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Benefits of keeping a journal or diary

Many scientific studies have shown that writing a journal or diary has numerous benefits. A simple act of putting your thoughts to paper has shown to have both mental and physical health benefits. You do not have to worry about grammar, punctuation, spelling mistakes – all you need to do is just spend 5 to 10 minutes writing what’s on your mind.

Here’s a list of things that journal writing can help in

Benefits of keeping a journal or diary

Help managing anxiety levels. If you suffer from anxious feelings then writing about your fears and concerns can help you cope with anxiety levels.

Help you cope with depression. You are writing your thoughts down on paper hence you are relieving yourself of the burden of carrying your thoughts in your head.

Reduce stress. Many studies have shown that journal writing reduces stress levels.

Help prioritize issues. If you aren't sure what you should be doing then writing it on paper can help you prioritize things.

Help with sleep problems. Sleep studies have shown that those who are writing a journal have better sleep patterns compared to those who don’t write.

Improves mood, increase general psychological well being along with help with other mental conditions.

Improve immune function. This might come as a surprise but a study showed that those who write had a better immune function. 

A Brief History of India's Integration By Rakeysh Kumar


The boundaries of India were never clearly defined. In ancient times, anything beyond Indus was India. Maurya and Gupta dynasties integrated the whole subcontinent into their empire and India arguably was at its peak in art and civilization. The arrival of Moghuls in medieval times meant new heights in culture and refinement at the cost of religious and ethnic intolerance. The fall of Moghuls in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries meant disintegration of the empire into several smaller states. The European traders: Portuguese, French, British, Dutch and Danish seized the opportunities as well as they could. The British prevailed among them all with a handful of port enclaves coming under the possession of French and Portuguese. Dutch and Danish had little or no control around their trade ports and factories and they co-existed along with other traders. By the middle of the nineteenth century, half of the Indian peninsula was under British control and the other half consisted of princely-states. British diplomacy meant that these states were more or less suzerain-states of British Empire. Their loyalties and independence dependent on the treaties they underwent with them. Twentieth century saw a wave against colonialism around the world and struggle for independence in British Empire meant two independent states: India and Pakistan in 1947; divided on the lines of religion. Pakistan consisting of predominantly Muslim populace and India consisting of a majority of Hindu, a large but minority population of Muslims, and Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis, Christians and several other ethnic and religious groups as minorities. At the time of independence, there were close to 570 existent princely states; in area as small as Vatican City to as large as France. The British had considerable suzerainty over around 200 of these states. These states were given the choice to either join India or Pakistan, chiefly in accordance with the religious considerations. They could even choose to remain independent of the two, if they desired so.

Chief Architects

Vallabhbhai Patel and his secretary VP Menon (a renowned civil servant) took the task of unification of India for the first time after centuries. It further helped that the nation had somewhat pro-Indian governor: Lord Mountbatten. Mountbatten used his influence on the princely states to coax them into joining India as most of such states would be politically and economically unsustainable due to geographical constraints. He also declared that the British Empire will not get into diplomatic relations with any such states and will not include them in Commonwealth, which meant no political recognization. Some states felt betrayed as they always had always considered the British to be their ally. Winston Churchill lamented Mountbatten and compared the acts of his and Congress to that of the Nazis. In the next two years, Patel and Menon flied all over the country nonstop and used every trick in the book to force the princely states into joining India. It further helped that most of these rulers were infamous for their brutality over their populace and their people saw a merger into India as a brighter promise. Some states voluntarily acceded, some were threatened, some were allowed to have their privy-purses and pensions. Some were provided more autonomy (which India could cease anyway later on). Contrary to Nehruvian philosophy of peaceful negotiations, for Patel, the means did not matter. Only the end did. The integration of India is arguably the finest example of diplomacy seen anywhere in the history of the world. The reason which lead to onset of British Empire in India, also lead to the fall of princely states into India: lack of unity among the states.

Rajputana States

Jinnah was keen to attract the larger border states into Pakistan, chiefly: Jodhpur(Marwar) and Jaisalmer. He reportedly signed a blank white paper and cajoled the Maharaja of Jodhpur to sign accession at any conditions he desired and also promised him better terms of autonomy and lifestyle. Jinnah believed that these two border states could further set way to accession of other Rajputana states and this would compensate him for the loss of Punjab and Bengal. Mounbattern quickly pointed out that joining of majority Hindu states into Pakistan would undermine the existence of two state's theory based on religion. The Maharaja of Jaisalmer further believed that this would be a betrayal to this populace and other Rajputana states will forgo ties with him. The young twenty-two year old Maharaja of Jodhpur, Hanwant Singh, desired his large state to remain autonomous or at least wanted to negotiate better terms so as to lead his lavish lifestyle. Patel made sure that Jodhpur did not become Hyderabad and a diplomatic mission led by Menon and Mountbatten forced Hanwant Singh to sign the treaty of accession. He wanted the imperialists to leave but he was fervently against the dhoti-clad Congressmen. He even tossed with the idea of asking the UN for help. Amid high drama, he signed the accession. The Viceroy left the room and Hanwant Singh was left alone with Menon. Frustrated, he took out his.22 barrel piston, pointed towards Menon and roared, "I refuse to take your dictation." Added some words on his Surya clan ancestry (they claim to be descendants of Lord Ram) and threatened Menon of dire consequences if he ever betrayed his people. Menon, with his cool South Indian bureaucratic head is said to have replied, "If you think killing me or threatening to kill me will abrogate this treaty, you're wrong." Other than his eccentric manners, Hanwant Singh was highly regarded among his people. He personally went and asked all the Muslims in the walled city to stay rather than leave for Pakistan. "It will be my insult if you leave me." he said. With all the atrocities and communal violence during partition, Jodhpur remained calm. He later somewhat audaciously (Nehru threatened to revoke the privy purses if princes entered politics) fought the first general election against the Congress in the state along with thirty-four of his supporters. Thirty one of them won and Congress leaders could hardly save their deposits. He died in a plane crash an eve before he could know of his victory.

States like Bikaner and Jaipur acceded on patriotic grounds voluntarily. Some entered into negotiations. Some like Tonk and Kishangarh were too small to resist. And in the "bulldozering" of Patel, all the close to twenty states of Rajputana acceded to India. Little did they know that reorganization of their states was to be followed. Rajputana was later reorganized as the Indian state of Rajasthan. In a matter of a couple of years, identity of all the Rajputana was lost. Indira Gandhi later in 1971 abolished all the privy-purses and pensions these rulers had negotiated.

Deccan States

Close to thirty small states in the southern presidency of Bombay. The reorganization meant that the southern states of Bombay went to Mysore (later renamed Karnataka). Bombay itself was divided into Maharastra and Gujrat.

Punjab States

Close to forty states in Panjab and Simla Presidency acceded either to India or Pakistan on the lines of religion.


Close to a dozen smaller states of Gwalior presidency had their treaties nullified with British Empire at the stroke of midnight 15Th Aug 1947. These were integrated into the Indians state of Madhya Bharat. (Later Madhya Pradesh) Some were integrated in Uttar Pradesh.

Central States

Chiefly consisting of Indore, Malwa, Bhopal, Bhopawar and others were integrated in the Indian state of Madhya Bharat. Bhopal was one of the larger states wanting to remain independent on the pretext of maintaining its secularity. A little threatening diplomacy did the trick.

Eastern States 

Popular national sentiments meant that provinces in modern day Orrisa and Bihar be merged with India. There were no major hindrances across these provinces.

North Eastern States

The issue of NEFA (North East Frontier Agency) was a complex one. Some of the states had completely different ethnicity and history and did not relate to India et all. Patel knew of the strategic importance of these regions. Modern Day Arunanchal Pradesh became part of British Empire according to Simla Accord 1913 between British, Tibet and China. A McMohan line was drawn along Indo-Sino border by a British Official Henry McMohan. China did not agree to the entire accord and left in between. It was completed between Tibet and British and modern day region of Arunanchal came under British and subsequently Indian control. The entire McMohan line is still a major bone of contention in Indo-Sino relations. China still claims Arunanchal to be part of southern Tibet. Naga tribes pressed for separate state of their own on basis of ethnicity. Army was sent to the region in 1955 and under negotiations, it became a Union Territory with reasonable autonomy. In 1963, it was granted a statehood.

The queen of Tripura under severe political pressure signed the merger on behalf of her teen child.
Manipur, despite establishing democracy, was controversially annexed in 1949.

Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan

Nepal was recognized as an independent state by British Empire and was not merged. Bhutan was a protectorate state of British and a treaty with India meant that it became close to a suzerain state of India "abiding by the advice of India in external affairs". In return, it was provided some of the controversial regions of Bengal.

Sikkim was given full internal autonomy with communications, external affairs and defense coming under India's control (partial merger treaty). A referendum was conducted under Indian Army with 97% of the votes going in favor of integration with India and Sikkim became a state of India. The fairness of the referendum is often debated but it was a significant diplomatic achievement of Indira Gandhi's governance.


Travancore pointed out its thorium reserves to international community to gain recognition. But the ruler did not have support of his subjects. An attempt to assassinate his chief forced him to merger with India.


Junagarh in Gujrat was a small port province with a Muslim ruler but majority of Hindi subjects. It chose to accede to Pakistan defying Mountbatten on the grounds that it could be reached Pakistan mainland by sea-link. Patel had ancestral roots at the province. Also, the Hindu deity at Sarnath proved out to be more emotional and less rational reason in the mind of Patel. Forces were sent and the province and port was surrounded by the Indian troops. All supply and communications were annexed. The Nawab fled to Pakistan. A demand for plebiscite was raised in the UN but before the UN could take any diplomatic measures, a plebiscite was help under Indian control and 99% of the voters opted for integration to India. Pakistan accused India of breaking international laws and rigging the elections.


The fanatic Nizam of Hyderabad wanted to remain independent. In spite of eighty percent of his subjects being Hindu, he resisted merger with India. He even sent diplomatic missions to Europe and got into agreement with Portuguese to either lend or sell port at Goa. He had slightly pro-Pakistan sentiments and donated the Pakistani government Rs 200 crore to overcome the financial crisis it was facing. (He was regarded as the richest person of his times) Patel sent troops to Hyderabad under Operation Polo and Hyderabad was annexed and merged in four days.


Out of all the princely states, Kashmir remains the most contentious region among India and Pakistan. It had a Muslim Majority but a Hindi oppressive king, Maharaja Hari Singh. Pakistan laid claim on Kashmir citing the majority of Muslim subjects. An ideal and peaceful negotiation would have been to divide the state into Kashmir, with majority of Muslim subjects going to Pakistan. Jammu, with majority of Hindu subjects along with Ladakh, with majority of Buddhists going to India. Nehru was a Kashmiri Pandit and his reasons to have Kashmir were slightly emotional. Hari Singh signed standstill agreements with India and Pakistan, and wanted to stay independent. Thus delaying the merger. Shortly after independence, Pathan tribesmen, supported by Pakistan Army crossed the border and rapidly marched towards Srinagar. Hari Singh asked for help and agreed to sign Instrument of Accession. Patel immediately wanted to send troops but was stopped by Nehru who insisted on having the document signed first to abide International Laws. After Hari Singh came to Delhi and signed the merger in presence of Nehru, Patel, and Mountbatten, all the private air carriers were called and troops were airlifted to Srinagar. Till then a major portion of North-West Kashmir (now PoK) was already occupied. India secured Jammu, Srinagar and some portions of valley but winter made sure that further movement was thwarted.

In a diplomatic faux, Nehru declared a ceasefire and took the issue to the UN. The UN recognized the Line of Actual Control and passed a resolution to hold a plebiscite in Kashmir. Both India and Pakistan refused take their troops back and the plebiscite was never held. Pakistan argued that a plebiscite be held solely in India Administered Kashmir. India now argues that subsequent successful elections in state have reinforced Kashmir's integrity to India. Some fractions of Kashmir and Pakistan accuse India of rigging the state elections and employing puppet government in the state. Kashmir today, is one of the most disputed regions in the world.


The news of India's independence was yet to reach these islands. Patel realized that Pakistan could lay claim on these islands as majority of its subjects were Muslims. He sent a ship under Indian Navy and Indian flag was raised there.

Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Some British officials wanted to retain these islands to use them as strategic air-bases. Others wanted to settle Anglo-Indians and Anglo-Burmese populace. Neither did Nehru care much about these inhabitable islands. Mounbattern ensured that these islands are merged as well with India according to the Treaty of Accession. The tribal leader of Nicobar, on request, agreed to sell his land in symbolic exchange of Nehru's jacket to the amusement of all.

French India

The accession of French India was mostly peaceful and diplomatic. A plebiscite was held in Chandernagore in 1949 with majority supporting merger with India. Referendums were held in Yanam, Mahe, Pondicherry and Karikal in 1954 and all the four enclaves were acceded to India finally in year 1962.

Portuguese India

Portuguese did not respond well to diplomatic solutions and wished to maintain the enclaves under their possessions. Dadra and Nagar Haveli witnessed uprising in 1954 were annexed. Portuguese tried to send troops to Daman and Diu but were stopped by Indian Army. Diu had the longest rule of colonialism anywhere in the world for close to 450 years. Portuguese made several failed attempts to justify their possession of Goa at UN and International Court. Although Nehru favored peaceful negotiations, a revolt in 1961 forced the arrival of Indian troops and Goa was merged with India. Portuguese raised the issue in UN Security Council but were vetoed by USSR.

Awaiting Integration?

India claims complete control over Jammu and Kashmir. Present Line of Control divides the region into PoK, Indian Administered Kashmir and Aksai Chin (area acceded by Pakistan to China).

Rakesh Kumar

"I am a citizen, not of Athens or Greece, but of the world." - Aristotle

Voracious reader, writer, poet, thinker, philosopher, day-dreamer, mystic, and an architectural buff who looks stupid while staring at buildings; nomad by nature and suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder to correct others English, and when not free, reads Vikram Seth and watches Shahrukh Khan.

I maintain a blog at:

Journal For Boys Sports Edition

I am happy to announce that I have published another book (or a diary) for boys. There are 101 questions for boys to answer in the lines provided. There is a kindle edition for those who want it. They will need to answer the questions in another notebook if they buy the kindle edition. You can find the Journal For Boys (Sports Edition) on all Amazons stores.

Hindu Place of Worship

A Hindu place of worship is called a Mandir in Hindi or temple in English. These mandirs are usually dedicated to one God but that does not mean statues of other Gods will not be there. This is what a typical mandir or temple would like in India.

Here are some facts about a Hindu place of worship

One has to open their shoes when entering a temple
Some temples do not allow non-Hindus to enter (although most are fine)
The world mandir means gladdening
The presiding God can be made of gold
Temples are usually made near a water body
Many Hindu temple design follows a geometrical design called vastu-purusha-mandala
A Hindu temple is considered as a reconstruction of the universe

Hinduism place of worship

Akshardham - The Hindu Temple in New Delhi, India

Buddha Quotes on Life and Love

Here is a collection of the best Buddha quotes on life and love:

Buddha Quotes on Life and Love

He who experiences the unity of life sees his own self in all beings and all beings in his own Self, and looks on everything with an impartial eye.

In the sky there is no distinction of east and west - people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.

If a man who enjoys a lesser happiness beholds a greater one, let him leave aside the lesser to gain the greater.

I reached in experience the nirvana which is unborn, unrivalled, secure from attachment, un-decaying and unstained. This condition is indeed reached by me which is deep, difficult to see, difficult to understand, tranquil, excellent, beyond the reach of mere logic, subtle, and to be realized only by the wise.

What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow. Our life is the creation of our mind.

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.

A family is a place where minds come in contact with one another. If these minds love one another the home will be as beautiful as a flower garden. But if these minds get out of harmony with one another it is like a storm that plays havoc with the garden.

Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world.

The thought manifests as the word. The word manifests as the deed. The deed develops into habit. And the habit hardens into character. So watch the thought and its ways with care. And let it spring from love, born out of concern for all beings.

Carpenters bend wood fletchers bend arrows; wise men fashion themselves.

The mind is the source of happiness and unhappiness.

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.

It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.

There is nothing so disobedient as an undisciplined mind, and there is nothing so obedient as a disciplined mind.

We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.

Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what hold you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.

Meditate. Live purely. Be quiet. Do your work with mastery. Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds! Shine.

Look within, thou art the Buddha.

Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.

Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.

To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one's family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one's own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to 

Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.

As the fletcher whittles and makes straight his arrows, so the master directs his straying thoughts.

Believe nothing merely because you have been told it. Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher. But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be kind, conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings -- that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide.

Buddhism For Beginners

I wanted to let everyone know that I have published another book on Buddhism. It's a very simple book which means that it's smaller than my previous one (Buddhism Made Easy). The book is now available on all Amazon stores. For the time being, I have decided to keep the price cheap at $0.99. The paperback of this book is also out here. So grab a copy now.

BUDDHISM: Buddhist Teachings, Beliefs, Finding Enlightenment and Practicing Buddhism: Buddhism For Beginners
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Jaisalmer Desert Festival: Rajasthan unplugged

It gives us great pleasure to inform you this February, The Jaisalmer Desert Festival is your definitive one-stop to take a deep dive into the colours, the sounds, the smells, the sights, the glory and that unadulterated bliss that is Rajasthan. The Jaisalmer Desert Festival returns with a melange of eclectic renditions and soulful melodies in a resplendent celebration of awe-inspiring Rajasthani art and culture.  Romantic, remote and unspoiled, the festival is set to the backdrop of the majestic city’s forts, the Gadisar Lake and then the beautiful dunes of the Thar Desert. 

The Festival, spread across three days, is a colourful extravaganza of the art, music and culture of Rajasthan with a strong message of revival of local arts and folk music together with women empowerment. True to its legacy this year to the Jaisalmer Desert Festival coincides with the Magh Pournima (full moon day of the Hindu month of Magh that essentially falls in February), as it runs between the 20th to the 22nd of February, 2016.

February, the Jaisalmer Desert Festival is your definitive one-stop to take a deep dive into the colours, the sounds, the smells, the sights, the glory and that unadulterated bliss that is Rajasthan. The Jaisalmer Desert Festival returns with a melange of eclectic renditions and soulful melodies in a resplendent celebration of awe-inspiring Rajasthani art and culture.  Romantic, remote and unspoiled, the festival is set to the backdrop of the majestic city’s forts, the Gadisar Lake and then the beautiful dunes of the Thar Desert.

Jaisalmer Desert Festival

Jaisalmer Desert Festival

Jaisalmer Desert Festival

Jaisalmer Desert Festival

The Festival, spread across three days, is a colourful extravaganza of the art, music and culture of Rajasthan with a strong message of revival of local arts and folk music together with women empowerment. True to its legacy this year too the Jaisalmer Desert Festival coincides with the Magh Pournima (full moon day of the Hindu month of Magh that essentially falls in February), as it runs between the 20th to the 22nd of February, 2016.

“Jaisalmer Desert Festival presents Jaisalmer in its true glory. Not only is it the pulse of the locals but it also appeals to the well-traveled Indian together with international tourists. The Festival is a medley of culture, folklore, music, dance, traditional competitions and more, and attracts people across age-groups with a growing community every year. For every participant of this three-day fiesta the promise is an undiluted taste of Rajasthan and Jaisalmer,” said Shailendra Agarwal, Principal Secretary, the Department of Tourism and Federation of Hospitality and Tourism of Rajasthan 

Celebrated as one of the “must do” things in Rajasthan this season, the entire  city, including the stretch of Sam sand dunes (42 km from Jaisalmer), will turn into a montage of vibrant colours, festivities and enthrallment. The celebrations of this festival make the desert come alive with color, enthusiasm and happiness. Even as it focusses on wholesome entertainment and engagement; at its core the Festival focuses on reviving the local arts, the local crafts and the sounds that are so Rajasthan.

“Jaisalmer Desert Festival is not an implant but a homegrown coming together of Jaisalmer’s people in festivity and tradition. It is Rajasthan as Rajasthan is: pure, undiluted; a sensory overload. As partners and consultants, Percept One has endeavoured to present Jaisalmer and its historic Desert Festival at its pristine best. A work in progress we endeavour to elevate the experience year on year,” explained Nupur Mahajan, CEO Percept One.

The festival begins with a ceremonial procession known as Shobha Yatra where local Rajputs and other clans dress in their traditional attire. Men carrying swords atop horses, camels, and elephants are cheered on as they enter the Dedansar Stadium, one of the main venues of the desert festival. The locals dress in traditional and bright costumes. They sing and dance depicting the tragedies and accomplishments of the desert. The Gair and the fire dance are highlights of the festival among other Indian dance forms like Lavani and Kalaripayattu. The Kalabaz or the Nats are a group of local nomads who are popular for their gymnastic acts. The Bhopa’s Langhas and Manganiars create an enchanting environment with their poignant folk music recitals and ballads.

Be a spectator of rare competitions like camel polo. Cheer for camel races. Gymnastic stunts on camel back and camel formation dancing are the crowning jewels of the festival. The Border Security Force Camel Tattoo follows these competitions. Tug-of-war, turban tying, Maru-Shri (Mr. Desert competition) and the longest moustache competition are other allures seepd both in a rich legacy and equally a contemporary setting.

Folk music is at the very core of the festival and this year performers include the mellifluous Swaroop Khan and the celebrated folk singer Manganiyar Ghazi Khan. Kutle Khan - the voice of Jaisalmer, would make the desert come alive during the grand evening set at the majestic Sam sand Dunes.

The festival also takes a plunge into rendition of old folklore Moomal Mahendra wherein Princess Moomal set herself on fire (Sati) to prove her love for Prince Mahendra. This year the highlights include “Jaisalmer’s Got Talent” – a talent hunt and felicitation of local artistes & performers from the fields of art and music. Ecelectic food, interesting stalls displaying artifacts, handicrafts and other souvenirs will also be a Festival highlight. Desert safari and camping can be also enjoyed at the eve of the festival.

The festival is a sensory overload of all things Rajasthani, which is extensively popular with tourists from across the globe. The festival ends in the Sam dunes with the “Sonar Qila” Jaisalmer Fort in the background creating a fairy-tale ambiance with a promise to come back with even more fun and entertainment next year.

For more details please contact:
Delhi – Mushrat Perveen: +91 9999422763
Mumbai – Aanchal Tripathi: +91  9987553870

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