Friday, January 5, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


Technology mission
R Atal Behari Vajpayee's invitation to Indian scientists to take bold and unconventional initiatives for making the country a global leader in the field of applied science and technology is essentially a reiteration of what Jawaharlal Nehru had said as the first Prime Minister of free India. 

Gift for the grabbers
HE Punjab government took three decisions on land grant on Wednesday, one shocking, one half-hearted and the third suspicious Urban land grabbers of five years standing will soon own their precious possession after paying a puny price and no fine.


by T. V. Rajeswar
The year that was and the year to be
HE year 2000 AD was turbulent in many respects. It began with the traumatic legacy of the hijacking of IC 814 flight from Kathmandu to Kandahar in December, 1999. 


High voltage shock
January 4
, 2001
Vajpayee's message
January 3
, 2001
Elected coterie
January 2
, 2001
Agenda for New India
1, 2001
History: When the past talks to the present
December 31, 2000
Sukhoi deal
December 30, 2000
Now, a conclave
December 29, 2000
Red Fort and “red alert”
December 28, 2000
PM’s birthday gift
December 27, 2000
Mounting peace pressure
December 26, 2000
Red Fort breached
December 25, 2000

Importance of Point 5353
HE faux pas committed by the office of the Additional Principal Information Officer Defence on Monday has yet again raked up the controversy over the occupation of the strategically important Point 5353 in the Kargil region of Jammu and Kashmir. 

  • Moderate face

  • Fiery remark


To follow or to lead: that’s the question
by M.S.N. Menon
OR a thousand years, India led the world. For the next thousand years, it was on the tow. What is in store for it in the third millennium? For centuries, we lived in a Euro-centric world. We had no say in its ways. Now, we are under American dispensation. Again, we have no choice in how the world is run.


Beware, long flights can kill
APAN’S first survey of “economy class syndrome’’ found that 25 passengers have died of the condition at Tokyo’s Narita airport in the past eight years, a figure likely to put pressure on airlines to tackle the issue.

  • New heart therapies

  • Herbs to cure AIDS?




Technology mission

MR Atal Behari Vajpayee's invitation to Indian scientists to take bold and unconventional initiatives for making the country a global leader in the field of applied science and technology is essentially a reiteration of what Jawaharlal Nehru had said as the first Prime Minister of free India. The fact that the same old mantra for progress has been repeated from public forums by his successors is a tribute to Nehru's vision of the India of tomorrow. The temples he had conceptualised were actually the expression of what in current jargon is called "national sentiments". Even otherwise, Mr Vajpayee did not cover new ground while inaugurating the 88th session of the Indian Science Congress dedicated to the theme of "Food, Nutrition and Environment Security". His speech was essentially a repackaging and recycling of what has already been said on the subject. Technology was the buzz word when Rajiv Gandhi became Prime Minister and Mr Sam Pitroda became the most visible face at science seminars and symposiums. When the youngest Prime Minister of India launched the Ganga Action Plan and the Yamuna Action as part of his commitment to save the environment of the country from further degradation the nation applauded him for his zeal. Several thousand crore of rupees have been sunk in working Rajiv Gandhi's pet projects, but the two holy rivers continue to be as polluted as ever. Ultimately the Supreme Court had to intervene to save the Yamuna, at least in Delhi. Mr Vajpayee has promised more funds for research on and development of new technologies, particularly for the farm sector. But the country is where it is today as far as developments in the farm sector is concerned due to the futuristic policies put into place by C. Subramaniam. Today farmers have become an essential component of vote bank politics, but little has been done for updating farming practices and technologies.

Nehru gave a free hand to Homi Bhabha for developing nuclear technology and Subramaniam found Dr M.S. Swaminathan for ushering in the green revolution. Even V. Kurien who is credited with ushering in the white revolution was a discovery of the India of which Jawaharlal Nehru was the architect. The IITs which have attracted global respect because of their contribution to the IT revolution too were gifted to the nation by the first Prime Minister. It is because of the IITs that Indian students happened to be at the right place at the right time for making a major contribution in the birth of the IT era. The fact of the matter is that no one after Nehru could take time off from playing low grade politics for survival for issues which touch the lives of ordinary mortals. In real terms what Mr Vajpayee did was to complete the formality of inaugurating the Science Congress. However, the fact remains that India is on the threshold of becoming a major player in post-IT era and there should be no doubt that it would make substantial scientific and technological contribution to the global economy. It will be a major player — US President Bill Clinton jocularly keeps complaining about Silicon Valley having been invaded by too many Indians — not because of the policies of the post-Nehru leadership, but in spite of the bureaucratic hurdles it had to reckon with at every stage of development. Mr Vajpayee spoke about the need to remove bureaucratic controls in research and higher education institutions and radical reforms in the structures of governance. He was right. But only he can make the overbearing bureaucrats mend their ways. If he can ensure complete non-interference by the civil servants in projects involving scientific and technological inputs, then the nation as a whole would have nothing to worry about the future of Indian science and technology. In the current situation special emphasis on the growth of appropriate farm technologies would be an added bonus. And the country has an outstanding pool of scientists who can deliver provided the bureaucrats are kept at bay.


Gift for the grabbers

THE Punjab government took three decisions on land grant on Wednesday, one shocking, one half-hearted and the third suspicious Urban land grabbers of five years standing will soon own their precious possession after paying a puny price and no fine. Those who stood in a queue for years and paid a fancy price to PUDA will envy the gifted land robbers and curse themselves for being cowardly and law abiding. The state-owned Electronic Development Corporation will join hands with a Mumbai-based industrial house to set up information technology units on a 30-acre plot. In this case the government is hesitant and unprepared. In other states which are miles ahead in this field these swanky places were designed and built by the authorities and allotted to entrepreneurs. That ensures the optimum utilisation of space and the availability of the very best facilities. The mysterious one is Chief Minister Badal’s on-the-spot decision to convert prized leasehold land to free-hold type in the focal point in Ludhiana. It will be a pucca deal after the visit to the city by the state industries secretary. This hurried decision is sure to raise suspicions of favouritism or worse and newspapers will feed on them in the days to come. Perhaps the conversion charges are yet to be worked out and will be done keeping in mind the high value of real estate and the financial clout of the beneficieries. This is a reversal of the usual procedure which is to set the rate, collect the money and give the nod to the conversion. Why was prime land leased out in the first place instead of allotting it on a permanent basis? This cries out for explanation and the industries department must do it before the opposition Congress finds it out. (It was perhaps its government which did it!) At a time when the Congress is developing corruption as the main election plank, a little bit of alacrity in clearing the air is in order.

The rewarding of encraochers on urban land and fixing a very low price to acquire ownership rights is stunning. On principle it is totally wrong for the government to condone a serious anti-public act as occupying its own land. There have been 3000 cases but the land involved is 3400 kanal. Those having built a miserable shack on plots of less than five marla are obviously slum-dwellers and must naturally dominate the list. Those living in 10-marla houses must also be sizeable in number. That leaves those who have built mansions on multi-kanal plots. Who are these fat cats, in whose interest this gift scheme has been devised? They should be unmasked and given the new-found competition for scoops among newspapers, they will be unmasked. To allow them to get away by paying half the market rate is unbelievable. In Delhi Urban Development Minister Jagmohan ordered the pulling down of a plush apartment building belonging to influential persons and threatens to punish those who have significantly changed the plan of DDA flats. Sainik farms belonging to the cream of society have been under attack. Launching the bulldozer is not a deterrent nor is it prudent in these days of an acute housing shortage. Surely the government can recover the full price and impose a hefty fine and if the owner is unable or unwilling to pay, the local authorities can auction the property and augment their resources. This is particularly so in these days of a financial crunch. Revenue written off is revenue lost and the days are long past when the government in the richest state could dole out money and favour at the whim of big and small leaders. The situation may not be irretrievable. Some public-spirited men might approach the High Court with a public interest litigation and stop the owners of palaces from enjoying the fruits of ill-gotten land. On the face of it and at first look, the PIL will be a sure winner.


The year that was and the year to be
by T. V. Rajeswar

THE year 2000 AD was turbulent in many respects. It began with the traumatic legacy of the hijacking of IC 814 flight from Kathmandu to Kandahar in December, 1999. The militants were released and handed over at Kandahar on December 31, 1999, in exchange for the unfortunate passenger -hostages of the doomed flight. There was a raging debate over the ifs and buts of the episode, why the aircraft which landed briefly at Amritsar was not disabled or prevented from taking off and so on. But what eventually came out as an irrefutable fact was that there was no decision-making authority who could have acted promptly to prevent the aircraft from taking off from Amritsar. Subsequently, however, a lot of exercise was done for tightening security at the various domestic and international airports but time alone will tell how effective they are.

If 2000 began with this unfortunate event, it ended with some daredevil attacks by Lashkar-e-Toiba on the Corps Headquarters in Srinagar and the Red Fort itself on December 22. Subsequent claims by Delhi Police that they had slain one of the militants and arrested a few others have been met with disbelief. There is, however, no doubt that an important breakthrough has come about which would throw light on the plans of desperate militants to enact similar attacks in the capital.

The most important political event of the year 2000 was the unilateral ceasefire announced by Prime Minister Vajpayee in Kashmir during the month of Ramzan. This announcement on November 19 was universally welcomed and Pakistan had to respond with the announcement that its forces on the LoC would observe maximum restraint. Talks with the Hurriyat and militant elements are due to begin soon. Here come the difficult questions: What is the agenda for the discussions? Second, would the National Conference and representatives from Jammu and Ladakh be invited or it would be confined only to the representatives from Kashmir valley, at least to begin with? And who will represent the Government of India at the negotiations?

Indeed, the forthcoming discussions with the Hurriyat and other elements from J & K are going to be very tricky. The bilateral nature of the Kashmir dispute and that India and Pakistan would eventually find a solution for it had been formally agreed to from the days of Shimla Convention of 1972. The USA and the Western democracies as well as Pakistan have repeatedly said that any settlement of the Kashmir issue would take into account the wishes of the people of Kashmir. If this proposition is taken seriously it would mean that certain specific proposals have to be put forth during the meeting. What are they likely to be? The Track-II functionaries, both of India and Pakistan, not to speak of the US-based Farooq Kathwari and Mansoor Ejaz, have all been putting forth various propositions. Would they figure at some stage during the discussions?

The National Conference has its own axe to grind. The committee appointed by the party on autonomy had submitted certain important proposals which were adopted by the J & K Assembly at the instance of Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah. In effect, this resolution asked for restoration of the 1953 agreement between India and Kashmir. These proposals of the National Conference Autonomy Committee were rejected by the NDA Cabinet last year. Technically, it is possible to have a state function within the Indian Union after having ceded powers to the Centre only to control and legislate upon the subjects of defence, foreign relations and communications. The Constitution could be amended to the effect even as Article 370 was incorporated in 1952. Would this be ever possible?

The controversy regarding Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s statement on the construction of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya was a very important political statement. His suggestion that the Ayodhya dispute could be resolved either by the courts giving a verdict in favour of Ram temple at the disputed site or the Hindus and Muslims talking over and arriving at a decision was like saying ‘‘head I win, tail you lose’’. Predictably there was an uproar not only amongst the opposition parties but within the NDA itself. Much has been written about the reasons why Vajpayee made such a calculated statement even at the cost of his carefully cultivated image of a liberal beyond the basis of the Sangh Parivar politics. Most are agreed that it was timed to win the Hindu vote in UP in the assembly elections in early 2001 and secondly it was meant to appease the Sangh Parivar, which was becoming increasingly restive over Vajpayee’s economic reforms and his initiative on the Kashmir issue. The NDA partners like Chandrababu Naidu and Mamata Banerjee registered their protests but preferred to let the matter rest, after the NDA formally passed a resolution that the construction of the temple would be as per the decision of the courts.

The Kumbh mela at Allahabad on January 19-21, 2001, would witness the assemblage of Sadhu Sammelan when some mementous decisions are expected, including the one on construction of the Ram Temple. The sadhus have also announced their intention to march to Parliament during the Budget session to register their demands. It is earnestly hoped that wisdom would prevail and there would be no developments which might disturb the communal peace. The ISI is well entrenched throughout the country and they have to only lit the spark for a widespread communal holocaust, not to speak of events like the March, 1993, Bombay riots.

The economic scene during the year 2000 was not satisfactory, what with the falling figures of industrial production and the rising inflation. The liberalisation of imports under the WTO Protocol added to the distress of small scale manufacturers throughout the country. There are extensive reports of Chinese goods flooding the markets throughout the country. From April, 2001, the WTO Protocol will open the Indian market for many more foreign goods which will flow into the country. The government has to rise to the occasion and meet the situation effectively before it goes out of control.

On the farm front, the year 2000 witnessed distress sale of foodgrains by farmers even below the minimum prices fixed by the government because of the lethargic action of the Food Corporation of India. Punjab and Haryana hustled the Centre into buying their surplus grains by spending over Rs 600 crore. Mr Chandrababu Naidu, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and leader of the largest constituent of the NDA, was outraged over the lack of response from the Centre to alleviate the distress of AP farmers. This led to the TDP MPs shouting slogans outside Parliament as well as inside the House. Eventually, the Centre agreed to uplift all surplus foodgrains from AP.

It was strange that the Centre should not have in place a policy to deal with the output of foodgrains from various states even though the approximate figures are known in advance. In year 2001 a bumper crop is expected in Punjab and Haryana, AP etc, and hopefully the Centre would have a well-laid procurement policy in time to deal with the situation.

The other highlight during the year 2000 was the visit of President Clinton in March which was a landmark in Indo-American relations. The visit of Russian President Putin in October was another major event in international relations. Some marginal progress was also made in Sino-Indian relations after the visit of the Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan in July followed by exchange of detailed maps for a sector of Sino-Indian border.

The year 2000 also witnessed India’s population crossing the 100-crore mark. At the present lethargic manner in dealing with the population growth, it is entirely possible that India may overtake China as the country with the largest population well before the present century is out.

The year 2001 will witness assembly elections for the States of UP, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kerala and the UT of Pondicherry. The outcome in UP is very important particularly since the BJP did not come out well in the local body elections. The electoral outcome is bound to have an impact on the fortunes of the NDA at the Centre.

— The writer is a former Governor of West Bengal and Sikkim.


Importance of Point 5353

THE faux pas committed by the office of the Additional Principal Information Officer (PIO) Defence on Monday has yet again raked up the controversy over the occupation of the strategically important Point 5353 in the Kargil region of Jammu and Kashmir. A statement issued by the Additional PIO (Defence) had indicated that Point 5353 was probably back in Indian possession. The statement quoted the Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, as saying that during his latest visit on New Year’s day he had himself stood on the peak and got photographed.

‘‘This should end the unfortunate controversy about this peak once and for all,’’ the Defence Minister is believed to have asserted. He was addressing the jawans in the inhospitable snowclad mountains with temperatures of minus 25 degrees Celius during the day in the Dras and Kargil region. However, on Tuesday the Defence Ministry retracted its statement by issuing a clarification that the Defence Minister had never visited Point 5353 nor had he made a statement that this peak was in Indian occupation. It was a mistake committed by the Press Information Bureau (Defence Wing).

Interestingly, this is not the first time that the Defence Ministry had goofed things up on the highly touchy Point 5353. In August last year the Army had to face uncomfortable questions about the peak which continues to remain in Pakistani possession. That was the first time it was acknowledged that not all the heights on the Indian side of the LoC were clear of Pakistani occupation. After the Kargil conflict the Army had claimed that all the peaks in the region were in Indian hands. However, Point 5353 is about 300 to 500 metres within the Indian side of the LoC.

Subsequently, the Army had made attempts to clear the air about Point 5353 and had held special but selective briefings for journalists of the so called National press. Army headquarters issued a clarification on August 12 to The Tribune in which it observed: ‘‘In accordance with the agreement, the Line of Control passes through Point 5353. This point was never under our occupation either before or after Operation Vijay.’’ Further, it noted that such dominating heights along the LoC are in possession of both sides. Point 5245, immediately to the East of Point 5353, is in India’s possession and is just one of many such points. Only those heights and features along the Line of Control are held by both sides which are defensible tactically and also maintainable from their respective sides.

Moderate face

FOLLOWING his unambiguous statements over the ongoing ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir, Mr Abdul Ghani Lone has emerged as the most prominent moderate face in the 23-party All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC). Mr Lone, who is an executive member of the APHC, did some plainspeaking in Pakistan where he had gone recently in connection with the marriage of his son. His stand on the pre-eminence of the APHC in finding any political solution to the vexed Kashmir problem has inevitably put him at loggerheads with hardliners who interpreted his statement as a signal to militants, especially the foreign groups, to keep off the proposed political process aimed at finding a lasting solution to the Kashmir tangle.

Mr Lone has said that the timing and nature of the political process should be best left to the APHC and the militant groups should not interfere in the process. He was among the first Hurriyat leaders to react positively to the unilateral ceasefire coinciding with Ramzan announced by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. Mr Lone, who heads the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference, caused a flutter on Monday when he told the working committee meeting of his party that he would not be part of any Hurriyat delegation that proposes to hold negotiations with militant groups in Pakistan. Addressing his party’s working committee meeting, an emotional Mr Lone regretted that certain elements were hell-bent on defaming him on the ground of Islam being in danger.

Maintaining that he had deliberately kept quiet about the tirade against him after returning from Pakistan, Mr Lone has been advocating freedom of expression. His statements have not gone down well with the hardliners within the APHC who have accused him of adopting a strong line against foreign militants. In sharp contrast to Mr Lone, Senior Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, known for his pro-Pak views, has been quoted as saying that jehad in Kashmir must continue and the Hurriyat should not persuade Pakistan-based militant groups to give up insurgency. After the ceasefire announced by Mr Vajpayee, APHC has been insisting that its leaders be allowed to travel to Pakistan to talk to militant leaders over the peace initiative. The Central Government has indicated that it was not averse to the idea of APHC leaders travelling to Pakistan.

Fiery remark

BJP’s Rajya Sabha member K.R. Malkani’s remarks that the country’s first Prime Minister and builder of modern India Jawaharlal Nehru should have accepted Nepal’s accession to India during King Tribhuvan’s time created another major storm in the relations between the two countries. Coming as it did close on the heels of the Bollywood sensation Hrithik Roshan’s non-existent disparaging remarks against Nepal and the people of that country, Mr Malkani sent the Atal Behari Vajpayee government into a whirl not knowing what hit them. The BJP brass had also not bargained that a senior leader in its pack well versed in diplomatic niceties would touch a hornet’s nest in the context of Indo-Nepal ties which has witnessed some queer ups and downs in the last two decades.

This highpitched drama occurred on Sunday which happened to be New Year’s eve with the government and just about everyone in the national capital in a holiday mood. What the mandarins in the imposing South Block housing the high profile Ministry of External Affairs found disconcerting was that a senior BJP ideologue should have added fuel to the intense anti-India tirade in the Himalayan Kingdom. The external publicity division of the MEA made frantic calls to newspaper offices about an ‘‘important briefing’’ by spokesperson R.S. Jassal. As anticipated, that briefing was to put the record the straight vis-a-vis Mr Malkani. Mr Jassal drew pointed attention to India’s ‘‘long standing, close and friendly relations with Nepal and the Nepalese people based on the fullest respect for each other’s sovereignty and national aspirations.’’ The BJP also wasted no time in saying categorically that Mr Malkani’s observations about Nepal were ‘‘unfortunate’’ and in no way reflected the views of the party.

Ambitions apart, diplomacy is a tricky game and not everyone’s cup of tea. In future Mr Malkani might be well advised to think twice before fishing in troubled waters. 


To follow or to lead: that’s the question
by M.S.N. Menon

FOR a thousand years, India led the world. For the next thousand years, it was on the tow. What is in store for it in the third millennium?

For centuries, we lived in a Euro-centric world. We had no say in its ways. Now, we are under American dispensation. Again, we have no choice in how the world is run.

Fifty years ago, Jawaharlal Nehru said that the newly free peoples would not accept this as a fait accompli. He said, they too have visions of their destiny. But what have they achieved? Practically, nothing. The world is as much run by the rich and powerful today as ever before. And the world seems to be ready to accept the Western lead.

But why should the world go the way of go rich and powerful? Is it because they are desperate for the material comforts of the West? Yes and no. It is, first of all, because they lack the love and pride that keep people bound to their native lands.

But these very Indians, who are eager to go abroad, hate the civilisation of the West in which they live. But why? Because they come to know their India better. This was true of even Gandhi and Nehru. What is more, western thinkers themselves have little to speak in favour of it.

Now, this is what is lacking in the native Indian. He knows nothing of other civilisations. And he is equally ignorant of his own. For this we can only blame the educational system imposed on us by the British. It made us ashamed of our past.

And, to our shame and sorrow, the oppressed castes and the minorities have no good word for our past. If India’s past had been great, they say, they had no hand in it.

To add to India’s discomfiture, when the British left, the Communists stepped in. They dominated Indian intellectual life. They scoffed at everything Indian, even its religions. They little knew that the entire Indian civilisation is an adoration of the divine — its music and dance, its painting and sculpture, its art and architecture.

Thus, to be an Indian and that too a proud Indian was and is no easy matter. Hence the need to call up our innate nationalism. There is need to remind ourselves of the uniqueness of India’s civilisation.

It is said that the American civilisation is materialistic and that ours is spiritual. Let me put this in the words of Prof Max Muller, the greatest Vedic scholar. He says of western civilisation: “I do not deny that the manly vigour, the silent endurance, the public spirit and the private virtues of the citizens of European states represent one side — it may be an important side —of the destiny, which man has to fulfil on earth.”

But, there is another side of our nature, and possibly another destiny open to man in his journey through life, he says.

And that destiny belongs to the East, to India in particular. “Was it not, I say, natural there,” he asks, “or, if you like, was it not intended there, that another side of human nature should be developed — not the active, the combative and acquisitive?”

Prof Muller goes on: “After having provided for the small necessities of the body, they thought they had the right, it may be the duty, to look around upon this strange exile, to look inward upon themselves, upward to something not themselves, and to see whether they could not understand a little of the true purport of that mystery which we call life on earth.”

He is not saying that Indians are dreamers. There are dreamers in both India and Europe. And there are fighters in both societies. But each society is known for a predominant characteristic. Western civilisation is activist; Indian is contemplative. Europe explored the world outside man. It had a measure of success. But, as Dr S. Radhakrishnan says: “In spite of scientific advance, man seems to suffer from cultural disintegration.” He was referring to the West.

India explored the world inside man. With what result? On this, this is what Max Muller says: “If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most deeply pondered over the greatest problems of life and has found solutions of some of them, I should point to India.”

The achievements of India and the West are complementary. Neither has a monopoly of truth. There is no case for conflict or antagonism either. It is time the West recognised this. Trying to convert Asia, a Vatican project, in these circumstances, is an act of extreme foolishness. Asia will remain a corrective to the western activist civilisation, whatever the Pope may say.

India will not give up its path or take to the ways of the West. Nor will it give up its own history for the history of the West. To do so is to accept a highly one-sided development of the world. It is the way to a world of crises.

On this, Fitsjof Capra, the famous scientist, says: “This one-sided development (of the West) has reached an alarming stage — a crisis of social, ecological, moral and spiritual dimension.”

Western civilisation is based on materialism. It has put material production at the heart of the human evolution. This was a serious mistake. On this, Gandhiji says: “What mark of civilisation is it to be able to produce a 120-page newspaper in one night, when most of it is either banal or actually vicious and not two columns worth preserving?” We have to put man back at the centre of the human evolution.

Religions are divided into two groups: theistic, which claims a unique revelation (Semitic religions and Shintoism) and the broad philosophic or aesthetic religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Taoism, Confucianism). They have guided the world’s destiny.

Theistic religions, based on faith and dogma, have been overtaken by scientific advance. Thus, Darwin’s theories on evolution have made a mockery of the Genesis. And the theories of Einstein have undid the fundamental belief of the West in a dualistic world, in the conflict of matter and spirit. Dualism, the philosophy of the West for 2000 years, is now rejected. Thus the entire edifice of the Christian outlook, based on the conflict between God and Satan, lies in disarray today.

The mechanistic view of the universe gave rise to the monarchic God, who ruled the world from above by imposing his divine law on it.

In contrast, India believes that the forces of change and motion, light and heat and sound, are inherent in matter. This was proved right when the atom was split in 1945. So the Indian image of the divine is not that of the ruler who directs the world from above, but of a principle — of Atman — that controls everything from within.

With the advent of the quantum and relativity theories — the two basic theories of modern physics — the West had to abandon its view of the world. In spite of these serious flaws in its outlook, the western world insists on leading the rest of the world! The time has come to say nay to this.

Western life is based on competition, therefore on strife, therefore on the survival of the fittest. But, strangely, while the Christian world “congregate” in their churches for collective salvation, they fight for economic salvation alone — individually. Individualism reigns supreme in the economic sphere. Strange that the concept of “congregation” did not mesh with the collective approach of Marxism!

Ethics is at the core of religion. It is the lamp that lights our path. A religion without ethics is no religion at all. But the western world gave up ethics long ago. It has thrown away the lamp and opted to “grope” in the dark. That is what its economic and social policies amount to. More so, its policy of globalisation.

There is a feeling in the world, more so in the West, that life is becoming impossible. Western thinkers have pointed to the “joyless and self-destructive” modern civilisation of the West.

Western civilisation is male dominated. It has favoured individualism to integration, analysis to synthesis, logic to intuition, science to religion, competition to cooperation. It is a one-sided growth.

Today, as we grope about for what should guide us in the 21st century, we should know what India has been after during these long years. It is time we linked up with our roots and claimed a distinct role in the world. 


Beware, long flights can kill

JAPAN’S first survey of “economy class syndrome’’ found that 25 passengers have died of the condition at Tokyo’s Narita airport in the past eight years, a figure likely to put pressure on airlines to tackle the issue.

According to the study released last week by a clinic at Narita airport, 100 to 150 passengers arriving in Tokyo on long-distance flights are treated each year for the problem, believed to be caused by immobility and cramped seating on long flights.

Of the passengers treated for the condition each year, 50 to 60 cases were regarded as serious, said Dr Toshiro Makino, head of the New Tokyo International Airport Clinic.

The long hours in cramped conditions are believed to cause deep-vein thrombosis, or formation of blood clots in the limbs, which can be fatal if the clots circulate into the heart or the lungs.

The syndrome hit the headlines in October after a 28-year-old British bride-to-be collapsed and died at the end of a 20-hour flight home from Australia, where she had watched the Sydney Olympic Games.

Her death prompted a British parliamentary committee to issue a report urging airlines to warn passengers of the risks of developing the potentially fatal blood clots. DRINK WATER, NOT ALCOHOL

While researchers differ on whether long flights increase the risk of blood clot formation, Makino said passengers, whether in economy or first-class, should take precautionary measures such as drinking water to prevent dehydration — one cause of blood clots.

Makino said the 25 deaths reported since his clinic opened in 1992 were not limited to economy class passengers. One was a US airline pilot who collapsed in the cockpit after arriving in Tokyo.

“The syndrome may have become well-known only recently, but it has been around ever since people began flying,’’ Makino said. “It’s wrong to assume that it is limited to economy class passengers,’’ he said.

Many of those who suffered serious cases were overweight passengers and the elderly, he said. The average age of those who died was 64, but one was just 46.

“Aged passengers, overweight passengers and passengers who drink heavily on the plane tend to contract the syndrome, he said. — (Reuters)

New heart therapies

THERE is growing evidence that an insulin-like hormone in the body may protect heart muscle cells from dying. Now, research showing how the hormone does the job may point the way to new therapies for heart disease.

In animal and human studies, scientists have linked insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-1) to heart muscle damage. For example, heart attack patients with low levels of circulating IGF-1 have been found to have a poorer prognosis than patients with higher levels of the hormone. Now scientists are closer to understanding how IGF-1 bestows its benefits.

This understanding could lead to new treatments for heart disease, including gene therapy, Dr Ping Wang told Reuters Health. Using cell cultures, Wang’s team was able to follow the specific chemical interactions that allow IGF-1 to stop heart muscle cells from “committing suicide,’’ a natural process that takes place when cells are damaged. Specifically, the researchers identified an important receptor on the surface of heart cells that is responsible for the “suicide-preventing’’ actions of IGF-1. The researchers are “charting a map’’ of the process that will hopefully point the way to IGF-1-based therapies for heart disease.

While it is far too early to tell whether IGF-1 will become the basis for heart disease treatments, Wang said it may be possible to infuse heart disease patients with the hormone or to use gene therapy to manipulate IGF-1 actions in the body. 
— (Reuters)

Herbs to cure AIDS?

AN Indo-Japanese study has established Cinnamomum Cassia as the most effective among the 69 Indian medicinal plants screened for its effectiveness against HIV-1 and 2 — the viruses that cause the deadly AIDS.

While C cassia was the best against HIV-1, the plant Cardiospennum helicacabum has been found to be the most effective against HIV-2.

The study of Indian plants for their possible use in treating AIDS was carried out jointly by scientists of Annamalai University in Tamil Nadu, Kagoshima University and Tokyo University school of medicine in Japan.

According to results published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research, 16 of the 69 plants showed anti-HIV activity in test tube studies and four of them were effective against both strains of HIV.

Their selectivity index — a measure of their antiviral activity — ranged from 1.39 in the root of Glycyrrhiza glabra to 6.3 in the bark of C cassia, the report said. According to its authors, it provides a rationale for further studies to isolate the active principles and their pharmacological devaluation. — (PTI)



O God keep away from me

That wealth which bring about my fall, And results in my defame,

which entangles me from all sides,

And withers me like a parasitic plant

That withers away the supporting tree;

O Supreme Lord of Wealth

Thy hands are golden,

Bless me with that wealth which gives peace and joy.

—Atharva Veda, 7.115.2


Riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.

—The Holy Bible, Proverbs, 23:5


He is rich who hath enough to be charitable.

—Sir Thomas Browne, Religion Medici, 2


Without the rich heart, wealth is an ugly beggar.

— Ralph W Emerson, Essays: Second Series, Manners


Superfluous wealth can buy superfluities only.

—Henry David Thoreau, Walden, conclusion


Riches serve a wise man but command a fool.

—An English proverb


The ass loaded with gold still eats thistles.

—A German proverb


Many a man has found the acquisition of wealth only a change not an end of miseries.

—Seneca, Letters to Lucilious


We have produced a world of contented bodies and discontented minds.

—A.C. Powell, Keep the Faith, Baby,
"The temptations of modernity”


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