Monday, February 5, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


A delayed decision
report card on the government’s — central and the state — response to the Gujarat earthquake will read something like this. It is the ninth day after the havoc and an all-party meeting decides to set up a national disaster management committee. 

Musharraf scores a point
AKISTAN Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf caused a political coup of sorts by ringing up Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee on Friday. The ostensible objective was to convey through the Prime Minister to the people of Gujarat his country’s sympathy and promise of help to the victims of the earthquake.


Lessons from disaster
February 4
, 2001
Timid tremor tax
February 3
, 2001
A budget for disaster
February 2
, 2001
Disaster mismanagement
February 1
, 2001
Earthquake economics
January 31
, 2001
The world responds
January 30
, 2001
Mother earth as killer
January 29
, 2001
The Kumbh mela — a tradition that lasts
January 28
, 2001
Wheat man’s burden
January 26
, 2001



By Darshan Singh Maini
Liberalisation and culture
The new aristocracy in India
INCE the “globalisation” wave in South Asian countries, which reached India a decade ago with Dr Manmohan Singh as its “high priest”, we have seen a rapid rise of what may loosely be styled as “the new aristocracy”. 


Defence strategy based on Vedas
By Rakesh Datta
NDIA is a land of many virtues. It was more so during ancient times when India had contributed distinctly to philosophy, art, culture, literature, politics, medicine and defence. Though big strides in all such areas could have catapulted the country to enormous heights, India remains merely a country of a 100 crore people.


By Anupam Gupta
Controversial, not consultation, papers
T is President K.R. Narayanan versus the Constitution Review Commission once again. And no matter how hard the Commission’s head, Mr Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah, might try to explain away the dark intentions of some of his colleagues on the panel, the presidential arrowhead has struck the bull’s eye.


Unhealthy gums cause lung disease
HE simple act of brushing and flossing your teeth may help keep lung ailments in check, a new study reports. Researchers at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, believe that as gums recede due to poor oral health, respiratory illnesses like bronchitis and emphysema worsen.

  • Sanctioned rape

  • Peppermint oil for bowel pain




A delayed decision

A report card on the government’s — central and the state — response to the Gujarat earthquake will read something like this. It is the ninth day after the havoc and an all-party meeting decides to set up a national disaster management committee. Decides, that is and the actual panel may take a few more days to materialise. There are odd suggestions but very little of a carefully thought-out action plan. Even by Saturday relief material blocking the slightly damaged Bhuj runway has not been lifted. There are nearly a lakh of tents, the most sought after thing after food. The district administration has a dozen excuses. It has run out of petrol and the collector has decided to issue these temporary shelters to a group of victims and not to individuals. Often one should carry a letter from some bigwig before he can claim one. Medicines have piled up at wrong places. Barring Bhuj and one or two towns, thousands of villages are yet to get food or drinking water. There are thousands and thousands of blankets but not with the shivering people forced to spend the night in the open. A German relief team is bitter that there is no one to guide it to where it can be useful. Another team from Japan spent two precious days in the crisis management group (CMG) office in New Delhi before getting any guidance. A detailed newspaper report talks of utter confusion in the room in Krishi Bhavan, headquarters of the Agriculture Ministry. What has this Ministry to do with earthquake relief? Simple. In this country a crisis at the state level is synonymous with flood and it is an old belief that the Ministry has something to do with floods. From the way it is functioning, it is clear that the group does not have many who can cope with the earthquake aftermath. Some bright officer hired two heavy earthmoving machines and rushed them to Delhi airport. The Air Force IL-76 cannot airlift them since its cargo hatch is not wide enough to load them. The report says the machines are still at the airport.

One Gujarat Minister claims that relief supplies valued at more than Rs 3800 crore have reached the state. Yet field reports talk of an acute shortage of every item at all places. This can only be because of lack of coordination. And this after nearly 10 days is shocking. Disaster management is not about raising funds. It is about assessing what material or equipment is needed where and locating and rushing it there with the required manpower. This is not obviously happening. This is true of the Centre and the state. Frustrated officials have started the blame game; the Bhuj Collector (Deputy Commissioner in this part of the country) accused the armed forces of siphoning off costly material. He promptly earned a transfer to an unimportant post. Obviously, the stress in handling the crisis is proving to be too much. Something of this is happening in New Delhi too. The all-party meeting was fixed a few days back and it was known that a consensus is there for the asking. The government should have come prepared with schemes and sought the cooperation of everyone. There are only two political parties in that state, and the Congress has not so far been asked to share the burden of rushing succour to the people. It would have been a very meaningful gesture if the Prime Minister had asked Mrs Sonia Gandhi to accompany him to assess the damage. Perhaps she pre-empted it by rushing there first. The government has generated unwanted heartburn by amending the rules of the local areas development scheme. It is under this that every member of Parliament every year receives Rs 2 crore for development work in his constituency. Until now an MP can divert only Rs 10 lakh outside his constituency and must spend the rest there. Last week, the government allowed for the first time every MP to transfer the entire Rs 2 crore outside his/her constituency. The meaning is clear. The government wants the whole of Rs 1790 crore for Gujarat relief. MPs from Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa see an unacceptable BJP tilt in this. When their states were devastated by floods and a super cyclone, there was no such emergency measure. Now it will look bad if any MP were to insist on going by the old rule since Gujarat has moved the entire nation. Rescue of the earthquake victims is a noble task, and let not ignoble thoughts or actions tarnish it.


Musharraf scores a point

PAKISTAN Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf caused a political coup of sorts by ringing up Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee on Friday. The ostensible objective was to convey through the Prime Minister to the people of Gujarat his country’s sympathy and promise of help to the victims of the earthquake. But the political advantage he derived out of the five-minute conversation should be measured against the immense global goodwill which Mr Vajpayee had earned for India through the “ceasefire diplomacy” in Kashmir. It would be foolhardy to deny General Musharraf the diplomatic point which the Gujarat tragedy has helped him earn. Of course, the bumbling Indian bureaucracy made a normal humanitarian gesture from Pakistan look like a potential earthquake. Had the offer of aid for the Gujarat victims, by a cash-strapped Pakistan, been accepted by the high profile babus in South Block with the grace associated with such gestures, General Musharraf would at least have been denied the opportunity to convert it into an embarrassing controversy. Instead, some full-of-himself bureaucrat reportedly refused the offer of help, mistakenly believing that it would earn him a nod of approval from the Prime Minister. The thoughtless Indian response provided General Musharraf the perfect opening to earn some brownie points, for the spurned humanitarian gesture, from the global community. He promptly informed the media that “I did offer help but their [India’s] response was a little unfortunate. They said that they had plenty at home. They thanked us”. The General may have given the unhappy episode a deliberate twist to convey to the global community the impression that India was refusing help from Islamic Pakistan. Of course, such an impression would have been the exact opposite of the emerging reality from the debris of quake-devastated region. The tragedy has at least had the welcome effect of bringing out the best of human values among members of different religious denominations in the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled state.

The countless tales of Muslims helping Hindus, and vice versa, could very easily be turned into the subject of a bestseller. It is amazing and heart-warming that the devastation made members of the two communities forget the communal tensions which some unhappy incidents in the recent past had created. And similar must have been the impulse of the people of Pakistan which was reflected in the official decision to send humanitarian aid to the devastated region in Gujarat. The mishandling of the offer was unfortunate. Instead of blaming the media for “causing confusion” the Prime Minister should give a bit of his mind to the bureaucrats who thought they would earn his respect by sticking to the post-Kargil stand of keeping diplomatic ties with Pakistan to the bare minimum. It was the result of this policy that a scheduled cricket tour of Pakistan was cancelled. Now the General is having the last laugh. He has managed a full five minutes of conversation with Mr Vajpayee, the first by him since he toppled Mr Nawaz Sharif in a bloodless coup in October, 1999. Making India regret having refused help from Pakistan was like a professional boxer softening up the rival. The announcement that India and Pakistan will play in a fund-raising one-day series, along with Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, from February 8 is the knock-out punch. General Musharraf deserves full marks for making skilful use of the Gujarat tragedy to show his proficiency in global diplomacy as also for forcing India to soften its post-Kargil stand towards Pakistan. Be that as it may, as far as the people of the two countries are concerned it matters little whether it is the Lahore Process or General Musharraf’s five-minute conversation on phone with Mr Vajpayee which results in the resumption of dialogue between the two sides. Both Mr Vajpayee and General Musharraf should strive to earn the gratitude of the entire world by gifting lasting peace to the people of the sub-continent. All they need to do is rise above petty prejudices to give the unfolding Gujarat tragedy an unexpected but historically memorable ending.


Liberalisation and culture
The new aristocracy in India
By Darshan Singh Maini

SINCE the “globalisation” wave in South Asian countries, which reached India a decade ago with Dr Manmohan Singh as its “high priest”, we have seen a rapid rise of what may loosely be styled as “the new aristocracy”. The new “nawabs” and “maharajas” and their “courts and courtiers” have become such a visible presence in all aspects of our social life as to raise questions of all sorts about the concepts of culture and the elites. And it’s this issue which I wish to examine in some detail drawing, in passing, upon sociological thought, contemporary and classical literatures, etc.

It reminds me, though, of the last decade of the 19th century which Harold Nicholson in his literary volume of that name called “The Naughty Nineties” — the decade in English letters associated with the decadent poets and writers such as the witty Oscar Wilde and other aesthetes. The decade that launched “the new aristocracy” may then be remembered as “the notorious nineties”. Notorious for several reasons, though we’re concerned here with those neo-rich who have made millions and millions less through their native endowments or skills than through the blind, maverick forces of the market economy. Windfall fortunes, if you like, in most cases.

In about a period which in normal circumstances could scarcely yield more than the good things of life, palaces, stately mansions, fabulous marriages, princely resorts, foreign jaunts and luxury cruisers, exclusive millionaire clubs and golf-courses and, indeed, a whole lot of “facilities” catering to their erotic needs and hedonistic pursuits have sprung up — a phenomenal growth, or shall we say, a phenomenal harvest for about 5 per cent of this hugely over-populated country of starving, struggling common men and women! And, of course, much of this “moolah”, as the Americans call it, is black money, garnered through sleeze, bribes, hawala and Swiss bank manipulations, though, here and there, one does see an entrepreneur who has a clean and creditable record, thanks to some vision that possesses him — of enriching the world and serving the country and the community, of making millions to create magnanimities of the spirit.

What set me thinking on this subject was the increasing hold of a Western client, ersatz culture, on the imagination of the Indian youth — our “guys” and “gals” — in not only metropolitan cities but also in small towns and villages grown affluent on agricultural income, foreign remittances (as in Punjab), etc. It’s different in quality or character from the colonial culture which had been the British legacy in this country. It was about the generations that came of age at the end of the colonial rule (in India, in African countries, in the West Indies, etc.) that V.S. Naipaul wrote his acidic, biting satires in the form of fiction and travelogues, and called the educated classes “mimic men”, a charge partially true, though coloured by his own distressing Anglophilia.

Today’s youth are a creation of the so-called “globalisation” virus or itch, and its mimickry has certain aspects which offend not only our tastes and sensibilities but also do dirt upon our received, cherished and preserved values in a changing word. To be sure, there are some highly distressing and offensive sides of our cultural-sociological heritage, and there is the need to modernise our ways and outlook. That’s to say, we have to imbibe the culture of that Eternal India which, in some essential aspects, still remains the toast of Western writers and thinkers. The culture of “the notorious nineties” tends to throw up chiefly a culture of vulgarity, if not obscenity, in certain cases. And this class of the modern youth now constitutes the new elites, our mimic “aristocracy”.

I suppose, it becomes important at this point of four argument to touch briefly upon the concepts of culture and the elites. Culture, as we know, is a product of slow, cultivated labour, and its flowering depends upon the kind of values a society has evolved over a long period of time. Its excellence, enduring power and uniqueness indicate the state of civilisation in question. And the qualities associated with culture are wide in their reach, and refined in their texture. Thus, a certain degree of fineness, beauty and concerned engagement in human relations would be the distinctive mark of true cultures. Any number of books and essays on the subject projecting different and even clashing views are available, but the culture of four conception, without question, posits the attributes of refinement and humanist virtues. The well-known definition of culture by Matthew Arnold comprehends “sweetness and light” — a “poetry” of thought, act and outlook. And within this broad spectrum, individual cultures of communities, of peoples, of countries and nations create their own unique or distinctive signs, codes and characteristics. Their geography, history and many another things help evolve a Sui Generis nature. And that kind of culture is the true index of their moral, aesthetic and spiritual growth.

As it happens, culture has somehow come to be associated with societies that have in the process of development created their “aristocracy” or elites who, a thin top layer of society, have gained the privileges of power, wealth, position, “taste” and “form”. This really is, at bottom, a flawed if not false notion, when seen in the light of the larger human concerns we have in mind. And yet, certain privileges are a natural product, and therefore, creative in essence.

In fact, it’s argued by sociologists that the elites are bound to appear in any society, and that a certain degree of hierarchy is inevitable. And when such elites begin to degenerate like other organisms, they are replaced by the new ones. Pareto’s famous theory of “the rotation of elites” basically is structured round this concept. However, when a culture is either raw or unripe, as for instance, in the 19th century American capitalist society, or now in the case of the Indian since “the globalisation” wave, in particular, it becomes grasping, opportunistic, and even inhuman in extreme cases. It sacrifices means to ends and is essentially a Darwinian product, devoid of beauty, compassion, poetry, etc.

In his famous visit to America in 1905 after a long stay abroad, Henry James, the celebrated American novelist, recorded in “The American Scene”, the kind of “shock he had at the first sight of the Manhattan skyscrapers and towers. He saw money “in the air, ever so much, grossly expressed....” It was the period of the merchant “aristocracy”, of “the Philistine America”.

The uglier aspects of this phenomenon in India are more pronounced in their offspring, the new young “princes” of industry, trade and commerce. Haste, a certain kind of wildness and hedonism, then, appear as their “logo”. In Chandigarh, to cite an example nearer home, you see these gallants and their “gals” tearing up the roads in a reckless round of exhibitionism, burning the ill-gotten money (corruption, black business, under-hand dealings, etc) as though the world belonged to them. I see this scenario each time I’m taken to the lawn in front of our house — a whole procession of truants, delinquents and self-deceivers riding “hell for leather”, and “wilding” on motor-bikes and in fast cars. They regard themselves as the new town elites, and to “hell” with your morals, or what you call values! This kind is well-dramatised in the 20th century’s greatest English poem, “The Waste Land” by T.S. Eliot. They are those “silken-hatted” (in our context, designed-suited or logo-jeans dressed neo-rich) who as whistle-stop lovers leave young, eager school and college girls big with child, and vanish “leaving no addresses behind”. The type is a well-known sociological species.

In the end, I may add that I’m not against “pop”culture as such. Indeed, in America, jazz, and black folk songs and country airs were, to begin with, a most positive development, as the “pop” Guru, Leslie Fiedler, brilliantly argues. Here, in India too, there’s a healthier aspect also, the joi d’vivre, for instance, of the Punjabi tappas and other folk-songs now in rage. But if a culture just stops there, and becomes an end in itself, it begins to degenerate soon enough. True aristocracy is the aristocracy, not of lineage or wealth, or position but of the spirit, a major theme in Guru Nanak’s divine Japji Sahib.Top


Defence strategy based on Vedas
By Rakesh Datta

INDIA is a land of many virtues. It was more so during ancient times when India had contributed distinctly to philosophy, art, culture, literature, politics, medicine and defence. Though big strides in all such areas could have catapulted the country to enormous heights, India remains merely a country of a 100 crore people.

In military matters, it was Kautilya’s monumental treatise on warfare that helped India keep its head high in the comity of nations. Talking about the various facets of war and its organisation, Kautilya dealt with both regular and irregular warfare. He also shed ample light on the polity which, along with the running of a large empire, could help handle the problems of a complex society.

However, despite such strong foundations, modern India did not take any cognizance of it imprudently. Instead, countries inimical to India became the biggest beneficiaries of such sagacity. For instance, Kautilya’s theory that the enemy’s enemy is your friend has helped China and Pakistan much to gang up against India.

In this context one can mention the name of another saint-scholar, Maharshi Mahesh Yogi, who has created and introduced absolute theories on health, education, science, polity, economics, law and order and defence. Kautilya had given his Arthshastra in 3rd century BC while the Maharshi represents the present times. The founder of the Transcendental Meditation and the Worldwide Spiritual Regeneration Movement, he introduced in the nineties a new theory for the defence of nations.

This is besides creating a programe for a prevention wing in the military of every nation to disallow the birth of an enemy by training a small percentage of the military in the Vedic technology of defence. But what is most intriguing is that all his theories are drawn from the Vedas, as claimed by him. He has developed a Vedic technology of defence which provides safety and security to all governments. The military is purposeful only, he says, if it has the indomitable power of invincibility with a natural ability to prevent the birth of an enemy.

His Vedic knowledge relating to defence leads to such brilliant ideas on matters military that what we observe today in terms of accumulation of power by the developed world, especially the USA and its cronies, appear quite indigenous in thought. So, if the USA has achieved invincibility in defence it is through the ideas contained in the Vedas. It is a different matter that such realisation has come too late to India.

According to Maharshi Mahesh Yogi, the real basis of defence is invincibility. He writes that this element of invincibility has been made available with the discovery of the Vedas and Vedic literature.

With the help of the invincible defence strategy, which is also the absolute strategy of defence, every government in the world can stand on its own feet on the firm ground of invincibility; every nation can achieve the glorious purpose of defence — real sovereignty — and all nations together can enjoy real freedom in fearlessness. Every nation, says the Maharshi, will radiate a life-supporting influence to every nation, and all nations will live as part of one grand, glorious, unified family of nations.

His Vedic principle of defence is based on the Samhita — the unifying power of natural law, yoga — that the eternal unifying power of nature maintains the infinitely diversified creation in a unified state of an exalted universe. This unifying principle ensures that conflicting tendencies do not arise. Currently, however, India is experiencing conflicts of diverse nature.

In this context, the Maharshi effect refers to the growth of harmony in society resulting from the practice of his Vedic technology — the technology of natural law — by a small fraction of the population. When the influence of coherence generated by this technology reaches sufficient intensity, an integrated national consciousness is created. This strengthens the cultural integrity of the nation, resulting in the development of self-sufficiency and an invincible armour, which automatically repels any negative influence coming from outside.

To the Maharshi, broad comprehension is a secret weapon of a wise General because he is never on the battlefield. Accordingly, the General has to have a quiet corner and a comprehensiveness including the quiet state of awareness. But the military is that section of society which is most concerned with action, which means dynamic action performed at blinding speed with an uncanny accuracy.

Everyone knows that action comes from thought, and thought comes from silence. So, why should we not act from the first level of action? Why should we not act from silence? Fight war with silence, says the Maharshi. It is an ultra-modern technology. This, he suggests, could be achieved by using the transcendental meditation programme, the practical aspect of his Vedic science and technology of defence. It will not only stop the birth of an enemy but also ensure victory before the commencement of a war.

— The writer is Reader and Head, Department of Strategic Studies, Punjabi University, Patiala.


Controversial, not consultation, papers
By Anupam Gupta

IT is President K.R. Narayanan versus the Constitution Review Commission once again. And no matter how hard the Commission’s head, Mr Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah, might try to explain away the dark intentions of some of his colleagues on the panel, the presidential arrowhead has struck the bull’s eye.

“We may recall,” said the President on January 25, addressing the nation on the eve of Republic Day and rubbishing the Commission’s latest proposal for indirect elections, “that in Pakistan, Field Marshal Ayub Khan had introduced an indirect system of elections and experimented with what he called basic democracy or guided democracy. It would be an irony of history if we invoke today in the name of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation, the shades of the political ideas of Field Marshal Ayub Khan, the father of military rule in Pakistan.”

Nothing that the President said, in the same address, against a fixed term for the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies, highlighting the divergence of opinion on the point between the Prime Minister and himself, compares with the breathtaking directness of his words quoted above. Or their political and ideological importance.

That India has never accepted, and never will accept, the two-nation theory that resulted in the creation of Pakistan, has been stated and restated any number of times by political leaders of every hue since independence.

But another, and equally fundamental, divide of a wholly secular nature also separates the two countries, as President Narayanan has chosen now to remind us. The divide between India’s marriage with democracy and Pakistan’s passion for dictatorship.

It is this second divide that the latest proposal of the Constitution Review Commission, contained in Paras 6.2 to 6.5 of its consultation paper on “Review of Election Law, Processes and Reform Options”, the paper that aroused the ire of the President, obfuscates.

Penned (unofficially but undeniably) by a member of the Commission and former Secretary-General of the Lok Sabha, Mr Subhash Kashyap, the paper strongly recommends, in the name of Gandhi, the option of a “bottom-up instead of the present top-down approach” to elections in India.

The “only way to conduct a meaningful electoral exercise in this country (it reads) is to have direct elections at local levels, with the upper tiers filled by representatives indirectly elected by an electoral college consisting of the representatives manning the lower tiers.”

The existing elected representative, it alleges, is “too far removed from the people” to be accountable as there are an average of one million voters for each Lok Sabha constituency spread over a large geographical area. Such an “unaccountable remote representative” doing what he pleases only gives a boost to corruption.

In order to obviate the “terrible high costs of elections”, to promote the accountability of the elected to their electors, and in “keeping with the evolution of political culture in our country”, the paper would do away with all elected MPs and MLAs altogether.

An Ayubian disgust with democracy in practice leading to the abolition of democracy itself.

The drastic and sweeping nature of the remedy proposed is matched by the crushing simplicity of its formulation:

“Direct elections should be held on the basis of adult franchise at the level of panchayats and other local bodies. Panchayats and other local bodies could then elect the zila parishads and they could together elect the State legislature. These three could elect the Parliament and in the last analysis the four could elect the President. The Prime Minister and the Chief Ministers could be elected by the Parliament and State legislatures concerned.”

That is how the CRC, courtesy Mr Subhash Kashyap, would dissolve all State legislatures and Parliament as presently constituted and replace the present Constitution of India, in place since 1950, with a new pocketbook edition far more convenient and “economical” for the ruling class to maintain.

Every dictator in Pakistan starting from Field Marshal Ayub Khan has done precisely that.

Ayub, writes British scholar Ian Talbot in his history of Pakistan published in 1998, laid Pakistan’s ills at the door of politicians and sought to establish a new constitutional order more suited to the “genius of the people” than the “failed” parliamentary democracy.

Hailed by Samuel Huntingdon in 1968 as the “Great Legislator” on the Platonic or Rousseau-ian model, Ayub was at one time depicted as an innovator who through the system of “Basic Democracies” devised by him sought to transform the institutional basis of politics in Pakistan.

Actually, however, says Talbot, he was a paternalist who reflected the mindset of Pakistan’s inherited viceregal tradition.

Demonising professional politicians and professing solicitude for the “real” people — the rural classes — he “reintroduced 19th century ideas of political tutelage through indirect elections and official nomination of representatives.”

Subhash Kashyap’s projection of similar views for India, using the platform of the Constitution Review Commission, obviously lacks the authority of a dictator or official in power. Keeping in mind the context in which the Commission came to be set up, however, and the controversy accompanying its establishment, it marks a threat that is no less ominous.

Briefing the press after a CRC meeting on January 31, six days after the President had spoken, Justice Venkatachaliah sought valiantly to allay his apprehensions.

“The President is the preserver, the protector and the defender of the Constitution (he said). Whatever he has observed is entitled to highest respect and we respectfully take note of it. It shall be our respectful endeavour to reassure him that no recommendation undermining the Constitution will be permitted.”

The suggestion of limiting direct elections to the panchayat level, he said, was “tossed up” alongwith many other proposals only to generate a debate. Even while making the suggestion, however, the paper put out by the CRC had acknowledged that it might be easier to purchase or terrorise electors if their number is small.

With great respect to the former Chief Justice of India, he is being too kind to his own colleague. The acknowledgement he is referring to as proof of the balanced approach of its author is contained in a footnote at the bottom of page 22 of the paper. The footnote is indicated by the smallest of asterisks in the text at the top of the page and would be noted only by the most discerning reader.

The large majority of readers would read only the “strong arguments” raised in favour of indirect elections in the body of the paper and the closing recommendation on page 22 that “it would be worthwhile that this option is studied deeply and debated widely.”

And why, pray, has this so-called option, which would turn India Pakistan’s way, been set out in the paper ahead of all other options? And that too not only in the main part of the paper but even in the “summary” at the end?

For those who not only read but read between the lines, like President Narayanan, the whole structure of the paper betrays its intention.

The intention is to prepare public opinion for an assault on the parliamentary system and to pave the way for its liquidation.

Let Justice Venkatachaliah beware!


Unhealthy gums cause lung disease

THE simple act of brushing and flossing your teeth may help keep lung ailments in check, a new study reports.

Researchers at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, believe that as gums recede due to poor oral health, respiratory illnesses like bronchitis and emphysema worsen.

“We aren’t saying that if you don’t brush your teeth you’ll develop lung disease,’’ lead author Dr Frank A. Scannapieco said in a statement from the university. ``We’re saying that if you already have lung disease, taking care of your teeth and gums is especially important. It’s possible that improved oral health is one factor that may help prevent progression of this disease, which is responsible for 2.2 million deaths a year worldwide.’’

In the study, Scannapieco and Dr. Alex W. Ho evaluated information from 13,792 participants who took part in the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey III.

The data included results of physical examinations that measured lung function and ascertained overall oral health including gum disease, gum recession and the number of cavities.

“A trend was noted in that lung function appeared to diminish with increasing (gum recession),’’ the authors write in the Journal of Periodontology. (Reuters)

Sanctioned rape

Seventeen-year-old Florence Mpayei recently challenged a deeply entrenched Maasai tradition according to which a circumcised girl is expected to have sexual intercourse with any man who desires her, even if he is a relative.

In the first petition of its kind, Mpayei testified in the Nairobi Chief Magistrate’s Court that her cousin Julius Sunkuli had repeatedly raped her when she was only 14 years old.

The sensational episode came to an end in November last year after Mpayei abruptly withdrew the case. (WFS)

Peppermint oil for bowel pain

For children suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), relief may come in the form of a common herb — peppermint, researchers report.

In a study of youngsters aged 8 to 17, peppermint oil capsules helped relieve IBS, a collection of gastrointestinal symptoms, including bloating, severe abdominal pain, and cycles of constipation and diarrhoea that do not fit into known disease categories. While some believe that the cause may be stress-related or due to psychological problems, that theory is controversial.

“Peppermint oil should be considered for the treatment of moderate levels of pain in children with IBS,’’ Dr. Robert M. Kline, of the University of Missouri-Columbia, and colleagues write in the January issue of the Journal of Paediatrics.

In the two-week study, 42 children with IBS were treated with peppermint oil or an inactive placebo pill.

On the first day of the study, all of the children complained of abdominal pain and many also complained of diarrhoea, constipation and gas. Following the two-week treatment period, however, 71% of the youth given peppermint oil said they felt ‘’better’’ or “much better,” compared with 43% taking the placebo. While peppermint oil reduced the severity of abdominal pain, it did not reduce other symptoms, the report indicates.

“The analysis showed that peppermint oil did not alter heartburn, gas, urgency of stools, belching, stool pattern or stool consistency,” the authors write. (Reuters)



One day, in a state of ecstacy, Sri Ramakrishna was recalling the precepts of another great saint. One of these preached compassion for mankind. Sri Ramakrishna repeated several times the word compassion. Then he exclaimed:

"Compassion! who am I to be compassionate! Is not everyone God? How can I be compassionate towards God? Serve Him, serve Him serve Him!"

— Swami Prabhavananda, Spiritual Heritage of India


May I born again and again, and suffer thousands of miseries so that I may worship the only God that exists, the only God I believe in, the sum total of all souls — and above all, my God the wicked, my God the miserable, my God the poor of all races, of all species, is the special object of my worship.

"He who is in you and is outside of you, who works through every hand, who walks though every feet, whose body you are, Him worship and break all other idols."

"He who is the high and the low, the saint and the sinner, the god and the worm, Him worship, the visible, the knowable, the real, the omnipresent, break all other idols."

"Ay, fools, neglecting the living Gods and His Infinite reflection with which the world is full, and running after imaginary shadows! Him worship the only visible, and break all other idols."

— Swami Vivekananda
to Miss Mary Hale, July 9, 1997

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