World Book and Copyright Day, 23 April:  A Great Day for Book Lovers 

During school days, we read books are our best friends who will never walk away from us. Undoubtedly books are our friends. It provides knowledge in different fields and enhances our wisdom and intelligence. From class one onwards we all read books and many of us continuously read books until our death.  To popularize reading habits this year 23 April 2022 is observed as World Book Day. This is also known as World Book and Copyright Day or International Day of the Book, which is an annual event organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to promote reading, publishing, and copyright

 Each year, on 23 April, celebrations take place all over the world to recognize the scope of books – a link between the past and the future, a bridge between generations and across cultures. On this occasion, UNESCO and the international organizations representing the three major sectors of the book industry – publishers, booksellers, and libraries, select the World Book Capital for a year to maintain, through its own initiatives, the impetus of the Day’s celebrations.  23 April is a symbolic date in world literature as on this date several prominent authors, William Shakespeare, Miguel de Cervantes, and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all passed away. So this,  the date was a natural choice for UNESCO’s General Conference, held in Paris in 1995, to pay a worldwide tribute to books and authors on this date, encouraging everyone to access books (unesco.org/commemorations/worldbookday).

According to World Reading Habits in 2020, (geediting.com/world-reading-habits-2020), by conducting research studies across the world they have found that coronavirus has changed our reading habits. Some of the highlights of World Reading Habits in 2020 research inter alia are:

         India reads more than any other country, followed by Thailand and China

         Printed books continue to drive more revenue than eBooks or audiobooks. However, physical books sales did dip because of coronavirus (not surprisingly).

         35% of the world read more due to coronavirus.

Also, World Reading Habits in 2020 have given ranks which may be seen as below:

1)        India (10.42   hours spent in reading per person per week)

2)       Thailand (9.24 hours spent in reading per person per week)

3)        China  (8.00 hours spent in reading per person per week)

4)       Philippines (7.36 hours spent in reading per person per week)

5)       Egypt (7.30 hours spent in reading per person per week)

19)   Spain (5.48 hours spent in reading per person per week)

20)   Canada (5.48 hours spent in reading per person per week)

21)  Germany (5.42 hours spent in reading per person per week)

22)  USA (5.42 hours spent in reading per person per week)

It is pertinent to mention that ranks have been given by World Reading Habits in 2020. But interesting points are India, Thailand, China, Philippines, and Egypt are in the first five but so-called developed countries such as Spain, Canada, Germany, and the USA are placed at a comparatively low level. 

On this Day of 23 April, as a senior citizen, I suggest that parents should encourage their children to read more and more books including newspapers. Reading habit is the sine qua non for leading a balanced lifestyle.

A Wonderful Place for Religious tourism in Telangana, Yadagirigutta: Few Suggestions to improve

India is a place where one can visit any area for many purposes such as general tourism, medical tourism, religious tourism, games and sports tourism, educational tourism etc. On 11 January 2022, I had the opportunity to visit a wonderful place located about 80 kilometres away from Hyderabad (from my residence of Suncity, Hyderabad) known as Yadagirigutta in Telangana. I am presenting a few lines about the place based on secondary sources and also later on my observations.
Yadagirigutta is a temple town as the famous Lakshmi Narasimha Temple is situated here. It is situated around 16 kilometres away from the district headquarters Bhuvanagiri and 55 kilometres away from Uppal, a major suburb of Hyderabad and already mentioned around 80 kilometres away from Suncity of Hyderabad. It is pertinent to mention that Hyderabad Regional Ring Road passes through Yadagirigutta (wikipedia.org/wiki/Yadagirigutta). Thousands of people visit the place every day. According to the website, yadadri.telangana.gov.in/tourist-place/yadagirigutta, five thousand to eight thousand people everyday visit for pujas, weddings, other family rituals etc. The number of visitors increases significantly on weekends, holidays and festivals. Further, in the context of its name few points are highlighted from the website, (yadadri.telangana.gov.in), “according to the myths of the Third Age, there was a sage named Yadarshi, who was the son of the great sage Sri Rishyasringa Maharshi and Santa Devi. He meditated inside the cave with the gaze of Sri Anjaneya Swami. Sri Narasimha Swami appeared before him, pleased with his devotion. The Swami himself manifested himself in five different forms as Sri Jwala Narasimha, Sri Gandabherunda, Sri Yogananda, Sri Ugra and Sri Lakshminarasimha after Swami and is therefore worshipped as the Pancharama Narasimha Kshetra. The Sudarshan Chakra is a guide for the devotees towards the temple. In the 15th century, the great king of Vijayanagara, Sri Krishnadevaraya, mentioned in his autobiography about the temple that before going to war he would always visit the temple and pray to the Lord for victory. The town is well connected to the capital and the nearest major towns by the Ghat Road. This temple is very popular in the Telangana region”.

I was highly fascinated to see the beauty of the place as from the top place the view was scenic. I observed with my heart and mind, the beauty of nature as well as its pristine beauty. The Temple Committee meticulously arranged the visit of the people without any chaos, etc. As revealed, every day thousands of people visit the place to have a glimpse of Bhagawan Narshimha.
Here, I wish to suggest a few things to the Government of Telangana. While taking the Prasadam by paying a little amount, many people have to stand under the scorching heat. So, I suggest a spacious area should be selected with fully covered. Also, I observed only one counter was in operation where tokens were issued (payment counter) and another counter where Prasadam was distributed. Here, my suggestion is that there should be two more counters if not more. One (payment counter and Prasadam counter) should be for the senior citizens and another (payment counter and Prasadam counter) should be for ladies. Because when I visited on 11 March 2022 there was no separate counter either for senior citizens or for ladies. Only one as mentioned already was functioning for all.
Anyway, I congratulate the Government of Telangana for developing the area as a sequel many have got the job, both self-employment and wage- employment. Even eight years ago the place was not at all developed from a tourism point of view.
(I, Shankar Chatterjee, offer my gratitude to T. Sanjeeva Reddy, Legal Adviser by profession, Libdom Villa, Bandlaguda Jagir, Hyderabad for inspiring me in carrying out my academic activities)

Pronam to Great Sant Ravidas Ji: Birthday Tribute

From time to time, many great saints were born in India. One of them is Sant/Saint Ravidas, also called Raidas, (flourished 15th or 16th Century), a spiritual poet and a great saint and popularly known as Sant Ravidas. Sant Ravidas ji was one of the most renowned saints of the Indian Bhakti movement.
It is believed that Guru Ravidas Ji was born on the Magh Purnima day on Sunday in the year 1433 in Kashi present Varanasi in a so-called ‘untouchable leather-working caste’, but his knowledge, wisdom, spiritual development, and humanitarian activities were at the zenith which cannot be compared with many other-caste persons. Undoubtedly, Sant was endowed with the pure and holy soul as he had proved by caste one cannot be great.
Many researchers believe that Sant met Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of Sikhism, and altogether 41 of Guru Ravidas Ji’s poems were included in the Adi Granth.
Sant Ravidas ji was a prominent figure in the bhakti movement and a renowned poet of the Nirgun Bhakti tradition that valued the worship of a formless God. In this context, two foreign researchers who have carried out an extensive study on Sant Ravidas Ji’s activities may be mentioned. One is Dr. Winand Callewaert and another one is Dr. Peter Friedlander as both have published many books and articles on Sant. They have translated his songs also. One is presenting here. It may be mentioned that Prof Dr. Winand Callewaert was a scholar in Sanskrit (studied in India) and taught this subject in foreign countries. He has published many books and articles in English, Dutch and Hindi. Another scholar Dr. Peter Friedlander lived in India from 1977-1982 and learned Hindi in Varanasi. He then studied at SOAS London University and completed his Ph.D. on the life and works of Saint Ravidas in 1991. The following is a popular verse from Saint Ravidas, translated by Dr. Winand Callewaert and Dr. Peter Friedlander,
“Raidas says, what shall I sing?
Singing, singing I am defeated.
How long shall I consider and proclaim:
absorb the self into the Self?
This experience is such,
that it defies all description.
I have met the Lord,
Who can cause me harm?
Hari in everything, everything in Hari –
For him who knows Hari and the sense of self,
no other testimony is needed:
the knower is absorbed”.
(Hari here refers to God who takes away all the sorrows of his devotees).
Sant Ravidas Ji was against the caste system and in his poetry, questioned caste hegemony, valued labour of all sorts, as well as a life of simplicity and morality. He initiated dialogues with then upper-caste Hindus about caste, social justice, love, and forms of worship. He spread the message that “God created man and not man created God”, which means everyone is created by God and has equal rights on this earth. This theory in the present days no one can deny as all human beings have equal rights. It is believed that because of his wisdom, in-depth spiritual knowledge, and discourse many persons of all castes including the King and Queen of Chittoor presently in Rajasthan were his followers.
In Sant Ravidas Ji’s name, a temple has been constructed in his hometown, where Sant is worshipped every day. His songs are recited every morning and evening in the temple. His birthday is celebrated every year on Magh Purnima day. This year it has fallen on 16 February 2022.
Although Guru Ravidas Ji has passed away long ago he will be in the hearts of millions for his spiritual, devotional, and humanitarian activities generations after generations. I offer my respectful Pronam to the Great Soul, Saint, and Guru on his birth anniversary.

RSETI: Self–employment Programme for Rural Youths

Unemployment in India is always a serious issue particularly in rural India as the scope is limited in rural areas. So launching of Rural Self Employment Training Institutes (RSETIs) by the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) of the Government of India is a praiseworthy step. MoRD was impressed by the Rural Development and Self Employment Training Institute (RUDSETI) model which was established in the year 1982 at Dharmasthala, Karnataka by Dr D Veerendra Heggade jointly with Syndicate Bank and Canara Bank. MoRD in 2009 advised all the banks to establish one RUDSETI type institute in all their Lead Districts under the banner of Rural Self Employment Training Institutes (RSETIs) (www.nacer.in/index_more.html).
It is pertinent to mention that RSETIs identify, orient, train and assist rural youth to take up self-employment as a source of livelihood. The youths in the age group of 18-45 years, irrespective of caste, creed or religion are eligible to undergo training at RSETI, which is free of cost. RSETI has been doing a commendable job in training and settlement of rural youths. The total number of training programmes organised from inception to 31 March 2020 was 1,26,556 where the number of youth trained was 35,00,770 during the same period and 24,41,083 (69.73%) youths were settled. Further, the number of functional RSETIs was 585 where altogether 29 banks weresponsored (www.nacer.in/performance_glance.html).
Each RSETI offers skill development programmes in a financial year in various avenues and in each batch 25-30 youths are selected for training. The programmes are of short duration ranging from 1 to 6 weeks. And to get a general idea few trades are mentioned below:
• Agricultural Programmes – agriculture and allied activities like dairy, poultry, apiculture, horticulture, sericulture, mushroom cultivation, floriculture, fisheries, etc
• Product Programme – dress designing for men and women, rexine articles, incense sticks manufacturing, football making, bag, bakery products, leaf cup making, recycled paper manufacturing, etc.
• Process Programmes – two wheeler repairs, radio/TV repairs, motor rewinding, electrical transformer repairs, irrigation pump-set repairs, tractor and power tiller repairs, cell phone repairs, beautician course, photography and videography, screen printing, domestic electrical appliances repair, computer hardware and DTP.
• General Programmes – skill development for women
• Other Programmes – related to other sectors like leather, construction, hospitality and any other sector depending on local requirements.
The author time to time studied many youths who were undergoing training and also collected data after training that were settled and found earning was substantial. Few names as evidence can be mentioned here: a) Adapa Kalpana (female) , Dharanikota village of Amaravathi Mandal, Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh ( year of study in 2016), b) Ashok Kumar ( Male/year of study July 2018), Hajpurwa village of Warisnagar block, Samastipur district of Bihar, c) Arati Mishra (female/ year of study July 2018) Nirpur village, Samastipur block, Samastipur district d) In 2017, the author studied some youths of Amritsar district, Punjab. The youths were Jasbir Kaur (female), Harjit Kaur (female), Mandip Kaur (female), Navneet Kaur e) In 2019 the author studied by visiting RSETI at Aurangabad district of Maharashtra. Names of some of the youths are Chhaya Bhalerao (female), Kalpana Jagannath Surase (female), Umesh Bhanudas Dhepe (male), f) In Darrang district of Assam names of some of the youths who were contacted in 2018 are Mousami Saikia Gogoi (female), Poly Seal (female), Mira Medhi, (female), Sabita Koch (female) and many others.
In addition, the author visited many RSETIs and cases collected about the youths trained and post-training settlement and earning of income. and found training and post-training settlement was praiseworthy.
It is suggested that wherever feasible RSETI may be started at the sub-division level.