Wednesday, June 4, 2008



One cannot turn a corner without bumping into an Indian. Even on Mars! As the world watched, the Mars Exploration Rovers undertook detective work on the red planet, guided by computer software developed by a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) team lead by Kanna Rajan. And the team responsible for the entry and landing of the twin rovers - Spirit and Opportunity - is also headed by an Indian American, Prasun N. Desai. Desai, an aerospace engineer at NASA's Langley Research Center, Va, who led the team which supported the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, explains: "The system that we contributed to was the entry, descent and landing system for MER, determining how we bring this Lander safely down; It was just a completely amazing experience - putting a system like this together to make it successful trying to land on another planet." By Lavina Melwani in


The coastal Killai village, near Chidambaram (Tamilnadu, Bharat) sports a temple for Tamil folk Goddess of protection, Sri Maha Mariamman. Smt M Bashiribi (48), wife of Shri Mohmed Jinnah (55), a tea stall owner, performs daily puja and rituals like any Hindu priest. The couple built the temple 10 years ago. It all started with a dream Bashiribi had about a decade ago. She was anxious to know the meaning of her dream and approached a few oracle tellers. She was told that Amman (goddess Durga) had appeared in her dream. The oracle tellers suggested that the family build a temple for Amman. Subsequently, Jinnah and Bashiribi built the shrine at Mosque Street in the village at a cost of Rs 2 lakh. They installed a three-foot idol of the presiding deity and a panchaloha idol. They also spent Rs 1.5 lakh for kumbhabhishekham. However, the going had been tough. The couple earned the wrath of relatives for chasing their temple dream. In fact, a few relatives deserted Jinnah and Bashiribi after failing to convince them against building the temple.

Based on a report by Shri. P Arul in THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS May 26 2008


It's easy to miss Samkalp Bhavan in Paharganj's Aram Bagh (New Delhi, Bharat), on a narrow street dotted with small buildings. But residents say the Bhavan, run by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), is always buzzing with activity, especially during that time of the year when young Civil Services aspirants, having cleared the two stages of the examinations conducted by the Union Public Service Commission, throng here for mock interviews and later for orientation camps. "We serve free food to students while they train here for the interviews. Even the fees are nominal. It's a social service initiative to help students from disadvantaged sections," Anand Kumar, coordinator, Samkalp, says. Samkalp, set up in 1986, also offers coaching for the Civil Services Mains examination for a paltry sum of Rs 5,000. For the exams in 2007, as many as 825 out of 1,875 examinees called for the final interviews enrolled at Samkalp for mock viva voce classes. 295 of them had made it to the Civil Services. A maulana from the Darul-Uloom-Deoband in Uttar Pradesh has passed the civil services exam, in his fourth attempt. For his interview, the maulana took training from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-run institute Samkalp. About his experience at the RSS-run Samkalp, Rehman said, "I did not feel any bias. They are doing a good job," he said.

Based on a write up by Shri. Mateen Hafeez in the TIMES NEWS NETWORK


Padmashri Neyyattinkara Vasudevan, who died at 68 on April 13, 2008, was cremated with state honours in Thiruvananthapuram. Born to a poor Harijan labourer couple, young Vasudevan grew up in deeppenury. But at a time when tradition kept Carnatic music an exclusiveBrahminical preserve, Vasudevan became the first non-Brahmin to break the casteist glass ceiling to sing at the famed Navarathri Mandapam of the Travancore royal family. Vasudevan learnt his first music lessons from his labourer father Narayanan. After high school, Vasudevan honed his talent at the Swathi Tirunal Sangeetha Akademy in Thiruvananthapuram. His genius soon fetched him the discipleship of some of the greatest living masters of Carnatic music at the time - including Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer and Ramnad Krishnan. It was no coincidence that the famed Madras Music Academy, where he had held concerts for many decades, selected him as the best vocalist no less than four times. Vasudevan, who, at 20, won the President's award in a national music contest that AIR held in 1960.

From Shri. Rajiv Pai´s report in



Most students in Pakistan are surprisingly keen to learn about Hinduism, despite the hostility that has prevailed between their country and India in the previous sixty years. According to Dr Smt. Maureen Korp, as art critic and a religious studies scholar based in Canada, the students in Pakistan were different to the ones she was used to teaching in Canada. Korp, who is visiting Lahore at the invitation of the Beaconhouse National University (BNU), Lahore (Pakistan), said she had given an assignment to her students in which they were asked about religions including Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Christianity and Judaism. "Surprisingly, I found that most students were keen to know about Hinduism despite the enmity, which India and Pakistan have," the Daily Times quoted her, as saying. An author of two books, Korp received her doctorate from the University of Ottawa and has won various academic awards.

Tale to Understand the Importance of Absence of Niggardliness in One's Life!


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