Saturday, January 17, 2009

Top Jain business groups to power JITO

AHMEDABAD: They were among the first to renounce their homes to seek greener pastures abroad, soon after the world war, turning adversity into business opportunity. Now with the global meltdown, the Jain International Trade Organisation (JITO), a global organisation connecting Jains worldwide, is now here to host its global summit just ahead of Vibrant Gujarat global investor summit.

The three-day JITO summit begins on Friday. Members and guests will interact and introduce themselves to each other. Leading business groups, Adanis, Torrent and Future are the key participants here. "This event will certainly boost the overall tempo of Gujarat's vibrant progress. We expect more than 7,000 delegates from across the globe to take part in this summit and witness Gujarat as a business friendly state. This might help encourage them to invest in the state," says Utkarsh Shah, president of JITO's Ahmedabad chapter. He adds that many foreign delegates of JITO will attend Vibrant Gujarat global investor's summit-09.

On Saturday and Sunday at expert sessions, prominent political, community and business leaders will participate.

"We want to look beyond recession and tap opportunities. In this summit, we have invited Jain visionaries from all fields to make most of this exclusive opportunity to exploit frontiers of value-based change for business growth. Being a premier organisation that works to make a difference, JITO feels that it is time to demonstrate and react to the situation with well thought out and realistic planned responses," says Shah.

Leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha LK Advani will inaugurate the summit which will have the blessings of PP Naypadmasagarji Maharaj saheb.

The sessions will cover lectures on capital market and commodity, real estate and construction, textile and garment, dyes, chemical and pharma, plastics and allied products, gems, jewellery and bullion, IT, ITES and education.

The Jain International Women's Organisation (JIWO)'s international conference will be inaugurated on Saturday by Union minister Renuka Chowdhary. "In JIWO international conference, Jain women from across the globe will take part and discuss many important issues. It is expected that 3,000 women delegates will converge in the conference. The main aim is that women should come out and take part in social initiatives and not be restrict simply as housewives'' adds Ajit Shah, media in-charge of JITO.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Media directors arrested over Jainism articles

New York, January 8, 2009--B.V. Seetaram and his wife, Rohini, who head the media group Chithra Publications in Karnataka state, southern India, have been in judicial custody since Sunday in connection with two-year old criminal charges relating to their newspapers, according to local news reports.

State police arrested Seetaram, chairman and chief editor of the group, and his wife, the director, while the couple were traveling in the state's Udipi district, the reports said. Police told Seetaram the arrest was in connection with criminal charges lodged against them in 2007 for offending the sensibilities of a religious group in articles published by two of Chithra's Kannada-language dailies, Karavali Ale and Kannada Janantaranga. Seetaram told local reporters that the arrest follows a recent campaign of harassment against Karavali Ale, which is published from the nearby district of Mangalore, according to the reports.

"We are concerned that the arrest of these media owners, which coincides with attacks against one of their newspapers, is part of a campaign of harassment because they have dared to take on a sensitive religious issue," said Bob Dietz, CPJ Asia Program Coordinator. "We call on authorities to drop these criminal charges and ensure the safety of our colleagues."

The original complaint was filed in March 2007 by a practitioner of the religion Jainism, shortly after the newspapers published articles questioning the right of Jain leaders to appear naked in public, according to national English-language daily The Statesman. The couple spent a total of 10 days in jail in 2007 before being freed on bail. Seetaram characterized those arrests as harassment, and said that Karavali Ale had exposed links between the Jain community, a bus company allegedly carrying out illegal activities, and local police, The Statesman report said.

The reason for the two-year delay in the re-emergence of the charge was not clear from published reports. But attacks against Karavali Ale escalated in late 2008. In December, Seetaram lodged a complaint with the Press Council of India, a New Delhi-based watchdog body, saying that groups were commandeering quantities of the newspaper from vendors and then burning the copies. Its printing press was also attacked in November, according to local news reports. The reports quoted Seetaram saying local Hindu nationalist groups with the support of the state's Bharatiya Janata Party government were targeting the paper in retaliation for articles criticizing their activities.

Local journalists have protested heavy-handed official treatment of the media chief. In March 2007, police arrested the couple in their home at midnight without proper paperwork, according to The Statesman. After Sunday's arrest (which one report said involved 25 police officers), handcuffs and chains were used to restrain Seetaram when he was produced in an Udipi court on Monday, an unusually high security measure, local newspapers reported. Seetaram refused bail during that session, saying he feared re-arrest on similar charges if he returned to Mangalore, according to The Hindu newspaper. He and his wife have been remanded until January 17.

Tensions between religious groups run high in Mangalore, and newspapers are often accused of contributing to communal disharmony with provocative or one-sided coverage, according to the popular current affairs blog Churumuri Two individuals registered complaints with local police against Vijaya Karnataka, another Kannada-language newspaper owned by the Times of India Group, in December 2008 and January 2009, for separate articles said to incite hatred against Christians in the wake of mob violence by Hindu groups which targeted churches in the state in September 2008, according to the blog and local news reports.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Modi would like Jain university in Gujarat

Ahmedabad, Jan 10 (IANS)

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi wants a university proposed by a worldwide organisation of Jains to be set up in the state.”We have three choices for setting up a university. It can be in Maharashtra, Rajasthan or Gujarat. We request you (Modi) that as you did for the Nano (small car) project, help us to build the university here,” said Hemant Shah, president of the Jain International Trade Organisation (JITO), at the inaugural session of the three-day (JITO) Global Summit here Saturday.

In reply, Modi said: “I too want this university to come up in Gujarat instead of Maharashtra or Rajasthan. I have no objections. You go ahead and set up the university.”

“Last year the JITO summit was held in Mumbai and I attended it. I requested the organisers that the next meet be held here. Today Gujarat has become the host to the world,” he told the large gathering of delegates who have come here from all corners of the world.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Gandhinagar MP L.K. Advani said: “JITO is a wonderful organisation. It has set an example of religious amity.”

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

JITO mentor calls for uniting Jains

AHMEDABAD: 'Jains of the world unite', was the call given by Naypadmasagarji Maharaj, a revered Jain sadhu at the introductory meet on Friday on the eve of Jain International Trade Organisation (JITO)'s global summit.

Speaking to delegates, Naypadmasagarji, who is also JITO's mentor emphasised on the importance of unity for a better future.

"JITO's aim is to work for betterment of society. We should unite to eliminate poverty in the world. For this, I would ask JITO members to even go meet terrorists and try to understand their side of the story. Why should anybody choose to become a terrorist ? There must be some reason. We have to find this out for the cause of humanity", he said.

He urged that if they wanted to live in a peaceful world, they will have to create it themselves. "Jains have never discriminated while doing social works in their life. It is a tradition. I urge Jain leaders to invest their money in value based education", he said.

According to a JITO official, day one was like a "get together where JITO members and executives from various chapters presented their future course of action"

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Jainism is the most ancient green movement:LK Advani at JITO

Following is the full text of Shri LK Advani’s speech delivered when inaugurating Jain International Trade Organization(JITO) Global Summit at Ahmedabad, Gujarat on January 10th, 2009.

I thank the organizers of this Global Summit of the Jain International Trade Organization (JITO) for inviting me to the inaugural ceremony. At the outset, I convey my best wishes to you for a Happy New Year and also my greetings for Makar Sankranti, which is just four days away.

I have participated in many conferences of business platforms such as FICCI, CII and ASSOCHAM. These organizations are focused almost entirely on business and economy. But your conference is different. This is because the Jain International Trade Organization does not concern itself only with trade matters. Its outlook and activities are far more holistic, embracing many other aspects of life and society.

JITO’s philosophy is encapsulated by five noble commitments: Seva (Service of Humanity), Shiksha (Education), Arthik Sudharata (Economic Uplift), Samajik Utkarsh (Social Progress) and Adhyatmik Unnati (Spiritual Elevation). I compliment your organization because it is actively promoting programmes in each of these areas.

Jainism’s holistic approach to life

This holistic approach to life is not surprising because Jainism itself presents a profound and all-encompassing outlook towards life. Its ideals like satya, ahimsa, and aparigraha are both universal and eternal in their relevance. And in every century, Jainism has produced saintly figures who have both embodied these ideals. In our own times, I can think of two venerable personalities – Acharya Tulsi and his worthy disciple Acharya Mahapragya. I consider it my good fortune that I have sat at the feet of both these great Acharyas.

One of the great qualities that I have observed among Jain organizations is how they have tried to follow the teachings of the Tirthankars to practice philanthropy by enhancement of business. The spirit of volunteerism and social service that they display is truly remarkable. I remember that, at the time of the massive earthquake in Kutch and other parts of Gujarat in 2001, some of the best relief and humanitarian work was done by Jain organizations. I commend JITO for supporting this praiseworthy tradition.

Jainism the most ancient Green Movement in world history

Friends, in popular consciousness, Jainism is associated with its insistence on ahimsa or non-violence. Indeed, the greatest apostle of nonviolence in the modern era, Mahatma Gandhi, has written in his autobiography that he had a Jain ’spiritual mentor’, a young diamond merchant named Shrimad Rajchandra.

We often do not appreciate why Jainism attached such paramount importance to ahimsa. However, we should remember that two of the greatest challenges before the world today Terrorism and Climate Change are both manifestations of violence.

Terrorism is of course the most extreme and inhuman form of violence. And we have seen its evil face in Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Delhi, Bangalore, Guwahati and, most recently, in Mumbai. Violence of this kind must be put down with a firm hand.

But there is another form of violence which the world has been much slower to recognize, and much more hesitant to take firm action against. I am referring to the violence being inflicted on Mother Earth by our materialistic civilization. The destruction of the environment, which is evident in the alarming levels of pollution of our land, water and air resources and which is now climaxing in Climate Change, has catastrophic implications for man and other species on our planet.

It is when we reflect on the challenge of Climate Change that we begin to appreciate the enormous contemporary relevance of the Jain philosophy of ahimsa and jiva daya. We realize that Bhagwan Mahavir and the other Jain Tirthankars were great environmental conservationists. They taught us that we human beings are merely trustees of this planet. We need to re-learn their teachings in our times. If we do so, we realize that eco-friendliness is not a mere fashionable phrase, it has to be interwoven into our development paradigm and also into our day-to-day living. In a sense, we all have to become adivasis or tribals who know how to exist in harmony with the earth. The earth takes care of us, and so we have to take care of her. In this sense, Jainism is the most ancient Green Movement in world history.

I would like to assure the audience here, and the people at large in our country, that, in the event of the BJP and the NDA elected to form the next government in New Delhi, we shall take appropriate steps to deal with both forms of violence – Terrorism and Climate Change.

Vibrant Gujarat: A role model for other states

Friends, your conference is taking place at a time when Gujarat is once again hosting another prestigious meet: The Vibrant Gujarat summit. This annual event has now become an advertisement, both nationally and internationally, for the highly impressive achievements of the Government of Gujarat, under the leadership of its dynamic Chief Minster Shri Narendra Modi.

Even our political and ideological opponents have to grudgingly recognize that Gujarat has now become the No. 1 destination for investments. Recently, a Member of Parliament from Kerala belonging to the CPI(M) publicly lauded Shri Modi and said that the Communist-led Government in Kerala should emulate the example of Gujarat.

Gujarat today is a role model for Good Governance, for Development and an uncompromising approach to Security. It has also set an example for an uncompromising approach to Corruption. Let me assure you that a future NDA Government in New Delhi will replicate this model nationally.

We shall take bold and quick steps to revive the economy out of the recessionary crisis that it is in today. Our policies will help create more employment, self-employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for young Indians. In this, we would actively seek the cooperation of organizations like JITO.

Govt must take firm action against cases of financial fraud

Friends, since most of you are from the fields of business and commerce, I have to share an important thought on this occasion. India has all the potential to grow into a giant economy. The successes of Indian entrepreneurs in recent times, both in India and abroad, have been spectacular.

But as Gandhiji used to exhort, business without ethics is sin. Even if a few business organizations indulge in unethical practices, they bring a bad name to the business community as a whole. I am saying this I am distressed by the recent shocking disclosures about financial fraud in a major IT company in Hyderabad. Corporate India must put its house in order. The Government cannot turn a blind or lenient eye to such fraudulent practices.

With these words, I declare the inauguration of the Global Summit of the Jain International Trade Organization and wish it all success.

Thank you.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Jaina treasure trove in Mankulam village

CHENNAI: The ruins of two Jaina prayer halls (Chaitya grahas), belonging to the Tamil Sangam age and estimated to be about 2,200 years old, have been excavated atop a hill near Mankulam village, about 20 km from Madurai, Tamil Nadu. The ruins are adjacent to two of the five caves that have the earliest Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions in Tamil Nadu. The caves have several beds hewn out of the rock-floor, where the Jaina monks rested.

The Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department excavated the ruins of the prayer halls in 2007. The excavation yielded large-sized bricks, grooved tiles with holes, black and red potsherds and L-shaped iron nails. The Department has published a book on this excavation.

V. Vedachalam, retired senior epigraphist, Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department, estimated that these halls were “the earliest Jaina brick structures in Tamil Nadu.” He asserted, “No brick structure of this kind has been found in any Jaina site in Tamil Nadu.” The monks, who lived in the nearby caves, must have prayed in these chaitya grahas, which could have had an auspicious symbol or a cult object, he said.

The foundation and walls of the halls were built of bricks, which measured 35 cm x 17 cm x 6 cm. The roof was made of wooden rafters with grooved tiles that were held in place on the rafters by the L-shaped iron nails driven through the tiles.

These structures were similar to those found at the Udayagiri and Khandagiri hills, near Bhubaneswar, Orissa, which were important Jaina centres, said Dr. Vedachalam.

In 1882, Robert Sewell, civil servant and antiquarian, first noticed a few inscriptions on the brow of the caves on the Mankulam hill, near Meenakshipuram. Epigraphists V. Venkayya and H. Krishna Sastry tried to read them. Attempts to decipher them bore no fruit until K.V. Subrahmanya Aiyer, who pioneered the reading of the Tamil-Brahmi script, recognised them as having been inscribed in Brahmi. He concluded, in 1924, that the script’s language was Tamil. Others who contributed to the decipherment of the Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions found in Tamil Nadu included T.N. Subrahmanian, Iravatham Mahadevan, Dr. R. Nagaswamy and Dr. Y. Subbarayalu.

On the Mankulam hill, there are five caves, with six Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions in four of them. They belong to the 2nd century B.C. The long inscription found on the brow of the rock, close to the first Jaina prayer hall, gives details of how the Pandya king Nedunchezhiyan was instrumental in sculpting the beds in the cave as “dhammam” for the chief Jaina monk “Kani Nandan.” Another inscription is about “Sadikan,” father of Nedunchezhiyan’s brother-in-law, sculpting the beds for Kani Nandan.

Dr. Vedachalam said: “Mankulam was a great Jaina centre. It must have been the largest Jaina centre in Tamil Nadu during the Sangam age. The existence of the chaitya grahas, Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions and the Jaina beds [together in one place] are of national importance.”

Today, the Jaina beds have been desecrated with graffiti incised on them or painted in different colours.

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