Wednesday, December 30, 2009

PANCHAAMRITAM 51 - 60

PANCHAAMRITAM - 51

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ONE

Approaching 60, Shri.Virendra `Sam' Singh is full of energy. Just the other day, he made the 100-km rib-cracking journey from Delhi on a monsoon-ravaged road to bring 35 sewing machines in his Toyota Qualis. They are meant for his Pardada Pardadi Vocational School, Bichaula, near Anupshahr in Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh, Bharat, where he was born and where nothing much had changed since he left. Many of the 350 village girls’ lives have changed since Singh's return. He has set up the school for them. Why not boys? ``If you teach a girl, you teach a family,'' he says. These are the daughters of landless farmers. If they were not coming to his school, they would either be stealing grass or firewood. It all began three years ago. His two daughters had been married. His career at DuPont had peaked (He was head of DuPont's South Asia operations). He returned to his motherland after 35 years in the US. The girls are trained in stitching, weaving and chikan work for a year, then they are taught marketing skills. Singh's teachers come from all over the country -- from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. They are skilled and committed to his social experiment. The girls get breakfast, lunch, tea and snacks. They get uniforms, and bicycles when they grow up. Also, each girl gets Rs 10 a day and the money is put into a fixed deposit. ``A 10-year-old girl will have about Rs 1,00,000 in her account when she is 21. If she leaves school early, she will still get her money,'' he says. So far he has spent Rs 1.2 crore. His village is richer by that.

Based on a report in THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS of August 18, 2003.

(IDEA: Shri. Arun)


TWO

Year 1970. Village Thenkachi faced a local body election. The villagers were used to name their Panchayat president unanimously and so no polling was ever held there. But that year, polling had to be held as two contestants were there in the field. Shri. Marudakasi (famous Tamil film lyricist of those days), a resident of the village, was quite embarrassed. One of the two candidates was his son, while the other was his nephew. He did what he thought would harm the harmony in the village the least. He went door to door, accompanied by both the contestants – his son and his nephew – and told the voters, “These two are equally dear to me. I will be the happy man, whoever may win”. The nephew won. Marudakasi got his son garland his nephew by way of a greeting. Just then a woman of the village performed mangal aarti to both the winner and the loser and remarked, “That is good. You two continue to be together is what we all in the village want.” That revealed the heartfelt desire of the people that an election should not be allowed to harm the unity in society. The nephew who won is the Radio-TV presenter Thenkachi Ko..Swaminathan of INDRU ORU THAGAVAL fame.

Based on an article by Shri. Thenkachi Ko. Swaminathan in SRI RAMAKRISHNA VIJAYAM (November 2004) reproduced by VIJAYABHARATAM weekly (November 12, 2004).

THREE

Selvi, 16, learns sewing at the free vocational training class for poor girls conducted in North Chennai by Seva Bharati, a service organization with a social objective. On Deepavali day (November 11, 2004), along with her classmates, Selvi went to the Government Maternity hospital in Egmore. They took with them dress for the newborn babes and sweets for the mothers. Everyone of the group draped the infants with the new dress and had a chat with the mothers after giving them a bit of the cake they had brought. The mothers were surprised by the kind gesture of those young visitors. The girls from Seva Bharati greeted over 100 mothers with babes that day. As the distribution was in progress, a woman in the ward starred crying. Her newborn child had died the day before. Selvi went to her bedside and consoled her with the words, “Amma, we will come here on Deepavali next year also. We wish to see you then with a babe on your lap. Give us the opportunity to offer the dress to your child next Deepavali”.

Based on a chat with an RSS pracharak who accompanied the Seva Bharati team.

FOUR

Uma, 30, employed in a call center, is on Mohana Raga therapy (listening to Mohana Raga 4 times a day in sessions of 20 minutes each) for attacks of migraine he faced once every 45 days. Dr.T. Mythili, chief music therapist, Apollo Hospitals, Chennai, prescribed the dosage. In August 2004, after 6 months of therapy, Uma said, “My killer attack occurs rarely and when it does, the intensity is much less and it lasts not even for half an hour”. Music therapy as a formal procedure has come of age. It has been roped in to tackle problems such as speech disorders, hypertension, for pain relief, and even for skin regeneration. Pregnant women take music therapy to ensure smooth and normal delivery. Some Multinational Corporations (MNCs) employ music therapists to keep their top level executives in a good frame of mind. Music therapy is not a new concept. It has been documented in Chandogya, Taitriya and Idereya Upanishads and in the centuries-old treatise ‘Raga Chikitsa’, says Samskrit scholar Shri. V. Subbanna. “Music is Nada Yoga after all”, he says.

Based on an article by Smt. Hema Vijay in metroplus of

THE HINDU, August 30, 2004.

FIVE

KASHYAPIYA KRISHI SUKTI is the book authored by ancient Bharat’s Rishi Kashyapa, dealing with agriculture and society. The Asian Agri-History Foundation of Secuderabad (Brig. Sayeed Road, Secunderabad – 500 009, Andhra Pradesh, Bharat) founded by agricultural scientist Dr. Y.L.Nene (formerly of the International Crop Research Institute for Semi Arid Tropics -- ICRISAT) has published the book on the basis of the manuscript in Devanagari script obtained from the Adyar Library, Chennai, Tamilnadu. Dr. Nene, in his commentary, says that KASHYAPIYA KRISHI SUKTI is a detailed text stressing among other things, the participation of people of all castes in farm-related activities and cattle management. Dr. Nene comments that Kashyapa must be given full credit for his bold stand because Manu had discouraged Brahmins from practicing agriculture. Another interesting reference by Kashyapa is that of “peeta varna vrihi” (yellow rice) that Kashyapa claimed improves digestion or a ‘sambaka’ variety called “hema” (golden). Could these rice varieties be sources of Vitamin A? One wonders, because recently a Swiss agricultural scientist has developed, by genetic modification, a yellow-coloured rice variety known today as ‘Golden Rice’ which he claims contains beta-carotene from which Vitamin A develops.

Based on an article by Shri Arabinda Ghose in ORGANISER, June 23, 2002.

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PANCHAAMRITAM - 52

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ONE

"The blood donation you make is our marriage gift", so declared the marriage invitation of Kiran Kumar and Savitha. In this `marriage with a difference' performed on the 25th of last month at Padmanabhanagar, Karnataka, Bharat. Along with the newly-weds, 85 guests offered to donate blood. As per Shri.Sivaram, Chief of the Manipal Hospital, a total of 32 bottles of blood were collected on the occasion. Kiran Kumar, the groom, who is working in a private sector bank in Mysore, said that he had planned his marriage that way. The aim was to inspire others to celebrate birthdays, marriages or festivals by donating blood. It was not just for the sake of celebration or joy. Kiran Kumar has so far donated blood 38 times. He was determined to marry a girl with a similar interest in blood donation. His desire has been fulfilled since Savitha is also a blood donor.

Based on a report in TIMES OF INDIA, August 26, 2004.


TWO

Dr. Raja Ramanna was a versatile genius whose expertise covered nuclear physics and Western music to Sanskrit and classical literature. Stereocasting him in one human mould is difficult. Anecdotes help when analysis fails. So, here it goes. The late Justice Nittoor Srinivasa Rao, 22 years senior in age to Ramaana and who preceded him to eternity two months ahead, had a favourite anecdote to tell to Bangalore audiences. The two great Indians from Karnataka were at a gathering together and the lights went off when the ceremonies were almost ending. It was dark and the place had no provision for generators. A few candles were brought. Amidst that confusion, Nittoor found Ramanna sitting near one candle in a nearby room and seriously writing something in loose scraps of paper. The Judge asked the Scientist what he was doing. Back came the reply: "I am translating (the Tamil saint) Kulasekara's Mukunda Mala into English".

Based on an article by Sri.V.N.Narayanan

in BHAVAN'S JOURNAL, October 31, 2004

THREE

People of Tambikottai Keelakkadu off Muthupettai near Tiruvarur pooled in money and built a vivaha mandapam in the Kali temple vicinity. Here, only Rs.1,000 is charged towards rent, which is later spent on temple activities. Only one breakfast or lunch if it is a wedding. A strict `no' to processions, crackers and printing posters. For funerals, the village welfare committee permits only a meal during a certain ritual and cut short the usual 16-day long ritual to just one. Here a wedding costs only Rs.5,000. No wonder over 50 percent of the 3,000-odd population live in modern houses. All the children in the village go to schools. The mandapam is common to all. Thevars, Mutharaiyars and Harijans conduct marriages in the same hall and also use the smashaan. After each death in the village, they see to it that the eyes of the deceased are donated in time. So far, over 20 eye-donations have been carried out and the figure is swelling.

Based on a report in THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS, November 30, 2004.

FOUR

For the last two and a half years, Iniyan (43) lives only on water and nothing else. A resident of Modachur, off Gobichettipalayam in Erode district, Tamilnadu, Bharat, he heads a happy family comprising two children and his wife. According to him, the steps are: drink pure water at daybreak; postpone the lunch gradually to the evening; take a single chappati with 500 grams of vegetables; slimming of the body starts and in 80 days the thinning process stops. At that stage, water, taken five or six times per day, takes the place of food. Iniyan says the art of living on water alone will be useful to astronauts and he is prepared to train them in this art if called upon. One Venkatesan (65) is Iniyan's guru in this. One Elango is his shisshya.

Based on a report in DINAMALAR, August 1, 2004.


FIVE

This is an anecdote that finds a place in a forthcoming book penned by a social worker with decades of experience in Hindu consolidation work in South East Asian countries: American inventor Thomas Alva Edison wanted to record the voice of a great man in the first gramophone record that he designed. He chose Max Muller the German
philosopher. At a gathering of scholars from all over Europe, Max Muller spoke something. It was recorded. Then Edison went out to the laboratory to process it. Later, when Edison returned he played the gramophone. To the utter excitement of all, they heard the voice of Max Muller from the machine. They made a thunderous applause in appreciation of the invention. Now, Max Muller asked the audience whether anyone there understood what he had spoken. To every one present there, it was all Greek and Latin. Max Muller revealed that he had recited a Samskrit mantra from Rig Veda, the most ancient scripture of mankind. He then requested Edison to play it once again. When it was played, the entire audience silently stood up in reverence and listened to Max Muller's voice reciting Rig Veda, "agni meeley purohitam..."


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PANCHAAMRITAM - 53

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ONE

It was a death wish that did not go unfulfilled. Born in Germany and suffering from cancer, Smt. Hildegard Jacob (48) took final rest at ‘Swargadwar’. After her body was consigned to the flames on Wednesday, December 22, 2004, her ashes were immersed in the sea as per her last wish, a ritual hitherto done only for Hindus. Her sobbing mother said Jacob’s wish was to lie in peace in Puri, Orissa, Bharat. At an advanced stage of cancer, Jacob knew her end was nearing, says Nalini Barik, a guide who was with Jacob till her death. Everyday she used to offer prayer to Lord Jagannath from outside the temple. And she never missed visiting Swargadwar at night. She had installed idols of Devi Mangala, Radhakrishna and Lord Jagannath in her house and was conducting bhajan sessions, herself playing the cymbal. Her pain turned acute towards the end, and she breathed her last on December 19. When her family at Friesothe in Durach, Germany, was informed, the parents said they were aware of her desire to be cremated at Puri. In a fax message to Puri police, the German consulate also gave permission for the cremation. Nalini, along with locals, took her body to Swargadwar and consigned it to flames.

Based on a report in THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS, December 24, 2004 (Idea: Shri. Mohanlal, Chennai, Shri.K.S. Ravichandran, Hosur).

TWO

Scientist A.R. Shivakumar claims to have devised a simple yet effective way of making water potable. A thin silver wire is all you need to treat your glass of water or that collected at home, he says. Shivakumar has concluded that silver is the best ‘‘bacteriacide’’. The innovation can be used for bacterial removal in rain water as well as water from bore wells, wells and sumps, claims Shivakumar, who works for Karnataka State Council for Science and Education (KSCST). ‘‘At present, commonly used purification processes like chlorination, ozone treatment and ultraviolet light treatment are expensive and cumbersome. I wanted to develop an easier and more economical method,’’ he said. Shivakumar, a staunch advocate of rainwater harvesting for the last ten years, wants to promote its use for drinking too. Although rain is free of salts and other dissolved impurities, it is contaminated by harmful bacteria. These can be removed by immersing a thin silver wire in it for a few hours, he says. A litre of water can be purified by immersing a 30-cm long silver wire of diameter 0.3 cm for eight hours. The treatment effectively removes bacterial contamination as high as 300 MPN (Most Probable Number) per 100 ml. Lining a vessel with a thin silver foil also works. Shivakumar had water samples, before and after treatment, tested and certified at water testing laboratories including the State Mines and Geology Department. He stresses that the silver wire removes only bacteria and not salts or chemical contamination. Shivakumar finalised the method on December 3, 2004 after repeated tests. He will apply for patent for his innovation soon.

Based on a report in THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS, December 10, 2004.

THREE

Tamilnadu state police may view Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham Jagadguru Sankaracharya Shri Jayendra Saraswati Swami as one involved in a murder and jail him. But devout people continue to respect him, as indicated by the record number of letters received by authorities of Vellore prison (where the Seer is incarcerated). Devotees have sent these letters addressed to the Hindu seer. The letter-writers prayed for the well being of their Guru and hoped for his early release from the prison. Over 2,000 letters were received every day from November 15 (The Seer was arrested on November 12). The inflow increased to 5,000 letters a day from December 1. Before it was a month after the arrest, that is, by December 10, a total of 60,000 letters have been received, inform prison officials. Any letter to a prison inmate is to be delivered to him after censoring by officials. Nonplussed by such a huge mass of letters, officials await instructions from higher authorities as to what to do with these sacks full of letters dumped in a cell because there are not enough hands to censor the letters at the prison.

Based on a report in Tamil daily DINAMALAR, December 12, 2004.

FOUR

Dozens of students from kindergarten to college level learnt a few things about Samskritam from a foreigner. Shri. Richard D. Haynes, United States Consul-General for south India, spoke to children on the influence of Samskritam over world culture at the Mambalam Samskrita Vidyalaya Chennai, Tamilnadu, Bharat. “Sanskrit influenced the world in three different ways: ideas, words and thoughts. Sanskrit travelled to Indonesia where the state language is now called ‘Bahasa Indonesia’ and to Malaysia whose language is called ‘Bahasa Malaysia’. These countries used Sanskrit's well-developed grammar to build their language”, he said and cited Indonesia's former President Megawati Sukharnoputri's name as an example of Sanskrit's influence. “Tibet and China borrowed Sanskrit to develop their script." Addressing the students who participated in a recitation competition held as part of the golden jubilee of the Vidyalaya, Dr. Haynes said: "You are participating in a very old tradition (of learning by memorising). This is the way Sanskrit will survive. You are learning a literature that is 6,000 years old. Go back and travel in time to learn how people thought."

Based on a report in THE HINDU, November 9, 2004

FIVE

1 ‘Bharat Ratna’ M.S.Subbulakshmi who passed away on December 2, 2004, lived, during the last few years of her life, in Kotturpuram, a downtown neighbourhood in Chennai. A BJP women’s wing worker of the state who met the living legend of Carnatic Music expressed her desire that the street wherein MS’ residence was situated should be named after MS. To that, MS responded: “Leave alone the name of the street. Let people call our motherland by its original name, ‘Bharat’. Why this ‘India’ any more?” (An eyewitness account). 2 “MS has a very special place in the hearts of old residents of Kilpauk, Chennai, where she lived for a long time. We were all struck by the serenity and innocent smile whenever we happened to notice her pass by. I vividly remember years ago her participating in an unobtrusive way in the Navaratri celebrations in the priest’s house, staying till the very end, sharing a meal with others, squatting on the floor under the open sky and leaving only after receiving the prasadam, with such piety” (A tribute by a reader Shri. N.G.R. Prasad, Chennai in THE HINDU, December 15, 2004). Ooo

PANCHAAMRITAM - 54

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This issue of PANCHAAMRITAM was due on Amavasya (January 10, 2005). This delay, as can be guessed, was caused by Tsunami. All the same, it provided us an opportunity to present glimpses of the service rendered by Swayamsevaks of RSS-Seva Bharathi Tamilnadu among the Tsunami-hit along the Tamilnadu coastline, with emphasis on North Tamilnadu.

Moderator

January 13, 2005

ONE

1. RSS - Seva Bharathi Tamilnadu volunteers Valavan and Shastri saved 78 persons from the jaws of death while they were engaged in relief work in Nagore, Nagapattinam District. 2 At Kilinjalmedu near Karaikkal (Pondichery Union Territory), Gnanasekaran, a well built Swayam sevak made several trips into the turbulent sea and carried 2 persons every time back to shore. In this manner, he saved the lives of 25 persons. 3 In the same place, Ganesh and Arulmurugan climbed on to a boat that was being tossed by the waves, rowed into the sea and brought ashore 6 persons struggling for life out there. 4. At a place near Kalpaakkam, where river Palaru meets the sea, the force of the current was maximum. Volunteers Ramesh and Mekkavan found two persons being snatched away by the receding rush of sea water; they managed to rescue both after a hard struggle (Thus, Swayamsevaks saved the lives of a total of 114 persons all along the Tamilnadu coastline).

TWO

1 Paramankeni (Kanchipuram District): Various organisations and individuals had dumped relief material in this costal village. The villagers found that blankets were far more than the requirement. They decided to pass them on to other needy people. They thoughtfully chose a Harijan hamlet nearby. They carried the bundles of blankets and distributed them among the worse affected men and women there. 2 At Neelangarai, a fishing village in south Chennai coast RSS-Seva Bharathi team went round distributing food packets on the evening of the day when Tsunami struck. The residents of the place requested the team to serve food to the residents of the adjacent village where no relief had reached by that time. They said, "We have taken food but our neighbours are hungry". 3 In Aiyambakkam, a hamlet situated on the Cuddalore-Chidambaram route Swayamsevaks distributed relief material. They also met families that have lost their near and dear and consoled them. But the villagers said, "we are particularly sad that we are not in a position even to provide refreshments to you who have taken the trouble of coming to share our grief."

THREE

1 Thirvottriyur (North Chennai): Tsunami afflicted people from many fishing hamlets in north Chennai in need of relief materials were requested by the volunteers of RSS - Seva Bharathi to arrange themselves in rows and sit down. They did. A piece of camphor and matchbox were given to each. All of them were requested by the volunteers to light the camphor and pray to the almighty to bestow sadgati to their departed dear ones. The effect was simply inexplicable in words. A deep silence that prevailed in the minutes that followed clearly made those present there feel and experience the current of profound emotions that was running in the hearts of every single tsunami hit individual. Soon after, when Swayamsevaks asked the people whether some of them could come forward to join the relief and rehabilitation activity, all assembled there spontaneously raised their hands as a sign of their readiness. Thereupon, Swayamsevaks selected 3 men and 3 women as volunteers for every hamlet. Thus a feeling of service mindedness could be evoked even in grief-stricken men and women by appealing to their innate spirituality. 2 Chinnanur (Salem District): Swayamsevaks and Seva Bharathi volunteers residing in interior districts provided the most essential supply back up by door to door collection of relief material. Swayamsevaks of Chinnanur found an old woman in rags approaching the cart loaded with relief material collected in the village, trying to say something. One young volunteer, presuming that she was asking for alms, told her to go away. But, to his wonderment, the old lady extended her arm holding a tiny cloth bag (surukku pai) containing some small change, her own precious savings. She was, in fact, offering her all for the sake of the suffering sons and daughters.

FOUR

1 Ambattur (Chennai): The management of Saraswati Matriculation School decided to cancel the annual day celebrations this year and donate Rs. 30,000 being the amount saved thus to the relief and rehabilitation work of Seva Bharathi Tamilnadu. The correspondent of the school who came to Seva Bharathi office at Chennai, to hand over the cheque, was so impressed by the sincere and systematic efforts of Seva Bharathi that he made, additionally, a personal contribution of Rs 10,000 on the spot. 2 Avalurpet (Vellore District): Many a coastal village in Tamilnadu hit by Tsunami left behind many children fatherless and motherless. Swayamsevaks have started finding out establishments that will take care of these hapless kids. Raja Desingu School is one such school where a few orphaned kids will stay study. The Swayamsevaks learnt that the school was already home to a few orphans. But the newcomers were only more welcome there, indicating the accommodative spirit of the school management.

FIVE

1 By the efforts of RSS - Seva Bharathi Tamilnadu, seven eminent Hindu spiritual groups including the AIM of Swami Dayananda Sarawati, the Ramakrisha Mutt, The Art of Living team of Sri Sri Ravishankar, Yoga followers of Shri. Jaggi Vasudev, devotees of Mata Amritananadamayi, etc., came together and formed Tsunami Rehabilitation Inititative (TRI) and have started working in unison, a sign of recent Hindu resurgence. 2. A district level functionary of the Congress Party in North Chennai found RSS-Seva Bharati Volunteers successfully inspiring even the Tsunami hit people to shoulder the relief and rehabilitation work. That made him feed a hundred such volunteers at one of the 15 relief camps run by RSS-Seva Bharathi Tamilnadu, for two days at his own expense. He had come to the camp, in fact, looking for his grandmother who had volunteered to join others in sorting clothes received from the public for distribution. 3. The Tamilnadu secretary of Communist Party of India Shri. Nallakannu went round many Tsunami hit places; on returning to Chennai he told reporters on January 1, 2005, " I found RSS men helping affected people even in places where the state machinery had not entered."

NOTE: Willing donors may send in their contributions as Cheque / Demand Draft in the name of “Seva Bharathi Tamilnadu -Earthquake Relief A/C” at the following address: Seva Bharathi Tamilnadu, 1, M.V.Street, Chetpet, Chennai - 600 031.

PANCHAAMRITAM - 55

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ONE

1.While thousands lost their lives in the Cuddalore (Tamilnadu) coast to the December 26 Tsunami, close to 4,000 fishermen belonging to 20 villages like Killai, Pichavaram, Kavarapattu neighboring the Chidambaram region escaped. They had left their villages to attend the annual ritual of "Arudra Darshan" at the world famous Nataraja (Shiva) Mandir in Chidambaram on December 26, 2004. As has been their practice for generations, they were involved in the pulling of the Mandir Rath. When they returned to their villages post Tsunami, they found their entire villages ravaged beyond recognition. Sri Srinivasa Kumar, a member of the fishermen community mediapersons that they were saved because of the grace of Nataraja. He stated that inside the Chidambaram Mandir, they did not find any impact at all. He concluded, "all of us owe our lives to Lord Shiva"(A report in the Tamilnadu Supplementary section of EENADU, Telugu daily, December 31, 2004; idea: Shri. S.V.Badri). 2. When I wanted to talk to the panchayat president and locals of the Karakkalmedu village at Karaikkal in Pondicherry Union Territory, they called me inside the village temple. That was where they met outsiders. The temple has become the centre of activity in the village. Before we started talking, one of them opened the door to the sanctum sanctorum and pointed to a mark left by the strong Tsunami waves. They told me that water stopped at the feet of their deity and then receded. "We might have suffered, but our Goddess saved us." This belief had taken the villagers all the more closer to their deity. "That is why it hurts us when others come and tell us that it was because of our God and our belief that we suffered. We won't let anyone exploit us when we are down," the panchayat members asserted (From a report by Smt. Shobha Warrier posted in http://in.rediff.com/news/2005/jan/24shoba.htm).

TWO

Arasu Colony is a slum in Jayanagar, Bangalore. Like many slums, this one is no different… poverty, alcoholism, unemployment, frustration and filth. But two women, sisters residing there, Sampa and Indira, turned the place around. They watched on TV Tsunami survivors crying and pleading for help. They decided to do something themselves and they gathered the people of their area together. The whole community pitched in with whatever they could -- in kind or cash. Fifty women converted the street into a central kitchen, hiring stoves to prepare 5,000 rotis. Staying awake through the night, they put together a truckload of packs each containing rotis, onions, garlic, sambar powder, rice, daal, a set of clothes and a set of utensils. 15 youths of the area drove truck straight to the victims in the Tsunami-devastated coastal town Velankanni in Tamilnadu. What started as the two sisters’ way of reaching out to the victims, turned out to be a major community project. All this, without any prompting by any local leader or NGO. When I asked Sampa, how they could afford all this, pat came her reply, “Akka, we had decided to go without food for a day to save for this, if need be.” I was speechless.

By Smt. Vasuda Ravichandran of Bangalore

(Based on what Sampa, her housemaid, told her).

Source: an email from Shri. V. Aanand.

THREE

Even as other youngsters of his age are busy grappling with their second PU exams, Praveen has already drawn the attention of NASA scientists. For, Praveen (17) who hails from Hiriyur in Chitradurga district, Karnataka, Bharat, has innovated the 'solid state rocket', which travels at an initial speed of four metres per second.. This innovation is likely to be a boon for the nation's outer space research programme. Interestingly, Praveen has rejected NASA's offer for his solid state rocket. This youngster is determined to further develop the rocket indigenously. "The Rs 50 lakh that NASA is ready to offer is enough for me and my family to lead a quality life. But, that will mean that I will not make any offering for the nation. It is my wish to offer the technology to ISRO," he says (His father T Nagaraj is a fruit vendor). "The 12-foot rocket was recently test-launched in Sriharikota A 50-gram chemical mixture was used as fuel for the same. This solid state rocket is speedier than all other rockets," Praveen told Deccan Herald. "Senior scientists of ISRO Dr L Subrahmanyam, Ravichandran Reddy, Dr Shailaja and others have appreciated the technology. I intend to meet President Abdul Kalam and ISRO Chairman Dr. Kasturirangan and explain the technology to them," he says. Praveen undertook a tour to California for 10 days at the beginning of this month and discussed his innovation with high-level officials at NASA. He has started an institution called the Aryabhata Research and Exhibition Trust in Tumkur. He organises slide shows and other such activities to inform the public on science. Praveen is studying second Pre-University privately at the Vasavi Education Trust in Tumkur. He is in constant touch with research institutions, the Karnataka Vignana Parishat, ISRO, NASA, etc.

Based on a report in DECCAN HERALD, April 16, 2004.


FOUR

In an effort to beautify our city for the Super Bowl, “Keep Houston Beautiful” hosted Super Clean Saturday, coordinating with different volunteer organizations and companies to clean up certain areas of town the morning of January 10, 2004. The local chapter of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, working alongside a group of volunteers from SBC, cleaned up a four-block area of Almeda, from Wheeler to Southmore. An old, rundown gas station stood at one intersection, and it was certainly a challenge to clean that place. But the team did it! All volunteers were invited to a Tailgate Party. Houston’s newly elected Mayor Bill White joined the party and complimented volunteers for their excellent job. The event was successful both in accomplishing the cleanup and in bringing people together to work for the good of the entire community. Many teams from a variety of different groups - from Girl Scout troops to religious groups to corporate teams - all came together to make Houston sparkle for the Super Bowl. Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) is a non-profit, socio-cultural organization with over 65 chapters in the USA. It works to foster a sense of leadership, teamwork, and service among members of the Hindu community. Shakha, the activity of HSS, is free of charge, and it operates on a weekly basis. In Houston, there are family Shakhas that are geared towards adults and young children, as well as a Kishore Shakha that consists of high school students. For more information about HSS: Email infohss@yahoo.com.

Source: An email from a Swayamsevak in Houston, USA.

FIVE

That Thomas Sterns Eliot (T.S.Eliot) was the literary dictator of the 20th Century is just a commonplace now. Consequent on his early exposure to Indic thought through Edwin Arnold's The Light of Asia, Eliot resolved to go on a passage to India and imbibe deep the native spring of the Vedas. At Harvard, Eliot took four courses in Sanskrit and Pali and an advanced course in "Philosophical Sanskrit". He absorbed the Mantric tradition from the Vedas and the Upanishads that assisted him in developing what he calls "the auditory imagination" which helps in building up through rhythm an incantatory effect that penetrates "far below the conscious levels of thought and feeling, invigorating every word." Imagery and dialectic are clearly drawn from the Indic texts, which fashioned his outlook and faith. The moral implications of the doctrine of Karma find a powerful evocation in Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral. The concept of the nature of true action that does not show any concern for the fruits of action is quite a rendition from the Bhagavad Gita. In "The Dry Salvages" there are explicit echoes from the Gita. On the "Tradition and Individual Talent" essay, the influence of Patanjali's Yogasutra is unmistakable. The central idea of the Yogasutras is the attainment of concentration through the separation of the body from the mind. No wonder T.S. Eliot said, "Their (Indian philosophers') subtleties make most of the great European philosophers look like schoolboys" (in After Strange Gods).

From a book review in THE HINDU of January 25, 2005 by Shri. M. S. Nagarajan (The book: T. S. ELIOT AND INDIC TRADITIONS : Author: SShri. Cleo McNelly Kearns; Samvad India Foundation, N-16/B, Saket, New Delhi-17. Rs. 450).

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For A Bujji, a teacher at the Bapatla Municipal High School, Bapatla, Andhra Prasdesh, Bharat, all days are Mondays. Unlike other government servants, she works even on Sundays. Last Sunday, she was up early and switched on the TV set. A news flash on the scroll bar caught her eye. She camped on. As the story developed, she got to know of a rare Tsunami strike on some coastal districts of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Bujji didn't wait for instructions. She rolled out her two-wheeler and drove straight for the coast. Within half-an-hour, she was there -- in time before the gigantic waves began lashing the Bapatla coast. She knocked on each door, alerting fishing families about the danger that'd come calling any moment. As a mandal resource person, Bujji is a familiar face in these parts and people came out to hear her. But not all were convinced. As fishermen, they had all seen waves and cyclones. That wasn't reason enough for moving out, some said. But Bujji went on persuading them till about 700 people took heed and began pulling out. Minutes later, the waves came and flattened 100 houses along the coast. The sea remained angry off Bapatla all of Sunday. "We shall for ever remain grateful to teacher amma. She was the one who took us out of our houses," Bandu Nagamani, sitting at a relief camp, said. Bujji's task didn't end there. She made the mandal revenue officer set up a relief camp at a Bapatla college hours before the first government camp was set up.

From THE TIMES OF INDIA; Idea: Shri. S.Brahmananda Reddy, Samachara Bharati, Andhra Pradesh.

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A team of three Indian students from Kolhapur, Maharashtra, Bharat, have won the 19-and-under category award of IT giant Oracle's global, educational website contest 'ThinkQuest' for their website on yoga. The students - Ajinkya, Rahul and Sagar - coached by Sangram Patil, also from Kolhapur, and Van Trunong from USA, won the award for the website 'Yoga-The Ultimate Attainment'. The team, along with other winners, would be given away the award at the Oracle ThinkQuest Live educational conference and awards event to be held in the US, an Oracle release said here today. Through their website, the Indian team sought to tackle misconceptions about yoga and provide in-depth introduction to yoga and its scientific basis and interpretation, the release said. For details: http://library.thinkquest.org/04apr/01061/; Click on English HTML version).

Based on a report in THE HINDU on December 29, 2004.

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Tara Sethia was raised in the faith tradition of Jainism, a religion that has stressed ahimsa, or non-violence, since its founding 2,600 years ago in her native India (that is Bharat). But living in the United States, she says, she found that belief neglected and often misunderstood. "History books always explain change in terms of war, as if it is violence that will bring results," said Tara, a history professor at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona. "I began to wonder why the history of non-violence is marginalized. Why don't kids know about Mohandas Gandhi?" she asked. Her questions became a vision, and now a dream fulfilled: Cal Poly has officially approved her proposal to establish a center to teach about non-violence through college courses, teacher training, community gatherings and conferences. Supported through private donations and some public funding, the Ahimsa Center has the support of such leaders in the field as A.T. Ariyaratne, a social activist known as the "Gandhi of Sri Lanka," and Thai Buddhist leader Sulak Sivaraksa, founder of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists. "I believe it's the power of the idea that has created so much enthusiasm," Tara said, stressing that the Center is non-sectarian and open to all. As a Jain, Tara grew up with the traditions of ahimsa, following such vows as non-violence, truth, sexual restraint and detachment as a path to moksha. A strict vegetarian, Tara also studied the Jain, Buddhist and Hindu concepts of non-violence as a scholar specializing in Indian history.

Based on a report in the LOS ANGELES TIMES, April 25, 2004.

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Shri. R.Pandurangan, a correspondent, writes in the December 2004 MANGAIYAR MALAR, a women’s monthly in Tamil: “Recently, the mother of a friend of mine, based in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, Bharat, died. The body was taken to an electric crematorium. There was no employee at the office of the crematorium since it was lunch hour. Just then, an assistant who operates the switches noticed this. He asked my friend to write down just the name of the departed lady in a register and, with the intention of avoiding delay, began all arrangements for the cremation right away. ‘Should I not pay the fees first…?’ my friend mumbled. ‘All that comes later’, said the assistant and in minutes, pushed the carriage bearing the body in for cremation. Then, turning to my confused friend, he explained, ‘the municipal corporation does not charge any fee here. We charge a fee if the cremation is done using firewood. You will get the ash in 30 minutes. We employees are paid salaries. But if you give tips to us of your own, we accept it’. It is said, ‘Gujaratnu jaman, Kashinu maran’ (it is great to dine in Gujarat and die in Kashi). Now this can be altered a little, thus: ‘Gujaratnu jaman, Gujaratnu maran’.” (The magazine adds: “Since all cremation grounds in Ahmedabad are located on the banks of river Sabarmati, the asti (ash) can be consigned to the river. But if someone wishes to consign the asti at the Triveni Sangamam in Prayag (Allahabad, UP), all that he has to do is put the ash in a cover write the name of the dead person on it and pay just Rs. 15. An association by name ‘Sadavisa Parivar’ sends the ash to Prayag and gets the immersion at the Sangamam done at its own expense”).

FIVE

Keechankuppam in Nagappattinam district, Tamilnadu, Bharat, is the fishermen’s hamlet that bore the brunt of Tsunami in all its fury – and suffered the heaviest loss of life and devastation. Seva Bharathi Tamilnadu began relief and rehabilitation right away. Hundreds of RSS swayamsevaks from all over the state took active part. Shri. Thyagarajan, a resident of Keechankuppam and himself a swayamsevak, joined the other swayamsevaks in giving a new life to the hamlet. Weeks went by. On the 16th day after scores of people lost their lives to the Tsunami, funeral rites were to be performed. A number of surviving relatives of the dead, rendered homeless, were anxious. But the sawayamsevaks made arrangements for that as well. All who had lost their near and dear ones sat down in rows for the ritual to start. Thyagarajan walked up and sat down in one of the rows. It was only then that all came to know what none suspected: Thyagarajan had lost four in his family to the Tsunami.

VIJAYABHARATAM, Tamil weekly (February 18, 2005), Chennai-31.

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He thought nothing of studying 16 to 18 hours a day for months. Saurabh Singh (17) of Nahri Nagra in eastern Uttar Pradeash, Bharat, is now officially one of the brightest schoolboy scientists in the world. Saurabh has become the first Indian to top International Scientist Discovery (ISD) Examination of NASA for 2005-06. It is the same examination in which President A P J Abdul Kalam, as a young boy, finished seventh and later Kalpana Chawla finished 21st.  Singh said he always dreamt to explore the outer space. "I knew about ISD as I was preparing for IITJEE (Indian Institute of Technology Joint Entrance Examination)” Singh said. Born to a middle class family, Saurabh’s father Ramkeshwar is an assistant teacher; his mother Nirmala Devi, an auxiliary nurse and midwife. Saurabh's parents are proud of his achievements.  "He was good in studies and I was sure of his success. He made it all possible with his own efforts," said his mother. Encouraged by his teachers of his Gyan Peethika school 40 km from his home, that he attended for his Classes IX and X, staying in a hostel and learning to dream. Saurabh is now eagerly awaiting his call letter from NASA. Saurabh beat a Chinese student for the top slot. Each member of the UP Legislative Council has now promised to donate a day's salary to help Saurabh. His own idol, President Kalam, has expressed a desire to meet him. 
Based on a report in THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS, February 2005.

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Here is a bright little village in Andhra Pradesh, Bharat, that is all-solar and smoke –free, the first of its kind in the country. Bysanivaripalle, 125 km north-west of Tirupati, AP, has 36 families. Their main means of livelihood is sericulture. The eco-conscious residents of the electrified village went in for the first biogas plant in the region two decades ago. The officials of the Non-Conventional Energy Development Corporation of Andhra Pradesh (NEDCAP) did not need to put in much effort to motivate them to go solar. Intersol, an Austrian NGO, sponsored the provision of Sk-14 cookers here last year. Gadhia Solar, a Valsa-based environmental body that imports, supplies and installs them, executed the job. "With 23 biogas plants and 26 solar cookers, we do not have to use a matchstick," says Sadananda Reddy, a progressive sericulturist who was honoured by the Karnataka Government recently for his top quality cocoons. Apart from preparing rice, the solar cookers are used to fry chips, roast peanuts and make traditional Andhra sweets. The physically challenged local washerman has stopped buying coal: he keeps his traditional iron on the cooker and takes it out burning hot in 10 minutes before he flattens creases in to a starchy crisp. Says Papulamma, who cooks midday meals for 48 children in the village school: "No need to go to the forest anymore to fetch firewood. I cook the meal in less than two hours and avoid coughing , and burning in the eyes." To counter the harsh sunrays, NEDCAP has provided the women sunglasses. The village saves 72 tonnes of firewood, or 5,832 kg of LPG, cutting carbon dioxide emissions to the tune of 104 tonnes a year, according to Jagadeeswqr Reddy, NEDCAP's district manager.

Based on a report in THE HINDU, 6 January 2005.

Idea: Shri. S. Brahmananda Reddy, Hyderabad.

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Naxalites (armed Maoist-Leninist extremists) had become active in the Telengana area of Andhra Pradesh, Bharat. They became a law unto themselves. Those who oppose them were eliminated or intimidated. Naxals targeted popular persons to raise funds. Manickyam, the temple priest of Thimmammapet village, was also targeted because he was popular among the villagers. A trained Swayamsevak of RSS, Manickyam possessed the physical and mental stamina to inspire the villagers to resist the onslaught of Naxals. On April 20, 1995, Naxals tried to kidnap the uncle of Manickyam, a former Jilla Parishd chairman, as he failed to part with the money they demanded. Manickyam gave a chase. Naxals surrounded the uncle and the nephew and started attacking them. Manickyam managed to snatch an axe from one of the attackers. He put two Naxals to death and caused serious injuries to several others. He himself had been badly wounded and at last he fell down dead in a pool of blood. His uncle managed to escape. This martyrdom of Manickyam infused courage among the villagers to fight out the Naxal menace. The President of India awarded Manickyam the ‘Kirti Chakra’ posthumously.

PATHEYA KANN, Jaipur, Hindi fortnightly, February (I), 2005.

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Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj destroyed the mighty Moghul kingdom and established a great Hindu empire under the guidance of Saint Samarth Ramdas. Shivaji is also respected the world over for his ingenuity of guerilla warfare by which method he could defeat armies much larger than his own. North Vietnam was engaged in a war with the wealthiest and most powerful of all nations – America – from 1955 to 1975. Ultimately North Vietnam succeeded in defeating South Vietnam and America in that 20-year war and united the country. Their defence minister Madame Binh visited Bharat in 1977. Our defence minister Jagjivan Ram received her. Whenever such foreign dignitaries visit India, government of India arranges their visit to Raj Ghat, Shanti Vana, Kutub minar and Taj Mahal in Delhi. But Binh had her own priorities. She expressed her keen desire to garland the statue of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharj. This created some embarrassment to the Indian government as it had to clean the statue and get it ready for her and also to arrange a suitable crane to take her that height. When asked why she was so particular about garlanding an Indian hero, she replied that during the bitter war against the Americans, the Vietcong soldiers narrated the heroic saga of Shivaji Maharaj and of his military generals who made mincemeat of the mighty Moghuls. Thus, they were able to inspire and instill a sense of patriotism among the young Vietcong soldiers, leading them ultimately to victory in war; also, Shivaji was the inventor of guerilla warfare, a technique the Vietcong soldiers used successfully against the American armies.

Shri. Ravikumar, Joint Organiser, Vishwa Vibhag, RSS, in a recently released book, GLIMPSES OF HINDU GENIUS (Shakti Pusthaka Nilayam, M.V. Street, Chennai 600 031; Price Rs. 25).

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SIMHAVALOKANAM, the new English newsletter of Samskrita Bharati, Tamilnadu, gives an impressive list of Sanskrit mottos of various wings of Governmnt of India. These mottos sourced from Vedas, Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita are: SATYAMEVA JAYATE (Government of India). DHARMACHAKRA PRVARTANAAYA (Lok Sabha). YATO DHARMAS TATO JAYAH (Supreme Court of India). BAHUJANA HITAAYA (All India Radio). SATYAM SHIVAM SUNDARAM (Doordarshan). SEVAA ASMAAKAM DHARMAH (Army). NABHAH SPRISHAM DIPTAM (Air Force). SHAM NO VARUNAH (Navy). VIDYA AMRITATVAM ASHNUTE (NCERT). ASATOMAA SATGAMAYA (CBSE). AHARNISHAM SEVAAMAHE (Post & Telegraph). YOGAKSHEMAM VAHAAMYAHAM (LIC). SHRAMA EVA JAYATE (Ministry of Labour Welfare).

SIMHAVALOKANAM (Tarana year, Poushya month), published by Samskrita Bharati, Tamilnadu, 5, 7th Avenue, Dr. Radhakrishnan Salai, Mylapore, Chennai – 600 004.

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For the first time a Harijan becomes a Jain monk. In a historic event, a 22-year-old youth belonging to Meghwal community was anointed as a Jain monk at Ahore town in Jalore district on Monday. Hailing from Mandwaria village, Sirohi district, Rajasthan, Bharat, Chandaram Meghwal alias Sandeep got a new identity as Anant Punya Maharaj at a diksha ceremony attended by a large number of people from Shwetambar Jain community and Sandeep's relatives from Sirohi. Sandeep who went to Mumbai in search of a job a few years ago was so impressed by Jain saint Suryodaya Maharaj that he expressed his desire to dedicate his life to the religion. He travelled with him to various holy places and attended religious sermons with deep devotion and sincerity to the surprise of the saint. On expressing his desire to join the religion, he was sent to Ahmedabad to study the Jain ideology for almost four years. Seeing his intense desire to lead life of a Jain monk, his family gave in after initial hesitation. He was given a warm send off from his village two days ago and reportedly there was a rush among the villagers to touch his feet to show their reverence. His monkhood moved about 1,500 people in the village to go vegetarian and give up drinking.

Based on a report by Asha Sharma

in DECCAN HERALD, February 1, 2005.

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Hajabba is an orange seller at the busy bus station in Man­galore, Karnataka, Bharat. Every rupee Hajabba saved from his orange vending was spent by him on his dream project - building a school for the poor children of his village some 20 km from Mangalore. Harekala Nyupadpu Hajabba, 45, is a non-liter­ate. Yet he is firm that none of the children in his village should remain illiterate. Now that a basic school is in place, he is working towards getting a playground for the school and for electricity connection. It is a different matter that his own hut does not have one. Hajabba's school has 121 children, including 56 girls. He also heads the school development monitoring committee, but nowhere does the school reveal any evidence of Hajabba being responsible for its existence. He has just won the KANNADA PRABHA Man of the Year award. As the Man of the Year, Hajabba will receive a cash award of Rs 1 lakh and a citation. A jury compris­ing former Bihar Governor Rama Jois, Jnanapeetha awardee Dr. U.R. Ana­nthamurthy, Right Livelihood awardee Dr.Sudarshan, writer Baraguru Ramachandrappa, eminent journalist T.J.S. George among others unanimously chose Hajabba’s name for the award.

Based on a report in THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS, December 31, 2004. Idea: N. Badarinath, VSK, Karnataka.

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Murti Ram Sahu, a railway official in Bilaspur district Chhattisgarh state, Bharat, is blind in both eyes. Sahu teaches dozens of children every day, and free of cost. Sahu lost his eyes when he was seven years old due to small pox.  Not to lose hope due to his handicap, Sahu continued his studies and got a job in Indian Railways. "Overcoming my handicap rather than crying over it, I spend time teaching children. It helps me overcome my disability. I teach mathematics and other subjects to the normal sighted children from class 1 to 10," Sahu said. Years of dedication has borne fruit as Sahu's students have blossomed into successful career persons. "Those who studied along with us are into service. I have been studying here since class 6th. One of our batch mates is a computer engineer and one is a Border Security Force (BSF)  officer," said Deepa, a student. Sahu's indomitable success story does not end with philanthropy. He indulges in other creative pursuits. Sahu is good at making cane chairs and can play chess. 
Based on a REUTERS report, February, 16, 2005.
 
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Chennai-based non-profit organisation -- Rural Innovation Network (RIN) is the brainchild of Paul Basil from Moovattupuzha in Kerala, Bharat. Basil, is a mechanical engineer with a post-graduate degree in forestry management. Basil describes RIN as an organisation that focuses on promoting rural innovation-based enterprises and a business incubator that turns grassroots innovations into commercial enterprises. Two instances of innovations supported by RIN: (A) Deepasakhti Pooja Oil, a blend of five different oils in a ratio prescribed in the Indian shastras does not produce any soot but gives a bright flame. It lasts longer and the fumes produced repel disease-causing bacteria. It is now being commercially manufactured by KP Castor Oil Works in Coimbatore, because of RIN. (B) The solar water harvester conceived by Deepak Rao of Chennai has received a grant of Rs 190,000 from the Techno entrepreneur Promotion Programme (TePP) of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India. The grant is based on a joint proposal provided by Deepak Rao and RIN, for technology development. "It uses solar energy to convert un-potable water to potable water. The product is still going on, and we are yet to commercialise it. From a 1 square metre model, we can have 5 litres of pure water per day. We are looking at it from a domestic point of view, especially in Chennai, where water scarcity is a big problem."

Based on a report by Shobha Wariar in rediff.com, March 24, 2004. Idea : Arun Venkat.

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After nine Bangladeshi soldiers on a peacekeeping mission in Congo were surrounded and killed by rebels last week in Congo’s troubled Ituri region, their Indian and Pakistani colleagues in the UN decided to come up with a “robust” response. What followed was a classic operation in which an Indian helicopter supported Pakistani ground troops. Currently, the United Nations has 15,000 peacekeepers from 100 countries in Congo where it is trying to disarm the militia, which belongs to ‘Nationalist and Integration Front’, an ethnic Lendu political party. When Pakistani soldiers received information that Loga village in the volatile Ituri province was being used as a weapons centre, the peacekeepers decided to conduct a “cordon and search” mission. This proved harder than planned. The area is a hotbed of militant activity and within no time the Pakistanis found themselves under fire from some hills overlooking the area. They asked for air support. This came in the form of an Indian attack helicopter, which zeroed in on militia positions and protected the Pakistani peacekeepers. Some 50 militiamen died in the battle that followed. There have not been any reports of civilian casualties so far.

Based on a news item with UNITED NATIONS dateline posted in the newindpress.com, March 5, 2005.
 

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Protection of the Indian systems of traditional knowledge will be easier now. The World Intellectual Property Organisation has decided that two science journals brought out by the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) must be compulsorily referred to by patent offices across the world before granting any patent. The achievement is significant as it would effectively block any misappropriation of India's traditional knowledge at the outset. In other words, the country would not have to spend enormous amounts to challenge patents granted abroad on products and processes that were based on knowledge already available in the country. For instance, the CSIR itself had to mount a costly litigation a few years ago before it could make the U.S. patent office revoke a patent it had granted for use of turmeric for healing wounds. The journals that have been selected as mandatory reference literature for international patent authorities are the Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge (IJTK) and the Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Abstract (MAPA). Both are brought out by the CSIR's National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources (NISCAIR).

Based on a report by Shri P. Sunderarajan in THE HINDU, March 22, 2005.

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All the residents of the coastal village Nakkala Rameswaram in Allavaram Mandal of East Godavari district, Andhra Pradesh, Bharat assert that Chittibabu is their saviour. This fisher folk youth saved 40 fishing families braving the Tsunami terror. On December 26, 2004 he was repairing fishing nets on the shore along with a few youths. In minutes they were tossed around by the giant waves. First, Chittibabu pulled out his shocked friends to safety. Next, he rushed to alert the families of the families of Vadabalijas, an itinerant fishing sub-clan who were on a temporary stay at the village. By then the Vadabalijas’ hut had been hit by waves. “He was like a man possessed and saving us seemed to be his sole aim”, Satyanarayana, leader of Vadabalijas, says of Chitibabu. The fishermen in the village had lost everything. They did not even have water to drink. Chittibabu brought 18 pots of drinking water. He collected rice from the locals and organized cooking food for the victims. Chittibabu then organized a relief camp for three days. “What is big about it? I only did my duty” says the unassuming hero. Chittibabu is an activist of NGO Matsyakara Samkshema Samiti and a swayamsevak of RSS.

Based on a report by Shri. Raka Sudhakar Rao in THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS, Hyderabad Edition, January 6, 2005.

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Village Jhiree in Raigarh district of Madhya Pradesh, Bharat, is, of late, in the news – for a very good reason. People of the village have accepted, as their life mission, this one saying of Mananeeya Shri. H.V.Seshadri, the Akhil Bharatiya Pracharak Pramukh of RSS – “Just as Ganga nourishes the neighbourhood all along as it flows, a Sangh shakha should be instrumental in the all round uplift of the surrounding community”. There is a strong shakha in the village and many of its workers have gone out as Pracharaks and Vistaraks to spread the Sangh work. The Sangh workers of the village vowed 4-5 years back to make their village an ideal one. The biggest problem that the village faced was water scarcity. It was from here that they began the work. They collected money and dug a bore-well just outside the village. Through pipes, water reached every door. There was enough water for irrigation as well. That brought happy days to the village. The villagers made arrangements for harvesting rain water too. Many more projects followed. Schooling for all children in the village, helping women and youth in every household achieve self-sufficiency through vocational training in many skills. Trained youths are sent to seek jobs in towns. Once they achieved physical well-being, the residents thought of making Jhiree a Sanskrit village. Two full-time workers of Samskrit Bharati are teaching Sanskrit to one and all. As a result, many in the village have started speaking in Samkritam.

A report by Shri. Pradip Pandey in PANCHAJANYA

Hindi Weekly, March 13, 2005.

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India has won a 10-year-long battle at the European Patent Office (EPO) against a patent granted on an anti-fungal product, derived from neem. EPO initially granted the patent to the US Department of Agriculture and multinational WR Grace in 1995. But the Indian government successfully argued that the medicinal neem tree is part of traditional Indian knowledge. The winning challenge comes after years of campaigning and legal efforts against so-called "bio-piracy." Leading the campaign in the neem case was the EU Parliament's Green Party, India-based Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology (RFSTE) and the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM). "Denying the patent means upholding the value of 'traditional' for millions of people not only in India but throughout the South. The free tree will stay free," said RFSTE director, Dr Vandana Siva. A challenge was first mounted against the patent when it was granted in 1995. In 2000, it was victorious, but the US multinational mounted an appeal. On March 15, 2005, that appeal was lost. The backbone of RFSTE's challenge was that the fungicide qualities of the neem tree and its use had been known in India for over 2,000 years. The neem derivatives have also been used traditionally to make insect repellents, soaps, cosmetics, tooth cleaners and contraceptives. In 1995, WR Grace patented neem-based bio pesticides, including Neemix, for use on food crops. Neemix suppresses insect feeding behavior and growth in more than 200 species of insects. But the EPO agreed that the process for which the patent had been granted had actually been in use in India for many years. Under normal circumstances, a patent application should always be rejected if there is prior existing knowledge about the product. But in the United States, "prior existing knowledge" is only recognized if it is published in a journal - not if it has been passed down through generations of oral and folk traditions.

BBC News, March 16, 2005. Idea: Shri. Sriramanan.

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In August 2000, the United Nations Organisation held a Millennium Religious Peace Summit. 2,000 religious leaders belonging to all major religions around the globe were there. They were asked to say how peace could be achieved on this planet. Muslim and Christian leaders said that peace is possible if all the people convert themselves to their religions. Hindu and Buddhist seers opposed this idea and said that according to their religious tenets peace could be achieved without conversions but by educating mankind on universal moral and ethical values. Shri. Ted Turner, the CNN chief, was the main sponsor of this prestigious gathering. After listening to all religious leaders, he spoke his heart out. He narrated an encounter he had as a 10 - year old boy with a Christian priest. The priest sternly said that all those who were born before Christ would go to hell and the same fate awaited all noble persons in other religions. Ted told the Reverend, “Then, heaven will be a lonely place and I will be missing many of my friends. I do not want to be in such a forlorn place”. Concluding the Summit, the Secretary General of UN, Shti. Kofi Annan said that while Hinduism had many sublime and universal principles. Hindus had kept these values to themselves. In the interest of world peace, he urged the one billion Hindus to educate the 5 billion non-Hindus on the universal and transcendent principles of Hinduism without converting them.

From a book, GLIMPSES OF HINDU GENIUS by Shri. Ravikumar, Joint Organiser, Vishwa Vibhag, RSS

(Shakti Pusthaka Nilayam, M.V. Street, Chennai 600 031; Rs. 25).

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"When a sculptor decides to make the wax model, the idol is infused with a spark of jeevan (life); when it is cast in metal, it is half alive. When we draw the eyes, it is three-quarters live but when it is placed in a temple and pujas are performed, it becomes a live being," says sculptor and descendant of chief architect of the renowned Thanjavur Big Temple, K. Mohanraj Stapathi, quoting a Sanskrit sloka. The Census of India (1961 edition) traces 600 years of Shri. Mohanraj's ancestry. "An elderly woman gave information and the Government traced our family tree. There are 60 descendent families who still live in Swamimalai. All of them are into our family trade." The 38-year-old sculptor, who became an assistant to his father, Karunanidhi, at the age of 10, has a son and a daughter. He says they will become his assistants when they turn 15. The Kuberan Icon Industries is run by Kuberan, his brother, in Swamimalai. The company receives orders from temples and cultural centres from around the world. Shri. Mohanraj is a research scholar at the Tamil University's Department of Sculpture in Thanjavur. Idols of Hindu deities such as Ganesha, Dhanvantri and Sivagami are among the many bronze items on display at his Silpa Kalashetram in T. Nagar, Chennai, Tamilnadu, Bharat. Silpa Kalashetram can be contacted at: 91-44-24344216.

Based on a report by Smt. R.Sujatha in THE HINDU dated January 2, 2005.

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Noor Fatima is a devout Muslim woman and a practicing lawyer. She has constructed a Lord Shiva temple in the Hindu pilgrimage city of Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, Bharat, as "ordained" by god. "The Lord appeared in my dreams late last year and asked me to undertake the project," Fatima, a widow, said, "Now that my task has been accomplished, I can relax and be at peace with myself," she said. The Rudreshwar Mahadev temple in Gangeshpur locality was thrown open to the devotees during Maha Shivratri (March 8, 2005). Fatima said she was grateful for the help provided by Hindu religious leaders and locals, who chipped in with monetary contributions and helped her build the temple in just three months. Muslims, too, offered both moral and material support, she said, adding that she had a mere Rs 5,000 with her when she started the project. Even the death of her husband last year could not weaken her resolve as her daughters were whole-heartedly behind her and wanted her to accomplish the project, she said.

From sify.com/news, March 13, 2005.

THREE

The scientific world is describing Dr Rusi Taleyarkhan's breakthrough, now revalidated after some initial skepticism, as "making the sun in a jar." Taleyarkhan is an alumnus of IIT Chennai, Tamilnadu, Bharat. The process is known as nuclear fusion, and because it uses readily available elements like hydrogen - as opposed to nuclear fission which uses rare, complex, expensive, and dangerous matter such as uranium and plutonium - scientists have looked at it as a holy grail for cheap, limitless energy. For years, scientists have conducted fusion experiments using expensive labs, reactors and equipment, and millions of dollars in funding, but team Taleyarekhan has reduced it to the desktop experiment called Sonofusion. In a phenomenon known as sonoluminiscence, a burst of ultrasound causes a bubble in a liquid to collapse and emit a flash of light. It is thought that the gases trapped in the collapsing bubbles could be heated to temperatures hot enough for fusion to occur. Dr Taleyarekhan lives in Tennessee, USA, where he is a distinguished scientist at the Oakridge National Laboratory and a professor emeritus at Purdue University.

Based on a report by Shri. Chidanand Rajghatta in TIMES NEWS NETWORK, March 3, 2004. Idea: Dr. S. Kalyanaraman [who wonders whether this could be what the Vedas refer to as agnir- aapah (agni in water)]

FOUR

Neelamma Vala­keri, a Harijan Municipal Sanitary worker, diligently goes ab­out her job of sweeping the streets of Gulbarga, Karnataka, Bharat. In her own quiet, unpret­entious way, she is re­defining the concept di­gnity of labour. Neelamma has been on the job for the last three decades even when her daughter-in-law Gangubai Valakeri was mayor a few years ago. Neelamma’s husband was the City Improvement Trust Board Chairman. Two of her sons have been chairpersons of gram panchayats. A daughter-in-law is the out­going vice-chairperson of a gram panchayat. In the 1980s when her husband Basavant Rao Valakeri was appointed chairman of the CITB, now the equivalent of the cha­irmanship of the Gulbarga Urban Development Authority (GUDA), the then city municipal commissioner directed the sanitary in­spector not to use Neelamma's services as it would be demeaning for the chairman's wife to be seen sweeping the streets. "Nothing doing, I said. This was unethical. If she wanted to give up the job on her own, it would be di­fferent. But just because she is my wife she sho­uld not sweep the streets, is simply not acceptable," recalls Basavanat Rao, 77. "Rain or shine, Neelamma is on the job at 6 a.m. sharp. Her punctuality and dedication to work is amazing. Though I am somewhat embarrassed to take her roll call every morning, I can't escape it”, remarks a sanitary inspector. She has been able to construct a house at the Municipal Workers’ Colony in the city on a plot given by the Corporation. "When Gangubai be­came mayor, she asked me to give up the job. But I refused. Instead, I told her to visit all the wards to supervise whether the conservancy workers were performing their duties well," Ne­elamma, a primary school dro­pout, says. She claims her work keeps her active and healthy.

Based on a report by Shri. Srinivas Sirnoorkar in THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS dated February 23, 2005. Idea: Shri. N. Badarinath Vishwa Samvad Kendra, Bangalore, Karnataka.

FIVE

Suicide among Hindu women was at its peak in Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. Since insecticides were available in plenty among the estate workers they would end any family dispute by consuming thee fatal chemicals. Even school-going girls would end their lives under flimsy pretexts. Bala Murali and Gunasekaran, young Swayamsevaks of Kuala Lumpur, went to Cameron Highlands every weekend. Later, when young Karuppan from Kuala Lumpur came out as a pracharak, he was deployed in Cameron Highlands. They started many shakhas and conducted many camps. (Youths, including those from the troubled families, participated in these enlivening programmes. Gradually, the rampant depression gave way to a mirthful atmosphere that seeped into families and into their lives, heartening them all the while.) Within a few years, the curse of suicides was erased from Cameron Highlands, a fact recognised by local government agencies.

Based on information in the book, GLIMPSES OF HINDU GENIUS by Shri. Ravikumar, Vishwa Vibhag, RSS.

(Sakthi Pustaka Nilaym, Chennai 31. Price Rs. 25).

OOOOOOOOOO

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