30 September, 2012

My wives may be Hindu but my kids will always follow only Islam: Aamir Khan

Above: The flag of Islam

Question: Did you face any religious dilemma while you were married to a Hindu lady Reena Dutta and later on to Kiran Rao?

Aamir Khan: No, none whatsoever. We never practiced each other's religion neither did we force each other to do so. But, of course, I had made it very clear that my kids will always follow only Islamic religion.

Source: SantaBanta.com

29 September, 2012

Sri Sri rebuffs Zakir Naik.. How Shiva did not recognize his own son

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

The stories in the Puranas contain many incredible and hard-to-believe occurences. But they should not be interpreted as a nursery rhyme. Their language is Shakespearean and laden with great depth and meaning. We need to interpret these stories with a very refined state of mind.

The story goes that Parvati created a boy out of dirt from her body and appointed him to guard the doorstep. The first question that comes is how could Parvati, the Goddess Herself, have so much dirt? Parvati symbolizes the triguna - sattva, rajas and tamas. The entire creation is made up of trigunas. The dosha or imperfections that originate out of the triguna is an obstruction for the functioning of Prakriti. That was the boy that Parvati created to stand guard at the door.

Shiva is Shuddha Chaitanya, pure consciousness. Like the sun does not recognize darkness and cuts through it, Shiva does not recognize dosha and slays the impurity. But Prakriti cannot stay without impurity. So Shiva replaces the dosha with the head of an elephant, which symbolizes knowledge. Through knowledge, all the doshas or obstructions of Prakriti can be taken care of. This is the spiritual and metaphysical meaning of Ganpati being slain. So worshipping Ganpati as the remover of obstacles and the giver of gyana, knowledge is the most amazing depiction of the nature of consciousness.

Going a step further, even this difference between Prakriti and Purusha is done away with. That is why, the Ganpati Upanishad says,

ajam nirvikalpam niraakaaram-ekam
niraanandam aanandam advaita poornam
param nirgunam nirvishesham nireeham
para brahma roopam ganesham bhajema

Ganesha is the only One unborn unmanifest Reality. He is nirvikalpa and advaita - the formless, undivided One. This is the play and display of consciousness within itself.

While Ganpati is certainly the nirakara Parabrahman, he is invoked and worshipped in the mud idol for a period of time for the joy of the devotees. Then the Ganpati is asked to merge back into our heart and the idol is immersed in water. This ritual is observed for the sake of devotees, not for the sake of Ganpati. He who is without form is invoked in a form and then his spirit is invoked back into one's heart as the idol is immersed.

25 September, 2012

Last years Travel bill of Union Ministers at Rs. 678 crore is 12 times more than the preceding year

Above: An RTI response reveals that tour expenses of Union Ministers in the financial year 2011-12 is Rs. 6785260000/- which is 12 times the amount spent on such tours in the preceding year.

19 September, 2012

Myths about industrial agriculture

Organic foods are not healthier or better for the environment - and they’re packed with pesticides, argued Rob Johnston in a recent article “The great organic myths”. Here is the counter view by Dr Vandana Shiva

Industrial agriculture is an inefficient and wasteful system which is chemical intensive, fossil fuel intensive and capital intensive. It destroys nature’s capital on the one hand and society’s capital on the other, by displacing small farms and destroying health. It uses 10 units of energy as input to produce one unit of energy as food.

This waste is amplified by anther factor often when animals are put in factory farms and fed grain, instead of grass in free range ecological systems, Rob Johnston celebrates these animal prisons as efficient, ignoring the fact that it takes 7 kg of grain to produce one kg of beef, 4kg of grain to produce 1 kg of pork and 2.4 kg of grain to produce 1 kg of chicken. The diversion of food grains to feed is a major contributor to world hunger. And the shadow acres to produce this grain are never counted. Europe uses seven times the area outside Europe to produce feed for its factory farms.

Targeting small farms

Small farms of the world provide 70% of the food, yet are being destroyed in the name of low “yields”. Some 88% of the food is consumed within the same eco-region or country where it is grown. Industrialisation and globalisation is the exception, not the norm. And where industrialisation has not destroyed small farms and local food economies, biodiversity and food are bringing sustenance to people.

The biodiversity of agriculture is being maintained by small farmers. As the ETC report states “peasants breed and nurture 40 livestock species and almost 8,000 breeds. Peasants also breed 5,000 domesticated crops and have donated more than 1.9 million plant varieties to the world’s gene banks. Peasant fishers harvest and protect more than 15,000 freshwater species. The work of peasants and pastoralists maintaining soil fertility is 18 times more valuable than the synthetic fertilizers provided by the seven largest corporations” (ETC Group, “Who Will Feed Us?”).

When this biodiversity rich food system is replaced by industrial mono-cultures, when food is commoditised, the result is hunger and malnutrition. Of the world’s 6.6 billion, one billion are not getting enough food, another billion might get enough calories but not enough nutrition, especially micro nutrients. Another 1.3 billion who are obese suffer the malnutrition of being condemned to artificially cheap, calorie-rich, nutrient-poor processed food.

Hunger by design

Half of the world’s population is a victim of structural hunger and food injustice in today’s dominant design for food. We have had hunger in the past, but it was caused by external factors - wars and natural disasters. It was localised in space and time. Today’s hunger is permanent and global. It is hunger by design. This does not mean that those who design the contemporary food systems intend to create hunger. It does mean that the creation of hunger is built into the corporate design of industrial production and globalised distribution of food.

The dominant myth of industrial agriculture is that it produces more food and is land saving. However, the more industrial agriculture spreads, the more hungry people we have. And the more industrial agriculture spreads, the more land is grabbed.

Productivity in industrial agriculture is measured in terms of “yield” per acre, not overall output. And the only input taken into account is labour, which is abundant, not natural resources which are scarce.

A resource hungry and resource destructive system of agriculture is not land saving, it is land demanding. That is why industrial agriculture is driving a massive planetary land grab. It is leading to the deforestation of the rain forests in the Amazon for soya and in Indonesia for palm oil. And it is fuelling a land grab in Africa, displacing pastoralists and peasants.

Industrial agriculture is responsible for 75% biodiversity erosion, 75% water destruction, 75% land degradation and 40% greenhouse gases. It is too heavy a burden on the planet. And as the 2,70,000 farmers suicides in India show, it is too heavy a burden on our farmers.

The toxics and poisons used in chemical farming are creating a health burden for our society. Remember Bhopal. Remember the endosulfan victims in Kerala. And remember Punjab’s cancer train.

A series of media reports have covered another study by a team led by Bravata, a senior affiliate with Stanford's Center for Health Policy, and Crystal Smith-Spangler, MD, MS, an instructor in the school's Division of General Medical Disciplines and a physician-investigator at VA Palo Alto Health Care System, did the most comprehensive meta-analysis to date of existing studies comparing organic and conventional foods. They did not find strong evidence that organic foods are more nutritious or carry fewer health risks than conventional alternatives, though consumption of organic foods can reduce the risk of pesticide exposure.”

This study can hardly be called the “most comprehensive meta analysis.” For their study, the researchers sifted through thousands of papers and identified 237 of the most relevant to analyse. This already exposes the bias. The biggest meta analysis on food and agriculture has been done by the United Nations as the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology (IAASTD).

Parading junk science

About 400 scientists from across the world worked for four years to analyse all publications on different approaches to agriculture, and concluded that chemical industrial agriculture is no longer an option, only ecological farming is. Yet the Stanford team presents itself as the most comprehensive study, and claims there are no health benefits from organic agriculture, even though there were no long-term studies of health outcomes of people consuming organic versus conventionally produced food; the duration of the studies involving human subjects ranged from two days to two years. Two days does not make a scientific study. No impact can be measured in a two-day study. This is junk science parading as science. One principle about food and health is that our food is as healthy as the soil on which it grows. And it is as deficient as the soils become with chemical farming.

Industrial chemical agriculture creates hunger and malnutrition by robbing crops of nutrients. Industrially produced food is nutritionally empty mass, loaded with chemicals and toxins. Nutrition in food comes from nutrients in the soil. Industrial agriculture, based on the NPK mentality of synthetic nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium based fertilisers leads to the depletion of vital micro nutrients and trace elements such as magnesium, zinc, calcium and iron.

David Thomas, a geologist-turned-nutritionist, discovered that between 1940 and 1991, vegetables had lost - on average - 24 percent of their magnesium, 46 percent of their calcium, 27 percent of their iron and no less than 76 percent of their copper (Ref :David Thomas 'A study on the mineral depletion of the foods available to us as a nation over the period 1940 to 1991'. Nutrition and Health 2003; 17: 85-115).

Carrots had lost 75 percent of their calcium, 46 percent of their iron and 75 percent of their copper. Potatoes had lost 30 percent of their magnesium, 35 percent calcium, 45 percent iron and 47 percent copper.

To get the same amount of nutrition people will need to eat much more food. The increase in “yields” of empty mass does not translate into more nutrition. In fact it is leading to malnutrition.

Poor nutrition

The IAASTD recognises that through an agro-ecological approach “agro-ecosystems of even the poorest societies have the potential through ecological agriculture and IPM to meet or significantly exceed yields produced by conventional methods, reduce the demand for land conversion for agriculture, restore ecosystem services (particularly water) reduce the use of and need for synthetic fertilisers derived from fossil fuels, and the use of harsh insecticides and herbicides.”

Our 25 years of experience at Navdanya shows that ecological, organic farming is the only way to produce food without harming the planet and people’s health. This is a trend that will grow, no matter how many pseudo-scientific stories are planted in the media by the industry.

Dr. Vandana Shiva is the author of “Violence of Green Revolution” and Director, Research Foundation for Science Technology & Ecology, New Delhi


13 September, 2012

US Ambassador Stevens raped, body dragged in Libya, will the moderate Khan trio, Shahrukh, Salman and Aamir condemn this continuing cycle of violence?

Above: US Ambassador Stevens raped (http://exm.nr/QJunGy), body dragged (http://exm.nr/Or7xVX) in Libya.

Anand Mathur

Does condemning this act make us right wingers? Where are the moderates in the Islamic community? Will they stand up and be counted? How many are they and where are they? Why are they not risking their lives for the sake of humanity?

Despite the brutal and agonizing violence hidden in the society and in the castes and divisions of the Christians, Hindus and Muslims, many countries and civilizations have increasingly upheld Human Values in their fight (whether violent or peaceful) for independence or social reforms.

However, the intolerance of the Islamic jihadis and their treatment of Kafirs has been inhuman and sickening at all times.

Whether the Jihadis were funded by the US in earlier decades or by the Saudis and Iran in the present times, the Muslims have to decide for themselves whether they want to go back to the Stone Age or not. If not, they have to fight with their own people and make them give up their destructive and retrograde utopian ideals. The moot question remains, "who are the role models in their community?"

Will the moderate Khan trio, Shahrukh, Salman and Aamir stand up and condemn this continuing cycle of violence?

The horrible attack and killings in the attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul comes to mind. The suffering of mankind from this fundamentalism, of the innocent children and women of the killers of this ambassador, now to face retribution, are a terrible reminder of this unending violence.

Mother Earth and we, her children, do not need to be condemned to another global war that is already being waged but threatens to blow out of proportions.

11 September, 2012

Sri Sri ushers spiritual revolution in Argentina, 150,000 attend meditation guided by Him

Above: Translation of Argentina's news daily "Larazon's" headline: Ravi Shankar conducts meditation for 150 thousand people

Above: Arial view of the mammoth gathering of 150,000 people in Buenos Aires, Argentina, meditating with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

Photo courtesy: Art of Living

09 September, 2012

Kapil Sibal's wife's Meat exporting company's name an insult to Jainism

Kapil Sibal’s wife Promila Sibal is a Director of Arihant Export. Pvt. Ltd (Screenshot 1). Arihant Export. Pvt. Ltd is engaged in exporting Meat and operates from Promila Sibal’s official address (Screenshot 1 & 2). Arihant Export. Pvt. Ltd's Meat Processing Plant has also been approved by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India (Screenshot 2).

Ironically, Promila Sibal's Meat exporting company is called Arihant. Arihants are the most sacred beings in Jainism. In Jainism, Lord Mahavira is the ‘Jain Guru or Ultimate Refuge' and there were 23 such Tirthankars before Him in the time cycle who are also called Arihants.

Above: Screenshot 1 / Right-click and 'save link as' for large size image / Source: PMO

Above: Screenshot 2 / Right-click and 'save link as' for large size image / Source: APEDA

UPDATESibal’s wife changes meat unit’s name after Jains protest

07 September, 2012

Justice Aftab Alam and Teesta Setalvad's perjury in Courts - A Conflict of Interest?

Shahrukh Alam is Justice Aftab Alam's daughter. She is part of the Core Team at PKP - India (Screenshot 1). PKP - India is actively engaged in propagating / disseminating materials from Sabrang Communications (Teesta Setalvad's Organization) and others (Screenshot 2). PKP - India's India Regional Team also includes Senior Lawyer Mihir Desai (Screenshot 3). Mihir Desai is Teesta Setalvad's lawyer for numerous Gujarat Riot cases.

Having said that, there is overwhelming evidence against Teesta Setalvad and many court cases have also been filed against her, demanding a probe into her deceit, lies and perjury. Have a look at: Evidence Against Teesta Setalvad.

So why doesn't Justice Aftab Alam order an investigation into Teesta Setalvad's deceit, lies and perjury? Is it because Teesta Setalvad's Gujarat Agenda is also being pursued by Justice Aftab Alam's daughter Shahrukh Alam? Isn't this conflict of interest as all Gujarat cases in the Supreme Court are heard by a bench which includes Shahrukh Alam's father Justice Aftab Alam?

Above: Screenshot 1 from PKP - India website / Right-click and 'save link as' for large size image

Above: Screenshot 2 from PKP - India website / Right-click and 'save link as' for large size image

Above: Screenshot 3 from PKP - India website / Right-click and 'save link as' for large size image

Also View Keep 'Communal Mindset' Justice Aftab Alam away from Gujarat cases: Justice Soni to Chief Justice of India

Also View: Evidence Against Teesta Setalvad