INDIA – THE LAND OF KARMA :
India is popularly known as ‘Karma Bhumi’, or ‘Karma Kshetra’. The Laws of Karma govern the lives of the people of the Land of India. We, as Indians are destined to experience the taste of the Fruits of our own Actions either during the present stage of existence and in subsequent or future states of existence. When an action damages the Genetic Code contained in DNA, the consequences would be experienced in the lives of our children and their children. If we recklessly pollute the air we breathe, the water we drink, and contaminate the soils that support the lives of living organisms, the consequences would be experienced as long as these toxic chemicals persist in our living environment. Radioactive Chemicals are extremely hazardous to human life and to the lives of plants and animals upon whom human life depends for its own existence. Radiation damages DNA and injures the structures known as Chromosomes which carry vital hereditary information. We need to learn from the lessons of our recent past. Kindly review the Nuclear Damage caused by Nuclear Accidents at Three Mile Island during 1979, and at Chernobyl during 1986.
PLAN FOR NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES PRIOR TO REAPING BENEFITS FROM POSITIVE CONSEQUENCES :
Indian Traditional Wisdom directs us to take into account all the consequences that result from our actions. Indeed, we plan to take action hoping to gain the rewards of the positive consequences from that intended course of action. But, Traditional Wisdom sounds the Bells of Caution. It asks us to take into account all the negative consequences of our intended action, and then it would be very easy to taste the fruits of positive consequences. India’s Epic Poem known as Bhagavata Purana narrates the Story about churning the mythical Milk Ocean to obtain the Nectar of Immortality popularly known as ‘AMRIT’. It was a herculean task. All people forgot their differences and rivalries and had joined hands in their effort to churn the Ocean described as ‘SAMUDRA MANTHAN’. They were shocked and were surprised when deadly, noxious, toxic fumes emerged threatening the existence of all living entities. Fortunately, they could seek protection of Lord Shiva who had mercifully agreed to hold and store this poison in His throat. While speaking about Radioactive Waste, we need to face it with a sense of Reality. We have no Lord Shiva who could step forward and safely store this extremely hazardous Nuclear Waste for thousands of years. We need to have the ability to deal with this problem of a Toxic Waste which is highly persistent. We cannot afford to bury the High Level Radioactive Waste in the ground and forget about it. The storage of Nuclear Waste is an immense problem and we have not yet resolved the problems involved in storing the Radioactive Waste and monitor it for thousands of years. We need to understand the consequences from Natural Disasters like Floods and Earthquakes which could impact the Nuclear Waste Storage Sites.
SEEK FREEDOM TO LIVE IN A NUCLEAR FREE WORLD :
I am circulating a Petition that is sponsored by Greenpeace India, an Environmental Advocacy Organization. It is simply asking Shri. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India to hold further public consultations on this important issue of Liability for Nuclear Damage. This Bill when enacted into Law would impact the lives of our future generations. We need to defend the Rights of our children, and also the Rights of their children to live in a safe, and healthy environment. We cannot feed them from this Cup of Radioactive Poison that the Nuclear Industry would create by using Nuclear Fuel for Power generation.
Kindly read the article written by Brahma Chellaney which was originally published in ‘The Hindu’ in its edition dated March 13, 2010.
Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham.
Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India,
M.B.B.S., Class of April, 1970.
India’s Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill – Brahma Chellaney
Brahma Chellaney | The Hindu | March 13, 2010
The government has finally released the text of its controversial nuclear-accident liability Bill. The text not only confirms the concerns expressed earlier over key elements of the proposed law, but also raises additional issues of worry. What stands out in the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill is the extent to which it goes to aid the business interests of the foreign reactor builders. In the process, the Bill seeks to financially burden the Indian taxpayer and encumber the rights of victims of any potential radioactive release from a foreign-built plant. A special Indian law limiting liability in amount and in time has been sought by Washington for its nuclear-exporting firms, with the largest two, Westinghouse and General Electric (GE), set to win multibillion-dollar contracts to build several commercial nuclear power reactors. To forestall lawsuits filed against American suppliers in US courts by victims of a nuclear catastrophe, Washington has also pressed for exclusive jurisdiction for Indian courts so that there will be no repeat of what happened after the Bhopal gas disaster. The Bill seeks to help out the US firms on these counts, going at times even beyond what American law provides.
Under the Bill, the foreign reactor builder — however culpable it is for a nuclear accident — will be completely immune from any victim-initiated civil suit or criminal proceedings in an Indian court or in a court in its home country. The Bill actually turns the legal liability of a foreign reactor supplier for an accident into mere financial compensation — that too, pegged at a pittance and routed through the Indian state operator of the plant. Foreign suppliers will have no*direct accident-related liability. The foreign builders will bask under legal immunity because the Bill channels all legal liability to the Central Government. Clause 7 states the “Central Government shall be liable for nuclear damage in respect of a nuclear incident” when such liability exceeds the Rs. 500- crore liability limit of the operator or where the accident occurs “in a nuclear installation owned by it [the Indian government].” The Union government will own all foreign-built
reactors. Indeed, the Bill creates a specious distinction between the operator and the government when both are fused in the Indian context. After all, it is the Indian state which will run all foreign-built plants through its operator, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL). Yet, throughout the Bill, the pretence of a US-style separation between the operator and the government is maintained.
Under Clause 6, the maximum liability of the operator and the government combined has been set at “the rupee equivalent of 300 million special drawing rights (SDRs),” or Rs.2,087 crore ($458 million) — 23 times lower than what is provided under the equivalent US law, the controversial Price-Anderson Act (labelled “Half-Price Anderson” by critics). Of this, the total liability of the operator has been limited to Rs.500 crore ($109 million). The Central government will be liable for damages in excess of Rs.500 crore but only up to Rs.2,087 crore. In actual fact, all liability falls on the Indian taxpayer, whether it is the operator’s slice or the Central government’s portion. The state operator, the NPCIL, through a construction contract, can make the foreign builder legally responsible to pay compensation for an accident. But the amount payable by a foreign builder can only be up to the state operator’s own liability ceiling, which is a trifling Rs.500 crore ($109 million).
So, even if the accident were triggered by wilful negligence on the part of the foreign supplier and the consequences were catastrophic, all claims would have to be filed against the Indian state — with the NPCIL required to disburse the first Rs. 500 crore and the Central government the second portion up to Rs. 2,087 crore. The NPCIL could, in turn, try to recover its Rs. 500 crore from the foreign supplier. But for the Indian taxpayer, this is a lose-lose proposition.
That raises a fundamental question: What will it do to nuclear safety to grant foreign suppliers legal immunity upfront and to shift the liability to the Indian taxpayer? Another key issue relates to the rights of victims. The Bill ensures that victims of a disaster involving a foreign-built reactor will not be able to sue the builder in its home country. Worse still, the Bill blocks the victims from suing the foreign supplier even in Indian courts.
Only the “operator shall have a right of recourse,” according to Clause 17. The state operator can sue the foreign supplier where “such right is expressly provided for in a contract in writing” and “the nuclear incident has resulted from the wilful act or gross negligence on the part of the supplier of the material, equipment or services, or of his employee.” But such a right of recourse can only be to meet the operator’s own small liability of Rs. 500 crore. In fact, the Bill seriously shackles Indian courts. All nuclear-damage claims will be dealt with by a Claims Commissioner or a Nuclear Damage Claims Commission, and any award made “shall be final” and cannot be appealed in any court. “No civil court shall have jurisdiction to entertain any suit or proceedings in respect of any matter which the Claims Commissioner or the Commission, as the case may be, is empowered to adjudicate under this Act and no injunction shall be granted by any court or other authority in respect of any action taken or to be taken in pursuance of any power conferred by or under this Act,” according to Clause 35.
By contrast, the Price-Anderson Act permits economic (but not legal) channelling of liability, thereby allowing lawsuits and criminal proceedings against the reactor builder or any other party in US courts. That is a key reason why the US has not joined the Vienna or Paris convention — the two main international liability instruments. But the US has become party to another convention it helped draft under the auspices of the IAEA — the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC), which is still not in force. The CSC, as the name suggests, is about compensation through an international fund, to be paid “supplementary” to the liability limit. The Bill also limits liability in time, with Clause 18 stating: “The right to claim compensation for any nuclear damage caused by a nuclear incident shall extinguish if such claim is not made within a period of 10 years from the date of incident…” That provision was retained despite the Environment Ministry’s note of caution — revealed by this newspaper — that the 10-year time limit was untenable because damage to human health from a serious radioactive release “involves changes in DNAs, resulting in mutagenic and teratogenic changes, which take a long time to manifest.”
And although the Finance Ministry, in its comments on the Bill, had warned the proposed law would “expose the government to substantial liabilities for the failings of the private sector,” the Bill essentially seeks to give foreign reactor builders a free ride at the Indian taxpayer’s expense. The Indian Bill, in effect, amounts to a huge hidden subsidy by protecting foreign reactor builders from the weight of the financial consequences of accidents. If the Bill is passed, the costs of doing business in India for foreign suppliers will be low but the assured profits will be high. To cover the maximum potential compensation payable for an accident, a foreign builder will need to take insurance for a mere Rs. 500 crore. What is more, the foreign builders are being freed from the task of producing electricity at marketable rates. The NPCIL will run the foreign-built reactors, with the state subsidising the high-priced electricity generated.
India is under no international obligation to pass such a law. In fact, efforts to create common international standards on liability and compensation since the Chernobyl disaster have made exceedingly slow progress. Yet the Bill’s accompanying “Statement of Objects and Reasons” creates the deceptive impression that the proposed law aims to bring India in line internationally. If anything, the Bill seeks to set a wrong international precedent by its mollycoddling of foreign suppliers. To be sure, technological improvements in reactor-safety systems have significantly lowered the risks of a major nuclear accident. Yet nuclear technology remains intrinsically dangerous, and a single catastrophe anywhere in the world will impose colossal, long-term costs and have a chilling effect on the global appeal of nuclear power. Given the nuclear safety and security issues that have been highlighted by recent incidents in India, accident liability is a matter demanding serious consideration. The government must answer the central question: In seeking to invite US reactor builders, should a poor country rush to pass a special law that skews the business terms in their favour, gratuitously burdens the Indian taxpayer and ignores the lessons of the Bhopal gas disaster.
THE FIVE PRIMORDIAL ELEMENTS OF NATURE-“PANCHA MAHA BHOOTA”
Nature(Prakriti) supports and sustains life on this planet. Nature operates through five life giving forces or energies known as Sky, Earth, Wind, Water, and Fire. These five forces existed from the very beginning prior to the arrival of life forms on this planet.
NATURE’S BOUNTY – BLUE SKY
Planet Earth is a very unique and special place in the universe that we know today. Man is privileged to live under the blue sky. In popular opinion, sky is the expanse of heavens that forms an apparent arch over the Earth. The sky provides the background for the clouds, Sun, Moon, and the stars and as such they are generally viewed as a part of the sky. In spirituality, sky symbolizes the infinite universe. The story of creation in the Book of Genesis, chapter 1, verses 6, 7, and 8 describe as to how God had created an expanse above the waters of the Earth and called the expanse “sky”. Sky is viewed poetically as a solid arch or vault and is known as firmament or a strengthening support.
In reality, this apparent enclosing dome known as the sky is caused by the Earth’s atmosphere. The sky is generated by the interaction of light and the gas molecules in the atmosphere. The dome like contour is attributable to Earth’s shape and curvature. Atmosphere( Greek -atmos means vapor) is the gaseous envelope surrounding the Earth. It is 21 % oxygen, 78 % nitrogen, and 1 % other gases. Because of Earth’s gravitational force, the gaseous atmosphere rotates with the earth. The atmosphere exerts a moderating influence upon temperature. In the absence of atmosphere, Earth would experience the extremes of temperature variations and practically life becomes impossible.The air in the atmosphere is in constant motion, with both horizontal and vertical air currents. The natural movement of air, the wind flow is very important for control of climatic conditions. The earth’s atmosphere is the environment for most of its biological activity and it also exerts a considerable influence on the ocean and lake environment. The atmosphere protects Earth’s life forms from harmful radiation and cosmic debris. The ozone layer in the upper atmosphere protects Earth from the Sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. The moment we exit from Earth’s atmosphere and enter the outer space, we would miss seeing the beautiful blue sky. Moon has very thin atmosphere and a person standing on Moon would not be able to see the blue sky. The atmospheric conditions on Venus, Mars, and Mercury are very different from Earth and hence they can not offer the blue sky. The atmospheric conditions on other celestial bodies is not yet fully studied and very little is known and the right conditions to witness a blue sky may not exist at all in rest of the universe that we know.
WHY SKY IS BLUE IN COLOR ?
The blue color of the clear day time sky results from the selective scattering of light rays by the gas molecules, minute particles of dust and water vapor in the atmosphere. Physicist Lord Rayleigh provided the explanation for the sky color and the phenomenon is called “Rayleigh’s Scattering”. Sun’s light when it enters Earth’s atmosphere, the light rays with longer wavelengths such as the reds and yellow pass through most readily, whereas the shorter wavelengths such as the blues are scattered and are seen by the observer on the ground causing the apparent blue sky. Humans are also capable of color vision and animals that lack this ability of color vision can not appreciate sky’s blue color. The sky appears dark at night time as the level of illumination from Moon and the stars is not adequate to scatter enough blue light. Blue sky is a natural gift to people who inhabit planet Earth.
BLUE IS THE COLOR OF GOD
Blue is the color of the sky and blue is also associated with sea and water. Blue is the color that symbolizes the spiritual. The Egyptian God of heaven, Amon Ra and the Greek God Zeus are associated with blue color. The Nordic God Odin’s cape is blue. Virgin Mary’s cloak is blue and she has been called the Blue Lily. In the Bible, blue signifies celestial love of truth, because blue is the color of the sky and is thought to signify truth from a celestial origin, which is truth from God. Across different cultures on this planet, blue color is related to Heaven and to God. But all of those cultural beliefs outside of India are of only of academic interest as blue color is not currently used by those people to project their present religious/spiritual beliefs.
Indians are fascinated by the blue color of the sky to a far greater extent than anyother people upon this Earth. This fondness of blue color has become a visible feature of Hindu belief. Hindu God Vishnu, the Preserver and His popular reincarnations of Lord Rama and Lord Krishna are represented in Indian visual arts as persons with blue colored skin. Traditionally, in Indian Literature and the scriptures, these Gods are described as black in color and the blackness is described in words such as “GHANA SHYAMA”(of great black color) or “MEGHA VARNA”(the color of very dark rain bearing clouds). Bammera Potana( 1450-1510), a very famous Telugu poet had described these Gods as of black skin color. Visual artists generally tend to depict persons as described in popular literature but they made an exception and had selected the sky blue color as the color of these very popularly worshipped Gods. Blue color became the chosen medium to represent the infinite nature of the Supreme God. Today, most Indians visually identify Lord Vishnu, Lord Rama, and Lord Krishna by their sky blue skin color.
THE BLACK TO BLUE TRANSFORMATION
This transformation of skin color from very black to sky blue may have happened because of the artists desire to produce a more visually appealing picture. It may have started with drawing pictures of Lord Shiva(The Changer of the Hindu Trinity) who is also popularly known as “NILA KANTHA” in Sanskrit and it specifically refers to the color of His throat which changed in its appearance when He swallowed an extremely poisonous substance and held it in His throat and protected mankind. The word “NILA” actually means black but the word also refers to a plant known as ‘NILA’ which provides a blue pigment. As plants are a common source of pigments and dyes, in common usage the word “NILA” is also described the blue color. Lord Shiva is believed to be grey in color for He would always fully cover His body by smearing it with ashes. Lord Shiva is an ascetic who has no materialistic desires. He had literally burnt down all of His desires and had reduced them to ashes and had used the ashes to cover His body to declare His victory over materialisic desires. An artist trying to draw a portrait of Lord Shiva would face a challenge as a black colored throat would not offer a visually pleasing contrast with rest of Shiva’s grey colored body. Hence, I would think that the artists had exercised their freedom to interpret the word “NILA” as blue color rather than as black color. Lord Shiva’s images showing Him with a blue colored throat had become extremely popular with Indian people. This might have given an opportunity to the artists to use the blue color for drawing images of Lord Vishnu, Lord Rama, and Lord Krishna whose skin color is often described in Sanskrit as that of ‘NILA MEGHA’ which means a very dark, black rain bearing cloud. Since the word ‘NILA’ has dual meanings, the artists interpreted it as blue color eventhough there are no blue colored clouds. It did not raise any controversy as in the popular opinion clouds are seen as part of the blue sky. The blue colored images and drawings of Lord Vishnu, Lord Rama and Lord Krishna became immensely popular all across India. However, some artists also portray Lord Krishna as a very dark black colored person. Blue and Black are the natural colors of the Sky and the same word could be used interchangeably to describe the color of the Sky. Black horses and Black Lotus flowers are also described as ‘Nila’ or ‘Neela’.
The blue sky on one hand represents nature’s life supporting energies and on the other hand it defines the Indian Identity and symbolizes their belief in an infinite God.
The Sky is Blue and this visual sensation is the direct evidence that man exists in a world that is created for him.
Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,
Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India,
M.B.B.S. Class of April, 1970.
“Vishno pade parama” ituudita prasamsau
Yo “madhva utsa” iti bhogyatayaapyu paatau
Bhuyasta dheyti tava paanitala pradhistau
Sree Venkatesa Charanau Saranam Prapadey.
PADA VANDANAM,PADA NAMASKARAM,PADA ARCHANAM,PADA SEVANAM, PADA PUJA OR WORSHIP OF FEET :
The land of India is a very unique place on this planet where people are culturally endowed with an ardent desire to worship feet.No other society or social community has openly exhibited this behavioral trait and feet worship could be described as the hall-mark of Indian Identity.This tradition and literal practice of feet worship was well established by the time the epic poem of Ramayana was composed.In AYODHYA KANDA,we read the very moving account of Rama touching the feet of His father Dasaratha and queen mother Kaikeyi after having received the orders for his banishment to live in the forest for fourteen years.Later in ARANYA KANDA,we read about the younger brother Bharata who literally clung to the feet of Rama seeking His refuge.Eventually,Bharata carried Rama’s sandals keeping them on his head and installs them on the throne( PADUKA PATTABHISHEKAM ) and served them with great devotion for fourteen long years during Rama’s exile.
India is the land where you witness people touching the feet of living persons as an act of worship.This is a fairly common event and sometimes the remembrance of such worship lingers in your mind.I would like to narrate one such event that I had witnessed in the past and my act of remembrance may add-on to the blessings these feet worshipers may be receiving even today.
I was traveling by train from Rajahmundry to Lucknow City to serve in the Indian Army Medical Corps. I was motivated by a desire to see the land of India with my own eyes and know its people.For the first time, I was traveling in a first class compartment and was the sole occupant. Later in the night, a lady entered the compartment and was apparently traveling alone. She was elegantly attired, looked modest and the picture of an upper middle class house wife. Early morning, when the train had halted at a station, I did not realize that she had reached her destination. She was quietly seated, was not gathering her belongings and was not even looking outside to check if some one had arrived to receive her. After a little while, I had noticed three young men, well- dressed and well-groomed, all of them little older than me, checking the list of passenger names on the door of the train compartment and entered the compartment. They did not pay any attention to my presence. One after the other, they went forward to bend and touch her feet and paid their respects. The behavior of the young men that I was keenly observing was natural, spontaneous and unpretentious. That early morning hour, they were not putting up an act in a public place to impress any one. They acted in a deliberate, purposeful and reverential manner and I am very sure that they grew up in that manner and clearly they were not inhibited in displaying their respect in front of strangers. I was a silent spectator of this scene wherein an unassuming woman suddenly got transformed into a living deity. I can assure you that you would witness such a scene only in the Land of India. Hence, I would claim that the desire to worship the feet of a living person would define Indian Identity.
Every deity that Indians seek to worship are better pleased when we worship their feet. PRAHLADA had described ” PADA SEVANAM ” as one of the nine ways to worship VISHNU. Indians worship feet not only as a sign of humility but also as a mark of submission, total surrender to the will of God. They touch feet as a plea for protection. This is not a mere religious rite or ritual and it actually shapes the attitudes and behavior of people. The final resting place for the individual souls(‘ JEEVATMA ‘)has been described as the Lotus Feet of the Lord. This is described as ‘CHARANAM'( Feet of the Lord ) ‘SARANAM’ ( Ultimate Refuge ).
Please also view a related blog post titled ‘Defining Indian identity – The Land of Karma’
Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,
Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India,
M.B.B.S., Class of April, 1970.
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