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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ayodhya: Proud of my India

Ayodhya: Proud of my India

The court has finally made the decision and so far peace has prevailed.  I was not able to sleep last night late until 3:00 AM and thank God, goodness has yet prevailed. If people don't agree, let it go to Supreme court, we have to prove to the world that we are a nation that respects rule of Law. Let other nations in the world look up to our model and never, every dream of becoming like the very ones we denigrate.

There are over 4000 articles to read, I have read a few and am sure you all have read as many. There are two that really are patriotic articles, where they wish the best outcomes for all Indians.  

Every society is composed of Good, Bad and Ugly and each one reflects what he or she is loaded with. There is famous saying that you cannot expect clean water from a sewer and certainly we will find a lot of hateful material floating and I do not expect good coming out of the hard core hate boys, be it Muslims, Hindus or any one. The ratio of good to bad is 99:1. It is time for good people to speak up.

Lets show the world that we are a pluralistic democracy and that we honor the rule of law. No doubt a few on both sides will create trouble, I hope a good majority of us will not fall prey to the temptations and remain good. Let's take pride in being good citizens.

Jai Hind

Mike Ghouse

Ayodhya issue: 'This is ultimate test of Indian faith'

Published: Thursday, Sep 30, 2010, 8:42 IST
By Sumaa Takur | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA


Even as the crucial verdict on the Ayodhya issue is going to be made public today, the city's intelligentsia is crossing its fingers. The city's influentials and bright minds are hoping that people demonstrate, when most needed, the main teachings of peace and harmony that the two religions of Hinduism and Islam stand for.

"In recent times for all the wrong reasons, India has been poorly portrayed and this is an opportunity to show the world that we are truly descendants of a great civilisation. As a nation, it will test our true self, and we should do nothing that makes our heritage covered with shame," says Subroto Bagchi, gardener and vice-chairman, MindTree, a global IT solution company. "We must maintain calm irrespective of the outcome of the verdict on Ayodhya. Any act against a fellow human being will be an act against God," he says.

Jnanpith award winning author, Prof UR Ananthamurthy, says the people should transcend the need for a physical space to practice religion. "Islam is a great religion. The greatness of Islam lies in the fact that Muslims do not even need a mosque to pray. I have seen this everywhere. When it is time to pray, Muslims do not go looking for a mosque. They turn west and surrender themselves to Almighty God. They can pray even on the pavement. This religion has built itself to sustain and survive without a symbolic building,"
he says.

"This is true for the Hindus as well. Ram should not be merely a historical figure born in any particular place. He is a figure of mythology more truly than historical truth. For, it is a perennial truth for devotees of Rama. Ram is everywhere. I recall a famous statement by a former chief minister of Kerala, EK Nayanar. He once said: 'I always thought Ram was born in Kerala'," adds Ananthamurthy.

He is of the opinion that both religions must have an understanding of the other religion. Members of each religion must also build the capacity to keep the religion alive beyond physical symbols. "A good example of communal harmony worth remembering now is in Bidar. During the Ganesha Chaturthi festival procession, the Hindus stop ringing the bells and the loud noises when they pass by mosques where Muslims are praying.

They are sensitive to the fact that the Muslims need silence when they pray. Each should respect the others' space," he says.

Lokayukta justice N Santosh Hegde appeals to the citizens of Bangalore to listen to their humane side. "We are humans, first and foremost. We belong to a religion by the chance of birth into a household or by fate. Let not the latter take away the human in us," he says.

Captain GR Gopinath, the man who 'simplified' flying in the country, asks people to beware of opportunists. "All parties and leaders must step back and respect the court verdict on Ayodhya. We have to focus on good governance to reduce corruption which has become so brazen and pervasive it is going to destroy the country," he says.

There are more urgent matters in the country that demand our focus, he says. "We must aim to provide affordable and quality rural education, healthcare for common people and pool all our resources to build a robust infrastructure. This will enable us to create jobs across India for the vast population which will have to migrate from agriculture," says Gopinath. He adds that the prerequisite for all this to happen is communal harmony.

"We must start by rejecting all self-serving fundamentalists and politicians who are dividing this country, and stand united for peace and communal harmony.

Swati Ramanathan, co-founder, Janagraha, says, "There is so much to fight for —- this is not one of them. There is no winning or losing in this. Of what value is a sentiment of hate and intolerance that corrodes society and our very souls? As humanity there is more that connects us than divides us. Mandira or Masjid, these are mere shells —- our God resides within us. Peace be with us.''




India of 2010 is different from that of 1992'

Published: Friday, Oct 1, 2010, 2:54 IST

By Team DNA | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA 




Peace will prevail and we will be patient," was the most common sentiment prevalant in the city on Thursday. As the verdict was announced and televsion sets turned on, social organisations and activists were happy to note that the judgment was accepted gracefully by both the communities.

"It is heartening that the India of 2010 is vastly different from that of 1992. The common man is more aware of the need for peace and tolerance," said Jatin Desai, national secretary of Pakistan-India Forum for Peace and Demoracy.

Activists in communally sensitive areas went into an overdrive, going door-to-door urging people to accept the judgment gracefully, holding meetings with neighbours and talking to the youth about the importance of the judgement.

Some hurriedly put up banners to communicate themessage of peace. "It is important to respect the verdict and maintain peace and harmony," said Ibhrahim Tai, president of the Muslim Council Trust.

Activists observed that the mood in both the communities was that of acceptance though there was a bit of confusion and dissent over the three-way sharing of the land.

"Most of the people we have met have gracefully accepted the verdict as they have decided that they will not let anybody take advantage of their emotions," said advocate Mubin Solkar, president of Indian Mumbaikars for Peace and Community Togetherness (IMPACT).

Solkar said his organisation will conduct a 'peace programme' for Hindus and Muslims over the next few days so that vested interests don't misinterpret the judgment and instigate communal unrest. "We have submitted a memorandum of our programme to the deputy general of police, commissioner of police and other senior officers," he said.

A few voices of dissent in the Muslim community were drowned by the mostly relieved tone of the community at large. "If the matter is challenged in the Supreme Court, we will support it," said Sarfaraz Mohammed, a resident of Bharat Nagar.

Many felt the court had taken a "somewhat neutral stand". "All parties are getting an equal share. Religious and political leaders should not approach the Supreme Court and let the matter rest for everyone's good," said Altaf Patel, a shop owner from Bharat Nagar, Bandra.




Hindu-Muslim amity can't be built on the basis of denial



Wednesday, September 29, 2010

INCREDIBLE - India Launches Project to ID 1.2 Billion People

India Launches Project to ID 1.2 Billion People

India's vaunted tech savvy is being put to the test this week as the country embarks on a daunting mission: assigning a unique 12-digit number to each of its 1.2 billion people.
The project, which seeks to collect fingerprint and iris scans from all residents and store them in a massive central database of unique IDs, is considered by many specialists the most technologically and logistically complex national identification effort ever attempted. To pull it off, India has recruited tech gurus of Indian origin from around the world, including the co-founder of online photo service Snapfish and employees from Google Inc., Yahoo Inc. and Intel Corp.
The country's leaders are pinning their hopes on the program to solve development problems that have persisted despite fast economic growth. They say unique ID numbers will help ensure that government welfare spending reaches the right people, and will allow hundreds of millions of poor Indians to access services like banking for the first time.
Critics question whether the project can have as big an impact as its backers promise, given that identity fraud is but one contributor to India's development struggles. Civil-liberties groups say the government is collecting too much personal information without sufficient safeguards. The technology requires transferring large amounts of data between the hinterland and an urban database, leading some to question whether the system will succumb to India's rickety Internet infrastructure.

An ambitious national ID program in India is using sophisticated biometric technology to register the country's 1.2 billion citizens. WSJ's Amol Sharma reports.

The sign-up effort is already under way in a handful of districts, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to kick off nationwide enrollment Wednesday. The government hopes to issue the first 100 million unique ID numbers by March and 600 million within four years. The undertaking is the latest chance for India to show it can pull off a massive project after what is widely viewed as its mishandling of next week's Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, where infrastructure and hygiene issues led some nations to threaten withdrawing.
To lead the program, Mr. Singh picked Nandan Nilekani, former CEO of Infosys Technologies Ltd., which helped pioneer India's low-cost offshore model of technology services. A native of Bangalore, India's tech hub, and son of a textile-mill manager, the 55-year-old billionaire is trying to infuse some of Infosys's efficiency into a lumbering bureaucracy.
"You have a whole mass of people who are shut out of society," Mr. Nilekani says. "A lack of identity is a big source of exclusion. You're giving them a key to social services."
In one early registration drive in Nagaram, a village 30 miles outside the southern city of Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh state, dozens of people were streaming into a drab government office one recent afternoon to have their fingerprints taken and irises scanned. Many applicants, who ranged from vegetable and rice farmers to real-estate brokers and shopkeepers, had never used a computer much less seen biometric equipment. Local officials had knocked on their doors the night before to tell them about the program.
Salekula Anjaiah, a 44-year-old farmer who earns about $40 per month for his family of five, said he hoped the IDs would keep people from cheating the welfare system and getting food rations they don't qualify for. "It will take fraud out of the government schemes," said Mr. Anjaiah, who relies on subsidies to feed his family. "Then it will be guaranteed I get what I deserve."
India has been attempting to improve governance through technology for two decades. Programs have digitized land records, created Web portals for government agencies and computerized tax filing systems. But the unique ID program, dubbed "Aadhaar," or "foundation" in Hindi, is by far the largest and most ambitious effort. Many countries have some form of national ID and a handful use biometrics, but none come close to matching the scale of what India is attempting.

Editors' Deep Dive: Governments Turn to Security Tech

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Mr. Nilekani started recruiting Indians in the global technology industry in the summer of 2009. These early recruits included Srikanth Nadhamuni, who had spent 16 years as a technology engineer for companies like Sun Microsystems and Intel.
Word spread in Silicon Valley that Mr. Nilekani wanted help, and by the fall a few others arrived in Bangalore.
The team rented an apartment at a gated community on the eastern outskirts of the city to use as an office. Everyone worked for free.
The group worked in the living room. They bought a few tables, two whiteboards and some markers. For food, they went to Mr. Nadhamuni's house nearby, where his wife served rice cakes, lentil crepes and lemon rice. Visitors had to use a wooden shoe rack as a bench since there weren't enough chairs.
The team came up with a plan to capture a mix of biometric information—digital photos, fingerprints and iris scans—as well as names, addresses, genders and dates of birth. Since they knew they wouldn't have a second chance to collect the data, the engineers say they erred on getting too much information, including all 10 fingerprints instead of just one. The government would issue the random 12-digit numbers by mail. Passports, driver's licenses, ration cards and government health-insurance cards could either have the numbers printed on them or embedded electronically.
Bloomberg News

Project head Nandan Nilekani says 'a lack of identity is a big source of exclusion' in India today.

That still left a major hurdle: How to verify that a number and a person actually match? Retailers, like banks and cell-phone companies, could install fingerprint readers and match the data over the Internet. But getting readers and Internet access to the 500,000, often remote locations where subsidized food is distributed to the poor would be costly and impractical.
The Indian government is expected to spend as much as $250 billion over five years on programs aimed at the poor, including subsidies for food, diesel, fertilizer and jobs. But 40% of the benefits, as the system now stands, will go to the wrong people or to "ghosts" with fake identification papers, according to a report by brokerage firm CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets. Today's ration cards, for example, are issued on paper, and are relatively easy to forge or doctor.
In November 2009, Mr. Nilekani wrote to tech companies such as Intel, Google, Oracle Corp. and Yahoo, asking them to send Indian-origin engineers to contribute to the cause, either on paid sabbatical or as volunteers. More than 20 people joined the effort.
The government has approved about $670 million for the project so far, and the entire cost will likely be "several billion dollars," says Mr. Nilekani.
By early this year, the Bangalore team moved into a real office at a technology park. Mr. Nilekani became a traveling salesman for the project, taking a PowerPoint presentation on the road and making the case for unique IDs with government agencies and regulators across the country.
In his pitch, Mr. Nilekani focused in part on reducing fraud, but also on the potential for bringing into the financial system the roughly two-thirds of Indian adults who don't have bank accounts. The poor often have few or no documents to prove who they are or where they live. The unique ID would solve that problem, says Mr. Nilekani, and could be linked to banks' plans to offer "no-frills" accounts, with no minimum balance and low fees, as well as nascent money-transfer services via mobile phones.

Scanning the World

India's unique ID program is the largest and most logistically challenging identification project in the world. A look at other such schemes.
Now issues paper ID cards, but plans to replace with electronic cards embedded with fingerprints and a six-digit PIN number that can be used to digitally sign forms.
Creating a national database with biometric data on citizens. Government hopes that 100 million out of 150 million Nigerians will be issued a unique ID card in three years.
National ID cards were issued in 2002, partly to encourage unity following ethnic strife. The technology involves a bar code, a single fingerprint and a photograph. About 2.5 million IDs had been issued as of May.
Smart cards hold personal data and a thumbprint, and can be used to pay road tolls and access ATM machines.
One objective of smart-card program is to track immigrants, including workers from Pakistan, Iran, India and elsewhere.
The US-VISIT program collects digital fingerprints and photos from foreign travelers as a way to keep immigration violators and criminals from entering the country. It has over 100 million records.
Source: CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets; WSJ Research
In the village of Nagaram, officials say they have been signing up 200 people per day, and as of early September, had made it through half of the 4,500 residents. The goal is for hundreds of villages and towns in Andhra Pradesh to start enrollment soon, and to reach 30 million people state-wide by the end of the year.
Signing up is technically voluntary, but any government agency or company will be allowed to require a unique ID as identity proof, an approach critics say amounts to a de facto mandate for people to enroll.
The process is slow going, taking anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes per person. Capturing iris scans with binocular-like devices is tricky and can take several minutes.
Administrators had to hold one elderly man's eyelids open to get a good image.
In addition to biometrics, residents provided an array of personal information, including their caste, religion and cellphone number. State agencies and companies who register people can gather whatever information they deem appropriate.
Such vast data gathering rankles privacy advocates who say demographic details can potentially be used to discriminate in the services that companies offer customers or government agencies offer citizens.
Another concern is that marketers will find ways to build profiles of people based on how they use their IDs—tracking where people bank, which hospitals they have checked into and who their cellphone providers are, for example.
"You will basically be creating these wonderful resources for people to mine," says Sudhir Krishnaswamy, a law professor at the National University of Juridical Sciences in Kolkata.
Mr. Nilekani says he has drafted legislation to address the concerns of critics. Under the bill, which has been approved by India's cabinet but must still be passed by parliament, the government would have to ensure that the information it collects "is secured and protected against any loss or unauthorized access." Anyone who discloses private information or hacks into the ID database would face up to three years in prison and stiff fines. Mr. Nilekani said India also needs a broader privacy law.
Andhra Pradesh officials say early data already show how unique IDs could reduce corruption at the state's 43,000 ration shops, which distribute subsidized food to the poor.
At one shop, records showed rations were being delivered to 330 families, but after the IDs were rolled out, only 203 families claimed benefits by placing their finger on a scanner at the shop. State officials suspect the shop owner had been making up fake accounts to divert some of the food into the black market.
Jejjayila Venkatesh, a 35-year-old Nagaram resident who earns $50 a month in a local government job, said he isn't concerned about privacy. He just hopes the ID will help him open a bank account and get a driver's license, which he has had difficulty obtaining thus far, and maintain his benefits when he goes out of state for work: "This will help me prove my identity wherever I roam."
—Vibhuti Agarwal contributed to this article.
Write to Amol Sharma at amol.sharma@wsj.com

Read more: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704652104575493490951809322.html#printMode#ixzz10wK4lkOU

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ayodhya Verdict

I pray that our nation and people accept the verdict of the Allahabad High court, or go to the Supreme Court to continue with the challenges.


Let the common folks of India not fall in trap to the politicians,the ones who instigate will sit pretty in their homes and the let you hurt each other, and cause anguish. Do they care?



There are bad elements among Society, whoever disturbs the peace must be

rounded up and dealt with accordingly. We must resist the temptation to

blame the family of such persons, community, town or religion of that person.

Let no one escape blaming the intangibles like the caste, religion or the language


Let's punish those individuals who do wrong.

On our part, the India's sitting elsewhere in India, we should do every thing

to keep peace there, but certainly not cheer for the destruction of each other.


On our part at Dallas Indians, let's learn about what is going on there,

and pray for goodwill instead of cheering the loss of the other. Shame on us if did that. Let's each one of us do our duty, the least we can do is pray.


 Mike Ghouse




Monday, September 6, 2010

A Pefect Michami Dukadam to all but particularly to our Jain friends

Michami Dukadam friends,

particularly, Kirit, Dilip, Jay, Nalini, Manohar, Dhiren, Rashmi, Atul, Lal, Ashok, Gautam, Mihir, Daulat, Vastupal, Yashwant, Lena, Pramod, Manish, Kapadia, Meera, Pramod, Kumkum, Nirmal  and friends.  Forgive me for not recalling some of the names of our friends at this moment but I do see all the faces of my Jain friends in Dallas, Vancouver, and California.  I grew up with  Jayendra Sajjanraj Jain who has built a magnificent Jain temple in Yelahanka near Bangalore and is my neighbor. His father Sugalchand and my father were great friends and I cannot forget the best Jamoons of my life were at his house.
I have been busy with too many things in public square and I forgot to greet "Michami Dukadam"... one of the most beautiful gifts presented by the Jain tradition to the world.
Indeed, this phrase is one of the dearest expressions of me. Two years ago, at the funeral prayers for Najma in the Richardson Mosque, I asked people to repeat "michami dukadam" and nearly 2100 people from all faiths and traditions present repeated the phrases, meaning every one wanted to acknowledge the past, but release each other from any bondage and free oneself to continue with life.
In lay man's terms, It is pushing the refresh button in our lives, cleaning our slate for the last year and starting all over again with renewed relationship. it is tying the loose ends and achieving spiritual freedom; Mukti, moksha, nirvana, nijaat, salvation or plain freedom. 
Two years ago,  I wrote in Najma's obituary,  "Three  days prior to her death, I shared the good news with her, "Najma, spiritually you are a free person now, you will be pleased to know that all those items that bothered you and gave you tension are done with, the loose ends are tied, and if you were to get up and walk and be with any one, hear about anything or see anything you will be completely free from tensions". The smile that appeared on her face was simply life giving, it meant everything to me, it was a relief to me to know that  as a spouse I have done my part in completing her life successfully and I thank God for that.  I asked her to forgive my shortcomings and without missing a beat, she asked me to do the same. It was one of the best emotional releases she and I have had in our lives. It was a perfect Michami Dukadam. (cleaning each others slate).
Michami Dukadam friends,
More about Paryushan below
I invite all of you to Join me at the Unity Day, on Sunday, September 12, 2010 at 5: 30 PM, details are at; www.Unitydayusa.com
Mike Ghouse

The Paryushan Parva (festival) is the most important and pinnacle  festival among the Jain festivals. Paryushan  is a festival of self-discipline through fasting, equanimity and other ascetic practices.  Men, women  and children as well as monks and nuns  undertake fasts with varying strictness.  Svetämbars celebrate eight days of Paryushan  with daily prayers, reading of  Kalpasutra scriptures, life of Lord Mahavira, penance, meditation and self repentance for violating knowingly  and unknowingly the basic rules of conduct of a householder.During Paryushana, there are regular sermons and ceremonies in the temples On the last day, jain members  greet each other and ask forgiveness (Kshama-yachna)  for any pain that might have been caused knowingly or unknowingly by any of their actions during the past year.

Digambar Jains celebrate Paryushan for 10 days, Dash Lakshan. During the Parva  they read and discuss 10 virtues,  which are called the cardinal virtues. These cardinal virtues are the inherent qualities of a human soul.  The 10 cardinal virtues are :

1. FORGIVENESS (KSHAMA) - Total lack of anger. 
)  - Lack of pride,ego. 
- Lack of cunning. 
)-  Lack of greed. 
)  -  Lack of falsehood. 
- Control over physical  violence.  
)-  Austerity is repentance of one's sins. 
)- Giving up possessions both internal and external.
)-  Lack of attachment. 
BRAHMACHARYA). Control of sensory pleasures


The festival ordains the Jains to observe the above  mentioned ten universal supreme virtues in daily practical life. Besides assuring a blissful existence in this world and the other world for every living being, it aims at the attainment of salvation - the supreme ideal for mundane soul. The non-Jains also express high reverence for this Jain festival. All members of Jain community- high and low, young and old, and males and females, participate with full vigor and zeal in the various religious rituals and cultural programs. They listen to the holy sermons of the saints and learned Jain scholars arranged during the ten-day festival. In these celebrations lie dormant the seeds of the well  being, peace and happiness of the common man. These celebrations harbinger social harmony and amity and preach the lofty Jain motto ‘Live and Let live’.

Requesting Forgiveness

At the conclusion of the festival, members request each other and all living beings for forgiveness for all offenses committed during the last year.. There are several great aphorisms (Sutras) to ask for forgiveness with the unity of the body, speech and mind, and one of them is as follows:

    Khämemi Savve Jivä, Savve Jivä Khamantu Mi 
    Mitti Me Savva bhuesu, Veram majjham na Kenai.



 I forgive all the living beings of the universe, and may all the living-beings forgive me for my faults. I do not have any animosity towards anybody, and I have friendship for all living beings.

The process of shedding our karmäs really begins by asking for forgiveness with true feelings, and to take some vows not to repeat mistakes. The quality of the forgiveness requires humility (vinay - absence of ego) and suppression of anger. Therefore, the real purpose of the Paryushan is to purify our soul by staying closer to our own soul, to look at our own faults, to ask for forgiveness for the mistakes we have committed, and take vows to minimize our faults. We try to forget about the needs of our body (like food) and our business so that we can concentrate on our-self. 

Paryushan  Parva gives expression to the perfectly purified trait of the soul, through which one gets rid of worldly discords and allurements and one gets fully absorbed in the eternal truth on experiencing and realizing the true nature of soul. In other words we can say that the natural realization of the trio ‘the True, the Good and the Beautiful’ This festival puts an end to all evils in man; gives him realization of the eternal bliss, and spiritualism becomes alive by the celebration of this festival.

To sum up, Paryushan  Parva is a grandest of the  Jain festival of self-introspection, 
self-enlightenment and self-achievement, which ultimately leads to the one and 
only one final goal, i.e., liberati
on or salvation.

 Complied by Dr. Pradeep Shah, 2006, Dallas, Texas