New conception of shrines

Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine is gradually assuming iconic significance in the history of contemporary social and religious life of India. The huge number of pilgrims reached 1.20 crore during the year 2011. They come from the four corner of the country. Even many NRIs, when on a visit to home country, make it a point to visit the shrine and seek the blessings of the deity. The shrine is an object of faith, a pilgrimage of pleasure and rapport with the nature. Fortunately, with the decision of the State Government taken two and a half decades ago to place the shrine under a Board with  Governor as its Chairman, the holy shrine has assumed remarkably significant place in the cultural and social life of the State especially Jammu region. First of all, the shrine’s activities are not limited only to looking after the comfort and facilities of the pilgrims. The planners have the vision of catering to the needs of the entire area pivotal to the conduct of pilgrimage; its infrastructure, civic amenities, logistics of pilgrim tourism destination, connectivity by road, rail and air, and above all providing important services like higher education, medical facilities, sports and recreation, trekking and much more complementing the services provided by the State Government.
The vision of the Governor and Chairman of Shrine Board about the status of the entire shrine mega complex can be found in the observations made by him in a recent meeting of the  top functionaries of the Board and some senior bureaucrats held at Raj Bhavan in Jammu. The Governor stressed upon expeditious completion of the upcoming Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Institute of Medical Excellence to provide medical services to the people of the surrounding areas besides the pilgrims. Together with it the Board has the plan of establishing Medical College, a Nursing College and a world class Blood Bank in coming years. All essential equipment needed in a medical institute especially for its OPD services are to be provided within shortest possible time. Residential accommodation for the doctors and nurses are part of the entire complex under contemplation. A university run by the Board is steadily progressing and more faculties will be provided. The sports and forest departments are also involved in the development of the shrine. A sports stadium is under contemplation and the forest department is taking care of maintaining the green belt status by planting thousands of saplings and nurturing those that have already come up. We are informed that 1.11 lakh saplings will be planted to give its green cover. As regards connectivity many improvements of stretches along the path are being repaired and maintained. Damaged tiles are regularly replaced, falling stones removed. A helipad is being built that will facilitate landing of bigger helicopters. In short, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine is growing into an enormous complex that will be half a shrine and half a vast institution of expanded social service. This will give a new meaning and new conception to our shrine institutions.


Conservation of Mubarak Mandi

This has reference to the news item ‘Rs 50 cr for conservation of Mubarak Mandi’ DE Apr 23.
As the Centre has released 50 cr for conservation of Mubarak Mandi Complex, the people involved with the project should now accelerate the pace of work, and complete the work within a short span of time. Besides, the money allotted should be spent judiciously on the project.
Mubarak Mandi Complex is an integral part of Dogra culture, pride and history. This complex bridges the gap between past and present of Jammu region.
There are so many other buildings and forts in Jammu region which too need to be conserved for the posterity.The buildings can become interesting from tourism point of view. They are specimens of architecture and taste of people of Jammu. It is therefore necessary to save them from dying.
Yours etc….
Nishu Mahajan

Crime against women
This has reference to the news item ‘ Young woman burnt alive at in-laws’ house. The news item again brings to fore the issue that there is no let up in the crime against women in our society. Despite so many laws and awareness campaigns in this regard, our society still seems seeped in medieval mind-set.
The womenfolk does not get the respect,they deserve in society. On one hand we keep worship them during Navratras when young girls are collected at a place, and are worshipped as Goddesses (Kanjak Poojan), but treat them shabbily during other days. This express our hypocracy.
The decline in sex ratio all over the country except a few states indicates clearly that it will  much  more time before we treat them equally, and accord them same status as men.
The women folk, in particular, have to come forward in this direction, in case they want to achieve what has been denied to them. There is no doubt that most crimes against women have been committed by women themselves. They need to ponder over it.
Yours  etc…
Parul  Parihar

Presidential nominee
This has reference to the news item ‘Debate over Prez candidate picks up’ DE April 25.
As the countdown for electing next President of India has started, the political parties in the country are debating over the suitable choice for the post.
It will be in the interest of the nation  if political parties choose a candidate by consensus.  All considerations like sex, region, religion and caste, except merit should not be taken into consideration. The candidate should be apolitical. He should have no political leanings or political affiliations, as has been shown in past, defile the august offices. Besides, caste or colour considerations have the potential of dividing the country on these lines which India can’t afford. It also  sets a  bad precedent for the future. Given that no  political party has absolute authority now, this is the moment to look for  a  consensus candidate who could fulfil the  role of the President as envisaged in the constitution.
The countrymen wish that the political parties by leaving aside their leanings and preferences elect the candidate by consensus.
Yours etc…
Ajaz Ahmed