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(A Brief Report about the Conference at Los Angeles, in which both Sri Nandavar Yogish Bhat and Swami Jyotirmayananda participated).

The 'Konkani Sammelan-2004' held at Los Angeles, U.S.A., (July 2-4, 2004) under the leadership of Dr. Ramdas Kamath, was a grand success. About 1400 delegates from different parts of the U.S.A., and Canada participated in this once-in-two years program well known for its festivity and various cultural programs.


This three-day festive celebration, during which the delegates were served with several south Indian delicacies, was attractive and pleasing to all the delegates who had thronged the venue -- Hyatt Regency, near the Disneyland, at the orange county -- from far and wide. The various cultural programs, which included dance -- both Indian and American styles, wherein a number of children and the youth took active part, were very lively and interesting.


In the musical festivity, there were competitions in singing Konkani folklore songs, Hindustani music, Marathi and Kannada songs, besides playing various musical instruments including guitar, violin, flute, tabla etc.


The humorous skits and dramas etc. were interesting, inspiring and informative.


'Devi Stuti', 'Jai Mata', 'Vand Mataram', patriotic songs and the drama "Savitri" - all these won the appreciation of the delegates.


Yoga, Meditation, Solutions for the psycho-physical problems based on the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, Konkani literature, script and the related research, deliberations on the various problems faced by the NRIs employed in the USA, as also their solutions, attracted the attention of all the participants.


Dr. Ramdas Gangolli, Professor of Mathematics, Washington University; Jona Hattangadi; Niranjan Benegal; K. K. Pai, Manipal; Basti Vaman Shenoy; N. Yogish Bhat, M.L.A., Mangalore, were the main speakers of the Sammelan. Sri K. K. Pai dwelt on the various services rendered and the special contributions made by the important persons of the Konkani Samaj. Sri Basti Vaman Shenoy, spoke about the proposed Vishwa Konkani Kendra at Mangalore, besides the steps to be taken for the development of a suitable script for the Konkani language. Sri N. Yogish Bhat, M.L.A., spoke (on July 3, 2004) on the rich cultural traditions of India, its contributions, and the need for creating an awakening in this regard among the younger generation.


On July 4, 2004, Sri Yogish Bhat spoke on the role of the NRIs in the development of India. He called upon them to actively participate in the developmental projects by making capital investments in India. And above all, he underlined the need for actively engaging in various Seva activities for the society in India. 'This Seva is your prime duty. It is the best way for repaying the debt you owe to your country of birth', he exhorted.


Swami Jyotirmayananda who was on his way to attend the WAVES Conference (July 9-11) at the University of Maryland, Shady Grove Campus, Rockville, MD, also happened to participate in the Konkani Sammelan. Invoking the divine blessings on the participants and the organizers of the Sammelan, he offered a Universal Prayer for World Peace and Harmony.


The honored guests from Mangalore and the participants in the program were - Smt. & Sri Kudpi Jagadish Shenoy, Sri Basti Vaman Shenoy, Smt. & Sri Raghunath Sheth, Smt. & Sri Ravalanath, Smt. & Sri Mohan Shenoy.


The sixteen members of the executive committee of the Sammelan, who labored hard for the grand success of the Konkani Sammelan 2004, were congratulated and their services were appreciated and acknowledged, at the conclusion of the three-day program. An announcement regarding the next event - 'Konkani Sammelan-2006' to be held at Toronto, Canada, was also made.

The important office bearers of the Konkani Sammelan who took up the onerous responsibility of organizing the various programs of the 3-day event were: President -- Dr. Ramdas & Udaya Kamath; Vice President -- Sri Mohan & Mohini Kamath; Treasurer -- Sridhar and Nandini Rao; Secretary -- Jayadev & Chitra Chandavarkar; Malavika Gangolli & Lata Ubhaykar; Shantaram and Anita Pai; Bina & Arvind Shenoy; Mitra and Shankar Nayak; Hema & Mamata Kalle; Ramdas & Sudha Pai; Shankar & Bindya Balliga; Vishwanath & Shalini Bhat; Krishna & Meena Kelkar; Gurunandan & Shalini Kelkar, Prakash & Lynne Mallya; Vivekananda & Jyoti Mallya; Girijanand & Jyoti Bhat; Prasad & Deepa Upasani.
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(A Brief Report about the reception given to Sri Nandavar Yogish Bhat, MLA, Mangalore, at Chicago, in which Swami Jyotirmayananda also participated).
Sri Nandavar Yogish Bhat, Member of Legislative Council (MLA), Mangalore, Karnataka, has called for an effective participation of the NRIs in the various developmental and Seva activities in India, and also for the maximum utilization of the present investment opportunities in their homeland.

Sri Yogish Bhat who was on a short tour of the USA, after attending the 'Konkani Sammelan-2004' (July 2-4, 2004), at Los Angeles, was felicitated on July 5, 2004, jointly by the Federation of Indian Associations and the Overseas Friends of BJP, at the well known Hyatt Club, situated on the beautiful shore of Lake Michigan, in downtown Chicago. The citation presented to him read: "The Federation of Indian Associations honorably recognizes N. Yogish Bhat - Distinguished and Excellence Award for exemplifying best ideals of public service and his commitment for the foundation of integrity and transparency in government."


Responding to the reception accorded by the FIA, Sri Yogish Bhat, at the very outset, recalled the immense contributions made by the two great sons of India -- Swami Vivekananda and Paramahamsa Swami Yogananda to the world at large through the wonderful Karma Bhumi of the West - the USA. He underlined their sustained efforts in highlighting the uniqueness and importance of the hoary Indian culture and the Hindu Dharma, and pointed out their Herculean endeavors in spreading the universal gospel of Vedanta, Yoga and Spirituality for the welfare and happiness of one and all.


Sri Bhat spoke in detail about the various opportunities now available to the NRIs in India, and particularly in the Mangalore district (Sri Bhat's constituency), Karnataka, in the financial and commercial spheres, imports and exports, in automobile and pharmaceutical industries, electricity generation, tourism and also the capital investment.


Referring to the ongoing efforts to upgrade, improve and develop the Mangalore airport to the international standards, and the already existing facilities such as the well-equipped harbor, Railways, and roads, Sri Bhat recommended Mangalore to the NRIs of the U.S.A. as a suitable venue for foreign investment.


Stating that the 'Vision 2020' of Dr. Abdul Kalam, the President of India, as our common goal, Sri Bhat made an earnest appeal to help build a prosperous and strong India, through greater advancement in the fields of science and technology, financial investment, social welfare, industries, basic infrastructure facilities -- all on the firm foundation of our hoary spirituality.


Stating that Swami Vivekananda's "Daridra Narayana Seva" was ideal even to this day, Sri Bhat gave detailed account of various Seva activities in India and especially in Mangalore District, and urged the NRIs to extend all possible help and cooperation.


The reception to Sri Yogish Bhat was arranged by the local NRI leaders in Chicago - Sri Raghuvir Nayak, Sri Rajendra Sing Bedi, Iftekhar Sharif, and was attended by the other NRI friends and acquaintances. Also present at the reception was the well-known Democratic Congressman, Jonathan Jackson (son of Rev. Jesse Jackson).


Swami Jyotirmayananda, Editor-Publisher of "Vivekananda Gospel of Man-making", who had earlier attended the WAVES Conference (July 9-11) at the University of Maryland, Shady Grove Campus, Rockville, MD, also participated in the reception program at Chicago, and spoke in the beginning highlighting Spirituality and Seva. As he pointed out, "Politics is power and this power is meant for Seva. When this political power is properly handled and utilized by the politicians of character and integrity, it can be a great blessing to the whole society in rendering the various essential services for the welfare and happiness of one and all. Similarly, true spirituality invariably manifests in the form of love and compassion that spontaneously get translated into Seva activities for the welfare and happiness of one and all. Politics and Spirituality (mind you, not 'religion' which always goes hand-in-hand with the doctrines, dogmas and the menace of fundamentalism) can thus shake hands at the level of Seva - Service to the society."


Sri Raghuvir Nayak, President, Federation of Indian Associations, Chicago, told the gathering that as usual, this year too (on August 15, 2004), the Indian Independence Day would be celebrated on a grand scale in Chicago, with pageantry -- ceremonial parade, colorful procession with tableaus and cultural programs. Sri Nayak expects an attendance of some 40 thousand participants, along with the valued participation of the Governor and the Mayor of Chicago.


Thanks to Sri Raghuvir Nayak, on July 14, 2004, Sri Yogish Bhat got the rare privilege of participating in the election campaign / Fund raising dinner program arranged by the Democrats at Chicago. In this special program held at a magnificent Hotel of the Chicago city, namely, Palmer Hilton, Sri Yogish Bhat could have a personal meeting with several important dignitaries and the US leaders including the Vice-President-candidate - John Edwards, the Chicago Mayor - Richard Daley, Lt. Governor - Pat Quinn, and the US Senator - Barak Obama, with whom Sri Bhat joined for the dinner.


Earlier, while in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Sunnyvale, San Francisco, New York, New Jersey and later in Chicago, Sri Bhat got opportunities to meet several Indian friends and acquaintances, with whom he had fruitful discussions on various topics, and in some places also had occasions to speak to the gatherings. In all these places, there were several question and answer sessions on the present political situation in India, the menace of militancy and terrorism, the unfortunate suicides by the farmers of Karnataka, corruption in India, the unexpected set back to the BJP and its prospects -- the past and the future achievements, as also the several Seva activities in India.


On the Gurupurnima day (July 2, 2004), we visited the International Headquarters of the Self-Realization Fellowship, founded by Paramahamsa Swami Yogananda, at Mount Washington, Los Angeles, where we had a brief meditation session.


While at San Francisco, Sri Yogish Bhat had the privilege of meeting Swami Prabuddhananda - the Minister-in-charge of the Vedanta Society of Northern California. He also met several members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Hindu Swayam Sevak Sangh, and the BJP friends in the USA.


After his short but eventful tour of the U.S.A., Sri Yogish Bhat left for India on the 16th July 2004.


Given here below is a brief introduction to Sri Yogish Bhat for the benefit of the NRI friends in the USA:


Hailing from Nandavar and settled in Mangalore, Sri Yogish Bhat served for a decade (1984-1994) as a Cooperator of Mangalore City Corporation and successfully developed the infrastructure of Mangalore. Later, he was elected in 1994 as a M.L.A, and again re-elected in 1999 for the second time and in 2004 for the third time, for the Karnataka State Assembly. As a M.L.A., he has served in various capacities, as a member of several Legislative Committees, like the Backward and Minority Committee, Women and Child Welfare Committee, Urban and Rural Development Committee etc. For the past five years he has been serving as the president of the Board of Visitors Committee in the District Government Wenlock Hospital, and Lady Goshen Hospital, Mangalore, where more than two lackhs patients are getting free medical facilities every year.


Sri Yogish Bhat was nominated by the Karnataka Legislative Speaker as the Chairman for the Departments of Kannada and Culture, Youth and Sports, Publicity and Broadcasting, and Tourism, to scrutinize the Departmental performance, budgetary allocation and to suggest future reformations.


Sri Bhat was a Senate member of the Mangalore University, and one of the chief organizers of "Vishwa Konkani Sammelan", "Vishwa Saraswat Sammelan", and "Akhila Bharatiya Kannada Sahitya Parishad Sammelan", which were conducted successfully, a few years ago in Mangalore.

Though a businessman by profession, dealing in herbal products (with an establishment at Mangalore), he actively takes part and serves in different spheres of activities -- social, cultural, religious and developmental, the present one being the Renovation and Development of Sri Veera Maruti Temple at Nandavar, near Panemangalore (25 kms. from Mangalore) as also the various service activities to under the aegis of Shri Veera Maruti Seva Trust. Sri Yogish Bhat can be contacted at: [email protected].
Swami Jyotirmayananda
Camp: Chicago, July 17, 2004