Thursday, September 26, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi

E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


Behind voters’ enthusiasm
he second phase of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections has been as encouraging as the first one. The low turnout in parts of Srinagar was on expected lines. 

Need for consensus
pposition to the recommendations of the second National Commission on Labour by various trade unions seems misplaced and unwarranted. 

Class IV board exam!
primary reason why the heavy school bag debate has not been settled in favour of junior school students is the ambition of most parents to see their children become super achievers.


Iraq and the US war on terrorism
What should India do to protect its interests?
G. Parthasarathy
resident George W. Bush has personally stepped in to secure international support for his desire to use all means he considers necessary, including the use of military, to secure a “regime change” in Iraq. 


Why delay paddy MSP?
September 25, 2002
The Arafat factor
September 24, 2002
The Abu Salem challenge
September 23, 2002
Can we destroy the web of corruption in our polity?
September 22, 2002
Desperate strike
September 21, 2002
India’s FDI problem
September 20, 2002
Ayodhya case is over?
September 19, 2002
Kashmir poll pointers
September 18, 2002
Exporting basmati
September 17, 2002
Vajpayee does the nation proud
September 16, 2002



Builder of infrastructure
t a time when privatisation seems the predominant catchword, the achievements of one state-run organisation have gone almost unnoticed. Telecommunication Consultants India Limited, under the stewardship of its Chairman and Managing Director S K Tandon, has made a much acclaimed mark. 

  • CEO with a difference


Ways & means of fulfilling spiritual aim
Hardit Singh
od has created two distinct spheres: our observed material world and the unseen spiritual world. Practically all the world’s religions believe in the existence of an unseen, other spiritual dimension. The spiritual world is both within and without us; whoever probes into it realises the reality — “Jo brahmande soi pinde, jo khoje so pave.”

The electronic media’s lust for blood
Kuljit Bains
n Wednesday morning a particular TV channel was able to send a camera team up close to the terrorists’ bodies as they were being dragged out of the Swaminarayan temple (Akshardham) in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.


Akshardham: an architectural marvel
he magnificent Akshardham Swaminarayan temple, which was attacked by terrorists on Tuesday evening, is one of the most popular tourist sites in Gujarat that draws hundreds of thousands every year.

  • Convicted for setting fire to son’s house




Behind voters’ enthusiasm

The second phase of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections has been as encouraging as the first one. The low turnout in parts of Srinagar was on expected lines. But the overall picture with a 42 per cent turnout (it was 44 per cent in the first phase) shows that people really want change for the better. This is despite the poll boycott call given by the 23-party Hurriyat Conference. People in general have defied the negative call to convey the message that they are interested in peace and the revival of economic activity and nothing else. The Kashmiri masses have seen through the game being played by the anti-election forces with the help of their masters sitting across the borders. The voters have demonstrated that they have nothing to do with the anti-India activities of the separatists. The terrorist gun could also not stop the people from expressing their long-cherished desire through the ballot. That the voters have come out in unexpectedly large numbers to highlight their viewpoint shows their confidence in the institution of the Election Commission to hold a free and fair poll as promised. There has been a strong anti-incumbency factor noticed ever since the election notification was issued. But initially the voters were unprepared to believe that their unhappiness with the National Conference government would be allowed to be brought into the open through the democratic exercise. The repeated promises of the commission that the sanctity of the poll process would be maintained at all costs led to renewed confidence among the people in the entire process. And the result is before everybody to see. The fairness of the elections has been acknowledged by the world community too. There has been admirable transparency, which has influenced the thinking of the large number of foreign diplomats and journalists watching the goings-on from close quarters.

The happy turn of events have led to a feeling of uneasiness in Islamabad. This is clearly reflected by Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s patently false claim of “a low turnout”. Whatever the ruling General’s remarks, Pakistan may review its approach towards the Hurriyat Conference in the wake of the conglomerate having got discredited among the people of Jammu and Kashmir. With its reduced nuisance value, the Hurriyat is likely to be treated as a protege having lost its usefulness for Pakistan’s geopolitical designs. If the Hurriyat really meets this fate, it will be getting the wages of its own sins. 


Need for consensus

Opposition to the recommendations of the second National Commission on Labour (NCL) by various trade unions seems misplaced and unwarranted. Reports of failure of talks between the trade unions and Union Labour Minister Sahib Singh Varma in this context are unfortunate because the second NCL, headed by Mr Ravindra Varma, has endorsed the need for comprehensive changes in labour laws in view of economic globalisation and liberalisation. In its 1,751-page report, it has dealt with crucial questions relating to amendments in the Industrial Disputes Act (IDA) and the Indian Contract Labour Act (ICLA). Having suggested a balance between industrial efficiency and protection and generation of employment, the panel did not approve of a whole hog of liberalisation of laws in the case of lay-off, closure or retrenchment by industrial establishments. Giving employers a free hand to retrench workers without permission, it said that no prior action is required for effecting lay-off and retrenchment. The panel felt the rate of retrenchment compensation should be higher in a running organisation than in one which is being closed. The scale of solatium may vary for sick units and profit making firms even in cases of retrenchment. The panel said that in case of establishments employing 300 or more workers, where the lay-off exceeds 30 days, post facto permission of the appropriate government shall be required. It recommended that provisions pertaining to permission for closure should be made applicable to all establishments to protect the interests of workers in establishments which are not covered at present by this provision if they are employing 300 or more workers. It has also suggested restricting the number of trade unions, cutting holidays, a policy framework to protect workers in the unorganised sector, a national social security authority and an expert panel to make suitable recommendations for fixing minimum wage.

On the whole, the report is in tune with the changing economic ethos and the need to infuse some discipline in the workforce with a view to ushering in a new work culture and boosting productivity. However, the problem is that there is a major conflict in the perception of both employers and employees with regard to changes in the labour laws, rules and regulations. Trade unions, affiliated to various political parties, do not seem to look beyond their narrow considerations and political expediency. The Vajpayee government is committed to implementing overdue labour reforms, but entrenched vested interests in the trade unions are not allowing it to go ahead. For well over a fortnight, the Union Labour Minister had consultations with the trade unions on the Ravindra Varma panel report but without success. Even the Congress, whose stand in Parliament is crucial on amending the IDA and the ICLA, is adopting dilatory tactics. The trade unions could well sort out their differences on the NCL report with the government across the table, but opposing it lock, stock and barrel for opposition sake will do no good to the working class. True, stifling labour laws would jeopardise its interests. But cast-iron guarantees of a “life-time job security” has also led to irresponsible behaviour on the part of both workers and trade union leaders. The need of the hour is to give the workforce its due in terms of wages so that it can integrate itself with the globalised market. In their own interest, the trade unions should join hands with the Centre and evolve a consensus on the recommendations of the NCL report.


Class IV board exam!

A primary reason why the heavy school bag debate has not been settled in favour of junior school students is the ambition of most parents to see their children become super achievers. They want their children to scale impossible heights even before the process that is meant to make men out of boys and ladies out of girls has begun. Now Maharashtra has given a new twist to the controversy by deciding to subject nine-year-old students to the rigours of a board examination. Not entirely unexpectedly, both teachers and students have expressed reservations about the wisdom of the measure. And look at the syllabus. The class IV students would be expected to know about Chhatrapati Shivaji’s capture of Purandar and the population of Maharashtra. At the global level educationists and child counsellors are concerned about the unfair pressure on young minds to perform beyond their age in diverse fields. As a result they are losing out on their childhood far too early for their own good. Most such “pressured children” suffer from what is called the burnout syndrome at an age at which most children under normal circumstances begin their careers. The explanation offered by the authorities for the class IV board examination is ridiculous. They want the children to be treated as guinea pigs for finding out the flaws in the education system at the primary level. What the ill-thought out decision has done is to force children, who should have been dreaming childish dreams and spending more time on non-academic pursuits like playing cricket or tennis or football, to organise street protests against the decision to introduce the system of board examination for class IV students.

The authorities need not have taken the unhappy decision for finding out why school education across the country is in a mess. The factors have been identified. The primary reason for the appalling standards is the poor pay scales that attract only the academically less gifted to profession of teaching in schools. In developed countries primary teachers are paid well because they are charged with the responsibility of laying the foundation that can take the increased load of higher education. The condition of the classrooms of most government schools, and some money-making private institutions, is another factor that make students abhor the idea of going to school. If the authorities were serious about identifying the flaws in the primary school education system, they would have sent out teams of experts to certain premium schools in the country to understand the secret of their success in producing achievers during class 10 and class 12 board examinations on a regular basis. There are schools that follow a simple grading system up to class V, before young minds are exposed to the discipline of preparing for a regular examination of the knowledge of the subjects taught to them. These schools are among the ones that are recognised as centre of academic excellence. Subjecting nine-year-old students to the rigours of a board examination is, in fact, a form of child abuse and should be abandoned before a concerned parent or teacher challenges the decision in a court of law.


Iraq and the US war on terrorism
What should India do to protect its interests?
G. Parthasarathy

President George W. Bush has personally stepped in to secure international support for his desire to use all means he considers necessary, including the use of military, to secure a “regime change” in Iraq. After speaking to President Vladimir Putin, Mr Bush held detailed discussions in the White House last week with the visiting Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov. This meeting took place after the Russian Ministers had met their counterparts in the State Department and the Pentagon. After Mr Colin Powell had persuaded the White House that the USA should not act unilaterally against Iraq, without first attempting to obtain international support, the Bush Administration has spared no effort to secure a suitably worded UN Security Council resolution that would provide a cover for it to act militarily against President Saddam Hussein, should the need arise. Washington knows that with the United Kingdom on its side, President Chirac may make some noises cautioning the USA. But France will ultimately fall in line with its plans. The real challenge for the Bush Administration lies in getting Russian endorsement for its game plan.

While the Russians do put up a show of acting independently, they do ultimately fall in line with US wishes on issues that the Americans consider to be of vital national interest. This was quite evident from the way in which Russia readily acquiesced in an expanding American military presence in Central Asia and in the American plans to scrap the 1971 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and develop and deploy Missile Defence Systems. But, before extending tacit support to American plans, the Russians will demand their pound of flesh. Russia does, after all, have extensive interests in Iraq. Iraq has yet to repay around $ 8 billion in debts to Russia. In addition, Russia has a large stake in the development of Iraq’s oil and gas resources. Finally, the Russians are not too pleased with America’s support for Georgia’s President Sheverdnadze at a time when Georgia is quietly providing support to Chechen terrorists to operate out of the Pankisi Gorge on its territory, in much the same manner as General Musharraf is allowing his favourite jihadis to cross the Line of Control and the international border with India. The Russians quite rightly believe that if the Americans reserve the right to take pre-emptive action to prevent terrorist attacks on their soil, their right to act against terrorists operating from Georgia should equally be recognised by Washington and the international community. New Delhi should unequivocally and publicly support this Russian position.

Adding to the concerns that Russia has about American policies toward Iraq, is the manner in which the USA has aggressively followed a policy of isolating and bypassing Russia in the utilisation and exploitation of the vast oil and gas resources of Central Asia and the Caucasus. The recent commencement in construction of an oil pipeline that will bring together Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey while bypassing Russia, is a development that Moscow cannot be pleased about. Thus, the following weeks and months are going to see intensive discussions between Moscow and Washington on how their respective interests can be mutually accommodated. What is interesting is the almost deafening silence in Beijing on repeated statements from Washington about its determination to achieve “regime change” in Iraq. While the Chinese have made some pro forma noises about the UN resolutions on Iraq, they have avoided taking a posture that could cause offence to Washington. But, behind the scenes, the Chinese would also promote their interests before acquiescing in American plans.

When the Gulf war following the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait took place over a decade ago, there was much overblown rhetoric about how flames of anger would engulf the Islamic world if the western powers dared to attack Iraq. In the event, nothing of great consequence took place and a number of Islamic countries, including Egypt and Syria, contributed to the American military effort. There has been no dearth of similar rhetoric in recent days over a new tide of Islamic anger should the Americans strike at Iraq. This is again nothing but overblown rhetoric. The Secretary-General of the Arab League, Egypt’s Amr Moussa, loudly proclaimed that any invasion of Iraq “will open the gates of hell in the Middle East”, only to change his tune a few days later. We heard similar rhetoric when the American bombing of Afghanistan started. But the few street protests in support of the Taliban that took place in Pakistan and elsewhere were soon quelled. Our policy makers have to keep the chasm between rhetoric and reality in the Islamic world constantly in mind. And all sections of public opinion in India have to be constantly educated about this.

It is now evident that the Islamic countries around Iraq are lining up behind the Americans, who have military bases to strike at Iraq in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, the UAE, Turkey and Pakistan. The Jordanian Foreign Minister recently alluded to his country’s extensive ties with the USA, adding that his country would not “jeopardise this relationship”. Qatar, that is likely to be a focal point for American military action, fears Saudi domination and its proximity to Iran, and has referred to the USA as “our ally”. Turkey would be quite happy to play a supportive role to the Americans as it has always done, provided its concerns about Kurdish separatism are addressed. After a long meeting between President Bush and the Saudi Ambassador in Texas earlier this month, Saudi Arabia has also joined the chorus of voices in the Arab world and stated that its bases will be available to the USA, should it mount operations against Iraq under cover of an appropriately worded Security Council resolution. The redoubtable General Musharraf has in the meantime proclaimed that he is too preoccupied with problems on Pakistan’s borders to take sides in any American intervention in Iraq.

New Delhi is naturally concerned that a new Gulf conflict could adversely affect its interests. It fears that the prices of oil will rise and that instability in the Persian Gulf could have adverse repercussions for the over three million Indians living in the member-states of the Gulf Cooperation Council. This, in turn, will naturally affect the nearly six billion dollars of remittances that Indians living in these countries repatriate annually. But it needs to be remembered that for the first time there is considerable American and Western concern and even anger at the role that Saudi Arabia has played in spreading Islamic fundamentalism worldwide. Even in our own neighbourhood, Saudi Arabian organisations like the Rabita and the Motammar have funded terrorist organisations like the Lashkar-e-Toiyaba and the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and promoted the cause of separatist outfits like the Hurriyat Conference. One can only hope that as the American war against terrorism proceeds, the Saudi rulers will be persuaded to curb the activities of outfits promoting fundamentalism abroad.

There is naturally admiration in India for Iraq’s secular traditions. American claims that Iraq has links with Al-Qaida, therefore, lack credibility. But the hard reality is that with the passage of time, the Iraqi leadership is going to find that it is becoming increasingly isolated from its neighbours, as they line up with the USA. And in formulating its response to emerging developments, New Delhi would be well advised to bear in mind the chasm between rhetoric and reality in the Arab and Islamic world.


Builder of infrastructure

S K TandonAt a time when privatisation seems the predominant catchword, the achievements of one state-run organisation have gone almost unnoticed. Telecommunication Consultants India Limited (TCIL), under the stewardship of its Chairman and Managing Director S K Tandon, has made a much acclaimed mark. For Mr Tandon, a trained engineer and an officer of the Indian Telecom Service cadre, TCIL provided the perfect platform for the enhancement of his basic skills.

In a career spanning more than four decades, he has developed an uncanny knack of specialising in reconstructing infrastructure in war-ravaged areas. He was part of TCIL's team at the time of Iraqi invasion in Kuwait and monitored the contracts for the reconstruction of telecom infrastructure in that country. Little wonder then that Mr Tandon has shown keen interest in the reconstruction of the telecom infrastructure in Afghanistan — a country torn apart by internecine battle for decades. As an entry strategy, TCIL has secured a contract for IT training in Kabul.

In the domestic arena, Mr Tandon is giving final touches to an elaborate blueprint aimed at connecting all the tehsils of the country through a wide area network spread across all the post offices.

During his career, Mr Tandon has been at the forefront of implementing several tunkey projects, mostly in the Third World. These include Kuwait, Ghana, Oman, Nigeria, Togo, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Nepal, Algeria and now Afghanistan.

An unassuming person with a Punjabi background but bred in the City of Nawabs, Lucknow, Mr Tandon has identified monitoring of accountability, reorganisation of workload, inculcation of professionalism and delegation of responsibilities as the primary focus areas.

CEO with a difference

Reuben SinghMr Reuben Singh, all of 26 years, has set himself the goal of becoming a billionaire before 30. A Sikh with orthodox values and a burning zeal to succeed, Reuben's motto is explained by four Cs — companies, cars, clothes and cash. His journey towards the four Cs began when, as a rather non-conformist teenager at the age of 17, he started a chain of stores aptly called "Miss Attitude" in Britain primarily dealing with fashion accessories.

The genesis of his success can be traced back to his desire to buy a car for himself with his own money. Since it required a rather princely amount of 84,000 pounds (and he did not want his father to fund it), he set up the store, as at the age of 17 securing a job was well nigh impossible.

In his own words, he wants to rewrite the record books by becoming the world's youngest billionaire at 30. If he achieves the difficult goal he will beat none other than Mr Bill Gates. Currently, his individual net worth stands at 151 million dollars and he has about four years to earn the balance 850 million dollars to realise one of his most cherished dreams.

Only recently Reuben's name was featured by Fortune magazine in the list of the World's 40 Richest Under 40. For a man who started his business with a meagre 500 pounds in 1995, in less than seven years, his group has commanded a turnover of 300 million dollars, spread across 11 countries with interests in diverse businesses ranging from retail, technology, real estate, currency trading and virtual offices.

Reuben has not given much of a thought to tying the knot as business dominates his psyche presently. Born and bred in Britain, Reuben considers his Eastern cultural roots as one of his strongest assets. For the record he begins his birthday every year by paying obeisance at the Golden Temple in Amritsar and takes pride in the fact that he is fluent in both Punjabi and Hindi.

A school dropout at 17, Reuben's parents moved to England in the seventies from Delhi and set up a fashion accessory distribution business at Manchester.


Ways & means of fulfilling spiritual aim
Hardit Singh

God has created two distinct spheres: our observed material world and the unseen spiritual world. Practically all the world’s religions believe in the existence of an unseen, other spiritual dimension.

The spiritual world is both within and without us; whoever probes into it realises the reality — “Jo brahmande soi pinde, jo khoje so pave.” Because of our preoccupation with worldly affairs and our false notion that we are merely physical bodies, we remain ignorant of our real status: we are embodiments of the Divine Light and are as such essentially spiritual.

Entry into the spiritual domain is not easy. It is largely a matter of Divine mercy and grace but some human efforts is also needed. If it were not so, no prophets and gurus would have visited us and no scriptures would have been written to guide humanity. In his first six hymns of Japji, Guru Nanak called upon his followers to submit to the will and pleasure of God; to meditate on the glories of the True One at the ambrosial hours of the dawn; to remember the One Lord to imbibe godly qualities.

When the mind awakens with the celestial combination of consciousness (surta), music (dhun) and shabad (Nam), space and time barriers are broken, vision and perception are broadened, and the soul, like wireless waves, can travel or penetrate anywhere without restrictions. Liberated souls can draw upon spiritual archives, like the records of the legendary — ‘Chitar-Gupt,’ the hidden scribes, which contain all the information about the past, present and future events.

Bhagat Ravidas paints a picture of the spiritual world in one of his compositions, “Begumpura shahr ko nao” as under:

The City Joyful is the name of that city —

Suffering and sorrow abide not there.

Neither is there worry of paying

taxes, nor does any hold property;

Neither fear of punishment for error nor of decline.

This place of habitation have I found:

Brother! There weal perpetually reigns. (Pause)

Eternally fixed is the kingship there in

No second or third are there: all are alike

There people deport themselves as they please —

All are inmates of that mansion; none bars any.

Like many, I too have had a number of experiences with the spiritual world. They may not have a scientific explanation but they were vivid occurrences and to this day have deepened my appreciation of mysteries of our being. During my military service at Jalandhar from 1955 to 1957, I was lucky to meet two great spiritual personalities: Sant Baba Jwala Singh of Harkhowal (1890-1957), great brahmgyani of the twentieth century, and Bhai Vir Singh (1872-1957), a renowned Punjabi poet, writer, novelist, and mystic who shunned recognition and publicity.

Sant Babaji shed his mortal frame on November 13, 1957 and his body was disposed of in a river on 14th. I was 1,500 miles away in South India. In two separate visions on 13th and 14th mornings, I saw all that was happening at the time of his death in a gurdwara room: the devotees around him covering his body in a white sheet. In the second vision, I saw the caravan of vehicles, three small boats which carried the coffin to the centre of the river. In both these visions, I saw myself amongst his nearest devotees and listened to Babaji’s last words addressed to me.

Within a few days, a letter was received intimating the death of Babaji along with a note that he had remembered me before he shed his mortal frame. I went on leave and to my great astonishment the description of the gurdwara, the location of the room and the sequence of events tallied exactly with my visions. He had shed his mortal coil at Domeli, a village not seen by me before and his body was submerged in the Sutlej river. The wonder was that whereas the death and water-burial had happened at about noon time, the visions were flashed six hours in advance during my morning prayers.

Bhai Vir Singh, in addition to being a writer and a mystic, was also a keen gardener and lover of flowers. He died in 1957. While serving in North-East India in the 1960s, I collected some rare varieties of orchids from the remote areas for presentation to his home in Dehra Dun, where his younger brother, Dr Balbir Singh was living. While travelling by train to Dehra Dun in a first class compartment all by myself, I envisioned Bhai Sahib standing before me, receiving the orchids and holding them gently in his hands. He was smiling and thanking me for the beautiful collection. It was a clear vision and not an illusion or delusion. Some of these orchids are still flourishing in that house.

The object of this article is to remind us that we are not on this earth to merely eat, drink and be merry. We have to fulfil our spiritual aim in this life itself and that is to gain entry into the domain of Truth or Reality (Such-Khand) by prayer, love and noble deeds. The five examples cited in brief provide glimpses of the spiritual world and fortify our belief in its existence of the spiritual world. Its perception begins from within us and culminates in visualising God in His entire creation.

We should remember that when we are fortunate to have a vision or illuminating experience, we are reminded that our being is much larger than the physical realm we daily perceive. Perhaps these experiences are meant to help us realise the limitations of the material world with all its desires and give us a deeper perspective into what is really important.

The spiritual or the other world is also associated with the court of True Justice where we have to render accounts of our deeds after death.


The electronic media’s lust for blood
Kuljit Bains

On Wednesday morning a particular TV channel was able to send a camera team up close to the terrorists’ bodies as they were being dragged out of the Swaminarayan temple (Akshardham) in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

This, they claimed on the screen, was exclusive footage. What we saw around 9.30 in the morning was a bloody, mud-covered and mangled body of a terrorist being dragged for several metres by a wire tied around the neck.

The person anchoring the show said it was unedited raw footage being brought to the audience. A few seconds later, apparently himself squirming from the close-up of the blood and gore being relayed by the team on the spot, he said the visuals might be disturbing to viewers.

They were. And the channel should have known before showing it. A day earlier, on Tuesday morning, another channel got “exclusive” footage of securitymen fighting terrorists holed up in a house in Srinagar. There were shots of a body burning and the structure being demolished. It was death and destruction, live. The same evening, the channel had prepared logos and promotional copy for the footage to be replayed in our drawing/bed rooms. It said the channel had made history in Indian TV by getting such coverage that was “romanchak,” to quote the exact word. So here we had media packages being peddled, to the ever-divided audience, in “attractive” wrappings like “exclusive” and “romanchak.”

In the first instance, we were provided “unedited” views. Probably the channel wanted us to be grateful to its editors for not doing their job. Though the reality could have been they were taken by surprise by their team on the spot, which could not have been in a very balanced state of mind having spent hours amidst blood and gunshots. The cameraman can be excused for going overboard, not the editorial staff. It has to act with alacrity and stop tormenting the audience.

At times death and destruction may be shown or suggested if it serves the purpose of conveying a situation. I could not see any in the shots of visible holes in the body of a slain terrorist or it being dragged by the neck. Securitymen and journalists involved in operations are in a particular state of mind and are just doing their job, it’s not right or wrong. Their actions may seem gory, but then such operations involving blood are not straight. However, when seeing things in the context of a drawing room sofa, viewers may get a wrong perception of the people involved and may themselves get unnecessarily provoked. Editorial discretion is supposed to prevent that.

TV channels seem to have let their market managers take over editorial control.

In the second instance, of Srinagar coverage, presenting live shots was fine. Even repeating it in the evening was fine. What seemed crass was packaging it like a popular show and advertising it. Media is a business, no doubt; getting audience is a necessity. At times gains have to be made discretely. An undertaker’s business is death, but he cannot afford to show excitement on seeing a body.



Akshardham: an architectural marvel

The magnificent Akshardham Swaminarayan temple, which was attacked by terrorists on Tuesday evening, is one of the most popular tourist sites in Gujarat that draws hundreds of thousands every year.

Swaminarayan is a popular Hindu sect and has millions of followers spread across the world, including in the USA.

The sect chief priest, Pramukh Swami, who was in Ahmedabad for a few weeks recently, is in the Guinness Book of Records for building the largest number of temples across the world. He has built temples in the USA, Europe and Africa, besides India.

The imposing 10-storey high, intricately carved architectural masterpiece, standing at the centre of a 23-acre complex, enshrines a gold statue of Lord Swaminarayan, the founder of the Swaminarayan sect.

About 6,000 tonnes of pink sandstone have been pieced together with incredible accuracy without the help of steel and cement. More than 12 million man-hours of 900 skilled craftsmen have created this magnificent monument of 93 sculpted pillars, 40 windows carved from both sides, and a feast of forms and filigrees. The campus also has a dazzling techno-show in which images appear on the 14 screens simultaneously. It is called “Integrovision”, where technology and mind are said to integrate to delve deeper into the spiritual world. IANS

Convicted for setting fire to son’s house

A 72-year-old Indian in Toronto has been sentenced to life imprisonment for setting fire to his son’s house, an act that left a four-year-old child horribly disfigured.

Ontario Court Judge David Watt sentenced Boota Singh Klair for arson causing bodily harm. Klair set ablaze his son’s home in Toronto two years ago. Klair was babysitting his grandson Raj, then aged four years, while his son and daughter-in-law were away. Klair poured gasoline in three bedrooms and set the house ablaze, leaving Raj inside. Klair hasn’t spoken yet, not even in court, as to what happened to him that day.

Raj was found in critical condition and remains “terribly disfigured... horribly scarred on most of his body”, said crown attorney Robert Clark. On the day of the blaze, September 20, 2000, one eyewitness told the Metro Police that Raj emerged from the house in flames from head to toe. Judge Watt reportedly said last week he had imposed the unusually harsh sentence on Klair, who had never before committed any offence, because it was hard to imagine a more callous disregard than to leave a young boy to burn or suffocate.

According to the crown attorney, Raj has already undergone 20 operations. He still needs some more. “His left ear was amputated and he’s also missing all the fingers on his left hand, missing digits on his right hand.

“He’s horribly scarred on most of his body, he’s got significant hair loss, bad facial scarring, scarring on a large part of his body.” Raj’s father, Shiv, is heartbroken and it was revealed he sometimes breaks down and cries uncontrollably. Nobody from the family was present in the court at the time Klair was sentenced. IANS


My mind does simran

of the Lord’s Name.

In Him it stays absorbed;

To whom shall I bow my head

when through simran

I have become one

with the Lord?

‘You, you’ I repeated,

And you I became;

No trace of ‘I’

is left in me.

Through this barter

I have lost my ‘I’ — wherever I look

Only YOU I see.

Kabir, simran is the essence

of all paths,

all else is nothing

but a fruitless task;

I have scanned

The origin and the end

of all practices,

and found them all

within the bounds of kal.

— Kabir Granthavali


Repetition by the tongue is better than that with a rosary, and that in the throat is superior to one by the tongue. Similarly, that in the heart is more beneficial than the one in the throat. Simran in the navel centre is done by the yogis alone. Simran by means of a rosary or by the tongue is considered to be the lowest form of repetition, that in the throat and with the heart being distinctly superior. However, all types of repetition, when accompanied by one-pointed attention, yield good results. They cleanse the mind and bring some moments of peace. But the soul currents do not collect at the eye centre, so there is little gain in spiritual development.

It is for this reason that the saints... advocate repetition by the tongue of the soul. This way we gain the means of making the mind still. Saints call this, the simran of the soul.

The Simran of the soul awakens the inner consciousness and enables one to hear shabad or the Sound Current which brings real peace and bliss.

— Huzur Maharaj Sawan Singh, Philosophy of the Masters, series one

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