Thursday, October 25, 2001, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


EDITORIALS

Between reality and rhetoric
P
AKISTAN President Pervez Musharraf has been under tremendous pressure since he extended his cooperation for the US-led coalition's military campaign against Taliban-ruled Afghanistan and Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden after the September 11 terrorist strikes in America. 

Shacks for all
I
N the nineties, the UN set the year 2000 as homes for all. India enthusiastically joined the chorus and, as usual except for pious proclamations, nothing really happened. Now the BJP-led NDA government bestirred itself to partially – actually, fractionally – tackle the problem of homelessness in the rural areas and of slum-dwellers in towns and cities.

Prankster terror
O
SAMA bin Laden and his Taliban supporters may be getting a pasting in Afghanistan but they have by and large succeeded in their mission elsewhere. They have the world cowering whether it is through the anthrax scare or through ominous "advice" to Muslims not to frequent western airlines and not to go to hi-rise buildings.


 

EARLIER ARTICLES
Success in space
October 24
, 2001
Build on the triumph!
October 23
, 2001
Missing: an Afghan policy
October 22
, 2001
Future of world order hinges on war against terror
October 21
, 2001
West Asia on boil
October 20
, 2001
Powell’s visit and after
October 19
, 2001
TADA in new garb
October 18
, 2001
A “viable” card
October 17
, 2001
George wins his own war
October 16
, 2001
A tainted Pak trust
October 15
, 2001
Combating proxy war: India can do it
October 14
, 2001
THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
 
OPINION

How noble is the Nobel Prize?
Choice of peace awardees violates founder’s Will
Sumer Kaul
A
LFRED Nobel must be turning in his grave — rather, shaking in anger at the violence they have done to his Will and the kind of people they have bestowed his millions on. Over the years and decades of the 20th century, and now in the first year of the new millennium, too. Most frequently and most perceptibly in regard to the Peace Prize.

IN THE NEWS

Chhattisgarh CM in trouble
C
HHATTISGARH Chief Minister Ajit Jogi is under cloud. The ruling of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes that Mr Jogi has been “fraudulently” claiming that he belonged to the Kanwar community, a Scheduled Tribe, for the purpose of getting an ST certificate is bound to affect his image as also his moral authority to govern.

  • No end to Naxalite violence

OF LIFE SUBLIME

Of impulses, positive and negative
Nanu Gadhok
T
HE cosmos is full of cosmic energy. All galaxies, universes and planets that exist in it, have drawn from this energy through the ages and are continuously driven and controlled by it. It is no mystery that all beings on this earth, living or non-living, are manifestations of this energy. 

ANALYSIS

Back-seat computer to beat road rage
Nick Paton Walsh
I
T is the ultimate driving companion. Designers and engineers have developed a speaking car that avoids road rage by telling drivers when they are overreacting and praises them for good road manners. Called the Pod, the car will be unveiled this week by Toyota and Sony at the Tokyo Motor Show as the ultimate answer to bad tempered driving, poor navigation and rash road manoeuvres.

75 YEARS AGO


Special session at Amroha

TRENDS & POINTERS

US carrier: searing sun or airless sauna
J
osh saw the sun for the first time in 45 days this week. The 22-year-old enlisted sailor from Illinois is an office worker —on board a U.S. aircraft carrier attacking targets in Afghanistan. He volunteered for special duties on the flight deck —picking up litter just as a chance to get outside.

SPIRITUAL NUGGETS

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Between reality and rhetoric

PAKISTAN President Pervez Musharraf has been under tremendous pressure since he extended his cooperation for the US-led coalition's military campaign against Taliban-ruled Afghanistan and Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden after the September 11 terrorist strikes in America. Country-wide demonstrations and the muffled voices of protest from within the Pakistan army against his stand vis-a-vis Afghanistan have made life difficult for him. Till the other day no one was prepared to listen to his explanation that he was in an optionless situation, and his decision was unchallengeable under the circumstances. He was desperately looking towards India for an opportunity to silence his local critics, but it did not come despite his soldiers' provocative attempts across the Line of Control and the bomb blasts by ISI-sponsored militants at the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly. Even Home Minister L. K. Advani, known for his hardline approach, reacted in guarded language. However, Defence Minister George Fernandes failed to control himself when he said on October 15 that the Army would act decisively "with no holds barred" with a view to destroying the terrorist training camps on the other side of the Indo-Pak border. He did not rule out military strikes to achieve the objective, saying that "the exact details of such policies shouldn't be revealed". This is good for public consumption or vote-bank politics, but senior leaders are not expected to fall into the enemy's trap. Till October 14 Mr Jaswant Singh, who functioned as Defence Minister, besides his responsibilities as External Affairs Minister, had expressed the view that Indian forces would not cross the LoC. After the statement made by Mr Fernandes the fox in General Musharraf reacted in a vitriolic manner, not expected of a person holding the position of Head of Government and State. His venomous remarks: "The threats on the Line of Control must be stopped . Pakistan is not a 'chhota mota' country. We are not wearing 'churiyan'. They will be paid back in the same coin." Then he reminded the sceptics of his support for the US-led anti-terrorism action in Afghanistan: "Think of the scenario when the international coalition would be against us with India on the other side."

Of course, the General has gone too far in his rhetoric against India. If the tempers keep rising in this manner, the subcontinent's future will be in jeopardy, and General Musharraf and his country will be the major loser. Therefore, it is in their interest not to further vitiate the atmosphere. Keeping the Kashmir issue alive will serve Pakistan's purpose only to an extent even when it is in the company of the superpower. The earlier Islamabad changes its Kashmir policy based on cross-border terrorism, the smoother will be the road to finding a solution to the crisis between the two neighbours. A congenial environment is the key to any settlement of the crucial question, and it can be there only when Islamabad dissociates itself from terrorism in Kashmir. In the prevailing situation it is difficult to think of talks, as Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee categorically stated in Lucknow on Monday. 
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Shacks for all

IN the nineties, the UN set the year 2000 as homes for all. India enthusiastically joined the chorus and, as usual except for pious proclamations, nothing really happened. Now the BJP-led NDA government bestirred itself to partially – actually, fractionally – tackle the problem of homelessness in the rural areas and of slum-dwellers in towns and cities. The new programme has an evocative name and it betrays the real objective of the government. It is christened Valmiki Ambedkar Awas Yojana, in short Vambay, and is expected to help the Scheduled Caste and the Scheduled Tribe residents, those below the poverty line, other backward castes, economically weak sections and those physically handicapped. These are the segments of society which have drifted away from the ruling alliance or are opposed to the various partners. Further, election to three state Assemblies – Punjab, UP and Jammu and Kashmir – is due soon and a sop is warranted to bolster the chances of the BJP and its allies. But the plan is riddled with problems. For one thing, each dwelling unit will cost Rs 60,000 in the urban areas and Rs 40,000 in rural areas. Given the price of cement and labour charges, these have to be shacks or juggis. The living space will be 150 sq ft or slightly more than 16 sq meter. Compared to this the Delhi Development Authority under Mr Jagmohan allotted 22 sq meter to all those uprooted from the slums during the emergency. Two, land for these lakhs and lakhs of “dwellings” has to be provided free by the respective state government, although the Centre has identified the places where Vambay will come into force immediately. Work on the house building is to start immediately, despite it being part of the 10th five year Plan.

That this is the most blatant populist pre-election decision is evident from several points. The states have not been consulted and the beneficiary towns, cities and villages have not been identified. A gigantic plan like this warrants a detailed discussion with the states which is not the case now. Urban land is just not available to relocate slum-dwellers and also alternate land in towns and cities is costly. Not many states can offer land for the Vambay without dipping deep into their pockets or antagonising land-owners in the periphery. Slum clearance projects in this country have ended up creating new ghettoes. The pioneer is Tamil Nadu and in Chennai it built one-room units in Teynampet as a model to the whole country. Today it is a stinking concrete slum breeding hardened criminals. Why, East Delhi where slum dwellers were forcibly herded in 22 sq yard plots has turned into a brand new slum, bereft of civic amenities and a sense of community. The ideal will be to clear urban slums, build reasonable dwelling units in distant suburbs and provide reliable transport. Slums promise cheap labour, both domestic and industrial, and society has thus a responsibility to take care of it welfare. And it costs very little.
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Prankster terror

OSAMA bin Laden and his Taliban supporters may be getting a pasting in Afghanistan but they have by and large succeeded in their mission elsewhere. They have the world cowering whether it is through the anthrax scare or through ominous "advice" to Muslims not to frequent western airlines and not to go to hi-rise buildings. This has led to an unprecedented fear psychosis among others who suspect that the goons are very much capable of carrying out their threats. Imagine people going to work in tall buildings with parachutes! Airlines are reeling under a terrible recession thanks to the fear of flying. In fact, the attacks on Indians and other Asians in the USA are also a result of this paranoia. The terrorists must be smiling in their bushy beards. They have managed to fulfil their ambition to a large extent. They have succeeded in sowing seeds of suspicion and hatred between people belonging to different religions and even continents. Every maniacal attack on an Arab by a crazed American makes many sympathetic towards the votaries of fundamentalism. After all, by its very definition, terrorism is not only the use of violence but also the use of threat of violence for various purposes. The threats have worked as much as actual violence. The exaggerated reaction to every threat also furthers the terrorists' cause.

In such a situation, every right-thinking citizen is expected to steer clear of the clever trap. Yet, ironically, many gullible people are willingly falling into it by listening to rumours or spreading them. Then there are others who are playing an even more sinister role. Even at a time when innocent people are extremely edgy, these pranksters and practical jokers are up to their usual tricks. Take for instance the anthrax scare. A few insensitive people put talcum powder or some other harmless substance in someone's mail. Since one cannot take chances, this leads to panic and chaos. Similar is the nuisance value of hoax callers. The recent hijack scare was spread by a teenager who had his 15 seconds of fun but gave India a night of palpitation. These people probably just do not realise that they are promoting the terrorist cause. Every false alarm reduces the chances of a real tragedy being averted. No doubt, such hoaxes are being perpetrated by supporters of terrorists also to confuse the security agencies. But every lone ranger who is out for a few perverted laughs at the cost of civilised society is proving to be an unpaid facilitator. Such people may be averse to listening to their voice of reason or conscience at other times, but they must do so at least at this critical juncture. 
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How noble is the Nobel Prize?
Choice of peace awardees violates founder’s Will
Sumer Kaul

ALFRED Nobel must be turning in his grave — rather, shaking in anger at the violence they have done to his Will and the kind of people they have bestowed his millions on. Over the years and decades of the 20th century, and now in the first year of the new millennium, too. Most frequently and most perceptibly in regard to the Peace Prize. In tune with the dismal record, especially of the last 50 years, are this year’s awardees; the United Nations and its Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

They have been chosen, says the citation, “for their work for a better organised and more peaceful world”. Which world are they talking about? Surely not our good earth which has seen some 400 wars, big and small, since the UN came into existence, and more than 40 since Mr Annan became the Secretary-General. Half of these are still on, and a new one has just been added to the list — courtesy one Mr Bush and one Mr Laden.

The truth of the matter is that the Nobel Peace Prize ceased to be a peace prize a long time ago. It became and, despite the demise of the Soviet bloc, by and large remains a pro-West, particularly pro-US political beauty contest. In fact, the entire Nobel Prize system is arbitrary, lopsided and partisan — and altogether dissonant with what Alfred Nobel had meant it to be.

“My remaining realisable fortune”, wrote Nobel in his famous Will, “...shall constitute a fund the interest on which shall be distributed annually as a reward to those who during the preceding year have bestowed the greatest benefit on mankind.” He wanted the prize money to be divided into five equal parts — for physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature (economics was added by the Swedish trustees later) and peace.

While the prizes in the specialised fields were for “the most important discovery or invention or improvement or exemplary work”, the Peace Prize was to go “to the person (or body) who has worked the most or the best for the brotherhood of Man and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and dissemination of peace congresses.... It is my express wish that when awarding the prize no heed shall be taken of any kind of national allegiance, so that the most worthy shall receive the prize.”

As clear a mandate as could be, but look at the record. Of the total of around 600 prizes awarded so far, less than 5 per cent have gone to individuals and organisations outside Western Europe and the USA, and fewer than a score altogether to the so-called Third World which represents two-thirds of mankind. Mr Kofi Annan is just the seventh black person to receive it.

It is not only these lopsided figures that have robbed this most coveted recognition of its original sheen. The controversy and skepticism over the prizes have much to do with the individuals selected, and in this it is the choice for the Peace Prize that has done the most violence to Nobel’s Will. In all these 100 years since the first Peace Prize was awarded in 1901 to Jean Henri Dunant, founder of the International Red Cross, it is difficult to pick up more than maybe a dozen persons truly “worthy” of the honour.

Not only has the Nobel committee over the years made very dubious choices but equally has ignored most deserving persons — Gandhi, Bertrand Russel, Nehru and Tito, to name some of the most outstanding workers for peace. In 1947, when the committee could have honoured Nobel’s wish, and indeed itself, by awarding the Peace Prize to Gandhi, it chose instead two obscure organisations, one American and the other British, and in the following year, the year Gandhi laid down his life in the cause of “brotherhood of Man”, the prize was not awarded at all for lack of a suitable candidate!

No less brazen have been the committee’s acts of commission. The dubious list is long and somewhere at the very top figures Henry Kissinger, the brain behind the secret bombing of Cambodia and the bloody coup in Chile. He received the Peace Prize in 1973 along with Le Duc Tho of Vietnam “for their efforts which led to the Paris peace talks which led to the end of the Vietnam conflict.” Le Duc Tho turned down the prize and two of the five committee members resigned in protest against the choice of Kissinger — a man who had, to quote Dagens Nyheter, the independent newspaper in Alfred Nobel’s Sweden, “never produced anything which coincides with the peace ideals of Nobel. To complete the irony, the Vietnam war was ended not by the Paris talks but by Vietnam’s military victory two years later.

Similarly guided by the official American view of peace was the choice of Sadat and Begin (recommended by Kissinger, who else!) in 1978 for their efforts to bring “lasting peace” to West Asia, a peace of which there is no sign even today. The Cold War ideological cat was out of the bag when the Peace Prize was awarded to Andrei Sakharov, the father of the Russian hydrogen bomb when he turned an anti-Soviet dissident, and later for similar reasons to Lech Walesa, the anti-communist trade unionist of Poland, the much beloved of the West then and now cast aside by his own people.

This year’s Nobel for peace is in character with this tradition. While the UN has made a goodly mockery of all that it was meant to be under its own Charter, the choice of Mr Kofi Annan for half the prize does not only seem redundant inasmuch as he is viewed as an entity independent of the UN, but wholly out of tune with Nobel’s criteria.

Is the world safer today than it was a year ago or, for that matter, before the UN came into being? Does the organisation really promote peace and brotherhood of Man? Does it, as its Charter ordains, reflect the will and aspirations of the peoples of all countries, big and small, on matters of war and peace, equality and progress? Not by a long shot, is the honest answer. The UN has failed to fulfil its mandate because it has been dominated by a handful of Western nations and after the demise of the Soviet Union, subjugated almost exclusively by the sole superpower.

As for Mr Kofi Annan, he clearly lacked the credentials and stature to fulfil the role of the chief executive as envisaged in the UN Charter, including and principally to act as per the wishes of all members and to reject “any instruction from any government and from any authority external to the organisation”. He was the choice, not of the General Assembly and not even of the Security Council until the Clinton administration bulldozed everyone into acquiescing in its choice. And Mr Annan paid the debt instantly by calling on an American Senator (who had roundly attacked Mr Annan’s predecessor for daring to be independent towards the end of his term), only to be admonished by the congressional hawk to do America’s bidding. This Mr Annan has done ever since, every time and everywhere — in Yugoslavia, in Iraq and now in Afghanistan — and has been duly rewarded with a second term. A rubber-stamp par excellence!

Alfred Nobel must have thought he had instituted a foolproof precaution against political prejudice and partisanship when he entrusted the Peace Prize, unlike the other Nobel prizes, outside his native Sweden to a parliamentary committee in Norway. Because Norway of his day had pioneered international arbitration and stood for peaceful settlement of disputes. That was the closing decade of the 19th century. After World War II, Norway joined the western ideological bloc as well as NATO — and is thus a far cry from what it was in Nobel’s time. So is the Peace Prize from what Nobel had wished, and willed, it to be.
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IN THE NEWS

Chhattisgarh CM in trouble

CHHATTISGARH Chief Minister Ajit Jogi is under cloud. The ruling of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes that Mr Jogi has been “fraudulently” claiming that he belonged to the Kanwar community, a Scheduled Tribe, for the purpose of getting an ST certificate is bound to affect his image as also his moral authority to govern. In an order on a petition challenging Mr Jogi’s status as a Scheduled Tribe member, the commission said Mr Jogi and his ancestors belonged to the Satnami community included in the Scheduled Castes’ list in the State.

Mr Jogi has dubbed the commission ruling as “politically motivated”. He says the Chhattisgarh High Court has issued a notice to commission Chairman Dileep Singh Bhuria questioning the validity of his order on an issue settled first by the Indore Bench of the State High Court over 10 years ago and subsequently by the Jabalpur High Court last year. Chief Justice W.A. Shishak stayed the commission’s order, having maintained that “no action would be taken till further orders”.

Even though the High Court has issued stay on the commission’s ruling, it will in no way dilute the seriousness of the charge against Mr Jogi. Nor will Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh’s accusation that the BJP is trying to “discredit” Congress Chief Ministers. The commission’s ruling raises questions on the rationale and wisdom of Mr Jogi’s continuance in the office particularly because of the fact that those who hold important posts like that of Chief Minister are expected to be above suspicion.

Even though Mr Jogi will, in all likelihood, appeal against the commission’s ruling, he would be under pressure to quit office on moral grounds. He is the nominee of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, and it won’t be a surprise if his rivals within the Congress exert pressure on the party leadership to seek the resignation of Mr Jogi on moral grounds. The BJP too may try to capitalise on the situation and demand Mr Jogi’s resignation. Whatever the merits of the case, it will be in the interest of Mr Jogi — and the Congress party — to come clean in the matter.

No end to Naxalite violence

There seems to be no end to the violence perpetrated by the Naxalite formations such as the People’s War Group (PWG) and the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) in states like Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Jharkhand. The latest in the cycle of killings in Bihar is the death of seven policemen in a landmine blast, reportedly triggered by a PWG gang at Jagpura in Danarua subdivision of Patna district. In Andhra Pradesh, many ruling Telugu Desam Party leaders, mostly at the zilla and taluka level, have been killed in Naxal violence. Apparently to broaden their “ideological bandwidth’’, the PWG men recently blasted some units of the Coca Cola bottling plant at Atmakur in Guntur district in protest against the US attack on Afghanistan.

Clearly, by no stretch of the logic can these groups be called “people’s movements.’’ Amazingly, even though these groups claim to represent the aspirations and troubles and tribulations of the downtrodden and weaker sections of society, they have been indulging in anti-social acts like extortion, looting of police stations and killing of innocent civilians and security personnel with impunity. In Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Bihar, the urban peasantry and police personnel have been the PWG’s targets of attack as the latter feels that it is these ruling elites who have been exploiting the poor.

It has become a fashion for the Naxalites to make ideological arguments in pursuit of their nefarious ends. But how can one justify violence as a legitimate tool of empowerment? As acts of violence by these groups subvert legitimate governments, they should be dealt with an iron hand. Violence has no place in a civilised society, and as the Naxal groups believe in killings as a means to settle scores and run a parallel administration, efforts should be intensified to check this kind of menace.

At the same time, the authorities should not dismiss the Naxal problem as a law and order one alone. It is a fact that the landless continue to be exploited by the urban peasantry in most states despite the so-called progressive steps taken by governments. The time has come for the affected states to get to the root of the problem and initiate effective socio-economic measures. 
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OF LIFE SUBLIME

Of impulses, positive and negative
Nanu Gadhok

THE cosmos is full of cosmic energy. All galaxies, universes and planets that exist in it, have drawn from this energy through the ages and are continuously driven and controlled by it. It is no mystery that all beings on this earth, living or non-living, are manifestations of this energy. We all hold an everlasting account with this energy. During the course of our successive life forms we invest in it by our positivity and withdraw from it by our negativity.

All our responses which emanate from true love and affection are investments in this account, whereas our responses which stem from feelings of fear, anger, jealousy, frustration, dejection and hate are withdrawals from this account. True love forms an expanding spiral starting from oneself, one’s immediate relatives, neighbours and friends, to touch all living beings. Similarly, negative emotions form a shrinking spiral and should not be encouraged to fructify. Both these spirals affect the energy level in our lives in a big way. Energy from the positive spiral helps us live a happy, contented and healthy life. It contributes to our spiritual growth. On the contrary, energy from the negative spiral deprives us of happiness, satisfaction and good health.

We often wonder why some days are of the kind when everything appears bright and things seem to go our way. Yet there are days when seemingly simple things go wrong and relationships turn sour. It has a lot to do with how we perceive things. Our perception also depends upon the kind of feelings that have been accumulating in us at the subconscious level. It is difficult to delineate the boundaries between conscious and the sub-conscious, which eventually merge into infinite super-consciousness or the ocean of cosmic energy from where we inherit the vectored output of our previous ‘karmas’. In simple words, it is our opening bank balance on birth.

To understand the concept of ‘vectored sum of previous karmas’ an analogy may be drawn with the functioning of a radar. The inner core of the human mind is like a radar which receives energy through its sensors and transmits it after suitably modifying it. Its sensors are the eyes for visual perception, ears for auditory perception, nose for smell, and bodily organs to give a feel of touch. While the body is in a state of equipoise, there is no input from the sensory organs and conversely when the body sensors are switched off from material objects the mind remains in a state of equipoise.

However, that seldom happens because we are always experiencing something or the other and our sensory organs keep sending signals of whatever they see, hear, smell or feel. Once these signals impinge upon the mind it sets out a chain of responses. At stage one, it is the internal response of the mind, like what I see is beautiful. Therefore, I must have it or it is ugly and, therefore, I must remove it or move away from it. Similarly, what I hear may be pleasant or unpleasant, what I smell may be attractive or repulsive or what I feel is desirable or undesirable. At stage two, the reaction is transformed into a desire or a propelling force to take an action. This force may be a strong intention to acquire something or to get rid of it, to love something or to hate it, to eat something or leave it, to hold or cuddle something or to do away with it. Here the conscious state of being plays a role in shaping the action which may be to weigh the options to acquire it, to postpone acquisition, to steal it or to win it. Similarly, the response to an unpleasant individual may vary from a polite shrug to picking up a quarrel, physical assault, abuse etc. This process produces a series of attachments and repulsions based on various life experiences. The intensity of the impression is in direct proportion to the degree or attachment or repulsion one develops for an object or person. It results in a move forward or backward on the positive or negative energy spiral affecting the course of one’s life.

These reactions leave a residual impression on the soul as positive or negative impulses. The intensity of these impulses, positive or negative, depends upon the strength of the reactions we produce to every single experience in our life. A mind with perfect equanimity produces zero impulses and is most likely to be liberated from the tangle of birth and death and merge with the cosmic state for ever. Equanimity does not mean no reaction to events in life or renunciation of the world. The challenge lies in being able to perform our duties in the best possible manner with a sense of detached attachment; to be able to negotiate relationships without even unknowingly hurting others’ sensibilities; to be able to work for the good of the family, organisation, society and humanity at large without aspiring for even an acknowledgement, not to speak of reward.

Wisdom is achieved very slowly. This is because intellectual knowledge, even though easily acquired, requires awareness and commitment to be transformed into ‘emotional’ or subconscious knowledge. Once transformed, the imprint is permanent. Behavioural practice is the necessary catalyst for this reaction. Without transforming our life, the concept will whither away. Theoretical knowledge without practical application is not enough.

One may ponder that if part of humanity is eternal, then why are we doing bad things to ourselves? Why do we step on others for personal gain? We all seem to be going to the same place ultimately, albeit at different speeds. Intellectually, the answers have always been there, but there is a need to actualise thereby experience; to make the subconscious imprint permanent by ‘emotionalising’ and practising the concept. It is easy to read about or to talk about love and charity and faith.

But to do it, to feel it, requires an altered state of consciousness, not the transient state induced by drugs or alcohol. This state is reached by knowledge and understanding. It is sustained by physical behaviour, by action and by deed, by practice. It is taking something nearly mystical and transforming it to everyday familiarity by practice, making it a habit.

Each birth gives us an opportunity to improve upon our performance, but it is subject to our self-realisation. People with more awareness try to perform their duties without building attachments — with a sense of detached attachment. This is a recipe for minimising the intensity of positive and negative impulses whereas the uninitiated keep building attachments and aversions to material things thereby creating a cause for anguish and resentment.

These are the building blocks for yet another birth to achieve their desires or to settle their scores. The cycle goes on except for those who succeed in arriving at a zero balance of positive and negative impulses in life. They are destined to be the master souls whose job it is to deliver other human beings from the cycle of birth and death. 
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Back-seat computer to beat road rage
Nick Paton Walsh

IT is the ultimate driving companion. Designers and engineers have developed a speaking car that avoids road rage by telling drivers when they are overreacting and praises them for good road manners.

Called the Pod, the car will be unveiled this week by Toyota and Sony at the Tokyo Motor Show as the ultimate answer to bad tempered driving, poor navigation and rash road manoeuvres.

Experts believe the development will pave the way for a new generation of cars that will simply stop if the driver loses control of the vehicle or gets too angry.

The design will do away with the steering wheel, gearstick and pedals. Instead, a joystick will control the car's every move.

"It's a revolution in car design," said a Toyota spokesman. "The Pod helps maintain courtesy and respect on the road."

Experts hope the joystick will simplify car control and reduce the chances of making a mistake. "There's simply a lot less to get wrong," said one. The Pod will also contain sensors to test the driver's pulse rate and level of perspiration. If these rise, or if the driver's control of the vehicle becomes erratic, a message is displayed on the control panel, warning them to calm down and avoid confrontation.

"A highly stressed driver can also expect the car to respond by playing calming music and blowing cool air into the cabin," said the Toyota spokesman.

The Pod will also measure the driver's level and rate of acceleration, and distance from the car in front. "If it hits a bumpy road, the suspension will take the strain," said a spokesman. "On a swervy road, it will stiffen up for greater grip on the road."

The most controversial feature will be a "driving tutor". The car's computers will be equipped with the experiences and responses of "an expert driver". It will compare the driver's performance with that model, praising good conduct and criticising rash behaviour and poor control.

Developers have also tried to humanise the vehicle by instructing it to tell the driver it is happy to see them or that it misses them when they have been away. Andrew Howard, head of road safety at the AA, said: "We've all been in that situation with someone in the passenger seat telling us to "calm down".

"The touchy-feely element has to be right. We're keen on technology that helps drivers" control, not technology that takes it away from them."

Roger Vincent, spokesman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said: "If it can make people more relaxed and less stressed that sounds like a very good idea, so long as people do not over-rely on it."

But Howard added: "The last thing you want when you are stressed is to find your car stops going. We could all end up like Basil Fawlty, beating the hell out of our car with a branch because if refuses to go." Observer
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Special session at Amroha

Amroha
The special session of the All-India Shia Conference comes off on the 12th. Great preparations are being made for the success of the session. Delegates in large numbers are expected from all parts of India. Nawab Mohd. Ismail of Patna, President-elect, reaches by the afternoon of the 12th instant.
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TRENDS & POINTERS

US carrier: searing sun or airless sauna

Josh saw the sun for the first time in 45 days this week. The 22-year-old enlisted sailor from Illinois is an office worker —on board a U.S. aircraft carrier attacking targets in Afghanistan.

He volunteered for special duties on the flight deck —picking up litter just as a chance to get outside.

"I didn't realise how wonderful it feels having the sun shining on your face and breathing that fresh air," Josh said.

Sailors scour the flight deck each day to ensure there is no debris to hamper the dozens of aircraft taking off and landing.

"I'm going to try to go up there at least every couple of days," Josh said. "My eyes didn't want to adjust to the light, it was so bright."

Aircraft from the Carl Vinson have been flying up to 90 sorties daily since October 7, including around 50 strike missions against Afghanistan and support flights for refuelling and reconnaissance.

By contrast, some 600 deck handlers regularly spend 16 hours a day in the searing heat of the sun in the northern Arabian Sea, dodging the deadly jet wash from F-14 Tomcats and F/A-18 Hornets.

When aircraft are catapulted into the sky the whole deck rumbles and you feel your lungs rattle. Those closest to the jets wear mouth guards to protect their teeth, the vibrations are so strong.

Flight deck workers get $150 a month extra for working in what must rank among the most dangerous places in the world.

But the majority of the 5,500 men and women on board never get up on flight deck, catching only an occasional glimpse of the horizon and the sea through gaps in the hangar deck where massive elevators lift aircraft up to the deck.

"You get all pale, bags under your eyes," says Josh, whose surname cannot be given under military rules. "It's better for smokers; they can go up to the hangar deck."

The ship is a maze of corridors, ladders and hatches with not a port-hole to be found outside the control tower and the bridge on the flight deck. Selected areas are air-conditioned but much of the ship as hot and steamy as a sauna. Somewhere deep in the bowels of the Carl Vinson, off limits to reporters, is the nuclear reactor that powers the giant floating fortress—almost as long as the Empire State Building is tall and as high as a 24-story building.

Marvin, a nuclear electrician, says he gets up to see daylight in the hangar bay for just 15 minutes once a week. Others tell a similar story.

"We look like typical nerds, we're all pasty and white," said Eric, a chief petty officer from Fort Worth, Texas, who works in the nuclear plant deep below the deck. Surprisingly the ship's psychologist says seasonal affective disorder, a depressive condition common in areas where winter is one long night, is not a big problem. Reuters
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Numerous worlds there be in regions

beyond the skies and below,

But the research-weary scholars say, we do not know.

The Hindu and the Muslim books are full of theories;

the answer is but one.

If it could be writ,

it would have been,

but the writer thereof be none.

O Nanak, say but this, the Lord is great,

in His knowledge He is alone.

— Japji Sahib (The Sikh Morning Prayer), XXII

***

He is of the Khalsa,

Who speaks evil to none,

Who combats in the van,

Who gives in charity,

Who slays a Khan,

Who subdues his passions,

Who burns the karmas,

Who does not yield to superstitions,

Who is awake day and night,

Who delights in the saying of the Gurus,

And who never fears...

Considering all as created by the Lord,

Give offence to none,

otherwise the Lord himself will be offended.

***

He is of the Khalsa,

Who protects the poor,

Who combats evil,

Who remembers God,

Who achieves greatness,

Who is intent upon the Lord,

Who is wholly unfettered,

Who mounts the war horse,

Who is ever waging battle,

Who is continually armed,

Who slays the Turks,

Who extends the Faith

And he who gives his head with what is upon it.

— The Tankhah Nama (Joseph Davey Cunningham's translation)

***

Foes indestructible by might

are slain through some deceptive gesture.

As Bhima strangled Kichaka,

Approaching him in woman's venture.

— The Panchatantra, Book III
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