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December 2004 - January 2005

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Saga of Shankaracharya of Kanchipuram
It was a startling piece of news. Jayendra Sarasvati, highly media-oriented seer was last in the news when he thought that with his long stick by his side and the hoary title bestowed on him by history he would be able to bring peace to Ayudhiya, the birthplace of Rama. He was listened to by all; but no one paid heed to what he had to say. In fact, he had nothing to say; except trying to be in the limelight.

This time the matter has gone haywire. Tamil Nadu police, which took more than twenty years to get rid of Veerappan, the self-confessed murderer of more than a hundred people, very efficiently arrested Jayendra Sarasvati, accused of ordering the killing of Sankraraman, an accountant with another temple nearby.

The prima facie case made out by the prosecution, in Bollywood style, showed direct phone calls made by Jayendra Sarasvati to the alleged killers of Sankraraman. His holiness used a cellphone to order his goons to murder somebody who was a pain in the neck of Jayendra Sarasvati. His lawyer pointed out that Jayuendra Sarasvati never carries a cellphone on his person. So was it a verbal instruction given to the second-in-command to get rid of an unpleasant accountant?
The prosecution also pointed out that Rs. one million was withdrawn the day after the murder and parts of that supposedly recovered from some of the criminals. The daily turnover of this Mutt is anything between Rs. 200,000 to 2.5 million.

If it was a murder supari given to goons by the holy man, it was a very small amount by any standard. The goons must have felt cheated by the Seer. Who knows the seer might have promised Rs. 20 million and a safe seat in heaven for all of them. They might have been promised 32 hurrains, (beautiful virgin girls) for the sacred task of getting rid of an unpleasant accountant who was getting too big for his boots.

Jayendra Sarasvati, a Sanyasi, trying to emulate the Rajaas and Maharaajas of the land? Political leaders at the Centre (Maharaajas) and in states (Rajaas) have been playing this game for the last fifty years; and none of them has ever been arrested.
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Another media-oriented Sanyasin shows two fingers to Advani, the BJP supremo, and gets away with tears and tantrums, Bollywood-style.

It was to happen. The all-pervasive influence of Bollywood films has been spreading in the body-politic of India. In an open letter to BJP grass-root cadres she praised LK Advani and Atal Bihari Vajpayee as practitioners of ‘clean and progressive’ politics. What is the conflict then? An historic victory in Madhya Pradesh has not helped BJP’s image mainly because of the antics of the Sanyasin. Without discipline in the party there is no chance of power at the hustings. Kalyan Singh destroyed BJP’s image in Uttar Pradesh; and now in Madhya Pradesh Uma Bharti is doing the same. LK Advani must see the interests of the Party first. Uma Bharti is valuable to the party; but she has to learn to remain within boundaries of political decency.


Manmohan visits J&K; ironic welcome by terrorists
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Jammu & Kashmir may have encouraged the moderate wing of the Hurriyat and given some hope of peace to the chief minister of the state. His Rs. 240 billion handout to Jammu & Kashmir was a special package for the economic development of the state. “My mind is open to fresh ideas, provided it stands on clarity of purpose and truth”, said the Prime Minister to a packed audience at the Sher-e-Kashmir cricket stadium. “Your Kashmiriyat (Kashmiri identity) is rooted in your humanity. My doors are open for those who want peace and those who abjure violence. I have come with an open mind. I have no precondition. If you have a clean heart and your wishes are genuine, you should come with a mission of peace so that peace can be given a chance.
“I am fully committed to peace, a return to normalcy and to the assurance of a life of dignity and self-respect for the people of Jammu & Kashmir.” But the Hurriyat group is reluctant to meet the Prime Minister. They want a tripartite talk between India, Pakistan and the Hurriyat leaders.
For the sake of artificial peace will the Manmohan Singh government bow to Hurriyat’s demand?

Will Pakistan abjure from the ways of terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir? Post or email your views to


Sikhs are UK’s top house owners
London: The Sikhs in Britain are now enjoying the rewards of their work ethic. A study of religious groups in the country has revealed that eight out of ten Sikhs are likely to own a house, considered the basic symbol of prosperity. Their success is a tribute to the hard work of the first generation and the growing economic success and educational achievements of the subsequent generations.


India poised to be driver of global economy
New Delhi: Reiterating his government’s commitment to continue economic reforms with a human face, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said India, along with China and emerging Asia, was poised to become a major driver of global economic growth in the medium term. Addressing the International Monetary Fund as representative of the Constituency of India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka, Minister Chidambaram said despite a delayed monsoon and oil price pressures, the Indian economy was expected to grow in the range of 6.5 – 7 percent this year. "A strong revival of investment demand and business confidence is evident," he said. The Minister further said the external position has added to overall confidence and the country’s credit standing has improved in global markets.


Homage paid to Harbhajan Yogi
New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh joined US President George Bush and other political and religious leaders in paying homage to Harbhajan Singh Khalsa or Yogi Bhajan who died in Espanola in the USA on October 6. Inter- faith community leaders and friends and admirers of Yogi Bhajan remembered him fondly and commended his work in bringing the message of the Sikh Gurus to the West. A large contingent of leaders from India including SAD general secretary, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, and National Commission for Minorities, Chairman Tarlochan Singh, Britain and other parts of the globe, attended the bhog ceremony of Yogi Bhajan in Espanola in New Mexico on October 23.


Vidya Chhabria in Fortune’s top 50 powerful women list
Ms Vidya Chhabria, Chairperson of the $2 billion Jumbo Group, has been listed amongst the fifty most powerful women in business internationally in the annual ranking titled International Power 50 by the Fortune magazine in its October issue. Ranked at the 38th position, she is the only Indian to find a place in the coveted list. This is the third time in succession that Ms Chhabria has been featured amongst the global top fifty. The Fortune ranking takes into reckoning those women who are vested with operating responsibilities and not those who merely exercise shareholding power. The journal measured the attribute of ‘power’ by the yardstick of revenues and profits controlled.


New Citizenship Law to benefit Indians
Dubai: More than one million expatriates, including Indians, living for over ten years in Saudi Arabia, can benefit from an amended naturalization law which offers them citizenship of the kingdom and related rights. Expatriates of all nationalities, who have been living in the kingdom for over 10 years, are entitled to apply for Saudi citizenship and their travels abroad with re-entry visas will not disqualify them.


Tourism Ministry to showcase brand Incredible India
New Delhi: Beginning hopefully by year-end, the tourism ministry expects to put together a range of quality souvenirs designed to capture memories of three types – specific monuments, destinations and India. Over 2000 items will be selected to create India’s first officially showcased selection of souvenirs and gifts outside the emporiums – blending traditional styles and forms into a contemporary look to capture a tourism market going a begging across the country.
Starting gradually, these souvenirs should become visible at the country’s international airports, specified boutiques and Incredible India-brand kiosks and souvenir shops at monuments, railway stations and city centres, depending on the space availability. Tourism Minister Mrs Renuka Chowdhury is enthusiastic about the project she thinks will showcase the immense diversity and creativity India has to offer.


Dual Citizenship for NRIs
Port-of-Spain: Indo-Trinidadians can expect to be awarded dual citizenship by India within months, a senior government official has said here. Indian descendants and also persons who have had interracial marriages are eligible for dual citizenship, Mr Krishna Kumar, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, told a press conference at the Indian High Commission. London: Addressing a gathering of NRIs at the India House, Mr Krishna Kumar said that "Non-resident Indians holding British passports can apply for dual citizenship from November 1st."

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