Wednesday, December 30, 2009

PANCHAAMRITAM 71 - 80

PANCHAAMRITAM - 71

ONE

 
PANCHAAMRITAM reader Shri. Suresh has forwarded this: “Dear Friends, Here is a personal experience, as well as a moment of national pride, which I want to share with you. Hope you find it worth the time you put in reading it : "In the middle of 1965 India-Pakistan war, US govt - then a close friend of Pakistan - threatened India with stopping food-aid (remember "PL-480"?). For a food deficient India this threat was serious and humiliating. So much so that in the middle of war, Prime Minister (Late) Lal Bahadur Shastri went to Ram Leela Grounds in Delhi and appealed to each Indian to observe one-meal-fast every week to answer the American threat. As a school boy, I joined those millions who responded to Shastri ji's call. I continued the fast even when the war was over and India became self sufficient in food. Hurt deep by the national humiliation suffered at the hands of the US govt, I had vowed to stop my weekly fast only when India starts giving aid to USA. It took just 40 years. Last week THE day arrived. When Indian ambassador in Washington DC handed over a cheque of US$ 50 million to the US govt, two plane loads of food, medical aid and other relief materials were waiting to fly to the USA. Time to break the fast? With no bad feeling about the USA, and good wishes for the Katrina victims, this humble Indian feels proud of the distance India has covered in 40 years. Let’s celebrate a New India!" - Vijay Kranti.” 
 
Idea: Shri. Suresh.
 
TWO 
 
Tall trees form a thick canopy above, which means your cellphone finds it difficult to
pick up a signal. This was the way Nature intended life to be, informs the 73-year-old retired employ­ee of Tata Electric, Rajaram Gadekar or Guru­ji, as he is fondly called by the local people (because he runs a school nearby) in Aksa Beach., off Malad (Mumbai), Maharashtra, Bharat. He owns the 6 - acre Shri Maher Organic Farm. He grows 20 types of vegetables and six types of fruits - all without the use of pesticides. The miracle lies in the soil that was once saline - the farm is on land reclaimed from the sea. Guruji vouches that natu­rally-grown fruits and veg­etables are easier on the di­gestive system, and passes around tender coconut wa­ter which tastes sweeter than what is normally available. Guruji firmly believes that farmers in Maharash­tra and Andhra Pradesh will not fall prey to debt if they stop using costly pesti­cide, which had anyway failed them in their hour of need. His methods are simple. Principles of Ayurveda, compost produced by bio­degradable wastes and earthworm cultivation, all come in handy "Do you know earthworms work in shifts lasting barely an hour? But the kind of work they complete in that hour is remarkable. It brings up the soil that lies upto three feet below the surface, and helps increase fertility. I would recom­mend cultivating upto two lakh earthworms in an acre of soil," he says pointing to a mound of them. "I have offered my services free of cost to all those who are interested in growing organic food - be it in small pots in their flats.” He advises groups of women to think of organic farming as an industry, for it can bring rich dividends.

Based on a report by Shri. Bella Jaisinghani
in The Times of India, September 11, 2005. Idea: Shri. Ashok Chowgule.
 
THREE 
 
The physiological effects of reading Sanskrit (Samskritam) are similar to those experienced during the Transcendental Meditation® technique, according to research recently completed by Dr. Fred Travis, director of the ERG/psychophysiology lab of Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, USA. Dr. Travis asked his test subjects to read passages from the Bhagavad-Gita in Sanskrit and in modern foreign languages (Spanish, French, or German). In each case they could pronounce the sounds but did not know the meaning. He measured brain wave patterns (ERG), heart and breath rate, and galvanic skin resistance during two reading sessions and during a 15-minute session of the Transcendental Meditation technique. He found that while they read Sanskrit, their physiology was similar to those measured during the Transcendental Meditation technique, but significantly different from reading a modern language. Their skin resistance steadily increased during reading Sanskrit and during practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique (showing greater stability in their physiology) but remained the same during the reading of a modern language. Dr. Travis said that these findings support Maharishi's predictions on the effects of reading Sanskrit. Maharishi, in Vedic Knowledge for Everyone, predicted that reading the Vedic Literature, as it flows and progresses in perfect sequential order, has the effect of regulating and balancing the functioning of the brain physiology and training consciousness, the mind, to always flow in perfect accordance with the evolutionary direction of Natural Law. 
By Shri. Brynne Sissom (From www. rss.org).  
 
FOUR
If only one could combine the ease and ubiquity of the Internet with the security and privacy of the intranets (networks created within the walls of companies) in a single network! It seemed like an unattainable wish – till two years ago one US based company founded fuelled by Indian brains, said “why not?” Pradeep Sindhu, B.Tech in Electrical Engineering from IIT, Kanpur and Ph.D from Carnegie Mellon University in the US., founded Juniper Networks in 1996. Krishna (Kittu) Kolluri, a B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering from IIT Chennai and an MS in Operations Research from State University of New York joined Juniper last year. They called their vision ‘Infranet’. Soon, leading industry players like mobile phone giant Ericsson, computer leaders like IBM, Oracle and HP, as well as the leading telecom providers like British Telecom, Deutsche Telecom and France Telecom were sufficiently excited to join a global ‘Infranet Initiative’. 24 out of the 25 Internet network providers worldwide are customers of Juniper.
Based on a report by Shri. Anand Parthasarathy in THE HINDU, August 15, 2005.  
 
 FIVE
A road junction in Pondicherry, Bharat. Shri. Sundaramurthy, a Swayamsevak, astride his TVS 50 looked around as he waited for the signal. A man on a Hero Honda bike attracted his attention. Before he could reach him, it was the green signal. But  Sundaramurthy gave a hot chase and could stop the Honda rider at last. “See, the paint on your Honda has faded in places. Please accompany me to my paint shop. I shall fix it for you” – This was Sundaramurthy. He gives a guarantee of 6 months to his customers saying that vehicles painted by him will be repainted free if there is any flaw. He found that this particular Honda bike deserved his free service, a fact even the owner of the bike failed to notice. This much customer care, though Sundaramurthy has bagged major company contracts for vehicle painting.
Based on a report in VIJAYABHARATAM, 
Tamil Weekly, Chennai - 31 (September 23, 2005). 
 
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PANCHAAMRITAM - 72

ONE

Who wouldn't agree that eating vegetables is good for health. But Jaggavarapu Rama Reddy would further qualify this statement. He would like you to eat raw vegetables and shun eating cooked ones. And you cannot disagree with him. He has been on a raw vegetable diet for over a decade and is now a perfect picture of good health. He got rid of his arthritis problem, his eyesight has become perfect again and his hair fall has stopped. And yes, there is a spring in his step. "Food is live cell oriented. If you heat it beyond your body temperature, you are killing necessary nourishment you get. We tend to boil it at 100 degrees centigrade in water or 250 degrees in oil medium. What do you get? It's dead food and disease-oriented," he says. Shi. Reddy's penchant for protecting his health began a decade ago when he noticed that he was becoming bald. He believed that his intake of vitamins and minerals was not insufficient and hence began experimenting with the food he was eating. As time passed by, he became so obsessed with his diet regimen that he never strayed from it. In the process, he regained his health and became a strong votary of raw, vegetarian diet. In addition to vegetables and fruits, he eats soaked wheat, sprouts and groundnut.

Based on a report BY Shri. K. Srinivasa Redy in THE HINDU September 17, 2005.

TWO

It is the busy bypass road in Paramathi Velur, Karur District, Tamilnadu, Bharat. An elderly Muslim in rags goes form shop to shop seeking alms. He walks with difficulty due to extreme hunger past a hotel and a welding shop where he meets with a negative response. Next is a transport booking office. In a routine dull voice, he seeks alms. The manager Shri. Sivakumar immediately gets up from his seat leaving the work on hand behind . He takes the old man to the hotel where he was earlier turned away. Buys a hearty meal for the old man. After paying the bill he goes back to his desk and resumes work. Here a pertinent fact, namely, the Rashtirya Swayamsevak Sangh imparts an attitude of service without any expectation cutting across barriers of caste, class or religion. Yes, Shri. S.Sivakumar is a Swayamsevak and is the Taluk Karyavah of RSS.

From VIJAYABHARATAM Tamil weekly, Chennai-31, dated October 7, 2005.

THREE

It is quite normal for any Parent to be proud of his or her child’s talents. When the child exhibits extraordinary talents the parental pride zooms to immense proportions, as in the case of Shri. A. Balasundaram, a fitter in a private workshop in Melur, Madurai Distric,Tamilnadu, Bharat. His daughter B.Priyadarshini, (age 7) has won accolades for memorizing all the 1,330 couplets of Tirukkural, the Two Thousand year old moral treatise in Tamil by Saint Tiruvalluar. She gives away instant answers to any type of questions about Tirukkural. It is now the turn of her younger brother B.Sridhar Raja (age 5). He too marvels in Tirukkural competitions. Their mother Smt. Selvi says when she found the children’s retention power quite good, she helped them memorize the couplets after the school every day for half-an-hour. The Balasundaram-Selvi couple have studied only up to 10th standard.

Based on a report by Shri. Veera Jeeva Prabakaran in DINAMANI , June 20, 2005.

FOUR

District Sayala in Gujarat was hit by drought for three consecutive years. Most of the population here depends on agriculture. But owing to lack of irrigation, cultivation has become impossible. A sizeable section among the population belonging to the Rabari community, started moving to other parts of Gujarat taking along their cows and sheep to survive. Just then, a group of 500 women established a factory to produce Paneer (cheese). They started to procure goat’s milk from the Rabaris who live by rearing goats and tending cows. That helped stop the flight of the Rabaris since they now could get enough money to meet the fodder cost. This project received encouragement from the Agha Khan Rural Help Scheme and the Asian development Bank extended financial back up. Gradually, the women have become self reliant. The demand for goat’s milk was negligible in Saurashtra area. Farmers used to get just Rs. 5 per litre. But the payment was uncertain. It is at this juncture that these women offered to buy at Rs 6.50 per litre from the Rabaris to make paneer. They form themselves into small groups; they go as far as 25 to 30 kilometres to collect milk. Thus they ensure the quality of milk so the standard of paneer is kept high. They themselves do the marketing and transportation of the paneer to store shelves. They sit together, discuss and take collective decisions in assigning various types of work. All this, in fact, has instilled confidence in the farmers. Now they too vie with one another to participate in this exercise in self reliance.

From BHARATIYA PAKSHA, Hindi monthly (September 2005), New Delhi – 55.

FIVE

His 2,500-sq.ft. house remains well-lit for at least six hours despite power cut. And, no worry over electricity bill. It is renewable energy that lights up the house of Shri. K.R.S. Narayan - a 72-year-old-energy consultant - at Paripoorna Estates in Coimbatore, Tamilnadu, Bharat, and thus serves as a model to many more nearby. On a 20-ft high pipe on the terrace of Shri. Narayan's house is perched a small wind turbine (400 watts). Nearby, lie two photovoltaic panels (each 75 watts). Four imported solar lamps illuminate the terrace that also has a solar heater (200-litre capacity). And, just below, on the first floor terrace stands a parabolic, stainless steel, solar cooker. The solar cooker is used to boil vegetables and cook rice and dhal. The wind turbine and solar panels are connected to two inverter batteries. These power the lights and fans in the house. "We usually use Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) power in the morning hours and after 6 p.m. switch over to the renewable energy sources," says Shri. Narayan. "Earlier, we used to consume 10 to 12 units of TNEB power a day. Now we consume just 2 units." The renewable energy tools have cost Narayan about Rs. 1 lakh. From THE HINDU, September 28, 2005.

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PANCHAAMRITAM - 73

ONE

“America lives in fear ever since the terrorist attack on September 11 (2001). I visited America in July. At international airports there, the tickets of passengers from Pakistan and other Asian countries had a 4‘S’ marking that meant perhaps Special Super Security System. The passengers were checked thoroughly. Their body, feet, shoes, fingers, etc, were checked at four stages. A friend of mine went there to find out what is the condition now prevailing in America that was a totally open country prior to 2001. He found that officers manning the checkpoints were very tense. He asked them the reason. They replied, “we do not know what disaster would befall America if another Mohamaed Atta infiltrates. That troubles us ”. Security there is the responsibility of the state. Common people do not take part in it. Bharat (India) is afflicted with terrorism for over 25 years. But here, it is the general public and not the government alone that takes on terrorists. People defied the diktat of the terrorists not to go to the Vaishno Devi temple (in the Himalayas); in earlier years, it was thousands of yatris to the temple; now it is in lakhs. Same is the case in the snow linga darshan yatra to Amarnath cave in Kashmir; the government tried to limit the duration of the visit to the cave to one moth (for security reasons); but the people said ‘we shall perform the pilgrimage for two months’. A few men and women from Uttar Pradesh went all the way to Shrinagar (Kashmir) just to see for themselves how the terrorists strike and then take to their heels! Wherever the morale of the people is high, the terrorists are the ones who are terrorized more”.

From the Vijayadasami public address of Shri K.S. Sudarshan, Sarsanghachalak of RSS at Nagpur on October 9, 2005 (www.rss.org).

TWO

A mini-lab to detect spurious drugs, the first of its kind in the country, has been set up in the city by CONCERT – Centre for Consumer Education, Research, Teaching, Training and Testing. Donated to Concert by Terra-tech, a German NGO, through its parent organisation ADH, the mini-lab looks like a suitcase and contains chemicals, reagents and Thin Layer Chromatograph (TLC). “It can identify the exact nature of the product being tested within a short time,” said R Desikan, consumer activist, who is also one of the trustees of Concert. “Each drug should contain the minimum ingredients according to the available standards. The equipment can detect whether the quality of the product is up to the standard or not,” he said. The mini-lab, which costs Rs 4 lakh can also identify spurious HIV drugs. The purpose of such labs is to ensure considerable reduction in the sale of spurious drugs, he noted. Any consumer organisation or a consumer can send the suspect medicine, along with a copy of the bill, name of the patient and the sender, the complete address and the name of the doctor who prescribed the medicine. “If found spurious, the drug would be sent to the State Drug Analytical Laboratory to confirm the result.
The result would be then sent to the State Health Department, Director General of Health Services, in Delhi, and also to the manufacturer of the drug,” said Desikan. “We are planning to charge only Rs 10 for testing the drug. In addition, it would be done free of cost for the first six months,” he said.

From newindpress.com,

September 26, 2005.

THREE

Vedas are generally considered as just volumes of mantras to attain the divine force. In the perspective of common man it is a preserve of a chosen few. But Ojas Foundation, a spiritual organisation, say that even a layman not knowing Sanskrit, can benefit out of it. Regular chanting of relevant mantras for the specific health conditions are highly valuable, says S Tatwamasi Dixit, founder of Ojas Foundation. Among the CDs the Foundation brought out, the one for expectant mothers is interesting. 'Within 24 weeks of pregnancy, the child's ears start functioning and it starts observing things and so sound vibration will design a healthy and beautiful baby. Thus we can train the baby right from the womb,' says Dixit. He points out that listeners need not chant the verses repeatedly, instead can just sit and relax comfortably, with their eyes closed, and inhale and exhale slowly to calm their minds. Dixit wants every individual to be receptive and open to mantras, which could pervade and permeate every cell of the body and submerge them with peace and tranquility. A CD titled 'Improve your memory and intellect' released by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, President of India, was experimented with 3,000 students in the city; they were asked to listen to it for 15 minutes daily. 'The feedback was excellent. Apart from improving their memory capacity, the mantras helped to tackle emotional problems on their own'. Nearly 20,000 CDs have been sold all over the world, each costing Rs 295. The Foundation (Phone: 044 - 2847 2655) is planning to release the CDs on all health related issues at regular intervals.

From NEWS TODAY,

English Evening Daily, Chennai , September 27, 2005.

FOUR

Keerthivasan, a first year student of Hindustan College of Engineering, Padur, near Chennai (Tamilnadu, Bharat), was returning to the college hostel after spending the pooja holidays in Thanjavur when his suitcase inadvertently got exchanged with another look-alike piece. The youth opened the suitcase to find stacks of currency notes instead of his belongings. He immediately informed the hostel warden Balakrishnan, who took him to the Kelambakkam Police Station. Under the supervision of Inspector Dorairaj and Sub-Inspectors Krishnan and Nagalingam, they counted the notes to find them totalling Rs 10,23,815. The police then contacted police stations in Chennai to see whether a complaint had been received by any of them on missing/exchanged suitcase. Meanwhile, those who had got hold of Keerthivasan's suitcase called up his home in Thanjavur on finding the address and phone number in it. Police and the college authorities appreciated Keerhivasan’s honesty.

From NEWS TODAY, October 17, 2005.

FIVE

Shri Kuldip Nayyar, who served as the Press Secretary of Bharat’s second Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri between 1962 and 1966, cites two examples of Shastriji’s integrity: 1. Krishna Hutheesingh, younger sister of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, imported a Volksvagen car, donated by the company to her as a goodwill gesture. The vehicle was held up at the Customs and Krishna was asked to pay the duty. Lal Bahadur Shastri was apprised of the matter when the officials realized that Krishna was the sister of Prime Minister Nehru. Shastriji put his foot down and insisted that Krishna had to pay the duty. The matter went to Pandit Nehru who agreed to pay the Customs duty from his own pocket. 2. Shastriji quit the Nehru Cabinet under the Kamaraj Plan (according to Nayyar) of dropping Nehru’s critics from the Cabinet after India lost the war against China in 1962. Shastriji’s only comment was that appointing or firing ministers was the Prime Minister’s discretion. Sometime later, I (Nayyar) went to meet him at his residence. I was surprised to find that the lights were switched off in all the rooms except the kitchen where he was helping his wife prepare food. When I asked him the reason, he told me that now that he was not a minister, he could not afford to switch on lights in all the rooms; that was his simplicity (2005 is the centenary year of Lal Bahadur Shastri).

Based on a report in DECCAN CHRONICLE,

September 28, 2005.

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PANCHAAMRITAM - 74

ONE


On October 13 2005, Naik Raghubir Singh created a mira­cle. He scooped out 15
civilians who most likely would have died, trapped under heavy debris.
Later, doctors at the Army Hospital in Srinagar were praying for another miracle to save this hero's life. As rains loosened the already shaken earth on October 12, the mountains caved in and brought down boulders the size of ele­phants. Men and women, forced out of their shattered homes and living in makeshift tents, were caught unawares as the rocks, shooting down like missiles, trapped them at Bomiyar in Uri. The army dispatched a message to 2 Sikh Regiment, and Raghubir was one of the seven soldiers rushed in to extricate people from the rubble. The soldiers had just brought out the last of the trapped when a sudden landslide swept away the rescue team. Six of the soldiers died. Raghubir
was hit by a huge rock. His head almost broke into two. When another batch of army men pulled him out and brought him by helicopter to Srinagar, he was barely breath­ing.
Raghubir's brother Hardeep, a police of­ficer at Gandhinagar in Jammu said, "He joined the army on December 12, 1994. He will work until he retires." Raghubir's wife of five months was hoping for the same, Hardeep added.

Based on a report by Shri Anand Soondas

in THE TIMES OF INDIA, October 15, 2005.

TWO

Shri. Chakrapani (37), a mini lorry driver of Pondicherry Union Territory, Bharat, found a cloth bag containing Rs. 2 lakhs on the roadside. He handed it over to the police. The owner was found out to be Shri. Shantilal Jain of Mudaliarpet, Pondicherry. The bag had fallen from his speeding motorbike. He gave Rs. 2,000 to Shri. Chakrapani on receiving the bag with the money from the police. For the past one year, Shri. Chakrapani has been finding it difficult to complete the construction of his house with the Slum Clearance Board grant of Rs. 40,000. Now the police department has made him an honorary police officer, a honour bestowed upon service minded persons.

Based on a report in the DINAMANI of October 20, 2005.

THREE

Smt. Parvati Ammal died on August 16, 2005. She is the mother of Shri. Jayakumar, a resident of Kottai Varadappan Street in Salem, Tamilnadu, Bharat. Shri. Madheswaran and Shri. Amarendran, volunteers of Seva Bharati, requested the relatives of Jayakumar to permit eye donation. Jayakumar was in Erode at that moment. The relatives did not allow eye donation on religious grounds. They sent out the two volunteers and also prevented them from contacting Jayakumar over phone. But the two decided to wait there till the life of the cornea lasted, that is for the rest of the six hours from the time of death. They did so patiently. After some time, the grieving relatives noted the patience and resolve of the volunteers in getting the eye donation executed so that two blind persons could see the world. They then said that they had no objection. Also, they helped the volunteers in contacting Jayakumar and obtaining his consent for eye donation. Thus, the eye donation was performed.

Based on a report in CHENNAI MEDIA CENTRE NEWS of September 5, 2005.

FOUR

The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have been declared the third best technology universities in the world for 2005. According to the Times Higher Education supplement, which conducts the annual research: “Our per review of the world’s top technology universities shows that in 2004 the high praise for the Indian Institutes of Technology was no fluke. Up to third position in 2005 from fourth place last year, the IITs are a source of Indian national pride as well as innovation and wealth”. The head of the table is dominated by the US, with the world – renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Berkeley, retaining their top two slots.

From DECCAN CHRONICLE, Chennai, October 11, 2005.

FIVE

On September 28, 2003, Harijans of Kaikalathur and surrounding hamlets in Perambalur district, Tamilnadu, Bharat, entered the Kasi Viswanathar temple in the village on Sunday, following a peace committee meeting the day before. About 400 Harijans with their families offered worship at the temple for about an hour in the morning, when sahasranama archana was performed and verses from `Thevaram’ (Tamil devotional hymn) were recited. Though the temple is under the jurisdiction of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Board of the state government, the Harijans were prevented from entering the temple located in Veppanthattai block. The Harijans had planned to launch an `enter temple’ agitation on September 30, prompting the District Collector, S. Natarajan, to convene a meeting on Saturday. As per the consensus arrived at the meeting, the Harijans from Kaikalathur and neighbouring areas assembled in front of the temple this morning and entered it, for the first time in the past few centuries, along with officials, led by the tahsildar.

Based on a report in THE HINDU of September 29, 2003.

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PANCHAAMRITAM - 75

ONE

Imagine a Hindu marriage hall scene: The purohit in a traditional dhoti chanting mantras is a must. If it is Bangalore and you find an officiating priest in a sari, chanting mantras, it must be 73 year old Smt. Swatantralata Sharma. She has officiated in more than thousand weddings, naming ceremonies, mundans, havan and shanti path. Add to this 30 funeral rites. Adept in four languages, Swatantralata has been the president of Arya Samaj Sabha, Bangalore. Her assuming the role of a purohit was an accident, though. At the wedding of a relative of her, the arrival of the purohit was delayed, causing tension. Someone requested Swatantralata to officiate the ceremony which she did. She became an instant hit in Bangalore. She does not accept any money. “Considering the positive energy generated and the satisfaction in doing this work, how can I attach a price tag to it?” she explains.

From PATHIK SANDESH ( Hindi monthly, Jullandhar), October 2005.

TWO

Smt. Sunanda K. Datta-Ray, a former editor of THE STATESMAN, Kolkata, is a visiting senior research fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore. Following are a few of Sunanda’s views on Bharatiya sari found in her column ‘Heritage’ in DECCAN CHRONICLE, published by arrangement with the INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE. “When Pakistan was created in 1947 as a Muslim homeland, Fatima Jinnah, founder Muuhammad Ali Jinnah’s sister, declared that saris were unpatriotic. The implicit charge of being Hindu garment was echoed two years ago when an Indian reporter asked Pakistan’s first lady her preference in saris. She didn’t wear them. Anxious to convince friends – perhaps even themselves – that they are modern, young Indians rationalize their choices by dismissing saris as uneconomical and impractical. What would they say to an aunt of mine who bathed herself and her children in the waterways of East Bengal, scrubbed the family pots and pans, and then swam, all in a voluminous sari? Westernised women of my mother’s and grandmother’s generation would not be seen dead in skirts. The reason was neither aesthetic nor nationalistic. They dreaded being mistaken as Christian converts or Eurasians, both implying social diminution those days. Weave, colour, design and manner of tying reveal the wearer’s caste, community and even language. On board an Indian warship I once watched Admiral Mihir Roy’s wife, Aparajita, draw the sari up her head as the Naval band struck up the national anthem. The simple gesture conveyed grace, dignity and respect. Globalisation is economically essential, but heaven save us from a copycat cultural uniformity.”

From DECCAN CHRONICLE of May 5, 2005.

THREE

Due to domestic problems, Shri. Jamuna Prasad left his home 26 years ago. After some wandering, he stayed in the village temple of Kaalinger, 57 kilometers from Banda. One day, 25 year old Gulabi, an orphan, narrated amid sobs her tale of woes, of how she was ill treated by her relatives at home. Jamuna was moved. He decided to conduct her marriage at his own expense. For that end, he started begging in the streets. The mission was achieved but the habit continued. He has conducted the marriage of four orphan girls so far. The funds came through begging. Every girl who was thus married off is happy in her husband’s family. If there arises any complaint, Jamuna promptly fixes them. Though the weddings are conducted out of Jamuna’s begging bowl, every bride is given adequate wedding gift by him. That includes a TV set, one thousand rupees, ear rings, the mangalasutra and bridal dress. At this advanced age (Jamuna is 75), he goes about his job in a relaxed manner. He had performed Sadhana for 16 years in the Hanuman temple. “I shall feel blessed, if, in the evening of my life, I were to conduct the marriage of yet another orphan”, Jamuna Prasad says.

Based on an article by Arpana in VANITA,

Hindi monthly from New Delhi. February 2004 (Idea: Smt. Chitrakala Sridhar).

FOUR

There are totally air - conditioned coaching centers for IIT entrance exam, that charge fees up to Rs. 50,000 from each candidate. A coaching center in Patna, Bihar’s capital, provides free tuition in chemistry, physics and maths. Not only that. The students here are given free food and free accommodation as well. they stay in huts with thatched roof rented by the center. They eat frugal vegetarian meal provided by the center. They work along with the teachers. Results are heartening. In the first year of the center, 18 out of 30 students got through the toughest engineering entrance exam in the country. It was 22 and 26 in the subsequent years (A total of 150 to 200 students from all over Bihar pass the entrance exam). Every year, 30 engineering aspirants from poor families are selected through an entrance test by the coaching center. It was through the coaching at this center that 17 year old Anuman, son of Shrikrishna Jaisawal, an auto driver, could pass the ITT entrance exam. Two persons continue to help the dreams of the poor families including that of auto driver Prakash Jaisawal come true. They are 32 year old mathematician Shri. Anand Kumar and 50 year old police officer Shri. Abhayanand. Anand had an invitation from Cambridge for further studies in 1994. He had no money and none came to his help then. He had to miss the opportunity. That made him resolve that poor students must be helped to come up. He met Abhayanand in this connection and the duo launched this modern Gurukul. They spend up to Rs. 3.5 lakhs per year in this endeavour. Even if 30-40 youths could achieve something, the very picture of Bihar could be changed, they hope.

From PATHEYA KANN (Hindi fortnightly, Jaipur), September (II), 2005.

FIVE

Sevikas of Nagpur caught the imagination of the entire country by organizing, the way they did, the 3-day camp of Rashtra Sevika Samiti during November 6-8, 2005. Over 10,000 Sevikas who made it to Nagpur were accommodated in ‘nagars’ of tents named aptly: Jammu-Kashmir Sevikas stayed in ‘Vaishno Devi’ while those from Tamilnadu were put up in ‘Kanyakumari’. Assamese Sevikaas in ‘Kamakhyaa’ and Gujarati sevikas in ‘Ambaji’. Maharashtriyan sevikas in ‘Tulaja’ and Karnataka sevikas in ‘Chamundi’. So on and so forth. On the second day of the camp, all Sevikas went on a battery of route marches covering Nagpur city. Many had brought their kids of 5,6 years to the camp. Nagpur Sevikas thoughtfully took these little ones on picnic in the meantime. The tiny tots had an opportunity to mingle with the 30 children from Jammu-Kashmir orphaned by terrorist attacks. These 30, all girls, are being brought up by Jammu Sevikas over the years and had accompanied Jammu Sevikas to Nagpur.

Based on a report by Vidya Sridhar

in VIJAYABHARATAM Tamil weekly of November 18, 2005.

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PANCHAAMRITAM - 76

ONE

Rahul celebrated his 15th birthday not by blowing candles atop a cake but by lighting 15 earthen lamps - a trend of traditional celebrations is now catching on among people in Jaipur, Rajasthan Bharat. The well-decorated cake with birthday candles over it, festoons and foot tapping music are slowly giving way for some to lighting small mud lamps and prayers and even Vedic rituals. According to sociologists, this could be attributed to a changing mindset among the city's people - to not blindly follow Western culture or could be a sudden desire to respect ones own culture. According to Rahul's father Ram Mahohar: "Blowing of candles is considered ominous, as bringing bad luck in our tradition because it is something associated with death. I therefore persuaded my children not to do it on their birthdays. It's not part of our culture and I am happy my child accepted it." "I was really happy to light the lamps," said the Class 10 student. "I found it more close to my thoughts." The trend is catching on among some professionals and students too. Management student Surbhi Mathur, considered modern by her friends, celebrates her birthday in a similar fashion. "On my birthday I light lamps at a nearby temple and seek blessings from my parents. Though I do throw a small party for friends, but it never includes blowing of birthday candles. I know it doesn't auger well. Wearing Western outfits is a different matter, and we are all Indians at heart," Surbhi said. "The Indian way of celebrating birthdays involves prayers and rituals. Apart from being a low cost affair it also provides mental peace which increases work efficiency," states Om Sharma, a 40-year-old professional cameraman. Parvesh, a businessman, says: "Every birthday in my family is celebrated in a typical Indian manner. We offer prayers for the longevity of the person whose birthday it is. Later, we give free lunch to the needy."

From HINDUSTAN TIMES, October 26, 2005 (Idea: Jagatheeswaran Dhandapani).

TWO

Shri. Sivaramakrishnan of Kerala invented a mobile crematorium. "My device is economical, at hand and extremely environment friendly. Also it is in with the times," says this MBA from Birla Institute in Delhi who is now studying technology management from Letrobe University in Australia. The crematorium is attached to a webcam and is online "for relatives abroad to witness the last rites live which would be over in a matter of just half-an-hour." Made on a personal investment of US$113,000, the mobile crematorium took shape after Sivaramakrishnan thought he had had enough of neighborhood strife over who would cremate their dead where, the issue of land being a major problem in his State. The crematorium uses 8-10 kg of LPG to burn a body and emits far less pollution into the atmosphere as compared to electrical or gas crematorium. "We have a worldwide patent for our unique product. It costs $68,000 per crematorium and this includes the vehicle cost. We are targeting Governments and NGOs as our clients," explains Sivaramakrishnan.

DAILY PIONEER (www.dailypioneer.com), November 20, 2005.

THREE

The first ever Ram Navami celebration in the House of Commons (London. UK) was attended by 240 guests. Shri. Tony McNulty (MP), the Minister of State, was the host. Smt. Anuja Prashar, Hindu Council UK Executive, welcomed the guests. Shri. Bankim Gossaiji from Mahalakshmi Mandir, Lewisham, enthralled the room with a recital of the Ramayana. The Rt. Hon. Hillary Benn(MP), Secretary of State for Culture, welcomed the opportunities for forging greater understanding between Hindu and British cultures. Students of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan gave a dance performance in classical Kathak and Bharata Natyam styles with an introduction by Dr. Shastri. The audience, made up of several community leaders and a significant number of Mpssuch as Home office Minister Fiona Mactaggart, Adrien Bailey and lord Navneet Dholakia. Smt. Jayalakshmi, Hindu Council UK Executive, congratulated the British government for its foresight by inviting Hindus to celebrate Ram Navami at the Houses of Parliament (a thing not possible in the Indian parliament). Shri. Stephen Pound (MP), the Chair of Labour Friends of India at the Parliament, confirmed that Hinduism had a lot to teach to the world. He ended his speech by greeting everyone with a ‘Namaste’. Tony McNulty declared to the rapturous delight of all guests, that Ram Navami and Krishna Janmashtami would be celebrated every year at the British house of Parliament. Shri. Rajinder Chopra of Finchley Hindu Society, extended a vote of thanks.

From SANGH SANDESH (March-June 2005), Leicester, UK (English Bi Monthly published by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, UK).

FOUR

Mahabharata Samshodhana Pratisthanam, an eight-year-old research foundation, is embarking on a five-year project to publish a bilingual, 18-volume "Encyclopaedia of Mahabharata" for the global audience. To be funded by the ministry of human resources development (HRD), corporate houses and institutions in a public-private partnership, the epic project will include a commentary of "Mahabharata Lakshaalankara" by Vadiraja Thirtha, who compiled it from 500-year-old manuscripts. To kick-start the multi-billion rupee project, the city-based Indic Research Foundation, promoted by techies of global IT firms such as Wipro, IBM and Intel, is organizing a nine-day Mahabharata Utsav or festival beginning Sunday, November 13, 2005. "Hundreds of scholars from India and abroad will be working on the project, which will be the first of its kind on a global scale," said Ramchandra Budhilal, a Wipro software specialist associated with the project. "The encyclopedia in English and Sanskrit will cover every aspect of the Hindu epic, including Gita, the sermon delivered by Lord Krishna to Arjuna on the battleground," Budhilal told IANS. As part of the project, President A.P. J. Abdul Kalam will dedicate a state-of-the-art digital mobile laboratory (DML) for manuscripts and heritage Nov 21. The DML is a pioneering effort to conserve and digitize age-old manuscripts scattered all over the country. The research foundation will closely work with the National Mission for Manuscripts to preserve and digitize the manuscripts and palm leaves containing ancient material and classical literature. The hi-tech lab will be taken across the country and also to neighboring countries - Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

November 13, 2005 (news.webindia123.com)

FIVE

Eighty-one-year-old Saidai D. Natarajan belongs to the vanishing tribe of the Oduvars — professional temple singers. When Shri. Natarajan took to singing hymns from the Tirumurai, there were hundreds who continued the tradition of several centuries when Kings patronised and supported the Oduvars. But now their number has dwindled and he is trying to keep the tradition alive by teaching youngsters this dying art. Shri. Natarajan has taught about 500 students in the city. Some have migrated abroad and continue to sing from the `Thevaram' and give concerts in Carnatic music. He has trained about 10 students in `Innisai Kathakalatshebum'. Shri.. Natarajan conducts classes in Thevaram and Carnatic music in his house at West Mambalam Chennai. He is the president of the `Oduvar Sangam' which he started in 1980. On the second Sunday every month, a group of Oduvars congregate in a temple in the city or on the outskirts, take out a procession and sing hymns from the `Thevaram.' Shri. Natarajan says Oduvars need to have good memory power as there are no notes for Thevaram. Oduvars also perform at weddings and house warming functions. He can be contacted at 55187900.

Based on a report in THE HINDU of August 17, 2005.

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PANCHAAMRITAM - 77

ONE

The 1,600 km coastline of Gujarat (Bharat), the longest in the country, has always been vulnerable to salinity. But the problem was compounded when the farmers in the coastal region started exploiting groundwater in the mid-1980s. Today, huge sweet water lakes have come up along the 1,100 km stretch of coastline in Saurashtra and Kutch in the state where a number of dams have been constructed. So far, dams have been built on 30 rivers in the coastal region. There are a total of 71 rivers in Saurashtra and 97 in Kutch. About Rs 100 crore have been spent on the scheme and another Rs 100 crore have been earmarked for the next year. In an innovative move, the state has roped in corporations like Ambuja Cement, Tata Chemicals and NGOs like Aga Khan Trust to build more dams. The Government has added the concept of inter-linking-coastal sweet water lakes thro’ a network of canals. This is especially helpful in the monsoons when surplus water can be transferred from one lake to the other. In Junagadh district, where a network of canals has come up, some of the old coastal reservoirs have been revived. It was after Narendra Modi took over as chief minister in 2001 that the scheme became one of the spearheads of the state's water conservation and salinity prevention programme. "We shall turn Gujarat's coast into a mini-Kerala by building dams on rivers on the coast," Modi declared soon after assuming office. However, the project could not have been successful without the support of farmers who donated their land. Says Rambhai Jhala, a farmer of Kodinar who donated 4.5 acres to the canal: "My farmland was not saline. But a majority of farmers in our area are facing the salinity problem. So I thought I should make the sacrifice."

Based on a report in INDIA TODAY (October 17, 2005).

TWO

For the first time in the world, a non biological (totally synthetic) material has been used as a subtrate to grow corneal limbal stem cells at the Sankara Nethralaya (www.sankaranethralaya.org), Chennai, Bharat. This invention of the Nethralaya paves a way for avoiding viral and other dangerous contaminations as well as rejections. The stem cell is taken from the patient himself. This invention followed a research by a team headed by Dr. H.N. Madhavan of the Department of Microbiology, Sankara Nethralaya. The research is a joint project of the Vision Research Foundation – Sankara Nethralaya with M/s Nichi-In Biosciences (P) Ltd., a Chennai-based Indo Japan joint venture firm headed by Dr. Samuel JK Abraham and M/s. Mebiol Inc., Japan, a Japanese biotechnology firm headed by Dr. Yuichi Mori (Professor in Polymer Sciences, Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan) assisted by Dr. Hiroshi Yoshioka (Associate Professor in the said university).

Based on a report in EYELIGHTS, the house magazine

of Sankara Nethralaya, November 2005.

THREE

Swayamsevaks put an end to the centuries old habit of refusing temple entry to Munda vanavasis (tribals), very much a part of Hindu society. This happened in August 2005 at village Padampur in Keonjhar district of Orissa, Bharat. The swayamsevaks celebrated Raksha Bandhan inside the local Shiva temple. 15 families of Munda vanavasis had come there on the invitation of RSS. 50 swayamsevaks attended the function and tied the holy Rakhi (a symbol of brotherhood) on the wrists of all the Munda brothers and sisters present there. The Keonjhar district Sanghachalak of RSS Shri. Jogesh Nath Sahoo led the Munda families into the temple where the temple priest conducted pooja and helped all to have darshan of the deity.

Based on a report in UTKAL SAMBAD,

(October 2005), a monthly bulletin in English from Bhubaneswar, Orissa.

FOUR

HANUMAN, the 90-minute animation film made at a cost of Rs. 2.5 crore, has been declared a hit by the trade. This film on the Hindu deity and key character of the epic Ramayana, grossed record earnings of Rs. 7 crore from all over Bharat. The box office collections are bigger and better than most other star cast films released last month “This film has appealed to all age groups”, says Shri. Sandeep Bhargava, of Sahara One Motion Pictures that made the film. HANUMAN has been officially recorded as India’s first indigenous animation film in the LIMCA BOOK OF RECORDS 2004 edition.

Based on a report by Shama Bhagat in DECCAN CHRONICLE, November 16, 2005

FIVE

In schools, we update the child with all kinds of information. We do not pay attention to teach him how and what to watch on TV and cinema. Why not schools have an archive or a library of standard films (instead of cheap ones available outside) and educative CDs on the lines of a book library? The electronic market is pretty inexpensive. The schools can definitely afford to provide the necessary infrastructure in the form of PCs and CD players. Why not good, meaningful cinemas be mentioned in the reference or project activities of our text books? We should try to refine our taste. We cannot go back; cinema and TV have come to stay, and we must learn to use them. The author had a chance to visit a school where cinema and TV were used very constructively to help the students. In that school, some students were regularly non-punctual in their school timings, attendance and assignments. The teacher spoke to them and found that the root of the problem was late night TV-viewing, which disturbed their routine. The teacher made an agreement with the students. The agreement was that the students will cut-down the hours of TV viewing and in turn, they would be rewarded with two good movies per week. The result was amazing! Within a period of two months, there was a great transformation. Students were punctual, better behaved, disciplined and developed refined taste. Good programmes mean inculcating good ideas. Impart them, it will bear good results.

From an article by Shri. M.P. Karthik in THE VEDANTA KESARI, December 2005, a cultural and spiritual monthly of the Ramakrishna Order.

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PANCHAAMRITAM - 78

ONE

We are proud of him: An elderly gentleman was driving through Australia. He saw a war memorial. He got down and went near it. The place was in a state of neglect with wild bushes and plants all around, the engravings on the tablet covered with dust. Next Sunday this man came back with garden implements and started clearing the bushes and plants. Seeing this, an Australian who went that way, came to him and enquired as to who he was. The elderly man took out his visiting card and gave it to him. Once he eyed it, he came to attention, saluted the ‘gardener’ and introduced himself as Captain so-and-so of the Australian army. The volunteer-gardener was none but Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa, the first Bharatiya to become the Chief of Staff of Indian Army after Independence. He was at that time working as Bharat’s High Commissioner to Australia. For Cariappa, all war memorials were equally sacred.

From UTTANA, Kannada monthly, Bangalore, December, 2005.

(Idea: Manthana).

TWO

Vijaypat Singhania (67), Chairman-Emeritus of the Raymond Group, one of Bharat’s leading textile companies, is convinced he was blessed with more than a fair dollop of what he terms ''good luck'' in his record breaking balloon flight on November 26, 2005 near Mumbai, Maharashtra, Bharat. ''I am grateful to God and Shirdi Sai Babaji for making the trip possible,'' says Vijaypat, ''Every time it seemed that my mission would fail, God and Baba came to my rescue. I was in constant communication with them all the way.'' The unexpectedly strong winds lifted off his balloon from its moorings prematurely, even before he was fully ready. Whereas the balloon should have taken off vertically, the gust dragged him westwards towards the sea at a dangerously low altitude. At this juncture a rescue helicopter set off in pursuit and chief co-coordinator Andy Elson radioed to Vijaypat that he should ditch the balloon into the sea. “With the burners not working efficiently, I turned to God and Saibaba and asked them to save my honour. 'You won't believe me, but at that very moment my prayers were answered, the burners kicked up and the balloon started to lift off, as if by Divine ordination. The balloon's ascent stalled at 60,000. ‘Hey Baba,’ I said. ‘You have brought me so close to the record, don't let me down now.’ My prayers were answered again and the balloon soared past Per Lindstrand's record of 64,997 feet to a height of 69,852 feet.'' Certification of the record by the Federation Aviation Internationale, the world body, is expected shortly. Meanwhile, Jatin Vakani, Singhania's long-time flying companion claims that although the altimetre in the capsule shows a reading of 69,852 feet, the 164-ft height of the balloon increases it past the targeted figure of 70,000 to 70,016.

Based on a write up by Shri. Khalid A-H Ansari

in MID DAY, November 28, 2005.

THREE

Shri. Paduram Mahanta lit a flame in his village Dipila Kamargaon, District Darrang in Assam, Bharat, on August 15, 1947, the day Bharat attained Independence. The flame that he kept burning all these years was used by his family to light his funeral pyre when he died in December 2004. Mahanta’s family has decided to keep the ‘flame of freedom’ alive. “The village will ensure that the fire of Independence continues for generations” said Shri. Babesh Talukdar of the same village. Mahanta was in his 20s when Bharat attained Independence. As a young boy he too had participated in the freedom struggle. “Every morning he made sure to put enough hay so that it burned for the whole day”, says Shri. Naresh Ghosh, additional district magistrate of Darrang. The assam government sanctioned Rs. 50,000 to Mahanta in 2003 for his extraordinary zeal to keep the passions of Independence burning. “Mahanta’s incredible feat cannot be compensated. He should be a role model for the people of the country at a time when we find the region bleeding with separatist militant fighting for separate homelands”, said Assam Chief Minister Shri. Tarun Gogoi .

Based on a report by Syed Zakir Hussain in

DECCAN CHRONICLE on December 22, 2004.

(Idea: Shri. S. Chanramouli).

FOUR

Crime, corruption, evil and sleaze took a day off on Christmas Eve -- at least in Germany‘s BILD newspaper. The country‘s best-selling daily managed to find a positive angle to every news development in Germany and around the world in the past 24 hours, treating its 1.2 crore readers to a Christmas edition that was filled with nothing but good news. On the front page there were cheers for the end of a transit workers strike in New York. During the rest of the year the popular tabloid-style daily titillates its readers with colourful stories of crime, greed, corruption, evil people, dishonest leaders, lazy bureaucrats, sex scandals and every other imaginable form of wrongdoing. "We don‘t want to malign our times as one of only envy, gloating or a ‘typical German‘ defeatist outlook," wrote BILD columnist Peter Bacher of the 18-page ‘good news‘ edition that is a tradition at the daily calling itself Europe‘s biggest. "But we also have no illusions about a ‘holy world‘ which doesn‘t exist," Bach added. "We‘re not writing fairy tales. If we use big headlines to point out the good then we don‘t need small-minded people complaining. There is good in the world." BILD‘s celebrity columnist reported actor George Clooney is paying to renovate a neighbour‘s house. The sports page had a story of a professional basketball star in Berlin now able to walk again and feel his legs one month after an accident that first crippled him. Perhaps the most remarkable ‘good news‘ story was about a couple with financial troubles in the western town of Bad Oeynhausen who won 1,25,000 Euros (Rs. 62,50,000 approximately) in the lottery just two hours before their house was going to be auctioned off by a bank. "There were people inspecting the house almost every day before the foreclosure and out of desperation I went and bought a lottery ticket," said Sabine H., a nurse and mother of two teenage daughters. "It was our last hope”.

Based on a report by Shri. Erik Kirschbaum

in ELY TIMES AND COUNTY (USA) on December 24, 2005.

FIVE

Media Centre (Chennai - 600 031, Bharat) that serves you PANCHAAMRITAM every full moon and new moon day since April 2003, conducts two day journalism introduction classes in every district head quarters in Tamilnadu. In one such class held in Erode on December 10 and 11, 2005, all the young participants came forward to write a letter each, appreciating the sense of duty of two trackmen of the Southern Railway who had saved the lives of thousands of rail passengers during the devastating downpour last month. This was in response to an appeal in DINAMALAR by its editor. Here, the excerpts of the appeal: “By midnight of November 30, Suresh Gandhi and Kalyanasundaram, two trackmen, noticed that a length of the railway tracks between Ariyalur and Tiruchy Junction had been washed away by flash floods under a river bridge. Anantapuri Express was speeding towards this point with over a thousand passengers on board. Suresh acted spontaneously. He ran a kilometer along the slippery track in pitch dark in the direction of the approaching train and switched on the red flashlight signaling danger. This was to give the driver of the train sufficient distance to bring it to a halt. An imminent disaster could thus be averted. Meanwhile, Kalyanasundaram ran the other way up to a point wherefrom his mobile phone could send signals; from there he alerted Pullambadi, the next railway station. Thus traffic on both directions on that section could be stopped immediately. I (Editor, DINAMALAR) managed to collect the postal addresses of these two Devatas who saved a huge number of our kith and kin. Here are they: 1. Suresh Gandhi, Trackman, Victor Nagar, Samudram, Trichy District and 2. R.Kalyanasundaram, Trackman, Quarters No. 5-B, Vaalaadi, Trichy District. Go ahead and pat them by writing to them both today. They shall value it most. You would have just discharged your patriotic duty by writing to them.”

Based on an appeal that appeared in

DINAMALAR Trichy edition ( December 3, 2005).

(Idea: Shri. Ganapatisubramanian, an RSS worker of Trichy).

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PANCHAAMRITAM - 79

ONE

The following is a bit of reminiscence of Smt. Jyoti Prabha Krishnan, a former employee of MGR’s Sathya Studios in Chennai she shared with the readers of KUMUDAM SNEHIDHI, a women’s fortnightly in Tamil: The late Chief Minister of Tamilnadu, Bharat, Shri. M.G.Ramachandran (MGR to his numerous film fans) learnt that the birthday of his elder brother’s daughter was about to be celebrated at his own residence by blowing out a candle and cutting a cake. The girl was then under his care. He at once sought to correct the notion of his family. He said: “It is wrong to put out a light (candle) on a birthday. Cutting a cake and all that are customs of the Westerners. We do not need them. On birthdays we go to temple and offer prayers to the Almighty. We give a little to the destitute and seek their blessings. We also secure the blessings of elders. That is the way to celebrate birthdays”.

Based on a report by Smt. R. Balasaraswathi

in KUMUDAM SNEHIDHI (Tamil fortnightly) of January 15, 2006.

TWO

The flowers you offer here could help a thousand others bloom. More than six months after the temple trust was first approached by a non-governmental organisation, which offered to turn their waste into a resource, Siddhivinayak temple's attempts at converting nirmaalya -- offerings of marigold, hibiscus, betel nut flower and durva (blades of grass) made to the Deity -- into compost are a roaring success. With 30,000-40,000 devotees visiting the temple in Prabhadevi, Mumbai Bharat, every day -- the numbers swell to over 2,00,000 on Tuesdays -- more than 1,000 kg of compost is ready at the end of every month. And the popularity of this compost from ''holy flowers'' is evident from the fact that by afternoon, the 1-kg packets priced at Rs 20 have disappeared off the shelves [which apparently are sold at the temple itself.''Earlier, there used to be at least a truck-full of nirmaalya left at the end of the day,'' explained Sanjay Bhagwat, chief executive officer of the Trust. ''We had no option but to let the municipal trucks take them to dumping grounds,'' Bhagwat adds. The initiative started this May after members of the Mumbai Grahak Panchayat (a consumers’ organization conceived by Swayamsevaks of RSS) approached the Trust. ''They were a little hesitant at first because of the space constraints and since religious sentiments were involved,'' said Pratibha Belwalkar, a member of the Panchayat. ''Once we explained how a small machine could do the job cleanly, they agreed and things have gone smoothly.'' The nirmaalya is mixed with a culture of bacteria. Sawdust is added to reduce the moisture from the flowers. The bio-culture in this mixture reacts with oxygen over 7-8 days. Compost is obtained after drying this in the sun for 1-2 days.

Based on a report in INDIAN EXPRESS

circulated by Hindu Press International, December 21, 2005.

THREE

For this 12-year-old boy M Bagwat Krishnan of Mylapore, Chennai, Bharat, playing Carnatic music on the keyboard, a Western instrument, is what he likes most. Attired in kurta, Bagwat played on the keyboard at the Swaminathaswami temple, Swamimalai, near Kumbakonam, for about three hours non-stop recently, and kept the audience spell-bound. Bagwat started with the Varnam in Mohanam and followed it up with ‘Vathapi Ganapathim’ (Hamsadhwani). He played 24 numbers that included ‘Maruthamalai Maamaniye Murugiah’, ‘Ayarpadi Maaligaiyil’ and ‘Chinna Kannan Azhaikiran’. A student of Vidya Mandir School, Royapettah, Chennai, Bagwat started learning music five years ago. According to his father Shri. G Mohan, the boy started evincing interest in playing the keyboard at the age of three when a primitive design was presented to him by one of his well-wishers as a birthday gift. Bagwat is good not only in music but also in studies. His involvement in playing the keyboard has in no way affected his academic performance. ‘‘I usually devote just one hour a day for practising the keyboard, that too only in the evenings,’’ Bagwat told. For his parents G Mohan and Vijayalakshmi, Carnatic music is Greek and Latin.

THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS, November 7, 2005.

FOUR

Lalita stood transfixed as the terrorist aimed the AK-56 at her. A second later, she found herself pushed to the ground by someone behind — it was her 61-year-old professor. Most of the 50 rounds that the terrorist fired hit Professor M.C. Puri, right in his chest. "He saved my life. If it wasn't for him, I would have been dead," Lalita, a lecturer at Delhi University's Rajdhani College, told Puri's wife Raksha later. "They were crossing the road when the firing started and uncle pushed her and came right in the line of fire," said Nisha Jaggi, the professor's niece. His friends remember Puri as the peace-broker. "We always knew him as a jovial, polite and humble man. But that evening, Puri made the ultimate sacrifice and showed us that he was made of different stuff," said colleague Ashok Malhotra. Puri fell to terrorists' bullets at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Bharat on December 28, 2005. Puri started his career at New Delhi's Hansraj College. Later, he shifted to IIT, Delhi and retired last year after a 20-year stint. He was also planning to bring out a journal on the Operations Research Society of India, of which he was one of the founding members.

Based on a report by Smt. Nazia Alvi in HINDUSTAN TIMES of December 29, 2005. (Idea: Shri. S.Kalyanaraman).

FIVE

In the middle of a national obesity epidemic in which up to 30 percent of U.S. children are overweight or obese, health officials long have been concerned about what students eat, or whether they eat. For example, Atlanta schools' cafeterias only serve meals to about one in five high schoolers, who aren't allowed to leave campus for lunch. School officials worry that many of the students either are bringing junk food for lunch or are not eating at all. "There are students who are coming to us on empty and leaving on empty. We constantly have to look at creative ways to engage middle and high school students," said Dr. Marilyn Hughes of Atlanta Public Schools' nutrition department. But Grady's vegetarian line has been a popular cafeteria draw. Originally designed for the 30 students in Archibong's Vegetarian Club, meat-eaters also jumped in line and the cafeteria now serves vegetarian entrees to up to 400 of the school's 1,200 students each day. Today, Grady High School has a separate vegetarian lunch line with a menu as varied as veggie eggrolls, pasta salad, vegetarian pizza and sloppy joes made of tofu. "My favorite thing was the veggie burger. It was so good," said Archibong, who graduated in 2005 and now is pursuing more vegetarian options at her new school -- Spelman College, an all-girls and historically black school, also in Atlanta. This past fall, the school district offered the vegetarian option to other schools. At Grady, non-vegetarian students who graze in the vegetarian line said they like having better non-meat choices.

Source: http://www.happynews.com (Idea: Shri. S.Raghuraman).

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PANCHAAMRITAM - 80

ONE

When jobs were flooding him from every nook and corner, Shri. M Pramod Kumar chose to search for the truth and hidden mystery of Bharat’s past. While graduating as Mechanical Engineer from IIT Madras in year 1997- 2000, Pramod was drawn to the words of Vivekananda. Aspiration and motivation made him form a Vivekananda Study Circle (VSC), a unique autonomous student body, which has made a significant impact in recent years on the cultural atmosphere at IIT Madras. He also helped in the formation of similar bodies at Anna University, Chennai and IIT Kharagpur. Presently working with Amritha University, Coimbatore, as faculty for Cultural Education and Research Associate, Pramod has been developing a cultural educational programme for the undergraduate students of the university. Does he not feel more emphasis on spiritualism and religion could bring disharmony in a country like ours, a mediaperson asked Pramod. His answer was: “No. Spiritualism and religion are two different concepts, but people have often used both as a tool to bring about disharmony. But if used as a weapon it can bring about a change for the good. To a question as to was he not trying to propagate a Hindu philosophy, while leaving out other religions he said: “It is not so. People in India know less about Hindu religion and spiritual thoughts. A few people misinterpret them and inculcate a different vision of the truth. Unfortunately in India there are not many institutions and organisations to make people understand the truth at an early stage. Other faiths make people understand their religion and the spiritualism at quite an early age.”

Based on a report by Shri. C.P.Sajit

in NEWS TODAY of January 20, 2006.

TWO

Historians and archaeologists around the world have been debating over the home of the First Farmer. The Chinese claim that first time farming started in their country 10,000-years back. But Middle East and West Asian countries have countered this asserting that first farming started in their river valleys.Archaeological findings in Lahuradeva in Sant Kabir Nagar district have indicated that the Middle Ganga Valley (Uttar Pradesh, Bharat) might have been home to the First Farmer. The State Archaeological Department, which has carried out excavation at the mound of Lahuradeva, says the findings indicate that ancient humans residing in this valley bid adieu to nomadic life and took to farming and domestication of animals during the New Stone Age. The archaeologists here have found remains of carbonised material containing grains of cultivated rice along with wild grass. There are several layers of ancient civilization buried under the mound — as the archaeologists found out when they dug deeper. The mound of Lahuradeva is a holy spot for natives of Jagdishpur village located nearby. The villagers believe that it is abode of Samai Mai and with her blessing they have been harvesting good crop. But the villagers were ignorant of the fact that agriculture pattern followed by their forefathers laid buried under the mound. The Archaeological Department has now decided to put the findings before the scholars who are engaged in the study of first farming culture world over.

Based on a report by Shri. Rajesh Kumar Singh in HINDUSTAN TIMES, January 9, 2006.

THREE

On January 16, 2006, Shri. Gunasekaran, 52, a timekeeper at the State Transport Corparation bus stand in Ilampillai, Salem district (Tamilnadu, Bharat), walked into the Dean’s office of Salem Government Hospital. He gave a signed document to the Dean Smt. Anasuya. It was his pledge declaring his desire to donate his body after his demise to the government hospital so that it would be of use to medical students later. He took this step as an act of gratefulness to the medical fraternity that saved his life 15 years back. He was then a conductor in a state transport bus. The bus met with an accident in which Gunasekaran sustained severe head injuries. Doctors performed major surgeries on his skull successfully and thus had saved his life. Indeed, a DEHA DAANAM with a difference!

Based on a report in DINAMALAR, January 17, 2006.

FOUR

Kattuputhur village panchayat, 10 km from Vellore, Tamilnadu, Bharat, is one of the 12 village panchayats in Tamilnadu and 39 in the country that have won the Nirmal Gram Puraskar Award (2003-2004) for promoting sanitation and hygiene given by the Union Ministry of Rural Development. All 631 families in the panchayat with a population of 2,783, have been covered by individual household toilets. Use of plastics is banned and any violation attracts a fine. Most important, Chandrika Viswanathan, president of the panchayat and her husband, belonging to the Adi Dravida (SC) community, get total cooperation from other castes. Shri. Viswanathan has been able to motivate the educated people who constitute a majority in the village. There is a serving military person, an ex-serviceman or a Central or State government employee in almost every family in Kattuputhur.

Based on a report by Shri. P.V.V.Murthi in THE HINDU, Feb. 9, 2005.

FIVE

Shri. Arul Prakash, a farmer and activist of Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, while returning home, gave a lift on his Bullet motorbike to a weary traveler. He took the man, Anthony hailing from Idukki in Kerala, to his house in Kovilpalayam in Dharapuram district, Tamilnadu, Bharat and fed him. The guest, a mason by profession, found the house in need of renovation. He took it upon himself and executed the job neatly and economically. That brought in several offers from others in the village. He had to extend his stay in the village. But while staying with the family of the Hindu worker, he was won over by the ambience of devotion and culture there. He formally became a Hindu and assumed a Hindu name, Ramakrishnan. For him Kovilpalayam became a second home.

Based on a conversation with

Shri. Ramasamy, a Sanghachalak of RSS in Dharapuram district.

OOOOOOOO

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