Jesus Christ and Gandhi on This Christmas

On this holy day, I came across two stories that try to change the prevailing notions about the two great persons that the world produced.

The Times of India published a story by David Leafe, ‘Did Jesus have a secret family?’, from Daily Mail on December 24,2006.

Deep in the Judean desert, in a remote part of the Holy Land that has changed little since Biblical times, stands an ancient Greek Orthodox monastery with a highly unusual portrait of the Holy Family in its chapel. Showing young Jesus being carried on the shoulder of Joseph, while his mother Mary rides behind them. Next to Jesus, Mary and Joseph is a mysterious fourth figure – a young man with a golden halo who is wearing a simple dark robe and carrying his belongings on a stick. is name is James and, a controversial Channel 4 documentary to be screened on Christmas Day has made a story out of that. According to the programme, Jesus did have a hidden family. Not a wife and daughter, but brothers and sisters: James, Joses, Simon, Jude (sometimes referred to as Judas), Salome and young Mary. These siblings apparently played a key role in founding Christianity, but their teachings proved too dangerous for the church. The documentary claims the church tried to eradicate them from history by rewriting Christ’s story, fabricating his birthplace, falsely crediting him with the Lord’s Prayer and inventing the idea that his mother Mary remained a virgin lifelong.

Dr Robert Beckford, a committed Christian and reader in theology at Oxford Brookes University is the author of the programme. According to Dr Beckford, the Bible supports his arguments.

The St Gerasimos monastery houses that intriguing painting of the Holy Family that dates back many hundreds of years and clearly shows the relationship of James to Jesus. Dr Beckford believes that the early clerics suppressed such portraits because they knew these were Jesus’s full-blood brothers and sisters. The same censorship is apparent in the Gospels. Both Matthew and Mark mention Jesus’s family briefly, but although the Gospel of Luke drew heavily on these earlier works, it does not mention any other children of Mary and Joseph. Dr Beckford maintains that the reasons for this censorship can be found in a vicious power struggle among the early Christians in the years after Christ’s death in approximately 33AD. The Gospel of John suggests that Jesus asked his disciple Peter to take care of his flock and, indeed, it is Peter who is traditionally regarded as the first leader of the Christian church.

And then Mr. Singh passed on to me last evening the latest ‘Outlook’ that has a story by Rajmohan Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, Bapu’s Human Tryst’. It deals with the passionate love relationship the Mahatma had with a fiery beauty from Bengal called Sarladevi.

It was the one relationship in his life that even a compulsive confessor like Gandhi barely spoke about, keeping her deliberately out of his otherwise candid autobiography. His grandson reconstructs the story in his forthcoming biography, ‘Mohandas: A True Story of a Man, His People and an Empire.’

Why are these stories written? Does it serve any purpose? The views may be inferences from some circumstantial evidences in letters and painting, but may not be the truth. Even what the eyes see many times and try to infer or conclude are not truths. Are these stories created to get a fame to become a thinker who went out of the traditionally accepted notions? Why should we hurt the feelings of millions and millions of human beings who worship them as lords?

2006-12-24 06:29:44
IIT Alumni 2006 Global Conference- My Views
The President inaugurated the Pan IIT 2006 convention in Mumbai on Dec 23, 2006 that will discuss for 3 days the initiatives and projects to transform India with focus on governance, knowledge economy, entrepreneurship, poverty eradication and advanced technologies. An ad says, ‘Participants include over 40 IITians who have contributed towards nation-building.’ A question flashed in my mind and morosed me. Have the rest of the thousands of IITians passed out from IITs not contributed? Many IITians could have become more distinguished ones, if the circumstances in which they worked would have been more conducive. If I just start thinking about some of my own friends, each performed differently. Some who were more distinguished in the performance in IIT couldn’t do that great in real life. Dhingra, Budhani, Shikhar, and Agrawal couldn’t become distinguished. Why can’t the conference such as this one look into the factors that make a person with all the potentials just an average one? How can the system produce the ‘distinguished’ ones more and in abundance?

Another observation is about the focus of this and other conferences. Why should not IITians just focus on making their own IITs more distinguished and comparable to Stanford, Harvard, MIT, and Carnegie Mellon with regards to scale, the quality of teachers, contributions to industries and society, innovations and researches?

And if the IITians have some real spareable resources, why should they not help the schools and colleges, and their own village and small towns that they came from before joining IITs?

Next year I shall be celebrating the golden jubilee of my admission in IIT, Kharagpur in 1957. It gives me an immense happiness that I am still continuing to contribute in my own ways with small little ideas in my writings.

IITs must add more value to social grid: Kalam
Tharoor at the Pan IIT 2006 meet in Mumbai
George Soros participated in Pan IIT 2006

2006-12-22 21:26:23
End of Poverty-Some Questions
As per the figure coming from different sources, 28% of the Indians are below the poverty line. Let us look at the definitions.

Official estimates are based on a norm of 2,400 calories per capita per day for rural areas and 2,100 calories per capita per day for urban areas. These calories level, if translated into money for food, means, anyone earning more than Rs 600, as of 2005, is considered above poverty line.

The World Bank defines extreme poverty as living on less than US$1 (PPP) per day, and moderate poverty as less than $2 a day. And what it means in simple word is the dismal living condition. According to the World Food programme, nearly 50% of the world’s hungry live in India. Another report says 35% of world’s poor live in India. Is it not an abysmal situation, extremely worrying, and sufficient to make you as Indian look a pygmy?

What is this number? Is it the number of individuals or households? If it is the number of individuals, does it include all children as well as old men who can’t work? If it is households, does it consider the income of all the earning members correctly? Are the people hesitant to give the correct figure just as some do to escape the income tax?

I see all around and find in households below BPL, more than one member of the family contributes to the overall earning of the household. For example, I have an assistant to help my wife in household works. We pay him good money plus all the food and clothing and other expenses plus some more tips at times. His mother also works, while his father plies a riksha. I don’t know if these facts are recorded in data collected. If all the earnings coming in family are concerned the household must fall in ‘moderate poverty’ or may be a little better.

My only apprehension is that the system must not encourage people to keep themselves in BPL category. All the schemes must empower them to be proud citizen and encourage them to explore all means to improve their earnings.

Let us look at the aspect about going to sleep without food. Almost 70% of so-called BPL households live in rural India and most of them have dwelling of their own. This is a boon, but one will have to work hard to exploit every bit of it. The household can grow some vegetables such as different kinds of pumpkins that grow as bumper crop. It can grow on the roof of the house. They can also easily plant some fruit bearing trees such as jackfruit that can serve them as some nutritious dishes in their daily intake and may earn some extra earnings too. Additionally, the households can also have some animals such as buffalos, cows, goats and poultry that can produce the nutritious content of the food requirements. Why should the household depend so much on the doles from the government? Why should they not look into possibility of growing all that they can?

I know many will not agree to this. However, I am of strong opinion that unless the people are empowered to find their own way to earn their living they shall go on getting more and more lazy and dependent that can serve only the politicians.

Read T N Ninan: How to be `inclusive`

2006-12-22 05:07:54
India’s Manmade Power Crisis
India dreams to be the major global manufacturing hub with labour intensive industries-small and big, spread all throughout the country. And almost every one, be it the Prime Minister, or the Finance Minister, or the head of Planning Commission, agrees that manufacturing can only play the role of saviour for the teeming millions youths in India.

Is it is possible without having sufficient capacity in power generation and efficient transmission and distribution? The answer is simply a ‘no’.

The country must have abundance of power to reach right up to all the villages so that manufacturing can go everywhere to engage the people productively. Is it possible to have the power in abundance and soon? Perhaps here also the answer is a plain ‘yes’.

Recently concluded Nuclear deal with US for civil use, mainly for generating the clean power had maximum media coverage. But it is not going to happen tomorrow or on short term. Instead India must follow the power projects based on traditional fossil fuels that have already been conceived.

Why has India not overcome the pwer shortage till date? The answer is simple. It is plain failure of the execution of the projects in time. The majority of power generation is in public sector. And the public sector starts big projects, but never completes it in scheduled time. The projects of private sector also suffer due to many controls. For example, Reliance Dadri Project is one such.
And how will India achieve the sufficiency in power in future? India must have to do away the red tapes causing the delays. It must complete a power project that it takes up, at the most in 3-4 years following the best world standard. And that is doable.

NTPC remains the main power plant builder for India. It must become a 1,00,000 MW company. Many private players are also now in the field with Reliance Energy and Tata Power as main. Many other domestic as well foreign players are ready to jump or are already in the race, as it was evident in the recent bids for the mega power projects.

BHEL remains the sole major provider of power plant equipment. Many are sceptical about its ability to maintain the supply to all the projects in process. Naturally, either BHEL adds on its capacity by expansion or acquisition, or the entrepreneurs will go for alternative import route. And the government must not put any restriction. This is not the time to encourage the growth of an enterprise, as it is domestic and hold the growth of the country. The task is decidedly onerous for the suppliers of power plants manufacturers if India is to achieve the target of adding 66,463 mw to its generation capacity in the 11th Plan Period and another 86,500 mw in the 12th Plan Period.

And if the two warring ministers wish so, NTPC can go additionally for the manufacture of plant and equipment, and BHEL can go for setting up power plants on its own in natural process of expansion and diversification. But let it be decided by the CEOs and their technical teams of the two companies rather than the ministers.

Can India then add 1,50,000 MW of generation capacity in next 5-8 years? It must. The capacity must have a good lead over the requirement. Let all the private power companies be encouraged to go full blast. As reported, REL has lined up close to a dozen projects to take the company’s installed capacity to around 18,000 mw by 2012. Tata Power has similar ambitions. Many in the country are having similar ambitions to be a major player in power sector. The government and its bureaucrats must facilitate in all manner in cutting down the time for the initiation and the completion of the projects.

Two ultra mega projects of 4,000 MW each are already approved. Hyderabad-based Lanco Infratech, in association with the Singapore-based Globleq, has won the bid for the pithead project, Sasan in Madhya Pradesh by offering a price of Rs 1.19 per unit. Tata power emerged the winner for Mundra in Gujarat. Tata Power’s tariff bid for the imported coal-based Mundra power project was the lowest at Rs 2.26 a unit. Tata Power has joined hands with Siemens and Doosan for equipment procurement and construction. Number of companies participating with a total of 16 bids for the two projects brings hope. There is a 14-month limit for financial closure and commencement of construction too. And many more of the mega power projects are in pipeline.

The significant decisions for locating the power plants near a port or at pitheads are already in place. It will eliminate the delays in coal movement between the coalmines and the power plants.

The efforts are on for all avenues to kill this bug. Tamil Nadu and Gujarat are leading a revolution in renewable energy installations and generation, especially from wind. Major wind turbine manufacturing companies are making investments to manufacture renewable energy equipment. Investments are taking place in solar energy, co-generation, biomass and biogas-based power projects.

Naturally, parallel actions are also directed for de-bottlenecking of the transmission and distribution by cutting down the huge losses too. Power conservation is another area that must get a lot of attention.

One can think of an India with surplus power in next five years. And it must happen.

Read “Will ultra-mega power projects deliver?”

It’s boom time for equipment makers with the…Power sector on high voltage

2006-12-21 16:40:10
Next Bill Gates From China or India
Chidanand Rajghatta provides this information in one of his report in ‘The Times of India’, Deceember21, 2006. A cartoon on a blog run by 463 Communications had a headline that read: ‘American Say Next Bill Gates is currently Studying Math in Beijing.’

A new survey of Internet Attitudes in the US released by Zogby International and 463 Communications showed how Asia’s tech ability is getting into American minds.

Nearly half of all Americans (49%) believe that the next great technology leader will come from either China (26.7%) or Japan (22.4%). Only 21% believe he or she could come from the US, while a surprising 13% backed India as the next home of a prospective Billji. The other two of BRIC- Russia (2.1%) and Brazil (0.4%) were also among the choices.

However, higher-income group of Americans ($1,00,000 salary and above) were more bullish about American prospects, listing US first (27.6%), followed by India (25.9%) and then China (23.1%).

Naturally for those higher up the economic ladder, who are more in contact with Indians as colleagues in offices or in business dealings, saw almost as much promise in India as in the US and China.

As I mentioned somewhere, it is this brand image of India because of the Indians in US, say some IITians that made the representatives of the nation to agree for US-India Nuclear Deal almost unanimously.

But I feel India has already its Bill Gates who needs to be emulated by more and more Indians and may be American entrepreneurs of tomorrow in US. Dhirubhai Ambani and Lakshmi Mittal were no way less than Bill Gates in their arena.

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