Saturday, May 14, 2011

Women Come on Top in Indian Elections as Rulers

It’s high time they took the reins completely

 If the enlightened master Osho has his way.

By Kul Bhushan

Friday the thirteenth proved lucky for Indian women who fought the state elections as they seized the reins of government in two of five states. These two victories by women tip the overall balance in the favour of women rulers in India as another two states already have women as chief ministers. Moreover, the President of India, three Union Ministers, three Ministers of State, and the Speaker in the Union Parliament, the leader of the ruling party and the leader of the opposition are– you guessed it! - all women.

As the fiery Mamta Banerjee and the imperial J. Jayalalitha take over as Chief Ministers of West Bengal and Tamil Nadu respectively, they join another two the dominating Mayawati and the suave Sheila Dikshit in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi to rule over 368 million Indians – about a third of India’s 1.2 billion people.

Let’s start at the very top. Pratibha Patil is the President. The Union Cabinet has three Ministers - Ambika Soni, Kumari Salja and Mamta Banerjee (expected to resign now) – who are joined by three Ministers of State - Preneet Kaur, Agatha Sangma and D. Purandeswari.

The political party scene is dominated by the Italian sphinx Sonia Gandhi leading the Congress and the peppery Sushma Swaraj blasting the government as the leader of the opposition in the parliament. This makes India perhaps the only country in the world with women in so many top political positions.

“If all over the world the woman is allowed freedom to grow to her potential, there will be many, many women enlightened; many, many women mystics, poets, and painters. And they will enhance not only the woman's part of the world -- because the world is one -- they will enhance the whole world,” says the enlightened master Osho.

Women will become front runners in politics if the proposed and long delayed Women's Reservation Bill to reserve 33.3 per cent seats in Parliament and state legislatures is passed by the parliament. Introduced in 1996, it seeks to empower women at the federal, state and local levels of decision making by reserving a third of the seats for them.

A third of the seats at village level elections have been reserved for women already. The experience of women's reservation at the panchayat (village governing body) level has been very encouraging. A million women are being elected to the panchayats in the country every five years. This is the largest mobilisation of women in public life in the world. But various political parties have staunchly opposed it because they fear many of their male leaders would not get a chance to fight elections if 33.3 per cent seats are reserved for women. Men on the back foot!

Says Osho, “It has taken her over a century and a half to get equal rights – at least under the law in most countries. Yet gender equality is a dream beyond the horizon in most poor countries of the world. In some, she is still enslaved.”

He adds, “The ultimate result is that the woman has become very bitter. Her whole being has become a cry for revolt. She is not at peace to laugh at things; she is in utter misery and despair, and unless she becomes liberated she will not have a sense of humour. Once she becomes liberated, she will leave man far behind in all creative dimensions and she will be really joyous and playful.”

 “It is for the betterment of both man and woman that the woman should be given every freedom and equal opportunity for her individuality,” says Osho.

These are not empty words but Osho put them in practice by always giving women full authority and responsibility for establishing, expanding and managing his communes. Osho did not talk about women's equality but their superiority; not as the weaker sex but as the stronger sex.

But how will they survive in a man’s macho world of aggression and violence?

Osho answers, “A man is not of necessity masculine, a woman is not of necessity feminine. A woman can be masculine, for example, Joan of Arc or, in India, Laxmibhai. These women were warriors, great soldiers; they were not feminine at all. Biologically, of course, they were feminine, their bodies were those of women, but their very souls were those of men. They have to be counted as masculine.”

Indeed, India has the distinction of having the first women as the Prime Minister – the steely Indira Gandhi who stood up to domestic and international challenges and threats with courage and aplomb. In fact, she was dubbed as the only man in the cabinet! And also called “Mother India”

Osho says, “Mother, sister, girlfriend, wife and again mother…..all different and yet the same – a woman. She is the ultimate power, inspiration, beauty, charm, elegance and all the wonderful virtues one can think of. She can also be destructive and play havoc with the lives of men, start wars to destroy thousands of lives. She is stronger than man - both physically and emotionally. Yet she has been dominated, oppressed, tortured and humiliated by man.”

Yet doubts remain about how well a woman can rule. Can a woman take tough decisions? What is her attitude towards her subjects? Will she approach them as a tough task master or care and nurture them as a mother?

Osho says, “God is a mother, a motherly phenomenon. This whole existence is motherly. And God is far softer than man can ever be, far more vulnerable, far more open. A woman in her ultimate flowering becomes a mothering energy... she can mother the whole existence. She feels blessed, and she can bless the whole existence.”



 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

“I Promote Religiousness, Not Religion,” says Osho.


By Kul Bhushan 
A new study using census data from nine countries shows that religion there is set for extinction, according to the American Physical Society, reported by BBC on 22 March 2011. The results indicate that religion will all but die out altogether in those countries. The team took census data stretching back as far as a century from countries in which the census queried religious affiliation: Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland. A day later, on 23 March 2011, BBC World Service telecast a news item that the church in Finland was losing up to a thousand Christians every week (see links below).
The churches in Europe are mostly empty following two world wars. The peoples’ faith has been shaken as in the church they could not get the solace and guidance from its leaders. Moreover, the old system of collecting a tax for the churches continued and there was plenty of money. Since their congregations were dwindling, the churches directed these funds to Africa, Asia and Latin America to promote Christianity.
During the last thirty years, many people objected to paying this tax and stopped paying it despite the threats from the church that they would not get their birth, marriage and death certificates and other services. In the last decade, the church scandals especially child sex abuse have further rocked the church. More and more people are discovering new ways of relating to their consciousness through meditation, yoga, Buddhism and other ‘new age’ spiritual paths. So it is no wonder that churches are losing a thousand followers every week as in Finland and a new study projects that religion will die out in nine European countries.
This fading away of religion is exactly what Osho envisioned many decades ago when he said, ”In the future, a few things will disappear. Nations will have to disappear because the earth has become a small village; now they are meaningless. And the second thing to disappear with the nations is Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Judaism.“
What will replace religion? Religiousness, says Osho, “You have to understand what I mean by religiousness: by religiousness I mean a gratitude towards existence. It has given so much to you, and you cannot pay it back.”
“Man has not been allowed total access to his being. One has to be just a Muslim – a very narrow thing. One has to be just a Hindu – just a very narrow thing. Why? When you can have the whole heritage? When the whole past is yours and the whole future is yours, why should you divide? Why should I call myself ‘a Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian’? One should claim the total. By claiming the total you become total: you lose all narrow divisions, distinctions, you become whole. you become holy. That is going to happen, that is bound to happen. That HAS to happen. Otherwise man will not be able to grow any more,” says Osho in Tao: The Pathless Path, Vol 1,Ch 10.
He adds, “This is very crucial that man has to drop all barriers, of nation and religion and church. That’s what I am doing here: trying to bring together all the fragrances released in different centuries by differing flowerings of human consciousness. Lao Tzu is a flower, so is Buddha, so is Jesus, so is Mohammed, but now we have to melt all their fragrances into one – a universal fragrance. Then, for the first time, man will be able to be religious and yet undivided. Then the church is yours and the mosque too and the temple too. Then the Gita is yours, and the Koran and the Vedas and the Bible – everything is yours. You become vast.”
BBC article 22.3.2011: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says
by Jason Palmer
BBC video 23.3.2011: Churches in Finland experience an exodus of membership
by Robert Pigott

Monday, February 28, 2011

HAPPY AND HIGH RETURNS FOR FOREIGN MF INVESTORS


Indian capital markets have been thrown open to foreign investors in a bold move of the budget announced on 28 February 2011. This means that as an individual foreigner, you can now invest in Mutual Funds (MFs). Earlier, only Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) could invest while individual foreign investors could not.

Now individual foreigners can rake in high returns from investing in MFs. The highest returns come from MFs when compared to investing in fixed deposits or in Indian stocks. Let’s invest Rs 100,000 ($2,216 or € 1,603 at current rates) in these three options. If you put down a fixed deposit of Rs 100,000 for one year, your total amount with interest will rise to Rs 113,000 after one year and Rs 174,000 after five years. If you invest Rs 100,000 in equity, after one year your investment will more than double to Rs 226,000 and in five years, it will rise further to Rs 278,000. Now, if you invest Rs 100,000 in MFs, it will go up to Rs 176,000 after one year more than triple to Rs 358,000 after five years with less risk than equities.

So how do you invest in MFs? You need to do some initial paperwork. First, you have to obtain a PAN (Permanent Account Number) Card. Then, you need to complete ‘Know Your Customer’ or KYC procedure.

A PAN Card is required for all their financial investments over Rs 50,000 in India. The card is issued by the Income Tax department and UTI, UTIISL or NSDL (www.incometaxindia.gov.in. www.utiisl.co.in or tin.nsdl.com) who are authorized to process these applications. You can download the application form at these sites. The simple form asks for your full name, residential and business address, age, nationality and the name and address of your representative in India. The proof of your name and address must be attested by the Indian Mission in your country of residence. Attach two attested photos and send it to your representative in India for processing at the addresses given on the web. Or, it can be sent through your investment broker or advisor. The fee for processing a PAN application, for dispatch outside India, is Rs.744.00.  This is composed of application fee Rs.94 (Rs.85 Processing Fee Charges + Rs.9 Service Tax) plus overseas dispatch charges.

'Know Your Customer' process is to prevent money laundering. For this process, you need to fill the KYC form at nil fees. In addition to your name, age, nationality, address, occupation and income details, the KYC form has a mandatory requirement for your PAN number and its copy. Your recent photo and proof of address is required and it must be attested by the Indian Consulate or a legal notary public in the country of your residence. The form has detailed notes that you should read carefully before filling it. The KYC approval takes from one to three months. After your PAN card and KYC, you can send your investment for Mutual Funds with a draft from your overseas account through your financial advisor, at www.abundanze.com.  

India’s Budget: No Respite on Inflation Despite High Growth


You need a Ph. D. in economics and an encyclopaedia on hand to follow the top Indian economists commenting on English news channels about the impact of the Indian Budget on the common man. They freely use the latest jargon of economics and abbreviations of Indian projects (a quick sampler: AADHAR, TAGUP, GST, CRAR, RIDF, NABARD, MGNREGA, RKVY and NFSB) as if you grew up with them. Most of their discussion ranges around the changes in government expenditure and income, the state of the fiscal deficit, the concerns for subsidies, the pace of economic reforms, and so on and on. Of course, all this is meant to inform the TV viewer about how this budget will affect his personal finances, savings, taxes and inflation.
Inflation? Oh yes, food prices have gone up by over 17 per cent. What’s the government doing about it in the budget? Many new schemes and subsidies announcing for farmers and infrastructure. Don’t worry, they will bring down the prices when they are implemented.
Fuel prices? Have shot up after the Middle East uprisings to new heights. Has the government cut down its tax on fuels considering the international oil prices have topped $100 a barrel? No way.
Income Tax? Ah yes, the Income Tax exemption has gone up from Rs 160,000 to Rs 180,000 a year. Now you become a ‘senior’ tax payer when you reach 60 years instead of 65 years earlier and your tax exemption will be Rs 250,000. A new category of ‘very senior’ taxpayers, over 80 years, gets tax exemption for half a million rupees. All these tax reliefs come into effect on your next year’s income.
What’s gone up and down in prices? Up - Branded garments, air travel, air conditioned hospitalisation, Down - paper, chemicals, yarns, TVs, mobiles. Are you going to pay more for your addictions: cigarettes or liquor? No, keep puffing and drinking at the same prices.
Corruption and Black Money? A Group of Ministers has been formed to consider measures for tackling corruption. They will let you know how to curb this rot in ‘a time bound manner’.
Overall, the economy is expected to grow at around nine per cent – one of the highest rates in the world. Inflation? Higher than eight per cent. But, hold on, it will go down. 
Up to now, only Foreign Institutional Investors and NRIs could invest in Indian mutual fund schemes. Now, foreign investors who meet Know Your Client requirements can invest in mutual funds. As the Budget speech was in progress the Indian Stock market sky rocketed to over 500 points but after the speech ended, the stock market plummeted and ended with a gain of 122 points. Clearly, the budget did not provide the expected kick start for a bull run.
So what’s the response? The Prime Minister and everyone else in the government praised the Finance Minister for this budget. The opposition lashed out at it – both the sides speaking true to form. But what about the common man still suffering from high prices? He will have his say at the voting booths of five states in a few weeks. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

India Art Summit Becomes New Art Everest.


Indian art market is hot. And it sizzled at the three-day India Art Summit that ended on 23 January 2010 in New Delhi. Minor Picasso and Rodin originals – at over one a million dollars each - were exhibited and so were thousands of other artists, mostly Indian. The Summit touched new heights for Indian art. A total of 84 galleries, including 34 from many countries round the globe, came to exhibit. Galleries from Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Singapore, Canada, Austria and other countries staged their artworks. Many Indian and foreign art magazines also exhibited their publications. Over 120,000 suave art lovers thronged to this mega art show triple the figure for the last year. The brainchild of a young MBA graduate, the Delhi event reached the top in just three years and dislodged Mumbai from its prime spot as an art centre.

The organiser, 31-year old Neha Kirpal, claims, “It is the single largest and the most exciting platform for art in India.” Visitors could buy art books and bric-a-brac at an art shop, right next to the VIP enclosure where the top artists and gallery owners hobnobbed with each other.

About 80 per cent of the galleries sold works, valued from $500 to over a million dollars each. About ten per cent of the exhibitors sold out all they came with. Over 120,000 art lovers paid Rs 200 (about $5) to enter the exhibition. Curators, art critics and art editors took part in a full programme of events with famous names on the world of art and sculpture like Anish Kapoor and Don Graham. Works by master painter Maqbool Fida Husain, who recently joined the million-dollar club of Indian artists, were exhibited after pulling them off initially because of possible protests from Hindu activists but later exhibited under heavy security.

India's economic boom has not only enabled Indians to buy houses and cars, but also to purchase expensive art. High income overseas Indians are also avid investors in Indian art. Modern art from India and China is being lapped up by collectors at top auctions like Southby’s and Christie’s in the art capitals of the world like Paris, London and New York.

When stock markets were booming before 2008 crash, a Mumbai auction house sold 160 works of Indian artists for $ 15.3 million. The highest bid was for the Paris-based artist S. H. Raza, whose work titled Climat went for a mind-boggling $ 1.4 million. A painting by Tyeb Mehta fetched $ 1.10 million. Now with India’s economic boom, the colour is back into Indian art. Prices are moving up again. A painting by Maqbool Fida Husain was sold for $4.4m. Saurashtra, a massive 79x79in acrylic on canvas by Syed Haidar Raza, one of India’s veteran masters, was bought for a hammer price of $3.5m.

For the new rich, showing off paintings or sculpture is a clear message that one has arrived on the scene. Of course, they acquire the services of art critics and advisors in what to invest but show off this knowledge as their own once they purchase these artworks. Whether at a corporate or an individual level, art always adds value to one’s status plus keeps on appreciating as an investment. With this new cash flowing into the art market, no wonder new art galleries are sprouting in Indian cities and the India Art Summit has become its Everest.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

An NRI Can Remit One Million Dollars from Property Sales

An NRI/PIO is allowed to send abroad up to one million dollars from the sale of property in any one financial year. This amount should be the sale proceeds of property inherited by him out of Rupee funds. This transfer is subject to production of documentary evidence in support of acquisition, inheritance or legacy of assets by the NRI, and a tax clearance or a no objection certificate from the Income Tax Authority. The one million dollar remittance can also be made from the balances held in Non Resident Ordinary Rupee Account (NRO) bank accounts.

The prices of ancestral properties left in India by emigrating NRIs have escalated beyond their belief. Thus, NRIs have developed a new and intense interest in claiming their share especially with the recession biting hard in the West. In the last few years, the ancestral home in India is valued in ‘crores’ – tens of millions of Rupees. So these amounts become very attractive for NRIs to claim and remit. No wonder, in the recent past, the Reserve Bank of India has revised the maximum amount that can be sent abroad without special permissions. However, these properties should not be agricultural land, a farm house or a plantation.

After taking a dip after the financial crisis of 2008, property prices have bounced back and how. Despite the high price rise, more and more NRIs are keen to buy properties in India. Who can buy property in India? An NRI who is a citizen of India but resident outside India; or a ‘Person of Indian Origin' (PIO). A PIO is defined as an individual (not a citizen of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sir Lanka, Afghanistan, China, Iran, Nepal or Bhutan) who held an Indian Passport at any time, or whose father or mother or grandfather or grandmother was a citizen of India.

The laws related to immovable properties in India are complex and are not uniform from one state to another, said Rajan D. Gupta, a senior lawyer and a qualified accountant with SRGR Law Offices. “A major concern is to determine the clear and marketable title of the land under question and to ensure that the land under question is free from any encumbrances such as litigation, prior mortgages, any third party interest or rights and any governmental actions such as compulsory acquisition proceedings. Again, in case of properties, especially agricultural properties, which are owned by farming families, there are a number of family law issues which again are myriad as there are a number of religions in India and most of them have their own characteristic legal frameworks. “

“To ward off such issues and be almost certain about the legal status of the property to be acquired, it is advisable that a competent legal professional must be engaged to conduct a title check and due diligence of the property to be acquired. It is also important to engage such a professional who practices within the jurisdiction where the property is situated so that he/she is aware of the local legal compliances and issues,” he adds.

NRIs face many legal tangles about their properties in India. These relate to the purchase, transfer and ownership of property, power of attorneys, management and eviction of tenants, remittance of the sale proceeds, illegal grabbing of their properties and other related issues. Their legal cases are pending in the courts for years, indeed decades. If an NRI is fighting a case with a resident Indian, he is at a disadvantage because the Indian is no hurry while the NRI has limited time to attend to his case during his visit to India or make special trips for court appearances.

Thus, NRIs have demanded the establishment of fast track courts in different parts of India to deal with their property cases – a demand the government has been considering for some years. This issue will no doubt resurface in the forthcoming Bharatiya Pravasi Divas (PBD) next month when NRIs are cajoled to invest in India. Before investing in property, the NRIs want to see some mechanism for speedy judgments for their court cases. Special committees have been formed by GOPIO – Global Organisation of Persons of Indian Origin – to deal with property problems. This committee has prepared and presented many proposals to ease the suffering NRIs at the hands of real estate developers, buyers, sellers and tenants and has a data base of thousands of such cases on their records.

The problems have been highlighted; now action is awaited.

WikiLeaks Exposes, Osho Proposes Accountable World Government


The disclosures of WikiLeaks have exposed the double-faced diplomatic dealings of most nations and thus erased out international borders between nations. The diplomatic secrets are no longer secrets. WikiLeaks have shown the futility of so-called national interests that are just another name for unethical behaviour of the governments and institutions.

WikiLeaks supporters have commended it for exposing state and corporate secrets, increasing transparency, supporting freedom of the press, and enhancing democratic discourse while challenging powerful institutions. Government leaders and officials have criticized WikiLeaks for exposing classified information, harming national security, and compromising international diplomacy. Basically, WikiLeaks have given the freedom to information back to the people who want to know what their leaders are saying in public and doing in private. No wonder people have supported WikiLeaks with public rallies in many parts of the world and deluge of mails, articles and blogs on the web.

WikiLeaks disclosures have merely re-affirmed the insight of the enlightened master Osho when he proposed a world government for the entire planet, totally transparent and fully accountable to all the people all over the world for its deeds and actions. Osho’s insights on world government, politicians, control of technology and nuclear weapons, and freedom for the individual are as pertinent today as they were when he made them over two decades ago.
Osho says, "
A world government can look at the whole world as one humanity. Problems are not so much as they appear. At one time, in Russia, they had a bumper crop of wheat. Rather than giving it to the countries that were dying without food, they started burning wheat in their railway trains instead of coal. Now, those poor countries where people were dying have enough coal: if the world is one, the coal can be given to Russia, the wheat can move to the poor country.

And if there is one world, then there is no need for seventy-five percent of every nation's wealth to be wasted on nuclear weapons, on armies, on other kinds of war materials. Seventy-five percent! Humanity is living only on twenty-five percent. If there are no longer any nations, the question of war does not arise. A hundred percent of all energy, money, income becomes available to the whole world."
-Published in Osho World News Jan 2011.