US diggers find a Kargil resolution

US diggers find a Kargil resolution

– ‘HR 227’ and the Modi connectionK.P. NAYAR

Modi

New Delhi, Sept. 21: With exactly a week to go before Barack Obama and Narendra Modi meet for the first time, Americans are discovering that the new Prime Minister is no pushover.

As inter-agency meetings to give concrete shape to an imponderable Indo-US summit began within the Obama administration last fortnight, documents surfaced in Washington which pointed to a hitherto unknown role played by Modi in securing the withdrawal of Pakistani forces from Kargil at the heavy prodding of then US President Bill Clinton.

These documents, which were shared by well-connected sources in Washington and are now in the possession of The Telegraph, have convinced those working on the September 29-30 summit that Modi was not a stranger to foreign affairs even in 1999 when he visited the US as a pracharak of the RSS.

Modi’s visit took place five days before Nawaz Sharif flew into Washington and agreed after a day-long meeting with Clinton to pull out of Kargil, enabling a ceasefire in the conflict that worried the world because it began soon after India and Pakistan became declared nuclear powers.

Modi’s role in the turn of events, it is now revealed, was critical.

The discovery of these Kargil documents and revelations that are not on paper have alerted the Obama administration that they will have their hands full when the US President and other top American leaders meet the Prime Minister in a week.

The documents, which were recovered from the mists of time 15 years ago, are the result of painstaking research and a tribute to America’s institutionalised memory of dealings with events around the world as a superpower.

The story they have to tell is as follows and points to how history can look very different with the passage of time and how contemporary events are not what they are as they happen. They also offer a window into the BJP-RSS ways of doing things, often very different from other political organisations.

After the Pakistanis sought strategic advantage over India in the spring of 1999, a full military conflict erupted along approximately 150km around Kargil by June. As Indian casualties mounted, the Americans assessed that then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was considering opening another front “to force Pakistanis to fight on territory favourable to India”, according to Bruce Reidel, who was Clinton’s special assistant and senior director for near east and south Asia in the White House national security council from 1997 to 2001.

Vajpayee concluded that although India could fight a long war and win conventionally, international pressure on Islamabad, particularly from Washington, could force a Pakistani withdrawal from Kargil and end the loss of lives and other destruction.

But the Clinton administration, in particular the state department, was ambivalent: Foggy Bottom, the seat of the state department, like the Pentagon had a history of supporting Pakistan. So, all of India’s efforts were concentrated on getting the US Congress to mount pressure on the American executive on behalf of New Delhi.

On the other side, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif feared a coup and his overthrow if the conflict continued. He wanted to pursue the path of Lahore, where Vajpayee had gone and extended the hand of friendship. But Pervez Musharraf, his army chief, wanted to press for strategic advantage with India and he saw Kargil as the route to achieve that goal which had eluded Pakistan throughout its history.

By the last week of June, before the US House of Representatives was a two-and-a-half-page resolution, at the core of which was a declaration that “it should be the policy of the US to oppose the government of Pakistan’s support for armed incursion into Jammu and Kashmir, India.”

It will never be acknowledged, of course, but the text of that House resolution, “HR 227,” was virtually written by Indian lobbyists on Capitol Hill on behalf of the Indian embassy in Washington.

Going through transcripts of meetings of the House of Representatives Committee on International Relations for that week, it is clear the draft had the support of all members but one. The resolution was to leave the committee in that form and would have been passed by the House, but Narendra Modi arrived in Washington and with support from Overseas Friends of the BJP, launched into a whirlwind of meetings with key Congressmen.

Earlier, he had spent a few days in New Jersey brainstorming with Indian Americans, especially of BJP and RSS persuasion, and assessed the situation. At meetings on Capitol Hill, Modi asked for reopening of the text of HR 227 arguing that it was toothless and would not do anything to persuade Musharraf to call off his dangerous Kargil adventure.

Modi said the only thing that would hurt Islamabad was a financial crunch and he called on the US to work towards cutting off funds for Pakistan from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Shekhar Tiwari, who co-founded the Overseas Friends of the BJP along with the late Mukund Mody, told The Telegraph last week that Benjamin Gilman, chairman of the House committee, agreed with Modi.

But Gilman feared that there would not be enough support either within his panel or on the House floor to get such an amendment passed. Besides, Gilman and the committee’s most prominent friend of India, Gary Ackerman of New York, pointed out that the Indian embassy had not asked for any cut-off in funds. They only wanted condemnation of Pakistan.

It was then that Modi took matters into his hands. With support from Hindu Net and other American organisations linked to the RSS, Congressmen were bombarded with phone calls and fax messages demanding, as American citizens, that the US should call for cutting off international loans and aid to Pakistan.

“I am running out of fax paper,” Tiwari recalled Gilman as complaining to him about this campaign that Modi mobilised in two days. Having sowed this wind, Modi left for Europe because of prior commitments, leaving those on Capitol Hill to reap its whirlwind.

By July 1, two days after Modi had his meetings with Congressmen, at a “mark-up” session of the committee, Ackerman moved an amendment to HR 227 which substituted portions of the original resolution.

In part, Ackerman’s amendment read: the US “President should consider all alternatives, including instructing the US representatives to various international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank to oppose any loan applications from Pakistan, except for food or humanitarian assistance, until it withdraws its forces from the Indian side of the Line of Control.”

The amendment passed with 22 votes. It was opposed by only four members, prominent among whom where well-known India-baiter Dan Burton of Indiana and a champion of the Afghan royal family, Dana Rohrabacher of California.

As the Modi-inspired amendment made its way through stages on Capitol Hill, the BJP and the RSS left nothing to chance. Sushma Swaraj arrived in Washington and was personally on the Hill as the Ackerman amendment passed.

From Washington, she reported regularly on the amendment’s progress both to L.K. Advani and to the RSS headquarters in Nagpur, sources in both organisations confirmed.

Once the Ackerman amendment passed overwhelmingly, the administration read it as a signal that America’s elected representatives had chosen to unambiguously back India in the conflict.

Reidel has put down on paper for the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for the Advanced Study of India what is the most authoritative account of the US role in ending the Kargil war, but solely from the administration’s view point.

According to him, “on the 3rd (of July, two days after the Ackerman amendment) Sharif was more desperate and told the president he was ready to come immediately to Washington to seek our help. The president repeated his caution — come only if you are ready to withdraw, I can’t help you if you are not ready to pull back…. Sharif said he was coming and would be there on the 4th”.

The Pakistani Prime Minister went to Washington and the rest is history. July 4 was America’s independence day, a national holiday, but Clinton spent the day ending the Kargil war.

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gita gift to modi

PM’s US Visit: Narendra Modi gets Bhagavad Gita as gift from Tulsi Gabbard

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"Today I was very honoured to have the opportunity to meet with Prime Minister Modi, where I presented him with a gift of my personal copy of the Bhagavad Gita," she wrote on her Facebook page.
“Today I was very honoured to have the opportunity to meet with Prime Minister Modi, where I presented him with a gift of my personal copy of the Bhagavad Gita,” she wrote on her Facebook page.
NEW YORK: Influential lawmaker Tulsi Gabbard, the only Hindu member of the US Congress, has met Prime Minister Narendra Modi here and presented her personal copy of Bhagavad Gita to him, saying it was a gesture to express her love for India.

Gabbard, a 33-year-old US Democrat Congresswoman from Hawaii, called on the Prime Minister at his hotel here.

She presented to the Prime Minister a copy of Gita, which she had placed in her hand when she took oath while being sworn in to the US House of Representative.

“Gita I gave u I had since child, took shelter of in Mid East war zone duty, took Congressional Oath on,” she tweeted after her meeting with Modi.

“Today I was very honoured to have the opportunity to meet with Prime Minister Modi, where I presented him with a gift of my personal copy of the Bhagavad Gita,” she wrote on her Facebook page.

“Nothing could have been more special and valuable to me than this Gita which I have had with me since a child,” she added.

“It is said that the greatest gift you can give someone is that which is of the greatest value to you, because it is a personal sacrifice to give up something which is very dear to you. So my presenting of my personal Bhagavad Gita to the Prime Minister was my way of expressing just how deep my affection and love is for India, for the Prime Minister, and for the people of India who he represents,” she added.

Gabbard was also present at the Madison Square reception hosted by Indian-Americans for Modi.

“It was great to hear his message of peace and friendship at his address to an energised crowd at New York’s renowned Madison Square Garden,” she said after Modi’s address to NRIs.

A Message to America – Sri Aurobindo

A Message to America
I have been asked to send on this occasion of the fifteenth August
a message to theWest, but what I have to say might be delivered
equally as a message to the East. It has been customary to dwell
on the division and difference between these two sections of
the human family and even oppose them to each other; but,
for myself I would rather be disposed to dwell on oneness and
unity than on division and difference. East and West have the
same human nature, a common human destiny, the same aspiration
after a greater perfection, the same seeking after something
higher than itself, something towards which inwardly and even
outwardly we move. There has been a tendency in some minds
to dwell on the spirituality or mysticism of the East and the
materialism of the West; but the West has had no less than the
East its spiritual seekings and, though not in such profusion, its
saints and sages and mystics, the East has had its materialistic
tendencies, its material splendours, its similar or identical dealings
with life and Matter and the world in which we live. East
and West have always met and mixed more or less closely, they
have powerfully influenced each other and at the present day
are under an increasing compulsion of Nature and Fate to do so
more than ever before.
There is a common hope, a common destiny, both spiritual
and material, for which both are needed as co-workers. It is
no longer towards division and difference that we should turn
our minds, but on unity, union, even oneness necessary for the
pursuit and realisation of a common ideal, the destined goal, the
fulfilment towards which Nature in her beginning obscurely set
out and must in an increasing light of knowledge replacing her
first ignorance constantly persevere.
But what shall be that ideal and that goal? That depends on
our conception of the realities of life and the supreme Reality.
Here we have to take into account that there has been, not
any absolute difference but an increasing divergence between the
tendencies of the East and theWest. The highest truth is truth of
the Spirit; a Spirit supreme above the world and yet immanent
in the world and in all that exists, sustaining and leading all towards
whatever is the aim and goal and the fulfilment of Nature
since her obscure inconscient beginnings through the growth of
consciousness is the one aspect of existence which gives a clue to
the secret of our being and a meaning to the world. The East has
always and increasingly put the highest emphasis on the supreme
truth of the Spirit; it has, even in its extreme philosophies, put
the world away as an illusion and regarded the Spirit as the sole
reality. The West has concentrated more and more increasingly
on the world, on the dealings of mind and life with our material
existence, on our mastery over it, on the perfection of mind and
life and some fulfilment of the human being here: latterly this has
gone so far as the denial of the Spirit and even the enthronement
of Matter as the sole reality. Spiritual perfection as the sole
ideal on one side, on the other, the perfectibility of the race,
the perfect society, a perfect development of the human mind
and life and man’s material existence have become the largest
dream of the future. Yet both are truths and can be regarded as
part of the intention of the Spirit in world-nature; they are not
incompatible with each other: rather their divergence has to be
healed and both have to be included and reconciled in our view
of the future.
The Science of the West has discovered evolution as the
secret of life and its process in this material world; but it has
laid more stress on the growth of form and species than on the
growth of consciousness: even, consciousness has been regarded
as an incident and not the whole secret of the meaning of the
evolution. An evolution has been admitted by certain minds in
the East, certain philosophies and Scriptures, but there its sense
has been the growth of the soul through developing or successive
forms and many lives of the individual to its own highest reality.
For if there is a conscious being in the form, that being can
hardly be a temporary phenomenon of consciousness; it must
be a soul fulfilling itself and this fulfilment can only take place
if there is a return of the soul to earth in many successive lives,
in many successive bodies.
The process of evolution has been the development from and
in inconscient Matter of a subconscient and then a conscious
Life, of conscious mind first in animal life and then fully in
conscious and thinking man, the highest present achievement
of evolutionary Nature. The achievement of mental being is
at present her highest and tends to be regarded as her final
work; but it is possible to conceive a still further step of the
evolution: Nature may have in view beyond the imperfect mind
of man a consciousness that passes out of the mind’s ignorance
and possesses truth as its inherent right and nature. There is a
truth-consciousness as it is called in the Veda, a supermind, as I
have termed it, possessing Knowledge, not having to seek after
it and constantly miss it. In one of the Upanishads a being of
knowledge is stated to be the next step above the mental being;
into that the soul has to rise and through it to attain the perfect
bliss of spiritual existence. If that could be achieved as the next
evolutionary step of Nature here, then she would be fulfilled
and we could conceive of the perfection of life even here, its
attainment of a full spiritual living even in this body or it may
be in a perfected body. We could even speak of a divine life on
earth; our human dream of perfectibility would be accomplished
and at the same time the aspiration to a heaven on earth common
to several religions and spiritual seers and thinkers.
The ascent of the human soul to the supreme Spirit is that
soul’s highest aim and necessity, for that is the supreme reality;
but there can be too the descent of the Spirit and its powers into
the world and that would justify the existence of the material
world also, give a meaning, a divine purpose to the creation
and solve its riddle. East and West could be reconciled in the
pursuit of the highest and largest ideal, Spirit embrace Matter
and Matter find its own true reality and the hidden Reality in
all things in the Spirit.
11-8-49 Sri Aurobindo

p 552 On Sri Aurobindo’s Ashram and Yoga

Sanskrit compolsory in British school

A British school makes Sanskrit compulsory

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A Letter From Grandpa

By Niranjan Shah

My dear Nikita and Sanjna:

In the heart of London, a British school has made Sanskrit compulsory subject for its junior division because it helps students grasp math, science and other languages better. Warwick Jessup, head of Sanskrit department, says:  “This is the most perfect and logical language in the world, the only one that is not named after the people who speak it.  Indeed the word itself means perfected language.” Paul Moss, headmaster of the school, says: “The Devnagri script and spoken Sanskrit are two of the best ways for a child to overcome stiffness of fingers and the tongue. Today’s European languages do not use many parts of the tongue and mouth while speaking or many finger movements while writing, whereas Sanskrit helps immensely to develop cerebral dexterity through its phonetics.”

Leon Maclaren, who was trained as a barrister but was in essence a philosopher, founded the St. James independent schools in 1975. Education at the schools he established caters for the intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual needs of children, and the curriculum is wide-ranging, including science, mathematics, languages, music and fine art. And at its junior school, students must learn Sanskrit as a second language for six years. The school’s meals also are fully vegetarian.

Although it draws on some Indian traditions, the school is also roped in the Christian ethos. School supports the Christian tradition of the nation, but seeks to discover and teach the unifying principles common to all great faiths of the world. Maclaren was influenced by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his technique of Transcen-dental Meditation. He also drew upon the teachings of the Shantananda Saraswati, the Shankarachrya of the North. As a result, many philosophy courses of the school began centering  on Advaita Vedanta.

Maclaren also founded the school of Economic Science more than half a century ago. The school offers courses in philosophy and economics to adults.
American authority on civilization Dr. Will  Durant wrote that Sanskrit is  the mother   of modern languages. San-skrit helps students in their overall cognitive development. Paul Moss, says: “Sanskrit is the mother of most Indo-European languages.”

Warwick Jessup has taught Sanskrit in St. James Independent School for the past 20 years. He explains: “Sanskrit in its most ancient form predates both these (Latin and Greek) languages.”  All Indo-European languages, including English and many languages that are spoken all the way from the Americas to Iceland to the Bay of Bengal descend from Sanskrit.

Sanskrit is the culmination of millennia of endeavor to refine speech and thought so that the human race can aspire to the heights of civilization and fathom the depths of philosophical profundity. It is the pinnacle of achievement of people of enormous intellect. A line of scholars consciously refined the language. Panini was at the end of this line. Panini mentions in  his “Ashtadhyayi” 64 grammarians before him. Hanuman is considered the ninth grammarian. All these grammarians have perfected Sanskrit.  That  is the main difference between Sanskrit and modern languages and even other  classical  languages.

Sanskrit, thus, is an Indo-European heritage, and students from seemingly diverse backgrounds are united as they realize that the different modern languages that they speak are intimately related. Of perhaps even great significance than all the benefits is the opportunity to imbibe deeply the universal ideas that have been enunciated by great poets of antiquity. Sanskrit is a perfectly phonetic language, unlike English. In English, the spelling of words is not a consistent guide to their pronunciation, but in Sanskrit, once students learn the sounds, they are able to read words easily, and that gives them a lot of confidence. “It is one of our most popular subjects at the junior level” says Sanskrit teacher Jessup.

Some linguists of the old school of Max Muller still mention that an Indo-European language very similar to Sanskrit is the mother of languages. This theory is out now because they have never been able to find such a language.

— Grandpa’s blessing

Niranjan Shah, a civil engineer, who pioneered famous high-rise buildings in Baroda, is a broadcaster in India and the USA and a prolific writer. Under “A Letter from Grandpa.” he has been writing since 2002 on India’s historical, philosophical, and literary heritage. He can be reached atnshah32@hotmail.com

In Farewell Speech, Karzai Calls American Mission in Afghanistan a Betrayal

Karzai Calls American Mission in Afghanistan a Betrayal

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Shrikanth Reddy

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In Farewell Speech, Karzai Calls American Mission in Afghanistan a Betrayal

By SEPT. 23, 2014

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Hamid Karzai, the departing president of Afghanistan, lashed out at the United States in a farewell speech on Tuesday in Kabul. CreditRahmat Gul/Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan — In his nearly 13 years as the leader of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai’s most memorable public stances always seemed driven by some deep emotion, and an almost compulsive need to express it. There was heartbreak for families killed by errant airstrikes, outrage at the scheming of hostile neighbors, palpable longing to preside over a peaceful end to the Taliban insurgency.

On Tuesday, though he delivered a farewell speech in a loose and sometimes jocular way, there was, again, no doubt of the emotion that inspired his words: bitterness at what he saw as an American betrayal of Afghanistan.

“America did not want peace for Afghanistan, because it had its own agendas and goals here,” he told an audience of hundreds of cabinet and staff members at the presidential palace in Kabul, warning them not to trust the Americans. “I have always said this: that if America and Pakistan want peace, it is possible to bring peace to Afghanistan.”

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Mr. Karzai’s denunciation of the United States came in terms that had become wearily familiar to the diplomats watching the televised speech from the heavily fortified American Embassy just a few blocks and many blast walls from the palace. But what the president did not say, omitting any recognition of the more than 2,000 American lives and hundreds of billions of dollars the United States expended in fighting the Taliban, may have grated more.

Instead, Mr. Karzai pointedly praised the assistance of countries that had given notably less, like India. He did not mention the sacrifices of other Western allies, nor of his own security forces, who have lost an estimated 15,000 men killed in a war that seems unlikely to end soon.

“I want to thank those countries who genuinely supported us,” Mr. Karzai said. “Western countries had their personal interest — the Western countries and the United States had their own personal goal.”

The departing American ambassador, James B. Cunningham, dispensed with diplomatic niceties afterward, telling Western journalists that Mr. Karzai’s remarks were ungrateful and ungracious.

“It makes me kind of sad. I think his remarks, which were uncalled-for, do a disservice to the American people, and dishonor the sacrifices that Americans have made here,” Mr. Cunningham said. “By not recognizing the many contributions that Americans have made, and our partners, that’s the part that’s ungracious and ungrateful.”

Still, the ambassador did praise Mr. Karzai.

“For all the difficulties in our relationship at various times, I think his legacy in terms of his country will be a strong one,” Mr. Cunningham said. “He undoubtedly had one of the more difficult jobs in the world for a long period of time, and I’m convinced he really is an Afghan patriot who wants the best thing for his country.”

Though he is to cede the presidency to Ashraf Ghani at inauguration ceremonies on Monday, Mr. Karzai, 56, is not exactly retiring. Mr. Ghani has said he would welcome some role as an adviser or éminence grise for Mr. Karzai.

At first it was thought that Mr. Karzai would live in a lavish house adjoining the presidential palace compound, which was refurbished for him at a cost Afghan officials estimated at more than $5 million.

Mr. Karzai is now said to have rejected it as too opulent, and has decided to move into a private home in the Shar-e Naw neighborhood nearby, according to Western diplomats.

In his speech, he offered his first piece of advice to Mr. Ghani and to Abdullah Abdullah, the presidential rival who is to join a unity government after months of political crises and wrangling over widespread electoral fraud. It was more a warning than a reflection on the recent political peril: “Both wise brothers should be very careful in maintaining their relationship with Western countries and the United States,” Mr. Karzai said.

He sought to explain to the government officials his dogged refusal to sign a bilateral security agreement with the United States, which would allow American troops to remain in Afghanistan after this year. Mr. Ghani has promised to sign it as soon as he is inaugurated, and many inside Mr. Karzai’s own government were critical of his stance.

“I believe the stability of Afghanistan is directly related to the United States and Pakistan,” Mr. Karzai said. “This war is for the personal interest of the foreign policies of others, and this is a fight of outsiders in which Afghans are sacrificed.”

Ryan C. Crocker, dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M, was the first American ambassador to the post-Taliban government, and he was among those American officials who supported Mr. Karzai’s initial appointment as Afghanistan’s leader. Mr. Crocker also returned as ambassador in 2011, as Afghan relations were souring under the Obama administration, which Mr. Karzai saw as less attentive than the Bush administration had been.

“I saw over the years an increasing bitterness on his part particularly vis-à-vis Pakistan and the U.S.-Pakistan relationship,” Mr. Crocker said.

Mr. Karzai’s view was that the United States should have been able to force Pakistan to stop giving sanctuary to the Taliban’s leaders. The American view has been that the expectation was unrealistic, given the deeply troubled relationship between Washington and Islamabad.

During Mr. Crocker’s second tour here as ambassador, and throughout Mr. Cunningham’s time since then, Mr. Karzai adopted an increasingly strident tone toward the Americans, particularly on the issue of civilian casualties in American airstrikes, and on two occasions actually threatened to join the Taliban, whom he often referred to as “my brothers.”

He blamed the Americans, too, for his inability to start any sort of meaningful peace talks with the Taliban. The insurgents have consistently refused to talk to him, denouncing him as an American puppet.

For all of that, Mr. Crocker still believes Hamid Karzai was the right man for the job Americans effectively chose him for at a conference in Bonn in December 2001. “I don’t think there was a better choice than Karzai,” he said. “I didn’t think so then; I don’t think so now.”

been a disaster for Afghanistan, it was not always so

Mr. Cunningham said, “He will also get tremendous credit for bringing his country to the first peaceful transition of power from one Afghan president to another.”

Mr. Crocker remembered Mr. Karzai saying in 2011 that he was counting the days until he could leave office: “I think I remember his words verbatim: ‘The worst thing that could happen to Afghanistan would be for me to continue in office.’ Then he said: ‘No, that would be the second-worst thing. The worst thing would be if one of my brothers was elected.’ ”

Although much of Mr. Karzai’s speech on Tuesday suggested that the long American intervention had

In 2002, when he was simply Chairman Hamid Karzai of the post-Taliban transitional government, he liked to tell people the story of sitting with an old man whose family had been killed in an accidental air raid. Some Americans came in, and Mr. Karzai was worried there would be a scene.

“This man said, ‘Hamid, are these Americans?’ He said: ‘Tell them that I have lost eight of my children at one of your accidental bombs, but I don’t care. Even if I lost more of my people, of my children, I wouldn’t care; I would accept it because you are here to liberate Afghanistan.’ ”

Matthew Rosenberg contributed reporting from Washington.

Kireet Joshi

Kireetbhai

Kireet Joshi or Kireetbhai as he was fondly called was the Registrar of the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education from 1958 to 1976. Kireetbhai was born in Gujarat on 10th August 1931. He completed his university education in philosophy and later joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1955 and was posted to Surat.  As a student of philosophy at the age of 19 he was so moved by The Life Divine that he read the whole book in just 18 days. That proved to be the turning in his life and he decided then itself that sooner or later he would follow Sri Aurobindo and Mother; accordingly, he first came to the Ashram in 1952 at the young age of 21. The Mother remarked about him: “he is a good boy”. He spent a week in the Ashram and came back again in 1955. Finally he left the IAS and joined the Ashram; the Mother gave him work first in the Press and later in the library.

On 4th November 1958 Pavitrada came to the Library and informed him that his name had been proposed to Mother to become the Registrar of the Sri Aurobindo International University Centre; Mother’s reply was that Kireet should himself decide whether he would like  to take up the work. Kireet was stunned and he replied that he would do whatever the Mother wanted him to do. On hearing this, Mother reiterated that it iwas for Kireet to decide. So on 6th November, Kireet sent word to Mother that he was willing to take up the responsibility. Mother expressed great happiness. On 9 November, Mother visited the school and blessed Kireet and led him to his office and asked him to get a big table and start his work immediately.

Kireet had very little time to reorganize the school as it was to open on 16th December. Within just a month, Kireet laid down, in a new way, the overall structure and organisation of the Centre of Education. Here are some of the main features of the organization  that took place during this period:

1. The Higher Course was restructured. It was divided into the Art and Science sections. Earlier, there was no clear demarcation between art and science courses. From this point on, like in other institutions, art students and science students were divided into two distinct categories with different compulsory subjects.

At the same time, two other courses were introduced, the Common Course which was compulsory for all students and the Optional course open to both Art and Science students. In the Common course, both Arts and Science students had compulsorily to study selected books of Sri Aurobindo. There were five books in this course, The Ideal of Human Unity, The Human Cycle, The Foundations of Indian Culture, The Life Divine and the Synthesis of Yoga. These were studied for one year. Thus all students of the Higher course had to study these 5 books spread over the three years.  In the first year, The Ideal of Human Unity was studied, in the second year, it was the Human Cycle and The Foundations of Indian Culture, and in the third year, the Life Divine and The Synthesis of Yoga.

But in the Optional Course, the same books were studied over a period of two or three years. This more intensive study of the books was optional and was open to both Science and Art students. Each one of these books was studied after a preparatory course; thus for the book The Ideal of Human Unity there was a course on World History; for the Human Cycle, there was a course on Sociology, for the Life Divine there was course on Philosophy, both Western and Indian, for the Synthesis of Yoga, the course was History of Religions and for the Foundations of Indian Culture, a study of Indian History was added.

  1. It was also during this period that the Boards for all subjects were constituted. Thus there was an English board, a French board, a Mathematics board and so on. A group of teachers was selected to form the Boards and these teachers overlooked all the details concerning their respective subjects. Their work was mainly to define the syllabus, the course, the text books and to monitor the overall performance of the students and teachers in their subjects.
  2. A whole new system of evaluation was determined. This system was based on the following: Regularity, Punctuality, Behaviour, Homework, Class Tests and Quarterly Tests. This last item – quarterly tests was introduced in 1959. All students of the Secondary and Higher course were to sit for tests four times a year, reduced from 1960 to three times a year. These tests conducted  over a period of two weeks, were held at the end of March, June and October. The test for more important subjects like English, French, Mathematics etc were  of three hours each,  while for the other subjects they were of one and a half hour each. The results of the quarterly tests had a great bearing on the evaluation of the students.

The most striking feature of this system was firstly the great importance given to the study of the works of Sri Aurobindo and secondly the need of preparation for these studies by an introduction to the topics covered in the books.

Another important development that took place was the connection established between the University Centre and the Government of India. Till this time there was almost no connection with the Government of India. It was Surendra Mohan Ghose who proposed to Mother that we should approach the Government. Accordingly after detailed consultations with the Mother, Pavitra asked Kireet to write a letter to the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Kireet wrote and sent it to the Mother for Her approval. Mother was so happy with the letter that she got it published in the February issue of the Bulletin. The letter was sent to the Prime Minster Nehru who was very impressed. He was prepared to help in every way possible. However the University had to be recognised by the UGC as a separate legal entity. That would mean that the University would be distinct from the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. The Mother did not want that and so the name of the Sri Aurobindo International University Centre was changed to Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education. This happened on the 1st of January 1959.

The Government sent some members of the UGC to see the education system. They were impressed and it was decided that the Government would help through the Ministry of Education. The Ministry sent some officers to see our school and again they were happy with the work. It was then decided that grants may be given to the Centre of Education under two headings. The first one was a computed figure of the salaries of the teachers and the second one was for specific demands like Laboratory equipment, books and office equipment. That is how the grants from the Government of India started. Once the grants were started, Kireet had to go to Delhi every year for 10 days or so. From Delhi he used to write to Mother daily and Mother would send a telegram every day with her love and blessings. In January 1973 Kireet returned from Delhi and came straight to the Mother’s room at about 7 pm. I too was present there. Mother was very happy when Kireet recounted that some senior officers were showing a lot of interest and openness to Sri Aurobindo’s concepts of education. At this historical moment The Mother said the following words,”Whenever you are called upon by Indira Gandhi to assist in the Education Department, you should respond positively and accept it.”

After he became the Registrar, Kireet used to meet Pavitra almost twice daily. He would report the happenings in the school and if he had any questions he would give them in writing. The next day Pavitra would get the answers from the Mother. This continued till May 1969. After Pavitra’s passing away Mother asked Kireet to meet her every Sunday in the morning. Later in 1971 Mother started meeting Kireet almost daily in the evening when he would read out to The Mother some of his writings meant for the youth of India or for general educational concepts in the light of Sri Aurobindo. From November 1972 Mother began to meet Kireet, Tanmaya and me every alternate day from 1900 to 1930 hours. These meetings lasted till the 30th March after which Mother stopped meeting most people.

It must also be noted that the period from 1959 to 1973 was a period of intense activity in the school when many experiments were made. These included the evolution of the Free Progress system and the examination system. Kireet was assisted in the administration by a small team, some of whom had direct contact with the Mother. Those were really exciting times when under the direct guidance of the Mother many seminal ideas and concepts were tried out and put into practice. It was during this period of 14 years that most of the concepts and ideas of education were developed and it was from these sources that Kireet drew his inspiration in his work with the Government of India and later on with the Government of Gujarat.

It was in 1959 that I was inducted to the office of Kireetbhai and have worked with him till 1974. In our work and especially when we were trying to give a practical shape to the Free Progress, there were sometimes sharp differences among us; but all these were harmoniously settled among ourselves and sometimes with the direct intervention of the Mother. It must also be noted that there was a lot of negativism from some teachers and others. This was true even when he went out to work with the Government of India. Kireet faced all these with equanimity and full faith in the Mother. No doubt he sometimes felt hurt but he always left it to the Mother. His benign poise in these circumstances was an object lesson for some of us who were close to him.

I kept in touch with him even when he was working in Delhi and later on in Gujarat. I have even some letters from him. Our relationship was very frank and affectionate. Right to the end of his life, I kept in close contact with him, visiting him in the Nursing home. Always it was the feeling of love and affection bound by our love for the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.

Kittu Reddy

September 2014