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Sri Aurobindo Society | Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

Posted: August 16, 2017 at 5:50 am


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The year was 1907. The freedom movement in India was gathering momentum. Its leader was detained by the police. The poet Rabindranath Tagore paid him a visit after his acquittal, and wrote the now famous lines: Rabindranath, O Aurobindo, bows to thee! O friend, my countrys friend, O Voice incarnate, free, Of Indias soul! The fiery messenger that with the lamp of God. Hath come Rabindranath, O Aurobindo, bows to thee.

In the year 1928, the leader had now left politics and had gone to Pondicherry, where he plunged himself into the practice of Yoga.

The poet Tagore once again paid him a visit and declared: You have the Word and we are waiting to accept it from you. India will speak through your voice to the world, Hearken to me!

Years ago I saw Aurobindo in the atmosphere of his earlier heroic youth and I sang to him: Aurobindo, accept the salutations from Rabindranath. Today I saw him in a deeper atmosphere of a reticent richness of wisdom and again sang to him in silence: Aurobindo, accept the salutations from Rabindranath!

How does one describe or speak about such a personality? Sri Aurobindo has been called a scholar, a literary critic, a philosopher, a revolutionary, a poet, a yogi and a rishi. He was all these and much more. To have even a glimpse of the true Sri Aurobindo, we have to turn to the Mother: What Sri Aurobindo represents in the world's history is not a teaching, not even a revelation; it is a decisive action direct from the Supreme.

In fact, Sri Aurobindo declared, in no uncertain terms that nobody could write his biography and added: Neither you nor anyone else knows anything at all of my life; it has not been on the surface for men to see.

But he was not altogether averse to this effort and even made corrections when some biographers made the attempt. In the process the veil that hid the divine mystery was lifted a little.

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Amidst the Euphoria of Independence, Is the Nation Ready to Converse With Sri Aurobindo? – The Wire

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The spiritual age Sri Aurobindovisualised is strikingly different from what present-day proponents of religious fundamentalism talk about with their politics of culture and religion and the stigmatisation of the other.

Sri Aurobindo. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

If a real, a spiritual and psychological unity were effectuated, liberty would have no perils and disadvantages; for free individuals enamored of unity would be compelled by themselves, by their own need, to accommodate perfectly their own growth with the growth of their fellows and would not feel themselves complete except in the free growth of others. Sri Aurobindo,The Ideal of Human Unity

We live in troubled times surrounded byloudness loud religion, loud politics and loud nationalism. Yet, on August 15, as the prime minister delivers his euphoric speech from the historic Red Fort, and aspatriotic songs play on radio channels, I strive for something sublime and deep possibly to free myself from the overplay of loud symbolism of independence. I begin to converse with an extraordinary gifted sage-philosopher Sri Aurobindo who too was born on August 15 in 1872. In the process, I realise that people like us university-educated and trained in radical Western discourses often fail to tap our own cultural/philosophical capital to give a counter-narrative, and fight what is going on in the name of Indian culture and religion.

It is always possible to see the limits to what Sri Aurobindo wrote and thought about the way we say that everyone, be it Marx or Ambedkar, Gandhi or Mao, is incomplete. However, as I wish to indicate in this politico-spiritual article, the insights that we gain from Sri Aurobindo are remarkably illuminating a fresh departure from the ugly politics of culture and religion we see in these fanatic times.

The meaning of a turning point: from the political to the spiritual

Life, we all know, is not unilinear; it has its puzzling curves and path-breaking turning points. Sri Aurobindo too passed through this complex trajectory of life, and it transformed him. In the age of colonialism when the model of a colonial citizen was the educational ideal for the newly emergent English-educated Indians, Sri Aurobindos father sent him to England: the site of knowledge and power. With remarkable brilliance and scholarship, Sri Aurobindo spent 14years in England. But then, he came back. From Baroda to Bengal Indian experiences began to shape his pursuits and practices.

This English-educated gentleman began to edit Karmayogin and Bande Mataram the journals that sought to arouse the revolutionary spirit amongst the political class and eager learners. Historians have written about his involvement with the nationalist politics, and subsequently his arrest in the Alipore Conspiracy case in 1908. It was in the prison that he passed through an intense process of inner churning, and this, I believe, led to a major turning point in his life.

His famous Uttarpara speech, which he delivered after his release from the jail on May 30, 1909, revealed the magical power of this turning point: a movement from the political to the spiritual.

I looked at the jail that secluded me from men and it was no longer by its high walls that I was imprisoned; no it was Vasudeva who surrounded me. I walked under the branches of the tree, I knew it was Vasudeva, it was Sri Krishna whom I saw standing there and holding over me his shade, said Sri Aurobindo.

With this vision or inner churning, he found his ultimate calling. He began to listen to the voice within: I am guiding, therefore fear not. Turn to your own work for which I have brought to you in jail and when you come out, remember never to fear, never to hesitate. Whatever clouds may come, whatever dangers and sufferings, whatever difficulties, whatever impossibilities, there is nothing impossible, nothing difficult.

He left for Pondicherry, and from 1910 onwards a new quest began immensely meditative and spiritual.

How does one respond to this turning point? Think of yet another turning point when we refer to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. From England to South Africa yes, he did not remain a lawyer. A train journey in South Africa, as his autobiography revealed, taught him the ugliness and brutality of racism. This eventually led to the metamorphosis from the timid Mohandas to the charismatic Gandhi. Gandhis politics was, however, inseparable from his religiosity and spiritual quest.

Mahatma Gandhi with a Congress worker. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

While Gandhi united the political and the spiritual, is it possible to say that Sri Aurobindo separated the two? History poses this question before us, and we need to reflect on it. However, as I wish to argue, even in his spiritual journey never did Sri Aurobindo fail to address to the questions relating to the fate of the nation, its cultural politics, modernity, war, self-determination and human evolution. It was in the Arya a philosophical magazine that he began to write extraordinarily illuminating pieces leading to what I would regard as civilisational gifts The Life Divine, The Synthesis of Yoga, The Foundations of Indian Cultureand many other creations. I believe that we could draw a couple of insights from these works, engage with them and evolve refined politico-ethical practices for creating a better society.

On culture and polity

The cultural politics of colonialism is related to its civilising mission the way the West with its enlightenment rationality and expansionist bourgeois revolution sought to rescue the decadent/barbaric cultures of the colonised from the trap of superstitions and prejudices. James Mills History of British India possibly indicated what Edward Said wrote in his masterpiece Orientalism: the self-perception of the West as a superior civilisation, and its constant gaze and condemnation of the Orient (or fixing it as a locale for Western attention for its redemption) through categories like despotism, other worldly and life negating.

The process of decolonisation required a creative intervention into this politics of culture the way the colonial West hierarchised civilisations. Sri Aurobindos The Foundations of Indian Culture, I believe, was a response to this political and moral need. The way he critiqued William Archers contemptuous reading of Indian culture and civilisation was remarkable. An average and typical occidental mind obsessed with the vitalistic rational idea, as he wrote, could see nothing but despair, passivity and nihilism in Indian culture. However, our culture guided by its religiosity, replied Sri Aurobindo, was neither tiered quietism nor conventional monasticism. Far from denying life, as he elaborated, we accepted the reality of karma and artha, reconciled these human drives with dharma and moksha, and thereby imagined the possibility of a complete/harmonic existence that the Wests vehement secular activism could never comprehend.

Well, this struggle in the realm of culture was part of our struggle for liberation. To refer to Gandhi again, he did it through his critique of the brute force implicit in colonialism, and his creative engagement with the Sermon on the Mount as well as Bhagavadgita . While Gandhi could communicate in folk idioms and come closer to the subaltern, Sri Aurobindos solitude and philosophic reading might appear to be extremely classicist with its Vedantic and metaphysical connotations. Furthermore, it is also possible to argue that in his elaboration, what was missing was the anguish of the marginalised within our hierarchical social system say, the way Jotirao Phule elaborated it in Slavery, or B. R. Ambedkar expressed it in the Philosophy of Hinduism. Yet, what could not be denied was the eternal relevance of his reminder (almost similar to what Ananda Coomaraswamy thought about) that our cultural creations ought to generate a spiritual and psychic beauty, and see beyond the narrow prejudices of the natural realistic man, particularly at a time when the seductive culture industry of global capitalism dissociates the sexualised body from the soul, and sells gross materialism in the name of realism.

From social Darwinism to spiritual comradeship

This quest (which we tend to devalue because of our adherence to social Darwinism) enabled him to evolve a sharp critique of what post enlightenment Western civilisation regarded as the Age of Reason. Yes, in terms of human evolution the power of the intellect or the cultivation of reason has played a significant role. Yet, we are caught into the discontents of modernity. Neither liberal/bourgeois democracy with its competitive individualism nor the state-centric socialist machine with its totalitarianism could help us. Do postmodernists help us? Or do they take us to yet another kind of chaos with nihilistic relativism? Think of Sri Aurobindos point of departure. Reason, he said, neither is the first principle of life, nor can be its last, supreme and sufficient principle.

Only with the awakening of love, he wrote in The Human Cycle, is it possible to realise the spiritual comradeship which is the expression of an inner realisation of oneness. Only then, as he added, is it possible that the true individualism of the unique godhead in each man finds itself on the true communism of the equal godhead in the race. In a way, a sense of meaninglessness has haunted the modern secular age (or to use, Nietzsches words, a world in which God is dead). From the neurosis of Sigmund Freuds conflict-ridden man to the absurdity of Albert Camuss outsider we notice the absence of life-enchanting love. And the postmodern fascination with deconstruction does not seem to have an answer. In Sri Aurobindo, as I feel, we see the rising sun coming out of the darkness of night.

In a way, this quest is a quest for further human evolution, or towards ascent and integration from physical to vital to mental to psychic/spiritual stage of human consciousness. His intense philosophic/spiritual prose in The Life Divine narrates the significance of this evolution towards the spiritual age. And it is at this juncture that I wish to assert once again that the spiritual age the sage-philosopher visualised is strikingly different from what these days the proponents of religious fundamentalism talk about with their ugly politics of militaristic nationalism and the stigmatisation of the other. In a way, a quest of this kind, I believe, has to be compared with John Lenons rhythmic lyrics, Erich Fromms communitarian socialism and even Karl Marxs celebration of a world in which love becomes a living expression of man.

Are we ready for a dialogue with him?

Avijit Pathak is a professor at the Centre for the Study of Social Systems, JNU.

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Amidst the Euphoria of Independence, Is the Nation Ready to Converse With Sri Aurobindo? - The Wire

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August 16th, 2017 at 5:50 am

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PM Narendra Modi pays tribute to Sri Aurobindo on his 145th birth anniversary – Financial Express

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Sri Aurobindo (Photo: IE)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tribute to philosopher and sage Sri Aurobindo on his 145th Birth Anniversary. PM took to Twitter and shared a post saying, I pay my tributes to Sri Aurobindo on his Jayanti. His rich thoughts & grand vision for India continue to be a great source of inspiration. Earlier in the day Prime Minister Modi greeted the nation on the occasion of Indias 71st Independence Day and Krishna Janmashtami. He wrote, Independence Day greetings to my fellow Indians. Jai Hind. Greetings on Janmashtami.

PM Narendra Modi today addressed the nation at the historic Red Fort in New Delhi. This is the 4th time when Narendra Modi unfurled the national flag on August 15 as the Prime Minister. During his speech at the event, PM talked about a variety of issues ranging from triple talaq to terrorism. While talking about triple talaq, he mentioned those women who have to suffer due to Tripe Talaq and said, I admire their courage. We are with them in their struggles. 2017 marks the 71st year of Indias Independence. A movement against Triple Talaq has started in the country. I admire the courage of my sisters who are fighting against it, he said.

PM Narendra Modi Twitter post-

The PM Narendra Modi government today launched an online portal for the gallantry award winners at gallantryawards.gov.in. According to a PIB release, The website gives details of the Chakra Series awardees i.e., Param Vir Chakra, Maha Vir Chakra, Vir Chakra, Ashok Chakra, Kirti Chakra and Shaurya Chakra. The portal contains information such as name, unit, year, citations and photographs of awardees till date. The Ministry of Defence would welcome any feedback or suggestion for further improvement.

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PM Narendra Modi pays tribute to Sri Aurobindo on his 145th birth anniversary - Financial Express

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Vande Mataram: A song in search of a nation – Economic Times

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The song Vande Mataram or Bande Mataram, as the original in Bengali would be pronounced, predates Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyays novel Anandamath, by quite a few years. The verses that contain a mix of Bengali and Sanskrit words were probably written around 1876 and later incorporated in the novel that was serialized in a Kolkata publication in 1881-1882. Its most famous rendition was in 1896 by Rabindranath Tagore at a meeting of the Indian National Congress in Kolkata. During the following decade the two words Bande Mataram or Vande Mataram also caught on as a political slogan for freedom fighters. It has remained widely popular and at the same time generated its own share of controversy. Here is a sample of all that has happened over Indias national song over its 140-years plus history:

Translation by Sri Aurobindo in 1909

I bow to thee, Mother, richly-watered, richly-fruited, cool with the winds of the south, dark with the crops of the harvests, The Mother!

Her nights rejoicing in the glory of the moonlight, her lands clothed beautifully with her trees in flowering bloom, sweet of laughter, sweet of speech, The Mother, giver of boons, giver of bliss!

Vande Mataram Pop: * There have been various versions of Vande Mataram sung in Bollywood songs. The most well known being one sung by Lata Mangeshkar in 1952 movie Anand Math, where the song was set to a new tune by Hemant Kumar.

* Lata Mangeshkar did her own version of Vande Mataram, using the same tune but adding new stanzas in Hindi in 1998.

* A year before AR Rehman did his own version, Maa Tujhe Salaam, in 1997.

* Over the years, there have been many versions, including one by Manna Dey in 1951 and in 2012 Sonu Nigam, Shankar Mahadevan and Sunidhi Chauhan lent their voice to version created by percussionist Bickram Ghosh.

Many versions of Bande Mataram: * Since Bankim himself was no musician, the poem has been scored countless times, using different ragas of Indian classical music by other musicians with one report suggesting the first effort was even before Anandamath was published.

* Tagores rendition in 1896 was a much slower-paced one than what we are used to hear now. This version in Tagores own voice was released on gramophone record in 1904 and is now available on various online platforms.

* A composition of Vande Mataram by Pandit VD Paluskar on raag Kafi was favoured by Gandhiji and was often sung by Paluskar himself at Congress meetings. In 1933, at the Kakinada convention, Maulana Ahmed Ali objected to Paluskar singing the song.

* In 1937, the Congress decided to use only the first two stanzas of the song leaving out the references to Hindu goddesses in the later half of the poem. Pandit Omkarnath Thakur, whose version in raag Kafi was popular, sung it on All India Radio on August 15, 1947.

* At the time of choosing the National Anthem of the country, composer Krishnarao Phulambrikar from Pune worked on the poem, creating variations on raag Jhinjhoti that can be sung easily by large assemblies and one that can be used as a marching song, to overcome various objections that were raised.

* The most heard version that is used by All India Radio at the beginning of its daily programme has been composed in raag Des. While some credit Pandit Ravi Shankar for the tune, there is no definite confirmation about the composer.

A permanent alter ego * Due to the invocation to Hindu goddesses in its later stanzas and its setting within the novel Anandamath, that identified the Muslim ruling class as an enemy, Vande Mataram has faced objections right through Indias history.

* Jana Gana Mana, which was finally chosen as Indias national anthem, was written and composed by Tagore himself and shares the status with Vande Mataram which is accorded the status of national song.

* Jana Gana Mana was also used as the national anthem of the Indian National Army that was led by Subhas Chandra Bose and in Captain Ram Singh Thakuri, the INA had a composer par excellence. The INA also created its own version of Jana Gana Mana in Hindi: Subh Sukh Chain Ki Barkha Barse, to replace Vande Mataram as its anthem for the Provisional Government for Free India in Singapore.

* The INA also had Qadam Qadam Badhaye Ja, the regimental quick march song written by Vanshidhar Shukla and composed by Ram Singh. This song was banned up to 1947. Reports suggest it has been adopted as a regimental march song of the Indian Army.

* In 1933, when first objections to Vande Mataram were aired publicly, poet Allama Iqbals Saare Jahan Se Accha, Hindustan Hamara was sung along with it. Iqbal had originally composed this song called Tarana-e-Hind in 1904.

* Later Iqbal became one of the proponents for the idea of Pakistan. By 1909, he had adapted the song and re-written it as a Tarana-e-Milli that spoke about a Muslim nation spread across central Asia, Arabia and India.

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Vande Mataram: A song in search of a nation - Economic Times

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This I-Day, travel back to days of freedom movement at Gorky Sadan – Millennium Post

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An 11 minute documentary film Jayjatra made on August 15, 1947 in Kolkata will be shown along with other exhibits at a unique exhibition titled Call for Freedom at Gorky Sadan.

The exhibition has been organised by Kinjal and Russian Centre of Science and Culture in association with Forum for Collectors, Sri Aurobindo Bhavan and Arora Films Corporation.

The short film was made by Arora Film Corporation and the script was read by Birendra Krishna Bhandra. A very rare and historic documentary made on August 15, 1947 was shot in Kolkata. It captured the moods of people and their reaction.

An edition of Time Magazine of 1937 whose cover story was Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose will be on display at the exhibition. There will be a number of rarely known letters written by Surendranath Banerjee, Hemchandra Kanungo, a disciple of Aurobindo Ghose, Annie Besant, M N Roy and Barin Ghosh. A biography of Pritilata Waddededar by Ganesh Ghosh, one of the fighters of Chittagong Armoury Raid will b displayed. The original photographs of some freedom fighters will be on display too. Some exhibits from the archive of Sri Aurobindo Bhavan will be exhibited.

People began to boycott foreign goods during the proposal to Partition Bengal in 1905 and several entrepreneurs came forward to set up "Swadeshi" industry particularly matchboxes, clothes and medicines. The labels fixed on those products contained slogans on nationalism and some of the labels will be exhibited. There will be an interesting section which will display books that were requisitioned by the freedom fighters while in Hijli and Cellular jails. Posters of films on freedom movement along with the lobby cards will be exhibited too.

There will be enamel boards containing advertisements, coins, records, bags and newspapers clippings and cuttings on freedom movement. Invitation cards of Swadeshi melas which were held to sell Indian goods along with dolls on freedom movement made of porcelain will be exhibited.

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This I-Day, travel back to days of freedom movement at Gorky Sadan - Millennium Post

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Why can’t the government provide a higher income for farmers, asks MS Swaminathan – The Hindu

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It is 11 years since agronomist M.S. Swaminathan handed over his recommendations for improving the state of agriculture in India to the former United Progressive Alliance government, at the height of the Vidarbha farmer suicides crisis, but they are still to be implemented. To address the agrarian crisis and farmers unrest across the country, he urged the government to take steps to secure farmers income. As India marks 50 years of the Green Revolution this year, the architect of the movement says sustainability is the greatest challenge facing Indian agriculture. Excerpts:

The greatest challenge facing Indian agriculture 50 years back was achieving self-sufficiency in foodgrain production. What is the greatest challenge today?

There are two major challenges before Indian agriculture today: ecological and economical. The conservation of our basic agricultural assets such as land, water, and biodiversity is a major challenge. How to make agriculture sustainable is the challenge. Increasing productivity in perpetuity without ecological harm is the need of the hour. In Punjab, and in other Green Revolution States, the water table has gone down and become saline. Further, during the Green Revolution the population was about 400-500 million; now it is 1,300 million and it is predicted to be 1.5 billion by 2030. The growing population pressure has made it pertinent to increase crop yield.

Also, the economics of farming will have to be made profitable to address the current situation. We have to devise ways to lower the cost of production and reduce the risks involved in agriculture such as pests, pathogens, and weeds. Today, the expected return in agriculture is adverse to farmers. Thats why they are unable to repay loans. Addressing the ecological challenge requires more technology while the economics requires more public policy interventions. In my 2006 report, I had recommended a formula for calculating Minimum Support Price, C2+50% (50% more than the weighted average cost of production, classified as C2 by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices). This would raise the current MSP and has now become the clamour of farmers and the nightmare of policymakers.

The NDA government has said it wants to double farmers incomes by 2022. But they havent implemented the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission Report that you submitted to the UPA government in 2006.

Yes. All kinds of excuses have been given by governments for not implementing this recommendation like food price inflation. But the question is, do the farmers of this country, who constitute nearly half of the working population, also not need to eat? The government is willing to pay Seventh Pay Commission salaries to insulate government servants from inflation, but they cannot provide a higher income for farmers to improve their lot? If you really look at what is happening now, farm loan waivers are posing a bigger burden on the government exchequer compared to what higher pay for farm produce will incur. But the government is not prepared to give the 20,000 crore or so for farmers by way of higher MSP. In 2009, the UPA government gave 72,000 crore as farm loan waiver, but no government is prepared to take long-term steps to ensure the economic viability of farming.

There are three ways to improve the incomes of farmers. MSP and procurement is one. We also need to improve productivity. The marketable surplus from agriculture has to be enhanced. We should also look at making a value addition to biomass. For example, paddy straw is a biomass product that could be used to make edible mushrooms.

The incidence of farmers committing suicides has shown no signs of abating. What needs to be done to address the crisis?

We are not really analysing the causes of farmer suicides. Instead, we are simply attributing it to the inability to pay off debts. Some serious thought needs to be given to how we could reduce the cost of farm production, minimise risks and maximise returns. The solution for ending farmer suicides is not only paying compensation. Ive seen in Vidarbha so many men have committed suicide and their families are left in the lurch. One of the first projects we initiated in Vidarbha at that time was to rescue children and give them education. Farming is the most important enterprise in this country and farmers are an integral part of our country. In China, farms are owned by the government, and farmers are mere contractors. In our case, land is owned by the people. How do you treat this largest group of entrepreneurs? Unfortunately, all policies today are related to corporate powers. What about food security and 50 crore farmers? We need to think about them too.

The Green Revolution of 1967-68 may have resolved the food crisis in the short run, but the heavy use of pesticides and high-yielding varieties of paddy have resulted in environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity. How do we cope with these adverse effects?

After the Green Revolution, I came up with the concept of the Evergreen Revolution. In this we will see increase in farm productivity but without ecological harm. This will include integrated pest management, integrated nutrient supply, and scientific water management to avoid the kind of environmental damage witnessed during the Green Revolution. Ive addressed these issues in my 2016 paper on Evergreen Revolution. I recommended mandatory rainwater harvesting and introduction of fodder and grain legumes as rotation crops to be adopted by wheat farmers in States like Punjab to ensure sustainability of farming. We can also declare fertile zones capable of sustaining two to three crops as Special Agricultural Zones, and provide unique facilities to farmers here to ensure food security. Soil health managers should be appointed to monitor and ameliorate the soil conditions in degraded zones and rectify defects like salinity, alkalinity, water logging, etc.

The Prime Minister recently went to Israel. We have several practices to emulate from there. They have a clear sense of where water is needed and where its not. The idea of more crops per drop has been implemented well in Israel. We should adopt those practices here. You should see how a water controller works in an Israeli farm. Everything is remote-controlled. They know exactly which portion of the field requires how much water and release only the exact amount. We cannot sacrifice on productivity now, because land under crop cover is shrinking. Post-harvest technologies like threshing, storage, etc. will have to be given greater attention now.

Opinion is divided on the benefits of genetic modification technology to improve yields of food crops. Can GM technology help address food security challenges?

There are many methods of plant breeding, of which molecular breeding is one. Genetic modification has both advantages and disadvantages. One has to measure the risks and benefits before arriving at a conclusion. First, we need an efficient regulatory mechanism for GM in India. We need an all-India coordinated research project on GMOs with a bio-safety coordinator. We need to devise a way to get the technologys benefit without its associated risks. At MSSRF (M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation), we used GM technology with mangroves to create salt-tolerant varieties of rice. For this we took the genes from the mangroves and inserted them it into rice. To make the most of GM technology we must choose a problem where there is no other way to address the challenge.

Barring the U.S., most countries have reservations about adopting GM technology. Europe has banned it on grounds of health and environmental safety. Id say GM in most cases is not necessary. Normal Mendelian breeding itself is sufficient in most cases 99% of what is being done under GM initiatives is not justifiable. Parliament has already suggested a law based on the Norwegian model where there are considerable restrictions on GMOs.

What is the scope for organic farming when it comes to addressing food security?

Organic farming can have a good scope only under three conditions. One, farmers must possess animals for organic manure. Two, they must have the capacity to control pests and diseases. Three, they should adopt agronomical methods of sowing such as rotation of crops. Even genetic resistance to pests and diseases can help organic farmers.

If you look at the organic farms in Pillaiyarkuppam near Puducherry that were started by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, it is a good model to follow for organic farming. They have adopted the requisite crop-livestock integration.

Climate change has upset rainfall patterns and we have this cycle of droughts and floods, which has rendered farming risky. How do we address these challenges?

Both less rainfall and a higher mean temperature affect farming adversely. Currently we are witnessing drought, excess rainfall, sea-level rise There are both adaptation and mitigation measures to follow in this regard. Ive evolved a drought code and a flood code... some of the recommendations Ive made in recent times include setting up a multi-disciplinary monsoon management centre in each drought-affected district, to provide timely information to rural families on the methods of mitigating the effects of drought, and maximising the benefits of good growing conditions whenever the season is normal. Animal husbandry camps could be set up to make arrangements for saving cattle and other farm animals because usually animals tend to be neglected during such crises. Special provisions could also be made to enable women to manage household food security under conditions of agrarian distress.

In the case of temperature rise, wheat yield could become a gamble. We should start breeding varieties characterised by high per day productivity than just per crop productivity. These will be able to provide higher yields in a shorter duration.

Indias ranking on the Global Hunger Index has become worse over the years and we missed out on the Millennium Development Goal of halving hunger. What are the steps we should take to address the matter?

India has done well in production, but not in consumption. What we are witnessing today is grain mountains on the one side and hungry millions on the other. The Food Security Act must be implemented properly to address the situation. We should also enlarge the food basket to include nutri-millets.

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Why can't the government provide a higher income for farmers, asks MS Swaminathan - The Hindu

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August 16th, 2017 at 5:50 am

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Remembering Khudiram Bose: A Young Gun Who Died With a Smile – The Quint

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Even before Mahatma Gandhi returned to India and inspired a mass movement for freedom struggle, hundreds across the country readily took charge and fought against the British oppression. While many such freedom fighters, especially of the early independence movement, find mention in regional folklore, their names remain relatively unknown nationwide.

One such revolutionary is Khudiram Bose. He was one of Indias youngest revolutionaries of the early Independence movement and was only 18 years old when he sacrificed his life for the country. But Khudirams heroics often remain unsung.

Born in 1889 in the now West Bengals Midnapore district, Khudiram was inspired and influenced by the teachings of Sri Aurobindo, who was then a revolutionary freedom fighter. Legend has it that fired up by the idea of revolution, Khudiram requested his teacher to give him a revolver.

At the age of 16, he joined secret revolutionary groups and started planting bombs near police stations to target government officials.

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Remembering Khudiram Bose: A Young Gun Who Died With a Smile - The Quint

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Coming to a park near you – The New Indian Express

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NEW DELHI: The capital will witness the maiden edition of Enter the Cube, an annual calendar of films organised under the aegis of the Delhi-based Lightcube Film Society, a collective of film programmers, designers, writers, critics and curators. Commencing from August 13, the festival will hold nearly 50 theme-based film screenings in Delhi-NCR. On Day 1, Iranian film Offside (2006) and Senegalese film City of Contrasts (1968) will be staged at Essel Tower club in Gurgaon.

Its founders Anuj Malhotra and Suraj Prasad explore the idea of psycho-geography in cinema by taking films out of conventional auditoria. For many, it might be okay to hold on to the romantic idea of the big screen, but with the proliferation of the digital space, image consumption goes beyond a dark theatre. We explore how the experience of a film changes according to the space you are in, says 28-year-old Malhotra.

Films will be screened in locations outside theatres. Italian horror film Suspiria will be shown in the Sri Aurobindo Centre for Arts & Communication hostel. In the coming months, screenings are expected at an abandoned factory, a dilapidated house, a courtroom, Sanjay Van, a girls hostel and in the ruins of a Mughal monument in Delhi.

Under the Degrees of Separation theme, the idea is to manifest how Gurgaon has now become a mechanism that perpetuates class divide and segregation. The Notes from Purgatory theme will contemplate on Delhis colonialist legacy and how it manifests as a trauma that lingers on in the city. Under the Modern Forest theme, a series of films will explore how Noida teeters on the boundary between a modern future and a primitive past.

For Prasad, his village Dhenuki in Bihar existed as a mysterious object in the noon of his memory. I witnessed startling revelations on my return to village. The villagers had never watched films. Besides recreation, I felt that the language of cinema could help them in introspecting their lives, says the 29-year-old.

A cinema-based outreach and education project, The Dhenuki Cinema Project enables the inhabitants to run a local mobile film club and institute an archive of local narratives chronicling their day-to-day lives. The screenings include commercial potboilers and films of Satyajit Ray, Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Bimal Roy, among others. Over the past five years, pilot projects have been conducted in Bihar, Assam and Chhattisgarh. With the first phase ending in three months in Dhenuki and Nagalands Kiphire, the founders plan to take the project to 10 villages in coming months.

The village is a black canvas with no electricity, just shining stars and glittering fireflies. But my passion for films and the hinterland has made me come here, says Sagar Chaudhary, a cine-activist in Bihar who is mapping Dhenuki and setting up a DIY antenna network broadcasts from Dhenuki. For member ship of the annual calendar, visit http://lightcube.in/.

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Coming to a park near you - The New Indian Express

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August 6th, 2017 at 1:48 pm

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Why BJP’s final frontiers Bengal and Kerala will be a long, bloody battle – DailyO

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They tapped on Rajeshs shoulder as he was picking up a packet of milk from a local shop, as he always did on his way home from Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sanghs evening shakha or gathering.

By the time he was taken to the hospital in Thiruvananthapuram, his body had 89 cuts, and one of his hands was chopped off. He was not alive for long, but long enough to identify his killers, allegedly Left workers.

Earlier in July, RSS volunteer Kartik Ghosh was repeatedly stabbed to death by a mob after riots broke out in Basirhat over a teenagers Facebook post on Islam. Thiruvananthapuram is 2,500km from Basirhat, but torrents of history have converged to create a uniquely bloody conflict in two states which have a lot in common.

Historys twins

Bengal and Kerala take pride in their intellectual achievements, love football, and have a long and successful history of Leftist politics. Kerala is still ruled by the Left Front. While Mamata Banerjees TMC has decimated the Left in Bengal, her politics in many ways mirrors the enemy she fought for decades to overthrow.

Both regimes use cadres to establish a complete stranglehold on society. Both states have seen the most brutal, gratuitous violence as a widely used political tool. In these seemingly impregnable forts enters the BJP.

After storming to power at the Centre and winning in state after state, Kerala and Bengal remain the last frontiers of Modis BJP and its ideological mentor, the RSS. The entry in both states is hardly going to be easy or bloodless, as we are already witnessing.

Modi and Amit Shahs BJP is a different animal. It doesnt give up.

But Modi and Amit Shahs BJP is a different animal. It doesnt give up.

Bengal spread

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) in Bengal started an online membership drive 10 days ago on http://www.vhpbengal.org and on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. To its utter surprise, it has already got more than 3,200 membership requests.

Of those, 1,200 of them have specifically asked to join the more aggressive Bajrang Dal, while 400 women have sought membership of the Durga Vahini. Interestingly, a large number of the new memberships are coming from border districts like South and North 24 Paraganas, Nadia and Murshidabad.

These are places where there has been mass-scale illegal immigration from Bangladesh, the demography has changed and Muslims are in majority or could surpass Hindu populations in the future.

The VHP and Bajrang Dal are planning massive Janmasthami celebrations in each block. They will also launch their campaign to ban cow slaughter in Bengal on the occasion and culminate it during Durga Puja in October.

Sangh plans to rekindle the great Hindu spiritual traditions in Bengal and Kerala, pushed underground by decades of Communist onslaught. While Bengal is the land of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Bama Khepa, Ramkrishna Paramhans, Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo, Kerala has been enriched by some of our greatest saints like Adi Shankaracharya, Sri Narayana Guru, Sri Chattambi Swamikal and Swami Chinmayananda.

Kerala surge

There have been 14 murders of RSS workers in the last 13 months. The Lefts nervousness and desperation is not unfounded. Saffron forces have been gaining mainly at the cost of the Left, especially in the south Kerala belt stretching from Kochi to Ernakulam to Trivandrum.

Although Guru Golwalkars programme was attacked in 1948 and the first political murder of a Sangh worker dates back to 1969, the migration from the Left to the RSS started in rural Kerala 1977 onwards. Many in the CPI(M) cadre, disappointed with the partys stand on Emergency, started changing camps.

This also triggered one of the most violent phases, with the Left deciding to stop these desertions at any cost. Kerala, interestingly, has the highest number of RSS shakhas in India: 5,500. But this didnt translate into votes so far.

Since the Congress is seen as a Christian-Muslim party, the Sangh cadre tactically voted for the Left in the elections. However, that is changing.

In the last Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in the state, the BJPs vote share has gone up from 7-9 per cent traditionally to 16 per cent. Left, which was also the voice of the Hindus in the state, has decided to strengthen its Muslim base. Today, the SFI secretary to the Kannur district president is Muslim.

Out of 74 youths arrested nationwide by NIA for ISIS links, the highest, 24, is from Kerala. They have been arrested from the Lefts "party villages", Stalinist townships where every resident is a cadre, and even the police fear to venture inside to arrest criminals.

Ironically, this has created tremendous unrest among the Lefts traditional votebank and the saffron camp is gaining. While the BJP-RSS is showing a fair bit of deftness in making inroads, the battles for Bengal and Kerala are going to be long, violent ones.

In both places, blood begins where political finesse ends.

(Courtesy: Mail Today.)

Also read: How the Right-biased media is trying to paint Kerala as a communal warzone

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Why BJP's final frontiers Bengal and Kerala will be a long, bloody battle - DailyO

Written by simmons

August 6th, 2017 at 1:48 pm

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Management 108: Why We Need A Quantum Leap In Our Worldview – Swarajya

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The immense diversity and complexity of the 5,000-year-old Indian tradition and culture make it almost impossible to identify one single and unilateral Indian philosophy. Moreover, the concepts developed in the different schools of Indian philosophical systems and the paths outlined thereof often appear conflicting and contending with one another. Here, I have chosen a few relevant sources of classical Indian literature which may be useful to modern management worldwide, struggling at a time of turbulence, uncertainty and crisis. The texts chosen here are primarily some of the Upanishads, a treasure house of precious wisdom transmitted in the form of conversations between the teacher/master and the learner/disciple.

A Message from an Ancient Indian Allegory

The Upanishads, 108 in number, as recorded and available to us even today, extol the glory of the perennial flow of human consciousness and its all-pervading nature and scope. Our consciousness has the infinite capacity to traverse the entire cosmic space and time eternal. However, more often than not, it finds limited expression in our engagement with the affairs of our mundane existence.

Even in the micro domain of our life-world, while the consciousness is more directly involved in the endless flurry of our activities, it also has the inherent capacity to withdraw into a reflective mode and become an observer of our own triumphs and tragedies. Suffice it to say, both the witnessing consciousness and the involved consciousness are but two different expressions of the pure and unqualified Self-Consciousness that constitutes the essence of the I, the core of our being.

The seer of the Shwetashwatara Upanishad had portrayed this dual nature of human consciousness pictorially, displaying rare mastery of poetic imagination. This is the simple yet beautiful imagery of two birds perched on the branch of the same tree depicted by the modern Indian seer-poet Sri Aurobindo as follows:

Two winged birds cling about a common tree, comrades, yoke-fellows; and one eats the sweet fruit of the tree, the other eats not, but watches.

Like the branch of the tree, our pure Self-Consciousness provides the backdrop for and the connecting link between these two apparently conflicting manifestations of our consciousness. But the two birds are in fact comrades, deeply connected to each other and represent two complementary aspects of our nature that can actually coexist.

This comes as a powerful message for organisational leaders to cultivate their reflective and witnessing consciousness prior to engagement in meaningful action, which demands continuous outflow of our energy or consciousness.

Towards Shaping a Comprehensive

Life-World View

What is spirit or spirituality? The Latin root spiritus connotes breath or the vital life force, the elan vital. Spirit essentially refers to the vital flow of awakened human consciousness that infuses life into any endeavour that may otherwise appear mundane or mechanical. Spirit breathes the fire of meaning and purpose into our actions and enlivens our experience of the world. It also stimulates our faculties, pushes us to the edge so that we are compelled to challenge our assumptions and frameworks of understanding through critical self-enquiry and introspection.

At this point, it may be worthwhile to gain some clarity on the whole notion of spirituality and its practical implications for business. Often, spirituality gets associated with certain misplaced apprehensions that relegate it to an otherworldly pursuit divorced from reality.

The quintessential spiritual wisdom of India as preserved in the Upanishads and many other original Sanskrit texts has never advocated such an illusory view of spirituality that fosters a world-negating attitude and lures us to delve into a mysterious domain of trance and magic. This also portends the danger and fallacy of shunning material progress as irrelevant to and incompatible with real spiritual aspirations.

On the contrary, Upanishadic wisdom boldly presents to the world an all-embracing view of spirituality and advocates a harmonious pursuit of both the material and spiritual dimensions of our existence for a richer experience of work and life. Ishopanishad, the oldest available Upanishad, deals with this problem upfront, dispels the myth of a non-material notion of spirituality and offers a comprehensive practical resolution in two of its verses in close succession.

The ninth verse clearly pronounces that if we pursue material knowledge to the exclusion of spirit, our life will enter into darkness. The next line of this verse is even more sharply articulate and challenging. It spells out with no trace of ambiguity that if we pursue spiritual wisdom to the exclusion of matter, our life will enter into deeper darkness. This may come as a shocking revelation to the uninformed proponents of an otherworldly spiritual pursuit.

In verse number 11, the seer states that if we pursue material knowledge and spiritual wisdom simultaneously in a balanced manner, then their harmonious blend will offer us fulfillment in lifeindividual as well as collective, personal and organisational.

Limitations of Linear Thinking and

Binary Logic

But the modern mind often fails to grasp this all-encompassing approach to spirituality as it gets caught in the trap of linear thinking and misses out certain colours and flavours that also matter quite significantly in life. Another serious limitation in our thinking today is the domineering influence of binary logic. We tend to see and understand the world in a bipolar mode one or zero, good or bad, black or white.

Because of this tendency to adopt a compartmentalised view of the life-world, we remain comfortable with the fallacious habit of labelling people and phenomena in terms of opposites from our self-created boxes. We fail to comprehend or appreciate that the fabric of life comes intertwined with a dynamic play of opposites. We miss out the kernel of truth which often prevails in the twilight zone and is grey in colour.

Thus, in the workspace of modern organisations, effectiveness eludes us at a time when outcomes are unpredictable, human behaviour and relationships are increasingly complex and dynamic, and change is the name of the game. Management of differences in human relationships and a celebration of diversity in a multicultural context often remain a far cry. Recent emphasis on developing competencies like lateral thinking and thinking out of the box among corporate executives are welcome trends but all this will need a radical transformation, a quantum leap in our worldview.

It may be mentioned here that the Advaita (or Unitary) nature of our consciousness as propounded in the Upanishads absorbs all dualities in the overarching canvas of a grand continuum of cosmic experience across space and time. Polarities or opposites exist in this scheme not as disparate fragments of reality but deeply interconnected in time, space and essence.

A Holistic Framework of Learning

The Upanishads, as mentioned earlier, constitute a vast body of literature where knowledge is transmitted in the mode of conversations. It can be compared with our modern classroom situation where presence and engagement of the teacher and the student create the context for knowledge dissemination and learning. Let us try to explore some leadership lessons embedded in Taittiriya Upanishad, especially in the context of the content and methodology of imparting knowledge in organisations.

From the Taittiriya Upanishad, the leader can learn how to unfold a systems view of life and the world to oneself and then others. From the micro to the macro, from the self to the universe, there are five layers of our existence that have been progressively unveiled in this Upanishad. These layers have been depicted in the form of spherical sheaths or kosha-s through which the consciousness of the learner must evolve to reach the all-encompassing experience of fullness of the self and the world.

The five layers or sheaths (pancha kosha), and their relevance to modern organisations, are:

1. Annamaya kosha (sheath of matter) constitutes the gross body of the individual and the material universe. The physical layout of the organisation comprising land, buildings, plants and physical structures comes within the ambit of this layer.

2. Pranamaya kosha (vital sheath) constitutes the basic life-giving vital force of the individual, so important for survival and movement, and also the field of energy that flows in the natural universe for its sustenance. In the context of the organisation, this refers to the buoyancy and dynamism, flows of information, spirit of aggressive competition for survival and so on.

3. Manomaya kosha (mental sheath) constitutes the mental world of the individual choices and preferences, vibrations of desires, thoughts and ideas which also expand to include the universe. Healthy and receptive employee mindset, emotional competence and amicable corporate culture are its organisational manifestations.

4. Vijnanamaya kosha (sheath of wisdom) marks the entry from the vast field of worldly knowledge to the pristine knowledge of the Self and its natural, organic connection with the universe and its subtle forces. Questions of purpose of life and sustenance of the planet at large become critically important at this level. Engagement with vision, mission, values, self-actualisation and sustainability issues become organisational priorities at this layer of existence.

5. Anandamaya kosha (sheath of bliss) is the subtlest layer of existence, finding expression in pure bliss amidst the dualities of joy and sorrow, happiness and misery, success and failure.

American psychologist Abraham Maslows inclusion of a final stage of self-transcendence beyond self-actualisation comes close to this experience. Quest for joy and freedom in action, spontaneous connectivity with others and effortless flow of action comprise the organisational reflections of this experience.

Lessons on the Learning Process

The following pertinent lessons on the process of learning can be crystallised for leaders in organisations from this ancient text:

1. A graded, stepwise and integral approach is essential for proper assimilation of knowledge. The sage in the Upanishad takes the student along all the five stages so that the consciousness and knowledge of the recipient can evolve.

2. There has to be an intrinsic respect for the acquired knowledge at all the five levels from the grossest to the subtlest. To achieve this, the sage opens his deliberation on each stage by identifying every sheath (anna, prana etc) with the highest principle in the universe or Brahman, the ultimate reality. This also safeguards against any feeling of arrogance or disdain towards learners among those who have progressed ahead of the others.

3. For a leader, there has to be not only an awareness of the entire spectrum of knowledge but sensitivity to the specific stage of learning of a particular recipient. Otherwise, knowledge absorption will not be effective. One often finds that inspirational messages on vision or values do not have an impact on executives as most members of the target audience may be just in the initial stages of the learning path.

4. Each layer has its significant role to play in our learning path. We often find a misplaced notion at work in our minds that the stages and experiences we have left behind are no more important for us. As if material knowledge loses its priority amidst our concern for values or sustainability. Wisely enough, the sage, after completing his inputs on all the layers, warns the learner: Dont despise matter (Annam na nindat).

5. The process of exploration at every stage has been called tapas or intense striving for perfection to reach the ultimate goal. What is more profound is that at every stage, this striving has been identified with Brahman, the highest Principle or consciousness in the universe. The path is as important as the destination.

To conclude, the following lines from a poem by Tagore make it clear and succinct:

My pilgrimage is not at the end of the road;

My temples are all there on both sides of my pathway.

(Translation by this author)

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Management 108: Why We Need A Quantum Leap In Our Worldview - Swarajya

Written by simmons

August 6th, 2017 at 1:48 pm

Posted in Sri Aurobindo


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