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Amaravati, an ancient city’s rebirth as modern capital

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Vijayawada: No development of a new state capital has generated so much excitement as has Amaravati, whose foundation stone was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday.

The backdrop in which Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated, the journey of the residual state from scratch, an experienced Chandrababu Naidu winning the public mandate, the selection of the Vijayawada-Guntur region for building the new capital, mobilisation of the best expertise and experience for the project have all added to the hype.

It’s a rebirth of sorts for Amaravati, an ancient city on the banks of the Krishna river in Guntur district.

Historically, Amaravati was the capital of Satavahanas, the first great Andhra kings who ruled from 230 BC to 220 BC after the downfall of the Mauryan empire.

An ancient centre of Buddhist learning, it boasts of Mahachaitya, the Great Stupa, with intricate carvings that depict the life and teachings of Lord Buddha, Buddhist sculptures and slabs with Buddhist inscriptions.

By using the name Amaravati, Naidu managed to strike an emotional chord especially with countries like Singapore and Japan, where Buddhism is the most widely practised religion.

While Singapore has prepared three master plans for the Andhra capital and is ready to partner in its development, Japan has also come forward to contribute with its experience and technology.

“We in Japan from our young days have learnt that this great land of Amaravati was a great seat of learning for Buddhism right from 3rd century BC and here is where the seed of Japanese nation’s culture and values have emerged. In our text books we learnt that Nagarjuna (one of the most important Buddhist philosophers after the Buddha) visited the city,” said Japanese Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry Yosuke Takagi said at the groundbreaking ceremony.

“Amaravati is once again set to become a vibrant centre and great city and this time, Japan is here to help a lending hand with experience and technology here to contribute to this great city,” he said.

Naidu believes the new capital has the strength of both the ‘vastu’ and the auspicious name. He even sprinkled water and soil brought from holy places of all faiths and from across the state with the hope that this will give further strength to Amaravati.

By organising the ceremony on a grand scale and on Vijaya Dasami, Naidu has made a strong pitch for what he promises to be a world-class city and people’s capital.

Using his experience in developing Hyderabad as an information technology hub, Naidu has embarked on a mission to build Amaravati as country’s first Greenfield smart city, an economic and business hub, en energy efficient and sustainable city.

Proximity to well-developed cities like Vijayawada and Guntur, availability of Krishna river water, vast land, scenic beauty and Naidu’s grandiose plans attracted everybody’s attention.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also hopes that Amaravati will be a model for his government’s urbanisation effort and the initiative to develop 100 Smart Cities.

According to the master plan for the Seed Capital Area (SCA), the core city will be spread over 16.9 square km.

Amaravati will comprise nine cities – knowledge city, financial city, health city, tourism city, government city, sports city, electronics city, justice city and education city.

The capital city has been planned for about 300,000 residents. Its first phase is expected to be completed by 2018.

It provides a transport hierarchy that comprises of an integrated network of Metro rail network of about 12 kms, bus rapid transit of about 15 kms, downtown road of about 7 km, arterial roads and sub-arterial roads of about 26 kms and collector roads of about 53 kms, with varying rights-of-way.

The landscape would create world class aesthetic appeal to make city liveable and attractive.

Special emphasis has been laid on development of extensive walkways and pedestrianisation, interlinked with open and green spaces with a blue and green network of more than 25 kms to promote walk-to-work environment and non-motorised transport.

Naidu has invited companies from Singapore, Japan, China and other countries to participate in the development of the state capital, which needs over $2 billion.

With the process of designing and conceptualisation over, the real work on building the capital starts now. Naidu faces a challenge in mobilising the funds from the central government and investments from abroad.

With the Centre yet to clearly indicate when the state will get the special category status or special package, Naidu may have to wait longer to begin the real work to develop his dream city.

(Mohammed Shafeeq, IANS)

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Rise of PM Modi and roar of subversive forces

To counter PM Modi opposition leaders are desperately getting aligned with anti-India forces

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Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Wikimedia commons)

– By Salil Gewali

If your son makes friendship with the difficult and longtime enemies of your own family/clan then how do you describe him and how do you feel about your future? Will it not be likely to open the door to countless tragedies? But in India, such thing is now being openly celebrated. For past couple of years or more the political leaders of certain parties have been taking the wrong step forward in having closed-door meetings with the leaders of Pakistan/China. What transpires among themselves is obviously against the present government and the nation’s fundamental ethos. Those leaders have often been heard to be sympathetic towards the terrorists or those who “roar against the nation” or against its patriotic values. Yes, those leaders jump forward to defend them who wreak havoc with the “peaceful citizens”.   Some leaders are apologetic that certain NGOs/media/religious bodies should not be harassed in the name of fighting the terrorists and ISIS. This is how country’s leaders defend the dangerous postures of dangerous outfits. Will this trend not invite greater troubles to the nation in future?

One wonders how the apex judiciary of the country just allow the political parties to pour out their pent-up anger before the leaders of neighbouring countries who are always aggressively in the combative mood. Why is the Supreme Court silent on such blatant subversive activities?

Very recently, one senior leader of the national party even scoffed at Prime Minister Modi by calling him a depraved being “Neech”. What are the criteria for one being morally low? Has PM Modi fallen short any standards of the integrity since he works sincerely hard and formulates innovative plans and schemes for the greater welfare of the nation? Well, has he not been constitutionally elected by the people of this country? Why the media is less aggressive and more defensive for those “transgressors” who wield daggers behind the cloak.

Whatsoever be the political dispensation at the center, such open rebellion against the government will not augur well for the nation and its 1.25 billion citizens.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter Handle @SGewali

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Beatles, Apple, Facebook knew India more than Indians

Famous non-Indian celebrities know more about India and its past

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The Beatles once visited India to know more bout its past and culture.
The Beatles once visited India to know more bout its past and culture. Wikipedia

-By Salil Gewali

Facebook’s Chairman Mark Zuckerberg had dropped a bombshell on the “secularists” in India during PM Modi’s visit to his campus in California. It’s all about the Facebook connection with India. Initially, it was never a bed of roses for what is now a household name “FACEBOOK” across the world. This world-famous ‘social networking service company’ had its own share of bad times. Revealing for the first time in the meeting at the Facebook office upbeat Zuckerberg told PM Narendra Modi that Steve Jobs, the founder Chairman of Apple, had advised him to visit a certain temple in India for blessings. The revelation may have caused heartburn to many. More so in India where so-called secular and snooty folks have long acquired a proclivity to look down upon their own culture, religion, and values while being appreciative of any bizarre customs and styles of the West. Yes, heeding the advice of his mentor Steve Jobs the depressed Mark had visited the temple and toured around India for nearly a month.

Facebook's CEO tells about India.
Facebook’s CEO tells about India. wikipedia

Well, the American techno-wizard Steve Jobs had himself spent over six months in India in 1974. He was here in quest of the higher meaning of life and spiritual solace. As understood, from early age Steve was quite haunted by a good deal of unanswered questions. Of course, his encounter with a book “Be Here Now” by Richard Alpert, a Harvard Professor, had opened up a gateway to the spiritualism of the East. This book had also introduced him to a mystic Yogi ‘Neem Karoli Baba’. That later inspired Steve to set out the journey for the East. As soon as Steve and his friend Daniel Kottke arrived India they directly went to meet the Guru in Kainchi Dham Ashram in Nainital. But to their disappointment, they found the Baba had already passed away some months earlier. Nevertheless, the urge to dive deeper into the spiritualism did not die away. They shaved their heads and put on Indian clothes and undertook an extensive meditation and yogic practices.

The most significant impact that had made upon Steve’s life was a book “Autobiography of a Yogi”by Paramhansa Yogananda. It is on record that he would read this book too frequently, at least once every year until his death, 2011. This book had given him the practical insight into what exactly this world is about and how a layman can prepare himself to realize the Supreme knowledge. The first-hand account of a Yogi with empirical approaches to know oneself this book by Yogananda is a smash hit manual now among the seekers of the Eastern spiritualism.

Yes, by dint of hard work, intuition and innovation Steve stood out as one of the most successful techno-tycoons of the modern times. As much known, Jobs was hardly possessed by the luxury of riches and materialistic vanity. He just regarded his entrepreneurship as a tool to awaken his dormant potentialities. The chairman of Salesforce.com and famous philanthropist Marc Benioff says with conviction — “If you want to understand Steve, it’s a good idea to dig into ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’.” It is this book which Steve’s family had given to all the guests as a last gift at his memorial service.

Here we can’t afford to ignore the Beatle’s fascination for INDIA as well. The band members that were basking in the opulence of materialistic riches and glory visited India (Rishikesh) in search of inner peace. They met with Sri Maharshi Mahesh Yogi and learnt from him Transcendental meditation (TM) who laid bare methods to feel true bliss within. Sri Maharshi is a big name in the West having a huge following that includes celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, David Lynch, Russell Brand, Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Aniston, Modern physicist Dr. John Hagelin, to name a few. The Beatle’s Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr often assist a Hollywood Director/actor David Lynch to organize the Transcendental meditation under ‘David Lynch Foundation’ across USA and the European countries. George Harrison later took refuge in Bhakti Yoga. The founder of ISKCON Srila Prabhupada showed him the pathway to the Supreme Consciousness.

What basically pulls the rational westerners to India is less known to Indians themselves. It’s shamefully paradoxical. From early 19th Century, the philosophical literary treasure troves and Yoga of India found more admirers in the foreign lands than at home. Indeed, the philosophy of the “laws of karma” and the presence of all-power-divinity within every being and everywhere — which any human being can realize irrespective of one’s caste, creed, nationality, and color, has intensely stirred the greatest of the great minds of the West. The ancient texts hold out a whole bunch of keys to unlock oneself and know his/her relationship with the Supreme Being which in fact seems very reasonable to the West. Further, the complex studies of world-view by Modern scientists are gradually arriving at the same conclusion what the ancient sages of India expounded over five thousands year back that ‘creation and creator are ONE’. Interconnection, inter-relation and interdependence among every individual particle/object, living or non-living, in the infinite universe — which is the fundamental tenets of the Eastern philosophy, provided a new light of wisdom to the the modern physicists like Schrödinger, Heisenberg, Julius Oppenheimer, Brain David Josephson, David Bohm, John Stewart Bell et al.

Well, Indian’s contribution to the western academia is immeasurable — though deliberately undermined or less discussed in India itself. It’s very worthwhile to recall a famous proclamation by our western master whom we hold in the highest esteem. TS Eliot, one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, asserts: “Indian philosophers’ subtleties make most of the great European philosophers look like schoolboys”.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter @SGewali.

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Narendra Modi App : Amazing Platform where Prime Minister connects with the citizens

Wanna give ideas to or interact with Prime Minister Narendra Modi? Go and download Narendra Modi app on android and iOs

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Narendra Modi App
Prime Minister Narendra Modi (FILE PHOTO)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has an amazing sense of connecting with masses. Prime Minister knows the nerve of Indian public and at various instances proves himself as a pan Indian leader. Prime Minster Modi is undoubtedly one of the most tech-savvy global leader and a big promoter of e-governance and m-governance since a long time. Within two months of assuming Prime Minister-ship, he had launched the ambitious myGov project. In continuing the tradition of citizen connect, Prime Minister Modi took another step towards connecting with the people at their convenience by launching Narendra Modi app couple of years back.

Narendra Modi app
Prime Minister launching Narendra Modi App

The Narendra Modi app provides updates on the day-to-day activities of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It presents an opportunity to receive messages and emails directly from Shri Narendra Modi. There is also an option to contribute and earn ‘badges’ through to-do tasks in various social initiatives. Through Narendra Modi app, one can tune-in and listen to the various episodes of ‘Mann ki Baat’, read Prime Minister Modi’s blogs, and get to know more about him from his Biography section. Narendra Modi app also provides comprehensive information on initiatives and achievements of the Union Government, which has an ‘infographics’ section for insights.

Such type of initiative by a global leader gives a strong message how technology can be used by governments to bridge gap between leaders and citizens. apart from this app Prime Minister Modi is also very much active on various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. Prime Minister Modi is the one of the most followed global leader on Twitter.

So what are you waiting for. Go and share some ideas of innovation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and contribute in his vision of “Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas”.

– by SHAURYA RITWIK, Shaurya is Sub-Editor at NewsGram and writes on Geo-politcs, Culture, Indology and Business. Twitter Handle – @shauryaritwik