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Power Inc takes a breather, gets down to spiritual biz

(abridged version)

1 Nov, 2009, 2358 hrs IST, ET Bureau

MUMBAI: Temporal and spiritual power intermingled in Mumbai on Sunday as devotees — both the humble and the great and the good — of the spiritual leader Shri Sathya Sai Baba lined up to receive his blessings.

Big chiefs of the financial sector and India Inc turned out in large numbers to seek the Baba’s blessings. The morning prayer in the Mumbai suburb of Andheri was attended by an eclectic collection of dignitaries. These included ICICI Bank chairman, KV Kamath, the chairman and MD of the Union Bank of India, MV Nair, Kotak Bank’s vice-chairman and MD Uday Kotak, Gunit Chadha, the head of Deutsche Bank’s India operations, PMS Prasad, a director on the board of Reliance Industries (RIL), India’s largest private sector company, and Meera Sanyal, a banker and an independent candidate from the South Mumbai parliamentary constituency.

At a prayer meeting on Sunday, Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan, BJP leader Gopinath Munde and many other dignitaries sought the Swami’s blessings at a darshan organised in Mahakali Caves, Andheri.

Chief minister Ashok Chavan prayed for his new administration. “The government needs the Swamiji’s touch and his blessings. We hope to run the government according to his principles,” Mr Chavan said on Sunday morning.

The CM wasn’t the only dignitary queuing up for a sprinkling of the spiritual stardust. A clutch of serving and former judges, including former Supreme Court judge BM Srikrishna (of the Srikrishna Commission fame) and a number of prominent lawyers and doctors were also present.

Mr Kamath, who spoke on the occasion, referred to the insights thrown up in the course of a two-day conference on the ‘Ethics and the world of finance’ held in August 2009 at the Sathya Sai Baba University at Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh. That conference was attended by two RBI governors, the incumbent Duvvuri Subbarao and his predecessor YV Reddy. Besides the assorted dignitaries, thousands lined up for a darshan, first at Andheri and later at Worli.

Later in the day, the chief minister and his family hosted the Sathya Sai Baba at Varsha, the Maharashtra CM’s residence in Mumbai’s Malabar Hill.

Both Mr Chavan and Mr Kamath praised the selflessness of the volunteers, many from affluent backgrounds, working at various hospitals and educational institutions run by the Sathya Sai Seva Organisation.

Shri Sathya Sai Baba is on five-day visit to Maharashtra. The Sathya Sai Seva Organisation runs a number of schools and four hospitals. The organisation was recently in the forefront of relief work for cyclone victims in Orissa and flood victims in West Bengal.

The Newspaper's frontpage with a photo caption "Banking on the Divine" For a Better Tomorrow...reports that "...with the economy and the market coming out of the woods, India Inc's top guns, political leaders and the aam admi sought the Baba's healing touch"