Transporters’ strike hits coal supply in Dhanbad’s power plant


Transporters’ strike hit coal supply at Maithon Power Limited (MPL) in Dhanbad, leading to the crisis of electricity production in the thermal power unit, Ramesh Jha, MPL chief executive officer.

Jha said situation in power plant worsened as supply of coal and transporting of ash from the MPL plant completely interrupted due to strike by workers. The tool down strike entered 6th day today.

“Regular maintenance activities of critical equipments have been stopped due to the workers’ strike leading to the closure of the plant”, said Jha. Coal transporters have stopped supplying coal since Saturday demanding revision in fare.

The district administration on Wednesday held meeting at Maithon for resolving the strike but failed to address the grievances of the protesters. Rural superintendent of police Aman Kumar, who chaired the meeting, said the meeting would be held again tomorrow. “Negotiation is continued. I have called management and land losers leaders in Dhanbad tomorrow for talk and I hope crisis would be resolved”, he said.

Already 170 land losers have been “laying a siege” to the power plant, demanding compensation promised by the power company. The protestors under the banner of MPL Vishthapit Sthaniya Samiti along with the Kamgar Union – the recognised union of the power plant – have been holding the stir in support of 18 points demand. The workers too started tool down strike inside the plant for enhancement of salary payment from June 10. However Nirsa MLA Arup Chatterjee, who represented the land losers and workers, held the management of the MPL responsible for failure of talk. “Agitating people have 18 points demand. At the meeting, we proposed that for time being implement only three points – job to land losers, increase salary of workers and ensure gratuity of employees but MPL officers were not agreed on any of these demands”, he said.

Nirsa MLA, however, denied charges that agitators stopped entry and exit of officials in the plant and workers were hampering coal feeding in hopper inside plant.

“No one stops officials. Rather, agitating land losers are also helping them so that power generation runs smoothly”, he said.

MPL is joint venture of Tata Power and DVC which generates 1050 MW power per day and caters requirement of four states Bengal, Delhi Punjab and Kerala. MPL official said plant needs 15000 ton coal per day for generation 1050 MW power.

Now fly to Varanasi, Gaya Buddhist circuit in India at affordable rates; check IndiGo flight offers


From August, you can fly to pilgrim towns of Varanasi and Gaya, Buddhist circuit in affordable rates! IndiGo has announced 12 non-stop daily and weekly flights to boost air connectivity to Varanasi and Gaya. Now you can travel to Gaya Airport or Bodhgaya International Airport (GAY) and Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport in Varanasi (VNS) from Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata (CCU) and Jay Prakash Narayan International Airport (PAT).

IndiGo flight offers, ticket fares, timings

The 12 non-stop daily and weekly flights will start from August 8. Bookings for these IndiGo flights have opened.

Flight number 6E 7713 will depart from Kolkata on a daily basis at 7 am and will reach Gaya at 8.35 am. The fare of the flight will Rs 1999. Flight number 6E 7714 will leave from Gaya at 9.05 am and arrive in Kolkata at 10.30 am. The ticket price is Rs 1999. This flight won’t be available on Sunday. Flight number 6E 7715 will depart from Kolkata at 11.05 am and will reach Gaya at 12.25 pm. Ticket fare is Rs 1999 and won’t be available on Sunday. There is a weekly flight from Gaya to Varanasi and Varanasi to Gaya. The flight will depart from Gaya at 9.30 am and reach Varanasi at 10.30 am. The fare of the flight is Rs 1499. The direct flight from Varanasi will leave at 11.25 am and reach Gaya at 12.25. The ticket for this flight will cost you Rs 1499. These two flights connecting Gaya and Varanasi will be available only on Sunday.

There are also two daily flights connecting Gaya and Varanasi. One will depart from Gaya at 12.45 pm and will reach Varanasi at 1.45 pm. The return flight from Varanasi will depart at 2.15 pm and will reach Gaya at 3 pm. These fares of these two flights are Rs 1499 per ticket.

Another daily flight from Gaya will take off at 3.20 pm and reach Kolkata at 4.40 pm. Fare of a ticket is fixed at Rs 1999.

A daily flight from Kolkata will leave at 5.25 pm and reach Patna at 7 pm. This flight will cost you Rs 1826. The return flight from Patna will depart at 7.30 pm and reach Kolkata at 9.05 pm. This flight will cost you Rs 1737.

A flight from Kolkata will take off at 9.35 PM and will arrive in Varanasi at 11.35 pm. This flight will cost you Rs 2594. The return flight from Varanasi will depart at 11.55 pm and reach Kolkata at 1.45 am. This flight will cost you Rs 2523.

“As a part of our endeavour to enhance domestic connectivity, our ATR fleet helps us serve regional operations efficiently. We are delighted to have launched these flights on the Buddhist circuit, which not only provide more travel options to customers, but also enable people to come closer to Indian history and spirituality. These flights will also help attract new tourist arrivals from around South East Asia, where IndiGo is adding a number of new routes into Kolkata over the next few months, including services from Vietnam, Hong Kong, and China,” Chief Commercial Officer of IndiGo William Boulter said. “With the introduction of these flights, we will continue to provide the flexibility of choice to our customers with a consistent on-time, affordable, courteous and hassle-free flying experience,” Boulter said.

India’s Politicians Have Turned the Anti-Defection Law on Its Head


The political class made a commitment when parliament passed the tenth schedule of the constitution, popularly known as the anti-defection law, to maintain the integrity and stability of the party system. Their whole-hearted support to the constitution (52nd amendment ) Bill which incorporated the tenth schedule in the constitution signified that commitment.

Thirty-four years later, that commitment seems to hold no value. Elected representatives are very much engaged in familiar party-hopping tactics. The mass exodus of MLAs from the vanquished Congress to victorious parties shows that they have no respect for the anti-defection law.

Earlier, the ‘aaya Ram, gaya Ram‘ phenomenon had created an alarming level of political instability. Governments fell frequently as elected representatives exercises their ‘freedom of movement’ a little too literally.

Now, a new phenomenon is at play. MLAs, corporators etc. belonging to defeated parties have started migrating in large number to winning parties. This means parties that lose elections are all but wiped out of legislative bodies. Top leaders from victorious parties openly encourage representatives of defeated parties to defect.

Defection is a politically immoral act, and the anti-defection law ought to have stamped it out. If people have chosen a representative from one party, she has no moral or legal right to defect to another party during her tenure. The tenth schedule disqualifies such representatives, and their legislature membership is terminated. Nevertheless, defection continue. People defect in groups and thus defeat the law.

The latest case is of 12 MLAs from the Congress party “merging” with the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, the ruling party in Telangana. News reports suggest that groups of MLAs from the Congress in Congress-ruled states are also getting ready to move over to the BJP.

These legislators would do well to pause and take a hard look at the provisions of the anti-defection law. If they do that, they will realise that their actions will most certainly land them in serious trouble. At the moment, they happily believe that if out of 18 MLAs, 12 go over and merge with the ruling party, they will be safe. According to them, if two-thirds of the legislators merge with another party, it does not amount to defection.

Clearly, they do not fully understand the law. Para 4 of the tenth schedule makes three points:

  1. The original political party should merge with another party.
  2. As a result, not less than two-thirds of the members of the legislature party merge with that party.
  3. The merger becomes legally recognisable only when two-thirds of the members of the legislature party also merge with the other party.

In other words, as per para 4 of the tenth schedule, a merger can be legally recognised only when the original party merges with another party, and not less than two-thirds of the members of the legislature party agree to such a merger. So even if two-thirds of the members of the legislature party decide to merge, there would be no merger under para 4 if the original political party does not merge with another party. Thus, in the absence of a merger of the original political party with another party, the merger of the legislators has no legal validity. Hence they will be termed defectors and held liable to be disqualified.

Legislators would do well to understand that the anti-defection law was enacted not to facilitate their defection but to prevent it. Lawmakers have taken care to punish individual defectors, while at the same time protect legislators who act in tandem with their original political party when it merges with another party.

The tenth schedule, as it was originally enacted, contained a provision to protect legislators when an original party splits and one-third of the legislators form another group. This was deleted later when it was found that this provision was being abused by politicians.

An important point needs to be made here. The basic object of the tenth schedule is to prevent defection and thereby protect the stability of the party system as well as of established governments. When we analyse para 3 (now deleted) and para 4, this becomes clear. Para 3 dealt with the split in the original political party and para 4 deals with merger by the original party. In both cases, it is the original political party which initiates the action.

Any unilateral action by legislators, singly or in a group, is always treated as defection. Only if the original party takes the plunge do legislators get protection. Thus, the law says legislators should not abandon their party once they are elected on its ticket unless the party itself decides to merge with another party.

The recent spate of defections in various state legislatures recently shows that defector legislators are under the impression that it is enough to mobilise two-thirds of the members of the legislature party and merge with the ruling party. In this context, the Supreme Court judgment in Rajendra Singh Rana vs Swami Prasad Maurya (2007) is very instructive. Although this case dealt with the split in the legislature party, its ratio applies to a case of merger as well. The court says, “Those who have left the party will have prima facie to show by relevant materials that there has been a split in the original party.”

Similarly, in Jagjit Singh vs State of Haryana as well, the Supreme Court said that the split in the original party is a precondition for recognising a split in the legislature party. The Rajender Singh Rana case was decided by a five-judge constitution bench, which in fact upheld the proposition laid down in Jagjit Singh. The ratio of these decisions apply to a case of merger also.

What happened in Telangana

In Telangana, 12 of the 18 Congress MLAs have merged with the ruling party in the state, the TRS. This merger was endorsed by the chief minister and accepted by the speaker. The defecting Congress MLAs thus instantly became TRS members.

Two points need to be made in this context.

One, para 4 of the tenth schedule says that the original political party should merge with another party first. This would mean that the Congress party should merge with the TRS before these 12 MLAs can merge with that party. But there is no evidence that the Congress party has merged with the TRS. Therefore, there is no legally recognisable merger in Telangana.

Further, the decision to merge with the TRS needs to be taken by the All India Congress Committee and not the Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee. The Jagjit Singh judgment says, “In case a member is put up by a national party it is a split in that party which is relevant and not a split in that party at the state level.”

Second, media reports say that the speaker has accepted the merger and recognised the defecting MLAs as TRS members.

Under the tenth schedule, the speaker gets jurisdiction to act only when a petition is presented to him under para 6 of the schedule. No such petition seems to have been filed by the Congress party. So the act of the speaker accepting the merger is without jurisdiction, and hence does not count.

The Rajendra Singh Rana judgment says, “Under the 10th schedule the speaker is not expected to simply entertain a claim under para 3 and 4 of the schedule without first acquiring jurisdiction to decide a question of disqualification in terms of the para 6 of the schedule. …The power under the 10th schedule to do so accrues to him only when he is called upon to decide the question referred to him in para 6 of that schedule.”

On the basis of this analysis, it becomes clear that the merger of the 12 Congress MLAs in Telangana is not recognised by law. The speaker’s decision to accept the merger seems to be an act without jurisdiction, and is therefore not sustainable. The result is that these 12 MLAs are liable to be disqualified under para 2 (1)(a) of the tenth schedule, on the grounds that they have voluntarily given up membership of the Congress party.

Jharkhand HC’s Intervention Saves An Old Man From Starvation


Jharkhand High Court has brought the much-need relief to octogenarian Munilal Yadav, a resident of Baghmara area in Dhanbad district, who was facing starvation for the past several days.

A division bench comprising Justices HC Mishra and Deepak Roshan on Wednesday took cognizance of the plight of old man and ordered the deputy commissioner of Dhanbad to submit a report on the issue.

Following the court’s order, the district administration swung into action and provided food grains to Munilal within hours.

Lawyer Harshvradhan Sahay, who had brought the matter before the court, said on Thursday that now the division bench has ordered for registration of a PIL in the case.

“I had seen the plight of Munilal in a television report and thought it proper to bring it to the notice of the court. Once court issued the directive, the administration initiated several measures for bringing relief to the man. Steps for his pension has also been initiated” Sahay said. He added that entire process was streamlined and benefits were delivered within hours of the order.

It may be stated here that Munilal is weak and frail due to old age and was surviving on the alms from his neighbors for a long time.

In Bihar, doctors treat patients on floor as hospital tries to cope with rush

So chock-a-block are the wards at Muzaffarpur’s Sri Krishna Medical College Hospital with patients suffering from Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) that doctors are being forced to treat children on the floor.

At least 43 of the 50 deaths due to AES in Bihar have taken place at this hospital, with Muzaffarpur being the epicentre of the outbreak. Ten other districts have also been affected.

Sri Krishna hospital medical superintendent Sunil Kumar Shahi said, “We have an in-patient bed strength of only 610 whereas the number of patients admitted to our hospital is around 876. We do not refuse any patient, so we put mattresses to treat them on the floor.”

To cope with the rush of patients, the superintendent has converted all 20 beds of the intensive care unit (ICU) into paediatric intensive care units (PICU).

“If we come across patients, who need to be admitted to ICU, we will admit them in the coronary care unit (CCU). Against 14 existing beds at our PICU, I have converted all our 20 ICU beds into PICU, taking the number of beds in PICU up to 34,” Shahi said.

“Given the disease burden, even the central team which is here has suggested increasing the number of PICU beds to 100,” he added.

The government has ensured the availability of all drugs free of cost to AES patients. Sri Krishna hospital is also providing food to patients as well as their attendants. “Though we are not supposed to provide food to patients in PICU, on the advice of health minister Mangal Pandey and principal secretary, health, Sanjay Kumar, I am supplying milk, supplements, fruit, bread and eggs to all AES patients and their attendants on humanitarian grounds,” said Shahi.

The parents of some children being treated at the hospital are satisfied with the facilities provided. Some of them, including Md Aslam Madan Sahni, Ram Bharos Thakur and Gayatri Devi, are hoping the hospital will start supplying diapers free of cost too.

Coal town hope for power relief soon


The coal capital’s power woes, centred around a shortfall of 60MW, could be resolve within the next three months as efforts are on to fix a 250MW power grid sub-station that could not be commissioned due to pending forest clearances.

According to highly placed sources in Jharkhand Urja Sancharan Limited, the distribution arm of the state power conglomerate, an NOC has been received for laying cables from the sub-station at Kandra in Govindpur, and hook it up with the Dumka power grid.

Work on laying cables and erecting towers, the sources said, would begin on June 17 and be completed by July 17. Similarly, work to lay cables and erect towers to connect the Kandra sub-station with the Lalpania power grid of Tenughat Vidyut Nigam (TVNL) in Bokaro is likely to the completed within tree months.

A senior official at Jharkhand Urja Sancharan said once the work was over, the Kandra sub-station would be able to draw around 50MW from the Dumka grid. The remaining 10 MW could be sourced from TVNL’s Lalpania grid.

Currently, Dhanbad gets around 212MW from Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) instead of the required 272MW, leading to a shortfall of around 60MW.

“In fact, we can draw any amount of power from the Lalpania power grid of TVNL, ranging from the required 10MW to a maximum of 200 MW, during complete disruption of power supply from DVC,” said Jharkhand Bijli Vitran Nigam (JBVNL) superintending engineer Vinay Kumar.

Dhanbad in-charge GM of JBVNL Amarnath Jha said they would be able to provide 24-hour power supply to Dhanbad once the Kandra power grid sub-station was operational, thereby reducing dependence on DVC.

“A shortfall of around 50MW will be met. Other issues affecting power supply due to dependence on DVC, like frequent load-shedding and delayed fault repair, would also be taken care of once the power grid sub-station is ready,” he told the media on Monday after a meeting with Congress leaders led by district president Brajendra Prasad Singh, who lodged a complaint with him about the dismal power situation.

Then energy minister Rajendra Singh had laid the foundation of the sub-station at Kandra Industrial Area in Govindpur in December 2013 in the presence of then animal husbandry minister Mannan Mallick and former Tundi MLA Mathura Prasad Mahto.

But mandatory forest clearances, required for felling trees to pave the way for laying cables and erecting towers to connect the Kandra sub-station with Dumka and Lalapnia power grids did not come, thereby delaying the project.

Currently, JBVNL draws around 212 MW from six feeders of DVC: Putki for Dhanbad and Katras, Patherdih for Jharia and its surrounding areas, Bhetia for suburban areas of Dhanbad town, Kumardubi for Kumbardhubi and its surrounding areas like Chirkunda, and Maithon for Nirsa, Mugma and its surrounding areas.

But recurring faults in the feeder sub-stations have led to a perennial power crisis for which JBVNL has been receiving flak from residents of the region.

“While the connection with the Dumka power grid will help to immediately draw around 50 MW, the connection with the Lalpania power grid of TVNL, which is also connected to the national power grid in Bihar, will help to draw more power to meet the requirement,” explained the official.

Yogi Adityanath asks authorities to be on guards after brain fever deaths in Bihar


Amid several deaths in Bihar due to brain fever, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Thursday asked state health authorities to be on guards against any such eventuality.

Yogi Adityanath cautioned the authorities during a meeting to review the functioning of the state’s medical, health and family welfare departments at Lok Bhavan in Lucknow.

“Keeping in view of 35 deaths in neighbouring Bihar due to encephalitis, there should be proper planning and we need to be prepared for any such disaster,” said the chief minister.

Yogi Adityanath also wanted all doctors and hospital staffers in the state to treat patients with dignity and asked chief medical officers to visit their respective hospital wards regularly and meet the patents.

Chief medical officers should interact with every patient admitted to the hospital and regularly visit the patient wards, Yogi Adityanath said.

“We have to be committed towards every citizen of the state for his or her better treatment without discrimination,” Yogi Adityanath said.

“For a better treatment of patients, the Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) should depute a doctor as a nodal officer in every hospital and make them responsible for monitoring every issue related to the hospital and patients,” Yogi Adityanath added.

Yogi Adityanath also instructed officials to reduce the response time to calls for ambulance service on telephone number 108 and review the health-related government schemes every fortnight.

“During the last two years, 250 life support ambulances were made available to save the lives of people. Mobile medical vans are also working in the remote areas for the same,” the chief minister pointed out.

The chief minister also expressed satisfaction over the improvement of medical facilities in the state’s hospital over the last two years during his tenure.

“Everyone plays a vital role and we all should work in a team to get the best result. Twenty-five years ago, district hospitals were operated very well but there has been a continuous decline in the health facilities,” Yogi Adityanath said.

“For the past two years, we have, however, tried to correct the system. Earlier we saw that medicines were not available in hospitals, but for the past two years there has been a major positive change,” Yogi Adityanath added.

The chief minister also emphasised upon the need of regular scrutiny of the functioning of hospitals and community health centres.

“The CMOs and other officers of the Health Department of every district should go to the field and examine the functioning of hospitals and community centres,” Yogi Adityanath said.

Yogi Adityanath also asked authorities to keep an eye over the supply of medicines to hospitals so that its availability in never disrupted.

Octogenarian with ruptured heart undergoes ‘high-risk’ cardiac surgery: Hospital


New Delhi: An 83-year-old Delhi man who suffered a heart rupture has got a new lease of life after undergoing a “high-risk” surgery at a hospital near here during which his heart was put on a special support device for almost two hours, doctors said.

The patient, N S Mehra, a retired businessman from Preet Vihar in East Delhi, “had suffered a massive heart attack due to sudden blockage of the main artery supply in the heart, leading to the death of the heart muscle causing a heart rupture,” Max hospital said in a statement Tuesday.

The six-hour open-heart surgery was performed recently by a team of doctors at a private hospital in Vaishali, hospital authorities said.

Heart diseases claim a significant number of lives in India across a wide range of demographic profiles. Men are known to be at a “higher risk” in comparison to women and with age and pre-existing co-morbidities, complexities go up, it said.

“The patient had a history of hypertension and had suffered a massive heart attack due to instantaneous blockage leading to a hole in the wall of left ventricle. And his heart was beating at double the normal rate when he was brought to the hospital,” the statement said.

Mehra was brought to the Max Super Speciality Hospital in Vaishali on a ventilator.

“The patient was put on a heart-lung machine and his heart was arrested for almost two hours,” the hospital claimed.

“The rupture was repaired through double suturing also known as ‘double-layered repair’ using a small part from synthetic materials or PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) and pericardium (the outer the membrane enclosing the heart),” said Gaurav Mahajan, Principal Consultant and Head – cardiothoracic and vascular surgery, at the hospital.

In majority of heart rupture cases, patients are unable to reach the hospital in a treatable condition as the condition deteriorates at a life threatening rate, he said.

“A highly complex open heart surgery was performed by a multidisciplinary team of doctors, including cardiac surgeons, physicians, anaesthetists, nurses and perfusionists. After a week of surgery care and observation, Mehra was discharged with a positive prognosis,” Mahajan said.

Borobodur in Indonesia has the Potential to Epitomise Religious Tolerance in Asia


SINGAPORE IDN) – Thousands of Indonesian Buddhists went on a 4 km procession from Mendut monastery to the historic Borobodur temple in Central Java to pay homage to the Buddha on Vesak day. The procession on May 18 passed a number of mosques with streets lined up with hundreds of local Muslims.

Vesak, marks the triple anniversary of the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death. It is a public holiday in Indonesia that has the world’s largest Muslim population and this year the Vesak holiday came right in the middle of the Muslim holy month of Ramadhan.

Tension between Muslim and Buddhist communities across Asia, such as in Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand, has been rising in recent times. Last October, two Muslim terror suspects were gunned down by the police in northern Sumatra, who were planning to bomb Indonesia’s Buddhist temples. Thus, there was much concern if the two festivals could co-exist peacefully.

Attending the religious ceremonies and a colourful cultural show with a Buddhist theme was Indonesia’s Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin. Addressing the audience that included Buddhist pilgrims from neighbouring Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia, he encouraged Indonesians to maintain religious tolerance, saying diversity served as the glue that held the nation together. “Diversity is (our) strength, bolstered by democracy,” he said, adding that the core of all religious teaching was love, not hatred.

Indonesia is not officially an Islamic state though according to 2010 census 87 percent of Indonesia’s 270 million population are Muslims, while Buddhists account for only 0.72 percent. However, many Muslims, especially in Central Java, see Borobodur – which many say should be the eighth wonder of the world – as part of their heritage and are proud of the accomplishments of their ancestors.

Since the ancient temple was restored with UNESCO assistance in the 1970s, the Indonesian government has declared it as a national monument – not a Buddhist shrine – and Buddhists were allowed to use it as a religious shrine only on Vesak day. But, since President Joko Widodo came to power in 2014, this policy has changed and he has told Buddhists that they can use Borobodur for religious purposes anytime as long as they apply and get approval from the government.  

On May 18, after the official ceremonies, hundreds of Buddhist monks and devotees remained all night to chant from various Buddhists texts and this would happen more regularly here, now that President Widodo has been re-elected. His government is keen to develop Borobodur as a major Buddhist pilgrim site.

“Anytime the Buddhist community want to use Borobodur temple (President) Jokowi’s policy is to give us permission. With Jokowi the Buddhist community has felt easier to develop activities here,” Venerable Sri Pannyavaro, Abbot of Mendut monastery in Borobodur told Lotus News. He adds that a grand Esala Full Moon (marking Buddha’s first sermon) festival will be held there on July 14. “We expect to have about 20,000 pilgrims and we will chant from the Tripitaka (Buddhist cannon)” he says.

After President Widodo changed government policy on Borobodur temple, in 2015, Governor of Central Java Rizal Ramli has said that Borobodur could become a pilgrim site for Buddhists comparable to Mecca for Muslims. Perhaps he was pushing it too far as Borobodur temple is not a functioning Buddhist temple, with monks nor they have a Buddhist community in the vicinity to support a monastery. It is also not directly connected to the life of the Buddha, such as Buddhist pilgrim sites of Bodhgaya, Saranath and Kushinagar in India, a country where its Buddhist population is also below 1 percent.

A new Mahayana Buddhist temple and another Burmese temple have been built in Borobodur, which hardly have any local Buddhists. Many Asian Buddhists have criticized India’s attempts to expand Buddhist tourism by allowing foreign monasteries to establish temples around the shrines. They argue it does not create the required atmosphere and culture without an indigenous Buddhist community.

Borobodur temple complex is a large landscaped park protected by tall steel fences and armed guards. In recent years, local Muslim residents have added ‘homestay’ rooms to their houses and many small hotels have been constructed to offer accommodation to growing international tourists. There are many new restaurants catering to tourists. A meditation centre is being developed within the Borobodur complex.

According to official statistics Borobodur recorded 3.7 million tourist arrivals in 2017 and it is expected to exceed 4.5 million this year.

Buddhism thrived across much of Java and Sumatra between 6th to the 14th century, when the area was ruled by Srivijaya and Majapahit empires. These islands were major centres of Buddhist scholarship and learning, where pilgrims travelling between China and India spend months and years learning about Buddhism.

It was at this time that the Borobodur temple was built – in the 8th to 9th centuries during the reign of the Syailendra Dynasty. The main temple is a stupa constructed on three-tiered layers decorated with walls of rock carvings depicting Buddhist themes covering a total surface area of over 2500 square meters. Around each tier of circular platforms are 72 openwork stupas each containing a rock statue of the Buddha inside.

It is not clear how the Borobodur temple was lost to the world for centuries until in the 19th century an European Governor of Java rediscovered it. It is believed that the temple was covered by a lava flow from a close by volcanic eruption after which many saw it as just another mountain in this hilly region.

The great civilization that built Borobodur started to decline with the Majapahit kingdom when Buddhism became a Hindu Shiva cult according to Venerable Pannyavaro, and monks got involved in black magic. “Buddhist sangha  (monks) behaved like Brahmin priests and people resented such attitude,” he told Lotus News, adding,”(at the time) when Muslim traders arrived and they said in Islam in front of God everyone is equal, it attracted the ordinary people to Islam”.

Perhaps there are lessons to be learned here for Buddhists today. In Buddhist countries, especially Thailand and Sri Lanka, there have been many reports in recent years of monks indulging in black magic and commercial activity contrary to Buddhist teachings.

Today, the Indonesian Buddhists numbering about 1.7 million are largely a wealthy business community of Chinese descent and for two days just before the Vesak celebrations here, they provided a medical clinic for the local Muslim population. They have been doing this for over 20 years and this year – on May 14 and May 15 – 184 doctors and 294 nurses provided the services to over 8000 people. They offered free of charge general polyclinic medical treatment, as well as specialist services such as cataract and dental surgery.

The services are organized by Walubi an umbrella organization uniting Indonesian Buddhists. “We do these activities all over Indonesia every two months,” Dr Rusli, a senior member of Walubi told Lotus News.

Right now, in Sri Lanka – where the roles are reversed with the Muslim minority being the richest community in the country – there are lessons to be learned for the island nation’s Muslims  from the way Indonesian Buddhists are interacting with the majority community. Sri Lankan Buddhists have accused the Muslim of flaunting their wealth to proselytize among the majority Buddhists and not helping the poor – who are mainly Buddhists.

“We don’t say we are Buddhist (because) Buddhists in Indonesia don’t want to proselytize. We want to improve the overall Indonesian society,” he added.” We want to give Indonesians a good life not flaunt our wealth”.

IRCTC Buddhist circuit tourist train: Explore destinations like Gaya, Nalanda, Lumbini in luxury; see details


IRCTC Buddhist Circuit tourist train: This Indian railways tourism package offers a luxurious comfortable journey! According to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, with its exquisite setting and wonderful services, the Buddhist Circuit tourist train ensures that passengers travel in absolute comfort. The new Buddhist Circuit Tourist train, launched last year, covers various key pilgrimage destinations across India and Nepal that are associated with the life of Gautam Buddha on an 8-day journey.

These pilgrimage places include Gaya, Bodhgaya, Rajgir, Nalanda, Varanasi, Sarnath, Kushinagar, Lumbini, Shravasti and Agra. Therefore, in case if you are planning to explore these destinations this year, these are the departure dates for the journey: September 21, October 5, 19, November 2, 16, 30, and December 14, 28.

Some of the salient features of the new Buddhist Circuit Tourist train are:

  • 4 First AC coaches, 2 Second AC coaches, 2 power cars, 1 Third AC coach for staff and one pantry car
  • Air-conditioned restaurant cars
  • Safety lockers for guests
  • Vinyl wrapped exteriors depicting monuments of India
  • CCTV cameras, fire detection and suppression system. passenger announcement system
  • Coffee vending machine, microwave oven, wine chiller, Baine marie
  • Automatic dish washer and plate dispensers, pantry car with electric hot plate, deep fat friers, deep freezers
  • Shower rooms and modular fittings in the toilets

As per the package rates, the journey on AC 1st Class will cost Rs 11,760 per night and Rs 82,260 for full tour (7 nights). While journey on AC 2nd Class will cost Rs 9,620 per night and Rs 67,310 for full tour. The tour package includes journey by exclusive air-conditioned train, road transport by AC coaches, sightseeing, accommodation, meals, English/Hindi speaking tour escort, entrance fees of monuments/sightseeing trips as well as travel insurance .

However, the package does not include visa fees, items of personal nature such as laundry, medicines, alcoholic drinks etc., road transfers to and from Delhi’s Safdarjung railway station, hotel stay in Delhi before and after the trip, air ticket, visa charges etc., fees for still/flash video camera at the monuments and other places as well as any other service that is not mentioned in the package.

On cancellation before 45 days or more before the commencement of the trip, 10% of the total cost is charged. Cancellation from 44 to 15 days, 25% is deducted; 14 to 7 days, 50% is deducted and within the period of 7 days or before the scheduled date of the departure, no refund is granted.