International Mountain Day

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“International Mountain Day”, instituted by United Nations General Assembly in 2003 to highlight the importance of sustainable mountain development.

In the Indian ethos the mountains have not been looked at as only a geographical phenomenon but have been intrinsically linked with the ethos of the land. The mountains have formed an important aspect of the sustainability ethos of the land through the ages.

Vanavasi

The people who have lived in this land in the forest of the mountainous region have been respectfully referred to in the Indian tradition as vanavasi. They have been the custodians’ guardians of these mountains big and small.

Adivasi

In the name of development and classification these vanavasi have been now classified as adivasi and as scheduled tribes. These modern classifications have been a restricting factor in the activity of these vanavasi. These nomenclatures also have a shade of non-respectful reference.

If we have to look at the mountains to be sustainable component of our land, we should not only respect the mountains but as well respect the people who have made these mountains their homes and given them the right to safeguard the mountain scape which they have been innately capable of, which they have been maintaining from the past many millennia.

Parvat- Parvati

In the Indian thought the mountains, hills have been revered through the ages. The hills are called Parvat. The chief of the hills is Parvat Raja. The daughter of this Parvat Raja is Parvati who is the consort of Shiva. Parvati is thus the daughter of the hill. That is the reverence that the hills and the hill people have received in the Indian thought. The tallest and the mightiest mountain range in the world is Himalaya. The very word Himalaya comes from the word him meaning “snow” and alaya meaning “the abode of”, hence, “the abode of snow”. It is the same term as alaya which we use for temple. Thus we respectfully refer to the grand mountain as alaya, the “temple of snow”.

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Himalaya, “the abode of snow”

Goverdhangiri

Krishna who lived around 3100 BCE asked his people to venerate Goverdhangiri the nearby hill which provided the gracing pastures for their cows and livelihood for all of them. The consequent episode of Goverdhangiri is well known and has been retold many a times in poetry and different art forms.

Boundaries of India

In the north we all know it is bounded by the Himalayas, the great snowcap mountains. In the East, the boundaries of India start from Arunachala, aruna meaning the first rays of the sun and achala meaning the hill. So Arunachala meaning where the first rays of the sun fall on the hills of the land which is today referred to as the hills of Arunachal Pradesh. In the west, the boundaries of India are extended till Astachal, ast meaning to set, achala meaning hills, the hills over which the setting sun sets. These were the hills in the west of Afghanistan. Thus we see even the boundaries of this great land through the ages has been referred to the three mountains; Himachal, Arunachal, Astachal. Every hill is venerated and festivals are celebrated around the hill by the local throughout the land. Such veneration has been there for many millennia for the people recognized that their hill formed a sustainable part of this life. While the term sustainability may seem like a new age word, it was seen in practice in this land in many fields, here in this case with the hills and mountains.

Let us, this day, the International Mountain Day, recognize the intrinsic role that shall play between man, flora, fauna and mountains in sustaining each other.

Human Rights Day

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In the last few centuries, the mind-set has been to demand the rights for oneself than to perform one’s duties. Probably one telling shift from this mind-set was when John F Kennedy in his swearing in speech said “Ask not what the country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”.

Through this telling speech, he tried to bring in the concept of duty over right.

Today, we are living in a totally commercial world, where every act is looked at, for its return and profitability. This trait has disturbed the equilibrium of life and nature and has contributed to the decline in societal values and the moral chaos we find ourselves in now.

One of the aspects of Universal message of Krishna, 5000 years ago, was the concept of Nishkama Karma – to do one’s duty dispassionately in line with one’s natural Dharma or resonate with the pulse of nature, without any attachments to the benefits to oneself as separated from nature.

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Taking from the past teachings of Krishna 5000 years ago and John F Kennedy’s message, 50 years ago, in this Millennium, the concept of Nishkama Karma or to do one’s duties, could the message for the new Millennium than just keeping on asking for rights and rights and more rights…

International Anti Corruption Day

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Corruption – The Cancer

Corruption forms a wave of plunder which started soon after India’s Independence. It is a case of Indians themselves looting India. Scams and slums in India are but two sides of the same coin. The scams that have occurred have kept India a poor nation which manifests in the poverty and the slums that we have. If only we could remove the scar of the scams, India would be prosperous once again.

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The divide between “the haves” and “the have” nots due to Corruption

How do we combat this Cancer of Corruption?

Cure for this Cancer

The cure for this Cancer can come from two sides,

  • External, using outside agents – as part of Bhedha and Dhanda
  • Internal, from within – as part of Sama and Dhana

The external approach is by implementing stiff laws, firm policing, tracking down of the stashed money to the ends of the world and repatriating them back to India. The punishments that come along with policing, tracking and repatriation will obviously be the external force that should make people comply.

In an inside out approach, in order to bring those citizens who are playing truant, to adhere to the framework of society, we first need to understand the reason behind their acts.

We need to first ponder over why a person becomes corrupt. One finds that it is usually fear and insecurity of the future that makes one corrupt. Hence to attack Corruption from within, one needs to work at this root cause of fear and insecurity.

5Cs

The carefully thought out 5C approach of His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar comes to our mind as a guide to combat corruption, the 5Cs being,

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His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

1. Connectedness: In a small society or village, people are connected to one another. The belongingness to the land and people is more in such small societies. If we observe carefully, corruption is also low here. It is in the urban areas where there is not much connect with the society or the land, where there is no particular sense of connect, that the corruption is higher.

2. Courage: Lack of confidence in one’s own ability, leads to lack of self-esteem and thus lack of courage in taking up initiatives or standing up to face challenges. This in turn creates insecurity and fear in a person which makes one corrupt, in the false hope that by hoarding, one can become secure, little realizing that in fact, when a person hoards, he or she becomes even more insecure. This is a vicious cycle.

3. Cosmic Order: To connect with oneself again and get confidence, one needs to pause and look around. Not just in the immediate vicinity but all the way up into the cosmos. This universe, the stars, this earth, life and humans have been around for millions of years. Everything in this creation is cyclical. Everything here is part of nature and our life span which we think is long, is in fact, just a drop in the cycles of time, which goes for millions of years. This opening of one’s vision, mind and broadening of the horizon will create a self-realization in one, that one is only here for a few passing moments in the life span of this earth and all the hoarding will come to nought as time moves on. If one is explained this in the right perspective and realizes it, then comes the fourth C.

4. Compassion: The realization that we are part of this cosmos and whether we like it or not, we are just a passing phase in this rhythmic cycle of nature, emphasizes how insignificant we are in the whole scheme of the Universe. A realization which in turn will help us to live as one with nature and live as per the nature of human beings, the Dharma of human beings, which is to care and be compassionate to fellow human beings. This positive act of compassion, while it may be there in the animal kingdom, is more pronounced as a characteristic in man. And where there is compassion, corruption cannot creep in.

5. Commitment: To achieve all these, what is required is the 5th C i.e., Commitment.

Realizing the first 4 Cs is not enough, if it is not transferred into action. That comes from commitment. This commitment comes from within a person.

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The 5C chain

Combating corruption is not just an external effort of policing by an external body but is also an internal effort of realization and change within oneself.

More on Corruption, the way to deal with it and ways to bring back black money, in our book You Turn India.

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International Civil Aviation Day

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International civil aviation day is observed to commemorate the first flight by Wright brothers.

Flight by Shivkar Bapuji Talpada

How many of us know that there was an earlier flight in India by Shivkar Bapuji Talpada in 1895 at Chowpatty Beach, Mumbai?

He flew a plane called “Marutsakha” to a height of about 1500 feet.

Marut means wind and Sakha means friend. His Vimana was aptly called Marutsakha, meaning “friend of the wind”.

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Pushpaka Vimana

We have all heard of Pushpaka Vimana in our epic, Ramayana. Aircraft and spacecraft are mentioned in our epics, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Purana and other ancient texts.

These are generally considered as figments of imagination. A deep study in our ancient treatise reveal technical details of some these ancient vimana.

Texts on Vimana

A search into details of the working of these vimana leads one to Vaimanika Sastra written by Maharishi Bharadwaja, Yantra Sarvasva also by Maharishi Bharadwaja and Samrangana Sutra Dara by Raja Bhoja.

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These have also been translated into English in the last hundred years with technical drawings of the ancient Vimana.

Technical Sketch of 4 Vimana

Rukma

Rukma is an ancient Vimana, conical in shape and golden in colour.

Sundara

This Vimana is very much rocket like with silver sheen.

Tripura

Tripura is a three storied Vimana with a wide body.

Sakuna

Sakuna is modelled for long distance cruising and is grey in colour.

Nelson Mandela and Gandhian Principles

Nelson Mandela was one of the prime advocates of Gandhian principles. One of Nelson Mandela’s famous quotes about Gandhi include, “You gave us a lawyer, we gave you a Mahatma”. This is in connection to Gandhi’s life in South Africa, before he returned to India and joined the Indian Freedom Struggle.

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Nelson Mandela followed the Gandhian ahimsa principle in South Africa, to quell Apartheid.
Apartheid means Apartness in the Afrikaans language.

Mandela showed in us practice how, Satyagrah way of struggle is valid, in 1990 also, in the Modern world and not relevant to 1940s and to India alone. Through his example he displayed the applicability of Satyagraha in different parts of the world, in modern times, under different oppressive regimes.

He spent 27 years in jail, but did not express rancor against the white masters.  This great quality of Ahimsa he had imbibed from Gandhi, and was of the idea “We are not against the British, but only colonialism.” An echo of what our father of the nation stood for!

He became the founding character of the Rainbow nation, the father of South Africa.

India was one of the first countries he visited, after being president of South Africa.

He was awarded the Bharat Ratna by the government of India, for his Gandhian struggle. One among three non-Indians to be honoured thus, the other two being Khan Abdul Ghafar Khan who is also famous as Frontier Gandhi, and Mother Theresa.

A symbol of global Peace & advocate of Human Rights, one of the greatest men of the century.

International Day of People with Disability

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How often we come across people who have lost their legs or hands, or other parts of their body, in our immediate environment! Many feelings well up in us, as even the stoniest of hearts are moved to pity. These disabilities are not limited to the physical frame alone, but encompass all impairments that may be physical, cognitive, intellectual, mental, or sensory, which restricts normal activity in everyday life. Thus, there are many varieties of disability.

Viklang to Divyang

Until recently, Viklang was the word used in this country for those with disability. The government of India in the year 2016 replaced this word with Divyang, with the view of inculcating a positive feeling in the general public about the disabled, and also to encourage those with disability, so that they are respected as ones with ‘divine abilities’, and not disabilities.

This decision was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Man Ki Bat interaction.

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With Divine Abilities

Divya, means Divine and Ang, refers to limbs, parts. Those with disabilities are all limbs of Divinity, and have many times surprised us with their amazing abilities, inspite of facing disadvantage in one or more aspects of their life. The disabled need to be welcomed with care into our mainstream society and given appropriate opportunities to showcase their talents.  Very often, we outwardly show compassion when we come across such people, but inwardly shun them and later avoid them.

Rishi Ashtavakra

The name of Rishi Ashtavakra from ancient India comes to mind here, who had multiple disabilities from birth, but is revered to this day as literally being a Divyang, i.e a being who had attained enlightenment and oneness with divinity.

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Rishi Ashtavakra

In Samskrt, Ashtavakra means “One with eight bends”, Ashta meaning eight and Vakra, bend, deformity. Ashtavakra was born with eight deformities, including in his two hands, two feet, two knees, chest and head. Inspite of his great disabilities, he went on to acquire great wisdom and fame, and is today well known for his treatise, Ashtavakra Gita, “the knowledge of the Self”, that he revealed to his disciple, King Janaka.

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Conversation between King Janaka and Ashtavakra

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Ashtavakra Gita

Accept the disabled as they are

The disabled should be treated as any other person in the society, and should not be held back by other people.

The case in point here is a study which states that today in India, 54.4% of 26 lakhs disabled in 5-19 years age group, are the one with multiple disability! 17.5 lakh of them don’t go to school, though they want to.

 We need to encourage education among the disabled!

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Accept the disabled as they are

If we could encourage the disabled in sports, then why play spoilsport in their education!

Paralympic games

The Paralympic Games is a major international multi-sport event involving athletes with a range of disabilities. In India too, The Paralympic Committee of India is dedicated for the development and upliftment of physically challenged in sports, athletes with mobility disabilities, amputations, blindness & cerebral palsy. They from time to time organize games for the disabled and encourage them in Paralympics.

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Paralympic logo

Here are a few of those who have performed well in Paralympics.

  • Amit Kumar Saroha – Club throw

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Amit Kumar Saroha in action

  •  Devendra Jhajaria – Javelin throw

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Devendra Jhajaria in action

  • Deepa Malik – Shotput

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Deepa Mailk

  • Karamjyoti Dalal – Discus Throw

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Karamjyoti Dalal

In the Indian National Games, held every two years, the disabled take part in a wide variety of sports.

Jaipur Foot

Apart from giving the disabled a normal place in the society, we need to find new ways to help them, through new innovations.

The Jaipur Foot, also known as the Jaipur Leg, is a rubber-based prosthetic leg for people with below-knee amputations, that were designed by Ram Chander Sharma, under the guidance of Dr. P.K. Sethi, the then HOD of the Orthopedics department in Sawal Mansingh Medical College in Jaipur.

This artificial foot was developed in 1968 and was helpful to those with leg disability for many decades, but were very heavy, weighing atleast 4 kgs.

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Jaipur Feet

“Rocket Science”

In 2009-10, our late President Bharat Ratna A P J Abdul Kalam and his team used “rocket science” for designing an artificial limbs bringing it down to a weight of just 400 gms, i.e ten times lighter. In other words, this great scientist used his light space materials to construct light weight prosthesis. This was lighter, cheaper and more durable version of ‘Jaipur Foot’.

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Dr Abdul Kalam with a disabled

A remarkable effort in helping one kind of disabled, with simple innovation!

Need to make them comfortable

We need to make it as comfortable as possible for the disabled in our public spaces. There needs to be special facilities in the street, pavements, toilets and at entrance to public building, for the disabled to move freely, without any hindrances. This is apart from the many disability benefits provided by the governments.

Dwarf – Vamana

We also need to include Dwarfs as those with a disability. In this land, dwarfs are referred to as Vaman. We all are aware of the Vamana Avatar, an incarnation of Divinity Vishnu. Like this divine incarnation who encompassed the whole Creation as Trivikrama, these are also people with vast potentials and divine abilities. Infact, this is true for all categories of the disabled.

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Vamana

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Trivikrama

International Day of People with Disabilities

International Day of People with Disabilities was instituted by the United Nations in 1992, and is observed every year on 3rd December, to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of people with disabilities.

Our aim should be to build a sustainable, inclusive and equitable world for people with disabilities.

Bhopal Gas Tragedy

Bhopal Gas Tragedy occurred on 2nd night and 3rd morning of December, 1984. Poisonous MIC gas from Union Carbide factory covered the colony of Bhopal. 3500 people died in one night inhalling poisonous fumes, but there were two families – those of Shri Sohan Lal S Khushwaha and Shri M.L. Rathore, living about one mile away from the plant who came out unscathed.

They had the presence of mind and more importantly the knowledge and implements to perform the Trayambhaka Homa in their house that night. The dhuma, the smoke coming from homa nullified the affect of poisonous gas in their house and saved them.

This brings to light the immense immediate beneficial effect of inhaling the dhuma, the smoke from the homa kept away the harmful effect of poisonous gas. In this horrific Bhopal Gas Tragedy, we have an example of the beneficial effect of the homa in most adverse conditions. In these 33 years, have we benefited from this example in combating pollution which has increased in the last 33 years.

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