Swami Vivekananda & Japan

Swami Vivekananda & Japan

Many monsoons’ ago, a schoolteacher at Hyderabad had narrated to us an anecdote from the life of Swami Vivekananda. The monk was traveling around India with a friend from Japan, who remarked that the country seemed to be a very rich indeed. After a while, when the visitor kept on repeating the same thing, Vivekananda asked him, “Why do you keep reiterating the same thing, even after seeing for yourself the destitution and poverty all around??”. The visitor replied, “Yes, but I also see so many young men sitting around idling their time away…you wouldn’t see that in a poor country, would you?”

I don’t know if the story was concocted to make a point, but it is a fact that Vivekananda had friends from Japan, and it is also well documented that he had pretty strong things to say about India, after his visit to Japan in 1893.

Vivekananda travelled to Japan on his way to the Parliament of World Religions at Chicago. He reached the port city of Nagasaki in mid-1893, and boarded a steamer to Kobe. From here to took the land route to Yokohama, visiting along the way, the three big cities of Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo. He called the Japanese “one of the cleanest people on earth”, and was impressed not only by neatness of their streets and dwellings but also by their movements, attitudes and gestures, all of which he found to be “picturesque”.

The visit happened at a time when the Japanese themselves would not take “picturesque” as a compliment. A band of youngsters – the Meiji reformers – had just completed the first phase of a major transformation of everything in Japan. Anything that was traditional – religion, social structure, education, government – was being considered decadent, and was being replaced with Western models.

This was also a period of rapid military build-up in Japan – a prelude to the Sino-Japanese War (1894) and the Russo-JapaneseWar (1904). These preparations did not escape the attention of Vivekananda, who wrote – “The Japanese seem now to have fully awakened themselves to the necessity of the present times. They have now a thoroughly organized army equipped with guns which one of their own officers has invented and which is said to be second to none. Then, they are continually increasing their navy”. About the industrial progress he observed, “The match factories are simply a sight to see, and they are bent upon making everything they want in their own country.”.

Contrasting the rapid progress of Japan with the situation back in India, he urged his countrymen – the “offspring of centuries of superstition and tyranny” – to come out of their narrow holes and have a look abroad – 

“Only I want that numbers of our young men should pay a visit to Japan and China every year. Especially to the Japanese, India is still the dreamland of everything high and good. And you, what are you? … talking twaddle all your lives, vain talkers, what are you? Come, see these people, and then go and hide your faces in shame. A race of dotards, you lose your caste if you come out! Sitting down these hundreds of years with an ever-increasing load of crystallized superstition on your heads, for hundreds of years spending all your energy upon discussing the touchableness of untouchableness of this food or that, with all humanity crushed out of you by the continuous social tyranny of ages – what are you? And what are you doing now? … promenading the sea-shores with books in your hands – repeating undigested stray bits of European brainwork, and the whole soul bent upon getting a thirty rupee clerkship, or at best becoming a lawyer – the height of young India’s ambition – and every student with a whole brood of hungry children cackling at his heels and asking for bread!Is there not water enough in the sea to drown you, books, gowns, university diplomas, and all?”

Yet, on his return to India in February 1897, when he was asked by a correspondent from The Hindu, “Is it your wish that India should become like Japan?”, Vivekananda’s response was unequivocal – “Decidedly not”, he said, “India should continue to be what she is. How could India ever become like Japan, or any nation for the matter of that? In each nation, as in music, there is a main note, a central theme, upon which all others turn. Each nation has a theme: everything else is secondary. India’s theme is religion. Social reform and everything else are secondary. Therefore India cannot be like Japan. It is said that when ‘the heart breaks’, then the flow of thought comes. India’s heart must break, and the flow of spirituality will come out. India is India. We are not like the Japanese, we are Hindus. India’s very atmosphere is soothing. I have been working incessantly here, and amidst this work I am getting rest. It is only from spiritual work that we can get rest in India. If your work is material here, you die of — diabetes!”

More than a hundred years later, the question is perhaps still open – when will India`s heart break? 





>>>>This Will Give You Cold Chills!
>>>>Geert Wilders is a Member of the Dutch Parliament.
>>>>In a generation or two, the US will ask itself: "Who lost Europe ?" 
Here is the speech of Geert Wilders, Chairman, Party for Freedom the 
Netherlands , at the Four Seasons in New York , introducing an Alliance 
of Patriots and announcing the Facing Jihad Conference in Jerusalem ..
>>>>Dear friends,
>>>>Thank you very much for inviting me.
>>>>I come to America with a mission.  All is not well in the old world.  
There is a tremendous danger looming, and it is very difficult to be 
optimistic.  We might be in the final stages of the Islamization of 
Europe.  This not only is a clear and present danger to the future of 
Europe itself, it is a threat to America and the sheer survival of the 
West.  The United States as the last bastion of Western civilization, 
facing an Islamic Europe.
>>>>First, I will describe the situation on the ground in Europe .  
Then, I will say a few things about Islam.  To close I will tell you 
about a meeting in Jerusalem .
>>>>The Europe you know is changing.
>>>>You have probably seen the landmarks.  But in all of these cities, 
sometimes a few blocks away from your tourist destination, there is 
another world.  It is the world of the parallel society created by 
Muslim mass-migration.
>>>>All throughout Europe a new reality is rising: entire Muslim 
neighborhoods where very few indigenous people reside or are even seen.  
And if they are, they might regret it.  This goes for the police as 
well.  It's the world of head scarves, where women walk around in 
figureless tents, with baby strollers and a group of children. Their 
husbands, or slaveholders if you prefer, walk three steps ahead. With 
mosques on many street corners.  The shops have signs you and I cannot 
read. You will be hard-pressed to find any economic activity. These are 
Muslim ghettos controlled by religious fanatics. These are Muslim 
neighborhoods, and they are mushrooming in every city across Europe . 
These are the building-blocks for territorial control of increasingly 
larger portions of Europe , street by street, neighborhood by 
neighborhood, city by city.
>>>>There are now thousands of mosques throughout Europe .  With larger 
congregations than there are in churches.  And in every European city 
there are plans to build super-mosques that will dwarf every church in 
the region.  Clearly, the signal is: we rule.
>>>>Many European cities are already one-quarter Muslim: just take 
Amsterdam , Marseille and Malmo in Sweden .  In many cities the majority 
of the under-18 population is Muslim.   Paris is now surrounded by a 
ring of Muslim neighborhoods. Mohammed is the most popular name among 
boys in many cities.
>>>>In some elementary schools in Amsterdam the farm can no longer be 
mentioned, because that would also mean mentioning the pig, and that 
would be an insult to Muslims.
>>>>Many state schools in Belgium and Denmark only serve halal food to 
all pupils.  In once-tolerant Amsterdam gays are beaten up almost 
exclusively by Muslims.  Non-Muslim women routinely hear 'whore, whore'.  
Satellite dishes are not pointed to local TV stations, but to stations 
in the country of origin.
>>>>In France school teachers are advised to avoid authors deemed 
offensive to Muslims, including Voltaire and Diderot; the same is 
increasingly true of Darwin   The history of the Holocaust can no longer 
be taught because of Muslim sensitivity.
>>>>In England sharia courts are now officially part of the British 
legal system. Many neighborhoods in France are no-go areas for women 
without head scarves.  Last week a man almost died after being beaten up 
by Muslims in Brussels , because he was drinking during the Ramadan.
>>>>Jews are fleeing France in record numbers, on the run for the worst 
wave of anti-Semitism since World War II.  French is now commonly spoken 
on the streets of Tel Aviv and Netanya , Israel ..  I could go on 
forever with stories like this. Stories about Islamization.
>>>>A total of fifty-four million Muslims now live.   San Diego 
University recently calculated that a staggering 25 percent of the 
population in Europe will be Muslim just 12 years from now.  Bernhard 
Lewis has predicted a Muslim majority by the end of this century.
>>>>Now these are just numbers.  And the numbers would not be 
threatening if the Muslim-immigrants had a strong desire to assimilate.  
But there are few signs of that.  The Pew Research Center reported that 
half of French Muslims see their loyalty to Islam as greater than their 
loyalty to France ..  One-third of French Muslims do not object to 
suicide attacks. The British Centre for Social Cohesion reported that 
one-third of British Muslim students are in favor of a worldwide 
caliphate. Muslims demand what they call 'respect'.  And this is how we 
give them respect.  We have Muslim official state holidays.
>>>>The Christian-Democratic attorney general is willing to accept 
sharia in the Netherlands if there is a Muslim majority.  We have 
cabinet members with passports from Morocco and Turkey ..
>>>>Muslim demands are supported by unlawful behavior, ranging from 
petty crimes and random violence, for example against ambulance workers 
and bus drivers, to small-scale riots.   Paris has seen its uprising in 
the low-income suburbs, the banlieus.  I call the perpetrators 
'settlers'.  Because that is what they are.  They do not come to 
integrate into our societies; they come to integrate our society into 
their Dar-al-Islam.  Therefore, they are settlers.
>>>>Much of this street violence I mentioned is directed exclusively 
against non-Muslims, forcing many native people to leave their 
neighborhoods, their cities, their countries.  Moreover, Muslims are now 
a swing vote not to be ignored.
>>>>The second thing you need to know is the importance of Mohammed the 
prophet.  His behavior is an example to all Muslims and cannot be 
criticized.  Now, if Mohammed had been a man of peace, let us say like 
Ghandi and Mother Theresa wrapped in one, there would be no problem.  
But Mohammed was a warlord, a mass murderer, a pedophile, and had 
several marriages - at the same time.  Islamic tradition tells us how he 
fought in battles, how he had his enemies murdered and even had 
prisoners of war executed.  Mohammed himself slaughtered the Jewish 
tribe of Banu Qurayza.  If it is good for Islam, it is good.  If it is 
bad for Islam, it is bad.
>>>>Let no one fool you about Islam being a religion.  Sure, it has a 
god, and a here-after, and 72 virgins.  But in its essence Islam is a 
political ideology.  It is a system that lays down detailed rules for 
society and the life of every person.  Islam wants to dictate every 
aspect of life.  Islam means 'submission'.  Islam is not compatible with 
freedom and democracy, because what it strives for is sharia.  If you 
want to compare Islam to anything, compare it to communism or 
national-socialism, these are all totalitarian ideologies.
>>>>Now you know why Winston Churchill called Islam 'the most retrograde 
force in the world', and why he compared Mein Kampf to the Quran.  The 
public has wholeheartedly accepted the Palestinian narrative, and sees 
Israel as the aggressor.  I have lived in this country and visited it 
dozens of times.  I support Israel .  First, because it is the Jewish 
homeland after two thousand years of exile up to and including 
Auschwitz; second because it is a democracy, and third because Israel is 
our first line of defense.
>>>>This tiny country is situated on the fault line of jihad, 
frustrating Islam's territorial advance.   Israel is facing the front 
lines of jihad, like Kashmir, Kosovo, the Philippines , Southern 
Thailand, Darfur in Sudan , Lebanon , and Aceh in Indonesia ..   Israel 
is simply in the way.  The same way West-Berlin was during the Cold War.
>>>>The war against Israel is not a war against Israel .  It is a war 
against the West.  It is jihad.   Israel is simply receiving the blows 
that are meant for all of us.  If there would have been no Israel , 
Islamic imperialism would have found other venues to release its energy 
and its desire for conquest.  Thanks to Israeli parents who send their 
children to the army and lay awake at night, parents in Europe and 
America can sleep well and dream, unaware of the dangers looming.
>>>>Many in Europe argue in favor of abandoning Israel in order to 
address the grievances of our Muslim minorities.  But if Israel were, 
God forbid, to go down, it would not bring any solace to the West It 
would not mean our Muslim minorities would all of a sudden change their 
behavior, and accept our values.  On the contrary, the end of Israel 
would give enormous encouragement to the forces of Islam.  They would, 
and rightly so, see the demise of Israel as proof that the West is weak, 
and doomed.  The end of Israel would not mean the end of our problems 
with Islam, but only the beginning.  It would mean the start of the 
final battle for world domination.  If they can get Israel , they can 
get everything.  So-called journalists volunteer to label any and all 
critics of Islamization as a 'right-wing extremists' or 'racists'.  In 
my country, the Netherlands , 60 percent of the population now sees the 
mass immigration of Muslims as the number one
 policy mistake since World War II.  And another 60 percent sees Islam
as the biggest threat.  Yet there is a greater danger than terrorist
attacks, the scenario of America as the last man standing.  The lights
may go out in Europe faster than you can imagine.  An Islamic Europe
means a Europe without freedom and democracy, an economic wasteland,
an intellectual nightmare, and a loss of military might for America -
as its allies will turn into enemies, enemies with atomic bombs.  With
an Islamic Europe, it would be up to America alone to preserve the
heritage of Rome , Athens and Jerusalem ....
>>>>Dear friends, liberty is the most precious of gifts.  My generation 
never had to fight for this freedom, it was offered to us on a silver 
platter, by people who fought for it with their lives.  All throughout 
Europe , American cemeteries remind us of the young boys who never made 
it home, and whose memory we cherish.  My generation does not own this 
freedom; we are merely its custodians.  We can only hand over this hard 
won liberty to Europe 's children in the same state in which it was 
offered to us.  We cannot strike a deal with mullahs and imams.  Future 
generations would never forgive us.  We cannot squander our liberties.  
We simply do not have the right to do so.
>>>>We have to take the necessary action now to stop this Islamic 
stupidity from destroying the free world that we know.
>>>>Please take the time to read and understand what is written here, 

‘If Narendra Modi cannot bring about a change in India, no one else can’

‘If Narendra Modi cannot bring about a change in India, no one else can’

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August 27, 2014 15:03 IST
Paresh Rawal in Raja Natwarlal

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‘Our country needs 542 Narendra Modis,’ Paresh Rawal tells Sonil Dedhia.

After starring in some fine films, Paresh Rawal has added another feather to his cap — that of a Member of Parliament.

The actor, who will be seen in this week’s release Raja Natwarlal, seems quite excited about his turn as Narendra Modi, in an upcoming biopic on the Indian Prime Minister.

“Only I can do complete justice to the role,” he says confidently.

In conversation with Sonil Dedhia, Rawal tells us why he doesn’t do many films, and why he thinks only Narendra Modi can bring about a change in India.

Congratulations on becoming a Member of Parliament. What have you learnt about this new ‘job’?

Thank you.

There is lot to learn considering the kind of country we are living in. We are a very powerful nation, with a varied culture and heritage.

The problem is that our strength is our biggest weakness. The issue of caste and creed and various other things is very painful. 

The Modi government is doing everything to work towards it and solve these problems.

The problem is that our country doesn’t have a political will. We are all corrupt from inside.Agar mauka mile toh main aapki jeb main haath daal ke paise nikal loon (If I get a chance, I will remove money from your pocket) and there are no two ways about it.

Being a Member of Parliament brings a lot of responsibilities…

I feel good about the responsibilities that are put on me. I want to work towards the development of the nation.

I don’t want to praise Narendra Modi, but if he cannot bring about a change in India then, believe me, no one else can.

I am fortunate because the chief minister of Gujarat, Anandiben Patel, is like an iron lady and is equally committed like Modiji. If I cannot work under them then I am totally useless. 

Lots of people question BJP’s slogan ‘Aache Din Aanewale Hai.’

Logon ke pass aur kuch baat karne ke liye hai nahi (People don’t have anything else to talk about). People should understand that because Narendra Modi has became the PM that doesn’t mean that the heat will decrease during summer.

Just look at the state of our nation. If people had questioned the government that ruled earlier, our country wouldn’t have been in such a state.

The country has gone through a huge loss and it will take time. Our country needs 542 Narendra Modis. Modiji ko teen mahine hue hai aur tum usko galla pakad rahe ho (Modi has been PM for just three months and you are already catching him by the throat).

Show me one Prime Minster who doesn’t have a bank account, a house or even a family. Modiji is selflessly committed to the cause of the nation. He should be given time.

You are planning to make a biopic on Narendra Modi…

Yes. We are working on the script. Generally, biopics are made on people who have retired but in Modiji’s case, his career has just started.

It’s a little difficult to script the film as a lot of things have to be taken into consideration. I think we should start filming by February or March.

Will you be playing Narendra Modi in the film?

Yes. I can say with full confidence that only I can do complete justice to the role.

How will you divide your time between politics and acting?

There is no rocket science behind it. It’s all about time management.

Out of the 365 days I am planning to attend Parliament for 100 days, which is like 80 per cent attendance.

Of the rest 265 days, even if I give 200 days to my films I still have two months to myself. I don’t have a secretary. I look after my work and it becomes easy for me to do things.

Will Bollywood take a back seat?

I can categorically say that I will not leave acting because that’s my soul.

If I quit it, I won’t be a human any more.

I will concentrate on both and I know I can juggle between them.

I am not looking to make a political career. I want to dedicate my time whole-heartedly because this is a huge responsibility which I have taken and will not step back from for the next five years.

Paresh Rawal and Enraan Hashmi in Raja Natwarlal

Image: Paresh Rawal and Emraan Hashmi in Raja Natwarlal

Tell us about your upcoming film Raja Natwarlal.

It’s a very interesting script because it’s an intelligent film.

I love the genre of con films. I have been a fan of Hollywood films like Sting, Matchstick Menand many more.

We haven’t taken the audience for granted and aren’t questioning their intelligence. It’s not an assault on your senses. It’s a believable film and has the right cast. So a lot of positive factors interested me in doing the film.

Have you cut down on work?

Very few scripts come to me that I would like to associate with. Today, a couple of films are different, but most films look the same. 

We should not be under the notion that cinema has changed. There are a lot of stupid films that release and become hits also. 

Are you against doing fun, ridiculous comedy films?

There are no good comedy films being made these days. Unfortunately, we don’t have good writers in India.  

There are so many comedy films coming out which do well but they are pathetic. I feel like crying.

Do you agree that comedy films are all about slapstick and sex jokes?

Personally, I am not comfortable watching sex comedies. I will not be part of such films nor watch them.

It is my personal choice. I’m not passing judgment on such films. They are doing well so there may be something in them. But I do not want to be part of this kind of cinema.

Your kids are planning to join films. Will you help them?

My father did not give me a launching pad. I don’t have Rs 10 to 15 crore, and even if I had, I wouldn’t invest it in launching my sons.

They will have to figure things out on their own. My elder son Anirudh is assisting Naseeruddin Shah in his plays. The younger one (Aditya) is studying screenplay writing.

I am always there to guide them and help them whenever they need me. 

Sonil Dedhia/ Rediff.com in Mumbai



Invention of email

This is the second article in The History of Email Series.

Nearly 35 years have passed since V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai invented email in our Laboratory in 1978. Shiva was a 14-year-old student then, and today he is a 50-year-old accomplished inventor, scientist and entrepreneur, who has continued to innovate many things beyond email, providing thousands of jobs across the world.

In September of 2013, Shiva returned back to our Lab, still located in the same place, at 185 South Orange Avenue, Building C, Room 631 in Newark, New Jersey. It was there, in that Lab, that he conceived, designed and invented email, the email that we all experience today.

When Shiva visited us in September of 2013, it was to announce, along with a representative from the Office of the Mayor of Newark, that he was launching Innovation Corps, a foundation to identify, recognize, mentor and support young people, between the ages to 14-18, who wanted to innovate things, small and large, perhaps creations even bigger than email.

V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai: 14-year-old (left) and 50-year-old (right).

In 1978, we were very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Shiva. I was Shiva’s supervisor at the time. Today, we are pleased that the Huffington Post has decided to run a Series on the History of Email to commemorate the August 30th Anniversary of Email.

I’m honored to be part of this Series, and to have the opportunity to share my experience for various reasons.

First, I hope to offer the reader a chance to hear from the proverbial “horse’s mouth” that, “Yes!” a 14-year-old boy, in 1978, did create a computer program that was the first electronic replication of the interoffice mail system (Inbox, Outbox, Folders, Memo, Attachments, Address Book, etc.), which he named “email’, the world’s first email system.

Email, the name of the software program he created, was more than just a simple “program” but a complete system — it was the electronic interoffice, inter-organizational mail system, the first of its kind, an integrated platform that provided all the recognizable elements of the email, we all know and use today.

My second reason for writing this article is to offer an appreciation of the ecosystem and environment, in which the invention of email took place at UMDNJ, particularly in light of the events that occurred immediately following the Smithsonian Institution’s acquisition, on February 16, 2012, of Shiva’s computer code, artifacts and papers.

A vocal minority of industry insiders, who had profited directly and indirectly from falsification of email’s history for many decades, carried on a campaign of character assassination following the Smithsonian news. They even bullied journalists and editors, who shared the facts and wrote favorably about Shiva, in order to protect their economic interests. From my observation, what really incited these individuals was that the invention of email, in Newark, NJ, was shattering false narratives on when, where and by whom, innovation could take place.

My third reason, perhaps the more important one, is to share, what I believe is, a much larger truth – that innovation, even as important as email, can occur anywhere, even by a 14-year-old boy, in Newark, New Jersey, if the right structure and resources are provided.

Let us begin by providing you a background to the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) and our relationship with it.

UMDNJ in 1978

In 1975 the IT department of UMDNJ, then officially known as the College of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, hired me, an experimental high energy physicist from Brookhaven National Laboratories, who had some general scientific computing experience and an interest in using minicomputers, the small computers of the time, to control and acquire data from laboratory experiments.

In 1978, UMDNJ, was a young organization, and prior to its establishment as a university of the Health Sciences in December of 1981, it was (and still is) a free-standing public institution comprising several medical schools, a dental school, school for the health related professions and a graduate school of the biomedical sciences. Absent were the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Rather, UMDNJ focused exclusively on clinical and basic biomedical research and healthcare. Having been signed into law in 1970 and comprised of the former Rutgers Medical School and the New Jersey College of Medicine and Dentistry, UMDNJ was establishing itself as a major academic health sciences institution.

The IT department at the time, although small, included a scientific data processing group. The group was populated with several biostatisticians and mainframe computer experts. The staff interacted with faculty from numerous departments both in the clinical and basic sciences and became quite adept at introducing machine computation to life scientists, who, given their backgrounds and given the time period had little experience in using computers. Our main local computing device, an IBM remote job entry terminal, was connected to remote batch and time sharing machines operated by an educational consortium known as the New Jersey Educational Computer Network.

Minicomputers made by Digital Equipment Corporation, Data General, Hewlett Packard and others were in fairly widespread use by 1975. They were used with growing frequency in disciplines ranging from nuclear physics to neuroscience. Medical equipment manufacturers were beginning to incorporate them as control and analysis elements in a new device called CAT Scan and they would soon give rise to a new generation of diagnostic instrumentation in which the rate of data acquisition and manipulation mandated the use compact computing hardware built into or adjacent to the instrument.

UMDNJ in 1978.

We were connecting minicomputers directly to laboratory equipment to automate data collection and effect control systems in which real time analysis could influence the generation of electrical stimulus thereby helping to guide the progress of neurophysiological lab experiments. Other life sciences disciplines were similarly suited to this kind of automation.

Although vastly less costly than mainframes, minicomputers were not inexpensive. Furthermore, we had several campuses on which to distribute the minicomputer resources including Newark, Piscataway and New Brunswick. These challenges led to the development of a network we called the LCN for Laboratory Computer Network, where more capable minicomputers were connected to one another and to smaller laboratory machines we called satellite nodes. The satellite nodes, more often than not, lacked a mass storage device — they were very expensive at the time — and depended on the larger nodes to boot their operating systems and applications.

Creating Ecosystem for Innovation

Today, there is a lot of effort underway to create innovation hubs or innovation centers. Our group at UMDNJ, far more modest in retrospect, provided an emerging ecosystem and environment for such innovation. We had the basic infrastructure, and above all were able to attract smart and dedicated people, curious and passionate, who wanted to explore new platforms. Though we ran the scientific data processing organization at UMDNJ, in a medical college in the late 1970s, it was frankly an unusual place to find the kind of experimentation that would lead to automation advances such as email that would change the way an important human-to-human communication paradigm would be mediated.

Our computer hardware infrastructure at the time comprised mainframes, minicomputers and microcomputers. The microcomputer, while an exciting and clearly promising architecture, was mainly seen in industrial controllers and as a part of larger computer components. The microcomputer had also become an obsession for many computer hobbyists. The IBM PC and subsequent wide spread adoption of desktop computing was still a few years away. Standardized networks as envisioned by the National Science Foundation’s NSFnet and its commercial successor, the Internet, were almost a decade away.

The predominant use of computers at the time was administrative business processing, scientific calculation and machine-aided design for engineering problems. However, while the role of computation in the broader context of human endeavor would lie in the distance, our hope was to explore such areas. So, we were open to finding others who wanted to participate in such exploration.

We had resources, space, a network and computing power.

Our team included the late Phil Goldstein who was an early innovator in the educational use of time-sharing systems; Robert Field, a database programmer; and Marilyn Bodow and Tina Brezenoff, statistical programmers in our group, who were looking to provide better interfaces for broader use of statistics packages. Dave Ritacco, a wunderkind studying engineering at the Stevens Technical Institute, also began working with us to develop user interfaces for graphics systems, predecessor to modern day presentation graphics.

It was in this environment that we met Shiva.

The Creation of Email

In 1978, a colleague, Martin Feuerman, from our parent IT organization approached us to ask if we would spend some time with Shiva, a 14-year-old high school student from Livingston New Jersey. Meenakshi Ayyadurai, Shiva’s mother, told me that her son had just completed a special program in computer programming at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University (NYU) for young persons who had demonstrated significant promise in mathematics. Our willingness to talk to Shiva, unfolded into an exciting diversion from the major focus of our work.

Leslie P. Michelson (left) and V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai (right).

By the time Shiva joined the LCN as a high school Research Scholar, a few of us were beginning to ponder the role minicomputers might play in the larger space of human interaction. We were obviously familiar with the nature of the simple interactivity between humans and machines — after all, much of the software we developed to manage lab experiments required interactivity if an investigator was to be in the loop of experimental input and resultant response. We were also familiar with the methods and protocols by which computers could exchange messages with other similar types of computers. Our minicomputers, manufactured by the Hewlett Packard Corporation, were provisioned with subsystems that supported this type of communication. Human interaction was mediated through teletypewriters and relatively primitive CRT-based display devices.

The age-honored interoffice memorandum, the “memo”, the primary modality of written human-human communication in the workplace was widely used at UMDNJ as it was everywhere else. The memo, regardless of the method of transport and retrieval has the general properties of one-to-one or one-to-many distribution and is easily filed to keep a record of a particular human discourse. In 1978, as in decades earlier, the memorandum was delivered by hand or in the case of a campus or group of campuses, placed in a mailer and transported by an interoffice/inter-organizational/campus/intercampus paper mail process, that including pneumatic tubes.

It did not take long to recognize that Shiva was an exceptional student and to determine that we could challenge him in extraordinary ways. Although beyond the scope of our responsibility, we were eager to explore the use of small computers outside of the space of numerical calculation and experiment control. The notion of automating the entire interoffice, inter-organizational paper mail process to create a system was appealing for several reasons: It was a ubiquitous process, the mechanics of which, at least superficially, could be understood by anyone; the advantage of automation was obvious in that it would be possible to significantly collapse the time frame of transactions; and there were multiple ways in which electronic automation could extend the utility of the memorandum.

As far as we knew, no one else in 1978 had attempted to take on such a task.

In fact, recently, we discovered historical documents, including the famous RAND report written by David Crocker, which clearly stated that ARPANET researchers thought it “impossible” and did not even “attempt” to take on such a task. In the December 1977, RAND report, Mr. Crocker stated:

“At this time, no attempt is being made to emulate a full-scale, inter-organizational mail system. The fact that the system is intended for use in various organizational contexts and by users of differing expertise makes it almost impossible to build a system which responds to all users’ needs.” (Crocker, D., December of 1977)

The reader should be aware, that after the Smithsonian’s acceptance, on February of 2012, of Shiva’s papers documenting his invention at UMDNJ, it was Mr. Crocker, who led a vitriolic campaign across the Internet to brush aside and diminish the invention of email by Shiva at UMDNJ. For decades, Mr. Crocker and his ARPANET fraternity had conflated their contributions to email by crediting themselves as “inventors of email” by misusing the term “email” to refer to their work in Text Messaging as “email”. As the historical RAND report clearly shows, neither Mr. Crocker nor his colleagues at the ARPANET, per his own admission, had any intention to create email, the inter-organizational mail system.

When Mr. Crocker’s RAND Report was found by MIT student researcher Devon Sparks, and released on the web site http://www.inventorofemail.com, Mr. Crocker, who I had no relationship with, contacted me and requested to meet me behind closed doors, likely to perform damage control as his contradictory behavior was being exposed.

I declined Mr. Crocker’s request.

The damage he and his ARPANET fraternity had done by being accomplices to the defamatory journalism, unleashed on Shiva, was beyond inexcusable. We hope that on the Anniversary of Email, Mr. Crocker reads his December 1977 RAND Report, and issues a public apology to Shiva, if he desires an authentic intellectual exchange with Shiva and me.

So, for us in 1978, the creation of an electronic version of the interoffice, inter-organizational paper mail process became the object of our affection. This was a different perspective than Mr. Crocker and the ARPANET researchers, who chose not to attempt to emulate a full-scale inter-organizational mail system, and had deemed the creation of such a system impossible.

We were confident that Shiva could do it.

We sat Shiva down and offered him what turned out to be one of most innovative (and fun) projects our group was ever to undertake. In return, we demanded that this 14-year-old youngster channel all of his energies into the project. We made it very clear that he would be a full-fledged member of our team, treated as an adult and that we would expect nothing less from him. Livingston High School agreed to Shiva spending initially a few days a week and later to half-days at the Newark, New Jersey Campus.

Shiva was eager to begin writing code — after all that was the most fun. It was surprisingly easy, though, to convince Shiva that the code would just be a physical embodiment of the design. Although, we would need a working version, indeed a production model, the lasting contribution would be the systems analysis that we hoped would lead to implementation that was more than the mere automation of a manual process. We wanted to develop a sustainable logical and functional framework that would add significant value and lead to further innovation over time.

Shiva’s first task was to learn how the interoffice memorandum was used at the University. Who wrote them and to whom? What was their place in the hierarchy of written documentation? What was the sender’s expectation of a reply? What volume could we anticipate? And, of course, what could we do to improve the utility of this modality? Surely, user would want more features as soon as they recognized this new potential. Could we be one step ahead?

Thus, after long deliberations, always with Shiva in the lead, we arrived at core design principles, which in the context of the day, were original, and forward looking at the very least:

o A simple user interface would require no specific computer knowledge and would provide access to all program features at the user level. Command lines are to be prohibited — our users were life science researchers, clinicians and administrators, not computer scientists.

o The user interface would include a visual compose mode with spelling and formatting capability.

o Interoffice memos would be stored in a structure database and replicated on each node, which would also manage account and routing information.

o Only one instance of a message would exist on any one node until the last recipient elected to delete it or save it in another location.

o Each instance of the program would operate independently of the status of other nodes or the University’s local- and wide-area networks (such as they existed at the time).

o Delivery would be guaranteed.

o Attributes, considered to be part of a letter-based postal delivery system, such as return receipt requested would be implemented.

o A full management interface with account maintenance, environment status and debugging tools would be developed.

o The electronic metaphor of all the other elements of the interoffice, inter-organizational paper mail system would need to be incorporated: inbox, outbox, folders, memo structure, address book and other important features, that we now have in modern email systems.

Our software tools were relatively primitive. A FORTRAN IV compiler with restrictive variable naming conventions and lacking intrinsic file system access; a non-relational, hierarchical database management system; and a simple networking environment that permitted static routing among nodes in a predetermined mesh. These tools ran on the HP1000 platform, a real-time environment not particularly optimal for the kind of development we envisioned.

Innovation Anywhere, Anytime by Anyone

These impediments turned out to be of little consequence, but certainly upped the complexity of the programmer’s task and by some measure, Shiva’s accomplishment. In fact, the inflexibility of the development and execution environment turned out to be somewhat serendipitous.

First page of the computer program showing Shiva’s naming the program “email,” thus defining email to be the electronic interoffice mail system.

Our project combined the attributes of both the interoffice memorandum and paper mail systems. The FORTRAN IV compiler limited variable names to six characters. Moreover, the RTE/IVB operating system running on our HP1000 computers limited process names to five characters.

Did I hear EMAIL?

Of course! Our new service was electronic and it combined many if not all of the characteristics of paper mail. I can attest that Shiva was the sole author of the entire EMAIL program and system.

A few years later, Shiva, obtained a Copyright for the program. Nearly 500 users used the system. The rest should be history.

Official US Copyright Notice for “Email” Issued on August 30, 1982, now, in the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History (NMAH).

Shiva had written some 50,000 lines of FORTRAN code across more than a dozen cooperating processes that communicated within a node and across the Laboratory Computer Network. In those days, the total amount of memory to run the program on the computer was less than 64 Kilobytes! Shiva had to find clever ways to unload and load those processes, in a seamless manner. This was not easy, and required a great deal creativity, persistence and determination.

We recall that on formal launch day, we filled a large lecture hall at the New Jersey Medical School with technical staff and other parties that were fascinated by the work Shiva had done. Here we were, all of these people: IT professionals, administrators, family and friends to learn what Shiva had done. Multiple screens and white boards filled with charts, “screen shots” and flow diagrams kept everyone’s attention. There was a bizarre aspect that pervaded all of this.

The presenter was not a distinguished scientist or clinician from UMDNJ or some other vaunted institution, but rather a very young man, a teenager, with a fascinating story of ingenuity and determination.

There is much credit to spread around the vast community of academic, industrial and military researchers and engineers who eclipsed the industrial revolution with their contributions to computer science and computer and network engineering.

We take no credit where it is not due.

We will, however, stand firmly for the innovation that took place at a health sciences institution, an unlikely venue for the work we did. Our incentive was not fame nor fortune, but rather a challenge that arose from our own experiences and our desire to take on a challenge and place our faith on the resources of a 14-year-old student from Livingston, New Jersey, who was disciplined and found a way to come to Newark, NJ to work.

There is a larger story here, one that should be evident by now.

Innovation can happen anywhere, anytime by anyone. The sooner we embrace this truth, the sooner our lives will be enriched by the thousands of other “Shivas” that do not have the luxury of working in the established bastions of innovation, but nevertheless have the intellect and drive to make big contributions.


Leslie P. Michelson, Ph.D. is the Director of High Performance and Research Computing Division, Rutgers Medical School (RMS). In 1975, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), now a part of RMS, recruited Dr. Michelson, a trained theoretical physicist from Brookhaven National Laboratories. His group at RMS develops solutions in the life sciences for research endeavors with demanding computational requirements. In the late 1970’s Michelson’s organization provided the challenge, resources and mentorship that led to the development of the first electronic interoffice memorandum postal system by V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai. Throughout his career Michelson has been active in the support of the use of networking technologies to advance research and education interests in the State of New Jersey. He was a founder and served as the third president of the New Jersey Intercampus Network, the predecessor of the State’s Higher Education and Research Network, NJEDge.Net.

Britain’s Trident nuclear program at stake in Scottish independence vote

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Scottish independence vote


Shrikanth Reddy

19:22 (1 hour ago)

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Britain’s Trident nuclear program at stake in Scottish independence vote

By Griff Witte August 24 at 10:06 PM  

Nuclear submarine HMS Vanguard arrives back at the naval base in Faslane, Scotland following a patrol. (Courtesy of Ministry of Defense)

HELENSBURGH, Scotland — For decades, Britain’s contribution to the threat of global Armageddon has found a home on the tranquil shores of Gare Loch, where soaring green mountains plunge into murky gray waters plied by sporty kayakers, weekend yachtsmen — and nuclear-armed submarines.

The subs slip past this garrison town as quietly as sea monsters. Their dark hulls breach the water’s surface on their way from base out to the deepest oceans, where British naval crews spend months poised to unleash the doomsday payload.

But if Scotland votes “yes” in an independence referendum next month, the submarines could ­become nuclear-armed nomads, without a port to call home. Washington’s closest and most important ally could, in turn, be left without the ultimate deterrent, even as Europe’s borders are being rattled anew by a resurgent Russia.

Former NATO secretary general George Robertson, a Scotsman, said in a speech in Washington earlier this year that a vote for independence would be “cataclysmic” for Western security, and that ejecting the nuclear submarines from Scotland would amount to “disarming the remainder of the United Kingdom.”

The pro-independence campaign promptly accused Robertson of hyperbolic scaremongering. But the possibility that Britain could become the only permanent member of the U.N. Security Council without a nuclear deterrent underscores just how much is at stake far beyond these silent bays and verdant ridgelines when Scotland’s 5 million residents go to the polls Sept. 18.

“The loss of Scotland would be a massive thing for the U.K. — far bigger than the 10 percent of the population that Scotland represents,” said Phillips O’Brien, who directs the Scottish Center for War Studies at the University of Glasgow. “It would have a profound effect on both the external and internal view of what the U.K. represents. And the nukes are a big part of that.”


Leaders of Scotland’s secessionist movement say their independent nation would be a nuclear-free zone within four years of breaking off from Great Britain.

The vow is a popular one among the movement’s left-leaning voters, and the campaign has distributed fliers with instructions for “how to disarm a nuclear bomb” that begin and end with voting for independence.

At the moment, that argument is losing out to those who advocate sticking with the United Kingdom — and with nuclear weapons. Polls show anapproximate 10-point advantage for the unionist camp.

Andrew Nisbet is a local leader is Helensburgh’s unionist campaign and supports keeping Scotland in the United Kingdom. (Griff Witte/The Washington Post)

But with a substantial share of voters undecided, U.K. officials remain nervous that Scotland could bolt — and that the nuclear program could be a casualty.

The possibility provides an uncomfortable backdrop for the NATO summit that Britain will host in Wales on Sept. 4 and 5.

With Britain’s arsenal of 160 deployed Trident missiles based in Scotland, a “yes” vote would leave the remnants of the United Kingdom to find a new home for the weapons and the four Vanguard-class submarines that can be used to launch them.

But no such home exists. Building suitable bases to house the missiles and dock the subs in England would take at least a decade, experts say, and cost billions of dollars that the government doesn’t have. O’Brien said it’s likely that Britain would decide to scrap its nuclear program rather than make painful cuts elsewhere.

Even without the challenge of relocating Trident, there are plans to slash 30,000 troops from Britain’s armed forces by 2020, and former U.S. defense secretary Robert M. Gates earlier this year questioned whether Britain could be “a full partner” to Washington given the scale of the cuts.


Those doubts were reinforced this month when President Obama announced airstrikes on Islamic State militants in Iraq, and Britain declined to join.

But as much as Britain may be receding militarily, the process would probably be accelerated if the United Kingdom is torn in two, three centuries after Scotland and England joined forces.

The Faslane Naval Base in Scotland is home to Britain’s fleet of nuclear-armed submarines. (Griff Witte/The Washington Post)

An independence vote would be followed by years of negotiation and transition in which bases, hardware and personnel would be divided, said Malcolm Chalmers, research director at the Royal United Services Institute, a think tank. Scotland would have to build autonomous defense forces, while Britain would be “distracted” by tough choices over what it can afford to do without.

“The U.K. might be absent from action for a significant number of years,” Chalmers said.

If British officials did decide to keep Trident, he said, it would be because they wouldn’t want “the additional humiliation of being forced to disarm” after losing a third of the U.K. land mass.

Britain, of course, is not the first nuclear power to face fragmentation. When the Soviet Union tore apart in 1991, nuclear weapons were spread across the republics. But Russia had its share and didn’t need to relocate facilities to retain its deterrence.

Britain, which has had nuclear weapons since the mid-1950s, originally employed warheads that could be dropped from Royal Air Force bombers.

But that program was replaced in the late 1960s with a submarine-based system nestled in this secluded inlet at the mouth of the River Clyde. At the time, Scottish independence was a fantasy.

For many residents in Helensburgh, a neat and prosperous town of 20,000 just south of Faslane naval base, it still is.

“The base is the biggest single-site employer in all of Scotland. It’s huge,” said Jackie Baillie, who represents the area in the Scottish parliament. “Trident’s removal would be devastating to the local economy.”


Baillie said that as many as 11,000 jobs — many of them for highly skilled, well-paid workers — hinge on the nuclear program staying in Scotland.

But for a town in which seemingly everyone has a link to the base, there’s a surprisingly large well of support for independence. The “yes” camp has festooned a headquarters in the heart of Helensburgh with its blue-and-white banners, and its volunteers are active in the streets.

For them, the end of Trident could be a new beginning for the town. Helensburgh, they say, has grown steadily apart from Faslane as the base has expanded to include vast residential compounds, soccer fields, meal halls and a shopping center — all wrapped in the multiple cordons of barbed wire and security cameras that one would expect of a nuclear weapons facility.

“The base may be in the community, but it’s not part of the community,” said Graeme McCormick, a white-maned “yes” activist and businessman.

Graeme McCormick is a leader of the pro-independence campaign in Helensburgh, Scotland, which is near the mouth of the River Clyde, just south of the Faslane Naval Base, home to Britain’s nuclear-armed submarines. (Griff Witte/The Washington Post)

McCormick said most of the service personnel come from “down south” — England — and commute home to their families on the weekends.

That wouldn’t be a problem, he said, if Scotland secedes and the new government in Edinburgh makes Faslane the headquarters for all of Scotland’s armed forces, as its prospective leaders have promised to do.

Vivien Dance is among those from England who moved north of the border because of the base.

But 44 years later, Dance and her husband, a retired submarine navigator, are still here — and both support independence, even if it means the end of the nuclear program that was once their livelihood.

Vivien Dance is a Helensburgh, Scotland, councillor whose husband was a navigator on the nuclear-armed subs at Faslane Naval Base. (Griff Witte/The Washington Post)

“There’s no doubt that the U.K. has enjoyed peace for 60 years, and part of that is down to this deterrent. But the world is changing,” said Dance, now a member of the local council. “I have a confidence in Scotland. Independence is a risk, but that’s true of everything in life. We should take the chance.”

Karla Adam in London contributed to this report.

Griff Witte is The Post’s London bureau chief. He previously served as the paper’s deputy foreign editor and as the bureau chief in Kabul, Islamabad and Jerusalem.
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Jinnah made a mistake and I am ashamed of being Pakistani

.to every single person who defends their patriotism blindly and their religion with a bullet, I hope you know exactly whose side you are on. I hope you sleep well at night knowing that you are on the side of the murderers.” 

May 12, 2014
Jinnah made a mistake and I am ashamed of being Pakistani 
Mahwash Badar
Karachi, Pakistan
Anyone who has ever travelled abroad will tell you that no matter where you go, no matter how developed the country it is that you’re travelling to, if you are a British national or a Caucasian American, the doors become friendlier. The security becomes less pressurising. Visa queues are shorter. Procedures are simpler.
If you’re a brown Pakistani man (or even woman) who is travelling to another country, that’s a whole other story. You’re working in the Middle East, chances are your salary is just a little bit above the basic working wage or anything that will get you a bed-space with seven other human beings. Respect is minimal. 
You’re not supposed to ruffle any feathers. Or demand for rights. Your children are thousands of miles away studying (because you can?t afford education for them here), your wife probably has another job to help make ends meet and your job squeezes every drop of your blood into a tiny container that helps build the skyscrapers and that little container is thrown away quicker than you can say “burj”, as soon as your company decides to say bye bye.
Pretty much the equivalent of, well, I don’t know. What is that the equivalent of? What analogy do I draw to represent the utter misery that is being a Pakistani in this super-power dominated world?
As if the current state of the country, what with its years of dictatorship and lack of infrastructure, hasn’t driven us insane enough, there is the added bonus of inviting religious extremists and letting them destroy everything we hold near and dear. Sure, apologists will reason it saying “this is not true Islam” and what not. But my question is when, seriously, when do we set aside the debate of what is true Islam and what isn’t?
Let the clerics and the religious scholars sit in their mosques and minibars, oh I meant minbars. But once and for all, eliminate and annihilate the savage, beastly, cowardly, immoral men who buy the bodies of fragile, poverty-stricken, desperate men, strap them with explosives and send them into markets with innocent women and children. Finish these abhorrent elements in the society that attempt to throw us back to the Stone Age.
A recent article in the New York Times reported on the World Health Organisation (WHO) declaration of the polio emergency in Pakistan.
Last year, a polio worker was killed in Peshawar, as well as another who was shot dead in Khyber Agency. Several were kidnapped in Bara. In January this year, gunmen killed three health workers taking part in a polio vaccination drive in Karachi. Not Kabul. Not Sierra Leone. Not Riyadh. Karachi. 
My heart boils and burns as more devastating news and reports flood the channels. The New York Times article further stated that according to a report, the highest refusal rates for polio vaccination were recorded in wealthy neighbourhoods of Karachi because they had little faith in public health care. In North Waziristan, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have forbidden vaccinations since years. Pakistan thus has 59 polio cases to report, the most of any in the world.
Being a mother, it scares me. It keeps me awake at night. It reminds me that even if I run far far away from the borders of my own land, its demons will continue to haunt me and my future generations. I Google “Pakistan” on the news and everything that is reported is about death, destruction, squabbling politicians, ailing children, extremists blowing up things and a struggling economy.
I raise my eyes to our neighbouring country and see what could have happened if we were still a United India. Maybe we would have been polio free too. We would have been a unified part of a process of being the world’s next big force to reckon with. Of being a part of the next blazing economy.
I find myself deeply wishing that Jinnah hadn’t made this mistake, that he had thought about the future of Pakistan. He didn’t think of the obscurantist mindset that he had propelled forward, the countless millions that died at the hand of this vague agenda that fails to unite us as a nation. I look at the years of struggles that Pakistan faces, the fall of Dhaka, the provincial wars, the stark separatist mindsets and I wonder what Mr Jinnah was thinking when he decided to leave the Indian National Congress (INC).
We share more with our Indian brothers than our ancestral DNA. Our food, language, clothes, lifestyles are more like them than the Arabs we so badly want to mimic and ape. I stare at the green passport with the same self-loathing as the fat 16-year-old girl with pimples on her face who is told that she cannot get married because she will always be blind, diseased and fat and her elder, stronger, prettier, better-educated sister will snag all the good catches because she ended up with the better caretaker after the divorce of their parents.
§  I am ashamed of being a Pakistani today. 
§  I am ashamed that I belong to a country that kills human rights lawyers and sitting governors, and issues death threats to university professors. 
§  I am ashamed that we believe in spaghetti monster theories and pie in the sky conspiracies and risk the future of our children. 
§  I am ashamed that we have rejected our scientists just because they believe in a different dogma. 
§  I am ashamed that we cannot protect our women, we cannot protect our children and we cannot protect our men from the evil that is extremism, fundamentalism and the foolhardy idea that Pakistan is a great nation.
Pakistan is a fledgling, flailing state. 
And those 59 children, whose legs can never work anymore, the family of Raza Rumi’s driver, those who shed tears for Salman Taseer, for Perveen Rehman, for Rashid Rehman, for Dr Murtaza Haider and his 12-year-old son, every single person who went out to have a normal day and never made it home alive, are all paying the price of the empathy, respect and awe YOU show cowards like Mumtaz Qadri.
So, to every single person who defends their patriotism blindly and their religion with a bullet, I hope you know exactly whose side you are on. I hope you sleep well at night knowing that you are on the side of the murderers.

Prof. S.C.Sharma

Sr.Vice President

Modi a modernist whose motivation is indian

Modi, a modernist whose motivation is very Indian

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August 18, 2014 14:55 IST
Narendra Modi

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For a vision to manifest in action one should know the path. Modi knows the path. That is why he repeatedly exhorted that he wanted the support of every political party, the industrialists, the Indians abroad, the youth, women, parents… practically his agenda involved every Indian. He wants to make every Indian a stake-holder in India’s progress and he thinks that it is possible, says Ram Madhav, the newly appointed BJP general secretary.

He arrived in style. The turban he wore reminding the countrymen of Swami Vivekananda, who went to the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago some 121 years ago, wearing something similar. He invoked Swami Vivekananda a couple of time in his speech to proclaim that ‘India will once again rise to become Vishwa Guru’. And what he spoke was the essence of what Rishi Aurobindo and Swami Vivekananda — the two scholar-saints had wished India to be.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address was a visionary exhortation to inspire patriotic action among a billion plus Indians — be it senior government officials or ordinary village folk.

Gone are the days of ‘reader’ prime ministers who blabber extremely uninspiring insipid paragraphs from the notes prepared by some pen-pusher bureaucrat in South or North Block or the ubiquitous Prime Minister’s Office.

He did not hide behind the bullet-proof chamber, the very sight of which used to send chill in the spines of ordinary Indians reminding them of how insecure their own prime minister was and they themselves ought to be.

From the open podium on the ramparts of the historic Red Fort, with the triumphantly fluttering tricolour behind him, Modi declared that his course was going to be different. From the very first sentence itself he sent out a clear message to the countrymen that here is a leader who is different; who calls himself not the prime minister of the country but the prime servant — Pradhan Sevak.

Through the entire 65-minute extempore address which forced many to introspect and also look for their kerchiefs, he didn’t speak to the mammoth 20,000-strong audience in front of him alone, nor to the officials — civilian and military on both sides of his podium; he was speaking to the billion plus Indians; he was actually speaking on behalf of them.

The prime minister had a vision, and most importantly an action plan too. That is brand Modi. Those who are familiar with Gujarat know that Modi is a visionary-doer; not just one of them. For a vision to manifest in action one should know the path. Modi knows the path. That is why he repeatedly exhorted that he wanted the support of every political party, the industrialists, the Indians abroad, the youths of our country, the women, parents… practically his agenda involved every Indian.

It is participatory governance rather than representative governance. He wants to make every Indian a stake-holder in India’s progress and he thinks that it is possible.

He is a modernist when it comes to the tools of his vision. He talked about e-governance proclaiming it as effective, efficient and economical governance. He envisioned a digital India that empowers the last man. He attempted to stir up the latent patriotism of overseas Indians by calling upon them to ‘Make in India.’

At the same time his motivation is very Indian. He didn’t attempt to quote from some unknown author of a failed Western country to sound big and intellectual. In stead he dived deep into traditional Indian wisdom and invoked the age-old Hindu dictum ‘Sangachaddhwam Samvadaddhwam Samvomanamsi janatam‘ This Rig Vedic hymn calls upon the people to ‘walk together, speak in one voice and think collectively.’ This should be the mantra of national unity according to him.

Vayam Rashtre Jaguyama Sarve‘ — another Vedic hymn quoted by him — contains the message of patriotism and oneness. ‘Let us all wake up into a nation,’ the hymn proclaims. Through these very native ideas the prime minister wanted the countrymen to be inspired and motivated.v

Prime ministers have traditionally been using the Red Fort occasion to deliver populist speeches with hoards of announcements of freebies etc. Announcements are important and Modi did announce a scheme or two. But he also made it clear that he was not going to indulge in any deceptive and un-fulfillable promises. Even in the schemes that he announced he wanted public participation in a big way.

The cleanliness campaign and building toilets in schools is one such example of how he wanted India to progress on a model of participatory governance.

When Swami Vivekananda spoke at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago about the greatness of India and Hinduism the world was stunned into silence. But later somebody asked Vivekananda an important question — ‘If your country is great and your culture is great why are your people so poor and backward and in slavery?’ Vivekananda’s reply was: ‘My country and culture are great. But my people have become lethargic and self-centred.’ That was why after his return to India he launched a movement in the name of the Shri Ramakrishna Mission to reform Indian society.

Wearing the turban Vivekananda style was not merely a political stunt for Prime Minister Modi. He decided to literally walk in the footsteps of great humans like Buddha, Vivekananda, Aurobindo, Gandhi and Sardar Patel — all of whom he invoked in his address. Reform is anything but populist.

To tell government officials that he was ashamed to see news items glorifying their coming to offices on time; to tell the parents that rapes happen because they don’t discipline their sons as much as they control their daughters; to tell the doctors that female foeticide is a sin and families that boys and girls should be treated equally; to call for a 10-year moratorium on caste and communal politics; to call upon MPs and MLAs to build ideal villages; to ask corporates to build toilets in schools — all this and more is not easy for a populist ruler in democracy.

But Prime Minister Modi is different. He calls himself and his entire government machinery ‘servants’. He has the courage to call a spade a spade. But he also has the confidence to achieve his goals and accomplish his vision. He has deadlines for everything precisely for that reason. ‘We have to wage a war on poverty and defeat it,’ he declared, concluding, ‘We can do it.’

Ram Madhav is general secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Ram Madhav

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