Know the unknown soldier

24 04 2008

Know the unknown soldier

April 18, 2008 Courtesy : Hindustan Times

Ask us increasingly cynical and notoriously fickle Indians to name something or someone we still have deep and abiding respect for and chances are we will all have the same answer: the Indian Solider. We may have lazy scorn for our politicians, historic resentment of our bureaucrats and deep-seated envy of our industrialists. But show us those landscaped images of a lone jawan stoically standing guard on an icy, barren, mountaintop, throw in a few strains of AR Rahman’s Vande Mataram and watch our tears turn into a flood of empathy.

We push our military into duties that were never really part of its job description. So, apart from and in addition to fighting wars and terrorism, we count on our soldiers to play roles as varied as building bridges when the tsunami hits, keeping the peace during religious riots and even managing the now-epidemic condition of saving children who mysteriously end up at the bottom of borewells.

But if we are a country that really cares so deeply for its military, why is it that a monster called apathy is in serious danger of devouring the future of the Armed Forces?

This week, while we were all consumed by whether the Olympic torch would make its way safely past India Gate (built by Edwin Lutyens to honour the 84,000 Indian soldiers who died in World War I), the Army Chief was making a trip down the same road. He was on his way to meet the Urban Development Minister, probably wondering — as many of his predecessors had before him— whether he would have any luck convincing this government to do, what the British had already done as far back as 1921. He was carrying a file that has now travelled through multiple ministries for seven years: the plans and architectural designs for a National War Memorial.

For the last two years, different government bodies including the Delhi Urban Arts Commission, the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) and the Heritage Conservation Committee have squabbled like recalcitrant children over whether the designs for the memorial are tenable. Could anything be a more shocking illustration of the stranglehold of red-tape around what should have been a flagship project for any government?

The designs for the memorial (the proposal is to build the structure around the canopy at India Gate) have been created by Charles Correa, easily one of India’s most venerable architects. Yet ask officials what has held up the green signal, and they will tell you it is a “lack of consensus” over how high the walls of the memorial should be. Have you heard of anything more ludicrous?

Admittedly, India Gate is a heritage building, and any new construction within its circumference would have to be aesthetically sensitive. But that is not even the point. Surely the question to ask instead is why military chiefs should have to implore different mantrijis to sign on the dotted line for something that should be a matter of intuitive national pride. We like to think of ourselves as self-confident nation, a global powerhouse that is hard to beat. And yet, a file to create a national memorial for soldiers who die in conflict has gathered cobwebs and dust for seven long years, and we aren’t even angry enough to ask why.

Perhaps it’s time to admit that cocooned in the embrace of the new economy and the surging sensex, we may like to be believe that we care about the ordinary Indian soldier, but at best, our solidarity is notional and feeble. We have passionate opinions on whether India is a ‘soft state’ or whether our governments are ‘tough on terror’. But beyond the sound and fury of drawing room debate, soldiering is something that happens to other people. We respond to stories of valour and tragedy with applause and tears but as the moment passes, so does our interest and engagement. It’s almost like watching a movie — for those three hours we are transported enough for celluloid emotion to tug at our hearts, but as the popcorn winds down and the lights beam up again — we know that our lives are elsewhere. Our engagement with the plight of the Indian Soldier is similar — ephemeral and maudlin, but essentially indifferent.

The PLU (People like us) brigade would no longer consider the military as a career option and many of those who did are now lining up and pleading for the freedom to leave. Ask the Generals and Admirals unofficially, and they will concede that they have to reject resignations, because the shortfall would be too dire to deal with. In Kashmir, there are already reports of ordinance and artillery units doubling up for infantry duty, because of the numbers crunch. And for the first time in years, the Army is actually considering a one-time emergency, short-service commissioning of officers to fill the ever widening gap. That’s how serious and morale weakening the situation is.

Like any other wing of the government, the military knows it can’t compete with the big bucks of the private sector. But, no matter, what your view is on the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission, can you think of a single reason why the military has never had a representative on any pay board? Or why the military shouldn’t just have its own wage board?

The carpers will ask where it will all end. Tomorrow, the police and the paramilitary, they say, will ask for the same. The liberals will hurl phrases like ‘jingoism’ at you and say far too much fuss is made about soldiers. But chances are that they have never had to stand upright and tearless to salute a coffin draped in a flag. And the rest will say we are on the side of the soldier and forget all about it with the turn of this page.

In the meantime, the old school soldier will try and tell a generation that doesn’t care that everything is not about money. He will say that there are such things as romance and respect for which there is no other substitute. He will then open the newspaper and read about a country that has been debating whether we need a war memorial since the 1960s. And he will be silent.

Barkha Dutt is Managing Editor, NDTV 24×7





Secular garb for Aurangzeb

24 04 2008
Secular garb for Aurangzeb

Aided by an administration that is of late making anti-Hinduism an important component of state policy, a small group of Muslim bigots in Chennai disrupted an exhibition on Aurangzeb, the despotic ruler who destroyed hundreds of Hindu temples in the 17th century, including the most sacred shrines at Banaras and Mathura.
The story of the horrors perpetrated by this ruler in the name of Islam had been put together through pictures and drawings by the Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism (FACT). The man behind this initiative is François Gautier, a noted journalist and a trustee of FACT who is committed to salvaging truths about India’s ancient and medieval history from the garbage that is palmed off as history by a small group of pseudo-secular historians who subsist on the patronage of the Nehru-Gandhis and the Communists. The exhibition, which has 40 paintings, show cases Akhbarats (edicts) issued by Aurangzeb. It has been viewed by over 100,000 people in other cities before it went to Chennai. The organisers were, therefore, shocked when Chennai Police forcibly closed the exhibition at the instance of a handful of protesters.
The exhibition was based on the work of eminent historians. The history of the reign of Aurangzeb, including the story of his cruel and oppressive conduct vis-à-vis the Hindus and the Sikhs, was first put together after a life-time of research into the edicts passed by him by Jadunath Sarkar, one of India’s greatest historians. Sarkar’s work on the Mughals — and thereafter the four volumes he wrote, especially on Aurangzeb — is considered the most definitive account of events of that time. Sarkar translated Masir-i-Alamgiri — a history of the reign of Aurangzeb — by Saqi Mustad Khan. Khan’s narration was based on orders passed by Aurangzeb and material available in state archives in 1710. Sarkar also translated Akhbarats, which were essentially reports on the orders passed by Aurangzeb. In addition, there are other accounts like Mirat-i-Alam and Alamgir-Nama written by persons employed by Aurangzeb. Eliot and Dawson’s History of India as told by its own historians aggregates much of the work done by these historians.
There have been several other accounts, including the much-acclaimed series titled The History and Culture of the Indian People edited by the eminent historian RC Mazumdar and published by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, and the monumental series on civilisation by Will Durant.
A common thread that runs through all these accounts is the zeal displayed by Aurangzeb to promote Islam and to crush other faiths. Here is a list of the atrocities committed by him, as narrated by historians employed by him: Aurangzeb issued an order on April 9, 1669 to the governors of the provinces, directing them “to demolish the schools and temples of the infidels and put down their teaching and religious practices strongly. Besides innumerable temples throughout the empire, even the famous Hindu temples of Visvanath at Banaras, of Keshav Dev at Mathura, and Somnath at Patan were destroyed. Even the loyal state of Jaipur was not spared, and sixty-six temples were razed to the ground at Amber”. Ten years later, on April 2, 1679, he imposed jizya on Hindus. This was an oppressive, commutation tax that had to be paid by Hindus in order to be allowed to continue to practice their faith.
According to Sarkar, jizya was imposed by Aurangzeb “with the object of spreading Islam and overthrowing infidel practices”. Mazumdar says, “He felt gratified when many Hindus, unable to pay it, embraced Islam.” But, destruction of temples and jizya were just the tip of the iceberg. Various other measures were adopted to force Hindus to convert to Islam. Here is a list provided by Mazumdar in his series: In April 1665, Aurangzeb fixed Customs duty on goods imported into his kingdom at 2.5 per cent for Muslim merchants and five per cent for Hindu merchants. He offered Government jobs and commutation of prison terms for those who converted to Islam. In 1668, Aurangzeb prohibited all Hindu religious fairs. In 1671, he passed an order dismissing all Hindu head-clerks and accountants and hiring Muslims in their place.
In March 1695, he prohibited all Hindus, except Rajputs, from riding in palanquins or on elephants and also forbade them from carrying arms. Aurangzeb also went after the Sikhs with a vengeance. He ordered the destruction of Sikh places of worship and the expulsion of the Sikh Guru’s representatives from the cities. He imprisoned Guru Tegh Bahadur and killed him after torturing him for several days because he refused to convert to Islam. The attack on Sikhism continued during the tenure of the next Guru, Guru Govind Singh. His headquarters in Anandpur were attacked several times and his four sons were slain. On Mathura, Masir-i-Alamgiri says, “During the month of Ramzan, the Emperor… issued for the demolition of the temple in Mathura. In a short time… the destruction of this strong foundation of infidelity was accomplished, and on its site a lofty mosque was built… The idols, large and small, set with costly jewels which had been set up in the temple were brought to Agra, and buried under the steps of the mosque of the Begum Sahib, in order to be continually trodden upon. The name of Mathura was changed to Islamabad.”
In recent times, a bunch of pseudo-secular or Marxist historians has been trying to bury these historical truths just as Aurangzeb buried the idols of Hindu gods at the entrances to the mosques that he built. They have also been attempting fraudulent and criminal misinterpretation of facts in order to paint even persons like Aurangzeb, who launched monstrous attacks on Hinduism and Sikhism, as “secular” beings. Some Muslim groups in the country have been abetting this pseudo-secular enterprise. The attack on FACT’s exhibition in Chennai is the latest manifestation of this phenomenon — which is nothing but a renewed assault on truth and on Hinduism. The only answer to this is to take this exhibition to every nook and corner of the country and to publicise the Akhbarats of Aurangzeb’s time in every way possible. We cannot promote secularism by turning a blind eye to truth. We must freely discuss the communal agenda of rulers like Aurangzeb if only to show how barbaric the state can become when it is wedded to theocracy. That is how the citizens of India in the post-independence era will appreciate the value of democracy and genuine secularism and the basic structure of our Constitution.




PRESS RELEASE: Oslo Peace Conference, South Asia

15 04 2008

CONFERENCE ON SOUTH ASIAN CONFLICTS UNDERLINES SPIRITUALITY AND PEACE AS THE WAYS FORWARD

Look at Guruji’s Interview to the Norwegin TV network


Oslo, Norway. April 12, 2008: Bringing together top leaders, senior diplomats and experts from diverse backgrounds, a historic Conference on Peace and Reconciliation in South Asia concluded in the “peace capital” of the world today, calling for peaceful resolution of the unsettled issues and highlighting “spirituality” as a way forward.

The two-day Conference, which focused on the internal armed conflicts in South Asian nations of India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Nepal, was organized by ‘The Art of Living Foundation’ of spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and discussed possible solutions and ways and means to achieve them. Another aim of the initiative was to highlight the need to promote dialogue and evolve a consensus among the stakeholders to deal with the problems, which have together taken millions of lives in the last few decades.
Norway’s Special Envoy for the Peace Process in Sri Lanka Jon Hanssen-Bauer, Members of European Parliament Erika Mann and Nirj Deva and Aud Kvalbein, Deputy Mayor of Oslo were some of the prominent European speakers in the conference.

From Asia, Ramvichar Nitam, Home Minister of the Naxal insurgency-affected state of of Chhattisgarh and MDMK chief Vaiko represented India, while Sri Lankan perspective was presented by Arumugham Thondaman, Minister for Youth Empowerment and Socio-Economic Development ,Jayalath Jayawardhne, MP,Dr Rajiv Wijesinghe( Gen Secy. of the Peace Secretariat) and prominent Buddhist Monks Dr. Brahmanawatte Seevali Nayaka Thero, Deputy Secretary General, Sri Lanka Amarapura Mahanikaya and Dr Maduluvave Sobitha Nayaka Thero, Chief Incumbent of Nagavihara Kotte,. Besides, renowned experts, academics and members of The Art of Living Foundation from various nations also participated in the unique initiative.

“It is a humongous task to find harmony in diversity. We must continue to pursue the path of peace. Conflicts are bound to come and we have to make them a stepping stone to achieve the ultimate goal of global peace,” Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the main motivation behind the initiative, said.

”Whether it is inter-religious conflict, or intra-religious conflict, or it is a conflict between communist or capitalist ideology, it all starts in the minds of people, in the hearts of people. When such conflict begins, they shut themselves for reasoning, prejudice overtakes, and communication goes haywire. It’s here we need to build the trust among the communities. Spiritual leaders, religious leaders, can play a bigger role in this” Sri Sri added.

“Through this conference, we appeal to Sri Lankan government, Liberation of Tamil Tigers Eelam (LTTE), Buddhist monks in China, Chinese government, Myanmar regime…everyone for peace and restraint, and to have a preference for coming to the table for resolution of issues,” the globally known Indian spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said in his concluding remarks.

During the course of the conference, a host of subjects such as ‘the role of civil society and the governments in conflict resolution’,’role of media in the conflict resolution’ and ‘Peace building in South Asia’ were discussed in detail. Separately, workshops on the Naxal insurgency problem in India, ethic Tamil strife in Sri Lanka and Burma were also conducted.

Deliberating upon the Tamil problem in Sri Lanka, top Norwegian peace negotiator Jon Hanssen-Bauer said: “The common understanding between the government and the LTTE has been that talks are aimed at finding a political solution that are acceptable to all communities in Sri Lanka. For Norway, any solution endorsed by the Sri Lankan people is of course acceptable to us.”
Participants also expressed concern at the existing situation in Sri Lanka . Mr Thondaman, minister from Sri Lanka said,”I am strongly of the opinion that there is no military solution. His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has been preaching the attainment of inner peace for years, through yoga, meditation and stress relief. An individual at peace, within himself, he obviously influences the inner peace of other individuals around him.”

Buddhist Master Seevali Nayaka Thero said that today there is so much conflict happening and this is the time to think for both the Government and LTTE about how many lives are being lost because of this war. “In any place, in any country, only by war you cannot solve the problems. Only peace talks, and reconciliation, can solve the problem,” he added.

MDMK leader Vaiko speaking about Sri Lanka said,”a whole ancient race is about to be wiped out. I would appeal to the European Union to put pressure on the Sinhalese government to end its military offensive on the LTTE, ” ”Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has done a commendable job by convening this conference of this scale” he added.

Meanwhile, the conference also zeroed down on the problem of ‘Naxalism’, which has been identified as “the single largest threat to the internal security of the country” by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the past. The ultra-Left Naxal movement, which started in late 60s, today affects one-third of the total districts of India and has been responsible for killings of thousands of people in states battling the menace.

Explaining the government’s perspective, Home Minister of Chhattisgarh Ramvichar Nitam said that the problem also had a serious socio-economic aspect to it. He outlined various steps taken by the state government to bring the Naxal youth into the mainstream and counter the insurgency militarily.

On its part, the Art of Living Foundation has also taken a lot of initiative in educating youth in the affected districts about the importance of spirituality. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has also persuaded the Naxalites for dialogue, and called upon them to give up violent means. Nirj Deva, Member of European Parliament, who conducted the workshop on Naxalism, said that he would take up the issue with fellow Parliamentarians and work towards increasing awareness and action in this regard.

Among other prominent participants were Khin Maung Win, Deputy Executive Director, Democratic Voice of Burma, Francois Gautier, Editor-in-chief, La Revue de I’lnde, Brahma Chellaney, Centre for Policy Research, India, Wasim Zaman, Director, CST for South and West Asia, United Nations Populations Fund and Sashi Raj Pandey from Nepal.




PRESS RELEASE: Oslo Peace Conference, South Asia

15 04 2008

CONFERENCE ON SOUTH ASIAN CONFLICTS UNDERLINES SPIRITUALITY AND PEACE AS THE WAYS FORWARD

Oslo, Norway. April 12, 2008: Bringing together top leaders, senior diplomats and experts from diverse backgrounds, a historic Conference on Peace and Reconciliation in South Asia concluded in the “peace capital” of the world today, calling for peaceful resolution of the unsettled issues and highlighting “spirituality” as a way forward.
The two-day Conference, which focused on the internal armed conflicts in South Asian nations of India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Nepal, was organized by ‘The Art of Living Foundation’ of spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and discussed possible solutions and ways and means to achieve them. Another aim of the initiative was to highlight the need to promote dialogue and evolve a consensus among the stakeholders to deal with the problems, which have together taken millions of lives in the last few decades.
Norway’s Special Envoy for the Peace Process in Sri Lanka Jon Hanssen-Bauer, Members of European Parliament Erika Mann and Nirj Deva and Aud Kvalbein, Deputy Mayor of Oslo were some of the prominent European speakers in the conference.
From Asia, Ramvichar Nitam, Home Minister of the Naxal insurgency-affected state of of Chhattisgarh and MDMK chief Vaiko represented India, while Sri Lankan perspective was presented by Arumugham Thondaman, Minister for Youth Empowerment and Socio-Economic Development ,Jayalath Jayawardhne, MP,Dr Rajiv Wijesinghe( Gen Secy. of the Peace Secretariat) and prominent Buddhist Monks Dr. Brahmanawatte Seevali Nayaka Thero, Deputy Secretary General, Sri Lanka Amarapura Mahanikaya and Dr Maduluvave Sobitha Nayaka Thero, Chief Incumbent of Nagavihara Kotte,. Besides, renowned experts, academics and members of The Art of Living Foundation from various nations also participated in the unique initiative.
“It is a humongous task to find harmony in diversity. We must continue to pursue the path of peace. Conflicts are bound to come and we have to make them a stepping stone to achieve the ultimate goal of global peace,” Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the main motivation behind the initiative, said.

”Whether it is inter-religious conflict, or intra-religious conflict, or it is a conflict between communist or capitalist ideology, it all starts in the minds of people, in the hearts of people. When such conflict begins, they shut themselves for reasoning, prejudice overtakes, and communication goes haywire. It’s here we need to build the trust among the communities. Spiritual leaders, religious leaders, can play a bigger role in this” Sri Sri added.

“Through this conference, we appeal to Sri Lankan government, Liberation of Tamil Tigers Eelam (LTTE), Buddhist monks in China, Chinese government, Myanmar regime…everyone for peace and restraint, and to have a preference for coming to the table for resolution of issues,” the globally known Indian spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said in his concluding remarks.
During the course of the conference, a host of subjects such as ‘the role of civil society and the governments in conflict resolution’,’role of media in the conflict resolution’ and ‘Peace building in South Asia’ were discussed in detail. Separately, workshops on the Naxal insurgency problem in India, ethic Tamil strife in Sri Lanka and Burma were also conducted.
Deliberating upon the Tamil problem in Sri Lanka, top Norwegian peace negotiator Jon Hanssen-Bauer said: “The common understanding between the government and the LTTE has been that talks are aimed at finding a political solution that are acceptable to all communities in Sri Lanka. For Norway, any solution endorsed by the Sri Lankan people is of course acceptable to us.”
Participants also expressed concern at the existing situation in Sri Lanka . Mr Thondaman, minister from Sri Lanka said,”I am strongly of the opinion that there is no military solution. His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has been preaching the attainment of inner peace for years, through yoga, meditation and stress relief. An individual at peace, within himself, he obviously influences the inner peace of other individuals around him.”
Buddhist Master Seevali Nayaka Thero said that today there is so much conflict happening and this is the time to think for both the Government and LTTE about how many lives are being lost because of this war. “In any place, in any country, only by war you cannot solve the problems. Only peace talks, and reconciliation, can solve the problem,” he added.
MDMK leader Vaiko speaking about Sri Lanka said,”a whole ancient race is about to be wiped out. I would appeal to the European Union to put pressure on the Sinhalese government to end its military offensive on the LTTE, ” ”Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has done a commendable job by convening this conference of this scale” he added.
Meanwhile, the conference also zeroed down on the problem of ‘Naxalism’, which has been identified as “the single largest threat to the internal security of the country” by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the past. The ultra-Left Naxal movement, which started in late 60s, today affects one-third of the total districts of India and has been responsible for killings of thousands of people in states battling the menace.
Explaining the government’s perspective, Home Minister of Chhattisgarh Ramvichar Nitam said that the problem also had a serious socio-economic aspect to it. He outlined various steps taken by the state government to bring the Naxal youth into the mainstream and counter the insurgency militarily.
On its part, the Art of Living Foundation has also taken a lot of initiative in educating youth in the affected districts about the importance of spirituality. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has also persuaded the Naxalites for dialogue, and called upon them to give up violent means. Nirj Deva, Member of European Parliament, who conducted the workshop on Naxalism, said that he would take up the issue with fellow Parliamentarians and work towards increasing awareness and action in this regard.
Among other prominent participants were Khin Maung Win, Deputy Executive Director, Democratic Voice of Burma, Francois Gautier, Editor-in-chief, La Revue de I’lnde, Brahma Chellaney, Centre for Policy Research, India, Wasim Zaman, Director, CST for South and West Asia, United Nations Populations Fund and Sashi Raj Pandey from Nepal.




CONFERENCE ON SOUTH ASIAN CONFLICTS UNDERLINES SPIRITUALITY AND PEACE AS THE WAYS FORWARD

13 04 2008

Oslo meet favours spreading awareness on Naxal threat
courtesy: zee news
Oslo, April 12: Bringing together top leaders and experts from diverse backgrounds, a conference on peace and reconciliation in South Asia here has favoured efforts to spread awareness in Europe on the problem of Naxalism faced by India and ways to resolve it.

The conference, which focused on the internal armed conflicts in India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Nepal, concluded yesterday calling upon all the stakeholders to opt for peaceful means and restraint while dealing with their respective situations.

“The problem of Naxalism has grown exponentially in the past few years. It is being identified by the Indian government as the single most dangerous internal security threat and affects nearly one-third of the total districts,” Spiritual Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, whose `The Art of Living Foundation` organised the meet, said.

“It is very important that it comes to the notice of international community, especially European nations, who can further help us in dealing with it,” he said.

“Also, through this conference, we appeal to Sri Lankan government, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Buddhist monks in China, Chinese government, Myanmar regime…Everyone for peace and restraint, and to have a preference for coming to the table for resolution of issues,” the Indian spiritual guru said in his concluding remarks yesterday.

He insisted that in present circumstances, “spirituality” was the only option left for a credible, long-term solution to the problems.

Bureau Report

Attached Photo Captions:
Picture 1: Speakers, at the conference on Peace and Reconciliation in South Asia, with His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Sri Lankan minister Thondaman, MDMK leader Vaiko, European parliament members Erika Mann and Nirj Deva are seen. The two-day conference, held in Oslo, ended on late evening, April 11, 2008.
Picture 2: (From L to R ) Mr. Khin Maung Win, Deputy Executive Director, Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway, Rt. Rev. Dr. Brahmanawatte Seevali Nayaka Thero, Deputy Secretary General, Sri Lanka Amarapura Mahanikaya, Mr. Arumugam Thondaman, Minister for Youth Empowerment & Socio-Economic Development, Sri Lanka, His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Ms. Erika Mann, Member of European Parliament, Mr. Vaiko, General Secretary, The Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), Tamil Nadu, India, Mr. Ramvichar Netam, Home Minister of Chhattisgarh, India at the at the two-day conference on Peace and Reconciliation in South Asia, Oslo, which ended on late evening, April 11, 2008.
Picture 3: Hundreds of people participate in the peace march organised by the Art of Living Foundation in Oslo on April 10 as a prelude to the two-day Conference on Peace and Reconciliation in South Asia.
Picture 4: His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar addressing the two-day conference on Peace and Reconciliation in South Asia in Oslo. The conference concluded on late evening, April 11, 2008




CONFERENCE ON SOUTH ASIAN CONFLICTS UNDERLINES SPIRITUALITY AND PEACE AS THE WAYS FORWARD

13 04 2008

Oslo meet favours spreading awareness on Naxal threat
courtesy: zee news
Oslo, April 12: Bringing together top leaders and experts from diverse backgrounds, a conference on peace and reconciliation in South Asia here has favoured efforts to spread awareness in Europe on the problem of Naxalism faced by India and ways to resolve it.

The conference, which focused on the internal armed conflicts in India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Nepal, concluded yesterday calling upon all the stakeholders to opt for peaceful means and restraint while dealing with their respective situations.

“The problem of Naxalism has grown exponentially in the past few years. It is being identified by the Indian government as the single most dangerous internal security threat and affects nearly one-third of the total districts,” Spiritual Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, whose `The Art of Living Foundation` organised the meet, said.

“It is very important that it comes to the notice of international community, especially European nations, who can further help us in dealing with it,” he said.

“Also, through this conference, we appeal to Sri Lankan government, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Buddhist monks in China, Chinese government, Myanmar regime…Everyone for peace and restraint, and to have a preference for coming to the table for resolution of issues,” the Indian spiritual guru said in his concluding remarks yesterday.

He insisted that in present circumstances, “spirituality” was the only option left for a credible, long-term solution to the problems.

Bureau Report

Attached Photo Captions:
Picture 1: Speakers, at the conference on Peace and Reconciliation in South Asia, with His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Sri Lankan minister Thondaman, MDMK leader Vaiko, European parliament members Erika Mann and Nirj Deva are seen. The two-day conference, held in Oslo, ended on late evening, April 11, 2008.
Picture 2: (From L to R ) Mr. Khin Maung Win, Deputy Executive Director, Democratic Voice of Burma, Norway, Rt. Rev. Dr. Brahmanawatte Seevali Nayaka Thero, Deputy Secretary General, Sri Lanka Amarapura Mahanikaya, Mr. Arumugam Thondaman, Minister for Youth Empowerment & Socio-Economic Development, Sri Lanka, His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Ms. Erika Mann, Member of European Parliament, Mr. Vaiko, General Secretary, The Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), Tamil Nadu, India, Mr. Ramvichar Netam, Home Minister of Chhattisgarh, India at the at the two-day conference on Peace and Reconciliation in South Asia, Oslo, which ended on late evening, April 11, 2008.
Picture 3: Hundreds of people participate in the peace march organised by the Art of Living Foundation in Oslo on April 10 as a prelude to the two-day Conference on Peace and Reconciliation in South Asia.
Picture 4: His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar addressing the two-day conference on Peace and Reconciliation in South Asia in Oslo. The conference concluded on late evening, April 11, 2008




Indians and others march for global peace in Norway

10 04 2008

Oslo, Apr 10 {PTI} Hundreds of people, including many Indians, braved the chilly winds and rain for a symbolic march to the Nobel Peace Centre here today to highlight the cause of global peace and amity.

Holding huge placards with messages for harmony, the participants in the march organised by a major Indian humanitarian organisation, drew a lot of attention as they walked through the lanes of the downtown in the capital of the nation which is often accredited with maximum peace initiatives by any country.

”We may be far from India, where the problem of Naxalism is growing, or from Sri Lanka where a three decade war is still on, but we feel the need for global peace is maximum today and therefore, wherever possible, it has to be highlighted,” Pragyan, a member of The Art of Living Foundation, which organised the march said.

Beginning from Youngstorget, the marchers held candles in their hands and carried on a silent 3 km walk across major markets where many of the onlookers joined them.

”I know about the problems many of the South Asian countries are going through. I feel Norway should involve itself more actively there,” said Kearre Bernard, a local who was among the marchers. He insisted that Oslo must also try and play a major part in resolution of Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan, which has been ”a major problem for the last 60 years, and has led to three wars.”

Swami Sadyojatah, who led the march, emphasised that spirituality could play a great role in dealing with the armed conflict situations around the world.

”While political solutions can be searched for, spirituality can really influence people at individual levels, making the possibility of peace more likely”, he said.

The marchers eventually assembled at the Nobel Peace Centre and placed the candles at its gate, resolving to pursue the cause and spread awareness about it.

The march was organised as a prelude to a two~day conference on Peace and reconciliation in South Asia, which will begin later in the day. Many Indian leaders including MDMK chief Vaiko, Chhattigarh Home Minister Ramvichar Netam and spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar would take part in the conference, which would also have senior ministers from Sri Lanka expressing their views on the ethnic problem. PTI GD