The Candid Eye

August 9, 2011

Real Hero Anil builds dams with his Re 1 idea

Filed under: Education,India,Indian Media — Abhay @ 7:48 AM
Tags: , ,

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

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October 28, 2010

Parents learn to know their kids at Art of Living session

KOLKATA(Jul 19, 2009): More than a hundred parents came with the intention to get some ideas about transforming their errant kids. But at the end of the Art of Living workshop called Know your child’, they returned with the conviction that they had never looked at the world as a child looks at it and have been wrong in handling their child.

“The most important thing is allowing a child to be comfortable with himself or herself in a child-friendly environment so that he or she can develop into a happy adulthood with a sense of belonging,” said Muralidhar Koteshwar, one of the trustees of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Vidyamandir (SSRSV) Trust.

The workshop helps worried parents see things from a child’s perspective and it makes all the difference. For instance, fighting between two siblings is actually good for training the child to be a warrior in life. “A child lives in the present, never in the past or the future. So give the child attention when he or she needs it, not when your time permits. It creates magic,” said Murali (as he is better known in the circle). His simple tips enthralled parents who hitherto thought parenting means a lot of disciplining and whipping. “Punishment robs a child of confidence,” he said.

The workshop actually gives a glimpse into how the Trust sensitizes the teachers of the Trust-run schools across the country on child-friendliness. “In fact, the training of teachers enables them to get a deep insight into the mind of a child. The focus is always on encouraging children to excel without compromising on human values. Children will excel when they are in a stress-free environment. Our curriculum includes daily yoga, asana and breathing exercises, which enable a calm and focused mind. This helps discover the inner potential of every child,” said Murali.

The Trust’s first school in Kolkata is coming up in Alipore. “The academy aims to provide value education in a friendly and stress-free environment. Innovative teaching-learning facilities have been provided to bring out the best in each child and give him or her wings to fly high while remaining rooted in Indian values. The admission will start from September,” said Suvina Shunglu, educational coordinator and junior school headmistress of the academy.

The philosophy of the school is to bring about development of every child in all the three aspects body, mind and spirit. It lays great emphasis on sports, performing and visual arts. Varied interests of the child will be nurtured through activities like creative writing, quizzing, debating, computer programming, out-of-the box arts, martial arts, said Shunglu.

Provision has been made in infrastructure facilities for indoor and outdoor games with a mini gym for toddlers, table tennis, a unique outdoor play station, fields for soccer, cricket and hockey, basketball and badminton courts with experienced coaches. The U-shaped building has been designed to avoid excess heat. Airy corridors and moderate temperature-controlled classrooms are being provided .The latest digital touch screen with overhead projector is being provided in each classroom, said Manish Poddar, the man behind the project.

From: Parents learn to know their kids at Art of Living session – The Times of India

June 19, 2010

The art of healing

The art of healing

SUHEL SETH, Jun 8, 2010, 03.43pm IST

I was in Chandigarh watching television on May 30 when the news of an assassination attempt on Sri Sri Ravi Shankar flashed across all screens and then began, in typical Indian fashion, the analysis of this near-fatal event without an iota of accuracy or on the basis of an informed decision. I have to confess, while I am neither a member of the Art of Living Foundation nor have I ever done a course, I have, for many years admired the manner in which Sri Sri has galvanized millions of people across the world to believe in a simple set of values: all of which revolve around human character and happiness. I wanted to call him and check how he was but in the interim, I was disappointed at the positions that everyone began taking. It was no rocket science to understand the silence of the state Government of Karnataka: no one in their right minds would have wanted to say anything on the subject when they were preparing to host their first Global Investor’s meet barely four days later. But it was P Chidambaram who surprised me the most and this was a very different Chidambaram. Not the one I had seen address the press admirably early in the morning of February 14, 2010 when the German Bakery in Pune had been the target of a vicious bomb attack the night before. At that time, Chidambaram was measured and was clear that he would offer a view only after thorough investigations were done.

But this time round, when the attack on Sri Sri took place, Chidambaram alluded to some dangerous theories; one that Sri Sri was not the real target and second that this could have been an inner-ashram feud. Yes, comments made without even a whiff of an investigation: made perhaps in passing but ones that, in hindsight have proven to be more damning than Chidambaram can imagine. This then triggered off a wave of theories: something that only we in India are brilliant at: commenting on things that are in circulation but have no roots.

I finally called up Sri Sri to enquire about his well-being and he was more amused than angered. He was more concerned about his assailant and anguished at the allegations that were circulating. But not once did I hint even a dash of anger or for that matter frustration. He talked about the calmness at the ashram and the happiness quotient therein. He talked about forgiveness and moving on and then said, he couldn’t understand why things were being said when there was no truth in them. This article will hopefully help him understand an India that is not so calm and not so happy. This is an attempt to awaken Sri Sri from the oasis of peace he resides in and fosters. And something that reflects on the general malaise that has come about in our society.

Television has made many of us instant commentators: silence is no longer a virtue nor is smiling away your troubles: you are either seen as guilty or as one who has something to hide. So Sri Sri should have never been silent or for that matter happy that his followers, one of whom was shot, were alive and more importantly happy. He should have given a dozen television interviews and made it to the front pages and prime time headlines: that would have kept him in currency not for peace but for violence: exactly what the terrorists and now the Maoists feed off.

But before we march into the next crisis, let’s pause and think what all of this has really done: it has created an impression of an inner feud which doesn’t exist; it has made Sri Sri come across as publicity-hungry which he clearly isn’t: he was as well-known before May 30; but the damage it has done is considerable: we have almost, without unsettling Sri Sri, created a level of cynicism and anguish amongst his followers in this country’s rule of law; in our ability to forget and forgive and most importantly to move on. With all the utterances around, we have confused and confounded some very happy people living in that ashram and who are helping the poor and the distraught. So while we may serve the cause of TRPs and individual one upmanship, have we really addressed the larger malaise of unhappiness and anger? Of desolateness and isolation? Of social stigmatization and separatism?

I genuinelybelieve we have many lessons to learn. Our media today is playing into the hands of vulgar sensationalism and our politicians are falling into this trap. We as a nation think it to be hip and cool if we knock the good that our fellow country-men are engaged in. We love to pull the ones that are doing good down with a ferocity that is seeped in negativism. Rather than praise the good work, we invest emotions mired in cynicism and disbelief. Are we increasingly becoming a nation that is suspicious and bitter? Or will we allow ourselves to be happy and optimistic. Many a time, each one of us that has the option to speak in public or write in newspapers want the easy way out. Criticism and not critique are the birthmarks of this India. But then this is a downward spiral. It will make us even more miserable than we need to be. It will make us despondent when we don’t need to be and more than anything else, our very attitude will deter people from pursuing the path of good and nobleness. Sri Sri runs the Art of Living program. But given what one sees around, there is a crying need for us to invest in an Art of Healing program. We need to placate and please; we need to progress and prosper and not be bitter and banal about every thing good around us. Perhaps May 30 was a lesson which we need to learn from; a signal to every Indian to be proud and not picky about everything good about our own people; our own values and our own culture. It is easy to cast stones at everything but very difficult to pick up the pieces of shattered souls. The time to stop this is now. The time to move on is now.Sri Sri has the ability to move on and he will; the happiness quotient will not see any dip or turbulence except that we will make every human being question his own integrity and his own belief system, the next time he wants to say what he really feels. Sri Sri was happy when I spoke to him. No words of rancour or remorse. But then, he is evolved. What if he wasn’t? Do we want soap operas in this country every time a tragedy occurs or do we actually have it in ourselves to let our silence heal us: from within and comprehensively?

June 18, 2010

How fruit trees in Indian village save girls’ lives

Bhagalpur, BiharSneha Surabhi (Photo: Prashant Ravi)Sneha, four, says she regularly waters the trees her father planted for herPhotos: Prashant Ravi

In India, where traditionally boys have been preferred over girls, a village in backward Bihar state has been setting an example by planting trees to celebrate the birth of a girl child.

In Dharhara village, Bhagalpur district, families plant a minimum of 10 trees whenever a girl child is born.

And this practice is paying off.

Nikah Kumari, 19, is all set to get married in early June. The would-be groom is a state school teacher chosen by her father, Subhas Singh.

Mr Singh is a small-scale farmer with a meagre income, but he is not worried about the high expenses needed for the marriage ceremony.

For, in keeping with the village tradition, he had planted 10 mango trees the day Nikah was born.

The girl – and the trees – were nurtured over the years and today both are grown up.

Dowry deaths

“Today that day has come for which we had planted the trees. We’ve sold off the fruits of the trees for three years in advance and got the money to pay for my daughter’s wedding,” Mr Singh told the BBC.

“The trees are our fixed deposits,” he said.

Dharhara village in BiharThe village looks like a forest or a dense green patch

In Bihar, payment of dowry by the bride’s family is a common practice. The price tag of the bridegroom often depends on his caste, social status and job profile.

The state is also infamous for the maximum number of dowry deaths in the country.

But the mango trees have freed Nikah’s parents of undue worries. And their story is not unique in Dharhara village.

With a population of a little over 7,000, the village has more than 100,000 fully grown trees, mostly of mango and lychee.

From a distance, the village looks like a forest or a dense green patch amidst the parched and arid cluster of villages in the area.

‘Great value’

And most residents can be spotted sitting in the cool orchards outside their homes.

“Now, we’ve stopped doing traditional farming of wheat and paddy. We plant as many trees as we can since they are more profitable and dependable,” said villager Shyam Sunder Singh.

Shatrughan Prasad Singh (Photo: Prashant Ravi)The villagers have been planting trees for generations

Mr Singh paid for the weddings of his three daughters after selling fruits of trees he had planted at the time of their birth.

“One medium-size mango orchard is valued at around 200,000 rupees ($4,245; £2,900) every season. These trees have great commercial value and they are a big support for us at the time of our daughter’s marriage,” he says.

The villagers say they save a part of the money earned through the sale of fruits every year in a bank account opened in their daughter’s name.

The tree-planting has been going on in the village for generations now.

“We heard about it from our fathers and they from their fathers. It has been in the family and the village from ages,” says Subhendu Kumar Singh, a school teacher.

“This is our way of meeting the challenges of dowry, global warming and female foeticide. There has not been a single incident yet of female foeticide or dowry death in our village,” he says.

His cousin, Shankar Singh, planted 30 trees at the time of his daughter Sneha Surabhi’s birth.

Sneha, four, is aware that her father has planted trees in her name; the child says she regularly waters the saplings.

As yet she doesn’t know what dowry is, and says the trees will bear fruits for her “to eat”.

The village’s oldest resident, Shatrughan Prasad Singh, 86, has planted around 500 mango and lychee trees in his 25 acres of land.

His grand-daughters, Nishi and Ruchi, are confident the trees mean their family will have no problem paying for their weddings.

“The whole world should emulate us and plant more trees,” says their father Prabhu Dayal Singh.

June 17, 2010

If you are a Swami and a victim, remain silent!

If you are a Swami and a victim, remain silent!

– by Swami Sadyojathah, Jun 10, 2010, 01.50pm
I think 30 years of selfless service has not attracted the eye of our media as much as a bullet. Ironically, the victim had to justify why the bullet was found close to him!

A Swami is expected to remain silent irrespective of the seriousness of offence against him whereas strong voices of support are heard for terrorists and anti-social elements. Corrupt officials are not condemned and the society’s silence implies it is fine with them.

‘Swami’, a title much revered in India in the past only raises eyebrows in suspicion now. Swamis and Sadhus were respected for dedicating and sacrificing their lives for society and now they are being condemned. This shows the unfortunate deterioration of the Indian culture. Is it not a systematic psychological warfare against Swamis?

We also see a section of the media in our country jumping to hasty conclusions especially in matters concerning swamis and spirituality.

‘You have the right to remain silent…’ is usually a warning given to a suspected criminal under arrest. However, paradoxically if you are a Swami or a Guru, you are advised to remain silent even if you are a victim. In spite of being a victim, you are perceived to have done something wrong. The overwhelming undercurrent of prejudice against Hindu swamis and Gurus cannot be underlined enough.

How strange that a culprit can walk away, but the victim is doubted, questioned, harassed and expected to prove his innocence! The Indian Constitution holds that you are innocent until proven guilty, but a swami is necessarily guilty until proven innocent.

This has been the way of the world, which has always demanded from the living legends to prove their innocence. Be it Kabir or Jesus or even Mahatma Gandhi who was called a fraud a number of times. The degradation of society is measured by its attitude towards its spiritual leaders. Is it not Kaliyuga where the onus is on the victim to prove that he is not guilty?

Usually a victim is encouraged to speak up. But if you are a swami, you are counseled to forever hold your peace, even if you are surrounded by white lies.

The other thing isthat it does not pay off in the worldly sense to keep calm and live in knowledge because the gap between the real world and a meditator’s world is far too much. A layman may not understand the world of yogis, where they remain poised, calm and there is not an iota of worry or concern in their expression, even in extenuating circumstances. This is baffling to the common man or in this case of gun shot the investigating cops.

Recently, I was at a function in Vigyan Bhavan in Delhi, where I observed the sheer reluctance of people in interacting with a Swami in saffron robes sitting in the front row of the audience. This was immediately after the scandals of some so-called swamis had hit the headlines in the media. Nobody wanted to look at him, let alone talk to him, as if he were an untouchable. It was appalling to see the prejudice against Hindu swamis. In a way it was beneficial to the swami because he need not care what the world thinks of him, but for an onlooker it looked odd how people were overtly prejudiced.

In Bollywood, in the last 15 to 20 years, since Dawood Ibrahim ostensibly started funding the film industry, a man with a tilak or in saffron robes has been systematically depicted as a villain or part of villain’s team. This portrayal has only added a mass prejudice and overwhelming bias against the swamis of India.

The two main allegations against swamis are sex and money. A true swami will never fall prey to fleeting attractions of sensual pleasures. Without adequate investigation, this kind of blanket generalization is unfortunate and highly deplorable. Every spiritual organization is supposed to do charity and one cannot do charity with an empty bowl. There is no point in taking charity and doing charity. Earning money is not a crime but doing so in a wrong way definitely is.

The idea that all spiritual education should be free, or the notion that spiritual training was free in ancient India is a fallacy. Spirituality is also an education and all education needs to be paid for. Those who know their history know that people in Vedic times had to “invest” far more to get a spiritual education than we do today!
The concept of ”Dakshina” is from the ancient Vedic times.

The vow of poverty is a concept alien to our land. Here, the primordial Guru, Lord Narayana is wedded to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Material progress goes hand in hand with spiritual growth. There are some pseudo intellectuals and historians who argue that only Ramana Maharishi and Mahatma Gandhi were genuine. They praise only the dead and abuse the living. One historian while condemning the appearance of spiritual masters in media went to the extent of saying that Sri Aurobindo never appeared on television, forgetting that there was no television at that time in the first place! Going by the fact that Sri Aurobindo had used the print media so well, I am sure he would have done the same with television had it existed then.

Another much-misplaced conception is that a true spiritual person should remain poor and that Gandhi never associated with the rich. They conveniently forget that Mahatma Gandhi has lived and died in Birla House, one of the most affluent people of that time.

Of course, every field will have people who are not genuine. However, that doesn’t warrant every one being painted with the same brush. It is as foolish as saying that because you unearthed a quack one day, we
should shun all doctors.

It was Pandit Nehru who said in the assembly debates, “If I was asked what is the greatest treasure which India possesses and what is her finest heritage, I would answer unhesitatingly—it is the Sanskrit language and literature, and all that it contains. This is a magnificent inheritance, and so long as this endures and influences
the life of our people, so long the basic genius of India will continue”.

It was Babasaheb Ambedkar who had proposed Sanskrit as the first language of India and who had great reverence for sadhus of this country, Kabir being his most favorite. It was Mahatma Gandhi who would read the Bhagawat Gita every day and meditate and do satsang with people from all religions.

The father of our nation is a saint. The architect of the Indian constitution, our first Prime Minister and countless others have sung praises of the spiritual knowledge of our saints. Then, I do believe, a sensitive and responsible Indian should take a proactive role in reinstating these values and arrest the prejudice drive against the swamis and saints of this holy land.

(The author is director, international affairs, The Art Of Living)

May 21, 2010

Gujarat the first and only state government in India to start chess programs in Schools

Filed under: Education,India,Sports — Abhay @ 11:28 AM
Tags: ,

An article from Latest Chess:-

Chess has been part of the curriculum for most Russian schools for over 40 years. Adolescents were encouraged to play chess at a very early age to increase their problem solving and reasoning skills. The game of chess is a terrific way for young people to learn skills of strategy, logic, planning and other important intellectual disciplines in a fun, friendly and mildly competitive environment.
Gujarat government has decided to promote chess in schools. Students in Gujarat would be offered chess coaching to boost their thinking skills under an idea being pushed from within State Government. This has been announced in the last week by Gujarat State Chess Association president and Home Minister Amit Shah. Gujarat is the the first and only state government in India to start chess programs in schools.

In an attempt to promote chess in schools, the Gujarat government will conduct training programs for teachers who would help spread the game in their schools. Announcing the programs, Gujarat State Chess Association president and Home Minister Amit Shah said: “The program of today may be a small affair but our initiative to bring home chess to school children is a giant step.”

As part of the program, a week-long training of 1,500 school teachers began Monday at the Rifle Club here. The first batch comprising 200 school teachers will be trained for a week for five hours followed by the second batch. The training will proceed until the end of July, said Shah, also the president of Gujarat State Chess Association.

“We have undertaken to provide a platform for children to showcase their talents at the national and international level in the future,” Shah said. The Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank is sponsoring the training programme. “What is notable today is that for the first the state government is directly involved in encouraging the game of chess,” said the bank chairman Ajaybhai Patel.

Photo : Gujarat State Chess Association president and Home Minister Amit Shah.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I think this is a great Move!! Chess originated in India, its world champion is Indian, and India needs to promote Chess from grass root level. Congradulations to the wise people in Gujarat government who implemented this!!

For several decades, World champions came from Russia, because it was promoted at an early age to the children in Russia.

April 15, 2010

Zinc Production in Ancient India

Many believe that technology was not advanced in India, and was all imported from Europe. On the contrary, science in Ancient India was a beacon of knowledge for the rest of the world. Here is an example of Zinc Production at Industry level by India, when Europe hardly had any clue:-

Zinc Production in Ancient India

The difficulty in Zinc production arises from its close melting and evaporation points. It melts at 950 deg C, and evaporates at 1000 deg C. While all other ores are dealt with by heating the ore from the bottom and then extracting the metal, this cannot be done for Zinc. when you heat it from bottom, the liquid goes on top and evaporates as temperature touches 1000 C.

Indians were clever to supply the heat from the top, and give a cooling platform for collecting molten drops of zinc! So the moment Zinc melts, it is collected from the bottom and solidified.

The Iron pillar of Delhi still stands as a marvel for advanced Chemistry, and Scientists are yet to figure out how to make a rod that will not rust away!

The Technology of spirituality was the driving force behind these and many more discoveries, including Medicine and Astronomy. Check out this series of videos for more details.

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