|Thursday, June 29, 2000,
can make a difference
Advani's measured response
PRIME Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee is no longer the only moderate face of the Sangh Parivar. On his return from Lisbon he would be pleasantly surprised to learn that Union Home Minister L. K. Advani too is trying hard to master the art of not over-reacting to even the most explosive political development in the country. It is not difficult to imagine how Mr Advani as the acknowledged hawk of the Sangh Parivar would have "normally" reacted to the autonomy resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir assembly. Had he been himself and reacted the way he usually does to provocative developments, he would have played into the hands of Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah. Even the most bitter critic of the Union Home Minister's style of functioning would find it difficult, if not impossible, to find fault with whatever he has said on the subject so far. In the absence of the Prime Minister he seems to have found the political will to speak the language of Mr Vajpayee in fielding difficult questions from the Press on the autonomy resolution. There were moments when he beat even External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh in blending the best elements of diplomacy and dignity in his replies. Instead of saying that granting autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir was possible "only over my dead body", he chose to underplay the development by stating that the government would "consider" the proposal. To leave no scope for misinterpretation he added that "the resolution has been passed by the state assembly. The government will consider the issue, and I mean the entire government". He was equally deft in responding to a question that the Prime Minister had welcomed the autonomy move during his meeting with Dr Abdullah. "I will not comment on it. If at all anything has to be said on it, the Prime Minister will say it."
It is not only Mr Advani
who has reacted to the autonomy resolution with quiet
dignity. Even the usually strident sections of the Sangh
Parivar seem to have been advised not to overreact to Dr
Abdullah's politically loaded and inappropriate
initiative. The Sangh Parivar's low-key, virtually
inaudible, reaction has little to do with the fact that
the National Conference is part of the NDA at the Centre.
Even if Dr Abdullah were to withdraw support, Mr
Vajpayee's government would not fall - not at least on
the autonomy issue. The Congress has been more virulent
in attacking Dr Abdullah's divisive agenda than the
Bharatiya Janata Party and in the event of the issue
being put to vote in the Lok Sabha it would have no
option but to oppose it. Dr Abdullah has started the
controversy because as Chief Minister he has failed to
deliver. Even he knows that the demand for autonomy will
not find favour with any other political party. The unity
and integrity of the country cannot be put at risk merely
to humour a visibly desperate Chief Minister fighting for
political survival in Jammu and Kashmir. Mr Advani
treated the issue with the contempt it deserved by not
overreacting to it. In doing so he has shown great
maturity and political foresight. Why waste breath on
denouncing a measure which is not likely to find support
from any party, with the exception of the National
Conference, if and when it is put to vote in the Lok
Sabha? Those who have always believed that Mr Advani is
capable of rising above the usual Sangh Parivar rhetoric
in responding to controversial issues would, of course,
be happy with his handling of the autonomy issue.
Political analysts, on the other hand, are trying to read
the real message between the lines. Be that as it may,
the decision to give himself the image of a moderate
leader in the Vajpayee mould, to improve his political
rating and acceptability among the people, deserves an
Reprieve for Mugabe
UTTERLY untutored, Zimbabwe leapfrogged into a two-party system prodded by the fading charms of a yesteryears national hero and the rabble-rousing skills of a trade union leader. And it is a mini miracle considering the African tradition of one-party or military rule. But this development has come about in a tense atmosphere, during a bitterly fought election, largescale violence, intimidation and the death of over 30 persons. This terror-filled political air, a sharp polarisation of urban and rural voters and the character profiles of the two contending leaders raise questions about the durability, indeed even the workability, of the emerging political arrangement. Zimbabwes democratic institutions have not grown supple enough to accommodate a keenly competitive order. Until now Mr Robert Mugabe was Zimbabwe and his party, ZANU-PF (Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front) was the sole credible political force. And he never believed in seeking the cooperation of other parties, however marginal, nor respecting the unexpressed wishes of the people. His rival today, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, who heads the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), is a mirror image of the President, a mass leader of the Third World model, extremely successful in manipulating popular emotions and rallying incompatible social groups on an anti-Mugabe platform. This works well in fighting and winning elections but is counter-productive in running a government, as Indians know only too well. The MDC, formed less than a year ago and at the height of a land-grab movement by the Mugabe supporters, has grown astonishingly fast. fed on the disenchantment with the 20-year-long unbroken rule by Mr Mugabe. Not only he has suffered but even the nascent democracy in Zimbabwe had received bodyblows thanks to his authoritarian style.
Nothing illustrates this better than the abortive but highly explosive issue of land to the tillers. Hundreds and hundreds of acres of fertile land is owned by less than 2000 white farmers who employ black workers to grow tobacco for export. Taking over the land for distribution among the blacks has been a recurrent theme both during the long years of freedom struggle and since 1981. But Mr Mugabe has been softpedalling, wanting to use it to win the election and postpone implementation till the next round of voting. But this time the script was rewritten. About three years ago, pressed by his political and other cronies, he took over vast stretches of land and gifted it to them and not to the real landless labourers. A short switch was set and there was no going back. But he gave the demand an unexpected twist by refusing to pay any compensation to the white landowners. When they protested, he asked them to demand cash from Britain, the former colonial ruler. After Britain made first derisive and later angry noises, the wrath of ordinary rural Zimbabweans was directed at the former colonial ruler giving considerable respite to the President. It is a different matter that this racial hatred led to the death of at least three landowners and daily denunciation by the MDC; this explains the neat division between townspeople and villagers. With 57 of the 120 elected seats in its pocket, the MDC is clearly tomorrows ruling party and the final test will come in two years time when a new President will be elected. It will be Mr Tsvangirai versus Mr Mugabe. The campaign started on Tuesday, just after the last result was announced.
JURY is still out whether the cricketers indeed used the gentlemen's game to line their own pockets but the fans have already given their verdict. They no longer think that the matches that they pursued so passionately till recently are any better than stage shows. The most accurate barometer of this change is the television ratings (TVR). Almost all independent viewership surveys have come to the conclusion that the public has been giving cricket the thumbs down signal. The peak hour TVR for matches involving India used to be as high as 10.05 before the matchfixing egg flew in its face. But it was as low as 0.54 in the Asia Cup match between India and Sri Lanka played on June 1, a figure lower than even the TVR for matches involving "outsider" nations. Actually, the public ire is not against cricket as such but against the cricketers who trifled with their passion. This revulsion is also reflected in the sudden disappearance of cricketers from advertisements on the TV. They were paid ridiculously high amounts to promote everything from fridges to cold drinks, only because they were considered role models. At least some of them commanded higher fees than even film stars, because they were respected as the real action heroes. No longer! They have betrayed the trust of the public and have thus proved far worse than the reel performers. The man on the street was so enamoured of the "battle" in the stadium that he watched it with the same fervour as an actual battle. Nowhere was this rivalry more acute than in the case of the fans in India and Pakistan. It was national honour that was always considered to be at stake whenever these two neighbours happened to meet. So pronounced was their rivalry that border skirmishes would break out whenever Pakistan lost a match. Naturally, there is impotent rage burning in many a heart. The sufferers are not cricketers alone. Television manufacturers too are a worried lot. They have found to their chagrin that the sales of TV sets have nosedived following the "Cronjegate". Who would want to remain glued to the idiot box when he has a lurking suspicion that what he is watching is nothing better than a fake wrestling bout, with groans and grunts thrown in only for effect? This may be a temporary phenomenon but reflects the disenchantment of the millions.
But as they say, every
dark cloud has a silver lining. Cricket had been
flourishing all along at the cost of other games. That is
why the cricketers were recognised in every remote corner
of the country whereas football and hockey stars had
become non-entities even within their own alma mater.
Perhaps their heroic exploits would come to be better
appreciated now. Sponsors may also look at them with a
new respect. Hero-worship is a way of life in the
country. The pedestals vacated by the men in flannel
might very well go to the sweaty boys and girls
practising unrecognised in nondescript tracks and fields.
And the bouts of illness which laid various government
offices low during the cricket season might also become a
thing of the past soon. Amen!
THE WTO OBLIGATIONS
AGRICULTURE has remained a traditional forte of developing economies for a long time. Besides providing employment to a vast majority of the population in the developing world, it has provided food and raw materials for both urban and rural sectors, and sustained to a large extent the export growth in these nations. But, of late, driven by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) obligations, agriculture is being drawn into the vortex of globalisation, which has made the developing economies apprehensive that unless well conceived rationalisations are effected in their agricultural strategy, it may well render their farm production and exports uncompetitive and unviable.
As more and more countries are coming within the fold of the WTO, and as the member-countries are sceptically and cautiously implementing the WTO obligations, the painful pricks of globalisation are being felt with still greater intensity. The WTO conditionalities make it mandatory on the member-countries (now approximately 140) to eliminate or dilute to the rock bottom level the tariff and non-tariff restrictions against the free movement of commodities, factors and technologies. These obligations also profess complete revocation of other quantitative restrictions impending unrestrained global trade such as the Multifibre Agreement (MFA) and various types of anti-dumping measures, particularly those practised by many industrial countries against imports from developing countries.
However, the recent visit of the Union Finance Minister to the USA and Germany has betrayed the hesitation of the affluent countries in softening these quantitative restrictions, particularly against agricultural and primary imports from developing countries, which ironically runs antithetical to the trade liberalising philosophy of the WTO dominated by these very nations. Some of the developed countries have, of course, shown their inclination in implementing the WTO norms by replacing quantitative restrictions with fiscal controls on agricultural and primary imports, but this gesture is just an apology for the stiff WTO directive to give a practical shape to the obligations within a stipulated time-frame. For example, the USA imposed a 244 per cent import duty on sugar, 174 per cent on peanuts and 83 per cent on milk imports in lieu of lifting the quantitative controls on these goods. Similarly, the European Union countries levied an incredibly high tariff rate of 213 per cent on beef import, 168 per cent on wheat and 144 per cent on sheep import. And Canada slapped an exorbitant import tariff of over 300 per cent on butter, eggs and cheese. This is nothing short of contemptuously skirting the implementation of the agreed norms.
Recalcitrant attitudes of some of the countries notwithstanding, when the WTO norms come into full force by 2005, they will tend to render the world trade more free and unrestrained. In the free trade regimes, factors and technology move to those areas where they could maximise their rewards. Likewise countries will sell their products where they can maximise their earnings. Thus production and trade in a free trade situation will be guided by comparative advantages. A country will tend to specialise in the production and export of those goods which it can produce at low costs, which in turn will depend on the relative cost and domestic availability of the required factors.
Thus it is simple to comprehend that in the realm of free trade, the comparative advantage for developing countries like India, with abundant supplies of inexpensive labour and raw material, would lie in the production and export of agricultural and other primary products their traditional stronghold.
But, of late, in order to increase agricultural productivity, we have been importing expensive seeds and inputs, including agro-chemicals and fertilisers. Nevertheless, till the invocation of WTO conditions, these imported agricultural inputs can be retransformed through indigenous adaptive research and development (R&D) to generate cheaper substitutes. But now the WTO obligations, particularly the Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), will not only restrain us from undertaking imitative R&D for a period ranging between 14 and 20 years but also constrain us to lower domestic R&D subsidies in the range of 25-50 per cent compared to the previous level of 75 per cent.
This implies that the HYV seeds and other expensive inputs will have to be repeatedly imported in each crop period, which may make our agriculture and primary production highly cost ineffective and uncompetitive in the world markets, besides creating food insecurity for our poorer masses due to spiralling food prices.
Food prices in most of the developing countries, particularly of wheat, rice, meat, dairy products and sugar, have been estimated to go up by 4-10 per cent by 2003 under the impact of lowering of subsidies and the rising agricultural input prices.
Therefore, in order to offset the rising cost of cultivation and agricultural production based on high-priced imported inputs, the developing countries like India will have to think of an expanded R&D effort so as to generate low-cost appropriate technologies, inputs and infrastructure, so that their comparative advantage in the agricultural and primary producing sectors is perceptibly sustained.
However, in spite of the great importance of the agricultural sector in the Indian economy, till recently the extent of agricultural research has remained disappointingly low.
The proportionate share of the national R&D expenditure devoted to agriculture and allied sectors hovers around 17 per cent, while defence accounts for over 19 per cent. Similarly, in the central sector alone, whereas defence accounted for 26.8 per cent, space-related activity 18.8 per cent and industry 10 per cent, but agriculture and allied activities were limited to only 9.7 per cent of the total R&D spending in 1997.
The apex agricultural research institute in the country, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), which is mainly entrusted with the task of carrying out research for the farm sector, has shown a relatively much lower research expenditure. Whereas in the pre-reform period (1980-90), the R&D expenditure by the ICAR increased from Rs 97.4 crore to Rs 253 crore, as a proportion of the total R&D spending by all Central R&D agencies, the ICAR research expenditure plummeted from over 22 per cent to 11.5 per cent during this period. And in the post-reform phase (1991-97), agricultural research expenditure by the ICAR continued to slide to 9.7 per cent of the total. Even the annual rate of growth of agricultural research expenditure by the ICAR has declined from 9.4 per cent in the pre-reform period to 7.2 per cent in the post-reform phase.
On the other hand, the proportion of R&D expenditure on defence by the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) has gone up from 18 per cent of the total to 30 per cent during the period 1980-1997, and similarly the proportion of the total R&D spending for the space sector by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has also expanded from over 12 per cent to over 22 per cent during the same period.
Not only has agricultural research expenditure remained at its lowest level but there has also been an abysmal dearth of specialist research personnel in this area. For example, during 1992-1997 the total number of research specialists primarily engaged in R&D activity increased from 95.47 thousand to 1.27 lakh. Out of this, 45 per cent had specialised in engineering and technology areas and over 26 per cent in natural sciences. Only 20 per cent had specialised in agricultural sciences. Thus a critical shortage of research personnel in the agricultural science disciplines persists.
The current state of research in the agricultural sector in India is, therefore, absolutely dismal. This does not augur well for the competitive strength of the Indian economy in the emerging milieu of globalisation. If Indias national priorities target at providing cheaper and abundant food to our burgeoning population and aim at strengthening our competitive position in the international market, we must consolidate our conventional specialisation in agriculture and primary producing sectors by scaffolding them with strong R&D programmes.
I read a boxed news item recently that an American comics publisher was on the lookout for suitable Indian themes. I wonder if I could muscle in on the act and suggest a few themes whose Indian-ness cant be improved upon.
Theme No 1: The peaceful, law-abiding citizens of a large Indian city are put to untold hardship and misery by a 96-hour bandh called by a few opportunistic political parties. Hospitals, young children and aged people have to go without milk. Officegoers have to trudge long distances because buses arent plying. Passengers arriving at the railway station and the airport are stranded because taxis are off the road. Even pharmacies selling life-saving drugs have downed their shutters fearing mob violence.
Seeing that innocent people are being held to ransom, Superman swoops down from the skies, his gaiters flying and takes masterful charge of the situation.
He escorts milk delivery vans to their booths. He hops into an autorickshaw and drives like mad to the railway station to rescue stranded passengers. He breaks open the shutters of closed shops with a crowbar and distributes essential commodities to the people.
His mission accomplished, Superman takes off, without even waiting for a thank you, with grateful people looking skyward and crying, Bravo, Superman!
Theme No. 2 : The nations capital is rocked by a sensational robbery in which Rs 82 lakh is abstracted from the strong room of a nationalised bank on the basis of a single, anonymous telephone call purporting to emanate from the household of the countrys highest political officer. A desperate call goes out to Roy Rogers, who accompanied by his faithful dog Trigger, gallops after the bank robbers, single-handedly fighting off desperate attempts to hush up the case. Rogers runs the robbers to the ground and after extracting a false confession absolving the political officer, rides away into the sunset over the Yamuna river.
Theme No. 3: An Indian politician emotionally vows on the floor of the State Legislature that he will retire from public life and retreat into the jungle if charges of corruption and amassing wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income are upheld. Eventually, the charges are proved to the hilt and incredibly enough, the politician keeps to his word and retreats into the jungle where he meets Tarzan and the two go through many adventures.
Theme No 4: The country goes on an unbridled spending spree, hosting one Heads of Government summit after another and sports and cultural extravaganzas. Faced by the imminent possibility of economic collapse, the Indian Finance Minister makes an air dash to Disneyland to meet Uncle Scrooge and arrange for a $ 6 billion loan. Scrooge drives a hard bargain and deducts $ 2 billion as advance interest. The Beagle Boys, however, are keeping a sharp lookout on Scrooges money bin and as the Indian Finance Minister comes out, they grab him and the sack containing the money.
Theme No 5: The nation
is in a turmoil because the Heir Apparent, who has the
support of his mother, is rudely challenged by his
ambitious sister-in-law and little nephew. A desperate
call goes out to Lone Ranger who makes a sudden and
breaking a couple of jaws, restores order and rides away
shouting, Hi-Ho, (Smuggled) Silver Away!
and politics today
DURING last elections I was in Delhi as a part of a Communalism Combat team that was designed to oppose communal forces and support secular parties. It provided me the opportunity to meet various leaders, including Mrs Sonia Gandhi and Dr Manmohan Singh. The latter told me during a personal discussion that economic policies that were initiated during former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Raos (1991-1996) regime were flawed and harmed the country. He was the Finance Minister in Mr Raos ministry. I was happy that the man was able to go back to his socialist roots and realise that policies dictated by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund were not in the interest of the nation. Now he seems to have taken a U-turn again. While Mrs Sonia Gandhi demanded that the government should not withdraw subsidies to the poor and take measures to check the rising prices, Mr Singh supported the governments stand that subsidies must end.
Obviously, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee thanked him profusely. He said: If only subsidies which amount to Rs 1,30,000 crore are saved, each of the three hundred million people below the poverty line could be straightaway provided with Rs 4,000 per month. I am sure everyone of the three hundred million people below the poverty line will touch the feet of Dr Singh if he can persuade Mr Vajpayee to do the same. They wont ask for subsidies any more.
There are, however, no ifs and buts in economics. Many of our problems will be solved if all the 300 million people above the poverty line (the so-called rich and the middle class) pay their income tax honestly, there will be no need for providing subsidies to those who are below the poverty line. But the ground reality is that merely less than 2 per cent of them are listed as income tax payers. Subsidies to the poor would not be needed if unorganised labourers in the country were paid their due wages sanctioned by law. It should be noted that hardly 10 per cent of our working class is organised and the rest is unorganised.
When we talk of subsidies we forget that it is not only the poor alone that are provided with subsidies. Do not industrialists get concessions in export and import duties and are exempted from paying taxes for a number of years if they set up shop in some backward regions? With all the deficiencies and inefficiencies of the public sector, it provides more revenue to the national pool than the so-called efficient private sector.
Newspapers these days are attacking Mrs Sonia Gandhi and highlighting the statements of her critics giving the idea that the Congress as a political party is facing a crisis. This is true but which political party is not facing a crisis? In fact, this is the economic crisis that is reflected as a crisis in various political outfits. The BJP men are talking like Congressmen and vice versa. And the BJP would not have been in power if our secularists like Mr Mulayam Singh and Mr Sharad Pawar had not raised the bogey of Mrs Sonia Gandhis foreign origin. It is they who brought the BJP to power.
The reality is that it is big corporates that control most of the political parties today. Communist parties are an exception but they have become ineffective and will remain so if they do not change their style of functioning and move with the time. It is their functioning and not their ideology that is obsolete.
The hold of the big business over political parties has become more obvious for several reasons. For years they have stopped looking to people for funds and have been depending on the business houses for their political activities. It is they who provide them with money for elections, and those candidates are fielded who are supposed to follow policies dictated by them.
This phenomenon was always there. The Birlas financed Gandhiji and his swadeshi movement. The people were asked to wear handspun khadi while the Birlas ran cotton textile mills themselves. They played this dual role as the Indian capitalist class wanted the support of workers, peasants and the middle class in their fight against British capitalists who were obstructing their growth. This made the Congress not a political party but a political front, a coalition. In todays situation, the Indian capitalist class does not want this coalition and is eager to join hands with multinationals for bigger and greener pastures. It is ready to follow the dictates of the IMF and the World Bank.
It is this reality that compelled the Congress under the leadership of Mr Rao to go in for the so-called economic reforms. More than five million small scale industries have closed down and about a crore people have become unemployed as a result of these policies. This way the Congress was bound to become unpopular and lose peoples support. Big business firms picked up the BJP as an alternative. It is not the business of the government to do business, avers Mr Rahul Bajaj, who echoes the voice of corporates.
Mr V.N. Gadgil wants the Congress to change. He says: Every political party in the world has changed. But the Congress has remained immune to change. Well, what kind of changes he is looking for? He keeps insisting that the average Congressman continues to repeat six principles - democracy, secularism, socialism, self-reliance, planning and non-alignment. These principles are the core of the Nehruvian model of development.
Mr Gadgil as a veteran Congressman should know that the Congress was strong because it followed these principles and became weak when it gave up these principles during Mr Raos regime. When Mr Singh, then Finance Minister, presented the budget in 1991, Mr Jaswant Singh of the BJP lauded it as the end of the Nehruvian phase of the Congress. The BJPs ideologue Mr K.R. Malkani observed that the party had much more in common with people like Mr Rao, Mr Vasant Sathe and Mr N.D Tewari than others. Now Mr Gadgil too can be added to this list. But the more you attack Mrs Sonia Gandhi for the pro-big business stand, stronger she will emerge.
Let the BJP be the party of the rich and let people like Mr Sathe and Mr Gadgil join it if it suits their conscience. Today, the struggle is between peoples power and money power. We all have to make a choice.
Sacrifice can make a difference
Man thinks. He creates. From the primitive to the modern is the story of man's progress. He has reached the Moon and Mars, perfected weapons systems. He commands all the creature comforts. He has reached the pinnacle of glory. Yet, man is not happy. He is not at peace, nor even secure. Why?
Man has improved everything, not himself. He reasons, but he is not reasonable. He is still selfish, grabs wealth, seeks pleasure, wishes to wield power, and makes bargains only for his own good, not for that of his neighbour. Avarice and greed have their sway on him. He loves but only himself, he worries for his own future only, and not for that of a fellow being. Today, man is his own counterfeit. He needs to excel himself, to elevate his body, mind and soul.
How? By acquiring more wealth? Power? Weapons? No! Man has all these. He must learn to sacrifice, to subordinate his own good to that of his less fortunate brethren, to make his own desires subservient to the needs of the needy, to offer a part of what he has, to God, to a deity, to give up something for a loved one, also for the sake of a fellow being, even by way of thanksgiving to the Lord as an atonement, as a gesture of goodwill.
Sacrifice is the highest rule of grace. It is sacred. The holy scriptures recognise it. Sages have said so. Man must recognise it for his own salvation.
In the Manusmriti, it is "recommended that by offerings ... on the alter of ... fire, the Sun god is pleased. ... He properly collects water from the sea, and thus sufficient clouds collect on the horizon and rains fall... there is sufficient production of grain for men and all animals, and thus there is energy in the living being for progressive activity."
In the Bhagavadgita, the Lord says: "Yajnarthat karmano nyatra loko yam karmabandhanah" Perform sacrifices to get rid of... even unintentional crimes, which we are apt to commit. By doing so, one shall be freed from all kinds of sins. Otherwise, one has to undergo all tribulations.
In the treatise on Srimad-Bhagavatam, it has been observed that for the devotees there is no need for performance of the prescribed sacrifices because the very life of the devotee is a symbol of sacrifice. But persons who are engaged in furtive activities for sense enjoyment must perform the prescribed sacrifices because that is the only means to get free from the reaction of all sins... Sacrifice is the means for counteracting such accumulated sins. The gods are pleased when ... sacrifices are performed."
Jesus Christ made the supreme sacrifice. He offered his life on the cross, for cleansing all sin-stained souls, for the good of man and his kind. In his life, he is an example showing us how to live; in his death, he is sacrifice in his resurrection, a conqueror; in his ascension, a king; in his intercession, a high priest, worshiped by all.
By sacrifice we can make our lives sublime. There is a grandeur in giving, a quiet dignity in extending a helping hand to a fellow being, an everlasting and divine pleasure in sharing. The hand that gives is greater than the one that takes. If we give, we get. When we scatter, we gather. He who sows shall reap.
Sacrifice is necessary for the good of the individual and society, for the salvation of man and mankind. He, who only takes, never lives. He, who gives, never dies; he lives in the hearts of people, in the minds of men.
The mother is seen as God's image, as "nature's loving proxy." Why? Because she carries a fount of deep, strong, deathless love within her heart. She gives all that she has, her blood and body, to her baby. She shares, sacrifices, gives everything. The parents sacrifice for the love of their progeny, the soldiers for the love of the country. And they all live even after their death.
Fire purifies the ore, gives us bright steel. Sacrifice improves man, refines him, purifies him, lifts him, up, raises him, elevates and exalts him, in dignity and in honour. It converts the ordinary man into a human being of higher esteem, of a greater worth. We raise monuments in the memory of men who sacrifice, of soldiers who die in action, who shed their blood so that we may live. Others merely come and go. They die unsung and unknown.
The spirit of sacrifice makes man lofty in concept and expression, grand and exalted in thought, elevated in character. It raises his spiritual, intellectual and moral worth. It inspires awe in the minds of others, uplifts emotion. It lends an elevated beauty, nobility, grandeur and solemnity to even an ordinary mortal, raises him to a higher level, and makes life sublime.
We should sacrifice, willingly. for others. We should do good, to everyone, in all ways, at all times, with all sincerity, without even a thought of earning gratitude or reward. This would give an inner satisfaction, a unique pleasure. The good shall do well, to all.
Life is for giving. Life is for forgiving. These are the virtues that make life sublime. And in the process, man shall leave behind a monument that the storms of time can never destroy.
Indian healer in Johannesburg
An Indian resident of Lenasia near Johannesburg is drawing crowds of people to her home everyday, hoping to be cured of all kinds of afflictions, physical and mental.
Roshan Carrim claims that a combination of four inexpensive, simple and readily available products, if combined with the power of positive thinking, can cure all physical and mental ailments and many people who have been assisted by her testify to this.
The idea came to me about eight years ago while I was saying my prayers. These ingredients rose water, honey, rough salt and olive oil give you balance in the body, without which you pick up diseases, she said. Depressed people say they receive such a boost from this water that they do not have to take anti-depressants anymore.
Carrim, who helps both Muslim and non-Muslim people, gets them to either write or talk to her and then determines from this and through touching them with her hands what is ailing them. Letters from those who have been assisted bear testimony to her having helped with such diverse issues as marital problems, stress, heart disease and drug abuse.
But it is not just the four ingredients that achieve this, according to Carrim. She also offers special prayers for them first. You have to revive the power which is dormant in these ingredients first, she said. I do this by touching them and reciting some prayers, sending positive energy through them.
Seeing up to 20 people a day for half an hour each, Carrim expects a fee for her service, except for pensioners and the needy, and shuns sceptics by saying that this is her way of making a living, although she does not want to make a lot of money out of it.
She said her husband and four children have all used her advice on positive energy to improve their lives, including one daughter who was told by her doctors that she would not walk again after a spine operation, but is already on her way there with her mothers help.
She also plans to write to renowned singer Celine Dion whose husband is believed to be ill. I want to tell her with confidence that I can help her husband with the cancer that he has, said Carrim, who describes herself as a spiritual, but not necessarily religious person.
Make of yourself a light. Rely upon yourself: do not depend upon anyone else. Make my teachings your light. Rely upon them: do not depend upon any other teaching.... After my death, the Dharma shall be your teacher. Follow the Dharma and you will be true to me.
The Last Teaching of the Buddha, Digha Nikaya 16, Mahaparinibbanasutta
Thus spake God unto me:
I have cherished thee as My son
And ordained thee to spread the Faith.
Go and extend true religion throughout the world
And divert the people from the evil paths.
I made obeisance with folded hands
I bowed my head, and I spake thus meekly:
Thy religion, O Lord shall prevail the world
When Thou vouchsafest Thine help in its prevailing!
Guru Gobind Singh, Bachitra Natak, chapter 6, 29-30.
This whole world by my illusive force is created,
With all soul-forms inanimate, animated;
Dear to me are all; they exist by my pleasure;
But of them all mankind is my dearest treasure;...
But dearest of all, he who loves and believes
In me only and faithfully to my way cleaves....
Ramacharitamanasa, Uttar Kanda, chaupai 84
O Son of Man!
Rejoice in the gladness of thine heart, that thou mayest be worthy to see Me and to mirror forth My beauty....
O son of Spirit!
With the joyful tidings of light I hail thee; rejoice. To the court of Holiness, I summon the; abide therein that thou mayest live in peace for evermore.
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