Archive for March, 2011

Buffett should learn our ethos of giving

Buffett should learn our ethos of giving

R Vaidyanathan

First Published : 22 Mar 2011 11:09:00 PM IST
Last Updated : 23 Mar 2011 01:29:02 AM IST

The rootless wonders are agog with ecstasy that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are visiting India. They will not only explore about investing in India but also urge the Indian business to allocate at least half of their wealth to charity and this year is called year of ‘giving’.
It is important that both of them are educated about our system and ethos of giving which exist from ancient times and do not need lectures through business channels which live and even die for TRPs.
Buffett should know that the greatest hero of all times in India in our puranas is Karna who gave all and his name is interchangeably used for the art of giving in many Indian languages.
Ratan Tata may be shy to point out to Bill Gates that ‘the Tata founders bequeathed most of their individual wealth to many trusts they created for the greater good of India and its people’. So is the case with G D Birla and Jamnalal Bajaj. This may not be trumpeted by Kumara Mangalam Birla and Rahul Bajaj. As a perceptive blogger Sandeep Singh says that as early as 1895 Dayal Singh Majithia bequeathed away three million rupees for noble causes including new ventures by Indians. Actually Majithia was an early ‘venture capitalist’ in India even though not many know about him.
We also find that Swami Vivekananda could not have gone to USA but for local business people funding him and the weightlifters and wrestlers could not have won gold medals at the recent Commonwealth Games but for local traders financing their clubs in remote parts of Orissa and Manipur. Many may not have heard about Ekal Vidyalayas which are one-teacher schools functioning in remote parts of India, particularly in tribal areas. They are in as many as 35,000 villages, educating more than one million children. Take the other example of Satya Sai initiative to bring water to Rayalseema using private donations. The Ninth Plan document of Planning Commission says, “The Sathya Sai Charity has set an unparalleled initiative of implementing on their own without any budgetary support a massive water supply project with an expenditure of `3 billion to benefit 731 villages, etc.”
Later this project was extended to Chennai costing more than `600 crore. Ramakrishna Mission runs around 200 hospitals serving nearly one crore people annually mostly in rural areas. It also runs around 1,200 educational institutions serving more than 3.5 lakh students of which more than 1.25 lakh are in rural areas.
Nadars engaged in business in Tamil Nadu have funded hundreds of educational institutions and hospitals and so the Marwaris/Chettiars/Katchis/Bhoras all over India.
A lot of our education, healthcare, arts, literature and spirituality efforts/ventures have been fully financed by businessmen who are even shy to talk about it. Herein is the secret to the fundamental ethos of giving in India. It is done without advertisements and trumpets. Actually in our tradition the giver is reluctant to talk about it since it embarrasses the receiver. The fact that it could demean the receiver is reason enough for the giver to keep silent. Remember the way Nitish Kumar reacted when the donation from Gujarat for flood relief in Bihar was advertised? Nitish Kumar recalled our tradition of giving without revealing.
It is told in our ancient wisdom that one should give till the hand bleeds and one should not talk about it. The action will speak even centuries later. The upstarts of today write on every tubelight their names before donating it to a temple or call press conferences to declare their ‘intentions’. That is the US culture. Everything from lovemaking to charity should be advertised and shown on prime time television. Then only you prove that the spouses and receivers are happy.
But why this sudden wallowing in self pity and whining about giving? It all started with the Indira Gandhi Prize being given to Bill Gates on July 25, 2009, and wherein the chairman of National Advisory Council Sonia Gandhi read a speech on the need for Indian businessmen to give for charity (like Bill Gates) and it was published in full by Wall Street Journal and a columnist in that paper pontificated the “rich in India to open their wallets”. Leaders and media in India who are clueless about Indian ethos are setting the Gates and Buffett’s to further pontificate to our business people.
It is interesting that Bill Gates who has operations in Cayman islands and Reno of Nevada to minimise or evade taxes to be paid to the United States government is enthusiastic about “Giving by India Inc”. Warren Buffett is planning to give his dollar assets to the Gates foundation which will reduce estate taxes in the future. Interestingly both of them are some of the few US business barons supporting estate taxes. It is not clear who are their dinner guests in India. If it is Forbes billionaires from India we hope Shahid Balwa of the Spectrum fame is not going to be there!
Somebody should also tell Bill Gates and Warren Buffett that India Inc constitutes less than 15 per cent of our GDP and the real growth masters are small partnership and proprietorship firms which are deeply involved in giving. Actually India Inc in our economy is like an item number in a Bollywood movie. Good to talk about on TV but only has the glamour quotient. Also can we suggest to Gates and Buffett to stop investing in firms in tax havens since that sucks away billions of dollars of money from countries like India. If they really want to help India then they should start a campaign to close down all these tax havens rather than having expensive company-paid dinners at five star hotels of our country urging Balwas to give.
(The writer is professor, Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore.
The views are personal)

New methods of incentivising proselytization

New methods of incentivising proselytization
Posted: 28 Mar 2011 11:37 PM PDT

Cash prize for Hindus to throw photos of Hindu Gods. Extra money for wearing cross lockets
By R Guru Prasad

IT is said that marketing is an art of making people ‘buy’ without knowing ‘why’ and Christian missionaries are proving it right. Christian missionaries have adopted the latest marketing strategy to hood wink the gullible, poor, uneducated Hindus in Bangalore by offering cash prize for those who dump the photos of Hindu gods and replace with photos of Jesus in their houses. This is not enough. A bonus cash prize will be offered to those Hindus who wears cross symbol secretly! These are the samples revealed in the recent case study conducted by Dr M Chidanandamurthy, noted thinker, Philosopher, researcher, columnist and a social activist from Bangalore.

Dr M Chidanandamurthy unmasked the new avatar of Christian missionaries in his new findings and shared a few points with the media on March 19, 2011 and requested the Hindu youths to protest against an uncivilised way of converting Hindus by allurement of cash prizes. Murthy has exposed immoral acts of Christian missionaries, conversion agents, pro-Christian lobby and evangelists working overtime in Bangalore on a conversion spree. Murthy, however, not specified the exact amount of money given as a cash prize for those who throw Hindu gods and wear Christian symbol. Murthy mentioned that he came to know about this cunning act from his friend Ramachandra Upadhya who lives at Wilson Garden, Bangalore. Both Murthy and Upadhya went to Manjunathanagar locality near Marathhalli, 3-km away from Bangalore HAL old airport on March 15, 2011 and witnessed a shock of their life.

According to Murthy, conversion agents identify Hindu families who are financially weak and promise to provide them with cash prizes for displaying ‘some’ photos. After capitalising on their weakness, evangelists carry a sweet box and an attractive framed photo of Jesus and go to homes belonging to lower strata of the society along with a local conversion agent. By offering money on the spot, agents manage to include Jesus photo in the middle of Hindu gods. After few weeks the round two operation starts by releasing another installment money and influencing them to place the photo of Jesus on the top most lane above Hindu gods in a more visible manner. Again after few weeks, the conversion agents lands there with huge money and convince them to discard photos of Hindu gods and goddesses. Fearing to throw photos and idols of Hindu gods into dustbin, poor gullible Hindus place them in the premises of Vasuki Subramanya Temple, which is situated on the national Highway.

Conversion agents offering huge sums of money and manage to get photos, idols, stickers, symbols of Hindu gods removed from the Hindu homes is just the beginning for yet another round of cheating. They give additional money for embracing Christianity and displaying Christian symbols in their house. “It is a bargain and if converted Christian willing to wear a cross around his neck, will be entitled to claim a bonus which will be happily given to him by agents and will also earn incentive from foreign funds used by Christian Missionaries” Murthy explained in his letter. He has charged the conversion agents with ‘agenda to misuse the situation’. According to him agents play a major role during ill-health of Hindus and offer a free prayer meeting to get rid of diseases only to get them converted to Christianity with a bogus healing power of Jesus.

Murthy has given his address, contact number and the telephone number of his friend Upadhya and requested general public to inform them about illegal conversions anywhere in Karnataka to take appropriate action against the immoral acts. Ramachandra Upadhya is available on his mobile number: 09902400072 and Murthy can be contacted at 1013 B, 4th Cross, 11th Main, Hampinagara, Bangalore – 560040. Landline 080-23300687. To prevent further attack on the Hindu society he urged the Karnataka Government to legislate Anti-conversion law with immediate effect.

Courtsey : Organiser

Colbert: Try Hinduism for Lent, By Philip Goldberg

Colbert: Try Hinduism for Lent, By Philip Goldberg
Posted: 29 Mar 2011 04:05 AM PDT
Philip Goldberg is an Interfaith Minister, author of ‘American Veda: How Indian Spirituality Changed the West’
March, 2011.
Dear Stephen Colbert (famous TV star, who decided to adopt the rituals of Islam for 40 days to gain a deeper understanding of the faith),
On Ash Wednesday, you announced that you were giving up Catholicism for Lent and would try out other religions during the season. May I suggest Hinduism? I think it’s a perfect fit: only with Hinduism can you give up Christianity for Lent and still worship Jesus.
Seriously, you can. I know it sounds strange, but one of the unique merits of the Indian spiritual heritage that colonial powers labeled Hinduism is that it’s so multifaceted it makes Christianity, Judaism and Islam seem uniform by comparison. You know all those deities — the gods and goddesses that cause outsiders to think Hinduism is polytheistic? To Hindus, they’re just different forms of the one ultimate reality called Brahman. Same with avatars like Krishna and Rama. So there’s plenty of room for Jesus. Most Hindus are happy to include him — along with Buddha — in the pantheon of incarnations, saints, gurus and holy ones they regard as worthy of reverence.
In fact, if you visit any number of organizations created by Indian teachers in America, such as Swami Vivekananda’s Vedanta Society or Paramahansa Yogananda’s Self-Realization Fellowship, you will see portraits of Jesus in places of honor. And in some of those institutions, Christians who want to be initiated with a sacred mantra are invited to choose one associated with Jesus — or with Mary, if they’re inclined toward the Divine Feminine. It’s part of a concept known as ishta devata, or cherished deity.
For thousands of years, India has understood that the divine can be imagined and experienced in all kinds of ways, as in the oft-quoted verse from the Rig Veda, Ekam sat vipraha bahudha vadanti — typically translated as, “Truth is one, the wise call it by many names.” Hence, individuals are free to use their preferred form in their spiritual practices.
The point is, Stephen, you’ll feel right at home in most Hindu-derived teaching lineages, or even in a more traditional Hindu temple. Some Christians have trouble getting past that one-and-only-savior-of-all-mankind thing, but you’ll be fine since that’s part of what you’ve given up for Lent.
You might know that there is a long and honorable history of Christians who draw from Eastern spiritual traditions, usually deepening their connection to their own religion as a result. (The same is true of a great number of Jews, by the way, so you can approach this as either the Catholic you’ve always been or the temporary Jew you became when you gave up Catholicism for Lent.) Hundreds of years ago some Jesuit missionaries in India had a change of heart when they delved into the religion of the people they were sent to convert. Seems it had something to teach the would-be converters.
Closer to our time, you may have heard of Bede Griffiths, the late British monk whose monastery in South India, Shantivanam (“forest of peace”), is still a revered destination for pilgrims. Father Bede’s Christian soul was deepened by Hindu ideas and practices, inspiring him to teach that each religion is “a face of the one Truth, which manifests itself under different signs and symbols.” And I’m sure you know about Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk whose 1948 memoir, The Seven Storey Mountain, made him a worldwide spiritual celebrity. “I believe that by openness to Buddhism, to Hinduism … we stand a wonderful chance of learning more about the potentiality of our own traditions,” he wrote.
You’ll be in good company during your time as a Hindu. While researching my book, American Veda, I interviewed dozens of Christians and Jews — among them ministers and rabbis — who returned to their ancestral faith after a lengthy period of alienation or indifference, because the teachings that were birthed in India gave them a new perspective on what it means to be spiritual. And you don’t have to wear a dhoti, put a mark on your forehead (you’ve already done that for Ash Wednesday anyway) or declare your allegiance to anything. There is no Hindu equivalent of what we call conversion. You don’t even have to call yourself a Hindu for that matter. I know it seems weird, but the tradition is so adaptable and welcoming that tens of millions of Americans orient their spiritual lives around meditation, yoga and other practices from India but don’t think of themselves as Hindus. Even some Indians prefer the older, pre-colonial term, Sanatana Dharma, which means, essentially, “eternal path.”
So try it on for Lent, and let the Colbert nation know how it goes. If you have any questions, I’ll be happy to come on your show and help you out, in return for the Colbert Bump.

Courtesy : Huffpost Religion

Pak ‘agent’ gets 7-yr RI for spyi

Pak ‘agent’ gets 7-yr RI for spying


Investigations had revealed that Upadhyay had fallen in love with a Pakistani girl, Fatima Shah, on an Internet chat service two years prior to his arrest. The prosecution said the girl’s father, Salauddin Shah, was an ISI agent. Upadhyay visited Pakistan twice – in October 2006 and January 2007 – and had taken army training at an undisclosed location in Karachi.

PUNE: The court of chief judicial magistrate (CJM) Suchitra Ghodke on Tuesday sentenced Vishalkumar Premchand Upadhyay (28) of Jharkhand to seven years’ rigorous imprisonment on charges of spying. The Pune police had arrested Upadhyay on April 8, 2007, accusing him of being an agent of Pakistan’s ISI.

The Pune police crime branch had arrested Upadhyay, a second year student of Annasaheb Magar College of Engineering in Pimpri Chinchwad, from his rented room at Ganga lodge in the Deccan Gymkhana area.

According to the prosecution, the police had recovered 12 CDs containing photographs of army units and Hindu religious places from Upadhyay. Two of the CDs contained information regarding defence establishments like the National Defence Academy, Bombay Sappers and the High Explosives factory in Khadki, apart from names and contact numbers of top army officials. The other photographs were of the famed Dagdusheth temple and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s office in Modibaug here.

The police had also seized Upadhyay’s Indian passport, a Pakistani visa, a receipt of money received from Pakistan through Western Union and two diaries, including one in Urdu, containing addresses of Pakistani citizens.

Investigations had revealed that Upadhyay had fallen in love with a Pakistani girl, Fatima Shah, on an Internet chat service two years prior to his arrest. The prosecution said the girl’s father, Salauddin Shah, was an ISI agent. Upadhyay visited Pakistan twice – in October 2006 and January 2007 – and had taken army training at an undisclosed location in Karachi.

The police chargesheet names four “absconding” suspects in the case – one Hafiz, Salauddin Shah and two officials of Pakistan’s high commission in New Delhi, Sayyad Shahid Hussain Tirmezhi and Abdul Latif alias Javed. Tirmezhi and Javed were immune to prosecution and, on a report submitted by the Pune police, were sent back to Pakistan.

The chargesheet states that Salauddin, aided by Pakistan’s high commission officials, helped Upadhyay easily obtain a Pakistani visa. Upadhyay had obtained the photographs from Hafiz.

The judge said the girl had lured Upadhyay by promising to marry him and had also told him that he would be looking after their business interests in London. Upadhyay, while falling for the girl, had acted against the integrity of the nation and had obtained two passports – in 1995 and in 2005, she said.

Ghodke said Upadhyay had accepted money coming from Pakistan in Pune and in New Delhi. He had sent several emails to Pakistan, but none of them referred to his love for Fatima. He had also made and received several telephone calls from Pakistan, the judge said.

Ghodke praised investigating officer Bhanupratap Barge of the crime branch for conducting an in-depth investigation, saying this had helped the court in bringing the guilt of the accused on record.

Upadhyay’s lawyer Rajesh Kature pleaded that his client be given an opportunity to reform himself as his father was suffering from paralysis and his sister was of marriageable age. Assistant public prosecutor Prakash Gaikwad, however, said Upadhyay should be given maximum punishment for committing a crime against the nation.

The court held Upadhyay guilty under sections 3 and 9 (spying) of the Official Secrets Act, 1923 and 120(b) (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced him to seven years’ rigorous imprisonment for each count. All sentences will run concurrently.

Upadhyay did not show any remorse after the verdict, but his sister broke into tears. She told her brother that their father was seriously ill and that his mother would not survive after hearing of the conviction. Upadhyay consoled his sister and asked her to take care of their parents. He also told her to get married without waiting for him to return home.