Buddhist Festival Celebration 2011:

Festival focuses on Buddhism as part of India’s tradition

Esha Mahajan TNN

New Delhi: A week-long cultural festival involving 900 delegates from over 46 countries, which was inaugurated at the India Habitat Centre on Thursday, is showcasing India’s Buddhist heritage not as a religion but as part of its tradition.

     “India is the home of Buddhism and we felt we needed to do something big to honour the Buddha’s teachings and sa mb o d h i p r a p t i (attaining enlightenment). A global festival like this has not happened in recent past. Heads of various Buddhist federations and organizations, eminent spiritual masters like the s a n g a r aja sof some south Asian countries, and even His Holiness the Dalai Lama will be here for it,” said Ashok Wangdi, trustee, Asoka Mission, which is arranging the festival to commemorate the 2600th year of the Buddha’s enlightenment.

     The programmes include a c h h a m dance performance by monks from Spiti in Himachal Pradesh; a book fair that will have spiritual books as well as those on Buddhism; a photo exhibition showcasing Buddhism in everyday life in India; a folk performance by a group from Nepal; music by Dharma Bums, a pop group from Woodstock in the United States; and a display of butter sculptures and sand m a n d ala made by monks from the Sherab Ling monastery in Himachal Pradesh, said Wangdi.

      The organizers have also used it as an opportunity to make a tangible contribution, both to society and the Buddhist faith. At a four-day global congregation at the Asoka Mission, to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday, they will hold discussions on issues like environment degradation, science and technology.

      “The chief guest at the closing session on the 30th will be the Dalai Lama and after attending a prayer meeting at Gandhi Smriti, he will march to Nehru Park and plant three Bodhi tree saplings — one each from Sri Lanka, Bodh Gaya and Shravasti in UP. The idea is to plant them really close so that when they grow they merge as one, symbolizing the oneness of faith and universal appeal of Buddhism,” said Wangdi.

     The congregation will also try to capture the essence of Buddhism and its growth through the years. “The faith is constantly evolving due to which there needs to be a better understanding among the people,” said Wangdi.

UNITY CHANT: A four-day global congregation will be inaugurated by the Prime Minister on Sunday

Supreme Court on Bail & Speedy Trial

      Today there are more than 3 lakh (300,000) under trials in jail. Many of them have been incarcerated for periods far more than the period to which they could have been sentenced.

    Judicial pronouncements sound wonderful but only the rich and the powerful are able to take advantage of the system to ensure their personal liberty. The poor, the ordinary man on the street do not count.


SC restores primacy of ‘bail not jail’

It Is Not In The Interest Of Justice That Accused Be In Jail Indefinitely: Court

Dhananjay Mahapatra TNN

New Delhi: In granting bail to five corporate biggies in the 2G scam, the Supreme Court on Wednesday restored primacy of the 33-year-old “bail is the rule and jail an exception” judicial philosophy, which had been clouded by a stringent approach by courts in a maze of high value economic offences that hit the country since the 1990s.

     A bench of Justices G S Singhvi and H L Dattu said the object of bail was neither punitive nor preventive but was meant to secure presence of the accused during the trial while ensuring that he did not tamper with evidence or attempted influencing witnesses, an argument that was repeatedly advanced by criminal lawyer Ram Jethmalani before the Supreme Court during arguments on bail pleas.

     Justice Dattu, authoring the 63-page judgment for the Supreme Court bench, said, “The courts owe more than verbal respect to the principle that punishment begins after conviction, and that every man is deemed to be innocent until duly tried and duly found guilty.”

     The bench reiterated the principle authoritatively laid down in four 1978 judgments of the Supreme Court.

     It also reiterated that when there was a delay in trial, bail should be granted to the accused as “it is not in the interest of justice that accused should be in jail for an indefinite period”.

      The Supreme Court’s disapproval of the present judicial trend of keeping undertrial accused in prolonged judicial custody could come as a balm to many an accused who have been consistently denied bail in big-ticket cases relating to white collar crime.

     Wednesday’s judgment will not only give hope to nine other accused in the 2G scam including former telecom minister A Raja and DMK MP Kanimozhi to press for bail soon, but also prompt CWG scam main accused Suresh Kalmadi to present a petition before the trial court seeking release on bail.

     The bench said facts and circumstances in some cases necessitated keeping the accused behind bar but reminded itself that from the earliest times, it had been held that keeping an accused in custody till the completion of trial could be a cause of great hardship and violation of personal liberty.

     “In this country, it would be quite contrary to the concept of personal liberty enshrined in the Constitution that any person should be punished in respect of any matter, upon which, he has not been convicted or that in any circumstances, he should be deprived of his liberty upon only the belief that he will tamper with the witnesses if left at liberty, save in the most extraordinary circumstances,” it said.

      It said right to bail was not to be denied merely because of the sentiments of the community against the accused as the primary purpose of bail in a criminal case was to relieve the accused of imprisonment, to relieve the state of the burden of keeping him and to ensure that he remained committed to attend the trial by submitting to the trial court’s jurisdiction.

     Jethmalani hailed the judicial principles enunciated by the apex court in its judgment. He told TOI, “I am glad the Supreme Court has corrected the distortion which had crept into the bail jurisprudence some time ago.”

     The court said, “When the under-trial prisoners are detained in jail custody to an indefinite period, Article 21 of the Constitution is violated. Every person, detained or arrested, is entitled to speedy trial.”

Politicians , security & elections

Gunmen give politicians larger-than-life image

M B Maramkal | TNN

Bellary: Call it a status symbol or a security threat, it has become a common phenomenon among netas campaigning for the upcoming Bellary bypoll to seek armed gunmen for their security — at the cost of the state exchequer. If one notices a gun-toting policemen around, the people of Bellary are convinced that a politician is canvassing nearby.

Bellary has the highest number of politicians who have securitymen at their elbow, thanks to the powerful Reddy brothers, who started the trend. Now, at least 120 gunmen have been deputed by the government to protect politicians in the district.

Interestingly, villagers view these gunmen as aliens as they follow their bosses on their campaign trails. Children are particularly curious, and surround these gunmen to have a close glimpse at the assault rifles they carry.
It’s just not prominent politicians who face real threats to their lives but also independent candidates who have got rifle-wielding gunmen to guard them. “In our village we’ve never seen rifles and villagers flock meeting places to see gunmen who stylishly stand behind politicians,” Ramakanth, a local politician from Sangankallu village says, though he doubts the genuineness of the threat perception of these politicians.

In addition to these gunmen, politicians like the Reddy brothers and Sriramulu have hired private security guards and supplied them with licensed assault rifles.
These trained guards are hired from private security agencies who pay them monthly salaries ranging between Rs 15,000 and Rs 25,000. Interestingly, these men are usually tribals known for their character and physique.
“Who will attack these politicians? Karnataka is neither Bihar nor Uttar Pradesh, it is safe for politicians,” scoffs Shivareddy, a farmer from Siruguppa who resides in Bellary town. He terms the security cover a “gimmick” to give the politician a larger than life image.
Bellary SP Dr Chandraguptha said he had provided armed policemen with assault rifles to all eight candidates in the Bellary bypoll fray, as the administration cannot risk their lives.

“A committee in Bangalore provides security to people who seek it. I am going to review the situation after the bypoll,” he said, adding that he will write to the committee to withdraw security cover to those who don’t really need it.