“Rohingya are illegal immigrants!” roared the Indian Home Minister from his perch in New Delhi. Most probablyan air-conditioned room or hall, and to the applause of those present!

He must have smiled seeing the effect on the crowd, but I’m sure he didn’t see something else:

He didn’t see a distraught woman, one of many, trying to clamber onto a boat with a baby on each arm, slipping in her haste and falling into the water, then again making another attempt even as the boatman held up his open palm for the fare that would wipe out all her savings!

He didn’t see men, limp with exhaustion, their hair matted with blood not just from bush and branch they had scurried through but from bullet and bayonet that had fired at their fleeing bodies, which tired and worn, now looked for something that would nourish and get some strength back.

He didn’t see children, yes boys and girls three and four years old wandering aimlessly looking for parents, who lay somewhere with lifeless eyes, not able to see those babies anymore; shot, burned or raped by soldiers who cared nothing for them.

I am sure the good home minister saw none of this as he sat in his airconditioned hall, and heard the applause from others also sitting in same comfort.

In Mumbai, there are many beggars who clamber into the suburban trains and beg. None climb into the first-class compartment, they all prefer begging in the lower, second class. Watch what happens; as the beggar goes from seat to seat, poor people, with maybe an income just above that of the poor beggar, pull out worn leather wallets, or fish in their pockets for a few notes and give it to the poor fellow.

This doesn’t ever happen in the first class compartment, where potbellied men sit with wallets crammed with high denomination notes, with eyes that would have looked with disdain at the poor fellow had he ventured into their holy, exclusive domain.

Compassion, strangely exists in the second class compartment!

I remember a poorer India, allowing millions of Bangladeshi refugees in the early seventies, as they escaped from an army that was terrorizing them. It burdened our people. It nosedivedour economy, but gritting our teeth we allowed them in.  

Today, we sit in the first-class compartment. We’ve forgotten what it is to be just one level above the man who begs. “Sir!” they shout, as they try to enter India, “We are hungry. We are persecuted. Give us compassion!”

“Get out!” we shout, “Don’t soil our seats, don’t spoil our peace, this is a first-class compartment!”

Compassion, speaks volumes, not just about the class you travel, but the effect the religion we follow has on us..!

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By Yogi Ashwini

Navratras come twice a year and mark transition in seasons, winter-summer and summer-winter. According to ayurveda, during this time, one should consume nourishing foods and in minimal quantities to rid the body of the toxins collected during the rains. The nine nights and ten days of navratras hold within them the energy of ten forms of shakti– shailaputri, brahmcharini, chandrakanta, kushmanda, skandmata, katyayani, kaalratri, mahagauri, siddhidatri and aparajitha thus each navratra has a specific purpose. In the navratras weather changes, ie, various energies of this creation move from imbalance towards a new normalcy, including our body. In these nine days the prana shakti inside our body undergoes a process of re-alignment, ie from imbalance to new balance for new season.

For this re- aligning the body has to be kept light. Therefore our ancients prescribed fasting or upvaas in these nine days.Upavaas has a much greater connotation than what it is generally misunderstood as - mere holding back from eating certain foods. At Dhyan Ashram, sadhaks observe Upavaas in its aunthentic sense, that is, giving up pleasure to observe austerities during sadhna. This is done by celibating, eating food for energy, not sensual pleasure, following a niyam of the sadhna your Guru has given you - a mantra, dhyan or a tantric practice where senses are kept under strict control and the focus is your ishta deva and all your thoughts and actions during those days are devoted to the ishta-deva. Charity and service are an intrinsic part of such sadhnas. During navratras these fasts are observed for purification as well, both etheric as well as physical.

Apart from fasting, there are certain mantras also which are chanted on these days for a complete body detox. For the beginner, these nine days may be divided into 3 parts of 3 days each for the three parts of body-  the region below the navel, between navel and shoulders and the upper head region, corresponding to the energies of goddess sarawati, goddess lakshmi and goddess durga respectively. The 9 devis originate from these 3 devis which in turn have their origin in Adi shakti. These 3 parts are further divided into 3 parts each, thus the body is divided into 9 parts in all.

In the first 3 days the sadhak stops having spicy food and performs a havan at the morning and evening sandhya with the chants invoking ma durga. Offering of kala til along with ghrit is made and desi cows upla and palash samedha is used. In the next three days, sadhak stops intake of anna and only light foods are ingested in order to keep the body light. Havan for Ma Lakshmi is done at the two sandhyas by making offering of a sweet along with ghrit . In the last three days, the sadhak only consumes water and juice (not even milk as it is considered an animal product) and havan for Ma Saraswati is performed at the two sandhyas by making offerings of ghrit and guggal. On the 10th day, complete fast is kept and once more Ma Durga or Ma Kali is invoked as on this day Ravan had invoked Ma Kali and Ram had invoked Ma Durga. This process brings about the required re-alignment. After this, the sadhak performs his sadhna and chants specific mantra as prescribed by his/her Guru. With yog sadhna, all the energies that are invoked come to the sadhak. Navratras are days to prepare your body in order to accept the new energies of the coming season. For 9 days you re-align you body and after that on the 10th day accept new energies

Most people lighten their bodies by fasting for 9 days, only to make it heavy on the 10th day by crowding to restaurants and liquor shops. It is something like you clean your room and after that you bring all the garbage back to the room.  Fasting or any such technique will bear fruits only if carried out with a sense of detachment, for the purpose of evolution. The Guru knows the capacity of a shishya and prescribes a fast depending upon his/her requirements. Therefore it is of utmost importance to observe fasts in tandem with yogic practices such as the Sanatan Kriya under the sanidhya of a Guru to reap maximum benefits.

Yogi Ashwini is the Guiding Light of Dhyan Foundation and an authority on the Vedic Sciences. His book, 'Sanatan Kriya, The Ageless Dimension' is an acclaimed thesis on anti-ageing. Log onto to www.dhyanfoundation.com for more

Dr. S. Ganesan

 ‘Known is little; unknown is ocean’. It is normally quoted for human knowledge purposes. The four walled formal education system has its own traditional procedures, rules and regulations; due to which it looks rigid or closed system. To meet the changing demands of learners, the new system of education called as ‘Correspondence Education/Distance Education/Open Learning System’ emerged as alternative channel of education. This new system has now completed more than 50 years in India; but, still its potential with special reference to its in-built flexibilities are unknown to many. Interestingly, even the students of ODL system are unaware of many student- friendly- provisions of ODL.

No age bar for seeking admission in ODL is, to a larger extent, known flexibilities to general public. The minimum age to take admission in ODL system like IGNOU, is completion of 18 years. Naturally, when one completes Senior Secondary Schooling he/she reaches 18-years and becomes eligible for university level education. The relaxation of age in ODL system provides higher education opportunities to people with age of 80 plus also. In other words, the range of age of ODL students starting from 18-years and ends at 80+ years old.

Mobility: The frequent movement of adult learner from one place to another is inevitable now. For instance, one working in Central Government Service gets frequent transfers once in 3 years also. The change in place of work should not affect his/her learning. To facilitate such mobile persons, IGNOU like National/International Educational Provider has its network of Study Centres all over the Country/World. By just informing the new address, a learner can continue the studies at new location without any difficulty. On production of student Identity Card, one can attend classes at any Study Centre of the ODL University. Similarly, the submission of home-based assignments can be deposited at any Study Centre for evaluation. The omni presence of Learner Support Centres (LSC) provides both academic and administrative services at all places of India. Even the less populated places like Nicobar, Lakshadweep Islands have also centres of IGNOU, to reach the unreached sectors.

The work force of A & N Islands, normally visit main land during June or December months. Even during such temporary visits, a learner of IGNOU can give his/her exams of his/her choice at any part of India. In other words, a registered student of A & N Islands can appear in exams at Chennai and continue the education as hassle free. Interestingly, few learners have requirements to take few exams at Port Blair during beginning of June month and will stay at Chennai during mid/end of June for other few exams. Appearing in the exams at different locations at different time are possible now in ODL system. For the same, the permission of Exam Centres and Regional Controlling Offices of the University can be obtained easily. Think of a situation, when you are permitted to take exams at Port Blair during 1-5 June; at Chennai during 8-12 June and again at Port Blair during 13-17 June. Do not you feel that no one can stop your education unless you think so?

For some persons of international movement, one can give few exams in India and the rest at his/her new Country such as Sri Lanka, UAE etc. The restriction free movement as per student’s choice and convenience gets priority in ODL system. The ICT (Information & Communication Technology) also provides such flexibilities in Student Support Services. Similarly the submission of project report at one place and facing (face-to-face /tele-mode) the viva-voce at other centre is also possible.

Early Declaration of Exam Results

You have an interview in next couple of months for which you require your Master Degree qualification. But, your second year exams are to be held in one month time . Sometime, the process and publication of exam results take 3-4 months also. Under this situation, if you are provided with facility to get your exams results quickly, that too, well before your interview dates. Then, you will feel happy and comfortable. Such flexibility is also required for taking admission in higher studies with closing dates. Considering the special requirements of distance learners of such situations, IGNOU like ODL system provides to apply for early declaration of exam results. With specific reasons and documentary evidences one can submit the exam form well in advance especially for these purpose and it will be handled separately by the ODL system.

It is a common procedure that the ODL system does not insist on formats for your communication. You need not worry about the ‘Form’ or ‘Application Form’ etc. for many communication purposes. For example, just submit your own letter with your own language to ‘change your address’ in university records. None will reject your letter as it is not in the prescribed form. Your communication is important rather than the design of the format. If all required details are provided in your simple plain paper letter/e-mail, the need of ‘prescribed form’ disappears. The advancement in technology also supports to introduce more and more such new flexibilities in ODL system. Few such facilities are on-line admission, simple e-mail request, complaint at portal, communication through SMS on mobile, etc.

There are lot many such flexibilities of ODL system which also still unknown and under-utilized by even needy learners. We will give exposure of few more important flexibilities –viz. ‘fee exemption for SC/ST’, ‘marks relaxation for Disable applicants’, ‘walk-in admission’(365 days) ‘e-learning materials’, ‘attend class at home via IRC/TC/webcast etc., in our future articles.

(The author is Regional Director of IGNOU, Regional Centre, Port Blair and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (M-8900936718)

The first lot of people who are murdered when a country is headed in the wrong direction, are thinkers and writers! Because, the powers that be, don’t want thoughts except those expressed by them, and no communication except what they want to tell. So, bullets, or the strong arm of government machinery are used to still those voices.India has just seen this in the dastardly killing of Gauri Lankesh, an outspoken woman journalist.

And yet the pen is mightier than the sword. How’s that?

“Hey you two killers who shot the Indian journalist dead, hey!”

“We’ve got guns! Don’t shout at us, we’ll shoot you!”

“But your guns have no bullets! You’ve emptied them into a defenseless woman!”

“You should have seen her fall!” laugh the gunmen brandishing pistols, “We knew she was dead, the moment she fell!”

“But she lives on!”

“We saw her dead!”

“But look, everything she wrote is now being read! People are saying she spoke the truth, and in her death, she’s proved she was correct! She’s alive!”

“We heard her fall! We saw her die! We’ll shoot you, for saying she’s not dead!”

“Your bullets are dead! Her words live on!”

The two assassins get off their getaway bike, they walk to where they’d shot Gauri, they see no body, “Where’s she?” they whisper, “We saw her fall!”

 A passerby, comes over, “Who do you look for?”

“The journalist who was shot dead here! Where is she now?”

“There!” says the passerby, and points to hundreds and thousands of Gauris, all over India. She fell and rose again, throughout the land!”They hear the rustling of papers as all that the journalist had written is reread. They see people nodding their heads in agreement. They hear the murmur of voices, whispering in unison, they hear whispers becoming louder, and yet louder. Suddenly the noise is deafening.

“My head hurts!” shouts one assassin.

“Like a million bullets!” shouts the other, “She’s shooting at us!Firing salvo after salvo, and look…”

They both look as they see their leader, “Why did you kill her?” shouts their bearded leader.

“We thought you wanted her dead sir!” they shout back over the din.

“But look what’s happening to me. Look at my country! I’m being hit by a million bullets!”

“Sir!“ shouts the first assassin, “They are strange looking bullets, and yet they hurt deeper than the ones we used!”

“Run!” shouts their leader, “Run,” these are not ordinary missiles and bullets, they are words, wielded by her pen, and now used by a thousand others, all aimed at us!”

“Run!” they shout, and they stumble and fall, pick themselves up and run, ruined politically forever, by the deadliness of paper missiles ignited by penned words!”

The pen is mightier than the sword, oh yes it is, because bullets do just a writer kill, but their words live on, deadly and dangerous, after the sword is blunt and bent, and gun’s bullets spent..!

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As I watch Trump tweeting threatening outbursts to the North Korean dictator and Kim cocking a snook at him, it does tend to remind me of similar fights in my schooldays:They were strange kind of fights, where two adversaries, faced each other, mouthed wild words at one another, swung their arms emptily in the air, and then strangest of all behaviors I’d seen, rolled their sleeves, pushed elbows back, and hoped like crazy that somebody would hold those elbows and prevent them from fighting further.

In most of those fights, that signaled the end, because the pushing back of elbows was a sign to friends to hold onto their arms and prevent thefight escalating.

Trump and Kim Jong-un seem to be doing what I’ve seen time and again in those schoolboydays. Threats and arm swinging seem to fill newspaper space, editorials scream of what could happen, and the two glare at each other, mouth dare words and threaten to burst bombs.

But horror of horrors, nobody is holding them back: Their elbows dangle free of preventive hands!

And that’s a dangerous situation, because the world believes the two are madmen facing each other and making loud empty noises.

Now, and here let me take you back to those fights of yore;you can see both my school opponents creating a huge din, and suddenly find their friends who were always at their side to prevent them from hitting each other, have left the fight with boredom.

“Those two just mouth empty words at each other,” their friends say and move away.

And that is when the action happens.

Suddenly there’s a slamming of fist against cheek, foot against stomach and a fight which everybody thought was a no fight becomes a bloody battle, till one or the other is soundly beaten, or both are dragged off to the headmaster’s office.

Unfortunately, in this Trump-Kim wrestling match, there’s no headmaster, and as the world gets bored with their rhetoric and tunes off and they decide to missile and nuke each other, it’s going to be a catastrophe of a magnitude beyond comprehension!

So, let’s not get bored by these two mad men. Even as they swing their fists at each other, even as they hurl abuses and threats, lets continue holding their sweaty elbows, and prevent them from going to the next stage!

They don’t want to fight, but they love an audience and want to hold on to it. And the sooner that audience gets bored and moves away, a real disastrous fight could begin.

So stand around, watch the circus, hold their arms, and pretend you are hugely interested in the mock skirmish you are allowed to witness.

Dare you move away, the world you love and know well, may disappear.

Don’t yawn, just clap and cheer and pull back their arms and elbows..!

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