Black Money Trail…

India and Switzerland have signed a pact amending the existing double taxation avoidance agreement, that will make it easier to gain access to information on suspect bank accounts, possibly paving the way to recovering billions of dollars in undeclared wealth.

It is anyone’s guess just how much money is stashed away in secure vaults in the scenic Alps.

report from Global Financial Integrity estimated the average amount stashed away from India annually during 2002-06 is $27.3 billion (about 136,466 crore). It means that during the five-year period the amount stashed away is 27.3×5=136.5 billion (about 692,328 crore). It is not that all these amounts went to Swiss banks. It has gone to different tax and secret shelters. The share of Swiss banks in dirty money being a third of the global aggregate, some $45 billion out of the 136.5 billion stashed away from India would have been hoarded in these years in Swiss banks.

Besides depriving countries of valuable resources for development, “black money” is often used to fund militants, and therefore poses a major security risk, as well.

But signing a deal to gain access to this money is one thing, assembling convincing evidence of these accounts is another.

Swiss bank UBS last year agreed to hand over details of more than 4,000 American accounts to the U.S. government for investigation of tax evasion.

However Mr. Pranab Mukherjee has already started dragging its feet on the black money issue by saying “I would like to make it quite clear that as far as Swiss laws are concerned they don’t give any information of their banking transactions,”.

“We cannot share this information to any other authority, including parliament. This information cannot even be shared with the Enforcement Directorate,” the finance minister said.

In fact, the dice is invariably loaded against investigators – for example the Hindujas were able to delay proceedings in the Bofors case by challenging each application filed by CBI.

German Government has already offered dope on hundreds of rich Indians who have black money parked in Liechtenstein, a small landlocked country between Austria and Switzerland. But, Transparency International says India has maintained ‘a stoic silence over the issue and has not approached the German government for this data.

What Government needs to do is build strong cases against people it suspects are guilty of tax fraud and graft.

It will not be easy, as they may well include politicians and other powerful figures. But with an abysmal ranking when it comes to corruption, India has much to gain from building credible evidence against tax evaders.

Government has shown serious intent with the pact; now it needs to demonstrate serious and swift action.

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“Football, Inshallah” Peace , Inshallah!

Football, Inshallah!

Oscar-nominated director Ashwin Kumar traveled to Kashmir for the first time, in 2009, to research a possible feature film and he discovered a true story that was more inspiring than fiction. The resulting documentary, “Football, Inshallah” will premiere at the prestigious Pusan International Film Festival in September.

“Football, Inshallah” tells the story of a young Argentinean coach who founds a soccer academy in Srinagar to bring so-called “stone pelters” off the killing streets and onto the soccer field. He places many of his players with local professional leagues.

But when he manages to get the team captain an opportunity to train with a professional club in Spain, Kashmir’s troubled history emerges to block his efforts, as the government of India denies the boy a passport because two decades earlier his father had joined a militant separatist struggle for an independent Kashmir. At the eleventh hour, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah intervenes on the boy’s behalf.

It’s the story of three remarkable men — one is his father who fought for his beliefs, another about the football coach who’s come all the way from Argentina to start this football academy, and this young man who is struggling to play football.

Coach Juan Marcos Troia (aka “Marco”)’s International Sports Academy Trust has trained about 1,000 young men from all over Kashmir — taking at least 50 from the armies of stone-throwing street protesters that plague local police.

He’d stuck it out even after he’d been beaten up by soldiers on the street just five minutes away from the soccer field suspecting that he was only pretending to be a foreigner. He’d brought his wife and two daughters with him to Kashmir. The two girls attended school in Srinagar, despite soldiers and curfews, like ordinary Kashmiris. And Marco believed he was making a difference.

“I have seen how it [soccer] is helping to change the mentality of some of the officials in the government and how it’s changing the mentality of the people,” Troia said at the time. “It’s very interesting to see in only two-and-a-half years, how much our program has helped not only football, but also the development of the society.”

As Kumar readies his documentary, “Football, Inshallah,” for Pusan, Kashmir seems locked into an escalating pattern of violence, as local residents take to the streets to protest the deaths of innocent civilians, only to see more of their number gunned down by the security forces. Over the past two months, more than 60 civilians have been killed, most of them teenagers. Sport is the last thing on anybody’s mind, as local journalists bitterly describe decades-long careers as nothing more than “obituary writing.”

Now it seems there’s no chance of anybody getting anywhere. Marco had trained about 1,000 boys and he had them playing in professional leagues. The idea was to send all 11 players to train in Brazil on a scholarship. But in essence, the program has ground to a halt.

Pusan is Asia’s biggest festival, and it’s the right kind of place to show a film like this because it opens up a debate about Kashmir.The selection for the Pusan festival promises to attract a wider audience for a story that presents a simplistic, blinkered attitude about Kashmir.

Following the lives of 18-year-old Basharat Bashir and his former militant father, “Football, Inshallah” offers an unusually hopeful perspective on Kashmir’s cycle of violence.

But the contemporary events that now form the backdrop for its release make the hope it offers bittersweet. Where Kashmir is concerned, India keeps doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The Indian government has failed to win the loyalty of Kashmiris and it is undermined at every turn by its inability to trust in its own democratic ideals.

If the Indian Government keeps pushing Kashmiris and their feeling under the rug, leave Kashmiris, all Indians will pick up stones instead of a cricket bat or a soccer ball.

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Anand’s Indian citizenship questioned

Is Anand an Indian?

Vishwanathan Anand is probably more Indian than 90% of the people in parliament, and certainly more so than the Sonia parivar.

Why isn’t the GoI questioning the citizenship of Sonia considering she apparently has never surrendered her Italian passport?

Well, Anand is not a citizen of India, but all these Bangladeshis infiltrated into Indian borders are soon going to get UIDs.

The incident reminds me of Nobel prize winning Pakistani Physicist Abdus Salam. He was dishonoured and humiliated because he was a minority Ahmadiya.

When Mohammed Azharuddin was caught with his hand in the cookie jar, he used the defense “I am a poor oppressed minority person. My religion is in danger.” Congress always looking to play minority card even gave him a MP’s ticket.

I have never heard UPA questioning Fareed Zakaria’s citizenship “because he has been living in the US for a long time.” What about Dawood Ibrahim’s Indian citizenship?

Government is even ready to feed Tamil Eelam out of their hands. Nobody questions Glady Staines’ visa status.

In case of terrorist sympathiser named Susan Arundhati Roy, even after declaring that she has renounced her Indian citizenship, the GoI is begging her to keep Indian passport.

When M F Hussain paints sentiments of millions of Hindus red and runs like a sheep, nobody questioned/ cancelled his citizenship.

Spain would welcome Anand with open arms and give him two citizenships if he wanted. Just like all those Soviet/East European chess champions chose to accept citizenship in less obnoxious countries.

This man is the World Champion, for god’s sake! and plays all his matches with an Indian Flag on his side.

Is this government Of, By and For the Anti-Nationalists?

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So many less-than-ordinary leaders for an extra-ordinary Nation

True to their cunning nature, the Lalus and Abhishek Manu Singhvis of the world are trying to mislead the country by merely stating their base salaries of Rs 16,000. What no one knows is that MPs get hundreds of other allowances totaling to an annual package of Rs 57 lakhs.

What no one knows is that we are the only parliament in the world where a pay hike has been given 64 times in the last 63 years of independence. What no one knows is this is the only profession in the country where salaries are not related to performance, efficiency or productivity.

The MPs – well known for shouting slogans and creating mayhem in parliament – have neglected one of their basic duties of crafting and debating legislation.

The average number of sittings of the Lok Sabha has declined to 81 from a yearly average of 124 in the first decade of independence, a sharp decline of 34 per cent.

The annual average of the number of pieces of legislation voted on and passed has fallen to 50 from 68.

Even more absurd are those MPs getting to decide their own salaries and the quantum of their pay raise. In 2006, Mr Somnath Chatterjee, the speaker of the Lok Sabha at the time, suggested to his fellow MPs that it was unethical to vote on their personal pay packet and recommended the setting up of an independent commission to decide on the matter.

His suggestion was dismissed outright by a majority of MPs.

Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi’s account of how her mother-in-law drew less salary as prime minister than her late husband as pilot, was the cue for the government to announce the raise without any further delay.

Since the strength of the Lok Sabha (545) and the Rajya Sabha (250) aggregates to 895, the increase in the salary alone would cost over Rs 36 crore to the exchequer annually.

The public anger over the salary increase and other allowances is also about the discredited image of politicians, derided widely as criminal and corrupt.

During India’s freedom movement, Mahatma Gandhi memorably advocated a Spartan lifestyle for elected government representatives, insisting that they were peoples’ servants, not their masters. Delegates from the Congress party, which was involved with Gandhi in the freedom struggle, travelled third class in crowded trains, surviving on a paltry daily allowance of Rs 40.

Indian MPs had to wait until 1954 – seven years after independence – to draw on a monthly salary. But Gandhi’s principles have long been forgotten in a rapidly modernising India. Today’s MPs travel in luxury cars, fly in chartered planes, and live in mansions, adding to their self-serving image.

A few questions along with the pay hike:

  1. Who decides the pay scale for the MPs?
  2. Is it right for the MPs to decide for their own salaries? Is this not a case of conflict of interest?
  3. Will these pay hikes be linked to performance?
  4. Will the pay hike now mean MPs will become less corrupt?
  5. Can there be an audit of how much money an MP had before becoming an MP and his wealth count after becoming an MP?
  6. In the 15th Lok Sabha session, only seven out of 545 members of the Lower House of Parliament had 100% attendance. Will the MPs pay get cut when they do not attend office?
  7. Almost 14,207 times the Lok Sabha was interrupted by the members and 102 times it had to be adjourned. The cost of one minute of Parliament functioning is approximately Rs 26,035. Will the cost for this disruption be cut from the pay of the MPs?
  8. What happened to the austerity drive, is it applicable only to the private sector?

There is an underlying irony in this. Indian Parliament in many ways mirrors Indian public life: Infuriatingly chaotic at one level and rigidly rule-bound at another. Parliament, as it exists today, is too tolerant of indiscipline and too intolerant of genuine dissent.

So many less-than-ordinary leaders for an extra-ordinary nation – God’s practical joke.

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Militants, not India, are the greatest threat to national security

“Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, has concluded that India is no longer the primary threat to the country’s security. Displacing New Delhi for the title are Islamist militias operating in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province.” Reports Foreign Policy. Read here.

Breaking news? Actually Not!

Classified documents made available by WikiLeaks allege that over the past several years, despite public professions of close cooperation with India and the world on the anti-terrorism front, Pakistan’s powerful Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate had actually abetted and aided the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the insurgent leaders like Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar etc. Beyond these startling revelations, the documents also charged that the ISI had provided information to insurgents about U.S. troop movements, their likely operations, and military capabilities.

These developments highlight the disturbing dominance of Pakistan’s permanent military establishment and their ongoing ties to jihadi groups. Pakistan has used jihadi proxies to varying effect against India since the first war following partition in 1947. They were also the basis for another assault against India in 1965. The use of jihadis reached its peak under the leadership of Gen. Zia-ul-Haq.

From Gen. Haq to Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s to his hand-picked successor Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani, the security establishment has done nothing of note but not to lose sight of its cardinal principle of unremitting hostility toward India.

Even in the wake of the Lashkar-organised Mumbai attacks, the Pakistani security establishment chose to coddle its leader, Hafiz Mohammed Saeed. Under substantial diplomatic pressure from all quarters of the world, he was briefly placed under house arrest. Shortly thereafter, though, two Pakistani courts declared that there was insufficient evidence linking him to the Mumbai attacks and he was allowed free to resume peddling venomous anti-Indian and anti-Jewish propaganda.

Just weeks before the WikiLeaks episode, stories had started to surface in the International press about Lashkar attacks on coalition forces in Afghanistan. But in the aftermath of the WikiLeaks allegations, The Pakistani political establishment is finding hard to sweep these concerns under a rug.

In light of India’s growing influence in the northwest, the military establishment in Pakistan simply does not want peace with India and has shown little or no interest in full-fledged counterterrorism cooperation with India. A swift and decisive end to the swarm of jihadis operating within Pakistan and along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border would mean an end to the seemingly unending flow of money into the coffers of establishment, Saeed and likes.

Indian government should demand Pakistan to show tangible and immediate progress on the counter-terrorism cooperation and stop Pakistan’s military from running the show by supporting jihadi terrorist groups.

A policy that falls short on these two counts is an invitation for the continued loss of blood and treasure for both the countries to no viable end.

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How over thousand Kashmiri Indians pay respect to India and Tricolour?

Friends,

These pictures are from Srinagar, Kashmir, India. It had no effect on the national decision-makers or self-appointed watchdogs (Read Media).

Quite right. Pamper them some more and when they come and do the same thing (burn the Indian tricolour and raise instead the green flag of our neighbour) in Delhi on August 14- 15 next year appologise to them.

An inordinately strong country is being artificially weakened at the apex of governance, regardless of which party is in power. Their governance priorities do not reflect national priorities. And we keep hearing them say “Jai Hind”.

Shame on Indian Government and Media also for not making it Breaking News. The only country of the world, where one can dare to burn the national flag.

Really shame on Indian media who never shows these pics………shame shame shame ! If These Are Breaking News…..

Yes indeed, it deserves serious introspection by everyone.

This only happens in India !!!!

P.S.: I wish this post reaches all Indians, today itself. Please make it a high priority to forward. fast…

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Reading Terrorists Minds About Imminent Attack

This can be possible very soon to predict when, how and where the imminent terrorist attack will occur. A new study says that the mind reading can help to improve national security. A team of researchers of the Northwestern University of Washington developed a system which can be helpful to read the mind of a terrorist to uncover secret details and can pluck the details about an attack in advance such as location, date of the imminent terrorist attack and about the weapons. With the help of this study, the scientists are able to map the P300 brain waves to guilty knowledge in the lab experiments with the 100 per cent accuracy.

In the study, the electrodes were used in the mapping of P300 brain waves. The electrodes are attached to the suspect’s scalp for pretending. The team leader Peter Rosenfeld said, the most interesting aspect of the study is that even as the researchers did not have advance details about mock terrorism plans they technology accurate identifies important information. He also said, Without any prior knowledge of the planned crime in our mock terrorism scenarios, we were able to identify 10 out of 12 terrorists and, among them, 20 out of 30 crime-related details.

According to the Smithsonian Magazine, the study of P300 technology was begun in 1983 by Rosenfield. The team of Rosenfield used a mock terrorism scenario in which an attack is planned by subjects in major city. The electrode attached to the scalp of subjects while they looked at a computer monitor that displayed names of major includes Chicago, Boston, New York, Phoenix and Houston. The city that subjects chose for the attack evoked the greatest P300 responses. Peter Rosenfeld told, The test was 83 percent accurate in predicting concealed knowledge, suggesting that our complex protocol could identify future terrorist activity. A participant had just 30 minutes to know about the terrorist attack and the plans detail.

Do not affirm. Inform your opinions.

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Indian Tricolour: Our Pride, Our Joy

“A flag is a necessity for all nations. Millions have died for it. It is no doubt a kind of idolatry which would be a sin to destroy. For, a flag represents an Ideal The unfurling of the Union Jack evokes in the English breast sentiments whose strength it is difficult to measure. The Stars and Stripes mean a world to the Americans. The Star and the Crescent will call forth the best bravery in Islam.”

“It will be necessary for us Indians Muslims, Christians Jews, Parsis, and all others to whom India is their home-to recognize a common flag to live and to die for.”

– Mahatma Gandhi

Every free nation of the world has its own flag. It is a symbol of a free country. The National Flag of India was designed by Pingali Venkayyaand and adopted in its present form during the meeting of Constituent Assembly held on the 22 July 1947, a few days before India’s independence from the British on 15 August, 1947. It served as the national flag of the Dominion of India between 15 August 1947 and 26 January 1950 and that of the Republic of India thereafter. In India, the term “tricolour” refers to the Indian national flag.

The National flag of India is a horizontal tricolor of deep saffron (kesari) at the top, white in the middle and dark green at the bottom in equal proportion. The ratio of width of the flag to its length is two to three. In the centre of the white band is a navy blue wheel which represents the chakra. Its design is that of the wheel which appears on the abacus of the Sarnath Lion Capital of Ashoka. Its diameter approximates to the width of the white band and it has 24 spokes.

Evolution of the Tricolour

It is really amazing to see the various changes that our National Flag went through since its first inception. It was discovered or recognised during our national struggle for freedom. The evolution of the Indian National Flag sailed through many vicissitudes to arrive at what it is today. In one way it reflects the political developments in the nation. Some of the historical milestones in the evolution of our National Flag involve the following:

Unofficial flag of India  in 1906

The first national flag in India is said to have been hoisted on August 7, 1906, in the Parsee Bagan Square (Green Park) in Calcutta now Kolkata. The flag was composed of three horizontal strips of red, yellow and green.

The Berlin committee  flag, first raised by  Bhikaiji Cama in 1907

The second flag was hoisted in Paris by Madame Cama and her band of exiled revolutionaries in 1907 (according to some inl9OS). This was very similar to the first flag except that the top strip had only one lotus but seven stars denoting the Saptarishi. This flag was also exhibited at a socialist conference in Berlin.

The flag used during the  Home Rule movement  in 1917The third flag went up in 1917 when our political struggle had taken a definite turn. Dr. Annie Besant and Lokmanya Tilak hoisted it during the Home rule movement. This flag had five red and four green horizontal strips arranged alternately, with seven stars in the saptarishi configuration super-imposed on them. In the left-hand top corner (the pole end) was the Union Jack. There was also a white crescent and star in one corner.

The flag unofficially  adopted in 1921 During the session of the All India Congress Committee which met at Bezwada in 1921 (now Vijayawada) an Andhra youth prepared a flag and took it to Gandhiji. It was made up of two colours-red and green-representing the two major communities i.e. Hindus and Muslims. Gandhiji suggested the addition of a white strip to represent the remaining communities of India and the spinning wheel to symbolise progress of the Nation.

The flag adopted in 1931.  This flag was also the  battle ensign of the  Indian National Army The year 1931 was a landmark in the history of the flag. A resolution was passed adopting a tricolor flag as our national flag. This flag, the forbear of the present one, was saffron, white and green with Mahatma Gandhi’s spinning wheel at the center. It was, however, clearly stated that it bore no communal significance and was to be interpreted thus.

The present Tricolour  flag of IndiaOn July 22, 1947, the Constituent Assembly adopted it as Free India National Flag. After the advent of Independence, the colours and their significance remained the same. Only the Dharma Charkha of Emperor Asoka was adopted in place of the spinning wheel as the emblem on the flag. Thus, the tricolour flag of the Congress Party eventually became the tricolour flag of Independent India.

Colours of the Flag:

In the national flag of India the top band is of Saffron colour, indicating the strength and courage of the country. The white middle band indicates peace and truth with Dharma Chakra. The last band is green in colour shows the fertility, growth and auspiciousness of the land.

The Chakra:

This Dharma Chakra depicted the “wheel of the law” in the Sarnath Lion Capital made by the 3rd-century BC Mauryan Emperor Ashoka. The chakra intends to show that there is life in movement and death in stagnation.

Flag Code:

On 26th January 2002, the Indian flag code was modified and after several years of independence, the citizens of India were finally allowed to hoist the Indian flag over their homes, offices and factories on any day and not just National days as was the case earlier. Now Indians can proudly display the national flag any where and any time, as long as the provisions of the Flag Code are strictly followed to avoid any disrespect to the tricolour. For the sake of convenience, Flag Code of India, 2002, has been divided into three parts. Part I of the Code contains general description of the National Flag. Part II of the Code is devoted to the display of the National Flag by members of public, private organizations, educational institutions, etc. Part III of the Code relates to display of the National Flag by Central and State governments and their organisations and agencies.

There are some rules and regulations upon how to fly the flag, based on the 26 January 2002 legislation. These include the following:

The Do’s:

The National Flag may be hoisted in educational institutions (schools, colleges, sports camps, scout camps, etc.) to inspire respect for the Flag. An oath of allegiance has been included in the flag hoisting in schools.

A member of public, a private organization or an educational institution may hoist/display the National Flag on all days and occasions, ceremonial or otherwise consistent with the dignity and honour of the National Flag.

Section 2 of the new code accepts the right of all private citizens to fly the flag on their premises.

The Don’ts:

The flag cannot be used for communal gains, drapery, or clothes. As far as possible, it should be flown from sunrise to sunset, irrespective of the weather.

The flag cannot be intentionally allowed to touch the ground or the floor or trail in water. It cannot be draped over the hood, top, and sides or back of vehicles, trains, boats or aircraft.

No other flag or bunting can be placed higher than the flag. Also, no object, including flowers or garlands or emblems can be placed on or above the flag. The tricolour cannot be used as a festoon, rosette or bunting.

More information on Flag Code of India.

The Indian National Flag represents the hopes and aspirations of the people of India. It is the symbol of our national pride. Over the last five decades, several people including members of armed forces have ungrudgingly laid down their lives to keep the tricolour flying in its full glory.

India First Foundation sends all Indians around the world heartfelt Independence Day greetings and the very best wishes.

Do remember to put ‘INDIA FIRST’!

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Aazadi Mubarak!

Today is August 14. Pakistan’s Independence Day.

India First Foundation sends all Pakistanis sincere and heartfelt Independence Day greetings and the very best wishes.

We also convey deepest sympathies and condolence to the people of Pakistan to cope with devastating floods that have affected more than 14 million people.

For all of us, this is also a time to reflect that ‘Tomorrow matters’. And actions on both sides of the border today will determine what our tomorrows will look like. Our shared goal must be to create a tomorrow that is peaceful. A tomorrow that is just. A tomorrow that is friendly.

A tomorrow that is prosperous. For both of us.”

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The Art and Architecture of India

India is a land of diverse cultures. The variations in physical, climatic conditions and the extent of exposure to other cultures have greatly influenced the traditions and culture of the different regions. There is an underlying basic factor common to the whole of India, with variations in the practices based on their local needs and influences. Further, the greatness of India has been in accepting the best from all the invaders and intermingling the new customs and styles with the existing – this is visible in all aspects – music, dance, painting, sculptures, architecture.

This article, an excerpt from the introduction to the book “The Art and Architecture of India” by Benjamin Rowland puts it all in a nutshell.

The history of India and its art has been so bound up with the geographic nature of this vast continent that something must be said of these physical characteristics. India has a kind of impregnable geographic isolation. It is in the shape of a great sealed funnel extending from the heartland of Asia. This peculiar shape of the peninsula made for an inevitable retention and absorption of all the racial and cultural elements that poured into it. The peninsula is bounded on the west by the Indian ocean; on the east by the Bay of Bengal. Along the northern frontier India is almost sealed off from the Asiatic mainland by the rocky curtain of the Himalayas from Baluchistan to Assam. The only openings in this formidable natural fortification are the various passes of the north-west, such as the famous Khyber and Bolan passes, which wind through the mountains seperating India from the Iranian plateau. Through these gaps came all the migrating tribes and conquerors that made themselves masters of the rich plain of India.

The cultural divisions of India proper have always been determined and dominated by the great river systems, the watersheds of the Indus and Ganges, the Deccan plateau and South India.

Climate, no less than geography has played its part in the development of the peculiarly indigenous traits of Indian history and art. All the races of martial character have grown up in the dry and hilly districts of north-west and centre, whereas the fertile plains of Bengal and South have been inhabited by peaceful and unwarlike cultivators.

The overpowering nature of India has in a way forced upon the inhabitants an inability to act, a situation responsible for the Indian races having become lost in religiosity.

The mystery of Indian myths and Indian art lies partly in the fact that it suggests rather than states. It could truly be said that Indian symbols of art voiced the same truth as Indian philosophy and myth.

In India, all art, like all life, is given over to religion. Indian art is life, as interpreted by religion and philosophy.

Indian art may, in a general way, be described as theological, hieratic, or, perhaps best of all as traditional. The purpose of Indian art, like all traditional art, is primarily to instruct men in the great first causes, which according to the seers, govern the material, spiritual and celestial worlds. Art is dedicated to communicating these great truths to mankind and, by the architectural, sculptural and pictorial reconstruction of the powers that maintain the stars in their courses.

Over a period of time, I will collect and provide information on all topics relating to Indian art, culture and tradition.

PS: India First Foundation welcomes enthusiasts, scholars who wish to contribute writings, information and photographs to this forum. original works will be published in monthly journals ‘Eternal India’ and ‘Chiratan Bharat’. You can reach me at ceo@indiafirstfoundation.org.

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