March 31, 2014

On Aadhaar Scandal

Nandan Nilekani to be prosecuted under Prevention of the Corruption Act
(The Hindu, March 31, 2014)

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy on Sunday said Nandan Nilekani, the Congress candidate from the Bangalore South constituency, who recently resigned as chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India, should be prosecuted under the Prevention of the Corruption Act for what he termed the alleged squandering of resources for implementing the Aadhaar scheme.

He told presspersons here that a study conducted by the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, judged the Aadhaar scheme “the most useless” and the Standing Committee of Parliament on Finance too had echoed the same view. “Mr. Nilekani should be prosecuted under Section 13 (1) (G)/3 of the Prevention of the Corruption Act.” The Congress has pitted the Infosys co-founder against five-time MP and BJP’s general secretary Ananth Kumar.

Mr. Swamy said Rs. 4,000 crore had been spent on the scheme in the last five years. The UPA government had set aside a budgetary allocation of Rs. 12,568 crore for implementing it. “If the NDA comes to power, the present form of Aadhaar will be scrapped,” he said.

The BJP leader said the country’s economy “is sick and in a tailspin heading for a crash unless effective steps are taken soon to reverse the trend.” “Adverse Balance of Payments’ (current account deficit) as a ratio of GDP is highest since 1990, at 4 per cent. Total deficit in the Central and State budgets now exceeds the danger mark of 12 per cent of GDP, thereby committing a crime under the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act passed by Parliament.” If NDA government came to power, it would auction 2G spectrum, coal blocks and oilfields for raising funds for implementing welfare schemes. Income tax limit would be increased for providing relief to the middle class, Mr. Swamy added.

March 2, 2014

Latest Campaign from Design & People


March 2014, South Bangalore, India
'AADHAAR KA ANAADAR' CAMPAIGN


In June 2009, Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh's Council appointed Dr Nandan Nilekani as the Chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) with the rank and status of a Cabinet Minister — probably the only 'Cabinet Minister' who has not taken a formal oath abiding by the Constitution of India.

The key task of the 'Cabinet Minister' was to advise and implement the UID scheme in India in the next five years. In less than two years, Nandan Nilekani became the centre of criticism — his own colleagues from Planning Commission and Home Ministry to ordinary masses in the country. Former Defence Minister Jashwant Singh called Nilekani's scheme a "madcap scheme". The UID scheme which already spent Rs 3,500 cr and is expected to spend another Rs 100,000 cr for the final implementation of the scheme — all from poor taxpayer's money. Introduced as a proof of identity, the Aadhaar card was later projected as a card of 'benefits'. The result — denied benefits to millions of Indian citizens who walked the dusty roads and struggled several months to get hold of their Aadhaar card, the 'benefit' card.

The UID Scheme is one of the biggest scams of the century — introduced and implemented by a public servant who's supposed to 'guide' the Hon Prime Minister and the nation. If implemented, India will be the only country in the world to have such a unique number challenging the constitutional rights of citizens. After September 11 attack on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon in USA, there were attempts in all countries to tighten security in order to benefit Uncle Sam. UID is nothing but an initiative to create a data-base for national security, and the Aadhaar data base would be eminently suited for that purpose. It is noteworthy that Aadhaar is apparently linked with the National Intelligence Grid (Natgrid) and the National Population Register. Since biometric based unique card systems are rejected by the entire world, the Unique Identification Number launched in India can only be compared to 'People's Card Index' (Volkskartei), introduced by the Nazi Germany in 1939 to control the German population and punish non-abiding Jews.

And in February 2014 Dr Nandan Nilekani shocked the nation when he decided to resign as the Chairman of ambitious UIDAI project much before completing his term to contest the Lok Sabha election from South Bangalore on a Congress ticket, a party he never joined!

Design & People launches its "Aadhaar ka Anaadar" campaign in South Banglore, the constituency chosen by Nandan M Nilekani to contest the LS election.

 Campaign Poster Download 

January 27, 2014

Captain GR Gopinath on AAP

Arvind Kejriwal's convoluted logic about dharna rings hollow

Blog: Arvind Kejriwal's convoluted logic about dharna rings hollow
New Delhi (Captain GR Gopinath founded Air Deccan and is considered a pioneer in the low-cost airline sector.)
Arvind Kejriwal has said that he has read the constitution and it does not say anywhere that the Chief Minister cannot stage a protest.

This thought then crossed my mind - by the same convoluted logic, can the Prime Minister join the mob and blockade the Metro or state secretariat if there are perceived injustices or misdemeanours by Kejriwal's government? After all, the constitution does not say the PM can not do a 'dharna' and hold the Delhi State hostage?  (Read constitution, dharna by Chief Minister not unconstitutional, says Arvind Kejriwal)

Just as spin doctors and party faithful in traditional parties defend their party supremo's collusion in scams or antics of their Chief Ministers, the suave defenders of the faith in AAP are at pains to justify and convince the rest of the world that their actions are based on the 'moral code of their cult' and therefore are neither suspect nor open to a third-party review. It is the same delusion and hubris through the ages  - " I'm the State," said Louis the XIV.

If you give a blind test to some historian from planet Mars by presenting him with the transgressions of our parties in the last few years including that of AAP in the last one month alone, without putting any label to them of their parentage, he will be hard put to distinguish one party from the other.
 
The sample narrative may run in this manner.

Minister in a scam causes thousands of crores' loss in spectrum allocation. Party defends him. The prime minister says the matter is under investigation so no need to sack him. There may be cases of corruption but you have to defend coalition partners. Stability is more important. It is a compulsion of "coalition dharma."

Chief Minister of an Eastern state storms into a police station and personally orders the release of an arrested party hoodlum. And next day arrests a professor and cartoonist for criticising her.

Courageous bureaucrat cancels irregular and illegal land allotment of close relative of the President of a party.  But the party dismisses bureaucrat as an opposition stooge who has political ambitions. Refuses CBI enquiry and says State will order its own investigation and brazens it out. 

Chief Minister inducts MLA into cabinet who was involved and indicted in several cases of assault, extortion and also in a murder case. Says criminals can serve the state and people, as he's elected.

Land allotted to war heroes misappropriated by shameful ministers and bureaucrats and sanctioned by a Chief Minister whose mother-in-law is also a beneficiary. The Chief Minister says mother-in-law does not qualify as my relative, she has acquired it in her own right. The Prime Minister says no need for CBI inquiry. The State is investigating. The Supreme Court raps centre and orders CBI probe.

The Law Minister,  upon getting a phone call from some residents, mobilises a large mob which is enraged at the alleged moral degradation of our people and furious that foreigners are polluting decent neighbourhoods with immoral drug trafficking and prostitution.  Minister and mob in self- righteous and uncontrollable anger raid and humiliate the suspected women. The Law Minister dons the role of a 'super cop' himself and directs the police to arrest the women. The police refuse, pointing out that he's breaking the law, they should be allowed to do their job independently, and an unseemly altercation ensues between the police and the minister.

The Chief Minister, mad with rage that the police did not obey his Law Minister,  goes on a mass protest leading his party cadre against the centre which is the fount of all evil.

Many respected and eminent people from across the country , including fans and admirers of the Aam Aadmi Party  and Kejriwal's former mentor,  former Supreme Court Judge Santosh Hegde, have pointed out that the Law Minister has crossed the line of law as well as decorum and should resign pending investigation. Pat comes this reply - the party has conducted its own internal investigation and the Law Minister has done no wrong. (Blog: Arvind Kejriwal must acknowledge, rectify mistakes, writes Justice Santosh Hegde)

So this is the understanding we are expected to accept - AAP is a party with a moral compass that cannot be questioned. "We will do an internal probe behind closed doors and pronounce who's guilty or innocent. The people have elected us. So we can take law into our own hands. The institutions are corrupted. This is all media hype and politically motivated." (Somnath Bharti won't resign as Delhi's Law Minister: AAP)
If AAP, chosen by the people with so much hope and so much promise, lets us down, I believe it will be post-independent India's biggest tragedy.

January 18, 2014

Prof Samdhong Rinpoche Lecture at IIT-B, a report

Gandhi — India's greatest contribution to humanity after Buddha: Ven Prof Samdhong Rinpoche
(A report by yEldtho Mathew, December 21 & 22, 2013)

Venerable Prof Samdhong Rinpoche, Former Prime Minister of Tibetan Government in Exile delivers his lecture 'Satyagraha, Insistence on Truth' at IIT Bombay during the Dandi Memorial Sculptures' Workshops on December 21, 2013. The Dandi Salt Satyagraha Memorial is a project of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, advised by a High-Level Dandi Memorial Committee and coordinated and implemented by IIT Bombay in association with an international design team. More about Dandi Memorial Project: www.dandimemorial.org (Photos: Prayag Mukundan)

Venerable Prof Samdhong Rinpoche, Former Prime Minister of Tibetan Government in Exile delivers his lecture "Satyagraha, Insistence on Truth" at IIT Bombay during the Dandi Memorial Sculptures' Workshops on December 21, 2013. The Dandi Salt Satyagraha Memorial is a project of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, advised by a High-Level Dandi Memorial Committee and coordinated and implemented by IIT Bombay in association with an international design team. More about Dandi Memorial Project: www.dandimemorial.org (Photos: Prayag Mukundan)



IIT Bombay: 
This was the last of the lecture series organised during the Dandi Marchers' Sculptures Workshops held in IIT Bombay. This report covers two talks by Ven Prof Samdhong Rinpoche delivered on 21-22 December 2013, during the concluding ceremonies of the Dandi Marchers' Sculptures Workshops.


Prof Kirti Trivedi, Convener, Dandi Memorial Project, IIT Bombay, formally introduced the acclaimed speaker and distinguished guests. Prof Devang Khakhar, Chairman, IIT Bombay chaired the meeting and Prof Juzer Vasi, Convener, Institute Dandi Memorial Project Committee offered the Welcome Speech. While delivering the welcome speech, Prof Vasi gave a brief introduction about Ven Prof Samdhong Rincpoche emphasising that it is a blessing for all to have him for the concluding ceremonies. Prof Khakhar in his address expressed his gratification for the distinction enjoyed by IIT Bombay of being selected as the Nodal Agency for coordinating the project. He also shared that the project has personally benefited the faculty and students of IIT who got to see and be a part of the immortalisation of a great movement taking shape within the campus.


The audience consisted mainly of Dandi Memorial Sculptors and artists from different parts of the country and abroad. There were several others from different walks of life.

After the formal welcome and introduction, Prof Samdhong Rinpoche began his speech, and his opening remarks revealed his unassuming modesty and humility, qualities that are rare among the accomplished. He is an authority on Gandhian Philosophy and Satyagraha; he is a staunch, dedicated Gandhian; he held fast to non-violence in the Tibetan Struggle: yet he stated that he does not qualify to speak anything about Gandhiji or Satyagraha! And, when he spoke, the audience was pinned to his words in complete silence and attention, and was wonderstruck at the depth and breadth of his knowledge about Gandhian thoughts and ideology. The session lasted for exactly one hour followed by 55 minutes of Q&A session, which showed how much he valued time and punctuality, as a true and disciplined Gandhian. Accustomed only to the non-stop bellowing and noise pollution by the present day political speeches, his lecture on "Satyagraha, Insistence on Truth" was truly a refreshingly new experience to the audience at IIT Bombay.

Venerable Prof Samdhong Rinpoche received by IIT Bombay officials, Dandi Workshop participants and Friends of Tibet Campaigners at IIT Powai campus on December 20, 2013. He was on a three-day visit to the campus in connection with the Dandi Memorial Sculptures' Workshops organised by IIT Bombay.

(Above) Venerable Prof Samdhong Rinpoche received by IIT Bombay officials, Dandi Workshop participants and Friends of Tibet Campaigners at IIT Powai campus on December 20, 2013. He was on a three-day visit to the campus in connection with the Dandi Memorial Sculptures' Workshops organised by IIT Bombay.

(Below) Venerable Prof Samdhong Rinpoche, Former Prime Minister of Tibetan Government in Exile examines life-size sculptures of 1930 Salt Satyagrahis made by Sculptors from India and abroad. yEeldtho Mathew, Founding Member of Friends of Tibet Foundation for the Wellbeing and Sethu Das, Coordinator, Dandi Memorial Project next to him. Prof Rinpoche observed that "these sculptures are not mere works of art alone, they are more of an expression of gratitude to the Mahatma and the unsung heroes of Dandi Salt Satyagraha."


Venerable Prof Samdhong Rinpoche, Former Prime Minister of Tibetan Government in Exile examines life-size sculptures of 1930 Salt Satyagrahis made by Sculptors from India and abroad. yEeldtho Mathew, Founding Member of Friends of Tibet Foundation for the Wellbeing and Sethu Das, Coordinator, Dandi Memorial Project next to him. Prof Rinpoche observed that 'these sculptures are not mere works of art alone, they are more of an expression of gratitude to the Mahatma and the unsung heroes of Dandi Salt Satyagraha.'

Prof Rinpoche expressed his gratitude for being invited to the great event. He congratulated all the agencies concerned, especially the IITB team, who worked behind the Dandi Memorial Project.

Prof Rinpoche said that the village where the Salt March concluded still retains its innocence. He hoped that this innocence will not be destroyed by the so-called 'developments' as is happening in the rest of the country. Gandhiji had a great vision about governance which he termed 'Gram Swaraj'. Prof Rinpoche suggested that the Dandi village should be adopted to implement his Gram Swaraj concept to complement the ongoing projects and which will be the greatest cultural monument possible for a person who discovered and declared that India lives in its villages.

During his lecture, Prof Rinpoche talked about the origin of the principles of Non-violence and Satyagraha; how Gandhiji brought these into a physical domain and shaped these as powerful weapons in political struggle; why Gandhiji stood different among all the Satyagrahis of all times; among the Satyagraha movements, why few failed and many met success; how non-violence is different from non-reacting; what is the significance of non-violence and Satyagraha in today's conflicts-ridden world; so on and so forth.

After examining the life-size sculptures of Salt Satyagrahis made by Sculptors from India and abroad, he observed that "these sculptures are not mere works of art alone; they are more of an expression of gratitude to the Mahatma and the unsung heroes of Dandi Salt Satyagraha." He also commented that "the statues though put together give an impression of uniformity, individually they are unique and different from one another, as each one reflected the artist's unique style and the cultural trait. This was symbolising Gandhiji's uncommon skill of binding divergent and sometimes even opposing personalities together, while leading the freedom struggle." He commended all the sculptors and artists from India and abroad for the marvelous work they did.

While concluding he exhorted all to do one's own little bit to guard the flame of truth and non-violence in their sphere of activity. Prof Rinpoche believes that drop by drop, bit by bit, a transformation is possible in the world, this ailing world. He invited the audience to look at the paradox that while the West is studying Gandhiji and looking to him for answers to many of their problems, at home front, to our shame, he seems to have been pushed into oblivion.

Venerable Prof Samdhong Rinpoche visiting Dandi Memorial Sculptures Workshop venue at IIT Bombay to examine sculptures of 1930 Salt Satyagrahis made by Sculptors from India and abroad. He thanked everyone involved in this project and stated that they are fulfilling a great responsibility of the Nation - to give deserving recognition to the Salt Satyagraha and the sacrifices of the unsung heroes.

Venerable Prof Samdhong Rinpoche visiting Dandi Memorial Sculptures Workshop venue at IIT Bombay to examine sculptures of 1930 Salt Satyagrahis made by Sculptors from India and abroad. He thanked everyone involved in this project and stated that they are fulfilling a great responsibility of the Nation — to give deserving recognition to the Salt Satyagraha and the sacrifices of the unsung heroes.

Venerable Prof Samdhong Rinpoche visiting Dandi Memorial Sculptures Workshop venue at IIT Bombay to examine sculptures of 1930 Salt Satyagrahis made by Sculptors from India and abroad. He thanked everyone involved in this project and stated that they are fulfilling a great responsibility of the Nation - to give deserving recognition to the Salt Satyagraha and the sacrifices of the unsung heroes.

Such a profound speech by an accomplished Gandhian who thinks, acts, speaks and breathes non-violence, was obvious to evoke curiosity among the audience to know more. There were several questions which indicated that people are indeed concerned about the chaos in the society and that they are looking for a refuge, an ideology, which can bring in permanent positive changes. Prof Rinpoche addressed all the questions and explained the solutions in a Gandhian perspective.

With the profoundness of Prof Rinpoche's words still echoing within, the audience left the auditorium — some contented and thankful for the evening; some with determination to know more about Gandhian philosophy and ideology; some with the resoluteness to bring out the Gandhi that is within them to their actions.

Were there any disappointed faces? Yes, at least one — I, who wanted to hear more from the man of wisdom.

Excerpts from Venerable Prof Samdhong Rinpoche's Talk

Dandi Memorial ProjectThe agencies involved in this project are fulfilling a great responsibility of the Nation — to give deserving recognition to the Salt Satyagraha and the sacrifices of the unsung heroes.
Human beings need visual things to touch their mind. Formless communication or interaction is almost impossible. The modernity has taken away our sensitivity and debilitated our capacity to feel and hence physical symbols are very much important. The Dandi Memorial Project will help our coming generations to learn about the Freedom Struggle. Dandi Memorial Project will be an exceptional physical monument. However there could be cultural monuments as well. Gandhiji discovered and proclaimed that India lives in its villages. Dandi village has its innocence still intact. It is not yet afflicted by the so-called 'development' virus. We should do everything possible to guard its chastity. One way is to adopt it to implement 'Gram Swaraj' concept, Gandhiji's own model for governance. If this could happen, it will greatly complement the ongoing Dandi Memorial Project and will be the most meaningful cultural monument of Gandhiji.

What makes Gandhiji unique in the domain of non-violence and Satyagraha
Gandhiji himself admitted that the concept of Satyagraha and non-violence were neither new nor he was a pioneer. 'They are as old as the hills' — he stated. Non-violence was advocated in India 2500 years ago by Buddha and Mahavira. Sidhartha who later became Buddha, the enlightened one, undertook Satyagraha to find out sustainable solutions to the miseries and pain. In similar fashion, Jainism too employed Satyagraha as a means of achieving freedom in the spiritual realm. Here Mahatma Gandhi stands uniquely different. He employed Satyagraha and non-violence in more mundane and practical issues. Gandhiji brought Satyagraha to a physical domain. He shaped Satyagraha into a powerful weapon against oppression, injustice and slavery. This makes him different and widely revered.


Application of non-violence in political issues
Gandhiji showed the world that Satyagraha and non-violence can be powerful weapons, so powerful that it can render the conventional weapons useless. Many world leaders were inspired by Gandhiji. Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, etc are examples of leaders who were inspired and who stuck to non-violent means in their struggles. HH the Dalai Lama has been leading the Tibetan people along the non-violent path for their dignified existence since the time when Peoples Republic of China occupied Tibet in 1959. Three generations of Tibetan people are committed to non-violence, influenced by Gandhiji. We therefore think that it is India's greatest contribution to humanity that after Buddha, India produced a great son — Mahatma Gandhi, who taught the world how to resist injustice using non-violence.


Satyagraha (Truth Insistence)
Before Gandhiji formulated Satyagraha in the modern sense, there used to be 'Passive Resistance' which in appearance looked similar to Satyagraha. When you are hit, you don't hit back. For an observer you are a non-violent person. But it is not Satyagraha or non-violence if there was the urge to hit back, but you restrained yourself. In such a case, there is hate. The basic principle of Satyagraha is that hate can't be eliminated by counter hate; but through love and compassion. Whatever the cause of the problem, can be eliminated only by a means which is opposite in nature. Just like fire is extinguished by water, violence can be eliminated only by non-violence.


In passive resistance, this element is generally dormant, therefore, at times turn violent. Even during some of the Satyagraha movements launched by Gandhiji, true non-violence was not practiced by the satyagrahis and he had to stop the movement midway. His fellow leaders and followers were baffled that sometimes he called off the movement when the momentum was at its peak and the goal was about to be reached. Gandhiji called off such movements when he saw that there is violence involved and he was not ready for any compromise on his principles on non-violence. Where any other leader would have ignored minor deviations in the principles of non-violence if it would fetch their goal quicker, Gandhiji was unfaltering in his principle so much so that he even forsook imminent success to guard Truth and Non-violence. For Gandhiji, Truth was paramount.

According to Buddhist view of Truth, there is Ultimate Truth and Relative Truth. Ultimate Truth is transcendental and can not be applied on sentient beings. So far as human beings are concerned, when we say truth, it means only Relative truth. To identify truth or untruth is difficult. A Satyagraha must be based only on truth. Gandhiji said Truth and non-violence are two sides of the same coin. Since truth and non-violence are so interconnected, by practicing non-violence, truth will be revealed. Both these nurture one another and one can get glimpses of truth.

Salt Satyagraha — a Satyagraha in true sense
Before commencing the Satyagraha, Gandhiji remained silent for several weeks, in deep meditation. He was asked by many why there is no action though he was authorised to launch and lead an agitation. He was waiting for the inner voice, meanwhile entreating British Government, and allowing it time, to consider the demand for repeal of Salt Tax. When the Government did not concede, and when he had his inner voice, the Satyagraha was launched and the Dandi March began. He personally selected 80 marchers to accompany him; together they represented the diversity of the country — of different age groups, of different faiths, from all parts of the country, of diverse walks of life, etc. But no woman was included in the March. Gandhiji wanted that the opponent should not be given any excuse for not committing violence on the Satyagrahis. Though only 80 were officially selected for the March, thousands and thousands of people thronged around and followed him in the great March. One drop, few drops, a stream, a rivulet, a river, and finally into an ocean it grew, to meet at the shores of 
Arabian Ocean to defy the strongest empire, with a pinch of salt.

For many, including some top rung leaders, it was unimaginable that a pinch of salt could shake the foundations of a great empire. Yet it happened at Dandi, a remote village near Surat, Gujarat, India. Why the Salt Satyagraha succeeded? It was one movement where none of the principles of the Satyagraha as defined by Gandhiji was broken. No violence at all from the Satyagrahis despite brute physical assaults by the opponents.

Venerable Prof Samdhong Rinpoche is being briefed about Dandi Memorial Project by Sethu Das, Project Coordinator during his three-day long visit to IIT Bombay campus during the Dandi Memorial Sculptures' Workshops organised by IIT Bombay. Tenzin Dhonyoe, Personal Secretary to Prof Rinpoche next to them. Prof Rinpoche urged the project team members to make Dandi Memorial Project a meaningful cultural monument of Gandhi and his Satyagrahis.

(Above) Venerable Prof Samdhong Rinpoche is being briefed about Dandi Memorial Project by Sethu Das, Project Coordinator during his three-day long visit to IIT Bombay campus during the Dandi Memorial Sculptures' Workshops organised by IIT Bombay. Tenzin Dhonyoe, Personal Secretary to Prof Rinpoche next to them. Prof Rinpoche urged the project team members to make Dandi Memorial Project a meaningful cultural monument of Gandhi and his Satyagrahis.

(Below) Atsuro Seto (Left), one of the Dandi Memorial Sculptors from Japan explains his 3D Mandala installation to Venerable Prof Samdhong Rinpoche, Former Prime Minister of Tibetan Government in Exile during his visit to IIT Bombay on December 22, 2013. Yeldtho Mathew and Rashmi Sidharthan of Friends of Tibet Foundation for the Wellbeing and Tenzin Dhonyoe, Personal Secretary to Prof Rinpoche next to him. Prof Samdhong Rinpoche was on a three-day visit to the campus in in connection with the Dandi Memorial Sculptures' Workshops organised by IITB.

Atsuro Seto (Left), one of the Dandi Memorial Sculptors from Japan explains his 3D Mandala installation to Venerable Prof Samdhong Rinpoche, Former Prime Minister of Tibetan Government in Exile during his visit to IIT Bombay on December 22, 2013. Yeldtho Mathew and Rashmi Sidharthan of Friends of Tibet Foundation for the Wellbeing and Tenzin Dhonyoe, Personal Secretary to Prof Rinpoche next to him. Prof Samdhong Rinpoche was on a three-day visit to the campus in in connection with the Dandi Memorial Sculptures' Workshops organised by IITB.

Current times — relevance of Satyagraha
Modern society is shaped through the modern education. Modern education encourages competition. Since everything and everyone is interrelated they have to be free from competition and violence. A potent seed, water and soil cooperate between them: a sapling is the result. Any competition among them would not have brought that beautiful life to surface. Class struggles can not put an end to any class. Rather, class cooperation can take them higher. Violence, a derivative of competitiveness, can never give positive results. Violence destroys the doer much before it affects the prey.


Science and technology claim that they are discovering newer peaks daily. The science and technology might have changed the way of life for millions on this globe, whether positive or otherwise — cannot say. But the Humanity did not gain. Whenever the technology advanced, violence too increased.

Particularly now, war and violence has become a trade, a profitable one for few big players. Terrorism is a very profitable business. Sell more weapons to the terrorists and then sell even more to contain terrorism.

Challenges due to technological advancement
Entire Humanity is passing through a challenging period. Humanity today is facing the challenges of complete annihilation. Some of the challenges are apparent and some are less so. The major challenges I identify are:


(a) Increasing gap between the Haves and Have Nots
(b) Globalisation of resources by consumerist market forces
(c) Population Explosion leading to reduction of per capita resource availability
(d) Destruction of the ecosystem.


All these are attributable to the modernity and technological advancement. Modernity believes in competition and not on cooperation. Competition gives rise to corruption, intolerance, violence, war, weapon, etc. It is heard that there are enough nuclear weapons in the world to destroy this earth 36 times over! Advancement of technology greatly destroyed the eco-system. Himalayan glaciers are melting and the rate of melting is increasing exponentially. With the rate of global warming, in 40-50 years the climate will be beyond human tolerance. Many countries will be submerged in sea.

Life without compromise
Many people question whether it is possible to live without the technology. Gandhiji is greatly misunderstood by many that he was blindly against technology. But the fact is that he was a critic not of the technology in itself, but the immorality behind it. Anything that is non-moral and immoral should be given up. Consequentially, since the modern technologies and modernity do not have anything to offer to elevate the human kind in terms of morality, but rather, is degrading it, they are to be disowned. But people are accustomed to the comforts offered by the technology and they feel that one has to compromise a little bit here and there in their ideologies. Now the question is which is important? Your ideals or your comfort-filled survival? If the ideology is important, then there is no scope for any compromise for survival.


Why to survive at all if to compromise on the ideology?

What we may
Martin Luther King Jr said, "Today the choice is not between violence and non-violence. The choice is between non-violence and non-existence". There is so much pollution in material and spiritual sense, now there is only such a choice available to us. We are fortunate that we need not re-invent the wheel. Gandhiji had already walked ahead of us; we need only to follow his steps. We just have to learn the ways to become Satyagrahis. The essence of Gandhiji's philosophy is contained in the little book called Hind Swaraj written in 1909. It is more relevant now than ever. 104 years ago, he could foresee what is now happening to the world. It will profit any aspiring satyagrahi to read this little book to understand Gandhiji.


We need more Satyagrahis today than at Gandhiji's time. But it is hard to cultivate oneself into a Satyagrahi. One has to give up modernity and the evils of modern civilisation. Modern education and modern civilisation has to be approached cautiously as they are destroying the human sensitivity through the spirit of competition. Instead we should look for alternate ways where cooperation and co-existence are advocated.

The appeal to all who believe Gandhi's teachings and trying to live according his principles is that they should create more awareness about Gandhiji among the populace. It is imperative because what is waiting for us is a complete deterioration and destruction of environment and the mounting gap between the haves and the have nots. Since violence to nature is violence to all living things, younger generation who wish to enjoy their full life should think seriously how to save Earth.

Gandhiji is an answer to all these problems.

Questions


Q: Truth is highly disguised now a days. How does one go about insistence on truth in this condition?
A: 
It is due to the conditioning of mind. Our mind is not conditioned to see the truth. Even if we see it, we cannot admit it. This is the evil side of modernity. Such conditioning is largely due to the so called modern education. There are so many external forces of modernity to stimulate greed and then ride on it. We have completely lost recognition of ourselves. We are conditioned to find our identity in comparison with others which leads to competition. Truth then eludes us, and also our power of discrimination between what is and what is not. Unless and until we see the demerits of modernity and discard it, and go back to one's own naturalness and tune the life style accordingly, we will not be able to see things as they are. There are no readymade solutions to problems. Lead a life on the basis of needs and say no to greed; answers will come of its own accord. We are no longer 'users'; we are made 'consumers'. To be a user is not violent as it is based on one's needs. To be a consumer means taking someone else's share, taking more than what is actually required, which according to Gandhiji is stealing. There is untruth in greed and therefore, a consumer perpetually remains in a violent state of being.


There is no short cut to Truth. We need to find it out through painful, conscious efforts. We can go about insistence on Truth by learning from the life of Mahatma. 'My life is my message', he said. Can we lead a life based on needs and say no to greed? Question yourself: is your life your message? How good is then your message? If it is good, tread on, if not, correct the course.

Prof Kirti Trivedi, Convener of Dandi Memorial Project introduces Venerable Prof Samdhong Rinpoche, Former Prime Minister of Tibetan Government in Exile to the gathering at IIT Bombay during the Dandi Marchers' Sculptures Workshop II on December 21, 2013.

(Above) Prof Kirti Trivedi, Convener of Dandi Memorial Project introduces Venerable Prof Samdhong Rinpoche, Former Prime Minister of Tibetan Government in Exile to the gathering at IIT Bombay during the Dandi Marchers' Sculptures Workshop II on December 21, 2013.

(Below) Venerable Prof Samdhong Rinpoche, Former Prime Minister of Tibetan Government in Exile appreciates the replica of Dandi Gandhi statue by Shri Sadashiv Sathe, during the Dandi Marchers' Sculptures Workshop II Lecture on December 21, 2013 at IIT Bombay.

Venerable Prof Samdhong Rinpoche, Former Prime Minister of Tibetan Government in Exile appreciates the replica of Dandi Gandhi statue by Shri Sadashiv Sathe, during the Dandi Marchers' Sculptures Workshop II Lecture on December 21, 2013 at IIT Bombay.

Q: Gandhiji used the word 'civilisation' to mean 'evilisation'. Rather than blanket-negation of modernity, modern civilisation and modern education, shall we not welcome the positive changes they brought in? Even when thriving in the modernity and modern civilisation, we can see positive evolutions in the world. America, a country which used to indulge in barbarous acts like slavery, oppression and brutality against the Black, has now come to recognise a descendant of the victims of such barbarous acts as its leader. Is this not something of a correct consciousness evolving?
A:
 It is uncomfortable to brand all the modernity as evil. But, after reading Gandhiji's Hind Swaraj, writings by contemporary critics of modernity like Prof Saran, Kumaraswamy, Dharampal and many others, our conviction will lead us to complete negation of modernity. I do not deny the possibility of evolution of individual consciousness. I do not however see any such evolution in the collective consciousness of the nations. For example, consumerism and greed are the key elements in modern way of life. They are aware of the adverse impact of such life style on the environment. However, the so called modern countries, the developed nations, are not willing to change their way of life to bring down the impact. Instead, the responsibility is forced on the developing and third world countries. So there has not been much evolution of the collective consciousness. A descendant of once oppressed race becoming the leader is fine. But if he too carries on with the legacy of war and violence, I do not see any evolution. However, if the descendant of the once oppressed race takes over the reign and declares no war and no weapons, then I will call it a positive evolution.


Q: What about the discord among religions?
A: 
There can not be any discord between any religions. But what we mean today by 'religion' is not actually what was originally meant by the word. There are three aspects related to religion — Religiousness, Religiosity and Religionism. Today Religiousness is almost vanished fully. Religiosity is partly remaining. Religionism is fully active. It is the Religionism that is the root cause of discord between people of different faiths.
[Religiousness refers to the spiritual content of the religion. Religiosity hints the ritual aspect and Religionism is only a matter of identity and has nothing really to do with religion]


Q: How do you see Tibetan struggle in the back drop of India's struggle for Independence with the emphasis on 'Satyagraha' and non-violence?
A: 
The situations are different. In Tibet, not more than three people can gather together. The communication is highly controlled. It is unimaginable to execute anything similar to Salt March or Satyagraha in Tibet. About 122 people have given up their lives through self-immolation, in their struggle for dignified existence as Tibetan people. This was their ultimate sacrifice — a non-violent act for their motherland.


Q: What is your opinion about the need for a new educational system?
A: 
It is a must if we wish not to lose our sensitivity. But for that, there has to be a Ministry of 'Education' rather than a Ministry of HRD.


(This report is prepared by yEldtho Mathew, a Swarajist and one of the Founding Members of Friends of Tibet Foundation for the Wellbeing. He was a Volunteer for the Dandi Memorial Project. Yeldtho can be reached at yeldtho.mathew@friendsoftibet.org and yeldtho4swaraj@gmail.com)

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January 14, 2014

'Future PM' of Congress Violates Safety Rules

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Amul Boy Violates Safety Rules
Congress-nominated future 'Prime Minister' of India Shri Rahul Gandhi violates safety rules and the rules of the Indian police by travelling on top of a police jeep during his election campaign in Alleppey, Kerala on January 14, 2014. Using a police jeep on official duty for personal use and for ugly election campaigns is illegal and banned by the Election Commission of India.

Amul Babies Advertisement by Amul


January 6, 2014

Dandi Memorial Project


November 7-December 22, 2013, IIT Bombay, India
DANDI SALT SATYAGRAHA MEMORIAL PROJECT

 

1) 80 Marcher' Statues Final Display: As part of the Dandi Memorial Project, a Prayer Meeting and the Public Preview of 80 Dandi Marchers' Sculpture installation was organised in the Lecture Theater Lawns, IIT Bombay on February 12, 2014. The Dandi Salt Satyagraha Memorial is a project of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. It is advised by a high-level committee and is coordinated and implemented by IIT Bombay in association with an international design team. Design & People extended its support to IIT Bombay in Research and Coordination for the Dandi Salt Satyagraha Memorial Project. (Photo: IIT Bombay) 

2) Prof Kirti Trivedi of Industrial Design Centre of IIT Bombay introduces the activities of Design & People during "Satyagrahas of Design & People" talk by Sethu Das, Co-Founder, Design & People organised during the second Dandi Marchers' Sculptures Workshop at IIT Bombay on December 16, 2013.

 

3) "Satyagrahas of Design & People" talk by Sethu Das, Co-Founder, Design & People during the second Dandi Marchers' Sculptures Workshop at IIT Bombay on December 16, 2013. 
4) Bina Nayak, a Design & People Member presents Design & People works and campaigns during "Satyagrahas of Design & People" talk by Sethu Das, Co-Founder, Design & People organised during the second Dandi Marchers' Sculptures Workshop at IIT Bombay on December 16, 2013. (Photos: Prayag Mukundan)

IIT Bombay: It is probably for the first time in the history of contemporary art in India, hundreds of artists, supporters and volunteers from around the world are coming together to set up a monument of international importance — Dandi Salt Satyagraha Memorial Project at Dandi, Gujarat. And it is probably for the first time a memorial is to be dedicated to the courageous 'Salt Satyagrahis' who marched with Mahatma Gandhi to defy British imperialism. The Monument celebrates the historic March of 1930 that triggered a wider Civil Disobedience Movement, which in turn inspired leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr in the US and Nelson Mandela in South Africa. The Dandi Salt Satyagraha Memorial is a project of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. It is advised by a high-level committee and is coordinated and implemented by IIT Bombay in association with an international design team. Design & People extended its support to IIT Bombay in Research and Coordination for the Dandi Salt Satyagraha Memorial Project. The project to build the historic monument for the Satyagrahis was called the "most meaningful cultural monument of Gandhiji" by Prof Samdhong Rinpoche, Former Prime Minister of Tibetan Government in Exile was fully supported by Design & People from its very beginning. On December 16, 2013 during the second Dandi Marchers' Sculptures Workshop at IIT Bombay, Sethu Das, Co-Founder, Design & People and Bina Nayak, a member of the organisation gave a joint-presentation on "Satyagrahas of Design & People".

January 5, 2014

13 Days That Changed India

Im Anna

Design & People on "I'm Anna" 
Why I'm Anna, Not A Parliamentarian
 


Design & People believes that if Anna Hazare has managed to unite the entire nation in less than thirty days during his last agitation for a meaningful Lokpal Bill, it is simply because he spoke the language of the ordinary Indians, not the language of the elite and the affluent class of this country. English was replaced with Hindi; babus with activists; hypocrisy with simplicity; cowardice with courage and finally — words with action. We believe that victory or failure is not very important in struggles for the goodness of a nation. Read a writeup by Aadarsh Prakash, a student from the Delhi University on "Why I Am Anna" which will make us understand why one should be with Anna, not the so-called Parliamentarians.

I'm Anna because he brought thousands of people out of the serenity of their houses into scorching heat of public places, which were noisy and full of mud and rain water, to fight for their rights — their right to tell the government that they want a strong system to prevent and fight corruption, to castigate those who are guilty of stealing our money. I'm Anna because he didn't use any means of violence as his weapon. Indeed, he used the mahatma's non-violence — a weapon that doesn't destroy life but changes society. I'm Anna because he did not denigrate democracy. He never asked the Prime Minister to step down; neither did he ask the ruling party to quit power. He only reminded the government that the people are the masters of the land.

I'm Anna because he does not belong to any political party; his acts are not in favour of any party. He did not discriminate people on the basis of religion, caste, creed or sex. I don't remember any name or religion of the person around me while shouting "mai bhi anna tu bhi anna ab to sara desh hai anna" in Ramlila Maidan. I knew only one thing — they were my friends, Indians and countrymen. I'm Anna because he is one of those people who gave up food so that the poor can have food, without caring about his health or age or even his life.

I'm Anna because once again he made us realise that we are a nation, we are united. John Lawrence rightly remarked on the first War of Independence "Had a single leader of ability arisen among them (the rebels) we (British) must have been lost beyond redemption." We had an able leader with us this time and that is why we won the battle. But the war remains to be tackled.

Olympics 2012 Protest


Design & People Poster (April 2012)
One World, One Dream — A World Without Dow 


Posters from Design & People

In the 1950s the Dow company managed Rocky Flats Plant, a nuclear weapons production facility that produced Plutonium. In the 60s, Dow Chemical actively manufactured Agent Orange, a dioxin chemical defoliant for US military to be used in the Vietnam War. And in the 80s, in Bhopal, India, the Dow Chemicals leaked tonnes of deadly poisonous gas killing up to 25,000 people and injuring millions. In 2012, the very same US multinational company responsible for the deaths of millions of people worldwide is sponsoring another human tragedy with the London Olympics 2012, by becoming one of the worldwide partners of the Games along with other corporate criminals such as Coca-Cola, MacDonalds, P&G, Cadbury's etc. We believe that by accepting the dirty corporate sponsorship money from Dow by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG), the sanctity of the Olympics, an global event meant to celebrate the spirit of the mankind is now ruined forever.
Design & People poster in solidarity with the victims of the worldwide cruelties of Dow Chemicals. One World, One Dream — A World Without Dow. DOWnload

Comments


Bina Nayak on
Why I Am With Design & People

Bina Nayak

"In 2003, I quit advertising and shifted from Bombay to my village in Goa. Although I hated the stress of deadlines in advertising, I missed the brain storming sessions and discussions on design with like-minded individuals. Around the same time I came across a write-up in Outlook on Design & People. I was impressed and inspired by their concept of making Design accessible to the Lowest Common Denominator. I was myself undergoing a transition in my work beliefs and Design philosophy. My constant dilemma was this: That which pays well doesn't necessarily feel good to do, and that which feels good to do almost always pays badly! So what to do? Design & People has provided me the answers through their actions and words. As a Designer with Design & People, I can actually see how my design makes a difference to ordinary lives and sometimes extraordinary ones. I once worked on a Design & People assignment on rights and laws for the handicapped under the Indian Constitution for a small organisation in Assam called Shishu Sarothi. This was to be given to government officials and ministers to educate them. During our group discussions we were all very clear that it should not be yet another drab government booklet. Shishu Sarothi was also keen on this but did not have enough funds. What we eventually designed was a very positive, multi-coloured Year Planner with the laws and rights placed very legibly at the bottom, below the dates. Design & People got ActionAid to foot the printing bill. To me it felt like another job done well, but I was really surprised when I received a letter from the patron saying that "It was loved by all and was released at a special function by the Chief Minister." My small piece of design was a big thing for them. Over the years, I have learnt to achieve a balance with what feels good and what pays good."

Bina Nayak is Head of Design Cell at Walt Disney International, India. A graduate from the Sir JJ Institute of Applied Art, Bombay, Bina is also the winner of a Clio Bronze and was a finalist at the London International Awards (LIA) and Cannes Advertising Festival.

Coca-Colanisation


The Fall of Burma
Road to Democracy and Coca-Cola
 


When Hillary Clinton, the old face of United States of America visited Burma in December 2011 to "pave a path to democracy," at least some section of the Burmese society knew what the US would actually bring to the isolated Asian country — unrest and Coca-Cola. The unrest in the country was followed by the massive coca-colanisation. Within five months of the historic Hillary visit, the notorious Coca-Cola Foundation makes an announcement that it is making a comeback to Burma after 60 years. Coke's entry to Burma was followed by its partner in crime — Pepsi. With the latest intrusion to the Asian country, the Coca-Cola becomes one of the only beneficiaries of the recent reforms after the US administration. The Atlanta-based multi-national firm which continues to harm people's health and mind around the world has also announced its plans to make "social and economic investments" through PACT, its charitable wing by giving a grant of US$ 3 million to support Burma's women's economic empowerment and job creation initiatives. Aung San Suu Kyi who reportedly thanked the US administration for its "calibrated approach" in engaging the Burmese authorities, has won her long battle with the junta, but the nation has finally lost its 60-year long battle with the US multi-national company.

Download 'Coca-Colanisation' poster from Design & People

December 20, 2013

Dandi Memorial Workshop Lecture, IIT Bombay

​Invitation

"Satyagraha: Insistence on Truth"
Lecture by Venerable Prof Samdhong Rinpoche
Former Prime Minister, Tibetan Government-in-Exile

Dandi Marchers’ Sculptures Workshop II
​​​Saturday, ​​​21 December 2013
IDC Auditorium, IIT Bombay​​
​6:30pm

All are cordially invited.


Venerable Prof Samdhong Rinpoche is an eminent and distinguished scholar, teacher, philosopher, and a life-long campaigner for Gandhian principles, especially that of non-violence or peaceful resistance. Born as Samdhong Lobsang Tenzin in 1939 in Tibet, he was recognised and enthroned as the reincarnation of the fourth Samdhong Rinpoche when he was five years old. He began his monastic studies at age twelve and eventually obtained a Doctorate in Buddhist sciences at Gyutö Monastery, Dalhousie, India. 

In 1959, Prof Rinpoche fled to India to escape the repressive Chinese government in Tibet. He was commissioned by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to serve as a teacher to monks in exile. In 1988 he was appointed director of the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies in Varanasi. Prof Samdhong Rinpoche is the first elected Kalön Tripa or Prime Minister of the Tibetan government in exile, a position he held from 2001 to 2011. He is the first political leader to be directly elected by the people in exile. He is regarded as one of the leading Tibetan scholars of Buddhism and is also an authority on the teachings of Gandhi. Prof Samdhong Rinpoche is fluent in Sanskrit, Hindi, English and of course Tibetan, his mother tongue. He has published over sixty studies and interviews in different university publications and in the press.