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  Greetings to all our readers and patrons
Stewardship and Trusteesh
  By A.J. Philip  
  I ACCOMPANIED Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on his visit to South Africa on the occasi  
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Letter to Metropolitan
  By Rev A.P. Jacob and five other priests  
  Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan Most Rev. Dr. Philipose Mar Chrysostom Mar  
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Back to infancy -- they n
  By Shaheen Chander  
  ENJOYING a relaxed weekend, I was checking updates on the Facebook page. I came across a b  
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True family
  By Maryknoll Father William Grimm  
  EVEN in Japan, the books and movies of C.S. Lewis' "The Chronicles of Narnia" series are popular. Japanese translations of the books have been available for many years and the recent film versions of two of them have been box office successes.

One of the books, "The Horse and His Boy," is about Shasta, a boy who thinks he is the son of a poor fisherman in the cruel country called Calormen. However, he is really a prince from another land. The book tells of his adventures and how he discovers his true identity and family.

Most of the world's people are like Shasta. They think they live in a cruel world. They think that injustice, pain and death are the real story of the world.

Of course, they have reasons for thinking so. There is much injustice, poverty and suffering in the world. We suffer the physical pain of injury and illness. We suffer the emotional pain of loneliness and lost friendship. We suffer the spiritual pain of facing an unknown future. We and everyone we love will die.

But there are people who know otherwise. They know that they are beloved children of God. They know that this universe is a gift to God's children. They know that God loves them with an unlimited love. They know that not even death is stronger than God's love. They know that they are princes and princesses of the Kingdom of God. They are Christians. They also know that every other human being who has ever lived is also a prince, a princess.

The world suffers because people either do not know or allow themselves to forget who they really are. If we realized who we are and among whom we live, could we continue to treat others and ourselves the way so many do? Would the world be so marred by sin, fear and selfishness as it is?

All people have the right to know who they really are. We Christians have the duty to show them. It is the ultimate demand of justice.

Mission Sunday, which falls on Oct. 18 this year, is a day to recall that wherever a Christian may be, that is a place to do evangelization. It may be in a foreign land or in our own homeland. It may be in Church institutions or in our own homes.

Wherever I am, I can treat others as princes and princesses. I can show them the love of their Father and invite them to believe that they really are princes and princesses of the Kingdom.

In his message for Mission Sunday 2009, Pope Benedict XVI says: "The goal of the Church's mission is to illumine all peoples with the light of the Gospel as they journey through history towards God, so that in Him they may reach their full potential and fulfillment. We should have a longing and a passion to illumine all peoples with the light of Christ that shines on the face of the Church, so that all may be gathered into the one human family, under God's loving fatherhood."

The mission of the Church is to be the evidence of the "full potential and fulfillment" of each person. In our prayer, in our teaching and in our service we must live as confident children of God. Our confidence must be attractive and contagious. We live with joy and hope because we know that just as Shasta's story ends with finding his true family, all people are called to know their true family, the children of God the Father.
Maryknoll Father William Grimm is the former editor-in-chief of "Katorikku Shimbun," Japan's Catholic weekly
Segregation is worse
  By Malini Chib  
  THERE has been a lot of controversy over whether the Right to Education Act covers disabled children, and whether disabled children should have access to the same schools as all others. Here is my own experience. I am forty three. I have cerebral palsy which has affected my speech and mobility. I use a wheelchair to move around and a voice synthesiser which is a small version of what Professor Stephen Hawkings uses. I also have two masters degrees from the UK. Yes, I am educated despite the fact that I am moderately severe! My life has been a mixture of both East and West. I have a bachelor's degree from St Xavier's College in Mumbai, a diploma in desk top publishing from Oxford Brookes University, two masters one from the London University, and one from the London Metropolitan University. Today, I hold a corporate job in a popular bookstore. Due to technological advances my disabilities do not come in the way of my
performance, as I coordinate events through emails and sms's.

I am glad I was educated!

Soon after my birth, my parents noticed that I was not keeping up to the milestones like a normal child. They went searching for a diagnosis for me. Every doctor they met confirmed that I would be a 'vegetable'. The doctors told them: 'just feed her and clothe her as nothing can be done with her.' My parents refused to give up hope and refused to just dump me. They went in search for a diagnosis for me in England. Indeed they were right. I was assessed with high intelligence! I was put into a special school where I flourished. At that time inclusive education had not happened as it has now, when it is a mandate with Acts of Parliament and budgetary allocations supporting it. I was able to read by the age of one and a half years!

Six years later my parents returned to India, they found no school for children like me. It was a culture shock to confront the oppression around me. When I used to step out, people would either stare at me or make remarks openly in front of me. They would offer unsolicited advice: 'have you tried homeopathy or why don't take her to a fakir or a guru, she will be cured. Why don't you put a collar around her neck? It must be her last life. She doesn't need to go to school keep her at home'

These kind of comments came from everyone, including the educated rich. I was even discriminated against at children's birthday parties and social events. I was once stopped from entering a swimming pool because disabled people were considered infectious! Parents with disabled children were frowned upon. I am ashamed to say some of the top families of the country were ashamed to bring out their disabled children into their own drawing rooms in fear of the kind of behaviour that would be meted out. They say ignorance is bliss, but in this case ignorance was harmful and oppressive. The negative attitudes of people would make me cry and my mother would comfort me, but needed comforting herself. I was miserable.
Socially, I felt rejected and isolated. On top of this, I had no school to go to.

It was then that my mother, who was influenced by the British model of educating disabled children, opened India's first special school. The first Spastics Society model was started in 1972 in Colaba, Mumbai. Subsequently, other schools began in Calcutta, Delhi, Madras and Bangalore. My whole family came out in support of children like me.

For me life has not exactly had a silver lining. Looking back at the age of 43, I ask myself ó was a special school enough? I was in segregated education till I was 17. Seventeen years of being shut away from my brothers and sisters, from my companions, due to my disability. The system disables one further. Special schools imprison disabled people. Segregation dehumanises.

Fortunately my education was a mixture of segregated special schooling and inclusive higher education. The masters degree changed my adult life. It taught me how to think. It taught me to articulate my inner traumas that come from living in a world full of non-disabled people. It gave me the freedom of speech and the freedom of my age. For the first time in my life it has made me believe in myself and what I stand for.
The most important input that empowered me was education. What would I have done without education! The sad fact however is that for every disabled person who has the privilege of a special school, there are hundreds of disabled children who are shut out of any school at all. Today, I am proud that the government has mandated all schools to be inclusive.

With the Right to Education Act including 'all children with disabilities, I feel proud that the children of tomorrow will have an opportunity as a right to be able to study with their brothers and sisters in regular schools, and hopefully doctors will not call disabled people 'vegetables', and schools will not shut their doors to them, and the community will not shun them. (Courtesy: Indian Express)
The writer is a disability activist and senior events manager, Oxford Bookstore (Mumbai)

Story of sambhar
  By S. Gopalakrishnan  
  WHEN the first meeting of the Communist Party of Kerala took place at Pinarayi in North Kerala, did the Malayali know about dal vada? When did the Malayali begin using dal (pulses)?

If the price of dal was Rs 30 a kg during last year's Onam, it was Rs 90 a kg this Onam. In Andhra Pradesh, the price went up to Rs 100. If you closely look at a single yellow dal, you feel as if man's history is written on it; like on a rice or wheat grain.

During the Second World War, God appeared before the poor man in Kerala in the shape of wheat. Though it later gained respectability like the Hindi movies and 'churidhar', it was used mainly to make gruel by those living below the poverty line. Dal also has a similar story, though not related to Kerala. UNESCO has included dal among five life-saving food items because it is the world's cheapest nutritious food item.

I happened to meet a girl from Jharkhand who, till she turned 17, had never eaten any other food than rice and dal. From this one gets an idea about the extent of poverty in North India. That is why they are very nostalgic about rice and dal. It is said that the famous North Indian dish 'kichri' -- made of rice and dal -- had its origin in the kitchens of Emperor Akbar when he became a vegetarian. Whatever be the case, the Communist Party in Bihar germinated in the labour struggle on a dal field in Madhubani.

Like the Malayalam word for kitchen (kushini) came from the French word "cuisine", the yellow-coloured dal may have come to Kerala from the fields of Yadavs in North India or the Krishna plateu in Andhra Pradesh via Tamil Nadu. It may be mentioned that in none of the traditional Keralite dishes is dal used.

In the Eighteenth Century a new curry took its birth in the kitchen of the Maratha king of Thanjavoor when, instead of a particular tamarind another kind of tamarind was used in a dish made of vegetables and dal. The dish got the name Sambhar in honour of King Sambhaji, a relative, who had come on a visit to the palace that day. This may look like a story narrated by M.P. Narayana Pillai but the Hindi saying "Woh dal ithar nahi chalega" seems to have become "that dal will not get cooked here" after we started relishing sambhar.

Dal is grown before the winter sets in. When the non-traditional eaters of dal began to eat it, the supply could not match the demand. As Malayalis see politics in everything, I can mention some politics about dal. Most of the pulses that we import (30 lakh tones in 2007-08) are from military-controlled Myanmar. When we eat a dal vada while passing a resolution to demand the release of Aung San Sui, who has been demanding democracy in Myanmar, it is the dictatorial regime there that benefits from the money.

Pulses are not just politics, they are spiritual as well. They are the favourite food items in Hindu ashrams. Once I met a Swami at Rudra Prayag in the Himalayas. He is Tamil-speaking Trishool Baba. He had a flat tummy. It could have been because of his body structure or because of poverty!

I asked him: "What do you eat?"

He replied in Tamil: "I do not like taste"

I again asked Baba who rejects everything that is tasty: "What do you eat?"

Answer: Boiled Dal.
Translated from the original in Malayalam by A.J. Philip

Courtesy: Malayala Manorama
Happy Id
  By Catholic Church  
  Dear Muslim Friends,

1. On the occasion of your feast which concludes the month of Ramadan, I would like to extend my best wishes for peace and joy to you and, through this Message, propose this theme for our reflection: Christians and Muslims: Together in overcoming poverty.

2. This Message of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue has become a tradition cherished by us all, which is looked forward to each year and this is certainly a cause for joy. It has become, over the years, an occasion of cordial encounter in many countries between many Christians and Muslims. It often addresses a matter of shared concern, making it therefore conducive to a confident and open exchange. Are not all these elements immediately perceived as signs of friendship among us for which we should thank God?

3. Coming to the theme of this year, the human person in a situation of impoverishment is undoubtedly a subject at the heart of the precepts that, under different beliefs, we all hold dear. The attention, the compassion and the help that we, brothers and sisters in humanity, can offer to those who are poor, helping them to establish their place in the fabric of society, is a living proof of the Love of the Almighty, because it is man as such whom He calls us to love and help, without distinction of affiliation.

We all know that poverty has the power to humiliate and to engender intolerable sufferings; it is often a source of isolation, anger, even hatred and the desire for revenge. It can provoke hostile actions using any available means, even seeking to justify them on religious grounds, or seizing another man's wealth, together with his peace and security, in the name of an alleged "divine justice". This is why confronting the phenomena of extremism and violence necessarily implies tackling poverty through the promotion of integral human development that Pope Paul VI defined as the "new name for peace" (Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, 1975, n. 76).

In his recent Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate on integral human development in charity and truth, Pope Benedict XVI, taking into consideration the current context of efforts to promote development, underlines the need for a "new humanistic synthesis' (n. 21), which, safeguarding the openness of man to God, gives him his place as the earth's "centre and summit" (n. 57). A true development, then, must be ordered "to the whole man and to every man" (Populorum Progressio, n. 42).

4. In his talk on the occasion of the World Day for Peace, 1st January 2009, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI distinguished two types of poverty: a poverty to be combated and a poverty to be embraced.

The poverty to be combated is before the eyes of everyone: hunger, lack of clean water, limited medical care and inadequate shelter, insufficient educational and cultural systems, illiteracy, not to mention also the existence of new forms of poverty " advanced wealthy societies, there is evidence of marginalization, as well as affective, moral and spiritual poverty..." (Message for the World Day of Peace, 2009, n. 2).

The poverty to be embraced is that of a style of life which is simple and essential, avoiding waste and respecting the environment and the goodness of creation. This poverty can also be, at least at certain times during the year, that of frugality and fasting. It is the poverty which we choose which predisposes us to go beyond ourselves, expanding the heart.

5. As believers, the desire to work together for a just and durable solution to the scourge of poverty certainly also implies reflecting on the grave problems of our time and, when possible, sharing a common commitment to eradicate them. In this regard, the reference to the aspects of poverty linked to the phenomena of globalization of our societies has a spiritual and moral meaning, because all share the vocation to build one human family in which all -- individuals, peoples and nations -- conduct themselves according to the principles of fraternity and responsibility.

6. A careful study of the complex phenomenon of poverty directs us precisely towards its origin in the lack of respect for the innate dignity of the human person and calls us to a global solidarity, for example through the adoption of a "common ethical code" (John Paul II, Address to The Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, 27 April 2001, n. 4) whose norms would not only have a conventional character, but also would necessarily be rooted in the natural law written by the Creator in the conscience of every human being (cf. Rom 2, 14-15).

7. It seems that in diverse places of the world we have passed from tolerance to a meeting together, beginning with common lived experience and real shared concerns. This is an important step forward.

In giving everyone the riches of a life of prayer, fasting and charity of one towards the other, is it not possible for dialogue to draw on the living forces of those who are on the journey towards God?

The poor question us, they challenge us, but above all they invite us to cooperate in a noble cause: overcoming poverty!

Happy 'Id al-Fitr!
Tharoor's animal instinct
  By Sarvjeet Singh  
  MINISTER of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor's professed solidarity with "holy cows" shows that beneath the sophisticated clipped accent veneer there lurks a bull that can wreak havoc in the China Shop of austerity that Congress leadership has been diligently sprucing up.

This, in fact, is not the first time that Mr Tharoor has displayed such marked contempt for the Indian social context. Earlier he had to be gently chided out of the comforts of a Five Star Hotel which, ostensibly, was being privately financed by Tharoor.

Interestingly, Tharoor who made an unsuccessful bid for the top job in the United Nations was the Under Secretary General in charge of Department of Public Information at the UN body.

One of the important and crucial functions of this Department is to forge alliances and partnerships with non-government organisations to take the UN message across the world effectively. No doubt he would have had an opportunity to gain a deep insight into the socio-economic realities of the developing world and the various aspects related to human suffering by interacting with these NGOs.

If an experience of this kind has failed to make him sensitive about the plight of the suffering people, an apprehensive outlook about him acquiring this sensitivity in future would be justified.

The austerity drive is being dismissed as an exercise of tokenism in certain quarters who seem to overlook the element of voluntary scaling down of comfort in solidarity with the drought-affected people.

It most certainly sends out the message that people sitting in high offices are not impervious to the sufferings of the common man.

The Congress party has to decide whether it is serious about taking this message forward in right earnest. Tharoor had made no notable contribution to India when he was given the shortcut to power.

If he mocks at the austerity drive of his own government in a manner befitting a roadside rogue getting kicks out of passing comments on passersby, the onus is firmly on the Government to convey its own seriousness to Tharoor and the Indian people.
Ill-effects of spanking
  By Jennifer Thomas  
  CHILDREN who are spanked as 1-year-olds are more likely to behave aggressively and perform worse on cognitive tests as toddlers than children who are spared the punishment, new research shows.

Though the negative effects of spanking were "modest," the study adds to a growing body of literature that's finding spanking isn't good for children.

"Age 1 is a key time for establishing the quality of the parenting and the relationship between parent and the child," said study author Lisa J. Berlin, a research scientist at the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University. "Spanking at age 1 reflects a negative dynamic, and increases children's aggression at age 2."

The study is published in the September/October issue of Child Development.

Berlin and her colleagues looked at data on 2,500 white, Mexican American and black children from low-income families. The data included parents' reports about their children's behavior, their use of spanking, as well as home visits by trained observers to document parent-child interactions at ages 1, 2 and 3.

About one-third of mothers of 1-year-olds reported they or someone in their household had spanked their child in the last week, while about half of the mothers of 2- and 3-year-olds reported that their child had been spanked.

The average number of spankings for 1-year-olds was 2.6 per week, while the average for 2-year-olds was nearly three.

The study found that children who were spanked at age 1 had more aggressive behaviors at age 2 and performed worse on measures of thinking abilities at age 3.

Being spanked at age 2, however, did not predict more aggressive behaviors at age 3, possibly because the spanking had begun at age 1 and by age 2 the kids were already more aggressive, Berlin said.

Researchers also looked at the effects of verbal punishment, defined as yelling, scolding or making derogatory comments. Verbal punishment was not associated with negative effects if the mother was otherwise attentive, loving and supportive.

Researchers controlled for family characteristics such as race, ethnicity, mother's age, education, family income and the child's gender.

Previous research has shown spanking is more common among low-income households than high-income households.

Researchers chose a sample of low-income families because some child behavior experts have argued that when spanking is "cultural normative" -- that is, it's expected for parents to use physical discipline -- the detrimental effects of spanking may be lessened.

"We did not find that," Berlin said. "Even in a sample of low-income people where presumably it's more normative to spank your kids, we found negative effects."

The study also found that mothers who said their children were "fussy" babies were more likely to spank them at ages 1, 2 and 3. But children who were more aggressive at 2 were not more likely to get spanked.

"The implication or the suggestion in past arguments is that some kids who are more aggressive or difficult to control might elicit more spanking, but that's not what we found," Berlin said.

Researchers found that black children were spanked and verbally punished the most, possibly because of cultural beliefs about the importance of respecting elders and in the value of physical discipline, or because parents feel they have to prepare their children for a racist and potentially dangerous world.

Of all the debates over child-rearing, spanking "definitely touches a nerve," Berlin said.

"It's a parenting practice that has been around for a long time, and that's also in transition," Berlin said. "In general, the use of spanking is going down. But there is also a contingent of people who really believe in it, who say that's how they were raised and it's a tradition they want to continue."

Elizabeth T. Gershoff, an associate professor in the department of human development and family sciences at University of Texas at Austin, said the study adds to a growing body of research showing negative effects of spanking.

"Almost all the studies point to negative effects of spanking," Gershoff said. "It makes kids more aggressive, more likely to be delinquent and to have mental health problems. The more kids are spanked, the more they are likely to be physically abused by their parents. This does not mean everyone who spanks physically abuses, but that risk is there."

Because children tend to mimic parental behaviors, it's possible spanking "creates a model for using aggression," Gershoff said. "Spanking is just hitting."

Less is known why spanking could inhibit cognitive development. One possibility is that parents who spank are less likely to use reasoning with their children, something that's good for development, Gershoff said. (Courtesy: HealthDay)
Pinddaan for Michael Jackson
  By Anuja Sipre  
THE barriers are breaking and it is not just Hindus but Muslims and foreigners as well who are turning up on the banks of the sacred Falgu river in Gaya in Bihar for offering pinddaan for the salvation of the souls of their ancestors.

What is even more surprising, a social activist and die-hard fan of Michael Jackson elaborately went about performing the pinddaan rituals for the salvation of the soul of the pop star.

Every year in the month of September devout Hindus from across the world and also from different parts of the country descend on Gaya for worshiping their ancestors during the fortnight-long Pitrapaksha mela.

Apart from performing 'shardha,' Hindus offer pinddaan to the departed souls of their loved ones during the Pitrapaksha mela which this year commenced on September 3.

Remarkably, however, even the non-Hindus, too, are now flocking to this part of the world to worship their ancestors by offering pinddaan to them. Two Japanese women Yuko Masuda and Yuka Ptsuda seemed really excited when they reached the sacred town of Gaya to perform pinddaan.

Not only did they dress in Indian costumes, they even made sure to stick to the rituals of the pinddaan. Another lady Tomoko Lee also came all the way from Japan for the Pitrapaksha mela.

According to Lee, she was drawn to the mela by the information made available through the Internet.

Interestingly, even Muslims like Ahmad Ali Badal, a resident of Saran district and Mohammad Maqbool were also drawn to the mela for offering pinddaan to the souls of their ancestors.

An ardent fan of Michael Jackson, Suresh Narain of Gaya performed the pinddaan of the pop star on the ninth day of the pitrapaksha. Narain who is a social activist thought this was his way of showing respect to a star who brought joy to millions of people in the world despite himself being in excruciating pain.

In his bid to promote communal harmony, Narain performed the pinddaan of former Shahi Imam Syed Abdullah Bukhari as well as victims of the 26/11 terrorist attack in Mumbai.
Fruits of labour
  By P. Koshy  
  WE have been selected as God's chosen people to make a difference wherever we are placed. The Promised Land, the land where milk and honey flows -- what the Israelites were endowed with -- was a land contrary to the literal meaning of the term.

The Promised Land was not endowed with rich resources like its several other Middle East neighbors, with hydrocarbon or other natural resources. But God chose these people to make a difference in the Land that they got ultimately.

Israelites did not run away from that responsibility. And they -- the Israel nation -- could prove to the world that they are different. In fact, they could successfully convert this land into one where milk and honey flows.

Today, Israel leads the world in bio-technology, agriculture and farm technologies thereby offering a promise to a world striving for food security!

Israel's story is an eye-opener. We often are not ready to realise our own potentials. We criticise God and everyone for our plight.

God has chosen us to make a difference, wherever he has placed us. Don't run away. Be there and make a difference!
Internet turns 40
  By A.J. Philip  
  THE day the Internet turned 40, I met my friend Kurian Philip after a long time at a wedding reception. He did not seem to have visited, though a common friend had sent him the link. Even if he had visited, his memory had let him down for he had no clue about the site or its contents.

As usual, Kurian had a suggestion for me. He has a right to do so because he is, after all, my Internet Guru, to which I will come in an instant. "Why don't you provide RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed on your website?" I had a vague idea of what RSS was but I did not know how the technology could be deployed to increase traffic to my Website.

Kurian dwelt at length on how it would help people busy like him to access stories and articles The Herald of India publishes. "Websites take a lot of time to open". (On reaching home, I checked on my Macbook - it took 25 seconds for 'The Herald of India' to open.)

"I keep getting the RSS feeds on my computer and if I find a headline or an introduction interesting, I visit the site to read the whole story. Otherwise, where is the time to visit all these websites?" Kurian asked.

I do not blame Kurian as a delay of a few seconds can irritate us. We have taken the Internet for granted that we even seem to have forgotten the days when we lived without the World Wide Web.

Soon after I joined the profession, my editor Nikhil Chakravartty asked me to do a feature on Gandhi's 'Nayi Talim'. I was too overawed by Nikhilda to ask him what 'Nayi Talim' was.

None of my journalist friends could help me. Even the Encyclopaedia Britannica was not very helpful. Finally, I went to the Gandhi Peace Foundation where I met its secretary the late Radhakrishna who helped me understand Gandhiji's concept of education.

A few days later, as suggested by Nikhilda, I visited a professor in Jamia Millia Islamia who was an authority on 'Nayi Talim'. Then only I could do the feature which, however, failed to satisfy the Editor, though many newspapers including 'The Tribune' and the now-defunct 'Patriot', published it on their editorial pages.

Today all I need to do is do a Google search on 'Nayi Talim'. In an instant, the search engine will scan billions of pages and prepare a list of hundreds of articles and websites that can throw light on Gandhiji's concept of education.

But if, for some reason, the computer takes more than 30 seconds for this job, we complain that the Net is slow. Were we like this always?

I vividly remember the thrill I had when Kurian, who taught a generation of computer students, came home 16 years ago to set up the Internet on my newly bought laptop - a Tulip with 200 MB hard disk. I did not have an Internet connection then.

Kurian gave me his personal password with the permission to use it liberally. His only request was not to open his e-mails. My laptop did not have enough cache memory to download pictures but downloading texts was as quick as hitting the download button.

To have an Internet account those days was very expensive. VSNL provided Internet text service to college students at a concessional rate of Rs 500 per month.

We have come a long way since then that yesterday (September 9) when I had a little argument with my son about a new car that 'flew' past us, I did a Google search on my mobile phone to tell him that it was launched in India on March 10, 2009! I thought it was a clincher, though, as usual, he contested it.

But nobody can contest the fact that the Internet, which began when two computers were connected at the University of California by Professor Leonard Kleinrock, now connects millions of computers and mobile phones the world over.

Redefining success
  By Dr. Ed Becker  
  IN 1977, I thought I was successful. I owned 50 per cent of a successful business, had a Ph.D. and was married with three children. I believed I had accomplished this all through my own capability and wisdom. I thought I could accomplish anything if I just tried hard enough. My knowledge, strength of will, college degrees and business success were important to me, and I put them ahead of everything else.

My 20-year-old son Alan had different priorities. He tried to tell me what Jesus Christ meant to him, but I was convinced I didn't need Him. I told Alan that I could do everything myself. I was so firm about rejecting the Christian faith that Alan told his pastor, "My dad will never become a Christian!" As a chemical engineer, I had tried to prove or disprove the existence of God as one does chemical reactions in a lab. The tests came up empty, so I ignored God.

Alan later became seriously ill and was admitted to hospital. After his heart stopped beating, I stood outside the emergency room struggling with pain, anguish and helplessness. It was here that I realized I could not do everything myself. There was nothing I could do as my son hovered on the brink of death. I didn't even know how to pray.

Alan survived the cardiac arrest, but he was in the hospital for a long time suffering from a serious head infection. He told me, "God is in charge. If God's purpose in my suffering is to bring you to Christ, then everything I'm going through is worth it." I was astonished!

I read Alan's Bible to him every day at his bedside. For the first time, I began to learn what the Bible was really about. And I began to learn about Jesus. Alan's strong belief in Jesus, combined with what I read in the Bible, made me realize that Jesus was real. He had to be who He claimed to be. Although I tried to believe that He was nothing more than a great teacher or prophet, this argument didn't stand up to the test. He claimed to be the true Son of God. I decided that Jesus must have been telling the truth, and I accepted His claims.

A month later, I asked Christ to take charge of my life, to be my Lord and Saviour. I knew God wanted me to have a more meaningful life. Alan was thrilled when I told him about my decision! He had prayed for a long time that his father would know eternal life.

Three weeks after my decision, Alan went into a coma. For three days I hardly left his bedside, until finally he slipped away from life on earth to be with his Lord and Saviour. I had looked forward to sharing my new Christian life with my son, but I knew that he would now spend eternity in heaven and that I would see him again someday. Though grief stricken, God gave my wife and me a peace and hope that surpassed all human understanding.

The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that if anyone is in Christ, he is a 'new creation.' The old self has gone and the new has come. This certainly was true in my life. God now has first priority, followed by my wife and family, and then my business. My principles for decision-making have also changed completely. I ask God for help in making daily business decisions, and no longer rely solely on my own knowledge. I have found that God's infinite wisdom is vastly superior to my own. Best of all, there is joy in my life no matter what happens to me. I know that I have eternal life to look forward to.

How do you define success? Why not ask Jesus for his definition? If you donít know Jesus, we encourage you to pray the following:

Lord Jesus, I want to know You personally. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of my life. Make me be the person You want me to be. Courtesy:
Power of prayer
  By Georgiann Caruso  
  Atlanta, Georgia -- In 2004, Matthew Sanchez fractured the C5 vertebra in his neck while playing high school football. Dr. Donald Peck Leslie, said less than 1 percent of people with this type of spinal cord injury regain full physical abilities.

Said Matthew's father, Rudjard Hayes: "I knew the chances of him recovering were basically zero. But I hoped and prayed 24-7. We are a very faith-based family and believe that you trust the people that are there for you, and things are going to be OK. God will see you through it."

As reported on CNN, doctors at Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia, operated on Sanchez's neck, putting in a plate, screws, cables and a piece of bone from his leg.

According to CNN: "Five weeks later, after intensive therapy, Sanchez walked out of Shepherd Center. After six more months of therapy, his sense of normalcy returned. Two years later, he could be a competitive athlete again...Today, five years after his injury, Sanchez has seven triathlons under his belt."

Click on the link below to find out why Hayes called one doctor an "angel" and what Sanchez has been doing the last few months to give back to the military and medical community. It's something that makes his dad mighty proud.

Source: Georgiann Caruso - CNN
YSR's legacy
  By Sarvjeet Singh  
AS a numb with grief nation tries to cope with the loss of its committed son and leader YS Rajasekhara Reddy -- YSR for short -- the Congress faces one of the biggest political challenges in recent times.

The challenge is two dimensional as the arduous task of carrying out what YSR set out to achieve in service of his people is now firmly on the party which cannot overlook the political equations and merit in deciding upon the successor.

In the midst of all the hectic political activity that was evident even on the sidelines of the departed leader's last journey, the party needs to immediately take steps that would reassure the grief-stricken people that the party is determined to pursue the pro-poor and pro-people agenda of YSR with the same zeal and passion.

In this emotionally charged atmosphere it is, perhaps, natural that leaders of the state rendered clueless with shock and anguish would look at YSR's immediate family for doing justice to his legacy.

A dispassionate and objective view would, however, tell us that lack of experience of his son Jaganmohan would only hinder the progress towards the tasks that YSR had set for himself.

Moreover, since Jaganmohan became a Member of Parliament with his father's blessings, it would be in the fitness of things if he focuses his energy in making a mark at the forum provided to him just like his illustrious father did.

The high standards of selfless work and inexhaustible commitment that YSR has set in his innings as Chief Minister can best be carried forward by a brave display of commitment to his ideals without linking it with a position or the CM's chair, to be precise. This spirit of detachment with position would certainly be in sync with the philosophy that propelled YSR with such intensity.

The no-frills-straightforward approach of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh towards governance can show the way for solving the Andhra tangle.

There should be a white paper on the various schemes launched under the departed leader and their status. The schemes and projects on the anvil, too, should be part of the paper. The party should then allocate tasks and set goals with a deadline for efficient evaluation and monitoring.

It would also be helpful if district chiefs send their own monthly reports, especially on the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee schme about which YSR was zealous.

The government needs to send a strong signal that it is serious and determined to pursue the dreams of YSR in right earnest. It is, therefore, important to have at the helm a man who is suitably equipped in terms of commitment, knowledge, skills and experience to pay tribute to YSR's memory through work that would transform lives, especially of the poor.

YSR's memory will live on and there is no need to add an element of political experimentation to it.
End of newspapers?
  By The Nation, Thailand  
  MEDIA mogul Rupert Murdoch, head of News Corp and owner of many newspapers in the US, UK and Australia, recently announced he would soon start charging for news content on some of his websites. "Quality is not cheap," Murdoch was quoted as saying in mid-August.

The announcement by arguably the world's most powerful media mogul is the latest move by those in the US newspaper industry attempting to deal with print media's declining advertisement and sales revenues. Ads have melded in large numbers on to on-line and other media as advertisers try to reduce expenditure and zoom on to more specific target audiences, hurting newspapers in particular, the purveyors of general news. The phenomena is being played out not just in the West but also in Asia, Thailand included. Younger generations tend to read free news on the Internet, raising the vital question as to whether the death of general quality newspapers is imminent.

At about the time of Murdoch's announcement, the July/August issue of Columbia Journalism Review warned: "Today we face the prospect of, at least in term of serious journalism, going from something to nothing."

The magazine, published by Columbia University's prestigious Graduate School of Journalism defended the relevance of quality corporate newspapers by stating: "[N]one of the innovations thus far has produced the kind of public-service journalism that our newspapers, at their best, still manage to deliver."

"Yes, newspapers behaved for decades like arrogant monopolists. But they also have been an increasingly lonely bastion for serious journalism... We need professional journalism. It doesn't have to be delivered on paper; it need not be produced by omnibus newsrooms with twelve hundred reporters and editors; and it can surely be complemented by amateur efforts," the editorial stated, adding that it nevertheless must be done by people who have time and commitment to painstaking work - something that cannot be done in spare time.

Not everyone in the US thinks those in the industry know how to deal with the crisis, however.

"Journalists are not wrong to think that the field of journalism has a unique social value. But as many in the corporate press are understandably focused on whether their particular jobs will be saved, these folks may be exactly the wrong people to explain what's going to happen to media business," wrote Peter Hart a director at Extra, a quality non-profit Media Watch magazine based in New York.

Like it or hate it, the so-called quality broadsheet newspaper, whether continuing in a print format or not, will have to strive to make itself relevant to the changing times. If it fails it will go the way of the dinosaur - and some have already fallen and at an increasingly alarming rate, not just in the US but elsewhere too.

Trying to make itself relevant does not mean 'tabloidising' itself. Instead it should redouble its efforts to produce quality journalism distinguishing itself from other forms of media. Quality investigative reporting requires time, commitment and brains. But together with better editorial, analysis, and commentaries, newspapers may hope to remind the public of their relevance and how they assist people to making sound political, social and economic decisions and to put things in context. These are invaluable and an essential prerequisite for any democracy to thrive. Print media must be aware that while it cannot compete in terms of speed with other news media, it has the ability to add value and depth rather than delivering knee-jerk reactions. Greater commitment to the public for support and less reliance on advertisers is also crucial to assuring the public that newspapers are not lap dogs of advertisers and major shareholders, and are relevant in the twenty-first century.

If what they offer is in the end deemed irrelevant by the public and no better than what exists already for free on the Internet, then it's time to bow from the stage.

Some critics wonder whether Murdoch would succeed in charging for on-line news content that may not be unique. The Murdoch-owned The Wall Street Journal charges fees and is a success, due to its specialised readership and expert content.

However, if most general newspapers do become extinct, both on and off- line, society may become more fragmented and weakened as people turn to increasingly specialised news. Society without commentary and in-depth news and analysis in the general discourse, may end up decimating itself into small pockets of people hardly relating or feeling empathetic to one another. (Courtesy: The Nation, Thailand)
Remembering YSR
  By Sarada  
  I HAD gone to Kerala on the day of Onam to see the boat race. It was while having lunch with some Congress workers that I received a call from a friend who was earlier with Gemini Studio. When he asked in a choked voice, "have you heard," I knew he was about to me give a sorrowful news.

When he said Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy's helicopter met with an accident, I lost all my enthusiasm. I just got up pretending that I had finished my meal. Since then I have not been able to eat. Yesterday, I went to sleep in the hope that he was safe. In the morning, I got up to hear about his death.

I became very close to YSR over a short period. I have never come across a politician as brave as him since the demise of Indira Gandhi. YSR led a pure and faith-filled life. He would get up at 5 in the morning, read the Bible for a long time and pray. It would be followed by physical exercise. Then only will he start his day's work. It is difficult to find a more disciplined person in politics.

The first time I met YSR was in 1996 when we were both members of Parliament. I represented Telugu Desam and he the Congress. His speeches and conduct evoked respect. For some time, I left politics and worked among village women and in water-deficit areas. I know Finance Minister K. Rosaiah, who has been sworn in as temporary Chief Minister, for the last 40 years. It was on his suggestion that YSR gave me membership of the Congress Party.

I was enrolled as a member at a function held at their camp house. YSR told his party leaders that Sarada was a good person, a good actor and her membership would only strengthen the organisation. We became close as we began to share party platforms. He was very happy that I went to campaign for the Congress in Kerala, Maharashtra, Orissa and Andaman and Nicobar. On my return, I told him about my campaign for Sashi Tharoor. YSR was very happy to hear that.

It was he who brought Andhra Pradesh to this stage. We would be surprised by his ability to maintain relationships with political leaders. Destiny has taken him away at a time when elections to local bodies have become due. The loss of YSR is a loss for every Andhraite. And I am one of them. (Courtesy: Malayala Manorama -- Translated from the original in Malayalam by A.J. Philip)

Death Be Not Proud
  By John Donne  
  DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.
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