Thursday, 7 April 2005

Seven Wishes!

Seven Wishes!
-Abhay k

I think sometimes about the issues, ideas or imaginations which are very close to my heart and a clear picture emerges in mind what I want to do in next forty or fifty years of my life. I feel humbled before the enormous task I have ahead of me. Here is a simple wish list. If the Almighty could just appear and ask me my wishes, I would not take much time thinking about them but would surprise her shooting the seven wishes I have.

First of all I want to build a primary school and a health center at the place (can’t call it a village because it is too small, just around 150 people now) I was born more than two and half decades back. It is a place located beside a river and is virtually isolated from the rest of the world. I want to connect it with a linking road with the rest of the world. Telephone facility would be too ambitious right now but I think cellular services might work. This place has no electricity and nobody has seen a television set so I wish to buy one each for the school and the health center and run it with battery because getting electricity connection might take years. Solar plants would be a good idea to generate electricity for local needs. This is my first wish and I have given myself the time of five years to achieve these all.

My second wish is to build a Girl’s High school at the village I have grown up and studied till the primary school level. It is a village of around 1500 people located on the main road connecting two important small towns and acts like a regional hub. It has telephone and electricity connections which practically work round the year except in rainy season when telephone lines are down. It has a government primary school and two private schools which mainly teach till the 5th class. Children from many villages come here to study commuting everyday. Parents send the boys but girls are left out because of distance and the travel time. If there is a Girl’s High school at this village and commuting facilities are arranged, girls of around ten villages can study till tenth class and can also acquire some skills. This would have long term impacts on the demography and society of these villages.

My third wish is to build a SAARC University at Nalanda, the place of the world’s most ancient seat of learning where once Nalanda University existed for many centuries and attracted students from all over the world. Nalanda symbolizes the excellence in learning and knowledge. Now time has come to build a university where students from the whole South Asia can learn, live and grow together. Nalanda is just 100 KM from Patna, the state capital and Bodh Gaya, the place where Buddha got enlightenment. Bodh Gaya has an international airport which makes Nalanda easily accessible to students and scholars from all over the world. Nalanda is also part of the Buddhist Circuit which includes places like Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, Sarnath, Rajgir and Bodh Gaya. Buddhist Circuit is a major attraction for the tourists from Bhutan, Srilanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Japan and other countries where a sizable number of Buddhists live. This brings a lot of money and ideas to this region and funding for a university should not be a problem. A world class university at Nalanda will only add up to prestige and dignity Asia.

My fourth wish is to see a Flood Free Bihar. Every year many lives are lost, many homes are destroyed and much valuable wealth is lost due to floods in my state. Are these inevitable or can be prevented? The answer, I guess, lies in cooperation with the neighboring country. The cooperation has to be taken to the newer heights. Many power projects have to be built. In the end I am convinced a Flood Free Bihar is possible.

My fifth wish is to live in the South Asian Union someday. Artificial barriers among people who belong together only increase problems. A free and fair society with freedom to share ideas and imagination can do wonders for South Asia. It would bring peace and prosperity and reduce poverty. A better life would be possible for all. I think it is just a matter of time. A new beginning is being made these days and who knows soon we may live together with united minds and united purpose as South Asians.

My sixth wish is to exhort leaders around the world to establish ‘Earth Council’, the successor of United Nations and the League of the Nations, with a mandate to protect the planet and the life supporting systems on the planet from all possible threats; internal or external, short term or long term. It would take stock of security threats arising from ‘problems without passports’, severe governance deficit arising in any part of the world, natural disasters, epidemics, comets from the outer space etc. and take necessary measures to ensure the well being of the Humanity and the Planet.

My seventh wish is to put the seeds of life, as we know it, to some other safe corners of the universe. We all know that to keep all eggs in one basket is not safe. We must keep a few in other baskets also. Only if we could trust each other a trillion $ can be diverted from military spending every year for peeping deep into the universe and finding a corner for safe keeping the seeds of life. Imagine how much we would benefit if we find someone like us not many light years away from our home, sweet home Earth!

Though there is no limit to the wishes I could ask from the Almighty I could only shoot the seven and she took a turn and said ‘enough’. I wished she could have stayed a little longer!

Wednesday, 6 April 2005

What Gita Speaks to us-II

Gita has some wise words for the Humanity. Lets have a look at them…

When I was a kid, my mother used to tell me stories at night. One of them I still remember. It was of a lazy donkey and an alert dog of a farmer in a village. The dog was the favorite of the farmer because he worked hard and the donkey was jealous of him. The donkey thought that if he does the job of the dog he too would become the favorite of the farmer. Opportunity knocked on the door one dark night when a thief entered the farmer’s house. The dog was sleeping and the donkey started braying at the top of his voice. Dhenchu..dhenchu…this irritated the farmer to his wits end and he took out his big stick and beat the donkey black and blue. My mother said “Jiska kaam usi ko saje aur kare to danda baje” which means, “A particular duty suits to him whose it is, if somebody else does it gets stick”.
Sri Krishna says this to Arjuna “One’s own duty, though devoid of merit, is preferable to the duty of another well performed. Even death in the performance of one’s own duty brings blessedness; another duty is fraught with fear.”(ChapterIII-39)

When I was in school in class ninth I read the beautiful Dohas of Kabir, which I still remember. One of the Dohas read like this-

Tinka kabhu na nindiye jo payan tar hoye
Kabhu udi akhin pade pid ghaneri hoye

It means that kindly don’t condemn the petty things, which are below your feet; once they fall into your eyes will cause excruciating pain.
Reverberations of this are found in Gita when Sri Krishna says to Arjuna “the wise look with the same eye on a Brahman endowed with learning and culture, a cow, an elephant, dog and a pariah too. (ChapterV-18)

Gita encourages one to believe in oneself, have faith and convictions in oneself. It says “one should lift oneself by one’s own efforts and should not degrade oneself; for one’s own self is one’s friend and one’s own self is one’s enemy. (ChapterVI-5). One cannot forget those revolutionary words “ Khudi ko kar buland itna…”

Shakespeare expressed through his great work Hamlet the eternal dilemma “To be or not to be that is the question?” A dejected Arjuna, at the battlefield, facing the enemies who were cousins, guru or old friends, asks a far deeper question “to fight or not to fight”(ChapterII-6) and Sri Krishna reveals the Supreme Secret contained in whole Gita to clear his doubts. Gita is one of the greatest pieces on motivational literature. Krishna says “there is nothing in all the three worlds for Me to do, nor is there anything worth attaining unattained by Me, yet I continue to work. Should I not engage in action, scrupulously at any time, great harm would come to the world; for Arjuna, men follow My way in all matters. (ChIII-22-23).

Recently I saw this Movie “Judgment at Nuremberg” which carries a great message that “ one is oneself responsible for one’s own action”. Gita too carries a very profound message. I wish the Judges at Nuremberg trial had a look at this book during conducting trials. Gita says, “ Man is bound by his own action except when it is performed for the sake of sacrifice.” (ChIII-9). This could have solved some of the dilemmas, which the movie throws about the sacrifice of individuals for their countries during the trials. It’s very interesting that not a single of the convict of the Nuremberg trials served a very long sentence because Germans thought they had done their best to serve the country.

Gita gives us a hierarchical structure of greatness, which can be useful to us as the hierarchical theory of human motivation given by Maslow helps us understand what motivates us.


Self- Actualization.............................. Self

Esteem Needs..................................... Intellect

Belongingness (Love) Needs .............Mind

Safety Needs ........................................Senses

Physiological Needs............................. Body

Here is a close comparison can be made between the two. Today we give so much importance to pleasing the body, senses and intellect but largely ignore the Self, which is the greatest of all. A human being after satisfying physiological, safety, love and esteem needs moves towards self actualization according to Maslow, in the same way we should realize the greater entities than mind and intellect as suggested by Gita and move on in life. A civilization, which is heavily biased towards the worship of body& senses, or mind & intellect, is not a complete one. It has to go beyond intellect towards the Self and its realization or actualization.

Tuesday, 5 April 2005

What Gita speaks to us

What Gita speaks to us?

Today the whole world is curious about Yoga and the miracles it brings to our lives. Some of us think it is just about a set of exercises while others think it is attached with Hindu religion and philosophy. What is Yoga actually? How can one define this wonderful gift to Humanity? Can everyone do Yoga or one needs strenuous training and practice to do it? These are some questions which one asks about Yoga which has taken both the East and the West by storm. Lets look how Gita defines it.

“Evenness of temper is called Yoga”
(Chapter II- 48)

Yoga thus is not very esoteric or inscrutable entity. The main goal of exercises and meditation which in themselves are confused as Yoga is to achieve this “evenness of temper”. Very often the means are confused as ends. Here as well one thinks that the various Asanas one performs along with meditation are Yoga whereas they are just the means to achieve Yoga. There are other means as well to achieve Yoga. Thus one should not confuse the two and endeavor to achieve true Yoga. Yoga is a spiritual act and has nothing to do with religion or philosophy as “evenness of temper” has nothing to do with a particular religion or philosophy. It belongs to the whole humanity.

Now comes the question, “what are the other means to achieve Yoga and to be a true Yogi?” Krishna enlightens Arjuna about the Supreme Secret of Immortal Yoga saying “I taught this Yoga to Vivasan (Sun-God), Vivasan conveyed it to Manu (his son) and he imparted it to Iksvaku…this secret remained known to the Rajarsis (royal sages). It has since disappeared from this earth. The same ancient Yoga has this day been imparted to you by me, because you are my devotee and friend; and also because this is a supreme secret.” Revealing the Supreme Secret Krishna tells Arjuna that “Yoga of Action (being easier of Practice) is superior to the Yoga Knowledge though the Yoga of Knowledge and the Yoga of Action both lead to supreme bliss.(Chapter V-2). He who does his duty without expecting the fruit of actions is a Sanyasi and Yogi both. He is no Sanyasi who has merely renounced the sacred fire; even so he is no Yogi who has merely given up all activity. Krishna adds “he alone who is able to stand in this very life before casting off this body, the urges of lust and anger is a Yogi; and he alone is a happy man.” The Yogi is superior to the Ascetics; he is regarded as superior even to those versed in sacred lore. He is also superior to those who perform action with some interested motive.
The Yogi who is united in identity with all pervading, infinite consciousness and sees unity everywhere, beholds the Self present in all beings and all beings assumed in the Self. He who sees Me (the Universal Self) present in all beings, and all beings existing within Me, never loses sight of Me, and I never lose sight of him.
He who sees inaction in action , and action in inaction, is wise among men, he is a Yogi, who has performed all actions.(ChapterIV-18).
Reading this all one wonders that “is Yoga for me or for whom is Yoga?” Sri Krishna in Gita tells Arjuna “this Yoga is neither for him who overeats, nor for him who observes a complete fast, it is neither for him who is given to too much sleep, nor even for him who is ceaselessly awake.” One can practice Yoga knowing well what is it actually and how today’s popular Yoga is just the means and not the end as well as for whom is actually Yoga. It would be much better and wise to know what one does and should one do it. On earth there is no purifier as great as Knowledge.(ChapterIV-38)

Heart Matters


Abhay K. *

“My heart is like a singing bird”.
-Christina Rossetti

A good heart is the key to a healthy body and so is a good HEART for a developed country. India today can truly aspire to be an Asian leader and eventually a global leader in offering HEART services which stands for Health, Education, Agricultural produce, Research-Development & Technological innovation and Tourism. HEART symbolizes the five core areas that can put India on the path of prosperity and can truly make it a global hub for services. Services already account for the largest share in India’s GDP. Focusing on HEART will add up to this momentum and help India become a Global Service Hub (GSH).

India today gets patients for sophisticated heart surgery not only from all over South Asia but also from Central, West and South East Asia as well as Africa. In India advanced and quality health care is available at very affordable prices. Indian cities like Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Mumbai have emerged as the health havens. There are opportunities galore in old-age health care. India can offer health services to the senior citizens of the whole world by virtue of its expertise in the health services combined with the low-cost, high quality lifestyle India is able to offer to the senior citizens of the world. Today India is experiencing health tourism. People travel to India to see a dentist along with having a good time traveling around the country. India has taken to training nurses seriously. During my visit to Kakinada, a lesser-known coastal town of Andhra Pradesh I found a number of nursing schools. Girls of age between 16-20 from all over the country including the Northeast and Andaman & Nicobar Islands take nursing courses in these schools. They are in demand in many countries of Europe and Americas and get a placement around the globe as soon as they pass out. India has a number of alternative systems of medicines to offer. Kerala specializes in Ayurveda, an ancient Indian system of preventing and curing diseases. Tourists all over the world travel to Kerala to enjoy its pristine blue beaches as well as get a taste of Ayurevedic treatment of their ailments. There are many more examples. India should invest in health sector much more than it does today. India should take global health care a tad seriously and leave an Indian imprint on it.

Education is vital for any economy. India has been the source of the trained manpower as scientists, scholars, engineers, doctors, professors etc. solely because of its strong and qualitative education system. Time has come to take it a step further and make it truly global. Today Indian university education does not cater to the global needs and demands. There is a need of standardization. India can begin with 5 universities, a sort of India’s own Ivy League, catering to the needs of global students. Indian School of Business located at Hyderabad is an attempt in that direction. The Government-Private partnership is the key. Indian universities today offer the original degrees after 2-3 years of actually giving the results. This is a major problem for international students because they cannot get an admission or a job outside India until they have the originals. This makes the Indian education unattractive to an average international student. Sometimes they have to face teaching in Hindi-medium that is a torture for the students who do not understand the language. International students also face Visa problems. Renewal of visa is a painful exercise and on many occasions these students have to face a lot of trouble at Foreigners Registration Office (FRO). India can truly cater to the needs of the African & Asian students where there is a lot of respect for the Indian education. Indian Institute of Technology and Indian Institute of Management are global brands in their own right and there is a need today to make Indian education a global brand.

India is a very proud country to achieve self-sufficiency in food production. It’s a great achievement indeed. Now time has come when India should aim at producing that amount and variety of food that makes the whole world sufficient in food or in other words India should become the global food basket. It’s a country where majority of the people are dependent on agriculture. A developed and prosperous India cannot be realized without the rainbow revolution. In agriculture India must aspire for producing much more than it does today, at the same time keeping in mind the sustainability of resources. This is possible only if we aim higher and refocus at the core sector of Indian Economy, agriculture. Biotechnology is doing wonders and using the new know-how and techniques India can make the difference that is needed to be a global food basket. The key is to aim higher, work harder and achieve greater.

When we think of progress and development today ‘Technology’ comes to the forefront. Technology is what makes all the difference between a primitive society and an advanced society. India today has made tremendous progress in nuclear technology (NT) space technology (ST), information technology (IT) & biotechnology (BT). IT has put India on the global map and once a country known for snake charmers is known as a country of software engineers. “Die Inder” is the German phrase for “are you Indian”. Indians are a well-respected people in demand around the globe for their skills and hard work. Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has launched satellites for Germany, South Korea and other countries thus truly beginning a new phase in catering to space services. The global giants like Microsoft, General Electrical (GE), and Bells Lab have located their R&D facilities in India. Indian research is considered to have qualitative edge over others and is very economical. Nano- technology is the emerging area in which India is taking the lead. Some of the most exciting research on ‘String theory’ that seeks to explain the nature of the Universe and the matter is happening in India. These are signs. India must act without losing time by investing more in R&D and technological innovation.

Tourism is what brings people face to face with another place, culture and civilization. India offers so much. Mountains, lakes, lagoons, beaches, forests, huge variety of wild life, flora and fauna, palaces, spiritual havens, islands, cuisine and what not. Still India attracts fewer tourists than Thailand or Hong Kong. This is a reflection of our state of infrastructure and how seriously we take the saying “atithi devo bhava”. Its high time India focuses to be the number one tourist destination of the world. After all aiming high, demanding more from us, are the only ways out.

To realize the vision of our President APJ Abdul Kalam of a Developed India by 2020 we must put HEART at the heart of the things. To achieve even small things in life one needs a lot of discipline and focus. Our national energy and intellect must combine and streamlined. Let’s remember that Arjuna could hit the arrow in the eye of the bird because he could focus without distractions while other Pandavas could not. Until we focus clearly and firmly I fear we would fritter away our limited energy and resources and the vision of a Developed and Prosperous India would remain a dream.