The recent news of the Taliban terrorists burning down buildings in Afghanistan, automatically brought forth into people’s mind the historical image of massive plunder and burning down of the famous Nalanda university by Turk invader Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khalji in the late 12th century CE.
Persian historian Minhaj-I-Siraj in his book Tabaqat-I Nasiri recorded the series of plundering raids into Bihar by Khalji, where he described the Nalanda attack: “Muhammad-i-Bakhtiyar, by the force of his intrepidity, threw himself into the postern of the gateway of the place, and they captured the fortress, and acquired great booty. The greater number of the inhabitants of that place was Brahmans [monks], and the whole of those had their heads shaven; and they were all slain. There were a great number of books there; and, when all these books came under the observation of the Musalmans, they summoned a number of Hindus that they might give them information respecting the import of those books; but the whole of the Hindus had been killed. On becoming acquainted [with the contents of those books], it was found that the whole of that fortress and city was a college, and in the Hindustani tongue, they call a college or Vihar.” (Ref: Tabakat-i-Nasiri – Translated by Major H.G. Raverty. p. 552)
As Sukumar Dutta (1962) wrote in his book Buddhist Monks and Monasteries of India: Their History And Contribution To Indian Culture, Bakhtiyar Khalji, after massacring the scholars and monks and destroying the Nalanda University, further proceeded to destroy the Odantapuri,Vikramshila and Jagaddala universities, killing many Buddhist and Brahmin scholars during these raids. The fire that was set on Nalanda during the Khalji raid also destroyed its famous library that held priceless collections of books and manuscripts. The fire is stated to have burned for many days, and the smoke from the burning manuscripts hung for a long time like a pall of gloom.
Keeping aside the story of death and destruction, this article will take a look at how the Nalanda University, a democratically governed body (as per I-tsing records, 635–713CE), functioned in the pre-Islamic period, when it was counted among the top educational institutes of the world.
Nalanda, before becoming famous as an educational hub, was an ancient village which Alexander Cunningham identified (Ancient Geography of India) with the modern Baragaon in Bihar, near Rajgir. Both Jain and Buddhist texts make many references to this area as a sacred space. In Jain texts we find that Nalanda (also referred to as Burgaon) was then the bahira (suburb) of Rajgir, and it is here that Mahavira had met Gosala, while he was spending 14 monsoons in Nalanda. As per the Buddhist texts, Buddha met a rich citizen named Lepa here, who converted to Buddhism and became his devoted disciple. In another book History of Buddhism, written by Taranath (around 1500 CE), there is recorded the tradition that marked this place as was where Sariputta/Sariputra (considered one of the two first main disciples of Buddha) was born. When Ashoka came to visit Nalanda, he added a large temple beside Sariputta’s chaitya; thus, being the first to turn Nalanda into a vihara.
However, the worldwide fame of Nalanda as an educational institution started from the beginning of the Common Era. Taranath also records an interesting historical fact, where a Brahmin named Suvishnu (contemporary of Nagarjuna, the famous Buddhist philosopher, 3rd century CE), built 108 temples for the preservation of the Abhidharma of the Mahayana sect. It is also here that the famous Buddhist scholar Dinnaga (480 CE-540 CE) defeated the Brahmin Sudurjaya and other tirthakas in philosophical arguments. Thus, it is clear that in the 5th-6th century CE Nalanda was a great seat of learning for the Buddhists and Hindus (Brahmin tirthakas) alike, and many from the latter group made Nalanda their home for this very reason.
HIUEN TSANG’S ACCOUNT
According to Hiuen Tsang,Nalanda started to develop as a reputed university by the land endowments gifted to it in honour of Buddha by 500 merchants, which were bought for as many as “10 koti gold coins”. Thereafter a series of endowments continued over the centuries, which came in the form of buildings and land, the latter being used for taking care of the regular maintenance of the university. Hiuen Tsang talks of six such monasteries (residences of the monks) built within the complex by 6 kings—Sakraditya, Buddhagupta, Tathagatagupta, Baladitya, Vajra, and an unnamed king from a central state that is likely to be Harsha. The university was enclosed by a lofty wall that supposedly, as per Hiuen Tsang, had only one gate. The gate opened into the great college from which 8 other halls branched out. The buildings were multistoried ones, lofty, and were adorned with towers, turrets, and observatories. The upper floor rooms, as Hiuen Tsang described them, towered above the clouds, while the high eaves glowed in splendid sunset colours and sparkled in moonlit glories.
An 8th century stone inscription of Yasovarman also gives a similar description of the beauty of the viharavalis (rows of monasteries) of the university. The grounds of the university were equally beautiful with a series of deep translucent ponds that held blue lotus mixed with the deep red of the kanaka flowers. At intervals between the lakes stood the Amra groves that cast their contrasting shades of deep green. The external beauty of these massive awe-inspiring buildings however contrasted with their delicate artistically decorated insides. The outside courts that held the monks’ rooms had dragon-faced projections, delicately carved and ornamented pillars of pearl red, richly decorated balustrades, and the roofs were made of polished tiles that reflected the sunlight in a myriad of colours. These added to the overall beauty of the university, and made it the grandest Sangharama among all the other contemporary ones in India.
Hiuen Tsang writes about a beautiful Buddha image in the Sakraditya vihara, and extols the patronages of the various kings over the centuries that had given Nalanda its grandeur and its beautiful sculptures. During Hiuen Tsang’s time, the king had remitted the revenues of 100 villages for maintenance of the Nalanda vihara. I-tsing, a Chinese monk and interpreter, who had visited the Nalanda university and stayed there for 11 years in the 7th c. CE, recorded that the king had then remitted the revenues of 200 villages for the upkeep of the monastery, and he had seen 8 halls and 300 buildings within the vihara complex. Besides the aforementioned kings who had endowed land and buildings as gifts to the Nalanda vihara, some of the rulers from Maulkhari dynasty also patronised it. However, the biggest benefactions came from the Pala kings of Bengal until the 1200s, as evident from the various found inscriptions that recorded different kinds of royal grants to the vihara, and literary works of those times that speak of the Pala kings’ gifts and grants.
I-tsing, among the various details in his book, gives us the daily meals taken by the monks. As per his records the diet during his time were as per the rules of the Vinaya and comprised of Panchabhojaniyas—rice, boiled mixture of barley and peas, baked cornflour, meat, and cakes; while the Panchakhadaniyas comprised of roots, leaves, flowers, stalks, and fruits. There was also gruel served, made of dry rice and bean soup, in which hot butter sauce (made of melted butter and cream) was added for extra flavor. Milk, ghee, and oil were used in abundance. There were variations based on regional differences of the crops grown, such as, the entire north ate wheat cakes, while west had their baked flour in barley or rice, and the south and east made their baked cakes with rice flour. I-tsing further tells us that a monk’s breakfast generally consisted of rice-water; his lunch thali had rice, butter, milk, sweet melons and other fruits; while his day ended with a light meal as supper or dinner.
The university provided free lodging, food, clothing, and education to its residents, and as per Hiuen Tsang, the number of priests, students, and guests present in the university were always around 10,000. Foreign scholars from China, Korea, Tibet, and Tokhara were regulars at Nalanda, which was globally considered the most advanced research institute for higher studies at that time; and a fellowship from Nalanda was regarded as the highest academic degree of those times. Entrance examinations into Nalanda, an Open School for Discussions (as it described itself back then), were very tough, and as per Hiuen Tsang, only 20% could secure admissions among all the applicants. After entering the institute, the academic life of a student was rigorous, and since the university took care of all other needs, it was expected that the student would give 100% focus on his studies. Fifteen hundred teachers were in charge of the estimated 8,500 students, as per Hiuen Tsang, and 100 lectures were arranged daily, which consisted of both Buddhist and Hindu scripture studies that included study of the Vedas, Yogasastras, and Panini’s grammatical works.
The Nalanda university, during the pre-Islamic times, was truly an open school of discussions, where scholars would hold regular arguments on all religious topics as a way of learning and further adding to their knowledge. It was indeed a place for higher learning in all branches of studies, and claimed the rare merit of collecting all available experts and scholars from all branches of academia under one roof for many centuries.
The author is a well-known travel, heritage and history writer. Views expressed are personal.
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TRUST THE PROCESS, BIG THINGS WILL AUTOMATICALLY HAPPEN: PRATIK GAURI
In an exclusive conversation with NewsX India A-List, Pratik Gauri, the president of 5th Element Group, spoke about the 5th industrial revolution and much more.
Business is a cocktail of vision, belief, and execution. A balanced mixture of these three ingredients churns out a perfect blend of a successful business. Pratik Gauri, the president of 5th Element Group, who is also known as the pioneer of the 5th industrial revolution, shared his insights on business leadership with NewsX India A-List.
Speaking about the 5th industrial revolution, Pratik said, “The 5th industrial revolution is all about using the advancements of the 4th industrial revolution such as Artificial Intelligence, 3-D printing, IoT for the betterment of humanity. The 5th industrial revolution is all about working at the intersection of purpose and profit. It means that, even as a fortune 500 company, if you have a purpose, you can maximise profit. If the company is consumer-centric, it gives the company a purpose and subsequently increased profits. Through this revolution, we also aim at using the language of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the 17 global goals, in our process. The 5th Industrial Revolution agenda is to shift from a for-profit paradigm to a for-benefit paradigm.”
Pratik wears multiple hats, including that of an entrepreneur and an investor, to achieve his goal. Talking about how he is using it to achieve his vision, he said, “I have founded more than eight companies and have invested in many. I also indulge in public speaking and motivate people from the age of 19 to 30 years to take the initial steps for becoming an entrepreneur in the space of the for-benefit paradigm. At 5th Element Group, we are creating what we call Omni-win solutions. We bring four sectors—Fortune 500 companies, the government, ultra-high net worth individuals and family offices, and social entrepreneurs – that helps us create these Omni-win solutions.”
The model uses the resources of a Fortune 500 company to bring the vision to life, the government’s backing to achieve a national scale, using the social entrepreneurs to get intel on the impact scale, and the high net-worth individual for the capital. This model helps in creating omni-win solutions (everybody wins). Pratik gave the example of such a model in progress. He told NewsX, “Mission Paani by Harpic is one such project. We brought the fortune 500 company Reckitt Benckiser, and not-for-profit organisation ‘Water for People’ as execution partners and together took them to World Economic Forum. This initiative will impact millions of people in India by giving them access to clean drinking water, starting from Maharashtra.”
Covid-19 impacted businesses, both big and small, in one way or the other. However, the situation was different for Pratik. “On the personal side, Covid impacted everybody adversely. Although, it has also been a blessing in disguise for the professional work. What I have been trying to promote for decades has amplified due to the pandemic. This is because the consumer has now started believing in the power of health, power of consumer-centric, purpose-driven brands, and they realize that purpose is more important than profit,” he expressed. Talking about the three aspects of capital—Financial, Relational, and Human—Pratik further explained how his capital and his message had found a wider reach than before.
Pratik’s latest project that he is particularly proud of is a charitable sweepstakes platform called ‘Win Together’. It involves micro-donors by allowing them to become a part of these solutions, and the incentives like getting a chance to win a Tesla Cyber truck are given to people. Such projects will impact consumers through SDGs on a big scale in the coming years. Wrapping up the talk with few golden tips for budding entrepreneurs, Pratik said, “One big piece of advice for young entrepreneurs is to trust the process and never lose hope. If you trust the process, big things will happen; it takes time. It is also essential to believe in yourself as much as possible, as people will not believe you until you believe in yourself.”
VIBE JUST ATTRACTED THE TRIBE: MANASI SCOTT ON HER LATEST SONG ‘KITTHE CHALI’
In the exclusive conversation with NewsX, actor-singer Manasi Scott spoke about her latest music video ‘Kitthe Chali’ as well as some of her upcoming projects.
Manasi Scott is a well-known singer and actor. She is one of the most loved voices on fashion show ramps. In the exclusive conversation with NewsX India A-List, she spoke to us about her recent award-winning performance in the ‘Kitthe Chali’ music video.
Talking about how the origin of the idea of her recent hit song ‘Kitthe Chali’ and the kind of response it’s generating, Manasi said, “Being half Sardarani Punjabi is like 1st nature to me. Every day I used to get up, put on makeup and do a show on Insta live. It was heart-warming for a number of people who connected. At that time, ‘twisted bass’ sent me the basic skeleton of the song. I was sitting, applying lipstick and listening to the track when the idea clicked about ‘Kitthe Chali Kudiye’. It formed the basis of the song. It started there and when lockdown opened, Gaurav came home to hear it and said keep it, this is the way he wanted the song to be. I felt this is amazing. So the idea is our frustration in lockdown.”
Sharing her upcoming projects, she said, “I think besides the birth of this beautiful song, it was like a vocal master class for me. There’s a lot more coming out with 9XM and many others and hopefully an international project as well.” Moreover, she beautifully hummed few lines of ‘Kitthe Chali’ for the audience.
On being asked about her transition from software engineer to a popular singer and actor, Manasi shared, “I have to thank 9XM and SpotlampE. They made me remember all this from the past because it’s been so long in the business that you don’t think about it. I am not only a software engineer graduate but I topped. I have a 70% scholarship to a very elite engineering school in America. My dad has this dream of being a drummer and I was there on every stage singing and winning, though I never learned singing. Born to two super achievers, engineering was the way to go. My father asked me not to waste my life and go into the arts. I think he’s the only father in the country that pusher his daughter from engineering to arts. I owe this transition to my dad, the fashion industry, and people who believed in me.”
On being given the option to choose one between singing and acting, she said, “For me, my first love is musical theatre. It’s about getting a chance to do it right the first time and not getting a chance to do it again with 2nd take. I have done a lot of amateur theatre in the early years. For me it’s about performance—singing, dancing and acting all together. Just to see that joy, connect, and unite with the audience for those few minutes of performance means everything to me.”
Talking about the music video of ‘Kitthe Chali’, Manasi gave full credit to the choreographer-director of the video and her friend for all the looks. She believes, “the good look and idea of the presentation is half the battle won because by that time you have already believed in the song. Music video success was a result of the collective hardworking of a lot of people. I think people just came out of lockdown and the vibe just attracted the tribe.” She wrapped her interview on a very positive note. “I hope the rest of the world moves forward in the same way. I think this video has come to life, whichever way it goes, it’s going to be a hit because of people and their energy, kindness and connectivity.”
For me it’s about performance—singing, dancing and acting all together. Just to see that joy, connect, and unite with the audience for those few minutes of performance means everything to me.
THE ART OF KEEPING IT SHORT BUT NOT SIMPLE
An anthology of short stories enables a writer to develop multiple germs of thought into distinct stories, each of which has a compactly expressed theme. A short story can be more impactful than a novel since all its concentrated elements—plot, characters, ambience, pacing and resolution—amalgamate to convey a singular idea or emotion such as humour, mystery, moral truth or an emotional conflict while incorporating profundity, innovation and complexity despite the conciseness of form.
Whereas a novel can dawdle into multiple scenarios and time spans, a short story delves into a single scenario, dilemma or conflict that is resolved or finally brought to a climax within 1000 to 5000 words. Here are some tips to write expressive short stories.
• Describe the details of a central setting so as to make it vivid, relatable and interesting. For example, in my anthology The Jamun Tree and Other Stories, the scene of the story ‘Inheritance’ is clearly set as a lawyer’s chamber where the lawyer conveys the contents of the late matriarch’s will to her family:
The bespectacled senior lawyer, Kishen Khanna, seated on one side of an expansive desk, watched the Dewan family stream into his wood-panelled office with ergonomic office chairs and shelves stacked with law books and case files.
The events of ‘Holiday Luncheon’ take place aboard a cruise liner sailing from Singapore to Port Klang in Malaysia, and the scene is clearly delineated at the outset.
‘What a lovely cruise liner!’ remarked Disha, as they boarded the liner and saw a gigantic artificial tree decorated with brightly coloured tinsel, silver balls, red stockings and other Christmas decorations in the centre of the circular carpeted Reception room with doors leading to different arenas: recreational facilities, cabins, suites, multi-cuisine dining options, a duty-free shopping zone and a walk-around promenade deck.
• Develop an original story in which the plot structure does or does not follow the classic linear sequence of the beginning, the middle and the ending. For example, you can plunge straight into the middle of the story and then rewind into a flashback. The story ‘The Jamun Tree’ begins with the comments of some onlookers about the luxurious Jamun tree in the courtyard of a vintage bungalow and then covers the past 45 years in the lives of the Jamun Tree and the family inhabiting the bungalow.
• Focus on one or maximum two main characters and add complexity by describing their unexpressed feelings and desires instead of making them simply good or bad characters. Describe their physical and mental attributes, contradictory emotions and past history so that the characters seem realistic and well-rounded.
Do not reveal everything about the character at once but gradually throughout the story to keep the readers hooked on to the revelations. For example, the story ‘The Discovery’ reveals new facts about the narrator’s psychological state of mind as her thrilling story proceeds until the last crucial exposition that turns her tale on its head; and in the story ‘Crackdown’, the true mental state of the protagonist is revealed at the conclusion, much to the readers’ surprise.
• Develop the characters and ambience through brief sensory details instead of detailed explanations. For example, in the story ‘Art of Living’, the description of Manya when she meets her friend in the café conveys her anguished frame of mind:
As she gave me a quick hug and sat opposite me, I saw a careworn and grief-stricken lady with wild darting eyes and shabby untended hair and clothes. Most of all, I noticed the dazed and faraway look in her eyes—probably due to medication for depression, which, Rajiv had told me, she had been prescribed.
• Use dialogue to reveal character and propel plot tension. The dialogue must enable the reader to infer the character’s personality and state of mind. Provide enough description of the speaker’s actions, tone and attitude to enable inference but avoid over-detailing.
In these words of Manya from ‘Art of Living’, one can feel her grief:
‘It was a blue polka-dotted dress with red satin ribbons, so pretty! She looked like a doll in it. But, after the accident, there were red streaks all over her and the dress…so awful…’ Manya burst into tears and took a paper napkin from the holder to dry her tears. ‘Now, she is gone and we are all here …eating … sleeping …working. Only she is gone.’
• Write the short story in First Person or Third Person. In the former, the narrator can be the main character or someone observing him or her. In the latter, there is an omniscient narrator who is aware of all that is happening with the characters.
Ensure clarity of perspective and an undercurrent to the narration so that the reader can see beyond what is stated to interpret the narrator’s follies, illusions and subjectivity. Build up contrasting versions of the truth to intrigue readers as in this first-person narrative from ‘The Discovery’:
‘Deepak alleged that I had shown criminal negligence in abandoning my father in his frailty to the care of my sister-in-law, Seema, a working professional. Of course, I had done nothing of the sort and had been literally driven out of my mind by Sahil and Seema’s persecution, which started as soon as my father fell ill.’
• Prune all words extraneous to the central theme. Every sentence must be there for a purpose. This will keep the story moving forward and retain the reader’s interest.
• Build up to a riveting climax or anti-climax. Try to include a twist at the end of the tale so that the reader stumbles on something unexpected but avoid clichéd endings. Provide a resolution to the conflict so that there is a change in the protagonist’s perception or attitude. The ending must satisfy the reader and not leave them with the feeling that the story ended too soon or left loose threads unresolved.
Perhaps you may love the process of writing short stories so much as to agree with Annie Proulx’s statement, ‘I find it satisfying and intellectually stimulating to work with the intensity, brevity, balance and word play of the short story.’
Richa Gupta is the author of ‘The Jamun Tree and Other Stories’.
Understanding the act of giving and receiving care
One seldom rises at the hour of prayer, thinking, let me be neglectful to the elderly parent, relative or in-law living under my roof, today. But somewhere between shrugging into a starched shirt and biting into your morning toast, the brain goes into overdrive; it separates into neat little boxes, what must be done now, what must be done next week and what must be delegated.
Most likely, the elderly are tucked away in the last box, to be opened at a later date with reluctant fingers.
When I grow up I want to fold myself into a comma awaiting forever, the end of my sentence. Says no one ever but, if you are forced into caregiving or even if you make the choice to be a caregiver, there are many days you feel that way, like life in suspension, unsaved by poetic flourishes.
Your duties like the ticking clock are circular, unchanging. Yet, the attendant responsibilities and psychological ramifications of care make you want to curl up in a ball and whimper. You need help:
Is this the rest of my life? When the thought makes you want to breathe into a paper bag – remind yourself that it is not. This phase will play itself out. For now, your job is to put one foot in front of another and not let your mind leap into a past romanticised with memory or a future tricky and fog-shaped. Dispense that medicine. Change that diaper. Feed that mouth and wipe those lips. That is what matters now, and it matters immensely. It allows a person to live out this last stage of their life with a few breaths of grace.
SELF-CARE IS NOT BEING SELFISH
The elderly are fragile. They break easily. You cannot handle them with a shaky hand or a disturbed mind. So, don’t minimise your problems and do take care of your health.
Annika, in my book The Slow Disappearing, admits:
“There are times when I have a headache or it burns when I pee or I have a cold I cannot shake, and I’m fully aware how petty that is, for what is a cold when one is losing words or losing one’s foothold on one’s surroundings? And that is when I detest the sound of her phlegmy cough, the overdrawn drama, the canned revelry of game shows on television, and her passive-aggressive silences.”
Seek advice from your doctor if you are unwell, allow your kindly neighbour to pamper you, look into community resources available for the elderly – a day trip to the temple with their peers, arranged by a Senior Citizen Welfare group can be wonderful for their spirits and yours. Take that time to slip away to the mountains, if not physically – by way of a song, a walk in the park, a steamy read.
FORGET SOCIAL MEDIA
Forget social media or at least look at the kaleidoscopic shapes of social media objectively. Facebook is a moment shaken out of time. It’s a touch of instant glamour, like that new shade of burgundy lipstick you bought for special occasions. Don’t let it fill you with envy or resentment.
Life is messy. Other people are not floating in a rosy parallel, above-the-grime world unexposed to disinfectants and deranged rants. Every image you see is someone auditioning for an imagined life.
SEE AND TOUCH
In this day of over-verbalisation, platitudes are worn thin with overuse. We love you, we care about you, we hope you are well… is all very well. But know that if you wash and brush the hair of the ones under your care; if you clip their toe-nails; if you really look into their storied eyes, and see them for who they are – the murtis of hope, compassion, forgiveness, and despair and countless other stories – you will become their Tulsidas and their Tagore. Your touch will heal.
And when you realise that the opaque membrane between youth and ageing is thinning daily, you will know empathy – that care-shaped emoji at the end of the sentence.
GIVE AND TAKE
As a child, you might have read the story of The Giving Tree. How it shelters and nurtures a boy, with every portion of its being – The trunk, the branches, the fruit, the leaves – à votre service, up until the end, when it shrivels to a stump. The tree gives. The child takes.
I like to akin the elderly to the forest trees: sheltering, nurturing until they shrivel to unrecognisable stumps. Perhaps we can change the ending to that story: The tree gives. The child gives back.
Poonam Chawla is the author of The Slow Disappearing.
PM MODI’S INITIATIVES THAT PAVED A WAY FOR TRANSFORMED INDIA
In the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the country has made several giant leaps that have brought a complete transformation in almost all the areas of governance and public policy.
Change seems a smaller word when we compare today’s India with that of 2014. In the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the country has made several giant leaps that have brought a complete transformation in almost all the areas of governance and public policy from women empowerment to infrastructure to defence to health and sanitation to agriculture to the economy to foreign policy and promotion of indigenous culture among others. Central Vista Project is all set to transform the national capital city by 2024.
In his able leadership, India has achieved several firsts at the national level as well as at the global level. The word impossible is not in his dictionary. But driven with this spirit, he has made so many achievements in such a short period and still adding to the list year by year that it has become impossible to include them in a single article. When we count on merit, several achievements come at number one which is again an impossible task. But for the sake of presentation, we need to start from a point.
MANAGING COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Though the Covid-19 has been the most devastating pandemic ever for mankind, there had been pandemics earlier as well. But in those pandemics, the role of India was limited to just a receiver of funds, medicines, doctors etc. from WHO and other friendly countries. In this pandemic, India emerged as a donor. While the top leaders of the developed countries had abandoned the idea of global culture, which they along with their intellectuals used to claim as their own, and declared several preferential policies for their citizens aka voters including a ban on exports; India made a world record of providing vaccines to several poor countries in Africa and also exported vaccines to Arab nations. During the Covid-19 crisis with over 45 lakh evacuations, India ranked first in the world. This number is about three times of total evacuations made by the next four countries put together.
Nobody can forget the words of appreciation by the UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres on 21 February 2021, who extended his ‘personal gratitude’ to India for offering 2 lakh doses of vaccine for UN peacekeepers and helping 150 countries with medical equipment. The onset of the second wave again compelled India to focus at home. Here too the country has set many records under the world’s biggest free vaccine drive including a record 2.5 crore Covid-19 jabs on the 71st birthday of Modiji on 17 September 2021. This transformation is waiting for another milestone during PM’s visit to the US to participate in Quad Leaders’ Summit in which the US President Joe Biden will reportedly request for vaccines.
Most recently, the government has announced a permanent commission for women in the Armed Forces. This is not a standalone decision taken under pressure of any intellectual campaign or advocacy but a product of sustained efforts since 2014. Who can forget the first all-women contingent march on Rajpath during the 66th Republic Day parade in 2015, Tania Shergil as the first woman parade adjutant for Republic Day Parade in 2020, an all-women crew of Mt Swarna Krishan in March 2021 and many more? Not only in the Armed Forces, schemes like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP), the law on Triple Talaq, implementing 33% reservation for women in police, etc. will always be remembered as landmarks in the history of women empowerment. The Ujjawala Yojana has not only saved women from smokes thereby improving their health but also saved their time which they invest in productive works to increase their income. These schemes have transformed the lives of women from bottom to top.
SANITATION AND DRINKING WATER
India was infamous for open defecation on railway lines. Besides, railway stations were also filthy and dirty. Nobody has imagined improving this situation and we all had accepted it as part of their bad luck. Under Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), the government ensured the construction of over 100 million toilets in rural India and over 7 million in urban areas. So far, 711 districts, 6,971 blocks, 2.6 lakh Gram Panchayats, and over 6 lakh villages have been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF).
Furthermore, new targets have been set to make all urban local bodies across the country ODF+ and ODF++ certified by 2024. Besides the numbers, the importance of SBM in transforming India could be assessed with the fact that women and girls in villages have named these toilets ‘izzatghar’. Of course, these services require regular maintenance but this scheme has transformed thinking from ‘nothing can be done’ to ‘nothing is impossible’.
From fighting terrorism within the boundaries, India’s defence has been transformed to fighting terrorism wherever they hide including across the border. The Surgical Strike, Air Strike in Pakistan aka Terroristan has forced Pakistan to shift its terror camps to its bordering areas along with Afghanistan.
Transparency in defence procurement and ensuring world-class defence equipment, gadgets, and fighters for Armed Forces such as Rafale and Apache Helicopters, have boosted the morale of our forces. This was due to this increased morale, even China was forced to withdraw from our borders after the Galwan valley clash. The new National War Memorial will continue to remind us of our brave soldiers. Revocation of Article 370 from Kashmir has facilitated security management in J&K. For retired defence personnel, the Modi government have implemented ‘one rank one pension’ scheme which was pending for decades. Besides, scientists have also made several advancements in missiles and other equipment. The contribution of space science to the defence needs of the country has also been remarkable.
Indian has joined the group of a few countries which have crop insurance policies. Several previous problems that had been the cause of violent agitations throughout the country like the purchase of Urea and other fertilisers, irrigation, low rates for land acquisition have become a matter of history. The government is now giving four times of circle rates as compensation for the acquired land. As early as 2009, several farmers were killed in Greater Noida, Pune, and other parts of India demanding adequate compensation for their acquired land. The recent three farm laws have enabled the farmers to sell their crops directly to consumers, that is, people living in societies and colonies of the cities. Selling vegetables, grains, fruits etc. by farmers in colonies and societies is illegal as per existing rules and if they do it, they do it by paying bribes or commission to police and food inspectors. Presently, farmers are bound to sell their farm products in Mandis to wholesalers who then sell them to retailers. The diversification and innovations in crop patterns is another dimension of transformation in the country. Besides, Kisan Express trains have ensured access of farmers in Mandis across the country. According to recent data, around 2,110 tonnes of onions have been transported by Kisan trains in this season.
Before 2014, India was considered parallel to and just an adversary of Pakistan. Today, we have left this rouge neighbour far away in global diplomacy. The opinion of India matters on almost all the international and global issues of strategic, economical, and environmental issues. The UN chief had formally recognised India as a ‘global leader’ in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. There was a time when India used to look at Pakistan for dialogues but the situation has reversed. We have progressed without SAARC. Besides establishing International Solar Alliance, forums like BIMSTEC and QUAD are being revived and strengthened.
Various aspects of Indic cultures were being ignored since independence. Besides starting the International Day of Yoga in 2015, PM Modi has been hosting foreign guests in different cities of the countries such as Varanasi, Chennai, and Ahmedabad to showcase the plurality of Indian culture. Furthermore, National Education Policy has been framed to transform education and also to inculcate pride among Indians in the achievements of their ancestors. Several historic places and archaeological sites have been revived. The construction of the Shri Ram Janambhumi Temple have started in Ayodhya.
CONCERNS AND WAY AHEAD
What was considered next to impossible seven years back is now a reality. Of course, this has increased the expectations of various civil society organisations, voluntary associations, interest groups, and also the people at large, which is quite reasonable. This is because expectations are reposed in from performers and achievers but never from laggards. But the most appalling fact is that some wolf minded politicians are playing with these new expectations of people. Some of them have been full-time politicians, public representatives and contested elections. They seem to have been sent on deputation to fuel the agitation of farmers and other protestors, wherever possible, in the interest of their political masters. Some of them have been exposed while others are still hiding under the wolf coat and misusing the democratic rights of citizens as bunkers. Now it’s our responsibility to ignite critical thinking among people so that they could expose these wolves on their own.
Having said this, under the leadership of our beloved Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the most popular and most efficient, we all are committed to re-establishing India as Vishwa Guru.
Before 2014, India was considered just an adversary of Pakistan. Today, we have left this rouge neighbour far away in global diplomacy. The opinion of India matters on almost all the international and global issues of strategic, economical, and environmental issues.
We have a state-of-the-art facility at Jindal Bricks: Lakshay Jindal
Lakshay Jindal, Director & CMO, Jindal Mechno Bricks recently joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation as part of NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive conversation, Lakshay spoke about his company Jindal Mechno Bricks in great detail. Read excerpts:
Speaking about his company Jindal Mechno Bricks, especially his role in it, Lakshay said, “I oversee marketing and awareness campaigns run by the company. I also help setup distributions across the country. Jindal Mechno Bricks, or more popularly, Jindal Bricks is a machine-made brick and tile manufacturing company. We started in 1972 with hand-made brick manufacturing and in 1996 we shifted to machine-made brick manufacturing. We have a plant, highly advanced plant, in Delhi NCR. We are currently one of the largest manufacturers of machine-made brick and tile with production capacity of over 200 tons per day.”
When asked about the strength of his company, Lakshay shared, “We have a state of the art facility at Jindal Bricks with machines imported from various parts of Europe Italy, Spain and Germany. What is does is, we are able run production 365 days of a year unlike our counterparts. Another very important thing that we boost at Jindal Bricks, is our ability to innovate throughout past few decades. We have been launching new product categories at Jindal Bricks. We have increased the variety product one offer, each category and improve the product itself. We don’t stop there. We welcome customized requests from manufactures of other material need, designers, architects and real estate developers. All in all, we are trying to adapt new trends and advance our self technologically.”
Talking about cost-selling aspects of the bricks used in related products, Lakshay said, “It is not an ordinary brick by any means or standard. In fact, it is the ultra-light brick with doubled the compressive strength than an ordinary brick. Buyers gets 10% saving in steel and concrete. On top of that, these are face bricks. These are not suppose to be painted or plastered. This means you save both- your time and money, by not using the materials and again and the recurring costs that comes along. One of the main features of our production, in fact, all product category is that we have brick and loop tile. We offer multiple colours in it and all natural-no chemicals or pigments added, so the products are completely eco-friendly. In fact these colours are achieved by mixing various clays procure from different parts of the country and exposing them to the right temperature. Another thing is the thermal and sound-insulation that it has, so our products are engineered to have excellent thermal and sound-insulation, which means lower air-conditioning business somewhere and lower heating in winters. All in all, i mean at Jindal Bricks, we are able to deliver highly durable product with zero maintenance, that is saving you money until the rebuilding task.
Check out the entire interview on NewsX YouTube:
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