Friday, 6 October 2017

Once on verge of suicide, now a feted farmer

Durgappa picked to promote integrated farming

Life has come a full circle for this 43-year-old farmer from Shivamogga district. Durgappa Angadi of Sasaravalli village of Shikaripur taluk was contemplating suicide, unable to repay a loan of ₹9 lakh 30 months ago. His crops had failed consistently. Today, he has not only become a successful farmer, but has also become an ambassador of integrated farming. 

Recalling his difficult days, Mr. Durgappa says it was a programme on television that was the turning point for him. It portrayed a small farmer from Kolar district earning huge profits from just two acres of land through integrated farming. “This gave me new hope as everyone around me was saying farming was a loss-making venture,” says Mr. Durgappa.

He met experts to learn about integrated farming. “Within months, my experiment with integrated farming began and I harvested a bumper yield by growing ivy gourd,” he recalls. He was able to repay the entire loan within 18 months.

And then he decided to spend the rest of his life on instilling confidence among small and marginal farmers that farming is still a profitable venture. He now takes up organic farming on two and half acres of land and earns an average annual income of about ₹5.25 lakh. Apart from growing half a dozen horticultural crops and vegetables, he also takes up apiary and dog breeding.

University of Agricultural Sciences-Bengaluru’s alumni association, which comprises about 10,000 agricultural graduates, has now chosen four innovative farmers, including Mr. Durgappa, to become its ambassadors of integrated farming.

The other three farmers are physically challenged 27-year-old Ramakrishna Shavati of Ganaur village of Raichur district, Shabarish Suvarna of Udupi taluk, and H. Sadananda of Tapasihalli, who are now cult figures among the farming community of the State for their innovative experiments with integrated farming.

UAS-B alumni association president K. Narayana Gowda told The Hindu that these farmers would be feted with a cash prize of ₹25,000 each with the Dr. G.K. Veeresh Endowment Award by the association, and as ambassadors for popularising integrated farming system, at an event in Bengaluru on Saturday.

Emphasising that integrated farming was the only method to make farming a financially sustainable, Mr. Gowda said the association has popularised the concept by holding workshops at the fields of the innovative farmers.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

The Mundari: The tribe dying for their cows

A Mundari man guards his precious Ankole-Watusi herd with a rifle. Photographer <a href="" target="_blank">Tariq Zaidi</a> visited the Mundari tribe in South Sudan twice in 2016 to document the lives of these fiercely protective herdsmen who face war, rustlers and landmines as they care for their animals.

South Sudan is the world's youngest country, and it has witnessed immense change since gaining independence in 2011. The promise of peace has given way to civil war, and tribal rifts continue to run deep, permeating political affairs. Over two million people have been displaced according to the UN, and tens of thousands killed.

    Amid the tumult is the Mundari, a people who would rather get on with doing what they do best: looking after their cattle.
    It would be hard to find a more dedicated group of herdsmen than the tribe who live on the banks of the Nile, north of the capital Juba. Their entire lifestyle is geared around caring for their prized livestock, the Ankole-Watusi, a horned breed known as "the cattle of kings."
    These cows grow up to eight feet tall, and are worth as much as $500 each. It's no wonder the Mundari view these animals as their most valuable assets (or that they guard them with with machine guns).
    Photographer spent a fortnight earlier this year documenting their lives and the devotion they show towards these animals. Photographer has captured tribes and indigenous people from over 30 African nations, though he was nonetheless taken aback by the relationship between man and beast.
    "It's hard to overstate the importance of cattle to the Mundari people," says the photographer, "these animals are everything to them."
    The photographer describes how "almost every man I met wanted me to take a picture of them with their favorite cow." Their wives and children, on the other hand, were given short shrift.
    Perhaps this is in part due to the function and symbolism of the Ankole-Watusi. Each bovine is so highly prized that it is rarely killed for its meat. Instead, it is a walking larder, a pharmacy, a dowry, even a friend. It is clear that cow is a resource maintaining not just a people, but a way of life.
    The Mundari, tall and muscular, may "look like bodybuilders," says Zaidi, "but their diet is pretty much milk and yogurt. That's it." Other bodily fluids have more unlikely uses. Mundari men will squat under streams of cow urine, both an antiseptic, Zaidi suggests, and as an aesthetic choice -- the ammonia in the urine color the Mundari's hair orange.
    Meanwhile dung is piled high into heaps for burning, the fine peach-colored ash used as another form of antiseptic and sunscreen by the herdsmen, shielding them from the 115-degree heat.
    The cows, adds Zaidi, are among the world's most pampered. He says he witnessed Mundari massaging their animals twice a day. The ash from dung fires, as fine as talcum powder, is rubbed into the cattle's skin and used as bedding, while ornamental tassels swat flies from the eyes of the herd's most prestigious beasts.
    "Rustlers are a huge issue for them," the photographer explains. "Their cattle are a form of currency and status symbol, and form a key part of a family's pension or dowry. Since the end of the civil war, thousands of men have returned to South Sudan looking for wives, which has pushed up the 'bride price', making these animals even more precious and increasing lethal cattle raids."
    Such raids have been deadly for the Mundari, but the effects of war are manifold. Landmines make finding fresh pasture a dangerous lottery. When he visited, Zaidi says the tribe were using a small island in the Nile as a safe haven. The conflict, he adds, has the paradoxical effect of preserving their way of life.
    "The ongoing war in South Sudan has cut off the Mundari tribe from the rest of the world," he says. "They don't venture into the town, they stay in the bush, and it's why their unique way of life endures."
    Zaidi says the Mundari have no taste for war and "their guns are not to kill anyone but to protect their herd." All the Mundari want to do is take care of their livestock, he argues, "and they will protect them at all costs."

    Wednesday, 12 July 2017

    Education system dehumanised: HC

    Image result for de-humanized education
    Says it has become a machine that mass-produces clones, frowns on individuality

    The education system has become “completely dehumanised” into a machine which is “mass-producing clones” and frowning upon individuality, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday.

    “It (education system) is completely de-humanised. It is a machine. The human element has been completely taken out. The contact between teacher and student is perfunctory. There is no connect,” a Bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Najmi Waziri said.

    The Bench said, “Are we producing clones? We seem to be mass producing clones. It seems individuality is frowned upon now. You must conform at all costs, else retribution is swift.”

    The court made the oral observations while hearing a plea initiated by the Supreme Court in September last year on the alleged suicide by a student of Amity Law University. The matter was transferred to the Delhi High Court in March. During the day's proceedings, the Bench said there was perhaps an “element of callousness” in how the university handled the deceased student's “cry for help” before he took the extreme step.

    Sushant Rohilla, a third year law student of Amity had hung himself at his home here on August 10, 2016 after the university allegedly barred him from sitting for semester exams because he did not have the requisite attendance. He left behind a note saying he was a failure and did not wish to live.

    “The student reached out to you (Amity). He cried out for help. But did you respond? Perhaps there is an element of callousness in how you handled it,” the court said. “Implement your rules, but do not put students at risk,” the court told the varsity, which claimed it was only strictly enforcing its attendance norms.

    ‘Systems not in place’
    “Systems are not in place in your institution which is why a student took that step,” the Bench said. The varsity, however, said that systems were in place, but there was always room for improvement.

    The court did not appear to be convinced by the claims of the varsity, which is affiliated to Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University (GGSIPU), and said there should be safeguards in place so that a person who wants assistance gets it immediately.

    It also said that this incident would have scarred the lives of the deceased's family, friends and batch mates. “It is a continuing trauma for them.”

    Meanwhile, the amicus curiae appointed by the court said the status report filed by the Delhi Police regarding the incident was “shocking” as it said there was nothing in the complaint which required examination of any person.

    The status report also said the suicide note was probably not written by Rohilla, the amicus told the court. He said the investigation carried out so far by the police appears to be "compromised" and therefore, should be transferred.

    Friday, 24 February 2017

    Krsna-krida, The Art of Engaging Children's Playful Attitude

    The Art of Engaging Children's Playful Attitude

    Children have a natural attraction to play. And, Krsna's playful pastimes are a natural attraction for a conditioned soul. Hence children can from very beginning of life cultivate a taste for devotional service very naturally. As children play, they can become Krsna conscious. That's the success of engaging the natural playful attitude of children.

    It was Srila Prabhupada's desire and instruction to introduce Krsna-krida to our children.

    "Make Vaikuntha. That is my request. Teach from the very beginning of life. Just like bala-krida, Bala-kridanakaih kridan. By playing, he's becoming Krsna conscious.Just produce a new generation, just like Pariksit Maharaja. Bala-kridanakaih, from very childhood. ..Krsna-yoga, (or) bhakti-yoga, can be practiced even by a child without interfering with his natural propensities. Without any education, without any knowledge. There is no need of high-grade knowledge or education to understand…It is already there in everyone's heart...It is not that one has to learn it artificially by some gymnastic. No, natural. Just like the children here, they are also dancing with their parents. They are offering flower, trying to imitate how to chant (maha mantra). And they are very much pleased. So similarly these things (should be) introduced, krsna-krida. So some way or other, they should be engaged in krsna-krida. It doesn't matter whether (the child) understands it or not...". (A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Lecture on Srimad Bhagavatam, 2.3.14-15, Los Angeles, May 31, 1972)

    The new publication, "Krsna-krida, The Art of Engaging Children's Playful Attitude" humbly attempts to fulfill this instruction and thus serve the Vaisnavas. This hardbound print brimming with around 65 illustrations is sure to enthrall the children and adults equally.
    EPub edition is available too.
    A part of the 64 Traditional Arts series, this publication covers various arts such as Prahelika, Pratimala, Dyuta Vishesa Krida, Akarsa Krida, Aksara Mustika Kathana and Sutra krida apart from addressing the main art in discussion, called "Bala-kridanakani, The art of engaging children in games".
    Just what is this Krsna-krida?
    Considering the Supreme Lord as the transcendental role model and spontaneously re-playing as if role-playing those games and activities is known as Krsna-krida
    One of the 64 traditional arts (Catuh sasti kala) is known as Bala-kridanakani. This the prime subject matter of the book describing varieities of of games played by Krsna with His cowherd friends in sakhya-rasa. The book explores around 65 of such games that include free plays as well as the orgainzed games.
    The process of Bhakti-yoga is joyful, more so for children. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna is known as bala-krida-samasakta, meaning that the Supreme Lord is attached to enjoying the playful pastimes with his childhood friends. In fact, in the spiritual world, Goloka Vrindavana, these childhood pastimes are eternally going on. When the Supreme Lord incarnated in this material world, His childhood pastimes are considered to be the most glorious and rare.
    Blessings obtained from scholars indicate the importance of providing this crucial Krsna conscious culture to the children. The book can be ordered from:

    Excerpt of Reviews and Blessings obtained from scholars:

    Sripad Bhakti Raghava Swami
    We should all be most thankful to the author for giving us such an extensive and elaborate presentation of this dimension of children's early education. The book is very authoritative being filled with supportive statements and references. This book is a must for both parents and educators.

    Sripad Lokanath Swami
    The essence of the text is reminiscent of the village life where I was born. In the village of Aravade, play was free and fearless around countryside cows. As children, we frolicked on expansive hills and sprawling valleys and played hide and seek in rows of endless sugarcane plantations. The perspectives on "play" as demonstrated by Krsna and his friends and captured in Krsna-Krida provide a historical and modern understanding of how children should play to develop an intense attachment to Krsna. Bharat Chandra Dasa vividly captures the exuberance of play and the laughter of Krsna during play.
    The advice that is offered is direct and echoes Srila Prabhupada's insights on how to bring up children. The research work is incisive and the work of respected Vaisnava acaryas are used to underpin suggestions made. Srila Prabhupada said that we should encourage children to play Krsna games and in this way develop a love for Krsna.
    Set against the twelve forests of Vraja, the location of this book is "the perfect playground with the perfect set of players". The core point being made by Bharat Chandra Dasa is that the "impressions of devotional life in early childhood impacts one to develop a deep attachment to The Supreme Personality of Godhead."
    Several dimensions of parenting styles are illustrated and the art of engaging children's playful attitude can be considered the ultimate handbook for parents in rearing their children. The display of this art by the cowherd friends of Krsna in Gokula and Vrndavana offers a range of issues that permeate the understanding of how children play.
    This book is a fundamental contribution to progressive parenting ideas drawn from spiritual literature - it is a manual as to how parents can be present in the lives of their children and nurture them in Krishna consciousness through the sacred art of play.

    Sripad Bhakti Vikasa Swami
    Children naturally love to play, reflecting the playfulness of Kr?s?n?a in his boyhood. Although such playing can be simply a waste of time in the valuable human form of life (as Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura sings, khela-rase saisava; see also SB 7.6.7), children who learn to play according to the directions of this book can, from the beginning of life, become attached to Krsna and thus make a good start on the great journey back to Godhead.
    I congratulate Bharat Chandra Dasa for bringing out another in his series of practical varnasrama guides, and I pray that the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna bless him with long life, good health, and fixed focus so that he may produce many more such invaluable books.

    Sripad Bhakti Rasamrta Swami
    "Krsna-krida" is impressively & meticulously researched, provides sublime insights into how children can joyfully participate in the devotional process and it is also an enchanting read for grown-ups. This book is a useful & practical contribution to the glorious attempt to revive Krsna conscious culture in the modern world.

    Sri Gadadhara Pandita Dasa (Author of several Viasnava literatures in
    Russian language)
    Indeed the intrinsic nature of every individual soul - we find happiness in performing casual pastimes. However while doing so as inbounded beings in the Material world we are regularly forced to become - maya-kridanaka - a puppet toy in the hands of deluding energy Maya. However if according to instructions of saints, carefully presented by the author in this compilation, along with our dear children we will learn the art of playing as team members of Sri Krsna, that will definitely invoke in our lives God's lila-sakti - His divine energy of playful spiritual existence.

    Dr. Demian Martins (Author, Samskrt scholar and Research head at Baladeva
    Vidyabhusana Manuscript project)
    The modern way of life is quickly overshadowing ancient traditions based on Vedic wisdom, which are ultimately meant to lead everyone to God realization. 'Krsna-krida' is a brilliant and well researched presentation of an important aspect of this culture and its approach to impart Vaisnava values to children of all age groups. The author deserves kudos for being a pioneer in bringing out this topic in English for the benefit of parents, teachers and children all over the world.

    Srimati Aruddha Devi Dasi (Author of "Homeschooling Krsna's Children")
    Bharat Chandra Dasa's book, Krsna-krida, gives great encouragement and faith to parents and educators that just by engaging our children in playing for Krsna and hearing about Krsna, we can help them develop pure love of God. This book is based on sastric evidence and many examples from the lives of our acaryas, who exhibited symptoms of bhakti in their childhood play. We, parents and teachers, can also give our children an environment steeped in Krsna consciousness by facilitating their Krsna-centered play. This book is a definitive guide to Krsna conscious activities for children, and I encourage all to read and assimilate.

    Sri Lila Govinda Dasa (B.Tech from IIT Kharagpur, Teacher at Bhaktivedanta International School, Vrindavan)
    It is always important to set some written objectives as guidelines for training the children, be it inside or outside the classroom. Not setting any objectives would naturally degrade the quality of the training. S?r?la Prabhupada said, "Teach the small children to play Krsna games. By keeping them always diversified they shall not lose interest and will keep their attention always focused around Krsna." However, to bring 'diversity' and 'attention' is a challenge for a teacher or parent, especially, outside the classroom while keeping their attention always focused around Krsna. 'Krsna-krida' is an amazing compilation with detailed and constructive guiding principles in engaging the children. Proper implementation of games suggested in 'Krsna-krida' can give children, parents and teachers transcendental experiences focused around Krsna. A must resource for all the teachers, parents, educators, Sunday school gatherings, libraries and everyone who is dealing with children.


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