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Asian Voice - Saturday 3rd December 2011

PM defies calls for rollback of FDI in retail sector

Fighting-off demands for a U-turn on allowing foreign investment in supermarkets, Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh said on Tuesday that the policy would bring jobs and technology to farmers. "I am confident that foreign direct investment in retail will help to bring modern technology in the farm sector, less wastage and more jobs," he said at a rally. Opposition parties and Singh's own political allies are demanding a rollback of the reform allowing foreign supermarket giants to enter the country's $450 billion retail market. Parliament is in deadlock over the issue, clouding the outlook for an ambitious agenda of legislation, including an anticorruption bill and another on food subsidies for the poor. An all-party meeting convened by the Centre to end the deadlock over allowing 51 percent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, ended inconclusively on Tuesday with both

the government and the opposition failing to reach a consensus over the issue. The meeting was attended by top leaders, including Sushma Swaraj, LK Advani (BJP), Sharad Pawar (NCP), Sandeep Bandhopadhyay (TMC), Jayant Chowdhary (RLD), Anant Geete, Manohar Joshi (Shiv Sena), Pawan Kumar Bansal, Narayansami, Anand Sharma (Congress), Nageshwar Rao (TDP), Satish Mishra (BSP), Thambidurai, Maitran (AIADMK), T Shiva (DMK). The government was forced into calling for the all-party meet after the opposition made it absolutely clear that it will not allow the Parliament to function till the government rolls back the FDI decision. Both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha have not been able to function properly over the last five days following the decision on FDI and the spiralling prices of essential commodities.

Last week, the Cabinet approved 51 per cent FDI in multi brand retail. As per this move, many global retailers like Wal-Mart, Carrefour and Tesco can open outlets in India. The Cabinet also decided to remove the 51 per cent cap on FDI in single brand format under which companies in food, lifestyle and sports business run stores. Owners of brands like Adidas, Gucci, Hermes, LVMH and Costa Coffee can now have full ownership of business in India. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) or foreign investment refers to the net inflows of investment to acquire a lasting management interest in an enterprise operating in an economy other than that of the investor. It is the sum of equity capital, reinvestment of earnings, other long-term capital, and short-term capital as shown in the balance of payments. It usually involves participation in management, joint venture, transfer of technology and expertise.

Buddhism has a special role to play in the modern world because unlike many other religious traditions, Buddhism uniquely propounds the concept of independence which accords closely with the fundamental notions of modern science, said Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. Elaborating on the importance of Buddhism as tool for promoting peace, he said: 'The 20th century was a century of war and violence, now we all need to work to see that the 21st century is of peace and dialogue.' The Tibetan spiritual leader, who along with many of his supporters fled Tibet and took refuge in India when Chinese

troops moved in and took control of Lhasa in 1959, addressed a gathering of nearly 900 Buddhist monks and scholars at a four-day Global Buddhist Congregation 2011, which began in the in New Delhi on Sunday, in a televised message. 'We can think of Buddhism in terms of three main categories philosophy, science and religion. The religious part involves principles and practices that are of concern to Buddhism alone, but the Buddhist philosophy of interdependence as well as the Buddha science of mind and human emotions are of great benefit to everyone,' said the Dalai Lama, who after coming to India head-

ed a Tibetan governmentin-exile in Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh which never won recognition from any country. The spiritual leader said while 'modern science has developed a highly sophisticated underdstanding of the physical world, including the subtle workings of the body and the brain, Buddhist science on the other hand has devoted itself to first-person understanding of many aspects of emotions - areas that are still new to modern science'. 'I believe that a synthesis of these two approaches has great potential to lead to discoveries that will enrich our physical, emotional and social wellbeing,' the Dalai Lama said.

Buddha relevant in modern world: Dalai Lama

6 NRIs awarded in Ahmedabad

Six eminent non-resident Indians were felicitated with NRI Visionary Award in Ahmedabad last week. Former Gujarat's minister for industries Anil Patel, who was the chief guest at the function, presented the award to these NRIs. Speaking at the event, Patel said, this gesture is to honor their achievements and that he hoped that it would re-establish and strengthen the bond between NRIs, NRGs and Gujarat. The awardees included Dubai-based industrialist Dr B R Shetty, senior journalist from Norway, Edward Dawes, social reformist from Norway, eminent allergist of the US Dr Sudhir Parikh, one of the leading mechanical

engineers and religious Zoroastrian scholar Firdosh Mehta from Canada, ICT expert Neville Roach from Australia and eminent journalist from Bahrain Soman Baby. Speaking at the event, Patel said that contribution of NRGs has helped in setting up a large number of voluntary institutions in Gujarat for various philanthropic activities. Responding to the felicitation, Shetty, who has previously received Padma Shri, expressed his willingness to share his experience and expertise in the field of health, education and medical treatment with Gujarat. Dr Sudhir Parikh, who has been awarded with Padma Shri in 2010 and

Pravasi Bhartiya Samman Award in 2006, said that this award presented in his home town is one of the most affectionate gestures and hence is precious to him. Speaking at the event Parikh said, "He is dedicated to continue his efforts to further strengthen Indo-USA relations. He added that the need of the hour is to inspire the young generation of NRIs settled abroad to pull in their resources to support Gujarat and India, and its development." Firdosh Mehta expressed his desire to set up science centers in Gujarat and different parts of India with technical collaboration of leading scientific institutes of Canada, the USA and local industrial houses.

In divine light By Rajen Vakil

Chyavana and Sukanya (Part 4) Sharayati’s Yagna In the previous articles we saw that Rishi Chyavana held a yagna for King Sharayati, his father-inlaw. During the yagna in presence of all the gods, Rishi Chyavana gave Soma (elixir) to the two Ashwinikumars as it was them who had made him young again. Indra, king of the gods, felt insulted and spoke these words, “These two Ashwinikumars do not deserve to be offered Soma. Even though they live in heaven with the gods, they are mere physicians. Only gods can be offered elixir.” The rishi replied “O Indra, the Ashwinikumars have all the greatness of the gods, and in looks no one is their equal. They have made me young, handsome, and immortal; for me, they are gods and hence worthy of Soma.” To this, Indra retorted “They are just healers who work for us gods. They are not worthy of this elixir.” As Indra was speaking these words, Chyavana insulted Indra by bringing the cup of soma to the Ashwinikumars. This angered Indra who sounded out to Chyavana that if he offered them the cup, Indra would strike him down with a terrifying bolt of lightning. At this, the rishi laughed and gave the elixir to the twin gods. Indra was full of wrath and lifted his hand to throw a lightning bolt onto the rishi. Chyavana

saw this coming and he froze Indra’s hand mid-air, and turned him into a statue. The rishi then repeated some Sanskrit verses and threw some incense into the yagna fire. From the flames, arose Mada, a mighty form so huge that it was impossible to measure her. She had teeth that were miles long; her upper lip covered the sky and the lower lip the earth. Her hands were bigger than mountains and she licked her lips with a long tongue from which emitted streaks of fire; her sound shook the whole earth. She ran towards the frozen Indra to eat him up. Indra saw the terrible form coming to devour him and in fear said these words to the rishi, “O great and holy rishi, I accept the Ashwinikumars

as gods and also that they are worthy of being give the Soma. Please have mercy on me and relieve me from this plight. May the greatness of this yagna be known forever, and may the fame of your wife Sukanya be embedded in time.” The minute Indra said these words the rishi calmed down and freed the frozen Indra. The rishi then asked the form he had created to disintegrate and dissolve into the alcohol that people drink, gamble, and pursue in pleasure. The rishi Chyavana then completed the yagna by giving the Soma to the two Ashwinikumars, then to Indra, and thereafter the other gods. Owing of this yagna, the fame of the rishi spread in all the three worlds.

All past articles on the Mahabharata can be accessed from or from

China warns India against giving 'platform' to Dalai Lama

China said it was opposed to any country providing 'a platform' to the Dalai Lama for his 'anti-China activities' even as the Tibetan leader's envoy in New Delhi said India was right in letting him speak at an ongoing Buddhist conference. The four-day Global Buddhist Conference being held in New Delhi entered the second day, with scholars debating the finer points of Buddhist philosophy and discussing their ideas of right living. China, however, made it point abundantly clear. 'The Dalai Lama is not a purely religious figure but one who has been engaged in separatist activities for a long time, under the pretext of religion,' Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said. 'We oppose any country that provides a platform for his anti-China activities in any form,' he said in

Beijing, in an allusion to the meet where the Dalai Lama has delivered the valedictory lecture Nov 30. Hong's comments came days after India and China postponed the Nov 28-29 15th round of boundary talks over the Dalai Lama's participation in the conference. Hong did not specifically say if China had conveyed its opposition to the conference. India considers the Dalai Lama, who fled his homeland in 1959 after an abortive antiCommunist uprising, a spiritual leader and so free to speak on spiritual matters. The India-China row over the conference led to the postponement of the boundary talks. Both sides have downplayed the postponement, saying they were in touch over new dates. Hong said that both sides were 'in communication on relevant issues'

and were also discussing the 'specific agenda' of the talks. China paid 'great attention' to the next round of talks with India, he stressed. Tempa Tsering, the Dalai Lama's chief representative in Delhi, protested against China's design to give a political colour to a religious event, saying India 'has done the right thing' by refusing to cave in. 'They (conference delegates) have no other motive other than to bring Buddhist scholars together to discuss Buddhist philosophy and share experiences of how the Buddhist teachings can help humanity,' Tsering told IANS at Hotel Lalit where some sessions were held. 'India is a free democratic society. China is a closed society; that's why they are reacting in a paranoid manner,' Tsering said, when asked about Chinese objections.

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