ large on the face of Mother India. This is nothing less than a miracle.
A thousand million people are struggling to find a new, better and respectable place under the Indian sun, and wherever I go, from Kochi to Tawang, or from Chushul to Port Blair, a new rising shows up with a sparkling beauty. Never before in our history have people moved forward so much. Technology has brought about a change in our thinking, food habits, attire and behaviour. Job profiles have undergone a sea change and earning more is becoming a habit despite the fact we did not have a Deng Xiaoping to give the clarion call.
A boy in Mumbai, originally hailing from a remote village in Karnataka, sends an air ticket to his father to visit him: this was inconceivable till recently. That’s the revolution that Air Deccan and other budget airlines have brought about. Common people, usually taking a bus to reach their destination, now feel bold enough to buy an air ticket. A recent cartoon depicted the situation well by showing a squirming "stiff upper lip" elite passenger sitting next to a villager and saying, "If this goes on I may have to think of taking the train" — so common have become things which were part of the elite domain till yesterday.
The significant factor is the urge, the strong desire to climb up. I just came to know about an interesting telephone conversation. A mother of a 13-year-old lad from a village 200 km from Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh, called an Uttaranchal IT institute run under the guidance of the famed IT scientist Ashok Jhunjhunwala, to have her son admitted there.
She is not exactly a literate lady, but her son, now in his first year secondary, wants to go to a better place to study and so she is making an STD call from a tiny tribal border village. Sons and daughters of Haryana farmers and Kerala babus and Rajasthan priests are standing in queue at the US embassy for study visas, and the person who never dreamt beyond a bicycle is now riding a high-speed smart motorbike at least. First, Maruti revolutionised our roadmap for ever, for a scooterist can now afford a car to move around with his family, then came the STD booths and cellular phones. It is now an unstoppable march into an exciting future for millions of people.
And this, despite the fact that we have bad governance, lethargic and insensitive administration and an archaic judicial system, remote villages, shortage of power and a thoroughly corrupt and disoriented political set-up which works more like the local Mafia than a group of visionaries in the nation’s interest. What is important is that India has achieved all this in spite of an undesirable crowd of political leaders. So this shows an extraordinary power of resilience and inner strength of the Indian people. No nation on earth has faced so many brutalities for centuries, subjugation, destruction, loot and a contemptuous series of invasions like we have. Yet, no other nation has been able to show the power to rise again and again whether we had a great leadership or not. This can very well be expressed through the Somnath spirit after the legendary resurrection of the old temple on the western shores. It was demolished umpteen times, yet rose again and again despite all the odds working against it.
It is true, even today the odds are not few and their character too has become more damaging in the long run. Our villages are yet to see real change touching their lives. Poverty and unemployment are ever increasing, widening the gulf between India and Bharat. Our sense of nationalism is also facing a grave threat, because of a strange secularism which thrives on self-negation, humiliating everything that belongs to the civilisation of this ancient land. Terrorism is nothing but a by-product of the weakening of the sense of nationalism, and a blurred vision when it comes to defending our people. We have yet to develop a sense of respect for the Indian citizen, and the rulers — whichever class or colour — still look at an ordinary Indian national with the eyes of a British sergeant, a colonial legacy inherited and so calmly cherished by our brown sahibs.
I met a villager from the Tarai region near Nainital recently and he gave me a very illuminating insight. He said, nothing is achieved depending on these netas, as every one of them is simply concerned with one’s own safety and welfare. "Sahibji," he continued, "you are an akhbarwalla (media man), all that you publish is news about everything bad happening in the country. If you read all the bad material every day, first thing in the morning, can you have any hopes for a better future? Come to the villages, the changes occurring there will open your eyes, but you people never report that. We are moving ahead, think about yourself."
He was right. People are always complaining; but wailing gets only tears in return. But those who decide on a path, and take the first step, can hope to reach their destination some day. India is on that path, despite all odds. We will rise high if we "want" to rise high. The great RSS thinker H.V. Sheshadri, who passed away on August 14, will always be remembered for his singular contribution in rekindling a hope for the glory of India. He used to say, "Come what may, India can never be cowed down by the fissiparous tendencies we are seeing today. We have dharma with us and none can stop victory reaching us."
As Sri Aurobindo said, India’s destiny is much greater a force than these political pygmies. The collective will of the people will overcome the challenges, looking insurmountable now, when the right moment arrives. The question is: how many of us are ready for that moment? Preparation means equipping ourselves with the values and the inner strength of this civilisation. Think: where are you standing in this great surge forward, amongst the complainants or with the caravan?
Tarun Vijay is the editor of the RSS’ Panchjanya

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

On Ram Setu and Sethu Samudram

says about the bridge, 'Exploring space with a camera by NASA's [193] Gemini XI, this photograph from an altitude of 410 miles encompasses all of India, an area of 1,250 000 square miles,' George M Low, then the deputy director, Manned Spacecraft Center, NASA, notes. ' Bombay is on the west coast, directly left of the spacecraft's can-shaped antenna, New Delhi is just below the horizon near the upper left. Adam's Bridge between India and Ceylon, at the right, is clearly visible...' We can see the picture dramatically resembles the description given in Kalidasa's Raghuvamsham . Kalidasa wrote, (sarga 13): 'Rama, while returning from Sri Lanka in Pushpaka Vimaana told Sita: "Behold, Sita, My Setu of mountains dividing this frothy ocean is like the milky way dividing the sky into two parts".'
The Encyclopedia Britannica describes the bridge thus, 'Adam's Bridge also called Rama's Bridge, chain of shoals, between the islands of Mannar, near northwestern Sri Lanka, and Rameswaram, off the southeastern coast of India.'
Apart from such issues of heritage and belief, there are genuine concerns regarding security and the tsunamis' impact increasing in case the Ram Setu is destroyed. If the new channel is created through the present Rama's bridge, international ships would pass through it making a de facto international boundary between India and Sri Lanka, facilitating an increased alien presence, burdening our navy to a great extent.
So far the sea between India and Sri Lanka has been recognised as historic waters, though the United States has been pressurising to have it declared as international waters and said in a naval notification in 2005 that it does not accept the sea between India and Sri Lanka as 'historic'. The US declaration and the role of the Tuticorin Port Trust, the nodal agency to implement the Sethu Samudram Canal Project coupled with the haste with which the project was inaugurated, has given rise to many unanswered questions.
The US Navy operational directive refusing to accept the sea between India and Sri Lanka as 'historic' was made on June 23, 2005. The Prime Minister's Office sent some queries in March 2005 to N K Raghupathy, chief of the Tuticorin Port Trust. He sent answers to the PMO's queries on June 30, 2005 and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi inaugurated the project on July 2, 2005. Why were the queries sent to the TPT and not to an agency which had scientific authority to look into the geological and maritime aspects of the project? Why did the prime minister and the UPA chairperson rush to inaugurate the project without, prima facie, having the time to look into the answers given by the TPT chief? Why was the present route okayed which essentially requires the destruction of the Ram Setu, while other options, closer to Dhanushkodi, which did not touch the Ram Setu were ignored?
Local fishermen, Hindus, Muslims and Christians alike oppose the present route and are demanding alternative channels, which are available. They say the present channel would destroy marine life and corals. This will kill the trade in shankas (shells) that has a turnover in excess of Rs 150 crore (Rs 1.5 billion) per annum. Invaluable thorium deposits would be affected, which are too important for our nuclear fuel requirements.
Professor Tad Murthy, the world renowned tsunami expert, who advised the Government of India on the tsunami warning system and edited the Tsunami Journal for over 20 years, has also warned that the present Setu Samudram route may result in tsunami waves hitting Kerala more fiercely. In a reply to a query regarding the Sethusanmudram's impact, he wrote, 'During the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 26, 2004, the southern part of Kerala was generally spared from a major tsunami, mainly because the tsunami waves from Sumatra region travelling south of the Sri Lankan island, partially diffracted northward and affected the central part of the Kerala coast. Since the tsunami is a long gravity wave (similar to tides and storm surges) during the diffraction process, the rather wide turn it has to take spared the south Kerala coast. On the other hand, deepening the Sethu Canal might provide a more direct route for the tsunami and this could impact south Kerala.'
The issue concerns us all, and should be taken up as Indians, without getting entangled in party lines and political games. The Ram Setu or Adam's Bridge belongs to all humanity, being an important heritage site; hence the government should not allow it to become another issue affecting Hindu sensitivities. Nobody is opposing the Sethu Samudram Project, only a realignment of the route is being asked, as the present one destroys the Ram Setu.

Dancing with the traitors

Those who should have been hanged by the lampposts at Srinagar's Lal Chowk by a patriotic govt. with a spine are being entertained by the Indian govt. as peace fighters and by Pakistan govt. as their own ambassadors. They are traitors, in pure and simple language, who have been overfed on Indian public's money and protected by patriotic Indian Jawans. Yet, they mock at us, demand secession in public statements, refuse to meet our Prime Minister before meeting Pakistani President, express all the gratitude to a rabid anti-Indian Paki minister Abdul Rashid for providing help to train 1500 cowards, they call Mujahideens, who are perfectly equipped to kill innocent children, rape women and blast residential areas in the thick of night. That's the proof of their 'bravery' and 'devotion' to the Islamic cause.

Yet, look at the 'peacemaker' press, all of it is applauded as another step in the direction of peace with Pakistan. When these rabidly anti-Indian imposters crossed Aman bridge, almost all the channels, including Doordarshan showed a clipping of a strange 'United States of Kashmir' flag, painted on a board. But surprisingly there was no comment by any correspondent so much engrossed in depicting the 'historic' scene from that fateful bridge.

It seems a section of the Indian media and politics would be please to see Kashmir turned into an independent country and as things stand today, we are moving in that direction with full support from various political groups. Alrady western magazines depict Kashmir an independent nation, and last time when I was in the central press accreditation committee, I raised an objection that those correspondents who depict Kashmir s a separate country should not be accredited by the central govt. But secular press derided the proposals as an assault on the press freedom and the previous govt. overruled my objection. We just don't feel hurt anymore if magazines describe an integral part of our nation openly as independent sovereign land, so where from shall we derive a passion to fight for it?

Important people in the power corridor have already started talking,'what more is left for us in Kashmir? Its only the army and the moment we withdraw it, its gone.' This fatalist and defeatist attitude led previous foreign minister to escort a dreaded terrorist to Kandahar and again the so-called peace initiatives indicate another part of India falling apart under foreign pressure. It may take another five years to complete the process through a 'slow poisoning' route called nimble footed strategy, which creates an atmosphere where people are sick of day to day massacres, trapped into a peace –offensive which stops them to name the real culprit openly as it talks only of Mohabbat, diverts attention from the original sources of hate and then finally in a fog of disillusionment and hopelessness, gives up to buy peace-a la 1947.

That's the biggest achievement for President Parvez Musharraf. Even after the gruesome Pulwama massacre of children, there was no fingers pointing to Pakistan, no global condemnation of the incident, the final reservoir of nationalism, BJP too was muffled in its protest as if some UFO had done it with no calls for a Jammu or Delhi band and Parvez was happily on to his another foreign jaunt rubbing nose with New Zealand's tribal leaders. That's quite a show indeed.

Withnthe present secular illusions and nationalist disillusionment, two new countries are seen as being carved out of the contemporary truncated Indian map, which even otherwise shows a false territory (without telling the viewer that Gilgit and Aksai Chin are in the foreign control which we don't intend to take back). These two territories, as envisaged by western 'friends' are Kashmir and Nagalim, a greater Nagaland , which stands for Christ under the leadership of Naga church and Isaac - Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland. The leaders began their peace talk during the last regime and have been further enthused with the present government. They are more than hopeful that a greater Nagalim would be accepted, first in principle then in implementation before long.

So all eyes are now focused on how Kasmir 'peace' talks progress and Siachin is turned into a 'Mountain of Peace'. So far secessionist movements are receiving greater success than they had envisaged. Barbaric butchers of Kashmir are provided all the help from the state, they are facilitated to go to Pakistan to further get a boost, Naga secessionists are also entertained by the Prime Minister without any pre-conditions to talk within the India constitutional frame work, ULFA men are not even 'captured' from the capital of a neighboring Lilliputian country and fashionable authors try to get a bit of headlines by talking on their behalf for 'peace'. So who would stop opportunity grabbers to raise a demand for Tamil Elam, demanding a United Tamil Land with the 'fraternal' Tigers and then each former princely state can have its own flag and try to follow Kashmir model! Have gun, wage a 'war' on the state with help from a sympathetic neighbour not interested in India's growth, a little patience, that's it. All the state money and security personnel would be provided to you for your safety and the success of peaceful solution to the 'problem' that the very same state had refused to even recognize initially.

So its not just the family members of jawans who laid their lives defending the country are sometimes invited to dine with Delhi Sultans, next time you see an invite, be ready to welcome even a traitor at the dining table. For the sake of peace of course. Ends.