Wednesday, April 18, 2012

India’s Underused Soft Power

Hu Shih, (1891-1962), Chinese philosopher once said: ’India conquered and dominated China culturally for two thousand years without ever having to send a single soldier across her border‘.

I got to see a glimpse of this soft power of India during my recent visit to Sarnath – the Birthplace of Buddhism. People from all over the world arrive here to pay homage to Gautama the Buddha. This was the place where Buddha gave his first sermon after attaining enlightenment.

Buddhist Monks from around the World at Sarnath, the birthplace of Buddhism.

Sarnath is about 13 Kms from Benares. The city of Benares has pathetic public infrastructure, totally ignored by the successive Governments. It is the oldest living city in the World, and it hasn’t got the attention it deserves. There is little attempt to preserve the cultural heritage. The road to Sarnath is broken, with illegal encroachments all over. While the Japanese Govt has offered to preserve and promote the ancient monuments at Sarnath, the State Govt has shown little will.

Swami Vivekananda said more than 100 years back, that Spirituality is the reason for India’s existence and it’s contribution to the World: 

Touch him on spirituality, on religion, on God, on the soul, on the Infinite, on spiritual freedom, and I assure you, the lowest peasant in India is better informed on these subjects than many a so-called philosopher in other lands… We have yet something to teach to the world. This the very reason, the raison d’ĂȘtre, that this nation has lived on, in spite of hundreds of years of persecution, in spite of nearly a thousand years of foreign rule and foreign oppression. This nation still lives; the raison d’ĂȘtre is, it still holds to God, to the treasure house of religion and spirituality.

Unfortunately we have ignored the powerhouses of Spirituality in India, places like Benares and Sarnath are just an example of that.

The Ocean churning scene from Indian mythology at the Bangkok Suvaranbhumi Airport

Several spiritual Gurus from India have spread the message of spirituality around the world, starting from Swami Vivekananda, Paramahamsa Yogananda, Osho, J Krishnamurthy, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Mata Amritanandamayi, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, Baba Ramdev etc, who have millions of followers world wide and continue to grow each day.

We have something the world needs today more than ever before. This is our soft power. We need to recognize it and wield it in the right way.

In religion, India is the only millionaire – the One land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for all the shows of all the rest of the globe combined‘ – Mark Twain

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Ram Setu, a National Monument: Nation believes, Sonia Brigade fumbles

Source: News Bharati     

$img_titleNew Delhi, March 29: From thousand years, entire India and the world firmly believes that the Ram Setu is more than a National Monument. It is the history of Indian civilization. But now Sonia-led UPA government is in confused position where it has to tell the Supreme Court about its stand on Ram Setu. The UPA and the Congress are in disarray about Ram Setu’s monumental status. They are going to lose the battle for any stand they will embrace. 

On Thursday, the Supreme Court granted two weeks' time (till 19 April) to the Central government to decide whether Ram Setu will be declared as a national monument, after the Centre begged the Court that it needed more time to file an affidavit on the issue. Ram Setu is revered by Indians as the sacred bridge between India and ShriLanka.

$img_titleDr. Subramanian Swamy, the petitioner in this case who wants Ram Setu to be declared as a national monument, told the top court he wondered why the Centre is not taking a decision. The Supreme Court, however, granted time to the Centre and adjourned the case till April 19. The top court had directed the Centre to file an affidavit on the issue in July 2007.

The Ram Setu, was to be cut through for the Sethusamudram Canal project, but the Supreme Court had stayed the decision.

On Wednesday, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging him to Ram Setu a national monument. "I request you to take necessary action to communicate the views of the government of India to the Supreme Court that it would take immediate steps for declaring the site as a national monument," she said in the letter.

Several cases have been filed in the Madras High Court and the Supreme Court against the Sethusamudram project that proposed to dredge the Palk Strait so that shipping is possible between the western and eastern coasts instead of circumventing Sri Lanka.

$img_titleHindus believe that the stretch of limestone shoals between Dhanushkodi near Rameshwaram in Southern India and Mannar in Northwest Shri Lanka are the remains of an ancient bridge built by Lord Rama, as described in the holy epic, Ramayana.

$img_titleNASA satellite images show clear pictures of a broken bridge under the ocean floor. The heritage of the bridge and the story of Lord Rama are extremely sacred to Hindus.

The ocean floor between India and Sri Lanka near the Mannar coast is very shallow and is not navigable. It does not allow ships to pass. This means that. India does not have a continuous navigational channel linking the east and west coasts. Ships coming from India's west and heading to Bangladesh or Indian ports on the east coast have to go around Sri Lanka because the waterway in the sea dividing the two countries is shallow.

Therefore, the Government of India has proposed the dredging of the sea to create a shipping canal to save up to 780 km of sailing distance and 30 hours of sailing time for ships plying between the east and west coasts of India.

Indian officials say the canal, which is called the Sethusamudram project, will also boost the national economy besides speeding up the movement of Indian Navy and Coast Guard vessels as well. Many Naval officials are saying that even after the completion of SSCP, the depth of the canal shall be only 12 meters (about 36 feet ), and only small and medium sized vessels shall be able to pass. Large sized vessels and carriers shall not be able to pass.

The construction of the canal immediately led to wide protests in India by Hindu leaders. Several holy men have gathered together to launch a campaign of protest. In March 2007, over ten Hindu umbrella organizations from around the world joined together to launch the Save Ram Sethu Campaign (Ram Sethu Bachao Andolan) to increase the profile of the issue amongst the international communities.

The campaign said that construction of the canal will hurt religious sentiments of millions of Hindus and also pose a great risk to the environment of the region and the livelihood of local fishermen.
Ram Setu prevented the tsunami from advancing from Rameshwaram to Kerala. Ram Setu (Sethu) is a natural barrier to Tsunami. Dr. Murthy, Chief Editor of the reputed International Tsunami Journal "Science of Tsunami Hazards" has said that during the last tsunami, the Ramar Bridge (at a high elevation) from the rest of the shoal accumulations acted as a natural barrier prevented the direct devastation of the entire coastline south and southwest of Nagapattanam.

Many geologists, earth scientists, and oceanographers have commented critically, against the disastrous consequences of constructing SSCP. Amongst these is the impending devastation of Kerala, which will suck in after implementation of SSCP, after next Tsunami hits it.

The construction of SSCP is trampling upon the feelings and emotions of millions and millions of Hindus. Besides, this bridge is world's oldest man-made structure. It is much much older than the pyramids of Egypt, and the Great Wall of China.

People have crossed the sea using the Ram Setu, for many thousand years, until the 15th century. According to the specialists, a sea route may be prepared for navigation without damaging Ram Setu, by removing the barren sand heaps near village Mandapam between Rameshwaram and Dhanushkoti railway. This will not only give a shorter route for navigation but also protect the oldest man-made heritage.

On Thursday, after the Congress Party begged the SC for time to decide the status of Ram Setu, Dr. Subramanyam Swamy has tweeted, “On Rama Setu being declared a national heritage site, Congi (Congress) caught in Catch 22. Enjoy the unfolding spectacle. Mama Mia! Mia should speak up”.

$img_titleCongress Party and the UPA Government are now saving their faces as they have no escape route for about the status of the Ram Setu. If they declare ram Setu as National Monument, it will shake their image of Muslim appeaser and Congies like Digvijay Singh have to explain the Muslims about their ‘misgivings’. If, in an attempt to pacify Muslims and secularists, they announce that the Ram Setu is not a National monument, then nationalist forces will again get charged up and it will again tumble the base of Sonia Brigade.,-a-National-Monument--Nation-believes,-Sonia-Brigade-fumbles.aspx?NB=&lang=1&m1=&m2=&p1=&p2=&p3=&p4=&NewsMode=int