Mayawati has been criticising the UPA government for the past few months.
SUFFICIENCY ECONOMY: In the last two decades, Buddhism’s appeal has grown in the West, drawing people seeking a calm not found in the fast-paced world of Internet-driven commerce and communications.
Bangkok, Thailand — While Bhavana (Buddhist meditation), has become a form of modern psychotherapy and influenced Western lifestyles, is there anything in the religion’s 2500 year old teachings, which could influence modern economics?
According to Thailand’s much revered King and lately members of the (new military installed) government and a growing number of economists and grassroots development activists, the answer is, yes, there is. They call it ‘Sufficiency Economics’, a term coined by King Bhumibol Adulyadej in the midst of Thailand’s economic meltdown in 1997.
It embraces the three pillars of Buddhism - dana (giving), sila (morality) and bhavana (meditation) - and is based on the Buddhist principle of the ‘Middle Path’, that is avoidance of extremes (of greed).
The Thais have recently got a strong endorsement of this Buddhist development strategy from the United Nation’s main development agency. In a report released in January, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) hailed Thailand’s new “Middle Path” development model as a key to fighting poverty, coping with economic risk and promoting corporate social responsibility.
The UNDP’s ‘Thailand Human Development Report 2007: Sufficiency Economy and Human Development’, a result of a year-long collaboration between Thai and international experts, is designed to bring Sufficiency Economic thinking to a wider international audience.
UNDP describes ‘Sufficiency Economics’ as a set of tools and principles that help communities, corporations and governments to manage globalisation - maximising its benefits and minimising its costs - by making wise decisions that promote sustainable development, equity, and resilience against shocks. Thus, the report says that the ‘Sufficiency Economy’ is a much needed “survival strategy” in a world of economic uncertainty and environmental threats.
“We believe that Sufficiency Economy principles are applicable around the world, especially for rapidly-developing countries that are experiencing some of the same pressures as Thailand” said Joana Merlin-Scholtes, UNDP’s Resident Representative in Thailand.
This model may perhaps offer some insights on how to tackle some of Sri Lanka’s own economic woes and development problems UNDP report goes on to explain what Sufficiency Economics means in practice.
For communities, Sufficiency Economics principles are fundamental to empowerment and building resilience, such as setting up savings groups, revolving credit lines, and local safety nets. For private business it means, “taking corporate responsibility to the next level” by using this approach as a guide to management and planning.
“This approach encourages them to focus on sustainable profit, to adhere to an ethical approach to business, to pay special attention to their employees, to respect nature, to have careful risk management, and to grow where possible from internal resources” the report explains.
And for the third pillar, the governments, the Sufficiency Economy is central to alleviating poverty, promoting good governance, and guiding macroeconomic policies to immunise against shocks.
UNDP believes that Sufficiency Economics is a naturally ally of human development, but it also offers two additional elements - placing greater emphasis on mental and spiritual development, and offers guidance on how to make decisions that will achieve sustainability, well-being and happiness.
Thailand plans to write into the preamble of the interim constitution that is being written right now the principles of Sufficiency Economics. The official Thai definition of the economic model drawn up in 1999 describes it as “an approach to life and conduct applicable at every level from the individual through the family and community to the management and development of the nation”.
Dr. Sumet Tantivejkul, former chief of Thailand’s National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) and currently the secretary-general of the Chaipattana Foundation under royal patronage, argues that it is not correct to suggest that Sufficiency Economics was suitable only for the poor and grassroots communities, while everyone else follows the Western capitalist and consumerist economic model.
Citing the unrelenting growth of the world’s population and global competition for natural and other resources, to match growth in consumption, which has already outgrown Mother Nature’s capacity to replenish by a ratio of 3:1, he argues the mainstream economic model could only lead us to disaster and conflict.
Dr. Sumet points out that only 4 percent of the benefits of Thailand’s decades long economic growth (until 1997) has trickled down to the country’s poor who constitute 60 per cent of the population, while Thailand’s middle class women are renowned for being world-class shoppers - second only to those from Hong Kong - for spending as much as US$ 1000 on designer-labelled handbag when they go shopping abroad.
Dr. Sumet argues that Sufficiency Economics is what Western economists call ‘risk management’ and the Thai model sees this path as one which develops an economic policy on moderation, rationale and immunity. He cites the revival of the Siam Cement Group, which is Thailand’s largest company, as a good example of how Sufficiency Economics could be applied to risk management.
When the 1997 economic crisis hit Thailand, Siam Cement had over 200 subsidiaries and was saddled with an unprecedented huge foreign exchange debt due to the currency depreciation, and was on the brink of collapse. “The crisis exposed the perils of its excessive growth.
It was monolith - way too big and too fat” noted Dr Sumet. “After several years of drastic restructuring and selling of its non-core assets, the group, now with only about 100 subsidiaries, has returned to health. It has just reported its highest profits in 35 years”.
NESDB’s secretary-general Ampon Kittiampon argues that Thailand does not need high economic growth for sustainable development, all it needs is about 4 percent growth rate that can absorb new entrants to the job market.
He criticises the deposed government of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra (one of Thailand’s wealthiest businessmen) for using public spending to increase consumption and hence growth, and also for using government investments for helping his business cronies.
Raising ethical standards for economic management and getting rid of conflicts of interest and introduce transparency are also part and parcel of Sufficiency Economics argues Ampon.
Thailand’s current push for a Sufficiency Economics development path really began in 1999 when many of Thailand’s top economists gathered to discus the King’s thinking on the economy to get the country back on its feet.
They concluded that the country had clearly ignored moderation by indulging in over-consumption, which reduced the volume and savings and increased the reliance on foreign debt. Thus, Thailand needed a degree of self-reliance because they could not predict the shocks of the globalised era. However, the then Prime Minister Thaksin did not agree with such economics, which created much friction between the Palace and the Prime Minister.
The UNDP report gives many examples of how the Sufficiency Economy model has been implemented in many parts of Thailand, encouraged by models set up under royal patronage across the country.
One such example is of Chumphon Cabana resort, which shows that, the benefits of the ‘Sufficiency’ approach is not just confined to the agriculture sector. In the crisis of 1997, this resort on the east coast of the peninsula suffered financial difficulties like so many other businesses. In the desperate attempt to stay afloat, the owner took inspiration from the Sufficiency approach.
As a start, she began to plant rice, vegetables, flowers and fruit trees on land within the resort project. To improve the sandy land without the cost of chemicals, she experimented with making organic fertilizer from hotel waste and other materials.
She planted a local variety of rice and installed a rice mill. The husk was used in making the fertilizer and for animal feed. As the resort’s land was not enough to supply all its needs, she got the cooperation of surrounding villages to supply the deficit, and also helped train them in making fertilizer and other practices of organic farming. The employees of the resort were especially encouraged to participate.
Next she invented a just-in-time system of supply by posting the following day’s requirements of various articles on the local school’s notice board. Local production expanded beyond food to include various cleaning materials made from local materials.
As production increased, these articles were also supplied to other resorts in the area. The resort benefited from low production costs and reliable supplies. Surrounding farmers had a secure market and good prices because there were no middlemen.
Soon the resort gained a reputation with the result that other resort owners, farmers, NGOs, and government officials came to learn - which gave the employees a sense of pride. As the owner concluded, “I think this is a kind of development which makes everybody happy.”
In a 1998 statement on the essence of the Sufficiency Economics model, King Bhumibol said: “Sufficiency is moderation. If one is moderate in one’s desires, one will have less craving. If one has less craving, one will take less advantage of others. If all nations hold to this concept, without being extreme or insatiable in one’s desires, the world will be a happier place”.
Buddhism and the nation: setting off two abreast
23:27′ 08/02/2008 (GMT+7)
VietNamNet Bridge - There are 23 million religious followers in Vietnam, who make up 30 percent of the population. Vietnam’s religious policies have become more consistent during the national Renewal process, which has created a legal foundation for religious activities.
These policies ensure citizens’ freedom of religions and beliefs, and the unity and harmony between religious and non-religious communities and between believers of different faiths.
Monks and nuns have more freedom to practise their religion
Superior Buddhist Bonze Thich Duc Nghiep, Deputy General Secretary of the Executive Council of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha and Head of the Management Board of the Vinh Nghiem monastery in Ho Chi Minh City said so to VOVNews reporters.
Over the last five years, the Ho Chi Minh City Committee of Vietnam Buddhist Sangha has been aware that religions can only develop in an independent and free country. It has successively launched a patriotic emulation movement and contributed to economic development and social affairs in the city.
The national Buddhist Representative Congress held in Hanoi recently proved that Buddhism has had a strong attachment to the nation since the 3th century BC. This was correct as Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh said that Buddhism has always walked together hand in hand with the nation from the past to the present and the future.
Superior Bonze Thich Duc Nghiep affirmed, “The Vietnamese Party and State respect Buddhism and cause no difficulties for its followers. I think our citizens should live and work according to the Constitution and law.
However, some individuals and organisations recently took advantage of various incidents to distort State policies. It is not a decent practice because it distorts the truth. I think it is incorrect to say that there are no human rights in Vietnam.
The United Nations Day of Vesak 2008 to be held in Vietnam, involves 80 countries and will prove the State and Government’s religious policies on Buddhism. There is no difficulty in practicing religion in Vietnam”.
Vietnam’s policies build trust in the people
The Vietnamese Government has implemented socio-economic development programmes to improve people’s spiritual and material lives with particular attention paid to those in remote, mountainous and inaccessible areas and the best possible conditions have been created to ensure their religious activities.
Religious dignitaries and believers are free to hold and participate in their festivals, get ordained, change their workplace, leave the country, take part in training activities, print Buddhist books, build temples and take part in humanitarian activities.
Superior bonze Ly Hung from Pitukhosarangsay in Can Tho city said, “The implementation of Programmes 134 and 135 has created positive socio-economic changes in areas inhabited by the Khmer ethnic minorities. Rural roads have been upgraded to ensure smooth traffic and irrigation schemes and dykes have been built to help increase agricultural productivity. The Khmer cultural festival held in 2007 in Pothisomrom temple on the Ooc Om Bok festival has helped to maintain and promote the traditional cultural values of the Khmer people in southern Vietnam”.
According to Nguyen Thanh Tam, deputy head of the Religion and Ethnicity Committee of the Vietnam Fatherland Front in Can Tho city, over the last few years, the Front has united and gathered people together from all social classes and religions.
He said, “The Hoa people in Can Tho city are concentrated in the Ninh Kieu, Cai Rang and O Mon precincts and Thot Not district. The Party and Government’s renewal policies have enabled them to practise their religion and beliefs and has encouraged them to become further involved in economic activities.
Meanwhile, Superior bonze Ly Hung said that although Vietnam is inhabited by many different ethnic groups who followed a diverse amount of religions, the people remain very united despite any plots and distortions by bad elements against the Government’s religious and ethnic policies. This shows that the Government policies are correct and supported by the people”.
Respect and ensuring people’s freedom of religion and belief
The La Vang 2007 festival was held in Quang Tri province in August 13-14, 2007 by the Vatican and the Vietnam Episcopal Council. It was attended by about 80,000 Catholics.
Noteworthy was that a delegation from the US embassy led by second secretary, Michael A. Orona attended the festival and worked with the Quang Tri provincial authorities and local Catholic dignitaries. They commented that human rights and the religious situation in Vietnam in general and in Thua Thien-Hue and Quang Tri in particular was good, not as reported by some other people.
Besides these events, recently, religious organisations and individuals have extended their external relations with those in the region and the world. They have participated in international religious seminars and religious activities in foreign countries.
Foreign religious organisations and individuals have been invited to visit and hold religious activities in Vietnam to facilitate mutual understanding. In particular, a Buddhist delegation led by the Most Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh from Lang Mai Pagoda in France returned and visited the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha.
The delegation, which comprised of 160 members of different nationalities, held many religious activities in different localities. They were welcomed and supported by monks and nuns from both inside and outside of the country, who maintained that this showed a response to the Vietnamese Party and State’s policies on national unity and religious freedom.
Foreign religious followers living and working in Vietnam have also been assisted by many provincial and city authorities to practise their religious activities.
To show its respect for religious freedom and its integration policy, Vietnam will host the UN Day of Vesak 2008. This is a prestigious and influential religious festival in the world, which will be attended by hundreds of delegations from different countries, and tens of thousands of monks, nuns, Buddhist followers and researchers and scholars of Buddhism around the world.
This event will help to improve the image of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha and lift it to a higher plane, affirm its political situation in the world in general and Buddhist countries in particular.
As of October 2007, there were 23 million religious followers in Vietnam (or nearly 30 percent of the total population). Since 2005, the number of religions which are recognised by the State has increased from 6 to 10 and the number of religious organisations have increased from 16 to 29. The number of priests, dignitaries and religious officials now totals 53,000.
Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Ancient
India, that is Prabuddha Bharath, that is
Chapter 8: The Morals of the House
Chapter 9: Krishna and His Gita
Chapter 10: Analytical Notes of Virat Parva and Udyog Parva
Chapter 11: Brahmins Versus Kshatriyas
Chapter 12: Shudras and the Counter-Revolution
Chapter 13: The Woman and the Counter-Revolution
Editorial Note in the manuscript published in the Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches, Vol. 3 by the Government of Maharashtra:
Dr. B. R. Ambedkar had proposed to write a treatise, i.e., `Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Ancient India‘. The table of contents has been printed in the chapter of schemes. He had originally planned to write seven books to be included under this broad title. The Committee was able to find some pages and few chapters in his collection. The chapters are also incomplete. After scrutiny, the Committee came to a decision that `Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Ancient India’ is to be presented in this volume with the available material though incomplete. Dr. Ambedkar considered the rise of Buddhism as revolution. The Counter-Revolution pioneered by Brahmins’ resulted into decline and fall of Buddhism.
As such the following chapters are included under this title.
1. Ancient India on Exhumation
2. The Ancient Regime—The State of the Aryan Society
3. A Sunken Priesthood
4. Reformers and Their Fate
5. The Decline and Fall of Buddhism
6. The Literature of Brahminism
7. Triumph of Brahminism
8. The Morals of the House—Manusmruti or the Gospel of Counter-Revolution
12. The Shudras and the Counter-Revolution
13. The Women and the Counter-Revolution
The readers may compare these chapters with the proposed plan given in the last chapters of Schemes.—Editors
Ancient India on Exhumation
There are two typed copies of this Chapter. Both of them contain additions and corrections in the handwriting of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. After consideration, we decided that the latter version should be included here. This essay, consisting of three pages only, seems to be an introduction to a larger subject Dr. Ambedkar probably had in his mind.—Editors.
Much of the ancient history of India is no history at all. Not that ancient India has no history. It has plenty of it. But it has lost its character. It has been made mythology to amuse women and children. This seems to have been done deliberately by the Brahminical writers. Take the word Deva. What does it mean? Is the word Jana Vishesh representing a member of the human family? It is made to appear superhuman agency. By this the pith of history contained in it is squeezed out.
Along with the word Deva occur the names of Yaksha, Gana, Gandharva, Kinnars. Who were they? The impression one gets on reading the Mahabharat and Ramayan is that they are imaginary beings who filled the horizon but did not exist.
But the Yaksha, Gana, Gandharva, Kinnaras were also members of the human family. They were in the service of the Devas. The Yakshas were guarding the palaces. Ganas were guarding the Devas. Gandharvas were amusing the Devas by music and dancing. The Kinnaras were also in the service of the Gods. The descendants of the Kinnaras are even now living in Himachal Pradesh.
Take the name Asura. The description of Asura given in the Mahabharat and Ramayana make out as though hey belonged to non-human world. An Asura is described to eat ten carts-load of food. They are monsters in size. They sleep for six months. They have ten mouths. Who is a Rakshas? He too is described as a non-human creature. In size, in his capacity for eating, in his habits of life he resembled the Asura.
There is a plenty of references to the Nagas. But who is a Naga ? A Naga is represented as a serpent or a snake. Can this be true ? Whether true or not, it is so and Hindus believe it. Ancient Indian history must be exhumed. Without its exhumation Ancient India will go without history. Fortunately with the help of the Buddhist literature, Ancient Indian History can be dug out of the debris which the Brahmin writers have heaped upon in a fit of madness.
The Buddhist literature shows that the Devas were a community of human beings. There are so many Devas who come to the Buddha to have their doubts and difficulties removed. How could this be unless the Devas were human beings
Again the Buddhist canonical literature throws a food of light on the puzzling question of the Nagas. It makes a distinction between womb-born Nagas and egg-born Nagas and thereby making it clear that the word Naga has two-fold meaning. In its original sense it stood for the name of a human community.
The Asuras again are not monsters. They too are a Jan-Vishesh human beings. According to Satpatha Bramhana, the Asuras are the descendants of Prajapati the Lord of the creation. How they became evil spirits is not known. But the fact is recorded that they fought against the Devas for the possession of the earth and that they were overcome by the Devas and that they finally succumbed. The point is clear that the Asuras were members of the human family and not monsters.
With this exhumation of debris, we can see Ancient Indian History in a new light.
BSP withdraws support to UPA
|Mayawati rules out poll alliance with BJP|
NEW DELHI: The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on Saturday withdrew support to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. However, the 17 BSP members in the Lok Sabha are not critical to the survival of the UPA as of now.
Announcing the decision in the capital, BSP leader and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati ruled out a pre-poll alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). “The BSP has never had an electoral alliance with the BJP and we will never have one in the future. As far as we are concerned, the BJP and the Congress are two sides of the same coin.”
As for the reasons for withdrawing support to the UPA, she cited the continuance of the Taj Corridor case, besides the Centre’s failure to address the grievances of the common man and its “step-motherly treatment” of her State.
Ahead of announcing the withdrawal of support — something Ms. Mayawati has been threatening to do since January 15 this year — the BSP sent letters to the President, the UPA chairperson, the Lok Sabha Speaker and the Rajya Sabha Chairman informing them of the party’s decision.
In the four-page letter to the President, the BSP detailed the circumstances which influenced the party to extend outside support to the UPA on May 22, 2004, and the compulsions that forced it to review its decision on Saturday. Pointing out that the BSP had offered support to the UPA to weaken communal forces, Ms. Mayawati said she had hoped that the Congress-led coalition would promote the interests of all sections.
Plight of the poor
“However, the UPA has failed to meet the aspirations of the poor. The plight of the poor has worsened because of the flawed economic policies of the government.”
On the “step-motherly” attitude of the Centre to Uttar Pradesh, she said that despite several petitions to the Prime Minister, the government had not conceded the demand for a Special Area Incentive Package for Poorvanchal and Bundelkhand.
How the numbers add up
The Bahujan Samaj Party’s decision to withdraw support to the United Progressive Alliance will not affect the survival of the Manmohan Singh government.
But if the Left parties also withdraw support, the UPA government will get reduced to a minority with only 227 seats. The UPA can recover some ground in the event of its winning the support of the Samajwadi Party.
However, the ruling alliance will still be a few seats short of the halfway mark — 272.
A ‘DRESS’Y AFFAIR’ - Noida Govt. College implements dress code
Noida: In an attempt to check the flow of anti-socials into the campus, the Government PG College, Noida has decided to implement a new dress code for all students at the institute.
Principal of the college, Ashwani Kumar Goyal said, “The idea behind implementing a dress code is to keep anti-social elements out of the college and ensure proper students’ behaviour. The code will be implemented for both boys and girls”.
“Boys will wear shirts and pants whereas girls will have to wear salwar-kurta. The color of the uniform will be decided after consultation with parents / guardians and students themselves”, Goyal added.
Teachers and professors from across the country have stressed the fact that ‘Indecent Attire’ invites adverse public reactions, while the frequent use of mobile phones disrupts academic activities.
New Delhi, June 21 (IANS) The Uttar Pradesh government Friday moved the Supreme Court challenging a state high court order restricting it from carrying out more demolitions in a housing complex owned by the Sahara Group in Lucknow.
A vacation bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat refused to give any interim relief to the state government and stated that the matter would be taken up only next week.
Farmers need a message of hopeHaving travelled recently to several villages in Vidarbha in Maharashtra and Bundelkhand region in Uttar Pradesh, (known as farmer suicide belts), one has come to realise that even in the midst of despair in these villages there are islands of hope created by the good work of some farmers, voluntary organisations and officials. We need to build further on these efforts and expand these islands of hope.
In the middle of the extreme drought, one came across several patches of green fields in Chitrakut district of Uttar Pradesh, thanks to the good water and soil conservation work done by a voluntary organisation, ABSSS.
As the result of another well-executed watershed project, implemented by Parmarth, another voluntary organisation, in Lachmanpura village of Jalaun district, Dalit farmers were reaping good harvests even in the midst of an extreme drought situation.
While farmers in nearby villages were migrating in large numbers, those of Lachmanpura had saved their crops by combining water conservation with irrigation.