Ongoing humanitarian crisis
in Burma looks set to continue
Junta still refusing visas for aid workers
Nero fiddled while Rome burned - the Myanmar military junta fiddles while
According to American diplomats inside Burma, the death toll resulting from
Cyclone Nargis’s 120 mph winds and the resulting storm surge, 25 feet high
in places, may reach 100,000. Millions of homes have been destroyed, along
with much of the affected area’s infrastructure, 65% of Burma’s rice fields
are submerged in salt water, causing a long-term effect on food supplies,
and tens of thousands of human and animal corpses are floating in the flood
waters. Roads are blocked, bridges are down, accessibility to the worst-hit
areas within the Irrawaddy Delta is minimal, except by helicopter. The human
misery is unaccountable; the risk of disease is imminent.
After the storm hit, the Burmese military junta begged for outside aid.
Governments across the world, the UN, and medical and other aid agencies
gave an immediate response. Experts with years of experience in the
logistics of disaster management stood ready to leave, along with
plane-loads of medical necessities and food.
As the crisis unfolded, it became apparent that the secretive junta was not
prepared to allow the much-needed experts to enter Burma. To date, very
little aid has been allowed into the stricken country from the West, and
essential visas have not been granted. Although aid has been accepted from
China, Thailand and Indonesia, a flight from Qatar carrying aid workers and
medical necessities has been forced to return, and two UN plane-loads of aid
have been confiscated by the military.
Efforts by the Burmese military to cope with the scale of the disaster seem
to have failed miserably, and include forcible removal, under threat of
death, of victims from their own areas to already overcrowded monasteries
and mosques in the larger towns.
Everywhere in the stricken areas, residents are being forced to cope on
their own, aided only by monks from local temples, although Burma-based
foreign aid agencies have been distributing emergency aid where possible.
International criticism of the junta’s actions has been swift. The US
Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, stated, “What remains is for the
Burmese Government to allow the international community to help its people.
It is not a matter of politics”, after a US offer to deploy three naval
vessels and two planes in the region was refused. After the tons of aid sent
in two planes by the UN’s World Food Programme was impounded by the
military, the organisation is reported to be “in negotiation” with the
military government, after it threatened to suspend relief flights.
France and the USA are pushing the UN to declare a resolution based on the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that when helping people
in crisis, the right to cross borders exists, as does the right to receive
humanitarian aid in any form. Dr. Bernard Kouchner, the French Foreign
Minister and head of Medicine sans Frontiers, said, “We are working within
the UN to try to implement the responsibility to protect, given that food,
boats and relief teams are there, and thus obtain a UN resolution which
authorises the delivery of help and supplies, and to impose this on the
Burmese government”. UK aid agencies have accused the junta of deliberately
delaying emergency help to desperate survivors. An internal UN memo accused
the junta of “dragging its feet”, adding that “there is no indication of
when this will be sorted out”. Nine days after disaster struck, there seems
to be little progress towards a solution for the tens of thousands of
Reports from inside the affected areas via the internet give little cause
for hope, and emphasise the need for experienced specialists in disaster
mitigation. The fear of an outbreak of deadly disease grows stronger every
day. Survivors report that there is little or no aid. They speak of lack of
food and water, sanitation and shelter, and of increasing anger amongst
increasingly desperate people. Quotes include, “While the military
government is still going ahead to legitimise and secure their power and
individual family wealth, (a reference to the constitution referendum which
took place last Saturday, in spite of the tragedy), the Burmese people are
now facing death, loss of homes and family and starvation”; “Survivors come
to the town brandishing their swords - they are very angry”; “Where are the
army leaders who think they are the saviours of Burma? There is no help, we
must help ourselves. We have to get rid of them”; “The situation is
terrible. Only one person is left in my family of 10. I tried to save them
but could not. I can’t find their bodies. Most of the people were dragged
away by the wave from family members who were trying to save them.” Other
reports state that acid rain fell, which burned the skin on contact, and
that most of the victims are affected with a black, oily residue on the
Severe penalties have been imposed by the junta on anyone who is found
talking to a foreign journalist. It seems imperative that this situation is
not allowed to continue; if it does, according to the Director of the UK
based Save the Children Fund, the death toll will keep rising.
Police get tough on mobile phone use whilst driving
Law enforced from May 8,
fines from May 20
The “Pretty Parade” along Hang Dong Road,
of the new amendments to the law.
A new amendment to the Traffic Act was brought into being in April amid
increasing concerns about the number of road accidents caused by drivers
losing concentration whilst talking on their mobile phones, and applies both
to drivers of vehicles and drivers of motorbikes. However, “hands free”
communications equipment which allows conversation will be deemed
police in Chiang Mai advise motorists about the new regulations.
The amendment has been in force since May 8, and police in Phayao and Phrae
are warning drivers that if they are caught violating the law, fines of
between 400 and 1,000 baht will be issued. In Chiang Mai, police have
launched a campaign on the roads and at the main intersections which will
inform drivers, whether local residents or tourists, of the new regulations.
The campaign, backed by Zoom Technology Co, Ltd, was launched at the front
of Airport Plaza by means of a “Pretty Parade”, which toured the Chiang
Mai-Hangdong Road, accompanied by 20 members of the traffic police who
distributed explanatory leaflets to motorists.
Zoom Technology has agreed to provide, free of charge, wireless earphones or
Bluetooth equipment to drivers who are able to pass a question and answer
quiz based on the new regulations.
From May 10 to May 20, police will merely inform and warn any drivers who
flout the ban; however, after May 20, fines starting at 2,000 baht will be
issued, and video cameras will be used to detect those breaking the law.
Bank robber bomber arrested
Inspiration for crime was Thai action movie
Piriya Archeebkosolkul, the
bank robber who placed a bomb
to aid his escape, being questioned by police after his arrest.
A bank robber who escaped with 150,000 baht in cash from the Thapae gate
branch of Siam Commercial Bank, leaving an explosive device on the doorstep,
was arrested last Friday.
Piriya Acheepkosolkil, a former marine with the Royal Thai Navy and trained
as a bomb specialist, told arresting officers that he had planned the
robbery after seeing the 2004 Thai action movie 102 Bangkok Robbery. Police
had been searching for Piriya for over a month, and had finally traced him
to the Tuko Buddhist monastery in San Pa Tong district, where he had been
hiding. During interrogation following his arrest, Piriya stated that, after
being discharged from the military, he had been ordained as a monk,
subsequently spending time in several monasteries in the Chiang Mai area,
but had been defrocked for violating monastery rules by singing at a karaoke
bar. He claimed to have spent all the stolen cash at entertainment venues in
spreads to Mae Hong Son
Appeal to government falls on deaf ears
In a repeat of the recent protest held by garlic growers at Chiang
Mai City Hall recently, growers in Mae Hong Son province are planning to
surround Mae Hong Son City Hall to add their voices to growing
anti-government resentment caused by the recent fall in their crop’s
wholesale prices. Up to 2000 protestors are planning to eat and sleep at the
protest site, as previous requests for government assistance have fallen on
deaf ears. Planters in Amphur Fang and Chiang Dao are planning to follow
At a recent meeting with the MP for Mae Hong Son and managers of Tesco Lotus
and Macro stores in Chiang Mai, growers were told that their appeal to the
government had been submitted with no result. Many of the growers are
experiencing severe financial problems, particularly with school fees and
related costs, and also have other debts. The leader of the protestors,
Noran Chatrataen, stated that the cabinet’s ignoring of the problems of the
people is seriously affecting poor farmers, who are now prepared to unite in
order to demonstrate their power. He requested that government finance
should be provided by allowing mortgages on the crop, as retailers are
offering a below-cost price including conditions which are unacceptable to
the growers, although they are prepared to but 100 tons of garlic per month.
Visakha Bucha Day, May 19 -
a sacred Buddhist festival
Visakha Bucha Day is one of the most venerated Buddhist festivals of
the year, and falls this year on May 19, in the sixth month of the lunar
calendar. The festival celebrates both the three stages of the Lord Buddha’s
life; his birth, his enlightenment and his death, (all of which,
traditionally, fell on the same date in the year), and the “Triple Gems” of
the Buddhist faith, the Lord Buddha himself, the Dharma, (the teachings of
the Lord Buddha), and the Sangha, (the monastic community).
In Chiang Mai, the celebrations, for the many devout Buddhist who take part
each year, take a special form. At sunset, the faithful join the traditional
procession from the city to Wat Phrathart Doi Suthep, the famous temple set
high on the mountain and containing the precious relics of the Lord Buddha
himself. The path winds upwards through the forest for 9 kilometres, and the
procession will arrive at the temple at around 3 am, waiting there until
daylight to begin their devotions and to make merit by paying homage to the
Lord Buddha’s relics housed in the ancient sanctuaries. As dawn breaks,
worshippers will make offerings of food to the temple monks, and continue
their devotions at the chapels containing the sacred relics. A day of Dharma
readings and instruction by monks follows, culminating in the final “Wien
Tien” ceremony, a candle-lit procession which winds clockwise three times
around the main temple building. Each worshipper carries a candle, three
sticks of incense and lotus buds, the symbols of the journey towards the
great light of enlightenment. This lovely and traditional ceremony ends this
most sacred of Buddhist festivals.
During this religious holiday, the killing of animals and the drinking of
alcohol is forbidden for 3 days. Temples are to be adorned with lanterns,
flowers and joss sticks as symbols of worship, and skyrockets will be lit
for three days to celebrate.
Banks and government offices will be closed, and alcohol should not be
served in public venues.
Thai PM cancels trip
Thailand’s premier on Friday cancelled a hastily planned trip to Myanmar
after its junta government started to accept foreign assistance for
cyclone Nargis victims, but it was still barring foreign aid workers
from entering the country.
Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej offered to undertake his own
humanitarian mission to break the bureaucratic logjam in reclusive
Myanmar which does not wish the presence of foreign aid workers.
Mr. Samak earlier sent a letter to his Myanmar counterpart, Prime
Minister Thein Sein, encouraging flexibility in allowing workers from
the United Nations World Food Programme to deliver and distribute relief
Earlier British ambassador to Thailand Quinton Quayle and US ambassador
Eric John asked the Thai prime minister to petition the military rulers
of Myanmar to permit Western aid and humanitarian workers.
Mr. Samak, also Thailand’s defence minister, said earlier that he had
liaised with the Myanmar government and scheduled a trip to the
cyclone-hit country for Sunday.
The Myanmar foreign ministry said in a statement carried in official
media on Friday that the country would accept foreign aid, but not
foreign aid workers.
“Myanmar is not in a position to receive rescue and information teams
from foreign countries at the moment,” it said after a disaster rescue
team from Qatar that arrived in Yangon on an aid flight was turned back.
Air Force deputy spokesman Group Capt. Monthol Satchukorn said in the
meantime that Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn had
donated 20 tonnes of food, relief supplies, electric generators, and
water purifiers to be sent to Myanmar via C-130 military aircraft on
Bank of Thailand’s northern branch
summarises increased economic growth
First quarter’s figures encouraging
Somsak Wongpanyathavorn, an administrator with the Bank of
Thailand’s northern branch, gave a summary of the economic and financial
sector for the first quarter of 2008, saying that it was showing growth.
The farming sector was experiencing an increase in revenue due to an
increase in the prices of agricultural products and the industrial
sector was showing high growth due to international demand. The services
sector was also showing growth resulting from marketing drives, sales
and consumer promotions. Even although growth is leveling off at
present, there are some signs of imminent recovery such as increased
motorcycle sales and investment, and an increase in the number of
construction licenses and land transfers being applied for in the
municipal areas. Prices of goods, however, have increased, particularly
those of oil, rice and meat.
A regards the situation in the second quarter of this year, Somsak said
there should be signs of economic growth due to an increase in domestic
investment. The Bank of Thailand has amended its economic growth rate
predictions from 4.8% to 6%, higher than earlier predictions. Household
economies are still in good shape regardless of inflation. However, the
increase in prices of agricultural products and rice are the main factor
in the growth of the northern economy; therefore help should be given to
farmers to enable them to increase their production to the benefit of
both the agricultural sector and the overall economy of the country.
U.S. Mission in Thailand to help support U.S. Government’s relief assistance to
the Burmese people in cyclone aftermath
The United States Mission in Thailand joins the United States government
and its people in offering its deepest condolences to the people of
Burma and especially to those who lost loved ones in Tropical Cyclone
Nargis. In response to this tragedy, the U.S. Agency for International
Development yesterday apportioned US$ 3.25 million in initial assistance
for the relief effort. This assistance will be allocated by the USAID
Disaster Assistance Response Team, which is currently pre-positioned in
Bangkok awaiting permission to enter Burma. U.S. Ambassador to Thailand
Eric G. John stated that the DART team stands prepared to enter Burma to
render assistance relief, adding that “the DART personnel are
experienced in dealing with massive humanitarian disasters, including
the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami crisis.”
According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Assistance, the most urgent needs of populations in affected areas
include plastic sheeting, water purification tablets, cooking sets,
mosquito nets, emergency health kits, food, and possibly fuel supplies.
Tropical Cyclone Nargis made landfall at approximately 18:30 local time
Friday, May 2 to the west of Rangoon in the Irrawaddy River Delta. When
it hit land, Nargis had winds of approximately 132 miles per hour and
reportedly produced a storm surge 12 feet high in some areas. Burmese
state radio has reported at least 22,000 deaths and tens of thousands
are missing, though these figures remain unconfirmed at this time.
Thailand and India to link information on tsunami warning buoys
Thailand and India have agreed to link information from tsunami
warning buoys in the Indian Ocean in order to enhance their ability to
pool resources in an attempt to prevent damage and future loss of life
from natural disasters. After meeting with the Indian Ambassador to
Thailand, Latha Reddy, last Thursday, the Thai Information and
Communication Technology Minister Mun Patanotai told reporters that the
link had been agreed, as Thailand has plans to shortly deploy a buoy in
the Indian Ocean. He added that Thursday’s talks would lead eventually
to the signing of a memorandum of understanding on bilateral
Thailand plans to send technical experts to India to study two tsunami
warning buoys in the Indian Ocean. Mun explained that the Indian surface
buoy had been home-developed, whilst the underwater buoy and software
had been imported from Italy, and added that the system that Thailand
would purchase should be compatible with that of India, who had offered
a competitive tender to supply the equipment.
Smith Tumsaroch, chairman of Thailand’s National Disaster Warning
Committee said he expected the purchase of a buoy would take place by
the end of this year. The most suitable time for deployment weather-wise
would be during November-December as that time frame would not be
affected by the monsoons.
Thailand could deploy such buoys in only two locations, but the
protection they could offer would extend over six provinces on the
Andaman Sea coast of Thailand’s southern peninsula. The former Director
General of the Meteorological Department added that Thailand’s tsunami
early warning system is reliable and is able to warn the public of
danger within 45 minutes.
Development Minister resigns
Dodgy degree a possible reason
Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej confirmed Thursday that Sutha Chansaeng
had resigned for ‘health reasons’ as Minister for Social Development and
Human Security. Government spokesman Wichienchote Sukchoterat said
Sutha’s resignation took immediate effect as of Thursday and that a new
Minister of Social Development and Human Security would likely be named
shortly to replace him.
The Prime Minister has not so far commented as to who might be in line
to take command of a portfolio largely in charge of social affairs. The
vacant ministerial seat was earlier allocated to the ruling People Power
Party, to which Sutha belongs.
Meanwhile, Democrat MP Warong Dejkitwikrom charged that Sutha had
decided to call it quits not because of his health but allegedly because
he had had a problem with his educational background, due to which he
may have faced disqualification from the ministerial post. The Democrat
MP from Phitsanulok province showed reporters documentation supposedly
pertaining to a Bachelor’s degree issued by a little-known college in
the Philippines to Sutha, which, according to Warong, may have been
forged. All cabinet members are legally required to have graduated with
a Bachelor’s degree or higher.
Warong stated that he doubted that Sutha had graduated from the Filipino
college at all, given that his passport was issued in 1994 and that the
ex-minister’s statement that he had graduated from the college a decade
earlier was, to say the least, contradictory. The Democrat MP called on
the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama, the chief of the
Civil Service Commission and the cabinet secretary to take
responsibility for the alleged failures to verify Sutha’s qualification.
Lahu hilltribe members
arrested for drug dealing
Drug money laundered through used car business
Police and a suspect with confiscated
in a garage belonging to drug dealer Tat Panyuang.
A “sting” operation by local police resulted in the arrest on May 6 of
two Lahu tribespeople who had been suspected of drug running for some
time. Nahae Jawa, (29), and Tat Panyuang, (35), were detained after an
undercover officer had arranged for 30 YaBa pills to be delivered to him
at a location in San Kamphaeng district. When Nahae arrived and handed
over the drugs, the arrest was made and the drugs confiscated, together
with 1 motorbike, 1 pickup truck and two mobile phones.
Subsequently, Nahae, who had admitted to selling drugs to students and
teenagers in San Kamphaeng district, and had agreed to work with police
in order to apprehend Tat, contacted him to order 50 YaBa pills for
distribution, to be collected from Tat’s used car garage in San
Kamphaeng. Tat was arrested at the agreed meeting place and the YaBa
pills were confiscated to be used as evidence. Later, police returned to
the garage, and confiscated 8 vehicles and 1 motorbike. Tat had
apparently been collecting between 300 and 600 YaBa pills each week from
his village in Mae Ai district, selling them with the help of his wife’s
niece Nahae, and laundering the money through his used car business.
The tragic situation in Burma
Sai Awn Tai
Burmese people are suffering from the appalling impact of
Cyclone Nargis, and the shocking news that the death toll has increased
dramatically. An Asian expert has predicted that it could grow to
250,000, and a US diplomat said Wednesday that more than 100,000 people
may have died, with millions homeless. This is horrifying news for the
Burmese community both inside and outside the country as well as for
caring people around the world.
It is hard to imagine how people living in affected areas are going to
survive with delayed access to rescuers and aid workers when there is
difficulty in transportation of supplies. There are also restrictions on
issuing visas from the Burmese military government. For the Burmese
people, suffering from the shortage of food and medication, this is not
new; this time it is even more horrifying under the tragic circumstances
that they face, traumatised by the loss of their possessions, homes and
Losing lives due to this natural disaster should have been preventable.
The Burmese military regime had been notified of Nargis’s destructive
potential 48 hours prior to its landfall. Ordinary Burmese citizens had
circulated information from the US Navy and Air Force Joint Typhoon
Warning Center that there was a risk of severe damage. The Indian
Meteorological Department had also warned 48 hours in advance about the
likely area of landfall and the intensity of the cyclone. The Burmese
military ignored both warnings, and worse, had announced to the media
that Nargis had weakened, and that the winds were moving toward the
north. The report predicted that after 28 hours the cyclone would weaken
further and move toward the northeast. According to the Burmese weather
department, winds of 40 to 45mph were expected. Thousands of lives could
have been saved if the military regime had acted on the warnings, and
helped people to evacuate from the cyclone’s path.
By ignoring the warnings the junta has murdered its own innocent people.
They knew people would die if they were not evacuated, but chose to let
this happen. The facts will remain in documents; one day, when Burma
becomes a democracy, the guilty will pay the price for their victims.
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has stated there should be no blame
and no politics at this stage, as saving lives is more important. He is
right. The junta, who care more for their power than their people, have
been using this kind of brutal tactic since the military coup in 1962.
Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, in a media release, stated that
Australia will provide $3 million in immediate humanitarian assistance
to those affected by Nargis. This is great news for the people of Burma.
$1 million will provide emergency shelters, water and other materials to
directly affected people through Care, World Vision and Caritas. Aid of
$1 million each will go to the United Nations World Food Programme and
the United Nations Children’s Fund.
The military regime, however, is reluctant to grant visas to aid
workers, which is extremely disturbing to the international community
who care so much about the affected people and are willing to provide
financial, material and human resources. About $40 million from more
than 20 countries has been pledged already, but the junta has not made
any moves which suggest that they welcome the aid. This shows clearly
the regime’s fundamental character, in that they have no sympathy for
the people who desperately need help to survive. The people of Burma
should therefore not tolerate or assist this brutal regime and they
should keep in mind that if the regime remains in power, they will
continue to torture and kill people, making Burma a slave country.
New economic development programme planned
for Northern Thailand
Competitive ability of northern businesses to increase
The 10 provincial Chambers of Commerce in northern Thailand have
recently introduced a new and more aggressive economic development
programme, which they are hoping will provide sustainable benefits to
local people. Its intent is to initiate cooperation between the public
and private sectors and relevant international organizations which will
result in the future development of the Quadrangle Zone, namely southern
China, Laos, Burma, Northern Thailand and the Greater Mekong
sub-regions. The development scheme includes strategic planning,
communications systems, networking, and administration in the countries
within the zone.
The 6 main policies are coordination, cooperation, economic networks,
commerce, investment, tourism, culture and education. Emphasis will be
placed on the proactive marketing of Thai products and services to
increase the competitive ability of operators in the 10 Northern
provinces, and on strategic planning for the north. The committee is
considering both the logistics aspects and the development of protective
measures against the negative affects of the scheme on the north of
Thailand. It also aims to strengthen the 10 provincial Chambers of
Commerce and the committee itself, in order for it to become the central
body for economic development in the GMS countries.
Plans for the project over the next 4 years include field trips and
marketing surveys of tourist attractions in the Quadrangle zone, and the
organisation of semi-regional and border trade shows. Seminars will be
held based on various subjects, including increasing competitiveness and
building up transportation capacity, trading regulations and the scope
of limitations. An education center will be established in the zone
under the supervision of the public sector, together with an information
hub and mobile meetings for the 10 provincial Chambers of Commerce.
Chiang Mai Red Cross holds
Soroptimist-sponsored buffet lunch
HIV-AIDS orphaned children and their carers to benefit
Dr. Mom Chao Duangduan na Chiengmai and Dr.
with Patcharee Chuanriyagul and other caring women and friends
at the sponsored buffet lunch.
The Chiang Mai Red Cross grounds were the venue for a sponsored buffet
lunch held recently in aid of children orphaned by HIV-AIDS, and the
grandmas and grandpas who are caring for them, having lost their own
children to the epidemic. The event was founded by Auntie Boon
Suprasert, the founding President of Zonta International Chiang Mai. The
sponsors of the event, Soroptimist International Chiang Mai, were
represented by their current president, Dr. Carolina Thompson, together
with Hanna Braendi and Donna Dauenhauer. Others present were Dr. Mom
Chao Duangduan na Chiengmai, Hope Wacharapreecha from the Rotary Club,
Patcharee Chuanriyagul, the director of the Red Cross, and many other
caring women and friends who have been supporting the project for over
Green light given for import of wood products from Burma
Stringent monitoring of illegal activities essential
The Governor of Mae Hong Son, Thongchai Vongrientong, gave the green
light on May 5 for the importation of wooden products from Burma through
the Huay Phung pass at Muong Sam Mok. However, he emphasised that the
destruction of forest resources, illegal activities, and the smuggling
of people and weapons across the border, must be stringently monitored
by those responsible. The One Stop Centre at Ban Rong Haeng would be
used to check the products and to impose customs duties, and would open
on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays between 8:00 am and 4:30 pm. Since
April 17, when the relevant directive was issued, 1,400 cubic feet of
wood products have been imported from Burma.
Police raid “forest monk” settlement
Buddhist Association of Thailand rules broken
A group of monks from the north east, who had been living for
two months in a wooded grove beside the Chiang Mai-Lampang superhighway,
have been questioned by police and local Buddhist authorities and sent
back to their temples.
The monks had erected shelters in the woods, and had received offerings
daily in the usual manner from residents in Sarapee district. However,
certain residents had complained to local police that the monks’ conduct
was not appropriate, as they were not based at a local temple according
to the rules of state Buddhism.
When police and Buddhist authorities arrived at the site on May 6, they
found a large hut covered in canvas, with a tent inside it. In the hut
were 6 monks, 1 novice and 1 Brahman. All had identification papers,
which stated that they were monks from Srininwanaram Temple in Loey
province and Jak Temple in Chayapoom province.
An official from the Chiang Mai Buddhism Office stated that monks who
follow the forest tradition by living in the woods are regarded as
disobeying the regulations of the Buddhist Association of Thailand,
which state that all monks must live in temples. Although they had done
nothing wrong, they were regarded as living in an improper place.
Subsequently, as order was made to demolish the hut, and to send the
monks back to their original temples. He stated that, should they wish
to return to Chiang Mai to perform Dharma or to study, they must make
arrangements to stay in a temple.
The “forest monk” tradition itself was strong, particularly in the North
East, during the first half of the last century, when a large number of
Buddhist ascetics wandered the forests. Their form of Buddhism, based on
the life of Buddha himself, found its expression in living day-to-day in
the forests, contending with the mental and physical challenges present
in that environment. No formal studies were undertaken, and constant
meditation was considered to be the way to achieve enlightenment.