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29 July 2008

Rahul Nuked Kalawati

The metaphors he used in Parliament during the debate for the confidence motion were far-fetched, on the verge of being laughable
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M Ratan
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When the handsome crown prince of the ruling party, the Indian National Congress, Rahul Gandhi stood up in the Lok Sabha on July 22 to expound on energy security while defending the India-US civil nuclear cooperation deal, in the debate on the trust motion, I said to myself that the young leader had the best chance to prove his mettle. He was on the live television with a captive audience and friendly news channels to glorify him.

He took us to the poor homes of Sasikala and Kalawati in Vidarbha, which he toured recently in his "discover India" journey. He talked of Sasikala and her husband's meagre daily wages and their three children's big dreams. He also narrated details of Kalawati's large family and her farmer husband's suicide. He tried to trace their misery to their lack of access to energy.

What baffled me was the irrelevance of the Sasikala and Kalawati stories to the subject on hand - nuclear energy in the context of the India-US deal. Can he wipe their tears in the foreseeable future with nuclear energy? There are millions and millions of Sasikalas and Kalawatis in the boondocks of India who have no access to safe drinking water, housing, electricity, employment, etc. They are trapped in poverty. We even see them on the footpaths of some major roads in the capital, begging along with babies in their arms. They are nearer home. Why did Rahul have to travel to Bundelkhand and Vidarbha to see them?

In 60 years of independence, we have not fully exploited our rich natural resources to expand electrification to reach the rural poor. We have power crisis even in most metropolitan cities.

Now, suddenly we are obsessed with nuclear power as if it would electrify our rural areas in no time if the Indo-American deal goes through, revolutionising the power scene in the country. What a terrible fraud on the Sasikalas and Kalawatis and their children!

The writer features regularly in mainstream newspapers in their respective "Letters to the Editor" columns

Power Of Faith

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Indraneil Roy Choudhuri
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Today with a lot of gratitude, I share with all of you my experience in dealing with the passing away of my father.

It all started the beginning of last month when during his regular check ups, the doctors found that my dad’s blood count was unusually high. My father had been diagnosed with the cancer of the lymph nodes in 2005, and through timely treatment of chemotherapy, he was totally cured. However, as a part of his routine, in the gap of every two to three months, he had to go for regular blood tests to check if there were any further occurrences of growth. This increase in blood levels suggested the onset of leukaemia and since it was detected somewhat early, the doctors suggested that it would be best to "nip it in the bud". They suggested a cycle of chemotherapy, which would be augmented with an experimental drug, to expedite the recovery.

I felt that this was a time for me, to prove to everyone the power of the 'Law'. During this time I was also struggling for the last month’s discussion meeting and trying to give it my best in the district in a social forum I worked with. I also strove to share my experience of victories of the youth division campaign that had ended a month earlier. With a lot of prayer and high spirits, Dad went through his chemotherapy over a period of two days on the 13 & 14 August. He had no problem for the next three days and we, as a family, along with the doctors, were quite optimistic about his recovery. Then exactly in the morning of the 17 August last year, Dad started complaining of a little uneasiness. He had a little breakfast and went of to lie down. Not before long we could see his rising discomfort, to a point when it seemed to be having a heart attack.

Immediately Dad was taken to the MAX emergency at Saket. The doctors suggested that his heart was in perfect condition, but they could not diagnose the reason for his discomfort. Dad was disoriented and was not responding verbally to any of our queries. Even the MRI and the CT scans done by MAX came clear. We also told the doctors about his medical history and the recent 'chemo', but even then, they were somehow not able to reach to a diagnosis.

All this time, not only was I not chanting continuously in my mind, but also made it a point to inform my YMD chapter chief and our MD district chief. It is with great humility and deep gratitude I thank, all the members who had prayed for my father all this while.

Since my father’s condition was getting from bad to worse, we spoke to the head doctor in AIIMS, under whom his treatment was going on, to have him shifted there. We both agreed that Dad’s treatment would be best under him, as he knew his case history better than any other doctor. By the time we shifted Dad to AIIMS on the night of the 18, he was in a bad shape. The doctors, having gone through all his reports, said that as a side effect of the 'chemo', his immunity had gone down drastically and he had contracted multiple infections at the same time. He had pneumonia in both his lungs; his platelets had fallen and had septicaemia of the blood. To top it all, he had a subdural haemorrhage in his brain, which the doctors concluded after seeing the same MRI report of MAX. The haemorrhage in the brain was causing the disorientation all the while.

Never for a moment did I doubt that my prayers would not be answered, but the question did come to my mind: How much more Gohonzon? How much more would it take to show the sickness in my faith? It was more painful to see my mother and my wife go through the mental anguish. I did not blame them as being doctors; they did have a medical bias. But I could see it in their eyes that deep down they had accepted the inevitable — his death. Logically looking at it, I too had my doubts; it was as though Dad had reached a point of no return.

My Mentor, Soka Gakkai President, Dr Daisaku Ikeda had said, "But the losers in any struggle have already allowed themselves to be defeated before the battle begins. They have lost to the insidious workings of resignation, cowardice and lethargy in their own hearts" (World Tribune, 14 August 1998, p 4), adding, "No matter what might happen, no matter what you might be told, no matter how difficult your present circumstances, as long as you win the battle with yourselves, you will be victors in life" (World Tribune, 21 April 1995, p 4). Guided by these words, I knew I had to keep fighting. I was not going to let my father go without a good fight. I had to instil that hope and courage in my family that, yes, he would recover. The prayers of so many people would not, cannot go unanswered.

I even encouraged my wife to do plenty of diamoku/daimoku (prayer) from home and attend as many Gakkai meeting as possible. That would not only help her to feel the pulse of each of your prayers, but also be away from the depressing hospital environment. Staying at nights in the hospital, I was able to do abundant prayer and also read the Gosho to my father. I drew strength myself and deepened my conviction further by reading a lot of literature on Buddhism. Quite naturally my prayers were directed to the other cancer patients in the hospital and also to all the doctors and the nursing staff as well.

Gradually, but surely, I could see all our prayers getting answered. He was first cured completely of his pneumonia, then his septicaemia and finally the haemorrhage in his brain dissolved and on the 28 of August he came out of his coma. He was not able to speak as he was still on partial ventilator, but he could communicate with his eyes. His first reaction was as though he had woken up from sleep and was trying to get his bearings. I immediately reported this victory to all those who were with me in this struggle. There is a lot of gratitude for Shruti as well. She was able to not only take care of the family but also transferred a lot of encouragement from the Gakkai meetings she attended.

However, Dad’s own karma was far too deep rooted. His blood pressure started going low, and the ventilator gradually took over. My father, passed away in the evening of 30 of August 2007.

I do not have any doubt that even though we all chanted for his recovery, how is it that he passed away. Weren’t our prayers answered? Our prayers were answered! Even though he passed away, at the time of his death, he was cured of all his diseases. Although, there is defiantly the grief of loss, I am confident that because we had chanted, all his negative karma in the sum of all his lifetimes has been expunged. I am confident that he is born again in a house were the Gohonzon is there. I will always be indebted to all the members who supported me in my struggle. I will always be indebted to this philosophy, which has given me so much. This is a debt that I am determined to repay by exerting myself earnestly in faith.

In this year of "Capable People and Development", I determine to fight even harder to raise capable leaders and be a true disciple of my mentor.

Thank you.

Anecdote
In a small town in India, a person decided to open up a bar, which was right opposite to a temple. A congregation of believers and the temple management started a campaign to block the bar from opening with petitions. It prayed daily against his business.

Work still progressed. However, when the construction of the building that would house the bar was almost complete and was about to open, a strong lightning struck the bar and it was burnt to ashes.

The temple folks were rather smug in their outlook after that, till the bar owner sued the temple authorities on the ground that the temple, through its congregation prayers, was ultimately responsible for the demise of his bar, either through direct or indirect actions or means.

In its reply to the court, the temple vehemently denied all responsibility or any connection that their prayers might have had with the bar shop's demise. As the case made its way into the court, the judge looked over the paperwork at the hearing and commented: "I don't know how I'm going to decide this case, but it appears from the paperwork, we have a bar owner who believes in the power of prayer and we have an entire temple and its devotees that doesn't."

The writer is a corporate communicator

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Policy

Surajit Dasgupta treats no individual, organisation or institution as a holy cow.