Abduction of Turmeric – Pirates in the garden of India

The war began thus: In May, 1995 the US Patent Office granted to the University of Mississippi Medical Center a patent [#5,401,504] for “Use of Turmeric in Wound Healing.”

Well, well, well. Some discovery, that. Indians grow up with a constant awareness of turmeric. It permeates their life. It is an easy and generous plant [curcurma longa] that grows throughout the sub-continent. The tuber when dried keeps practically forever. Its decoction is a stubborn dye. It is a condiment that adds character to Indian food and helps digestion. Turmeric powder heals open wounds. Drunk with warm milk, it stems coughs, cures colds and comforts throats.

Indians paint doorways with turmeric paste as an insecticide. Women in the south make a depilatory skin cream with it. Add the juice of fresh lime to dry turmeric, let it marinate for three days, dry it in the sun and grind it to a fine powder and voila, you have the brilliant red kunkum that ‘dots’ Indian women’s foreheads and surrounds the gods in the temples. Roots are exchanged between people as a formal symbol of goodwill. Indians place freshly uprooted plants at the altar during Pongal and offer worship .

For Indians turmeric is a benevolent goddess. For sound reasons, it transpires. Indian physicians had always packed their kits with turmeric. Now West’s formal research was confirming many of its virtues. It is now believed to be able to treat dysentery, arthritis, ulcers and even some cancers. It is also found to protect the liver. Turmeric’s grace is stunning cancer researchers. COX-2 inhibitor drugs have been known to block an enzyme called cyclooxygenase-2 which aggravates arthritis. Dr. Mitch Gaynor at the Strang Cancer Prevention Center, New York uses these drugs in cancer treatment to impede this undesirable enzyme. Turmeric goes one step further: Dr. Chintalapally V. Rao of American Health Foundation, Valhalla, NY believes that while COX-2 inhibitor drugs battle the enzyme, the curcurmin element in turmeric prevents even the formation of the enzyme. Consider the implication of ‘turmeric patent’ #5,401,504. If an expatriate Indian in America sprinkles turmeric powder — just as her ancestors in India have done for centuries– on her child’s scrape, she would in fact be infringing US patent laws and was open to prosecution.

The Wheel of Yoga

Different approaches to God-realization in Hinduism

Types of Yoga

“Hinduism has taken into consideration the fact that people are of different tastes, temperaments, predilections, and bent of mind, and therefore has accepted the need for different paths for different individuals to suit their requirements. Thus four different paths have been laid down: Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga and Raja Yoga. Followers of all the four paths have the common goal of merging with the Supreme Reality. While the Jnana Yogin aims at reaching his goal by the realization of his identity with the Supreme Reality, the Bhakti Yogin surrenders his individuality at the feet of the Lord, his beloved; the Karma Yogin realizes his goal by work unattached to the fruits thereof and the Raja Yogin soars ahead by physical and psychic control culminating in ‘merging’ through Samadhi.

1. Jnana Yoga – is the way of wisdom.

The Jnana Yoga is monist. The aim of asceticism is to reach Knowledge and gain access to noumenal truth. The word jnana means “knowledge”, “insight,” or “wisdom”. Jnana-Yoga is virtually identical with the spiritual path of Vedanta, the tradition of nondualism. Jnana Yoga is the path Self-realization through the exercise of understanding, or, to be more precise, the wisdom associated with discerning the Real from the unreal.

The term jnana-yoga is first mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita, where Lord Krishna declares to his pupil Prince Arjuna: “Of yore I proclaimed a twofold way of life in this world, o guileless Arjuna – Jnana Yoga for the samkhyas and Karma Yoga for the yogins.” (III.3). Jnana Yoga represents the knowledge of the self in general. Self is present everywhere and all bodies are perishable. The self never perishes. It never dies even though body is killed. The Yoga of knowledge represents the knowledge of the self, and the self is eternal, omnipresent, imperishable and omniscient.

Jnana Yoga is the most arduous way, reserved for an elite and in it the Yogin must go beyond the plane of Maya. Jnana Yoga leads to an integration through knowledge, gnosis. Also, there is dhyana yoga. The Sanskrit dhyana becomes Ch’an in Chinese which becomes Thom in Vietnamese, Son in Korean, Zen in Japanese. This yoga is specifically what gets called the yoga of meditation.  All these constitute the Buddhi yoga of the Bhagavad Gita, that is, the yoga of integrated intelligence and will.

2. Bhakti Yoga – is the way of exclusive devotion to God.

Bhakti Yoga is the supreme devotion to the Lord. Bhakti is intense attachment to God who is the Indweller in all beings, who is the support, solace for all beings. Bhakti yoga is integration through love or devotion. It teaches the rules of love, for it is the science of the higher love; it teaches how to direct and use love and how to give it a new object, how to obtain from it the highest and most glorious result, which is the acquisition of spiritual felicity. The Bhakti Yoga, does not say “abandon” but only love, love the Most High”.

3. Karma Yoga – is the way of selfless work.

To exist is to act. Karma yoga means the discipline of action or integration through activity. Karma Yoga is the Yoga of self-surrendered action. Even an inanimate object such as a rock has movement. And the building blocks of matter, the atoms, are in fact not building blocks at all but incredibly complex patterns of energy in constant motion. Thus, the universe is a vast vibratory expanse. Karma Yoga is selfless service unto humanity. Karma Yoga is the Yoga of action which purifies the heart and prepares the heart and mind for the reception of Divine Light or the attainment of Knowledge of the Self. But this has to be done without attachment or egoism. The karma yoga of The Gita is a unique philosophy of action and it declares that nature has given the right of action to man only and the right of the result of action is under the authority of nature. But the action is a duty of man; therefore he should perform actions without the desire of fruit. Lord Krishna says: “Not by abstention from actions does a man enjoy action-transcendence, nor by renunciation alone does he approach perfection.” (III, 4). Then God Krishna, who communicates these teachings to his pupil Arjuna, points to himself, as the archetypal model of the active person: “For Me, O son of Pritha, there is nothing to be done in the three worlds, nothing ungained to be gained – and yet I engage in action.” (III.22).

4. Raja Yoga  – The Respelendent Yoga of Spiritual Kings

This refers to the Yoga system of Patanjali, is commonly used to distinguish Patanjali’s eight-fold path of meditative introversion from Hatha Yoga. Psycho-physical practices for mind and cure have been part of Hindu medical science in the ancient times and no wonder Dr. freud and other modern psychologists are just the beginners in the field discovering the age-old science. Sri Aurobindo observed: “Indian yoga is experimental psychology. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, the Upanishads – these and the Saiva Siddhanta treatises – furnish pioneering examples of experimental psychology.” “In Indian psychology they proceed from the basis of the supremacy of mind over matter and postulate Atman as the ultimate Reality of the universe unification with which is the basic purpose of this yoga.”

Romain Rolland 1866-1944) French Nobel laureate, professor of the history of music at the Sorbonne and thinker. He authored a book Life and Gospel of Vivekananda, calls this yoga as the experimental psycho-physiological method for the direct attainment of Reality which is Brahman. Many serious seekers have successfully tried direct realization of the Supreme through the mind control without waiting for indefinite births to take place. This great methodology was developed by the great classical theorist Rishi Patanjali who sought to attain ultimate knowledge through the control and absolute mastery of the mind thus cutting down the endless path of the soul for perfection through future births. The whole thrust is on the concentration and control of mind after shutting it out of all worldly objects to reach the Ultimate Reality.

“The powers of the mind are like rays of dissipated light; when they are concentrated they illumine. This is the only means of Knowledge. The originality of Indian Raja Yoga lies in the fact that it has been the subject for centuries past of a minutely elaborated experimental science for the conquest of concentration and mastery of the mind. By mind, the Hindu Yogi understands the instrument as well as the object of knowledge, and in what concerns the object, he goes very far, farther than I can follow him.”

Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) was the foremost disciple of Ramakrishna and a world spokesperson for Vedanta. India’s first spiritual and cultural ambassador to the West, said: “The science of Raja Yoga proposes to lay down before humanity a practical and scientifically worked out method for reaching the truth.”

Other Forms of Yoga

There are several other forms of yoga, such as Hatha Yoga, Mantra Yoga, and Laya Yoga. The purpose of Hatha Yoga is to destroy or transform all that which, in man, interferes with his union with the universal Being. It is a “Yoga of strength” which lays particular stress on physical exercises that even permit the adept to perform physiological feats that are normally beyond human capacity.

Once a Yogin has obtained purification by the different disciplines of the Hatha Yoga the Yogin must recite a series of mantras or “prayers” which make up the Mantra Yoga. The aim of Laya Yoga is to direct the mind upon the object of meditation.

All these are branches or subdivisions of the four main divisions of yoga stated above. All branches of yoga have one thing in common, they are concerned with a state of being, or consciousness. “Yoga is ecstasy” says Vyasa’s Yoga-bhashya

25 of 53 Cities Doubtful to Allow Foreign Retailers

As many states including UP and Tamil Nadu raise the red flag against Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, its speculated that nearly half of 53 cities may bang door on global chains.  Going by the 2011 data on Census of India website, 25 out of 46 cities with around 10 lakh population, are doubtful to allow like of Walmart, Carrefour and Tesco to open stores.  However, the government in a statement said 53 cities will benefit from the new policy.

25 of 53 Cities Doubtful to Allow Foreign Retailers

Mayawati, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal CM, Mamta Banerjee, Bihar’s CM Nitish Kumar, all stood up against the latest FDI liberalization move from the UPA. Gujrat’s CM Narendra Modi, is happy and welcomed the opening up.

Congress ruled states like Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Haryana will welcome foreign retailers, but in Punjab, Shiromani Akali Dal has supported the move.

Anand Sharma, Commerce and Industry Minister, said, states like Punjab, Maharashtra and Rajasthan are supporting UPA’s reform move.

Cities like Bangalore, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Vadodara will put up the closed sign as the retail trade is state’s subject and in order to open the stores, it requires clearances from municipal bodies, registration under the Shops & Establishments Act and the Sales Department apart from support from the district administration.

Chennai, Madurai and Coimbatore will have to the face the impact of Jayalalitha’s opposition to multi-brand retails. She said in a statement, “The purported intention of the government of India seems to be to bring more foreign investment into the country to improve market efficiency and bring down double-digit inflation prevailing in the country, mainly due to the series of policy blunders made by the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre. Does our nation lack such resources or the technology to deal with such problems? The central government should realize that constraints on farm products, on the supply side, which is one of the contributory factors to food inflation, cannot be addressed through the FDI route, but only by squarely addressing the infrastructural constraints through appropriate policy support.”

Uttar Pradesh is likely to face the biggest impact as it has seven listed cities like Meerut, Ghaziabad, Agra, Lucknow, Kanpur, Allahabad and Varanasi and the state has already made it clear that it will stay out of bounds. Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have four states each. Despite the huge prospective that middle class India offers to international chains dealing with decreasing demand in their home markets, the global giants are still going to stay interested. Maharashtra will emerge out as the most attractive destination given the fact that it is a middle class dominated area with cities like Mumbai and Pune. The foreign retailers are likely to open up their stores in 8 towns and cities. The government feels, sooner or later, the states would recognize the huge opportunity that the modern retail format offers with foreign participation.

India, China Battle it Out Over Buddhism

The sudden decision of India and China to drop the meeting of their special representatives only a day before it was scheduled in Beijing has brought a cold war on Buddhism out in the open.

China decided to drop the meeting as New Delhi reportedly turned down its demand to keep the Dalai Lama away from a four-day Global Buddhist Congregation that began in New Delhi Sunday. This glitch automatically puts off the later defence secretary level annual dialogue of Dec 8-9.

India, China Battle it Out Over Buddhism

Both sides have publicly downplayed the issue but there is far more behind the scene than what meets the public eye.

The Chinese leadership is determined to make China the supreme Buddhist power. The sudden love affair with Buddhism arises more from anxieties related to the Tibetan spiritual ruler Dalai Lama, than a change in heart on religion.

China’s Communist rulers are focused at building up enough credibility in the international Buddhist community to have their way on the selection of the Dalai Lama’s new incarnation before he dies. The Chinese believe that a friendly Dalai Lama will solve their Tibet knot that has found frequent expression through public uprisings and self-immolation sprees since 1951.

It was the unexpected Tibetan uprising of 1989 that made Chinese leaders realise that a Tibetan generation who had never seen the Dalai Lama and who grew on daily staple of Communist propaganda was to blame. Following a serious review at the third ‘Tibet Work Forum’ in 1991, China adopted a new policy in Tibet which accepts religion as a tool of winning hearts.

As part of this strategy, Chinese Communists have selected at least two top ranking lama incarnations of Karma Pa and Panchen Lama in 1993 and 1995 respectively. Gedhun Choeky Nyima, the six-year-old who was recognized by the Dalia Lama as the ‘real’ Panchen Lama, still remains under Chinese custody 18 years later.

While Chinese candidate Giancin Norbu has yet to be accepted by Tibetan masses, the Karma Pa escaped to India to join the Dalia Lama on the eve of New Year of 2000.

To the supporters of the Dalai Lama, the selection of these two senior incarnate lamas are dress rehearsals for China to impose a baby of its own choice as the Dalai Lama once the incumbent is no more.

Leaving behind Mao’s distaste for religion, Beijing hosted the first World Buddhist Forum in 2006 in Zhejian province and the second in March 2009 in Wuxi. The latter attracted over 1,700 delegates from 50 countries. In both meetings, Giancin Norbu was paraded as the senior most representative of Buddhism in the world.

This aggressive marketing by China as the real Buddhist powerhouse of the world has not gone down well with India, where the Buddha attained enlightenment. New Delhi too has launched its own Buddhist conferences in Singapore, Cambodia and Sri Lanka. There will be similar shows in Nepal and Vietnam.

While the current posturing by New Delhi and Beijing over border dialogue shows where their real concerns lie, the new religious theatre is bound to lead to new fireworks.

48 cities to be developed as solar cities

The ministry of new and renewable energy has given in-principle approval to develop 48 cities as solar cities, parliament was informed Friday.The criteria for selecting the cities is that they should have a population of between 50,000 and 50 lakh, New and Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.

“So far, Rs.17.23 crore has been sanctioned for 37 cities, of which Rs. 2.75 crore has been released for utilisation by the concerned state nodal agencies/municipal corporations,” he said.So far, the master plans for seven cities — Agra and Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh, Thane and Kalyan-Dombivli in Maharashtra, Indore in Madhya Pradesh, Kohima in Nagaland and Aizawl in Mizoram — have been finalised and the development of projects is in progress.

Chidambaram wants Nilekani to log out

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is getting a lot of mail these days. It was the turn of Union Home Minister P Chidambaram to take up the protest pen on November 11, 2011, to raise serious security concerns about Nandan Nilekani’s Unique Identification Authority of India’s ‘Aadhar’ cards project. In his note, Chidambaram has also accused Nilekani of dangerously encroaching on the legally mandated enrolment work being conducted by the Registrar General of India, which is in the Home Ministry’s domain.

Reflecting the shadow war between him and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Chidambaram’s note suggests that its not only Nilekani who is encroaching on the Home Ministry’s territory. “The UIDAI was allowed to get enrolments of 10 crore residents through multiple registrars up to 31 March 2011.

This was raised to an additional 10 crore residents up to March 2012 by the Ministry of Finance (subject to post facto ratification by the CC-UIDAD. This was approved as interim measure.)”Nilekani’s reporting structure is unprecedented in history; he reports directly to the Prime Minister, thus bypassing all checks and balances in government. The Planning Commission had shot off two letters to the Finance Ministry and the Home Ministry protesting the UIDAI’s handling of finances. Its chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia suggested the UIDAI to be “financially self-contained with its own financial advisor entrusted with clearing expenditure within their approved budget while observing relevant government rules.”

After Nilekani bypassed Montek and requested the Finance Minister to grant him additional funds of `15,000 crore over and above the `2,000-crore plan allocation and `1,000 crore from the non-plan head, the Plan Panel was furious. “UIDAI’s present system represents a major departure from government procedures and removes all inbuilt checks and balances. We need a relook at the UIDAI’s administrative structure.” It can be inferred from Chidambaram’s note that Nilekani being unaccountable to the system is setting a dangerous precedent. Chidambaram writes the decision to register all citizens and issue identity cards to them precedes the formation of the UIDAI. The legal provisions were put in place way back in 2003. “The enrolments were to be done only by the Registrar General of India (RGI),’’ the note stresses, adding that “the primary role of UIDAI was clearly laid down: generate and assign UID to residents’’.

Chidambaram notes that despite the advice given to him by the PM to consult the Attorney-General to amend the legal provisions so as to render UIDAI data “acceptable’’, he was constrained to point out that “the NPR project has been conceived by the MHA based on its appreciation of internal security in the country.’’ Chidambaram writes while “the MHA is to carry out enrolment (biographic and biometric), the UIDAI is to carry out de-duplication and issue Aadhar numbers.’’

Could This Man’s Warnings Have Prevented the Mumbai Attacks?

It wasn’t until after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that much of the world recognized the threat of Lashkar-i-Taiba. But in France, a renowned judge had been warning about the Pakistan-based militant group’s international ambitions for years.

Much of the American intelligence community before November 2008 viewed Lashkar as a regional threat focused exclusively on fighting a proxy war with India over Kashmir. But Jean-Louis Bruguière, who earned a reputation as a relentless terrorist hunter in his 30 years as one of France’s powerful “investigative judges,” knew from his own investigations that the group had for several years been carefully training Western recruits to carry out plots in the West.

Just a year before the Mumbai attacks, Bruguière successfully convicted a French citizen who had been deployed by Lashkar on an international mission. In the video below, Bruguière tells ProPublica reporter and FRONTLINE correspondent Sebastian Rotella how Lashkar’s threat became clear during the course of his investigation.

It was this French Lashkar operative, Willie Brigitte, who sparked Bruguière’s pursuit of the terrorist group. After being caught, Brigitte had confessed to involvement in a foiled bomb plot in Australia in 2003.

Brigitte was already affiliated with Al Qaeda-linked extremists in Europe when he traveled to Pakistan in September 2001 on a quest to wage jihad in Afghanistan. Attracted by the group’s sharp English-language propaganda, he was one of dozens of Westerners, including four militants from the suburbs of Virginia, who trained with Lashkar shortly after 9/11.

According to Brigitte’s testimony, their handler was a chief in Lashkar’s foreign operations wing whom they knew as Sajid Mir. But Mir decided not to send them to Afghanistan, telling Brigitte the U.S. operation there was ending and the border was closed to foreign fighters. Mir, Brigitte said, instead asked him to return to France from Afghanistan to act as the group’s “sector chief” there.

In May 2003, Mir sent Brigitte to Australia to join a cell planning a bomb plot in Sydney. There, Brigitte collected maps and gathered intelligence on targets, including a nuclear facility near Sydney. But French agents who had already been hunting him in a broader investigation tipped off Australian intelligence. He was arrested and deported back to France that October.

When Bruguière questioned Brigitte, the links between Lashkar-i-Taiba, Sajid Mir and Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI, began to unravel. Bruguière told Rotella that Brigitte’s case revealed not only that Sajid Mir was a Lashkar operative, but that he belonged to the ISI. Pakistani officials deny these charges.

In three years investigating Mir, Bruguière learned that he was connected to plots in Virginia, Britain and Austrailia. Soon enough, Bruguière had built a case arguing Mir was a Lashkar chief with ties to the Pakistani military and the ISI, and had been leading terrorist plots across four continents.

In October 2006, Bruguière issued an arrest warrant for Mir. It was met with silence in Pakistan. But, because French laws allowed Bruguière to pursue terrorist plots across borders, Mir was charged in absentia in a Paris court in 2007 and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Brigitte was convicted at the same time and sentenced to nine years.  His trial testimony was some of the strongest evidence at the time of Lashkar’s international threat.

That same year, Bruguière, who has extensive contacts with international intelligence agencies, says he met with a high-level Bush administration security adviser to discuss Lashkar’s threat and Pakistan’s double game. He says the official, whom he declines to name publicly, was unconvinced.

More than a year after his French conviction, Sajid Mir, from his perch in Pakistan, directed the 10 gunmen who over the course of three days in late November 2008 laid siege to Mumbai. They expressly targeted Westerners — looking for individuals with British or American passports at the Taj and Oberoi hotels — as well Jews, attacking Chabad House, a synagogue and hostel run by an American rabbi and his wife.  The slaughter left 166 dead. Twenty-two of them were Westerners, six of them Americans.

“There should have been a recognition that Lashkar had the desire and the potential to attack the West and that we needed to get up to speed on this group,” Charles Faddis, a former CIA counterterrorist chief, told Rotella. “It was a mistake to dismiss it as just a threat to India.”

Today, U.S. counterterrorism agencies have a stronger grasp of Laskhar’s threat. Mir and three others were indicted by federal prosecutors in Chicago last April for their roles in the Mumbai attacks, but remain at large.

Pakistan’s failure to crack down on Lashkar operatives, or arrest Sajid Mir, has been an irritant in relations with the United States, which has supplied the Pakistani military with billions of dollars as an ally in the war against terrorism.

“Today Pakistan is the heart of the terrorist threat,” Bruguière, now a French envoy working with the European Union on counter-terror issues, told Rotella. “And it may be too late to do anything about it.”