The Candid Eye

March 14, 2012

Sri Sri in Pakistan: I’m ready to hold talks with Taliban

Filed under: Art of Living,Hinduism,India,Islam,Pakistan,Spirituality,Yoga — Abhay @ 10:48 PM
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From Rediff.

Spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Tuesday offered to hold talks with the Taliban to usher in peace in the region, saying it would help foster understanding among people with divergent views.

“I am ready to go and talk to the Taliban. I want to talk to them, understand them and give them my opinion. So we can definitely make a difference. We should try it again and again even if we have to try it 100 times,” Ravi Shankar said during an interaction with the public and media in Islamabad.

Responding to a question on what leaders could do to usher in peace in the region, the spiritual guru said, “Most of the trouble is created by rhetoric” and people should instead work for a future filled with hope.

“People find importance in creating such dangerous situations. They should stop and give more hope to people,” he said.

Ravi Shankar, currently on a three-day private visit to Pakistan, inaugurated a centre for his Art of Living movement at Bani Gala on the outskirts of Islamabad.

He also met with a group of Muslim clerics and some political leaders.

Answering questions from the media and the public, Ravi Shankar said decision-makers should be “calm and collective” while tackling serious issues.

Life becomes worth living, he said, when people are able to be of help to others.

“When decision-makers are in high tension or angry, they will project the same thing in their decisions. They should do some meditation and relax, especially when they have to make a serious decision that will impact a lot of people,” he said.

He said he was happy to see the enthusiasm with which the Pakistani people had welcomed him.

Highlighting the transformation in Pakistan, Ravi Shankar said, “On my last visit, I was surrounded by security personnel and holed up in the hotel. On this visit, I interacted more with people and met the youth at Forman Christian College (in Lahore)”.

“It was amazing to see the enthusiasm, inquisitiveness and willingness to know,” he said.

Though some “government people” in India had asked him not to visit Pakistan, he had decided to go ahead with his trip, he added.

Ravi Shankar identified corruption as one of the biggest problems confronting countries around the world, including Pakistan.

“The civil society should rise up and say no to corruption. Law and legislation alone won’t solve the problem, it can happen only if there is spiritual transformation,” he remarked.

He also called for inter-faith harmony and “allowing diversity to exist”.

Pakistan could earn revenues by promoting and developing tourist sites like Taxila that could attract Buddhist and Hindu visitors, he said.

“Love, peace, tolerance” is what Pakistani students shouted for when asked by visiting spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar what he should speak about. Ravi Shankar regaled the audience at the famous Forman Christian College in Lahore as he spoke about love, religion and answered number of questions.

“You better find another one from about seven billion living souls in the world. Move ahead,” was Ravi Shankar’s advice to a Pakistani student who sought his view on him being unable to forget his ex-girlfriend.

The answer led to a round of thunderous applause from the audience in Lahore.

Hundreds of students accorded a warm welcome to Ravi Shankar, who began a three-day private visit to Pakistan with an address at the college in Lahore.

The hall was jam-packed an hour before the arrival of Shankar as both students and teachers were eager to listen to him.

“I am glad to see your enthusiasm. You can do wonders in life with this energy. Do not lose this enthusiasm,” Shankar said after walking onto the stage.

He asked the students what they wanted him to speak about and the hall echoed with shouts of “Love, peace, tolerance”.

Shankar involved the students in demonstrations to make them understand the power of truth. “You tell a lie and lose power over yourself,” he said.

He told them how to control anger and mood swings and to concentrate on studies.

A student asked Shankar to comment on the “worshipping of idols”, as it is a common belief in Pakistan that Hindus worship hundreds of gods.

“Like Allah has 99 names, there are over 1,000 idols but God is not in them. God is one. Hindus also worship one God,” Ravi Shankar explained, drawing applause from senior members of the faculty.

Ravi Shankar asked the audience to make space in their lives for meditation, yoga and breathing techniques and see how this would bring about a change.Referring to India-Pakistan relations, Ravi Shankar cited the example of France, Germany and Britain living in peace after centuries of enmity and questioned why the South Asian neighbours could not do the same.

“Both countries can make progress and overcome poverty if we are united. We need to wipe away every tear…I have a dream in my life and that is about a world free of violence, anxiety and corruption,” he said.

In response to a question, he said no religion is responsible for terrorism. “What we need to do is teach a child about 10 religions. He would develop understanding about them, leading towards tolerance”.

He added, “A person who thinks he will go to heaven and the rest to hell, in fact creates hell for the rest”.After he concluded his speech, students rushed up to the spiritual leader to take photographs with him.Shankar arrived in Lahore on Monday via the Wagah land border crossing. He visited the historic Badshahi Mosque and held some private meetings with followers of his Art of Living movement.

He will travel to Islamabad tomorrow and open a new Art of Living centre.From the federal capital, he will travel to the southern port city of Karachi, from where he will leave for India on March 14.

 

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Ravi Shankar in city: ‘A happy mind is never attracted to terrorism’

Filed under: India,Islam,Jihad,Message,Pakistan,Sri Sri Ravishankar,Terrorism,Yoga — Abhay @ 10:17 PM

 

In a file photograph taken on March 13, 2012, Indian spiritual guru and Art of Living Foundation leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (C) arrives to inaugurate the Foundation Center in Bani Gala, the outskirts of Islamabad. — AFP

LAHORE: Indian spiritual leader and Art of Living founder Sri Ravi Shankar on Monday delivered a lecture and held talks with students and academicians at the Sinclair Hall of the Forman Christian College (FCC) University.

Talking about his foundation, the peace and goodwill ambassador elaborated how his organization worked to preach happiness through stress elimination to the people, adding that only disgruntled people became tools of terrorists while a happy mind was never attracted to terrorism.

He stressed the need of bringing people of Pakistan and India closer, saying that it was easy to bridge differences since people spoke the same language in the neighbouring countries.

“If France and Germany, once arch-rivals, can put aside their differences in the larger interest of people of both the countries, why can’t India and Pakistan work together for the cause of the people,” he said.

Shankar has been invited by Art of Living (Pakistan Chapter) on a three-day peace mission during which he will hold talks with business leaders, academicians, spiritual leaders, student organizations and opinion leaders as part of his efforts to strengthen collaborative efforts between the two countries.

Earlier, on his three-day peace mission to Pakistan Shankar entered Lahore via Wagha border. He later visited Badshahi Mosque and a Gurdwara. He will also visit Islamabad and Karachi. – APP

 

From Dawn

August 25, 2011

World’s #9 Most Powerful Person Now Accused of Corruption — Will She Fall?

From huffingtonpost article by Cleo Paskal:

 

New Delhi. Some of India’s biggest fish are getting caught up in the country’s fast-growing wave of anti-corruption activity. In what could be India’s equivalent of a judicial jasmine revolution, previously invulnerable politicians, business icons, and pillars of the community are all nervously keeping their lawyers on speed-dial.

The anti-corruption push is an unprecedented coming together of myriad facets of Indian society. Religious leaders are concerned about the effects on morality and spiritual growth. NGOs speak of the effects on the poor. The middle class is angry about its future being stifled by a smothering blanket of day-to-day corruption. The intelligence services see corruption a clear threat to national security. And the business community, thanks to globalization, has seen how efficiently things can operate without having to constantly pay bribes or be tangled in red tape, and they want the same thing at home.

Even the Supreme Court is fed up, with Justice B. Sudarshan Reddy saying about the vast sums of Indian money being illegally hidden away in Liechtenstein Bank:

We are talking about the huge money. It is a plunder of the nation. It is a pure and simple theft of the national money. We are talking about mind-boggling crime.

The scandals are bursting on to the front pages fast and thick. Suresh Kalmadi, a Congress Party politician and the former head of the corruption-plagued Commonwealth Games, was arrested April 25. According to a report by the Indian Comptroller and Auditor General, the 2G spectrum scam alone, in which 2G licenses were sold off in a manner that was, to say the least, less than transparent, cost close to $40 billion in lost revenue.

All across India, people are saying enough is enough. And suddenly the unthinkable is starting to happen. People considered above reproach, or at least untouchable, are coming under the judicial cross-hairs. 2G alone has seen charges laid against one former government minister and several captains of industry.

And the latest high profile target is one of the biggest fish of all, Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi, currently #9 on Forbes list of the World’s Most Powerful People.

Sonia Gandhi has one of the most remarkable life stories in international politics. Born Edvige Antonia Albina Maino into a family of modest means in rural Italy, she didn’t even get a chance to complete high school before heading to the UK for work. There she met Rajiv Gandhi, son of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. She eventually married him and the young family moved in to Indira Gandhi’s New Delhi’s home, putting her literally in the heart of Indian politics.

After Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984, Sonia’s husband Rajiv became Prime Minister. Following Rajiv’s 1991 assassination by Tamil terrorists, there were rumors that Sonia was going to put herself forward as Prime Minister.

As she herself later said, she “could not walk past the portraits of my husband, my mother-in-law and her father and not feel that I had some responsibility to try and save the party they had given their lives to.”

2011-04-25-SoniaCongress.jpg

Given her focus on the party, it was fitting that instead of becoming Prime Minister, she ended up as President of the powerful Congress Party. Politically, it proved to be a smart move as it gave her power without direct responsibility — while she is #9 on Forbes list of power people, the actual Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, is only #18. According to Forbes, “Gandhi remains the real power behind the nuclear-tipped throne […] she has cemented her status as true heiress to the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty.”

Her image is of a dutiful, submissive Indian wife, now widow. When her husband was alive, she would walk behind him. In public she wears saris. Although a devout Catholic, she is often photographed at Hindu Temples. And like a good Indian mother, though she has decorously pulled herself out of the race for Prime Minister, she is happy to encourage her son, Rahul, to take the job.

However there have been growing, persistent murmurs about questionable business deals and inexplicable exponential jumps in the personal wealth of her and her family.

The allegations came out in the open in 1995 when M. D. Nalapat, then Resident Editor (Delhi) of the world’s largest English language newspaper, the Times of India, began a groundbreaking series of articles about Sonia.

The articles made the controversial (at the time) claim that the public docility was just a ploy, and that Sonia actually had serious political ambitions (later confirmed by her role in Congress). Also, crucially, the series said that her desire for power wasn’t simply altruistic and that the wealth not only of her, but of her Italian relatives, rose stratospherically after Rajiv Gandhi became Prime Minister in 1984.

Nalapat’s articles could not be ignored as he was one of India’s most respected journalists and had, throughout his career, taken on corrupt politicians, social inequity and institutionalized discrimination.

This however was a ‘topic too far’. While the facts in the article were never refuted, Nalapat was forced out of journalism in 1998 and moved into academics.

Next came public questions from another highly reputed source, Sten Lindstrom, Sweden’s special prosecutor investigating the pay-offs associated with the sale of weapons by Bofors to the government of India. His investigation showed that a close friend of Sonia’s, Ottavio Quattrocchi, has received kickbacks in the millions.

In 1998 Lindstrom gave an interview in which he said:

the Gandhis, particularly now Sonia, should explain how Quattrocchi-owned companies got such fat sums as payoffs from the Bofors deal. After all, what is the connection of Sonia and the Gandhi family to Quattrocchi? Who introduced Quattrocchi and his AE Services to Bofors? At least one thing is certainly known now. A part of the payoffs definitely went to Quattrocchi. […] the papers all pointed to the Gandhi family.

Not only have the questions not been answered by Sonia, but in spite of substantial evidence against him, Quattrocchi has managed to evade prosecution in India, and has even had his kickback funds unfrozenfrom overseas accounts.

Part of the genius of Sonia Gandhi is her ability to present herself as a helpless victim, convincing even her political rivals not to fear her as she is fatally flawed. In 1998, India was being led by BJP Prime Minister Vajpayee. When Nalapat spoke with him about Sonia, he was bluntly told to lay off, as, “so long as a white Christian lady is head of the Congress Party, I [Vajpayee] and my party will always be in power”. Vajpayee and his party lost power to Sonia’s Congress in 2004.

But the most serious threat to Sonia — and, as she is at the apex of the Congress Party, and so to Congress itself — is now lying on the desk of #18, the Prime Minister of India.

On April 15, former Law and Justice Minister and Harvard Professor Dr. Subramanian Swamy asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for leave to lay corruption charges against Sonia Gandhi. In a meticulously researched 200+ page submission Dr Swamy alleges Sonia Gandhi has been involved in corruption in India since 1972 and personally benefited from the Bofors scam (1986), has held billions in non-Indian bank accounts since at least 1991, illegally profited from the Iraqi oil-for-food deals (2002), and even accessed KGB payoffs during the Cold War.

The Prime Minister has three months to decide whether or not to grant sanction to prosecute. If he doesn’t, Dr. Swamy can take the case directly to the Supreme Court, which under Chief Justice Kapadia is showing a definite proclivity towards facilitating corruption cases.

While, so far, the corruption cases in India have caught up some pretty big fish, if charges are laid against Sonia Gandhi, it won’t just be part of a wave, it will be a sea change.

Sonia Gandhi is not just an individual, she is the steely core of a pillar of Indian politics. If she crumbles, it will shake the foundations of the venerable Congress Party, and possibly leave a gaping hole in the political scene. Meanwhile, a range of polarizing and regional parties are ready to rush in and stake their claim. Given the growing importance of India in our heavily globalized world, this is not just an Indian story, this is one all should be following very closely indeed.

Follow Cleo Paskal on Twitter: www.twitter.com/cleopaskal

August 21, 2011

Clarifying the misconceptions about the Jan Lokpal bill

Filed under: India,Indian Politics — Abhay @ 3:17 PM
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A crystal clear interview.

August 9, 2011

Real Hero Anil builds dams with his Re 1 idea

Filed under: Education,India,Indian Media — Abhay @ 7:48 AM
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Watch the Video on CNN !!

Mandsaur: Dr Anil Joshi has been changing the landscape of Madhya Pradesh by collecting Re 1 from each villager, and with the money pooled, he builds check dams. In a region parched by drought, Dr Joshi’s intervention is bringing about a green revolution.

“I decided to collect just Re 1 from each person. I was sure I could raise a sum of Rs 1 lakh,” Anil said.

Mandsaur, a small district in Madhya Pradesh was battling the worst drought with almost no rain for eight years. Farmers lost their livelihood and women walked miles to fetch water.

That’s when one man decided to take matters in his own hand and changed the fate of the villagers.

A doctor, Anil Joshi realised how scarcity of water was making life impossible for the villagers. He knew that the only way he could help the farmers was by preserving the precious little rain that they received and for that they needed to build dams, which needed a capital of at least Rs 1 lakh, and in a drought stricken village, that would be almost impossible.

With his Re 1 idea, Anil went door to door collecting money. While some joined his cause, some ridiculed him and others mistrusted him.

In three months he collected the money and work started on the dams.

More villagers joined Anil Joshi and in ten days the dam was ready and the rewards came with the very next rainfall.

Anil Joshi now gathered villagers to replicate the model.

With Mandsaur’s ‘paani waley baba’ no village will ever run dry.

From: CNN

July 12, 2011

The World Culture Festival

Filed under: Art of Living,Europe,Festivals,India,Music,Spirituality,Yoga — Abhay @ 12:41 PM
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    smile …its free

 



































 

November 21, 2010

Arundhati Roy & Pradip Krishen grab tribal land in MP

Filed under: Arundhati Roy,India — thecandideye @ 6:00 AM
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Arundhati Roy pretends to be a campaigner for tribal rights. Yet she and her husband are in the thick of a controversy over grabbing tribal land in Pachmarhi. Vivek Trivedi reports

Arundhati Roy, the maverick novelist turned activist, who recently was under a raging controversy triggered by her ‘seditious remarks’ on Kashmir and pretends to be a campaigner for tribal rights is now along with her husband in the thick of a controversy over grabbing tribal land in Pachmarhi.

Roy, who during her teenage years had embarked on a homeless lifestyle, staying in a small hut with a tin roof within the walls of Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla and making a living selling empty bottles, shot to prominence after inking the novel God of Small Things in 1996, which got her the prestigious Booker’s Prize 1997. Ever since then, the writer has devoted herself solely to politics, publishing two more collections of essays as well as working for social causes.

Arundhati Roy

The novelist has hogged limelight in the last decade for her activities in socio-political plots like Sardar Sarovar Dam project, India’s nuclear weapons programme and corruption of power company Enron.

However, apart from these socio-political plots, the land plot purchased by Roy’s second husband in Pachmarhi, a picturesque tourist destination in Hoshangabad district of Madhya Pradesh has every now and then put the pro-environment outbursts of this writer cum activist’s into suspicion.

Roy’s personality has never been an unknown entity for the denizens of Madhya Pradesh ever since, she bagged the Booker’s Prize in the year 1997 and ensured active association with the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), opposing the mega Sardar Sarovar Project in subsequent years.

The God of Small Things author, who has earned an image of a passionate activist, fighting tenaciously for bringing justice on social and environmental causes over the years, suddenly decided to fish in troubled waters by making some objectionable remarks on the Kashmir problem recently.

“Kashmir should get azadi from bhookhe-nange Hindustan,” said Arundhati Roy at a seminar last month, where the Maoists hosted Kashmir secessionist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, which witnessed large-scale protests by Kashmiri Pandits. However, the controversial remarks had failed to impress many across the country and generated flak from socio-political circles.

The crusader of environment conservation and tribals’ rights also has a link in Madhya Pradesh, which puts her image under a cloud. The land plot purchased by her second husband and filmmaker Pradip Krishen has mired this writer-activist into a long drawn environmental controversy.

Krishen had purchased a plot in Bariaam village situated around 7 km from Pachmarhi from a local resident Sharif Ahmed in 1992. The filmmaker had purchased two pieces of land, out of which he sold out one later on and used the second one for constructing a house. The construction work began in 1992 and concluded four years later in 1996.

The Bariaam village is located on the main highway to Pachmarhi falls within the Special Area Development Authority’s (SADA) jurisdiction. This is also a part of the Pachmarhi wildlife sanctuary and provisions of Wildlife Act 1972 prohibit holding any land title in the area.

The Union Forest and Environment Ministry also has declared it as part of an eco-sensitive zone under the Environment Protection Act. Krishen had purchased the land with few others in the year 1992. He completed construction of the house towards the end of 1993, in time for his wedding with Roy in January 1994. In between other buildings also came up in the area from 1993 to 1996. Writer Vikram Seth’s sister Anuradha, a forest officer Nishkant Jhadav and a doctor Jagdish Chandra Sharma also owned land in the notified area.

In between, the Pachmarhi Special Area Development Authority (SADA) had served a ‘stop building’ order on Krishen and Arundhati. The couple however hit back and alleged that they were being targeted for opposing a new development plan for the Pachmarhi area in which hotel-building would be allowed at the cost of despoiling the beauty and sylvan backdrop of the gorgeous tourist destination.

The SADA notice, served on March 12, mentioned that under Section 16 of the state Town and Country Planning Act, 1973, the land use of Pachmarhi and its neighbouring areas had been frozen. It accused Krishen of building his house at Bariaam without valid permission from the Town and Country Planning Organisation (TCPO) and directed him to stop all construction activity. The notice may well be the precursor to a demolition order.

The Forest Department did not lag behind on this issue and local forest officials insisted that Bariaam village had been part of the wildlife sanctuary since 1977. So the plot of land acquired by Krishen violates a provision of the Wildlife Protection Act, amended in 1991, under which no new rights of property can be created in a protected area. However the couple had maintained that Bariaam was a revenue village and it was not in the Army cantonment or within the boundaries of the sanctuary or the national park.

A new twist came in the row, as a local Naib Tehsildar from Pachmarhi cancelled the land title change, which had taken place in March 1992, in favour of Krishen. Roy’s husband and others soon approached the Jabalpur High Court against the move and challenged the decision of the Naib Tehsildar.

The High Court however directed the petitioner to instead appear before the revenue appellate authority, which was SDM in this case. Krishen however told that court that time limit of making an appeal in the case had passed and the court had granted the relaxation in the matter. The order was pronounced in February this year. In compliance with the High Court order, the petitioner has presented an application before the SDO (civil).

There is still some room for respite to Krishen and Arundhati, if the SDM’s verdict goes against them, Roy, Krishen and the others can file an appeal with Bhopal and Hoshangabad Commissioner Manoj Shrivastva.

The verdict

Roy and Krishen had got embroiled in the land controversy in 2003 when the local administration claimed their elevated bungalow overlooking twin hillocks and vast rolling greens, was in notified forestland.

Then SDM Niyaz Ahmad of Pipariya had acted upon a complaint filed by Vijay Singh, a tribal that Roy’s husband and three others, including Aradhana Seth, sister of writer Vikram Seth, had allegedly encroached on tribal land. Later, Roy’s husband and a few others had moved the Jabalpur High Court against the verdict of the local administration.

The High Court in its verdict, has rejected the appeal and has asked Arundhati’s husband to appear before a sub-divisional magistrate. The order has come four years after the Madhya Pradesh Government had served a notice on Krishen and others for encroaching on tribal land.

Pachmarhi in Biosphere Reserve Programme

The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has included Pachmarhi in Man and Biosphere Reserve Programme in 2009. The Man And Biosphere (MAB) Programme develops the basis within the natural and social sciences for the rational and sustainable use and conservation of the resources of the biosphere and for the improvement of the overall relationship between people and their environment. It predicts the consequences of today’s actions on tomorrow’s world and thereby increases people’s ability to efficiently manage natural resources for the well being of both human populations and the environment.

Source : The Pioneer

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