Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Influence of Time

The Influence of Time

Written by: keshava

7/16/2010 9:00 PM

“When the time for the destruction of living entities arrives, people are seen to perform activities that endanger themselves due to the influence of that all-devouring time.” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 56.16)

This is a beautiful cause-and-effect explanation given by Sita Devi, the wife of Lord Rama. The statement itself is a little complicated to comprehend at first, but if we understand the context, we can see that it is indeed a profound explanation of how time works and how the living entities behave at or around the time of death. This statement served as a slick way of reminding the demon Ravana that his days were numbered.

If we analyze the verse, we see that there are two parts to it. The first part says that there is a set time when the living entities are bound to be destroyed. This is the influence of time, which is considered a divine energy created by God. No one can check the power of time no matter how hard they try. It has long been man’s fantasy to travel either back in time or into the future, but there is actually no possible way to do it. The second part of the statement says that when this all-devouring time, or death, arrives, human beings start behaving in ways that cause danger to themselves. Usually, we understand this concept in the reverse order. It is understood that we first take harmful actions, which then lead to death. Here, Sita Devi is saying that it is actually the opposite, meaning that death arrives first. Death then influences the living entities to act in harmful ways so that it appears that they are killing themselves. The harmful activities are merely instruments of death which the living entity has no control over.

Upon first glance, this logic seems a little strange. If a person jumps off a bridge or overdoses on drugs, are they not the cause of their own death? The Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India, tell us that we certainly do have a tiny amount of independence in how our senses will react with material nature. However, we have no control over the time of our birth or the time of our death. These are both determined by destiny, or the influence of the divine energy known as time.

If we apply these principles to some common situations, we can gain a better understanding of how time works. Drug and alcohol addicts often act in ways that give the impression that they are trying to kill themselves. Many famous rock stars tried their hardest to kick their drug and alcohol addictions, but they were never able to do so. Eventually, they succumbed to death. In reality though, death had already arrived, and their harmful actions were merely the instruments of death.

The influence of all-devouring time, or death, can be seen in people who are terminally ill. Alzheimer’s patients slowly lose their brain power as time goes by. They become so out of it that they soon fail to recognize their own friends and family. This is all due to time’s influence. Death is usually not a welcomed event, so it is not surprising to see sick people act in strange ways when they are just about to die. Death means that the soul is preparing to exit the body, a body which it has become attached to during its lifetime. Extracting the soul from the body can be a very painful experience, and as we all know, when we are in pain, we lose rationality and our grasp of the proper code of conduct.

Sita Devi directed these words to the Rakshasa demon Ravana, so as to inform him that death was on the horizon. Sita Devi was the wife of Lord Rama, an incarnation of God who appeared on earth many thousands of years ago. Lord Rama is one of Krishna’s primary incarnations, the complete list of which is provided in the celebrated Vedic texts such as the Shrimad Bhagavatam, Mahabharata, and Puranas. Rama appeared on earth to give Maharaja Dasharatha of Ayodhya a son, to give protection to His devotees, and to kill Ravana. The demon race known as the Rakshasas was steadily ascending to power in the world at the time. Their leader was the ten-headed Ravana who lived with his fellow Rakshasas on the island kingdom of Lanka.

There is a detailed history of the origin of the Rakshasa race given in the Ramayana, but what is most important to know about them is that they are sinful by nature. They may outwardly appear to be religious since they engage in many sacrifices and austerities, but their motives are all nefarious. They adhere to religion as a tit-for-tat system, where they perform certain activities for the express purpose of receiving some material reward. On the surface this isn’t a bad thing since we all possess material desires to some degree. However, these Rakshasas didn’t just want ordinary material boons; they wanted extraordinary powers so they could rule the world. A hostile takeover of the world requires the terrorizing of the innocent, something which Ravana had no problem doing. He and his associates would regularly harass the harmless sages living in the forests of India at the time.

Lord Rama was a great warrior prince. Being God Himself, He could easily defeat anyone in battle simply by using His bow and arrows. His excellent fighting prowess was on full display during one occasion when He defeated 14,000 members of Ravana’s Rakshasa army in the forest of Janasthana. In retaliation, Ravana devised a plan which allowed him to kidnap Sita while Rama was not by her side. Taking her back to Lanka, Ravana thought he could win Sita over by showing her his grand opulence. He even tried to flatter her by saying that she would become his chief queen. Ravana had hundreds of beautiful wives, so by saying that Sita was superior to them in beauty, Ravana was paying her a high compliment.

Sita was having none of this though. Being a pure devotee of God, her mind never once swayed from the lotus feet of her husband and supreme deity of the world, Shri Rama. Sita was also very intelligent, for that is a byproduct of performing devotional service to God. Mundane scholarship has its limits, but possessing knowledge of God enables one to become the smartest person in the world. Sita informed Ravana that his days were numbered. She knew that Rama would come for her and that when He did, Ravana would be easily defeated. In the above referenced statement, Sita is essentially telling Ravana, “Death surely must be coming for you, for why else would you have done something as stupid as kidnapping me? Due to the influence of impending death, people act in ways that cause harm to themselves. This is why you have kidnapped me, for death is coming to you very soon through the arrows released by my husband.”

Sita’s words would hold true as Rama would eventually come to rescue her. Ravana was soundly defeated in battle, dying as a result of the wounds inflicted by Rama. The lesson here is that once death approaches, we have no control over our actions. Therefore it is important that we take the necessary steps to make our lives perfect right now, while we still have our wits about us. And how do we achieve perfection in life? The Vedas tell us that the meaning of life is to think about Krishna, or God, at the time of death. Those who do so will be liberated from the repeated cycle of birth and death.

“And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.5)

This point may seem contradictory to Sita’s statement. If we have no control over our actions at the time of death, how can we guarantee that we’ll think of Krishna? The answer is that it is our consciousness at the time of death which determines our next body. Consciousness is something that is developed over this lifetime and previous ones as well. It is similar to the concept of a person’s life flashing before their very eyes when they have a near-death experience. All the activities of this life are a preparation for the next.

Knowing this, we should act in such a way that our consciousness is fixed on God at all times. This will increase the likelihood that our consciousness will be pure at the time of death. To achieve this aim, we simply need to regularly chant the holy names of God, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. Chanting is one of the exercises that makes up bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. All the great devotees of the past, such as Sita Devi, Lakshmana, and Hanuman were expert performers of devotional service. They never feared death, for they knew that their minds were always fixed on God.

Chanting is not the only method of devotional service. We can hear about Krishna, read books about Him, talk about Him with others, worship His deity, etc. There are so many avenues available to us. We don’t know when death will come, but we do know that we have every opportunity to perform devotional service right now. If we achieve perfection in this process, time’s influence over us can be negated.

Natural Beauty -31/7/10

Natural Beauty

Written by: keshava

7/31/2010 9:00 PM

“My dear sir, Krishna's form was most wonderful when He appeared on this planet and exhibited the potency of His internal energy. His wonderfully attractive form was present during His pastimes on this planet, and by His internal potency He exhibited His opulences, which are striking to everyone. His personal beauty was so great that there was no necessity for His wearing ornaments on His body. In fact, instead of the ornaments' beautifying Krishna, Krishna's beauty enhanced the ornaments.” (Uddhava speaking to Vidura, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.2.12)

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For followers of the bhakti school, the secret to success is to incorporate God into every activity. More than just simple renunciation or the acquisition of knowledge, bhakti-yoga, or devotional service, involves dovetailing all of one’s activities with service to Krishna, or God. In this way, a person can continue to go about performing their normal activities, but since they are involving the Supreme Lord, everything becomes beautified. Normally, we use ornaments and decorations to add a beautifying effect to the object we are trying to make look more appealing, but in Krishna’s case, the order of precedent is reversed. His splendor is so powerful that it immediately radiates anything it touches.

Some people are born with natural beauty. They look terrific even when they roll out of bed in the morning. Yet with even the most beautiful people, there is a desire to look better, the need to feel more attractive. When a person feels more attractive, they will act more confidently in front of others. For example, if we spill something on our shirt during lunchtime and then have to walk around all day with the stain still visible, it is likely that we will not be as confident. The mind will be focused on the blemish on our shirt, so naturally we’ll think that others will be focusing on the same area. Since no one likes to go about their day feeling this way, people take the necessary steps to ensure that they look as good as they possibly can. This is especially the case with women.

The famous talk radio host, Rush Limbaugh, once did a humorous bit on his show, where he was discussing the issue of traffic accidents. He stated that one of the easiest ways to reduce traffic accidents was to ban women from farding in their cars. Now this was discussed on a radio show, so not surprisingly many people mistook the word “farding” to be “farting”, which is the slang term for the expulsion of gas. This was actually the intended effect. Angry women called the show and demanded to know how Rush could tell that women were doing this while driving. Keeping the bit going, Rush reiterated the fact that many women certainly do fard in their cars and that everyone could see them do it. Rush eventually revealed the punch line: farding refers to the French term “fard”, which means to apply makeup.

Cosmetics is certainly a profitable industry. Almost every adult aged woman uses some type of makeup product. Again, this is done to enhance one’s beauty. There are also other techniques which are used by both men and women. Designer shirts, pants, accessories, sunglasses, etc., are all things used to enhance one’s beauty. It is undoubtedly true that such decorations do succeed in enhancing one’s appearance. This principle is in full effect during marriage ceremonies. In Western style marriages, the bride usually wears a nice white dress, which is so stunning that it makes the groom’s jaw drop. In love-marriages, the groom has already voluntarily agreed to marry the wife, so it’s safe to assume that he already finds her to be quite beautiful. Yet on the wedding day, the bride takes on added beauty due to her makeup and the dress she wears.

In Vedic style marriages, the beauty is enhanced even more. Anyone who has ever attended an Indian-style wedding knows just how much preparation goes into dressing up the bride. A typical Indian bride wears so many ornaments that she has to walk very carefully as she approaches the groom for the beginning of the marriage ceremony. She wears a nice sari, bangles, a nose ring, and exquisite makeup. The sari is about as ancient a dress as you’ll find, yet it is arguably the most beautiful. All the great women of the Vedic tradition, such as Sita Devi, Shrimati Radharani, and Kunti Devi, used to regularly wear saris. According to several estimations, Sita Devi appeared on this earth millions of years ago, so that alone tells us how long saris have been around.

“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion-at that time I descend Myself.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.7)

The Vedas tell us that there is only one God for every single person, and that His original form is that of Lord Shri Krishna. How do we know what Krishna looks like? Aside from the countless descriptions given in Vedic literature, the Lord kindly appeared on earth in His personal form some five thousand years ago. Krishna Himself states in the Bhagavad-gita that He comes to earth from time to time to annihilate miscreants and reestablish the true principles of religion. While this is the outward cause, the exalted devotees know the real story behind His appearances. Killing demons and reestablishing religious principles can actually be done by any person, provided they are authorized and abiding by the original instructions of the Vedas passed down by Krishna Himself. The real purpose for the Lord’s appearances on earth is to satisfy the devotees, those who sacrifice heart and soul for Krishna.

In many Vedic texts, Lord Krishna is counted as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. This is certainly true because Vishnu and Krishna are the same; the only difference is in appearance. Krishna has two hands and Vishnu has four. Even in the Ramayana, Lord Rama, who is one of God’s most famous incarnations, on one occasion refers to the future event of Narayana coming to earth in the form of Govinda, or Krishna. So is Lord Rama wrong? Technically He is not, for Krishna and Vishnu are the same. However, from the statements of the Shrimad Bhagavatam and Brahma-samhita, we understand that Krishna is even the source of Narayana. Therefore, when Krishna appears on earth, it is actually in His original form and not necessarily that of an incarnation.

Lord Krishna performed many wonderful pastimes during His one hundred plus years on earth, but for the devotees, the most pleasurable pastimes took place during the Lord’s youth in Vrindavana. The story of the Lord’s advent is somewhat lengthy so we’ll give a brief summary here: There was a king named Kamsa who had locked up his sister Devaki and her husband Vasudeva. A prophecy had warned Kamsa that Devaki’s eighth son would kill him, so he had her imprisoned. When she gave birth to a child, Kamsa would take it and throw it against a stone wall, killing it. When Krishna appeared, Vasudeva was afraid that Kamsa would kill Him also. Therefore, in the dead of night, Vasudeva took Krishna from Mathura to Vrindavana, where the young child would be raised by His foster parents, Nanda Maharaja and Mother Yashoda.

In the Vedic tradition, children are always elaborately decorated. Parents derive so much pleasure from their young children, so they like to see them always dressed nicely. Of all the children to ever grace this earth, no one was dressed more nicely than Krishna. Detailed descriptions of His ornaments and clothing are given in the Shrimad Bhagavatam and other Vedic texts. The paintings that we see of Krishna today are all based off these descriptions. In a typical painting, Krishna is seen holding His flue, wearing a peacock feather on His head, rings on His fingers, nice earrings, a beautiful necklace, and a flower garland around His neck. Anyone who saw Krishna dressed like this immediately became enamored. Krishna’s childhood associates were all eternally liberated souls who had performed lifetimes’ worth of penances and austerities to get the chance to see Krishna in His original form.

Though Krishna was so exquisitely dressed, He required none of these ornaments. Being God Himself, He naturally possessed the highest beauty. One of the meanings for the word Krishna is “all-attractive”, and this is most certainly the case with the Lord. The wise devotees could understand that Krishna was so beautiful that He actually enhanced the beauty of His ornaments, and not the other way around. Can we imagine such a thing? We see a nice shirt or a beautiful ring and think that it will make us look beautiful. But do we know anyone who is beautiful enough to enhance the beauty of something that is already considered beautiful? The only person who can do this is Krishna.

How does this information help us? Krishna can be thought of as a touchstone. His beautifying powers are not limited to clothing and ornaments. Anything Krishna touches immediately turns to gold. This means that if we incorporate Krishna into our words, our speeches and songs immediately become transcendental. Therefore devotees make the chanting of the holy names of God, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, their main occupation. As they get more advanced, devotees install beautiful deities of the Lord, or one of His personal expansions, in their homes to look at and worship. If Krishna makes His ornaments beautiful, imagine what He can do for our homes.

The Vedic tradition, also commonly referred to as Hinduism, is known for its high philosophy and its focus on knowledge and renunciation. Yoga, something which originated from the Vedas, is commonly taken to be the face of Hinduism. Even the famous Bhagavad-gita, spoken by Krishna Himself, touches on topics of renunciation, wisdom, sacrifice, charity, and self-control in relation to the body, mind, and speech. A person who initially glances over these topics may then assume that the Vedic tradition is mostly about renunciation and the elimination of all bad things from life.

“Whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 8.5)

While self-control, equanimity, peacefulness, and forgiveness are all certainly nice traits to possess, they are secondary. The ultimate purpose in life is to think of God at the time of death. This consciousness allows a person to return to Krishna’s spiritual realm in the afterlife. Once a person reaches a stage of pure Krishna consciousness, they automatically acquire all good qualities. Armed with this knowledge, devotees take to devotional service right away instead of remaining stuck on other inferior forms of yoga.

The key ingredient in bhakti-yoga is Krishna. Everything in direct association with Krishna becomes purified. Therefore, our food should be prepared and offered to Him first, for the remnants then turn into maha-prasadam, or the Lord’s mercy. Our flowers should be first offered to Him, our cars should be used to drive to His temples, our computers used to read books about Him, etc. Let the Lord’s natural beauty rub off on everyone.

The Secret Weapon -30/7/10

The Secret Weapon

Written by: keshava

7/30/2010 9:00 PM

“With Vaidehi [Sita] being thus insulted, all the moving and nonmoving beings of the world were put into a chaotic condition and were surrounded by a dense blinding darkness. The wind did not blow and the sun did not shine. Seeing with his divine vision that Sita was overcome, the illustrious great-father [Brahma] said, ‘My work is done.’ All the supreme rishis who were present felt both pleased and distressed.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 52.9-11)

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The kidnapping of Sita Devi, the wife of Lord Rama, is one of the more troubling incidents to hear about for devotees. Sita Devi was beautiful, kind, chaste, and never bothered anybody during her time on earth. She was the embodiment of the perfect woman. Simply hearing about her being forcibly dragged into the aerial car of the demon Ravana and made to sit on his lap, is enough to make devotees cringe. This incident leads many to scorn God Himself for allowing such an insult to take place. On the flip side, however, Sita’s kidnapping was a very joyous occasion for the demigods.

Sita Devi is considered an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi, the wife of Lord Narayana in the spiritual world. The Vedas tell us that the original form of God is Krishna, but that He then expands into several vishnu-tattva expansions to perform specific duties. Lord Vishnu, or Narayana, is Krishna’s primary expansion. The only real difference between Krishna and Vishnu is that Vishnu has four hands, while Krishna has two. Again, these differences exist simply because of the different functions that each must perform. In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krishna states that He rewards devotees in the manner in which they worship Him. Some devotees prefer to worship Narayana, while others are Krishna bhaktas. In the end, there is no difference between the two.

God is not alone in the spiritual world. Just as we have our own family members in this world, the Lord has eternal associates in the spiritual world. Krishna is the energetic, and His pleasure potency expansions represent His energy. God derives pleasure from His devotees through their engagements in different transcendental mellows, or rasas. The most advanced devotees know how to give the most pleasure to God, thus they are classified as hladini-shakti, or pleasure potency expansions. Krishna’s pleasure potencies are the gopis of Vrindavana, the chief of whom is Shrimati Radharani. In a similar manner, Lord Narayana’s eternal consort is Goddess Lakshmi, a beautiful devi who provides wealth and good fortune to her devotees. Since she is God’s wife, it makes sense that Lakshmi would be in charge of fortune. No one is more fortunate than God due simply to the fact that the goddess of fortune serves Him.

Vishnu appears on earth from time to time to enact specific pastimes. He takes birth in the guise of a living entity, but His body always remains spiritual. God usually doesn’t come alone either, as His closest family members appear with Him. One of God’s most famous appearances took place during the Treta Yuga, the second time period of creation. At the time, the demon class of men, the Rakshasa, was steadily ascending to power all over the world. Human beings are considered the most elevated species since they have the brain capacity to understand God. Not only can they learn about spiritual matters, but they can use that knowledge to free themselves from the repeated cycle of birth and death. This liberation is known as mukti, and it is the opinion of the Vedas that the human being has the best chance at achieving this.

The human beings aren’t the only species on earth. Scientists posit various theories about creatures who previously lived on the earth but that are now extinct, like the dinosaurs. We also see that scientists always seem to discover new species that they never heard of before. The Vedas, which serve as the original knowledge base for all things material and spiritual, tell us that there are 8,400,000 different species. This number is so high because the living entity can possess the three qualities of material nature [goodness, passion, and ignorance] in various combinations and permutations. One species can be in 50% goodness, while another may be in 25% goodness and 75% ignorance. The human being mostly lives in passion, but there is a catch. We have a choice as to which mode we want to associate with. Not only can we choose to act in goodness, passion, or ignorance, but we also have the option to rise above these three modes and engage in pure goodness, known as shudda-sattva. The lower species don’t have this choice due to their lack of intelligence.

“The Vedas mainly deal with the subject of the three modes of material nature. Rise above these modes, O Arjuna. Be transcendental to all of them. Be free from all dualities and from all anxieties for gain and safety, and be established in the Self.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.45)

The Rakshasas are a human-like species, so they have similar features to humans, except that they live mostly in ignorance. When someone is associating with the mode of ignorance it means they are performing activities that don’t help their soul advance in the next life. The soul is eternal, but the body is not. Therefore, we can conclude that it is more important to take care of the soul than it is to take care of a body that must eventually be given up. Everyone on earth performs some sort of work. The Vedas tell us that we should perform work that will allow our souls to eventually reach the final destination of Krishnaloka, or the spiritual sky. Once a soul goes back to God’s spiritual world, it never has to come back to the material world.

Acting in the mode of goodness allows one to take birth in a pious family in the next life, or even in the body of a demigod, an elevated living entity. The mode of passion allows one to remain a human being, thus it is essentially a mode of neutrality. The mode of ignorance causes one to descend to a lower species in the next life. This mode is characterized by excessive eating, sleeping, intoxication, and a general disregard for the laws of dharma. The Rakshasas of the Treta Yuga fit right into this mold. Their leader was Ravana, a ten-headed monster who ruled over the kingdom of Lanka. He was always drinking wine and having sex with his innumerable wives. He loved to eat meat, especially the flesh of sages that he and his Rakshasas had personally killed.

Ravana was very powerful and a staunch enemy of the demigods. Krishna and Vishnu represent the Supreme God, and the demigods represent His chief deputies. The demigods are in charge of various departments of the material creation. Though they are also very powerful, they are still fallible living entities. This means that they too are subject to the forces of material nature as manifested through birth and death. Since the beginning of time, the demigods have been engaged in a battle with the demons. The demigods, or godly people, are referred to as suras and the demons as asuras. Ravana was an asura who regularly fought with the demigods. Since he was too strong for them, the demigods were deathly afraid for their lives and also for the future condition of the earth. As a last resort, they sought the shelter of Lord Vishnu. They begged Him to come to earth and kill Ravana, and thereby relieve their suffering.

There was a catch to this though. Lord Brahma had granted Ravana several boons due to austerities he had performed. God is never forced to answer anyone’s prayers since He is aloof from the day-to-day affairs of the material world. The demigods, on the other hand, are duty-bound to grant benedictions to anyone who pleases them properly. Ravana took advantage of this by performing great austerities to please the demigods. They in turn granted him several boons which boosted his strength. They also granted him immunity in battle against all the demigods and other celestial beings. Thus Ravana thought he was immortal. He made a costly mistake, however, in that he forgot to ask for immunity from human beings. Ravana thought that if a celestial couldn’t defeat him, surely no lowly man could.

Lord Vishnu used this loophole to appear on earth in the form of a human being, the prince of Ayodhya, Lord Rama. One more issue remained though for the demigods. Rama took birth in a very pious kshatriya family that traced their ancestry all the way back to Maharaja Ikshvaku, the first king on earth. This meant that Lord Rama was obliged to adhere to chivalry and the established rules of conduct for a king. One of the most important rules for the warrior class is that they are not allowed to attack another person without just cause. This means that technically Rama couldn’t attack Ravana or take him on in battle without a legitimate excuse. This is where Sita Devi came in.

At the same time that Vishnu was appearing on earth as Rama, Goddess Lakshmi was appearing as Sita Devi, the daughter of King Janaka of Mithila. Sita and Rama were eventually married, as was their destiny. After twelve years of marriage, the pair roamed the forests of India along with Lakshmana. Ravana, hearing of this beautiful woman staying in the forest of Dandaka, decided that he had to have her. He set up a diversion which lured Rama and Lakshmana away from their cottage, leaving the door open for Sita’s abduction.

While Ravana was flying away on his aerial car with Sita, the king of birds, Jatayu, intercepted him and took him on in battle. After a fierce fight, Ravana eventually killed Jatayu, and then safely flew back to his island kingdom of Lanka with Sita. In the above referenced quote, Lord Brahma is remarking how his work has been accomplished, and the saints living in the forest are described as being both aggrieved and delighted over the incident. The saints were aggrieved because Sita was forcibly taken away from her husband. Yet they, along with Brahma, were happy because they knew that this incident signaled the end of Ravana. Lord Rama now had the excuse He needed to take on Ravana and kill him in battle.

The pious never attack without just cause. Even in today’s world, the police are never allowed to search someone’s property without probable cause. Police officers and FBI officials must obtain warrants prior to searching someone’s house. If evidence is obtained without following the proper protocol, it becomes inadmissible in the court of law. This may seem unfair, as it leads to criminals getting off on technicalities, but these laws are put into place to protect the innocent. Lord Rama, being especially dedicated to dharma, believed in these laws as well. His younger brother Lakshmana once noted that not even the people punished by Rama could find anything bad to say about Him. This was because even the criminals knew that Rama didn’t hold any personal grudges and that He always adhered to the righteous path.

The lesson here is that there is no need to become distressed from hearing of Sita’s kidnap. Lord Rama’s wife was certainly delicate, beautiful, and full of class, but she was by no means weak. Ravana was an extremely powerful demon who could not be defeated by even the greatest celestials. It was his addiction to illicit sex that led to his downfall. In this way, Sita Devi proved to be the secret weapon, the ticking time-bomb so to speak. She singlehandedly took down one of the greatest demons of all time.

This shows the power of God’s pleasure potency. Sita Devi is meant to associate with God and His devotees. When put into the hands of the demons, or the enemies of God, she proves to be deadly, as was the case with Ravana. When she associates with the devotees, however, she bestows eternal fame and fortune. Lord Hanuman is a great example of this. Unlike Ravana, Hanuman had love and respect for Sita. He served her to the best of his ability, and as a reward, Sita and Rama granted him eternal devotion to their holy feet. To this day, Hanuman is known throughout the world as the greatest servant of Sita, Rama, and Lakshmana. If we kindly pray to Sita Devi to allow us to love her and her husband, she will surely be pleased with us and fulfill all our desires.

The power of one-31/7/10

By Shekhar Gupta, 31/07/2010

Column: The power of one
SRINAGAR: Security forces opened fire to quell stone-pelting protesters as fresh violence on Friday erupted in the Kashmir Valley after days of relative calm, leaving two persons dead and 50 others injured.

This event was different not only because it was so unlike the usual Page 3-type book release with celebs, cheese and wine. The audience was mostly Rao's current and former colleagues, many senior citizens and some activists. There was almost no national or even local media. The only cameras I spotted were from some Telugu TV channels. But there was some wisdom dispensed in that IHC hall that morning, and a reassuring takeaway as the speakers, with the exception of this writer, were all people who have built fame and admiration in not just leading our greatest institutions, but also developing them into the brands we feel so proud of: former Chief Justice of India JS Verma, former Chief Election Commissioner JM Lyngdoh and SY Quraishi, who now moves into the top job at Nirvachan Sadan.

It was something that Justice Verma said, while explaining the challenge of institution-building that should get us all thinking. An institution can rise to its true strength, and truly play the role the founding fathers mandated for it, only if it is led by a person "who has no past, and no expectation (of any reward) from anybody in the future".

Someone who has no past and no greed for anything in the future? Simple enough, you might think. But it isn't as simple as that. It is tough enough to find many people with nothing to hide in their pasts, so they are not prone to blackmail, or pressured by IOUs conceded. People who can judge a case, run an election, prosecute a criminal politician, investigate a corrupt bureaucrat effectively and fairly. But where do you find someone who, in addition to this, would be willing to retire quietly into obscurity? Our system is much too brutal and clever to let such rare people rise anywhere close to the top. That is why it is only providentially, rather than by choice, that one such is put in charge of an institution. And then the institution changes, and rises to its true power.

How many of our institutions do we really feel proud of today? That we trust fully to protect our constitutional rights and liberty? Your count will not go beyond two, the Supreme Court and the Election Commission. In both cases, we were fortunate that just a couple of remarkable people came to lead them at some crucial junctures of our history. Justice Verma himself picked up the thread from the great judges of the seventies, a remarkable handful led by late Justice HR Khanna in a cruel and crucial decade for our democracy, to raise the Supreme Court to its true constitutional power, respect and glory. Verma then also took the weight of the same moral authority to the National Human Rights Commission. TN Seshan showed the country -- and the Election Commission itself -- the power that the Constitution had intended to grant it but that his predecessors had never used, in the mistaken belief that they were merely another department of the government.

The EC was fortunate again to get an even more formidable -- and not a fraction as controversial or idiosyncratic -- chief in JM Lyngdoh, who took its reputation and credibility even higher, burying a tradition of state-sponsored rigging and terror threats in Kashmir and defying Narendra Modi's loaded "James Michael Lyngdoh" chants to hold another election in Gujarat on his own terms. Between the two of them, they built Brand EC to such a level that even the frailties of the odd lesser successor have not been able to dent it. Seshan himself failed to pass the second part of Justice Verma's test, by his delusional quest for Rashtrapati Bhavan. But to his credit, he had taken the image of the institution so high that the only stature his hubris damaged was his own. Of course, EC was fortunate that Lyngdoh, one of our sharpest and cleanest civil servants, followed soon in his wake.

EC then survived many controversies and shenanigans, and at least one CEC who completely flunked the Verma test. Forget going into retired obscurity, he cadged a Rajya Sabha membership on a party ticket and then a ministry so insignificant that the only reason he is noticed is because of his unseemly turf wars with Suresh Kalmadi and a fellow Gill, of the Indian Hockey Federation.

Today nobody dares to mess with either the EC or the SC. One can still countermand an election in Bihar or Kashmir and the other can set the CBI on the Sohrabuddin case. Both have survived sabotage, subterfuge, allurements and vilification by the political class. All because a few, just a few, good men came to lead these at some providential moments of time.

Can you imagine how much stronger we would have felt as a nation if just two other institutions, the CBI and the CVC, had also been similarly fortunate? The sad fact is that the Supreme Court has repeatedly enhanced the powers and autonomy for both these institutions and the law places the CBI under the CVC's superintendence, to give one autonomy and the other investigative muscle.

But neither has been blessed with a leader who would be willing to embrace this power of institutional autonomy. Instead, an entire succession of our CBI directors have only made news through rotten controversies, and have spent their tenures "fixing" cases politically, one way or the other. As for our CVCs, do you remember the names of any? They have been so ineffectual, such non-entities, and so inadequate for the job that their office has mostly been reduced to a post office where claimants for public sector jobs and their lobbyists or rivals write endless complaints against each other and ensure that these are duly leaked.

A clean-up of the CBI is probably too much to ask for in today's political climate. But maybe, with some luck, if only we could get a strong and wise CVC. A formidable chief justice has taken over the Supreme Court. A CEC, Navin Chawla, has retired today after a distinguished tenure and he has been succeeded by SY Quraishi. Both have worked together to enhance the EC's reputation over the past five years. And as that gathering last Saturday morning showed, this city still has many people who will risk their lives and future interests for as little as Rs 12,000 a month (which is all that KJ Rao was paid when he cleaned up the Bihar election) and leave a brilliant legacy behind. The challenge is to find and empower them. Just a few of them. You cannot make a better investment than that for India's sake.

Source: The Indian Express

2 killed, 40 injured in fresh violence in Kashmir Valley -31/7/10


2 killed, 40 injured in fresh violence in Kashmir Valley


Srinagar: Two civilians were killed on Saturday and 40 people, including 30 policemen were injured, as widespread clashes between protesters and security forces erupted in the Kashmir Valley as indefinite curfew was imposed on major towns including Srinagar.

As the casuality in the violence since Friday rose to six, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah again issued an appeal to the people to remain vigilant against the sinister designs of "vested interests" against peace.

Chairing a high-level meeting here, he also announced formation of three ministerial teams for Baramulla, Anantnag and Pulwama districts which will work with the citizen groups for speedy restoration of peace in those areas.

The first casuality of the day took place at Naidkhai in Sumbal area when hundreds of people gathered outside a Jammu and Kashmir Armed Police's battalion headquarters and tried to ransack it and set it on fire besides snatching the weapons of the personnel.

Repeated requests followed by cane-charging, teargas and firing in area proved futile as the crowd turned hostile and injured Superintendent of Police (Bandipore) Sheikh Junaid and 10 others.

Police were compelled to open fire in which one person Muddasir Ahmed Lone received bullet injuries and later succumbed to his wounds in hospital.

The second death took place in Baramulla area where a youth -- Javed Ahmed -- was hit by a rubber bullet. He was shifted to SKIMS where he died late Saturday evening.

Barring Handwara, Ganderbal and Budgam, rest of the Valley remained under curfew.

Protestors clashed with police at various places in the Valley and burnt the Special Operations Camp in Pattan in North Kashmir besides ransacking the railway station at Amargarh in Sopore. The protesters also burnt a fire tender which had come to douse the flames.

Police and para -- military forces staged a march in the entire Srinagar city and requested people to remain indoors and not to defy the curfew.

Five persons were injured when security forces fired at protestors who attacked a CRPF patrol which was enforcing curfew in Kreeri in Pattan, police said.

The security forces made several attempts to disperse the crowd but it turned more violent and tried to snatch the rifles of the CRPF jawans, they said, adding security forces then opened fire to quell the mob.

Violence was also reported from Kakpora in Pulwama district of South Kashmir where a Deputy Superintendent of Police was injured besides another six police personnel.

Violence also broke out in Pampore, 16 km from here, where local people attacked policemen, injuring 10 personnel. In the same area, a mob set afire two Indian Air Force vehicles after asking those on board to get down.

At the high-level meeting, the Chief Minister also warned that anti-social elements damaging public property will be dealt with firmly and none will be allowed to vitiate the atmposphere in the state and threaten the common man.

Appealing to all sections of the society to extend wholehearted cooperation in restoration of peace and normalcy in the Valley, the Chief Minister reiterated the commitment of his government to restore law and order and normalcy and fight the forces of disruption.

"Anti-social elements who indulge in damage of public property will be dealt with firmly and nobody would be allowed to vitiate the atmosphere in any part of the State," he said.

The Chief Minister said all necessary measures will be taken to safeguard life and property of citizens and added that under no circumstances the common man will be allowed to suffer."

The Ministerial teams for Baramulla, Anantnag and Pulwama will remain stationed at the district headquarters and work for speedy restoration of peace and normalcy.

They will also monitor the day-to-day situation personally and initiate measures for return of peace.

It was also decided at the meeting that security forces should be advised to exercise maximum restraint and those taking law into their hands be dealt with sternly.

The Baramulla team will comprise Irrigation Minister Taj Mohi-ud-Din, Agriculture Minister Ghulam Hassan Mir and Minister of State Javid Ahmed Dar.

For Anantnag district, the team comprises Education Minister Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed, Social Welfare Minister Sakina Itoo and Animal Husbandry Minister Aga Sayed Ruhullah.

The Pulwama team will consist of Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather, Rural Development Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar and Minister of State for Tourism Nasir Aslam Wani.

Source: PTI

Clinton, not Chelsea, corners attention-31/7/10


Clinton, not Chelsea, corners attention


It was Bill Clinton who was the star attraction at the village where Chelsea is getting married

Shortly before 11 pm, the Clintons exited a van arm-in-arm outside the Beekman Arms Hotel. The former first lady, in a long, green dress, waved to the cheering crowd waiting behind metal barricades outside and quickly went into the hotel. Earlier in the day, Bill Clinton, looking fit and relaxed in blue jeans and a black knit shirt, walked with security a few blocks north from the picturesque village's main intersection to the restaurant Gigi Trattoria.

To questions blurted from the huge crowd he attracted, Clinton rattled off easy answers.

How are you?

"We're all fine."

"We love it here," he said. "Chelsea loves the area as well."

How's she doing?

"She's doing well."

Chelsea Clinton is expected to marry her long-time boyfriend, investment banker Marc Mezvinsky, at a ceremony on Saturday evening attended by 400 to 500 people at the grand Astor Courts, an estate on the scenic east bank of the Hudson River. Rumours had abounded for weeks leading up to Friday, including one that Rhinebeck was an elaborate decoy planned by the media-shy Chelsea and that the wedding would be elsewhere.

The appearance of the former president put all the conspiracy talk to rest. And what does he think of his soon-to-be son-in-law?

"I like him very much," the popular Democrat said, picking up more people with each passing step. "I really do. I admire him. Hillary feels the same way."

The sight of an ex-president captivated many in the crowd. For the record, Dutchess County, which contains Rhinebeck, voted for Clinton and Al Gore in 1996. "We thought it was great that he walked down here," said Carol Chestney, of Rhinebeck. "He could have parked right outside. He looks great." Marybeth Cale, also of Rhinebeck, said: "It's amazing, all this excitement. We're thrilled that he's here."

After lunch, Clinton slowly wound his way out of a restaurant, taking time to shake hands with the kitchen staff and customers, who took pictures of him with their cell phones. The restaurant's owner said it would be impolite to reveal what he had for lunch.

He emerged to an enthusiastic crowd of hundreds of people who shouted, "We love you!" and "Congratulations!" He took a moment to comfort a little girl who got jostled by the huge crowd but broke into a huge grin after the former president asked her name and whether she was all right.

There are still mysteries.
The VIP guest list is said to include such A-listers as Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and some of the Clintons' powerful political allies, and the village was filling up with the curious hoping to catch a glimpse of an honoured guest. "Maybe I'll see someone, maybe I won't," said Rhinebeck resident Linda Gray, as she sat on a sidewalk bench and watched the hubbub. "I think the fun of the whole thing outweighs the traffic problems."

Meanwhile, a long-time Clinton family friend adamantly denied that the cost of the wedding would be more than $1 million. The friend, who spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with the family's desire for privacy, said the cost of the wedding will not exceed six figures. Wedding experts told The Associated Press the wedding could cost $2 million to $3 million, while some media reports put the cost as high as $5 million.

State troopers directed the growing number of cars driving through the village and security guards were posted outside a private estate, just south of town that is reportedly the site of the rehearsal dinner on Friday night. Around 7 pm, a stream of vehicles, including a shuttle full of young women, pulled past the security checkpoint into the estate. SUVs with dark glass silently guarded long driveways to other secluded estates along the winding rural roads outside the village.

Andrea Alvin, who lives on the same road as Astor Courts, told The Associated Press that state police notified her three or four days ago that the road would be closed from 4 pm to 8 pm on Saturday and gave her a sticker so she could get in and out. She came home Thursday to find a bottle of wine from the nearby Clinton Vineyards, courtesy of the wedding planner. It came with a note apologizing for any inconvenience and included a phone number to call if there were any problems. "I think it's great. It's a happy occasion," she said. "It's good publicity for the town. It's just a weekend. What's losing a weekend in the summer?"

Chelsea and Mezvinsky were friends as teenagers in Washington, and both attended Stanford University. They now live in New York, where Mezvinsky works at G3 Capital, a Manhattan hedge fund. Mezvinsky worked previously at Goldman Sachs as an investment banker. Clinton completed her master's degree in public health this spring at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.

Mezvinsky is a son of former US Reps Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky of Pennsylvania and Ed Mezvinsky of Iowa, long-time friends of the Clintons. His parents are divorced. Ed Mezvinsky was released from federal prison last year after serving a nearly five-year sentence for wire and bank fraud. Margolies-Mezvinsky served just one term in Congress before losing her seat in 1994 after voting in favour of President Clinton's 1993 budget, which was controversial at the time.

Source: AP

Friday, July 30, 2010

Poverty Facts and Stats-

Poverty Facts and Stats

Sunday, March 28, 2010

At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day.Source

More than 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where income differentials are widening.Source 2

The poorest 40 percent of the world’s population accounts for 5 percent of global income. The richest 20 percent accounts for three-quarters of world income.Source 3

According to UNICEF, 24,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.”Source 4

Around 27-28 percent of all children in developing countries are estimated to be underweight or stunted. The two regions that account for the bulk of the deficit are South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

If current trends continue, the Millennium Development Goals target of halving the proportion of underweight children will be missed by 30 million children, largely because of slow progress in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.Source 5

Based on enrolment data, about 72 million children of primary school age in the developing world were not in school in 2005; 57 per cent of them were girls. And these are regarded as optimisitic numbers.Source 6

Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.Source 7

Less than one per cent of what the world spent every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000 and yet it didn’t happen.Source 8

Infectious diseases continue to blight the lives of the poor across the world. An estimated 40 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, with 3 million deaths in 2004. Every year there are 350–500 million cases of malaria, with 1 million fatalities: Africa accounts for 90 percent of malarial deaths and African children account for over 80 percent of malaria victims worldwide.Source 9

Water problems affect half of humanity:

Some 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water, and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation.
Almost two in three people lacking access to clean water survive on less than $2 a day, with one in three living on less than $1 a day.
More than 660 million people without sanitation live on less than $2 a day, and more than 385 million on less than $1 a day.
Access to piped water into the household averages about 85% for the wealthiest 20% of the population, compared with 25% for the poorest 20%.
1.8 billion people who have access to a water source within 1 kilometre, but not in their house or yard, consume around 20 litres per day. In the United Kingdom the average person uses more than 50 litres of water a day flushing toilets (where average daily water usage is about 150 liters a day. The highest average water use in the world is in the US, at 600 liters day.)
Some 1.8 million child deaths each year as a result of diarrhoea
The loss of 443 million school days each year from water-related illness.
Close to half of all people in developing countries suffering at any given time from a health problem caused by water and sanitation deficits.
Millions of women spending several hours a day collecting water.
To these human costs can be added the massive economic waste associated with the water and sanitation deficit.… The costs associated with health spending, productivity losses and labour diversions … are greatest in some of the poorest countries. Sub-Saharan Africa loses about 5% of GDP, or some $28.4 billion annually, a figure that exceeds total aid flows and debt relief to the region in 2003.Source 10

Number of children in the world
2.2 billion
Number in poverty
1 billion (every second child)
Shelter, safe water and health
For the 1.9 billion children from the developing world, there are:

640 million without adequate shelter (1 in 3)
400 million with no access to safe water (1 in 5)
270 million with no access to health services (1 in 7)
Children out of education worldwide
121 million
Survival for children

10.6 million died in 2003 before they reached the age of 5 (same as children population in France, Germany, Greece and Italy)
1.4 million die each year from lack of access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation
Health of children

2.2 million children die each year because they are not immunized
15 million children orphaned due to HIV/AIDS (similar to the total children population in Germany or United Kingdom)
Source 11

Rural areas account for three in every four people living on less than US$1 a day and a similar share of the world population suffering from malnutrition. However, urbanization is not synonymous with human progress. Urban slum growth is outpacing urban growth by a wide margin.Source 12

Approximately half the world’s population now live in cities and towns. In 2005, one out of three urban dwellers (approximately 1 billion people) was living in slum conditions.Source 13

In developing countries some 2.5 billion people are forced to rely on biomass—fuelwood, charcoal and animal dung—to meet their energy needs for cooking. In sub-Saharan Africa, over 80 percent of the population depends on traditional biomass for cooking, as do over half of the populations of India and China.Source 14

Indoor air pollution resulting from the use of solid fuels [by poorer segments of society] is a major killer. It claims the lives of 1.5 million people each year, more than half of them below the age of five: that is 4000 deaths a day. To put this number in context, it exceeds total deaths from malaria and rivals the number of deaths from tuberculosis.Source 15

In 2005, the wealthiest 20% of the world accounted for 76.6% of total private consumption. The poorest fifth just 1.5%:

The poorest 10% accounted for just 0.5% and the wealthiest 10% accounted for 59% of all the consumption:

Source 16

1.6 billion people — a quarter of humanity — live without electricity:

Breaking that down further:

Number of people living without electricity Region Millions without electricity
South Asia 706
Sub-Saharan Africa 547
East Asia 224
Other 101

The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the 41 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (567 million people) is less than the wealth of the world’s 7 richest people combined.Source 18

World gross domestic product (world population approximately 6.5 billion) in 2006 was $48.2 trillion in 2006.

The world’s wealthiest countries (approximately 1 billion people) accounted for $36.6 trillion dollars (76%).
The world’s billionaires — just 497 people (approximately 0.000008% of the world’s population) — were worth $3.5 trillion (over 7% of world GDP).
Low income countries (2.4 billion people) accounted for just $1.6 trillion of GDP (3.3%)
Middle income countries (3 billion people) made up the rest of GDP at just over $10 trillion (20.7%).Source 19
The world’s low income countries (2.4 billion people) account for just 2.4% of world exportsSource 20

The total wealth of the top 8.3 million people around the world “rose 8.2 percent to $30.8 trillion in 2004, giving them control of nearly a quarter of the world’s financial assets.”

In other words, about 0.13% of the world’s population controlled 25% of the world’s financial assets in 2004.Source 21

For every $1 in aid a developing country receives, over $25 is spent on debt repayment.Source 22

51 percent of the world’s 100 hundred wealthiest bodies are corporations.Source 23

The wealthiest nation on Earth has the widest gap between rich and poor of any industrialized nation.Source 24

The poorer the country, the more likely it is that debt repayments are being extracted directly from people who neither contracted the loans nor received any of the money.Source 25

In 1960, the 20% of the world’s people in the richest countries had 30 times the income of the poorest 20% — in 1997, 74 times as much.Source 26

An analysis of long-term trends shows the distance between the richest and poorest countries was about:

3 to 1 in 1820
11 to 1 in 1913
35 to 1 in 1950
44 to 1 in 1973
72 to 1 in 1992Source 27
“Approximately 790 million people in the developing world are still chronically undernourished, almost two-thirds of whom reside in Asia and the Pacific.”Source 28

For economic growth and almost all of the other indicators, the last 20 years [of the current form of globalization, from 1980 - 2000] have shown a very clear decline in progress as compared with the previous two decades [1960 - 1980]. For each indicator, countries were divided into five roughly equal groups, according to what level the countries had achieved by the start of the period (1960 or 1980). Among the findings:

Growth: The fall in economic growth rates was most pronounced and across the board for all groups or countries.
Life Expectancy: Progress in life expectancy was also reduced for 4 out of the 5 groups of countries, with the exception of the highest group (life expectancy 69-76 years).
Infant and Child Mortality: Progress in reducing infant mortality was also considerably slower during the period of globalization (1980-1998) than over the previous two decades.
Education and literacy: Progress in education also slowed during the period of globalization.Source 29
A mere 12 percent of the world’s population uses 85 percent of its water, and these 12 percent do not live in the Third World.Source 30

Consider the global priorities in spending in 1998

Global Priority $U.S. Billions
Cosmetics in the United States 8
Ice cream in Europe 11
Perfumes in Europe and the United States 12
Pet foods in Europe and the United States 17
Business entertainment in Japan 35
Cigarettes in Europe 50
Alcoholic drinks in Europe 105
Narcotics drugs in the world 400
Military spending in the world 780

And compare that to what was estimated as additional costs to achieve universal access to basic social services in all developing countries:

Global Priority $U.S. Billions
Basic education for all 6
Water and sanitation for all 9
Reproductive health for all women 12
Basic health and nutrition 13

Source 31

Notes and Sources
Shaohua Chen and Martin Ravallion, The developing world is poorer than we thought, but no less successful in the fight against poverty, World Bank, August 2008
For the 95% on $10 a day, see Martin Ravallion, Shaohua Chen and Prem Sangraula, Dollar a day revisited, World Bank, May 2008. They note that 95% of developing country population lived on less than $10 a day. Using 2005 population numbers, this is equivalent to just under 79.7% of world population, and does not include populations living on less than $10 a day from industrialized nations.
This figure is based on purchasing power parity (PPP), which basically suggests that prices of goods in countries tend to equate under floating exchange rates and therefore people would be able to purchase the same quantity of goods in any country for a given sum of money. That is, the notion that a dollar should buy the same amount in all countries. Hence if a poor person in a poor country living on a dollar a day moved to the U.S. with no changes to their income, they would still be living on a dollar a day.

The new poverty line of $1.25 a day was recently announced by the World Bank (in 2008). For many years before that it had been $1 a day. But the $1 a day used then would be $1.45 a day now if just inflation was accounted for.

The new figures from the World Bank therefore confirm concerns that poverty has not been reduced by as much as was hoped, although it certainly has dropped since 1981.

However, it appears that much of the poverty reduction in the last couple of decades almost exclusively comes from China:

China’s poverty rate fell from 85% to 15.9%, or by over 600 million people
China accounts for nearly all the world’s reduction in poverty
Excluding China, poverty fell only by around 10%

The use of the poverty line of $1 a day had long come under criticism for seeming arbitrary and using poor quality and limited data thus risking an underestimate of poverty. The $1.25 a day level is accompanied with some additional explanations and reasoning, including that it is a common level found amongst the poorest countries, and that $2.50 represents a typical poverty level amongst many more developing countries.

The $10 dollar a day figure above is close to poverty levels in the US, so is provided here to give a more global perspective to these numbers, although the World Bank has felt it is not a meaningful number for the poorest because they are unfortunately unlikely to reach that level any time soon.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

राजस्थानी भाषा :एक नज़र-माथै में आई कांईं ? तो अब बताओ कै राजस्थानी भाषा नैं मान्यता मिलनी चाईजै क नीं

[][][]-------राजस्थानी भाषा :एक नज़र------ [][][]---[:] विरेन्द्र ढुंढाडाShare

Tuesday at 9:08pm

Rajasthani (Devanagari: राजस्थानी, Perso-Arabic: راجستھانی) is a language of the Indo-Aryan languages family. It is spoken by 36 million people in Rajasthan and other states of India and in some areas of Pakistan. The number of speakers may be up to 80 million worldwide. It is one of the languages developed from an ancestor language called Old Gujarati or Maru-Gujar, the other language being modern Gujarati.
Old Gujarati or Maru-Gujar (1100 AD — 1500 AD), ancestor of Gujarati and Rajasthani, was spoken by the Gurjars in Gujarat and Rajasthan. Texts of this era display characteristic Gujarati features such as direct/oblique noun forms, postpositions, and auxiliary verbs. It had 3 genders as Gujarati does today, and by around the time of 1300 CE a fairly standardized form of this language emerged. While generally known as Old Gujarati, some scholars pref the name of Old Western Rajasthani, based on the argument that Gujarati and Rajasthani were not yet distinct at the time. Also factoring into this preference was the belief that modern Rajasthani sporadically expressed a neuter gender, based on the incorrect conclusion that the [ũ] that came to be pronounced in some areas for masculine [o] after a nasal consonant was analogous to Gujarati's neuter [ũ]. A formal grammar of the precursor to this language was written by Jain monk and eminent scholar Hemachandra Suri in the reign of Solanki king Siddharaj Jayasinh of Anhilwara (Patan)

The Rajasthani language is a part of the Central Indo-Aryan family, although some classify it as a Western Indo-Aryan language.
Most of the Rajasthani dialects are chiefly spoken in the state of Rajasthan but are also spoken in Gujarat, Haryana and Punjab.
Rajasthani is also spoken in the Bahawalpur and Multan sectors of the Pakistani provinces of Punjab and Tharparkar district of Sindh. It merges with Riasti and Saraiki in Bahawalpur and Multan areas, respectively. It also comes in contact with Sindhi from Dera Rahim Yar Khan through Sukkur and Ummerkot. Many linguists (particularly Gusain, 2000b and Shackle, 1976) agree that it shares many phonological (implosives), morphological (future tense marker and negation) and syntactic features with Riasti and Saraiki. However, further inquiry is needed.
Some major dialects or languages (when you label Rajasthani as a cluster) are[3]:
• Bagri: about five million speakers in Hanumangarh and Sriganganagar districts of Rajasthan, Sirsa and Hissar districts of Haryana, Firozepur and Muktsar districts of Punjab of India and Bahawalpur and Bahawalnagar areas of Punjab of Pakistan.
• Shekhawati: about three million speakers in Churu, Jhunjhunu and Sikar districts of Rajasthan.
• Marwari:about thirteen million speakers in western Rajasthan comprising Churu, Bikaner, Nagaur, Ajmer, Jodhpur, Pali, Jalore, Jaisalmer, and Barmer districts of Rajasthan. It is also spoken in eastern parts of upper Sindh province of Pakistan.
• Dhundhari: about nine million persons in Jaipur, Dausa, Tonk, Ajmer, Karauli and Sawai Madhopur districts of Rajasthan. It was first surveyed upon by G. Macliester who published specimens of fifteen varieties of Dhundhari spoken in the territory of the former state of Jaipur in 1898.
• Harauti: about four million speakers in Kota, Bundi, Baran, and Jhalawar districts of Rajasthan state of India. Interestingly, it has a nominative marker /nE/ which is absent in other dialects of Rajasthani.
• Mewari: about five million speakers in Rajsamand, Bhilwara, Udaipur, and Chittorgarh districts of Rajasthan state of India.
• Mewati: about five million speakers in Mewat region of Haryana(Gurgaon and Mewat districts) and adjoining Alwar district of Rajasthan.
• Ahirwati: spoken in Mahendragarh and Rewari districts of Haryana.
• Other major dialects/languages are: Dhatki, Goaria, Godwari, Loarki, Merwari, Gade Lohar, Gujari, Gurgula, Lambadi, Malvi, Nimadi
In the past, the language spoken in Rajasthan was regarded as a dialect of western Hindi (Kellogg, 1873). George Abraham Grierson (1908) was the first scholar who gave the designation ‘Rajasthani’ to the language, which was earlier known through its various dialects. Today, however, Sahitya Akademi, National Academy of Letters and University Grants Commission recognize it as a distinct language. It is also taught as such in the Universities of Jodhpur and Udaipur. The Board of Secondary Education, Rajasthan included Rajasthani in the course of studies and it has been an optional subject since 1973. Since 1947, several movements have been going on in Rajasthan for its recognition, but it is still considered a ‘dialect’ of Hindi. Recently, the Rajasthan Government has recognized it as a state language, but there is still a long way for the language to go towards national status. It still lacks a comprehensive reference grammar and contemporary dictionary based on a thorough linguistic survey of Rajasthan. Currently an extensive descriptive grammar of Rajasthani is being recorded.
In India, Rajasthani is written in the Devanagari script, an abugida which is written from left to right. Besides, Muriya script was also in use for business purposes only. In Pakistan, where Rajasthani is considered a minor language,[4] a variant of the Sindhi script is used to write Rajasthani dialects.
Rajasthani has 10 vowels and 31 consonants. Three lexical tones: Low, Mid, High (Gusain 2000). Three implosives (b, d, g). Abundance of Front Open Vowel (e.g., javɛ, Khavɛ..)

माथै में आई कांईं ? तो अब बताओ कै राजस्थानी भाषा नैं मान्यता मिलनी चाईजै क नीं........?
0NE tree makes one lakh matchsticks, ONE matchsticks can burn one lakh trees, similerly ONE negetive thought or doubt can burn thousends of dreams. so be POSITIVE always.


Paid News Latest figures : See the complete list of which newspaper got what from the GOI, e.g. GOI paid Times of India Delhi advertising worth over Rs 19 crores ( exact amount Rs. 19 191682878); HT Delhi advertising worth Rs. 20 crores (exact amount Rs 204934284). Total money paid last year by DAVP was more than Rs 3 billion or to be exact Rs 3,057,858,183 and that is print advertising only. TV and Radio are seperate. Here is the full document.-Vijay Rana

Global warming evidences 'unmistakable' -29/07/2010


Global warming evidences 'unmistakable'

London: Evidences of global warming are unmistakable, according to a new report on climate change which presents a list of indicators including melting glaciers and rising sea level.

The report prepared by the British Met Office and its US equivalent has provided the "greatest evidence we have ever had" that the world is warming.

The report brings together the latest temperature readings from the top of the atmosphere to the bottom of the ocean, The Telegraph reported.

Scientists usually rely on the land temperature recorded from weather stations around the world to show global warming. Now for the first time, a study has brought together different ways of measuring changes in the climate.

The ten indicators of climate change include measurements of sea level rise taken from ships, the temperature of the upper atmosphere taken from weather balloons and field surveys of melting glaciers.

New technology also means it is possible to measure the temperature of the oceans, which absorb 90 percent of the world's heat.

The report shows "unequivocally that the world is warming and has been for more than three decades".

And despite the cold winter in Europe and north east America, this year is set to be the hottest on record.

The annual report was compiled by the Met Office and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Both the NOAA and NASA have said the first six months of this year were the hottest on record, while the Met Office believes it is the second hottest start to the year after 1998.

Peter Stott, Head of Climate Monitoring and Attribution at the Met Office, said "variability" in different regions, such as the cold winter in Britain, does not mean the rest of the world is not warming.

And he said, "greenhouse gases are the glaringly obvious explanation" for 0.56C (1F) warming over the last 50 years.

"Despite the fact people say global warming has stopped, the new data, added onto existing data, gives us the greatest evidence we have ever had," he said.

Sceptics, however, claimed that emails stolen from the University of East Anglia show scientists were willing to manipulate the land surface temperatures to show global warming.

Dr Stott said the sceptics can no longer question the land surface temperature as other records also show global warming.

Each indicator takes independent evidence from at least three different institutions in order to ensure the information is correct, he said.

Despite variations from year to year, each decade has been warmer than the last since the 1980s.

"Despite the variability caused by short term changes, the analysis conducted for this report illustrates why we are so confident the world is warming," he said.

"When we look at air temperature and other indicators of climate, we see highs and lows in the data from year to year because of natural variability.

"Understanding climate change requires looking at the longer-term record. When we follow decade-to-decade trends using different data sets and independent analyses from around the world, we see clear and unmistakable signs of a warming world."

Source: IANS
"Many thanks Shweta, Rakesh, Vibhaji and Shailesh.
It was so nice Vibhaji to see Aditi the other day. She has a long way to go and i am always there in whatever little way i am capable of. She seemed really focused when we spoke on the phone and you neednt worry about her at all.
Amit da, you are the one who has been encouraging me all the way and now pulling my leg :)

Obama not invited for Chelsea Clinton's wedding -29/7/10

Obama not invited for Chelsea Clinton's wedding

Washington: Chelsea Clinton's marriage Saturday is the hottest ticket in town, but President Barack Obama would have to give a miss to what is being called the Wedding of the Decade and of the Century as he hasn't been invited.

US President Barack Obama.

He hasn't received an invitation to the wedding of the daughter of former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Obama announced on ABC's "The View" Wednesday.

"I was not invited to the wedding because I think Hillary and Bill, properly, want to keep this thing for Chelsea and her soon-to-be husband," the president said.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton sits next to his daughter Chelsea (C) and her boyfriend Marc Mezvinsky (R) at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York. Chelsea Clinton plans to marry fiance Marc Mezvinsky in the upstate New York village of Rhinebeck on Saturday.

"You don't want two presidents at one wedding. All the secret service, guests going through (metal detectors), all the gifts being torn apart," he added jocularly.

Clinton's Vice President Al Gore, celebrities Barbara Streisand, Steven Spielberg, Ted Turner will also not be attending Chelsea's marriage to her investment-banker boyfriend Marc Mezvinsky.

Chelsea Clinton (L) with mother Hillary Clinton.

The hotly anticipated, highly secretive affair at a posh private estate 90 miles north of Manhattan would set the former first couple back by an estimated $3 million to $5 million, according to New York daily News.

Security at Saturday's wedding alone could cost $200,000 because of all the high-level politicians and global celebrities, the daily said.

Built as a Beaux Arts style playground for John Jacob Astor IV more than a century ago, the estate features the sort of commanding view that once inspired Hudson River School painters, as well as 50 acres of buffer space to shield the party from prying eyes.

People walk along East Market Street in Rhinebeck. A number of shops posted signs like "Congratulations Marc and Chelsea". Photo Courtesy: AP

A number of shops posted signs like "Congratulations Marc and Chelsea". One shop posted pictures of the Clintons, and a sign on a cosmetics store read: "Oprah! Please make my soap one of your favourite things."

"I don't think we've seen a wedding with this much attention since Patricia Nixon," says Donnie Brown, a wedding planner featured in "Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?" on the Style Network.

"This will definitely be the biggest wedding of the year," he was quoted as saying.

Source: IANS

Will overcome Maoist problem in three years: Chidambaram-29/07/2010


Will overcome Maoist problem in three years: Chidambaram

New Delhi: The government on Thursday said it was confident of overcoming the Maoist problem in the next three years and had prepared a two-pronged strategy of initiating development and police action in the affected areas.

Addressing a meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee for the ministry of home affairs, home minister P Chidambaram expressed confidence that the challenge of left wing extremism would be met jointly by the central and state governments.

"The government was confident that the problem of left wing extremism would be overcome in the next three years," he said.

Chidambaram said after consultations with the Naxal-affected states, it was agreed to have a two-pronged strategy to handle the Maoist issue -- development and police action.

While the Central government acknowledged that the primary role and responsibility was that of state governments in enforcing law and order in confronting the challenge of left wing extremists, it also recognised its responsibility in assisting the states in every way, he said.

The home minister said the Centre was assisting the states by providing para-military forces, sharing intelligence and funding both development schemes and security needs.

Chidambaram informed the Parliamentarians that in a meeting of chief ministers of seven Naxal-affected states on July 14, it was agreed that a Unified Command would be set up in four states -- West Bengal, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand -- for anti-Naxal operations.

Besides, the Centre would provide these states additional helicopters for logistical support, funds for establishment and strengthening of 400 police stations recruiting additional Special Police Officers.

It was also agreed to set up an Empowered Group chaired by member secretary, Planning Commission, to review existing norms and guidelines in implementation of various development schemes, having regard to local needs like road connectivity, primary education, primary health care and drinking water.

During the discussions, the members broadly agreed with the suggestions given in the agenda note which included steps on both security and development fronts.

According to an estimate, about 40,000 sq km areas in these states are under the control of Maoists. Naxal violence has claimed the lives of over 10,000 civilians and security personnel in the last five years. Out of a total of 10,268 casualties between 2005 and May this year, 2,372 deaths have been reported in 2009 as against 1,769 in 2008 and 1,737 in 2007.


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UK to talk to Pak on ending terror in India-29/7/10


UK to talk to Pak on ending terror in India

New Delhi: Endorsing India's stand that no cause is good enough to justify terrorism, Britain today said that it will discuss with Pakistan "frankly, clearly and openly" on the need to reduce and eliminate terror from India.

Addressing a joint press conference with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the end of their discussions, visiting British PM David Cameron said, "we want to work with Pakistan to make it fight LeT and Afghan or Pakistan Taliban.

"Pakistan government has taken steps and it needs to take further steps to reduce terrorism in Afghanistan, India and the streets of London." He was replying to a question as to what the international community would do to see that Pakistan does not export terror, especially to India, as stated by him in Bangalore yesterday.

At the same time, he said Pakistan should be encouraged to take steps to see that terror is reduced."I think the right thing is to have discussion with Pakistan frankly, clearly and openly. Next week, I will have discussions with President of Pakistan," he said.

On his part, Singh said expressed the hope that Pakistan would honour its commitment not to allow its territory for terror against India given to him and his predecessors.

"We believe that Pakistan should be as serious in tackling terrorism on its western border as on the eastern borders. I sincerely hope that the world community would use its good offices to promote this," Singh said.


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Prices hit sky high, response rock bottom-29/7/10


Prices hit sky high, response rock bottom

New Delhi: Skyrocketing food prices disrupted proceedings in Parliament for the third successive day on Thursday, forcing two adjournments of both Houses, the second one for the day.

Lalu Prasad, Sitaram Yechury and other Left and Third Front MPs during a protest against price rise at Parliament House, in New Delhi on Thursday. PTI Photo

Agitated members later took to the streets deciding to knock at the doors of President Prathiba Patil. Traffic went haywire as MPs marched to the Rashtrapathi Bhavan.

Earlier, vociferous protests by the opposition erupted as the two Houses assembled at 11 a.m. Failing to restore order, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari adjourned the proceedings till 12 noon. However, with the pandemonium continuing when they reassembled, both Houses were adjourned for the day after government papers were tabled.

BJP President Nitin Gadkari, senior leaders L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Murli Manohar Joshi and other party leaders come out after submitting to President Pratibha Patil a memorandum on the issue of price rise on behalf of crores of common people, in New Delhi on Thursday. PTI Photo

In the Lok Sabha, angry opposition members led by Sushma Swaraj of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Mulayam Singh of the Samajwadi Party were on their feet as the House assembled at 11 a.m., demanding a discussion on the price rise issue as an adjournment motion that entails voting.
Sushma Swaraj reminded Speaker Meira Kumar of the assurance given by her Wednesday that she would consider discussion under any other rule, except an adjournment motion, on the issues of price rise and fuel price hike.

BJP President Nitin Gadkari, with senior leaders L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and others, talking to the media after submitting to President Pratibha Patil a memorandum on the issue of price rise on behalf of crores of common people, in New Delhi on Thursday. PTI Photo

The Speaker had rejected the opposition's demand for a discussion under an adjournment motion Wednesday. However, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal objected to the opposition's demand for a discussion under an adjournment motion and stated that the government was ready for a discussion under rule 193, which does not entail voting.

Here is why the government has been issuing only promises, but not controlling prices:

1. While prices have been skyrocketing, food grains in various government-run godowns are rotting or are being consumed by rodents. When a hungry woman tried to take grains that was left in the open in one of the godowns in Bihar, she was thrashed by officials. When rats eat the same grain, the officials vanish.

2. As on January 1 this year, 10,688 lakh tonnes of food grains were found damaged in FCI depots. This would have been enough to feed over six lakh people for over 10 years.
Between 1997 and 2007, 1.83 lakh tonnes of wheat, 6.33 lakh tonnes of rice, 2.20 lakh tonnes of paddy and 111 lakh tonnes of maize were damaged in different FCI godowns.
"The FCI godowns have enough space to store food grains properly. Yet the grains are rotting in open spaces on their premises while millions are starving. It's a national shame," said Dev Ashish Bhattacharya, who filed the RTI application on this issue January 6, 2010.

3. The inflation as calculated on wholesale prices was a mere 1.5%, although consumer prices were rising at a blazing 13.5% year on year.

4. In November 2009, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission and the point man for economic policy, predicted that rising prices would be controlled by the end of the financial year, that is, March 2010.

5. By January 2010, inflation rate based on the consumer price index touched a 42-month high of 16% and then settled at 15% in February.

6. In February 2010, the Prime Minister said that the worst was over. However, wholesale prices increased by a whopping 10% in the same month, entering double-digit territory for the first time.

7. Around the time of annual Budget, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said prices would moderate in two months. Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar added his bit by saying that food prices had started falling.

8. The Prime Minister set up a core group of ministers and chief ministers from 10 states to come up with a strategy for bringing prices down.

9. Contradicting Ahluwalia's prediction of controlled prices, March 2010, witnessed the sarkari inflation rate jumping to 11% while consumer prices were rocketing to nearly 15%.

10. The core group set up three working groups to look into various aspects of price rise, like how to increase production of food, how to tackle storage and distribution problems and so on.

11. On April 27, 2010, the Opposition sponsored a countrywide bandh protesting against price rise. But the government did not react.

12. Since May 2010, the Prime Minister has been stoically maintaining that inflation will go down by the year end, while the Finance Minister kept saying it will get under control after the monsoon. Nothing of this happened.

13. Economic bureaucrats are also busy churning out deadlines for inflation. Chief statistician TCA Anant predicts November, the PM's economic advisory council goes with November too while chief economic adviser Kaushik Basu says August.

14. Reserve Bank of India continues to stick to its theory that inflation can be controlled by regulating the supply of money in the economy. RBI has upped the central banks' lending and borrowing rates four times in the space of five months, including twice in July itself.

15. However, there has been no check on the raging price rise. The WPI-based inflation rate is 11% in July, the sixth month running in double digits while the CPI-based rate has been in double-digit territory for 11 months till May 2010, which is the last month for which data has been released.

Will there be some relief for ruined family budgets in the coming days? By the government's reckoning, it can happen anytime in the next six months, as it could have in the past six.

Source: India Syndicate and IANS

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CWG projects will not be completed on time-28/7/10


CWG projects will not be completed on time


New Delhi: Under attack for tardy preparations for Commonwealth Games, the Delhi Government has admitted that several key projects have been delayed and said work in some of the stadia may not be completed within the final deadline of August 31. Delhi Finance Minister A K Walia, after taking stock of progress of work at Yamuna Sports Complex, one of the key venues of the event, said the government was not satisfied with pace of work at several under-construction stadia.

"We are not satisfied with the progress of work (in some of the stadiums). They (the construction agencies) are saying all the work will be completed before the deadline.

"But there are doubts," Walia said. The minister also admitted that there has been delays in several key projects being implemented by the city government.

The Delhi government had undertaken projects worth over Rs 10,000 crore to improve infrastructure in the city ahead of the Games. "The agencies concerned have been asked to complete all the work related to the event by August 31."

"There is a lot of work left to be done. We are facing various difficulties also.We all have to put lot of hard work," Walia, who has been told to regularly monitor progress of various projects, said. 14 stadia are being developed to host the mega event and work on some of them are yet to be completed.

Facing a lot of criticism for the city's tardy preparation for the event, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Monday had threatened to blacklist contractors if they fail to complete works within final deadline of August 31. The Barapullah Nalla elevated road project as well as various street-scapping projects are also running behind schedules.

The elevated road between Sarai Kale Khan and the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the main venue of the event, is being built to provide uninterrupted traffic flow from Games Village near Akshardham temple to the stadium. With just two months left for the event and several key projects running behind schedule, Dikshit last week had ordered various agencies concerned to work through the night to finish works as soon as possible.

Union Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar and Lt Governor Tejindra Khanna on Saturday had made a detailed review of Delhi's overall preparation for the event and ordered the agencies to ensure maximum coordination to ensure early completion of the projects.

Source: PTI



Politics, the media and a very clever prime minister-27/7/10

Politics, the media and a very clever prime minister

Tue Jul 27 10:42AM

David Cameron is just as obsessed with the machinations of the British tabloids and broadcasters as New Labour ever was. He's just better at it.
By Samuel Dale

Documenting Cameron's rise to the summit of British politics is so straightforward that it becomes, paradoxically, almost unconventional. As the first politician to rise from Tory central office to prime minister, Cameron has been at the heart of British politics since he left university. He learned his trade working on the 1992 election campaign and as political advisor to the chancellor Norman Lamont and home secretary Michael Howard. This was no ordinary introduction to political life. This was the gold-plated fast-track to the very top.

The relationship between politicians and the media is the big theme of author Nicholas Jones' new book, Campaign 2010. And it is clear that Cameron is an expert media handler, whether it is speaking without notes for party conference speeches or wooing the News Corporation press. He really seems to hit the PR spot when he is pictured with huskies in the Arctic to symbolise his green credentials.

One of the most fascinating things to observe is just how fickle the national press are and how easy this is to appreciate in a single volume depicting one man's rise. Cameron's approach is contrasted with the 'New Labour spin machine', particularly over the hug-a-hoodie episode. The phrase was devised from a speech made by Cameron when he said youths wearing hoodies needed some love, not just punishment. The blame is laid at the door of spinners Alastair Campbell and Peter Mandelson. But it is hard to see the difference with Cameron's approach when he launches a 'forces manifesto' to coincide with a Sun newspaper campaign, or by urging his ministers to call Gordon Brown a 'ditherer' at every opportunity.

A whole chapter is dedicated to the switching of the Murdoch press from Labour to the Conservatives. Cameron clearly places huge importance on the old Australian tycoon and tried to please him with timely attacks on the BBC and the need for greater diversity in the media. His hiring of former News of the World editor Andy Coulson as director of communications was also, in part, a strategic move to gain an inside track into News Corporation's workings.

There is criticism for Cameron over his handling of the Lord Ashcroft and Zac Goldsmith non-domicile affairs - from a PR perspective, at least. Jones believes the incident highlights a key Cameron flaw, loyalty to his inner circle. The author contrasts how he had no problem tossing out the Tory old guard during the expenses scandal but hesitates over throwing his old pals Goldsmith and Lord Ashcroft to the dogs. As a result of this misjudgement a ticking bomb is allowed to explode very close to the general election.

As for the election campaign itself, Jones provides a breathtaking account of one of the most exciting periods in British political history. Cameron's decision to enter into TV debates and give Nick Clegg equal billing as himself and the former prime minister is dismissed as a misjudgement. It is only after the election result, Jones argues, that Cameron came into his own. And it is hard to disagree that his "big, open and comprehensive" offer to the Liberal Democrats was a masterstroke and his willingness to compromise and work together contrasted with the difficult Brown.

As Jones points out so effectively, the media blackout only served to intensify this drama. Perhaps this is the exception which proves the rule. When the press became less relevant Cameron formed his determination to form a coalition government and reach Downing Street. By joining with the Liberal Democrats he confounded the national press and turned disappointment into opportunity. After years of being obsessed by daily headlines, the only time he ignored the media was perhaps his finest hour.

PM defends remarks on Pakistan-29/7/10

1 hour 41 mins ago

Despite anger in Islamabad about his remarks about Pakistan's record on terrorism, the Prime Minister said: "I don't think the British taxpayer wants me to go around the world saying what people want to hear."

He denied that the row had overshadowed his trip to India and maintained that he had good relations with Pakistan, whose president will be visiting him at his country retreat at Chequers next week.

Pakistan's high commissioner to Britain has criticised Mr Cameron, after the PM warned that the country must not be allowed to "promote the export of terror" around the world.

The Prime Minister said he was not responsible for the headlines generated by his comments, but said: "I think what is absolutely clear is, it's not acceptable for, within Pakistan, there to be terrorist groups threatening Pakistan itself but also other countries, including British people, whether in Afghanistan or back at home.

"To be fair to the Pakistan government they have taken action against these groups. We need them to do more and we will support and help them as they do more. But I think it's important, as I say, to speak frankly about these things to countries that are your friends."

Asked whether he regretted damaging relations with Pakistan, he said: "I don't accept that they have been damaged. We have very good relations with Pakistan - I have a meeting with President (Asif Ali) Zardari next week in the UK and I look forward to discussing these and other issues."

Mr Cameron stressed that the focus of his trip to India was to create jobs in the UK and said:"This is about the links between our countries, but it is about business and above all it's about jobs, making sure we have more jobs back in the UK. That is why I am here."

Amid differences in the Cabinet - and concern in India - about the planned imposition of an immigration cap, Mr Cameron said voters want greater controls.

"The people who voted for us wanted to have control in immigration and a reduction in net immigration and that is exactly what they are going to get," he said.

British PM sparks 'terror' row with Pakistan-29/7/10

PM sparks 'terror' row with Pakistan

44 mins ago

Cameron was mired in a diplomatic row with Islamabad Thursday over comments made on a trade-driven trip to India about the "export of terror" from Pakistan. Pakistan's ambassador to Britain accused Cameron of "damaging the prospects of regional peace" with his remarks on Wednesday in the southern Indian IT hub of Bangalore.

The foreign ministry in Islamabad reminded the British premier of Pakistan's sacrifices in the fight against terror, adding that militant networks, "as the UK knows full well", know no borders.

Cameron's trip to India was meant to showcase his new foreign policy based on commercial interests, but the minefield of India-Pakistan relations and regional security risked overshadowing his pitch for investment and open trade.

Asked about unrest in South Asia on Wednesday, Cameron responded with a warning to Pakistan against becoming a haven for militant groups or giving them support to strike targets in India or Afghanistan.

"We cannot tolerate in any sense the idea that this country (Pakistan) is allowed to look both ways and is able, in any way, to promote the export of terror, whether to India or whether to Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world," he said.

His remarks came days after the leak of secret US military documents that detailed alleged links between Pakistan's intelligence services and Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.

They were splashed on the front page of every major newspaper in India, which has long accused Pakistan of harbouring and abetting extremist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba -- blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

"We should be very, very clear with Pakistan that we want to see a strong, stable and democratic Pakistan," Cameron said. "It should be a relationship based on a very clear message: that it is not right to have any relationship with groups that are promoting terror."

In London, Pakistani High Commissioner Wajid Shamsul Hasan voiced his government's deep disappointment, saying Cameron had chosen to ignore Pakistan's "enormous role" in the war on terror.

"He seems to be more reliant on information based on intelligence leaks, despite it lacking credibility or corroborating proof," said Hasan, writing to The Guardian newspaper.

"A bilateral visit aimed at attracting business could have been conducted without damaging the prospects of regional peace," he added.

In Islamabad, foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said; "Terrorists have no religion, no humanity, no specific ethnicity or geography.

"Terrorists' networks, as the UK knows full well, mutate and operate in different regions and cities."

The issue of South Asian regional security, including Pakistan and Afghanistan, is sure to be raised again when Cameron holds talks Thursday with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna.

But Cameron will be keen to keep his two-day visit focused on its main purpose: Britain's drive to take bilateral trade and economic ties with the former jewel in its colonial crown to a new level.

As well as his meetings with leaders in New Delhi, he will also attend a summit on expanding economic relations between Britain and India, one of the world's fastest growing economies.

In the first of a series of expected deals, BAE Systems said Wednesday it had finalised the sale of 57 Hawk trainer jets to India -- to be built locally under licence -- in a deal worth £500 million (779 million dollars).

Rolls-Royce will provide the engines for the aircraft for another £200 million.

Cameron is heading the largest British delegation to travel to India in recent memory, including a host of senior cabinet ministers and corporate bigwigs.

During a trip to India in January 2009, then British foreign minister David Miliband also ignited a diplomatic furore when he linked the 2008 Mumbai attacks to the unresolved dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir.

These comments upset India, which fiercely resists any outside interference in its dispute over the Himalayan territory. One leading Indian politician labelled the Miliband visit afterwards a "disaster".