Monday, December 28, 2015

Buddhist Cave in Uperkot Fort, Junagadh


I saw 2000 year old caves, which were most likely Buddhist monastery, for the first time in Uperkot Fort of Junagadh. The cave was built three stories under the ground. Keeping in mind the hot climate of Gujarat, the thought process of building underground structures and having engineering capability to construct it was fascinating. The whole structure was sculpted out of one rock. Inside the cave was cold and pleasant. Though I would be scared to go in when night falls.  



Aracehology of India Board



Roof Top of Cave at Ground Level.


Bathing Area in G-1



Dining Area in G-2



G-3 Level : Meditation Area









Saturday, December 26, 2015

Porbandar


There are several places to visit in Porbandar. We stopped to visit Gandhi ji's residence. Kirti Mandir was the house of the Mahatma Gandhi and Kasturba, his wife. This place is situated near the place where the Mahatma Gandhi was born. This place is now a small museum and also has a Gandhian library and a prayer hall.






Gandhi ji's House


Gandhi ji's Birth Place





Prayer Hall and Library Building


Huzoor Manzil Palace




Monday, December 14, 2015

Shakoor Basti Demolition : Struggle Between Aspiration or Survival

Travelling by Indian railway as one approaches cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, etc one can see shanties and hutments on both sides of railway track. These shanties house poor people, many of them living there for a long time. Many people living there have property papers, voter identity card and ration card. In places like Mumbai, may be in Delhi also such places are controlled by mafia. Problem is people have roof, but no other regular facility like sanitation, water, electricity etc that other people enjoy. Many hutments get illegal power connection. Dwellers openly defecate on the tracks. Railway engineers believe such activity corrodes tracks. Such settlements are safety hazards. But railways cannot evict these settlements, even though these are on railway land.

Recently, National Green Tribunal has penalised Indian Railways for unclean stations and tracks. Consequently, Indian Railway in Delhi decided to clear a slum cluster in Shakur Basti. There are few reasons why this act though legal, is open to criticism. At the time of clearing, nights have been particularly chilly. Railway did not offer any plan of rehabilitation. There was probably not much coordination with state government of Delhi. It is not easy to live under open sky. Moreover, it was alleged that a little 6 month old baby had died during demolition. Though it was later reported that the baby had died earlier.

Predictably, political parties have reached the spot. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has urged the people that he will protect them next time there is demolition. People only have to call him, he will make sure there is no demolition. Not to be outdone, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has called raiway officials animals. Chief Minister cursed that god will never forgive these people.

Question that comes to mind is even after 60 years  post  independence, why people are still living in shanties in sub human condition? Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal may have good intent but lame idea. After ruling more than 50 years, Rahul Gandhi and his party must have a plan that details how no one in India lives in a shanty. No one has to be evicted out of their home and hearth. 

Coming to railway ministry, what are they expected to do if someone occupies railway land? Should railway not build new infrastructure? Many people are moving to cities in search of a job, and for better future of their children. Our cities, including Delhi, are woefully short in providing amenities like housing, school, healthcare to burgeoning population. It is important and practical to create more cities and make our villages and towns livable with employment opportunities. But such a proposal will be stopped in parliament because our socialist parties do not see any merit in giving people opportunities. Our leaders would rather take from rich and distribute to poor. That makes good politics because it is never a solution and it perpetuates the problem.



Saturday, December 12, 2015

Towards Somnath Part I

We packed our bags and left Dwarka at around 9 am in the morning for Somnath.  Distance from Dwarka to Somanath is around 235 km. Our first destination was Porbandar, Gandhi ji's birth place around 105 km from Dwarka. We were travelling north to south on a coastal highway on the western edge of Saurasthra district of Gujarat state.  I was very excited because road was a coastal road in south Gujarat. Though we could see Arabian sea only once when we were passing by the beach.




Western Gujarat near the sea is dotted with windmills. These three blade structures are moved by wind and generate clean energy. Most of the time blades were rotating very slowly. Later I came to know in the current state of technology, windmills rotate at 20 - 25 revolutions per min. Research is on to create better and lighter blades that can rotate faster at same wind velocity. Less energy production by one mill is compensated by large number of such structures.  India has committed to generate nearly 30% of its energy demand by tapping wind power and solar power.






As we were moving on the highway, we saw a wetland full of birds. Among them were birds with greyish body and black head and neck. A net search revealed, these birds are most likely black necked cranes. I was surprised to see these birds in Gujarat. 


I read on the net that black necked spend their summer in Tibet and   winter months in sheltered valleys or lower altitudes. The largest populations are in China with smaller numbers extending into Vietnam, Bhutan and India. 


Thursday, December 10, 2015

National Herald Case and Congress Duplicity

Hypocrisy, double standard and psychophancy of congress party and in congress party stands exposed. In order to gain power, congress party is adopting a strategy to  stop government from passing key legislations. All in the name of helping poor and underprivileged. The party blocked parliament proceedings in the monsoon session. They were protesting corrupt practices of government ministers. All entreaties of ruling party to engage into debate and discussion fell into deaf ear. 

The winter session of parliament began with cautious optimism. Prime Minister reached out to congress supremo to obtain her party's backing for key bills. All effort, however, went into a tailspin when Delhi High Court rejected a petition of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and Mr. Rahul Gandhi to quash a law suit against them and granting them permission to not appear personally on a case involving acquiring  assets of National Herald news paper.

Congress party went berserk. They blocked parliament proceedings accusing central government of political vendetta. Nation remained confused. How come a court summon be called a political vendetta? Is congress party accusing judiciary to be in collusion with central government to defame congress party supremo?  After all, court has only asked Gandhis to present themselves in person. They have not accused Gandhis of any wrong doing, as of now. Yet the same congress party that was blocking parliament protesting corruption of central ministers a few months earlier, is now blocking parliament to protect its own leaders from corruption charges.  

I decided to read on National Herald case to get an understanding of the case. The more I read, the more I get convinced that Gandhis are guilty. Consider the following points: 

1. National Herald news paper was setup by Jawaharl Lal Nehru and others to propagate secular values. Jawahar Lal Nehru was not the only person who was responsible. So Gandhi family cannot have a birthright to National Herald news paper and its properties. 

2. Because congress was in power for more that 50 years, National Herald group had a lot of property allotted to its name. These properties were given by governments of state and centre, at a subsidised rate or free of cost. When National Herald becomes defunct, and ownership changes hand, property should go back to government not to Gandhi family. By the way property is worth 2000 crore. 

3. Congress party gave a loan of 90 crore to parent company of National Herald - Associated Journals Limited. Why did AJL not liquidate its 2000 crore asset to pay 90 crore debt? Why congress party had to give an interest free loan? 

4. Then another company - Young Indian where Gandhi family has invested 50 lac rupees, takes over debt of Associated Journal and becomes owner of all properties of Associated Journal Limited. Property worth 2000 crore for 50 lac. If Young Indian was interested in upholding secular values through news paper, how come they have not published anything in last 4 - 5 years?

5. The Herald House in Delhi that is one of the Associated Journal Properties now controlled by Young Indian, gets a rent of Rs. 60 lac a year from government. Yes it is tax payers money.

6. A political party collects donation from public. Then passes an unsecured loan to a news paper group. Which ends up earning rent for a family. Can a tax tempte money of a political party be allowed to secure rent from real estate business?

I think this is scam. Gandhi family through Young Indian has grabbed the Herald Property. They may not have sold it today but they have full control of the assets. They are earning a huge rent from one property in Delhi. If anything, subsidised property should go to government when the property is not being used for the purpose. Perpetrators of scam should go where - everyone knows.