Snow & shower augur well
As I saw It
by Vijay Darda
During my visit to Japan, I was most impressed by Japanese citizens’ love for their culture and traditions.This was a big surprise to me. Every year, on January 12, Japanese celebrate Adults’ Day. In fact, for Japanese citizens, their nationality is as dear to their heart as their culture. But at the same time, they also have equal respect for their elderly citizens and on Adults Day, I saw this myself.
On that day, one can see Kimono-clad Japanese girls on the roads. The elderly women first visit temples and offer prayers and then go to places of their relatives and friends. Although it was a holiday, the usual revelry attached to it was absent and the celebrations were dedicated to building up a new society. I also watched large crowds of Japanese families including parents and children going to the Town Hall. But celebrations were serene and peaceful. Young girls and boys in long queues were listening to the speech of the mayor of the town containing messages thanking elders and drawing inspiration from them with rapt attention. This very respect for elders imbibed in Japanese citizens is a reason for Japan’s spectacular progress. I watched this in Tokyo, and also in smaller villages on that day.
Instantly, I was reminded that India was a country of youths with young population in India being the largest in the world. We also need this kind of respect for our elders and that is required for all material progress we do. I also remembered that every year on September 5, we celebrate the Teachers’ Day. Spiritual strength has always been the backbone of our youths and it is very well backed by experience of elders. After all, Swami Vivekananda was staunchly supported by his spiritual guru Ramkrishna Paramhans, Mahabharat’s Arjun was supported by his guru Dronacharya or Bhagwan Ramchandra was the creation of preaching of his guru Rishi Vishwamitra. Along with this, Indian ethos also has rich spiritual heritage of preaching of Mahatma Gandhi, Leo Tolstoy, Ruskin, David Thoreau. Thus the Adults Day in Japan is much akin to impacts of spiritualism in India. On January 14, I also watched the Pongal and Makar Sankranti festivals being celebrated by Indians settled in Japan. There are 10,000 Indians in Tokyo alone and I found them to be sensitive about Indian culture and tradition. Due to this very Indian ethos, Laluji never felt that he was in a foreign country and he offered his prayers to Surya Narayan on Makar Sankranti day in a Bihari manner. He took a bath and after that had a diet of til, gud, milk and cheoda in lunch and khichdi in dinner. On the Makar Sakranti day, Japan witnessed few spells of rainfall. Interestingly, Laluji explained the coincidence of rainfall with Makar Sakranti, Pongal to Japanese ministers with great interest. He explained the importance of these Indian festivals to Japan’s foreign minister Hirofumi Nakasone and also how we Indians associate them with energy and worship the energy sources on those particular days.
Quite interestingly, Japanese people also consider rains as an auspicious omen. Laluji also reminded Mr Nakasone that his father, when he was the prime minister of Japan, had worked for strengthening the Indo-Japanese ties. Laluji sought the same assistance from him also. He requested Mr Nakasone that Japanese government should make available not just 50 per cent but 100 per cent of financial assistance in joint venture projects.
Laluji also assured Mr Nakasone that the Indian government would ensure that the Dedicated Freight Corridor project would not face any hurdles -- legal or otherwise -- and the entire project would be completed by setting up a separate independent corporation. He also said that he had come with lots of good wishes from Indian people and if the Japan government’s contribution is pegged at 50 per cent, it would lead to technical problems. To ensure speedy completion of the project, it is necessary that Japanese contribution should be 100 per cent, Laluji said. The proposal is at present being considered by the Japanese authorities. On seeing this, I realised that how a transparent and sincere leader can do wonders even when it comes to negotiating international deals.
Coming to the rains and snowfall, I would also like to mention an interesting aspect of Japanese society. On that day, our delegation also visited offices of several large corporations in Japan and were surprised to see that even the company chairpersons and managing directors themselves were clearing the snow from the roads inside the office premises. The second surprising thing for me came when I watched the signboard at a Tokyo bus station. It read, “Buses stop here. Not the time. So, don’t waste your time and do your duty sin-cerely.” All these small things indicate the secrets of great success achieved by the Japanese citizens. It also indicates why Japan is an economic superpower today.
I also came to know that the Indian curry and naan are the favourite dishes of Japanese people. They relish north Indian food delicacies more than the south Indian ones. Reason apparently being that Japanese people do not like the sour taste of south Indian dishes. In short they like sweet and this sweetness is also evident in Japanese people’s behaviour, language and manners. In fact during his Japan visit, Laluji wanted to accomplish his dream project of giving a modern face to Indian Railways and he had made it clear in Parliament also. He wants that every state capital should have a world class railway station, modern ticket counters, good restaurants, shops and above all better passenger amenities and there should be better connectivity of trains and buses.
In short, the passengers should not experience any inconvenience while travelling. Laluji wants that the railway electrification be increased from existing 30 per cent to 100 per cent and that too without increasing passenger fares. He also wants that all rail tracks in India should be broadgauge and there should be more rail coach factories in the country. Few days back, Congress president Sonia Gandhi laid the foundation stone for rail coach factory at Raebareli. In that function Laluji also announced that the factory would manufacture upmarket Bullet Trains. The Rs 1,685 crore project will generate 10,000 jobs and will help us become self-reliant. But then we all know that hurdles faced by similar projects in Madhepura and Gopalganj are with us.
But looking at Laluji’s functioning, one is convinced that he is a man in a hurry and wants to complete his dream projects as early as possible. But bureaucracy has its own ways. Even after that, what harm is there in dreaming about big projects? It may take time to realise but it is certainly not a crime. This reminded me of the famous lines of Chinese leader Mao Tse Tung:
“Nothing is difficult in the world provided you have the ambition to scale the highest peaks. Whatever progress the world has seen has come through the efforts of dreamers only.”
I would also like to mention an interesting aspect of Japanese society. On that day, our delegation also visited offices of several large corporations in Japan and were surprised to see that even the company chairpersons and managing directors were clearing the snow from roads inside the office premises. The second surprising thing for me came when I watched the signboard at a Tokyo bus station. It read, “Buses stop here. Not the time. So don’t waste your time and do your duty sincerely.” All these small things indicate the secrets of great success achieved by Japanese people. It also indicates why Japan is an economic superpower today.
On the Makar Sakranti day, there was some rainfall in Japan. Interestingly, Laluji explained the coincidence of rainfall with Makar Sakranti, Pongal to Japanese ministers with great interest. He explained the importance of these Indian festivals to Japan’s foreign minister Hirofumi Nakasone and also how we Indians associate them with energy and worship the energy sources on those particular days.
Snowfall and rain welcomed members of Indian delegation in Japan during their recent visit. Seen are railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, CMD of Lokmat Group of Newspapers and MP Vijay Darda, chairman of Railway Board K C Jena, PS to Railway Board chairman Rajneesh Kumar Mahajan, managing director of IRCON Mohan Tiwari and additional secretary, Railway Board Girish Pillai. Rain and snowfall are regarded as good signs in Japan.