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Special Forces Sent to Gujarat to Quell On-Going Riots
Posted on 2002/5/6 23:49:02 ( 667 reads )


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GUJARAT, INDIA, May 7, 2002: A force of 1,000 specially-trained riot police is to be deployed in the troubled western Indian state of Gujarat. These men have been specifically trained to tackle the kind of situation that persists in Gujarat. A spokesman for the Gujarat Government told the BBC that 1,000 commandos from the northern state of Punjab are to be sent to Gujarat to assist the state's police force. The announcement was made as fresh violence in Gujarat on Tuesday left another nine people dead and more than 10 injured. The Gujarat spokesman, IK Jadeja, said that the decision to requisition the special force was made by the state's recently-appointed security adviser, KPS Gill. Mr. Gill told the BBC huge numbers of additional security forces were required to tackle the problem in Gujarat. "These men [from Punjab] have been specifically trained to tackle the kind of situation that persists in Gujarat," he said. He also indicated there would have to be a drastic change in security force tactics in order to control the violence. Mr. Gill gained fame during the late 1980s when as Punjab police chief he helped put down a Sikh separatist movement in the state. In fresh violence on Tuesday, police said a man riding a scooter was burnt to death by a mob in the state's commercial capital, Ahmedabad. In another attack a man was stabbed to death in the city.




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US Commission Report Criticizes India on Religious Freedom
Posted on 2002/5/6 23:48:02 ( 705 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, May 8, 2002: This front page report in the Times of India begins, "Expressing concern over the riots in Gujarat, a blue ribbon US panel that examines issues of religious freedom has urged the Bush administration to lean on the Indian government to resolve contentious domestic issues like the Ayodhya dispute. ... The Commission urged the US government 'to press Indian authorities to exercise their power to halt the atrocities and violence, bring perpetrators to justice, and do more to root out the causes of religious intolerance, especially by resolving the impasse over the Babri mosque in Ayodhya destroyed in 1992 by Hindu nationalists who are vowing to construct a Hindu temple on the site.' As it did last in its report last year, the Commission appeared to lay the blame on increased religious violence squarely on rising Hindu militancy, while praising the overall secular nature of the Indian republic. Following the carnage in Gujarat, India also had has the ignominy of being placed with Pakistan as countries that needed closer monitoring over issues of religious freedom despite the fundamental differences in the basis on which the two countries were founded." The Times reporting, however, exaggerates the prominence of India in the Commission's study (available at www.uscirf.gov/index.php3). India is just one of 22 nations and areas singled out for special mention, and the list includes France, Belgium and even Europe as a whole. India receives eight lines of comment, one of the shortest of all the nations. The Commission's report points out attacks on Christians, Muslims and Sikhs in India, and attacks on Hindus in the Northeast of India. Yet, the word "Kashmir" does not appear in the report, even though dozens of Hindus have been killed each month for years in the region in religious violence. The Times report also exaggerates the importance of the Commission itself. Indeed, part of the Commission's report (page 29) are complaints that the US State Department regularly ignores its recommendations. The Commission appears to have been created as a political gesture to the Christian right, and it consistently gives prominence to the freedom of Christians in foreign countries, especially for missionary work.




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Kerala's Religious Communities Start Own TV Stations
Posted on 2002/5/6 23:47:02 ( 670 reads )


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THIRUVANTHAPURAM, KERALA, INDIA, May 6, 2002: This southern state of India is about to get a Christian and a Muslim TV channel in a few months. It could be a difficult venture, the local Marxists have lost a great deal of money on their Kairali channel. "In Gujarat we are suffering from mixing politics with religion," a leading Marxist thinker pointed out. "Today they start channels in the name of religion and tomorrow there will be even caste-based TV. Such channels could vitiate the fragile communal fabric." But officials of Jeevan and India Vision dismiss such criticism, saying the new channels are "commercial organizations and not religious bodies." Though both swear that religion will not play any role in their channels, the intelligentsia sees it as an eyewash. The state is 57% Hindu, 23% Muslim and 19% Christian. The Christian and Muslim communities together own one-half of the State's educational institutions. There are no known plans for a Hindu station.




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Tamil Conference Calls for ... Tamil
Posted on 2002/5/5 23:49:02 ( 415 reads )


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MADURAI, INDIA, May 6, 2002: The International Tamil Conference, which concluded here on Sunday, requested Tamil Nadu government to make Tamil compulsory at "all levels." A resolution passed at the conference, held by the International Tamil Integration Society, wanted the government to formulate an act in this regard. It urged the government to make Tamil medium compulsory in nursery schools in the state. Tamizh Vazhipadu (worship in Tamil) should also be made compulsory in the temples, and Tamil should be widely used in courts and government offices. Another resolution adopted at the general body meeting of the conference requested that the Centre declare Tamil as a "classical language" and the Tamil treatise "Tirukural" as a national literary work.




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Pandit Jasraj Interviewed
Posted on 2002/5/5 23:48:02 ( 773 reads )


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MUMBAI, INDIA, May 6, 2002: Hindustani classical music's living legend Pandit Jasraj (73 yrs old) told the magazine "God And I" that his first introduction to God was when he was just 14, in the year 1944. He told of being asked along with his brother to accompany their music guru Pandit Maniramji to Ahmedabad to sing. However, his brother lost his voice. Their spiritual guru Maharaj Jaiwant Singh told him that if he sang for God alone a miracle would happen. The guru prayed and asked his brother to sing. The boy who could hardly talk before that was then able to sing from 12 midnight to 6 in the morning. "I was thus introduced to God and at a personal level," said Pandit Jasraj. "Remember that God makes sure that you believe in his presence. Once that happens you cannot severe the relationship. Once you connect to a form or a deity after loosing your own self, then only you can really see Him."




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Manushi to Sponsor Conference on Tehelka and Gujarat Riots
Posted on 2002/5/5 23:47:02 ( 732 reads )


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DELHI, INDIA, May 6, 2002: Manushi, the leading women's rights magazine of India, is holding a conference on the Tehelka expose and the Gujarat riots. According to their press release, "As evidence of an unprecedented state-sanctioned pogrom in Gujarat mounts, instead of curbing and punishing those involved in the violence, the government has transferred honest officers, physically intimidated journalists, and accused the media of inciting communal tensions by giving prominent coverage to the pogrom and blamed the victims for the violence perpetrated on them. These are serious danger signals for our fragile democracy. Instead of acting as guardians and protectors, those in power are posing a serious threat to the safety and security of our country and its citizens. India International Centre and Manushi invite you to a meeting to to explore how we as citizens should respond to these challenges, ensure that the guilty are brought to book." The panel of speakers includes, Mark Tully, Aleque Padamsee, Prem Shankar Jha, Prashant Bhushan, Mahesh Bhatt, Shiv Vishwanathan and Tavleen Singh. It will be held May 14 at the India International Centre, 33 Lodhi Estate, New Delhi, committee room one at 5:30 pm. For more information, e-mail "source" above.




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Asian Americans Offended by Stereotypes on T-Shirts
Posted on 2002/5/5 23:46:02 ( 759 reads )


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SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, April 18, 2002: When T-shirts depicting Asian people in a demeaning manner appeared on the shelves of Abercrombie and Fitch in the Bay area in April of this year, Asians have reacted accordingly. One of the shirts has a slogan that says, "Wong Brothers Laundry Service...Two Wongs Can Make It White." Two smiling Chinese men in conical hats, a 1900's stereotype, are pictured beside the lettering. Another said, "Wok-N-Bowl...Let the Good Times Roll...Chinese Food and Bowling." The Stanford's Asian American Student's Association has been complaining bitterly to Hampton Carney, the representative for the Public Relations firm hired by Abercrombie. Carney says, "We personally thought Asians would love the T-shirt." He goes on to say that, "We poke fun at everybody, from women to flight attendants to baggage handlers, to football coaches, to Irish Americans to snow skiers. There's really no group we haven't teased." However Austin Chung, 23, of Palo Alto, the business manager for the quarterly Asian-focused magazine Monolid sees the situation in a much different light. "Abercrombie and Fitch is producing popular culture, and they cater to the views of the majority. You have to ask yourself, who benefits, who gets empowerment, from these kinds of images? It denigrates Asian men." Michael Chang, vice-chairman of Stanford's Asian American Students Association says, "The stereotypes they depict are more than a century old. You're seeing laundry service. You're seeing basically an entire religion and philosophy being trivialized." The company hasn't done any t-shirts on Hindus, yet.




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Sikhs Call For Leniency in Temple Burning Punishment
Posted on 2002/5/4 23:49:02 ( 642 reads )


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OSWEGO, NEW YORK, May 3, 2002: A teenager was sentenced to three to nine years in prison Friday for burning down a Sikh temple in anger over the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Joshua Centrone, 18, is the second of four teenagers to plead guilty in connection with the Nov. 18 fire at the Gobind Sadan USA Temple in Palermo, 30 miles north of Syracuse. The teen-agers told authorities they set fire to the temple because they thought it was called "Go Bin Laden." Numerous hate crimes have been committed against Sikhs since September. 11. Sikhs have been mistaken for Arabs or Muslims because of their turbans and beards -- which are rarely worn by Muslims in the West. Leaders of the temple asked Judge Walter Hafner to show mercy in sentencing. "We in the Sikh tradition offer forgiveness to these children, in hopes that a positive message will continue to rise out of this crime of hatred: that with God's grace, love and understanding, we can overcome the ignorance that fuels the conflicts that plague our world,'' Ralph Singh said.




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Malaysia Hindu Sangam Holds 25th Annual General Meeting
Posted on 2002/5/4 23:48:02 ( 707 reads )


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PETALING JAYA, MALAYSIA, May 5, 2002: The following are excerpts from the keynote address by A. Vaithilingam, president, Malaysia Hindu Sangam, at their 25th annual general meting. "On the religious front, the Sangam together with other organizations have started the training of teachers program. En. M. Batumalai from the Sangam and Dr. N.S. Rajendran of the Malaysian Hindu Dharma Mamandram have the task of carrying out this program throughout the country. In the meantime, we call upon all the temples to have religious talks every Friday after the Pooja. Such programs have already started in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya. ... Places of worship still poses a major problem, although some of the issues have been solved with the help of the local authorities and the state and local MIC leaders. I must here show our appreciation to Y.B. Dato' Seri Dr. S. Samy Vellu for his firm and swift action on numerous problems that arose such as the relocation of temples for KTM's dual track (rail) programs from Sentul to Batu Caves and also from Rawang to Ipoh. ... Again, the Sangam appeals to the federal and respective state governments to legalize temples which are on land allocated by employers over the years. Many of these temples have been in existence at its location for a very long time. ... The temples in Malaysia are facing great difficulties in having properly trained priests in their temples. We are puzzled with the Immigration Department's latest ruling on foreign priests to be over 50 years of age. In the meantime, the Sangam together with Malaysia Hindu Archagars (Priests) Association and the Malaysia Hindu Dharma Mamandram have prepared proposals to be submitted to the relevant authorities for the training of priests. ... The Sangam as the representative body for Hindus in Malaysia is moving towards greater development for Malaysian Hindus. At the same time we extend our hands with offers of peace and harmony to all Muslims, Buddhists, Taoists, Christians and Sikhs. We call upon people of all religions to understand each other and not just tolerate one another. ... I am happy to inform you that Yatra Worldwide, a joint venture between the Malaysia Hindu Sangam, and the Malaysian Hindu Yatra (pilgrimage) Cooperative Society together with the assistance of Major (Rtd) Kathiresapathy and the Paradise Travels will be launched by Y.B. Dato' Seri Dr. S. Samy Vellu today. The Sangam has been conducting the Kasi Rameswara Yatra since 1997 and we have now decided to go with a more professional approach. We urge all concerned to give this new venture your full support. This company will also handle many other tours while individual and group bookings for travels can also be made.




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Couples Who Smoke More Likely to Have a Girl Child
Posted on 2002/5/4 23:47:02 ( 703 reads )


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UNITED KINGDOM, April 18, 2002: A study conducted by gynecologist Dr. Claus Yding Anderson and his team at the University Hospital of Copenhagen on 11,800 infants born in Japan and Denmark over a seven-month period has some interesting results. Three control groups were chosen based on the consumption of cigarettes consumed around the time of conception and thereafter -- men and women who did not smoke, those who smoked up to 20 cigarettes a day, and those who smoked more than 20 cigarettes a day. The male to female ratio was determined as each of the infants was categorized into one of the three groups. As a general rule, when mothers and fathers smoked, they were more likely to produce a girl child. The article says, "The sex ratio was 1.21 boys to every girl in the group in which neither parent smoked. It fell to 0.82 boys to every girl in the group where both mother and father smoked more than 20 cigarettes a day. The ratio of male births was also reduced to 0.98 boys to every girl among couples where the mother was a non-smoker, but the father smoked more than 20 cigarettes a day." Dr. Anderson sites two reasons for the results, "We have found that the male sperm cell is more susceptible to smoking. Or it could be that smoking affects the implantation of the male conceptus in the uterus." The article also goes on to say that men and women with high stress jobs such as jet pilots and divers, also produce more girl babies. However, on the planet Earth as a whole, the birth of boys is slightly greater than the birth rate of girls.




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Australians Research Tamil "Oral History"
Posted on 2002/5/1 23:49:02 ( 725 reads )


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NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA, April 28, 2002: Strathfield Library Service is conducting an oral history project on the Tamil community to document the experiences of this migrant group. The "Tamils And Their Neighbors Oral History Project" has been funded by a Library Development Grant from the Library Council of New South Wales. The population of the Strathfield Municipality shows the Sri Lankan community comprises 1,128 persons totaling nearly 10% of oversees-born persons from non-English speaking countries. They are the second largest community of persons from non-English speaking countries living in the Strathfield area. The project will develop the Library's Local Studies collection, particularly the oral history collection, while providing information on the Tamil community. The Tamil community has been selected because of the minimal amount of research which has been undertaken for this community in the area. They hope the project will promote a positive image of the Tamil community set against a background of displacement from their homeland. Margaret Roberts, Local Studies Librarian is coordinating the project. For more information or if you would like to participate, contact her at "source" above.




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Suicide Now Fiji's Biggest Killer
Posted on 2002/5/1 23:48:02 ( 600 reads )


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FIJI, May 2, 2002: Suicide, mainly by ethnic Indian women, has become Fiji's biggest killer, a mental health expert here said. The principal medical officer at the Saint Giles Psychiatric Hospital here, Dr Odille Chan, presented the latest official statistics to a youth conference and a statement was issued by the government outlining her findings. Indians make up 44 per cent of Fiji's 800,000 people. Chan said that in 2000 a total of 104 suicides were recorded, with Indians making up 92 of them. "Suicide is a multifaceted issue for which there is no single cause," she said in the government issued statement. "It is influenced by a variety of factors -- sociological, psychological or substance abuse -- which interact in a complex manner." she added. "It is clear that suicide is a complex problem, which requires an innovative, comprehensive and multi-sector approach, including health and non-health sectors, for example, education, labor, police, religion, and the media," Chan said.




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Jayendra Saraswati Interviewed on Ayodhya
Posted on 2002/5/1 23:47:02 ( 648 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, April 29, 2002: Sri Jayendra Saraswathi, the Kanchi Shankaracharya, says that by imposing President's rule in Gujarat, peace could be restored to the disturbed state. He spoke to Narayani Ganesh of the Times of India in New Delhi, fresh from a trip to Ayodhya. Here are excerpts from the interview: "I went to Ayodhya to see for myself what the atmosphere is like, now. I did what ordinary citizens do -- I offered prayers at the mandir. I did prarthana (prayer) for 15 minutes at the Ram Janambhoomi site. There is absolute shanti (peace) among the people of Ayodhya. Havan (fire ceremony) is in progress; kar seva (selfless service) is also going on. In Ayodhya, there are 10 mosques in good condition. Namaz is being offered, businesses are being conducted and children are going to school. Some 1,000 Muslims live there and there are 300 Muslim homes interspersed with Hindu homes, all living in peace. There are 108 mandirs. Four or five old mosques have fallen apart on their own; there's no problem. There's no local disturbance. It is the people who come from outside who create problems. They rake up long-forgotten issues -- the so-called kar sevaks, the political activists and pracharaks and even some Muslims from Delhi and other places. Locally, Hindus and Muslims live amicably. Both communities feel that now those outside elements have left, peace will prevail. Time is a great healer, they say, and, therefore, it is only a matter of time before sectarian passions stoked by mischief-makers die down completely. They don't want interference from Delhi." With regard to the Gujarat riots, the Shankaracharya said, "This is my appeal. If a few members of a particular community commit violent acts, we cannot hold the entire community to ransom. The see-saw violence in Gujarat must be brought to an end forthwith. Peace should prevail. In Gujarat, the train incident happened. Protesting against violent acts is justified. But taking this to extreme forms of retaliation is not okay. If there was an action and it had a reaction, it doesn't mean that this has to carry on. Peace should be restored." Asked about "rajdharma," the just rule of the king, His Holiness said, "What rajdharma? When there is no raja (king), how can there be rajdharma? We are a democracy. The praja (citizen) is supreme." Asked if he was hopeful that one day a Ram temple would come up at the Janmabhoomi site, he replied, "(Laughs). Mandir or no mandir, Ram is present, anyway. So, how does it matter?"




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Request for Tamil Calligraphy
Posted on 2002/5/1 23:46:02 ( 849 reads )


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KAUAI, HAWAII, May 2, 2002: Hinduism Today is seeking the Tamil alphabet in elegant hand-drawn calligraphy for use as a display font for book titles and like applications. We are familiar with all the computer fonts on the market, but are looking for something with a more graceful, organic and traditional sense to it. If you are an accomplished calligrapher and would like to help, kindly contact "source" above.




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Traditional Kumkum Recipe Sought
Posted on 2002/5/1 23:45:02 ( 842 reads )


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KAUAI, HAWAII, May 2, 2002: An HPI reader has requested a traditional recipe to make kumkum, the red powder or paste offered to the Diety in temple ceremonies and put on the forehead of the devotees. If you know how to make it in the traditional fashion with lime and tumeric, kindly contact "source" above.




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