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A Peace Movement for India's Women

Posted on 2003/2/4 8:46:02 ( 1210 reads )

Source: The Hamilton Spectator

NEW DELHI, INDIA, January 21, 2003 : Hindu scriptures are full of wonderful female role models, and there are thousands of Hindu temples devoted to Goddesses throughout India. If society in India reflected what Hinduism believes, women would have the upper hand in India. However in India, as elsewhere, for women life hasn't always been easy. Women are beginning to find their political voice for change, however. Last February, the Center for Peace Studies at McMaster University cosponsored a peace conference in India, helped start a peace movement known as Vaishali Sabha (People's Assembly) and a peace organization known as Women Shanti Sena (Women Peace Soldiers). Membership in the Women Shanti Sena has grown to 3,000 and continues to expand says Acharya Ramamurti, a prominent Gandhian, the man behind movement. The basic idea of Women Shanti Sena is to seed India with 50,000 trained women peacemakers by 2005. There are two kinds of peacemaking, according to Ramamurti. "The usual kind is making peace after war. The other kind is making peace so we can avoid war. Our effort in India is of the second kind. Women Shanti Sena is teaching women how to get involved in peaceful community-building. They consider themselves on the road to peace through democracy and development."

Book Details Institutionalized Missionary Work in Korea

Posted on 2003/2/4 8:45:02 ( 928 reads )

Source: Korean Buddhism at the Crossroads

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA, May 6, 2001: Dr. Frank M. Tedesco, a well-known social activist, expert on Korean Buddhism and author of "Korean Buddhism at the Crossroads," was invited to Malaysia for a series of talks in May, 2001. Dr. Tedesco noted that after the Korean War (1950-1953) the entire country was in ruins and the people were demoralized. The country needed foreign aid and the U.S. poured in money to rebuild South Korea. In the process the US government used Christian missionaries to administer aid because they had been in the country for nearly a hundred years and understood the local customs and language. The missionaries came to be seen as saviors of the Korean people as the local people associated Christianity with development, self-help, advanced Western technology and medicine. During this time the Buddhist monastic community was largely uneducated and fragmented, and there was no strong and organized lay Buddhist leadership. Buddhism began to lose followers to the missionaries who were able to capitalize on these weaknesses. Some Korean Christians have been very zealous, using every opportunity to bring others to their faith. Also a number of attacks on Buddhist temples by extremist Christians have also occurred over the years. In 1900 .5 percent of Koreans were Christians. Today, it is 21%. Christians consider it a success story and hope to repeat it across Asia, with Nepal as the immediate next target.

Indian Folk Art, a Delight in Anonymity

Posted on 2003/2/4 8:44:02 ( 1018 reads )

Source: The Nation, Thailand

BANGKOK, THAILAND, February 4, 2003: The Indian Embassy recently brought 40 Madhubani paintings from India to display at Bangkok's National Gallery where they were on display until January 30. This exhibition by women from the Indian state of Bihar, highlighted centuries of a folk art tradition Madhubani women have created for religious and secular ceremonies. All pieces are unsigned as the artists have not sought fame, but instead use their talents to honor a timeless tradition. When drought struck the state of Bihar in the late 1960s, the Indian government, hoping to create a new source of income for the villagers, encouraged the artists to market their pieces.

Hindu Encyclopedia Seeks Editor

Posted on 2003/2/4 8:43:02 ( 1110 reads )


RISHIKESH, INDIA, February 4, 2003: The Encyclopedia of Hinduism is seeking an editor based in India to professionally review thousands of articles and edit the English to a uniform excellence. Those interested, or with recommendations, may email "source" above.

Houston's Meenakshi Temple Remembers Astronaut Kalpana Chawla

Posted on 2003/2/3 8:49:02 ( 1364 reads )


HOUSTON, USA, February 2, 2003: Mr. B.L. Chawla lit a kuththuvilakku (oil lamp) at the Meenakshi Temple in Pearland, Texas, Sunday in memory of his daughter Kalpana, one of the astronauts who died aboard Columbia. More than 1,000 members of Houston's Indian community gathered Sunday to mourn and celebrate the life of NASA astronaut Kalpana Chawla. Chawla, a 41-year-old flight engineer who died aboard the shuttle Columbia on Saturday, was described as an inspiration to her fellow Indians and Indian-Americans, especially the youth. Chawla, a first-generation immigrant who became an astronaut in 1994, was the first Indian-born woman to fly into space. The tribute was mult- denominational and drew Indian-Americans of all persuasions. Many participated who subscribe to the Sikh faith and hail from the Punjab region of India, Chawla's birthplace. Chawla's religious affiliation is unclear, and HPI requests anyone with a definitive answer to e-mail ar@hindu.org.

Gandhi Peace Prize Awarded to Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan

Posted on 2003/2/3 8:48:02 ( 1183 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, January 30, 2003: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, established with the blessings of Mahatma Gandhi, has been awarded the coveted Gandhi Peace Prize for 2002. A five-member jury, headed by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, chose Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan because of its "significant contribution towards spreading peace and harmony among all religions and communities on the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi and also integration of the best of ancient and modern values." The recipients receive a cash prize of US$209,226 and a citation, to be awarded at a later date by President Kalam. The Bhavan currently has over 90 centers in the India, with 45 schools where special emphasis is placed on ethical and cultural education, promotion of religious interfaith and understanding, mutual respect and peace. They also have a number of centers worldwide with major cultural centers in London, New York, Lisbon and Mexico.

Magazine Apologizes for Offensive Gandhi Representation

Posted on 2003/2/3 8:47:02 ( 946 reads )


WASHINGTON, USA, January 31, 2003: A massive online protest by Indians and pacifists from many countries has forced Maxim, a British and American soft-porn magazine, to apologize for its literal Gandhi-bashing caricatures in its latest issue. In that issue, a martial arts expert is show in a series of cartoons "exercising" by beating up a character that looks like Gandhi. The apology from editor-in-chief Keith Blanchard came after more than 5,000 Indians clogged the magazine's e-mail addresses with protest messages. Many of them followed up the online protest with angry telephone calls. Maxim vacillated a great deal before coming out with the apology, however what seems to have finally worked was a threat by IndiaCause, a US-based activist group, to approach advertisers with appeals to stop giving ads to a publication that has "insulted the apostle of peace." It even put out a sample letter to corporate heads on its website. Issuing the apology late Thursday, Blanchard said: "We apologize if our cartoon depicting Mahatma Gandhi...was interpreted as offensive. An edgy sense of humor, laced with irony, has always been a central element of Maxim's editorial. For some people, this piece may have gone one step too far."

India McDonald's Controversy Over "No Beef" Posters

Posted on 2003/2/3 8:46:02 ( 2021 reads )


VADODARA, INDIA, February 2, 2003: It seems to be a no-win situation for the US fast food chain McDonald's which has now stirred up activists here for posters saying beef is not sold in its outlets. Sarvadharm Jivdaya Samiti activists entered an outlet on Saturday, asking that the display boards be removed. SJS activists said the boards implied that beef was consumable, although not sold at the restaurant. They forcibly removed one sign and asked employees working there to remove the others. Deepak Gandhi, SJS member, said the fact that McDonald's had to make such an announcement indicated something was wrong. He said no other restaurant in the city felt the need to make such an announcement. McDonald's representatives here said, "It (the sign) was for dispelling apprehensions among those who come to eat here. However, it has been misunderstood. The issue is being raked up unnecessarily." A McDonald's spokesperson in Mumbai said,"...we have been maintaining total segregation of vegetarian and non-vegetarian material from the suppliers. It is also true that we do not serve beef in India and have always taken care not to hurt religious sentiments."

Major Variety of Edible Bananas May Wiped Out

Posted on 2003/2/3 8:45:02 ( 933 reads )


MONTPELLIER, FRANCE, January 16, 2003: Edible bananas, whose botanical forebears are traced back 10,000 years to southeast Asia, may be changing in the next decade. Research conducted by Belgian scientist, Dr. Emile Frison, head of the French-based International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantain, indicates that the Cavendish Banana, which is eaten across the planet, lacks genetic diversity. Without genetic diversity the banana could be wiped out by soil fungus or pests. One particular variety of fungal disease called Black Sigatoka has reached epidemic proportions. In the next five years Dr. Frison plans to focus his research on inedible African wild bananas, full of hard seeds that are resistant to black Sigatoka. If Dr. Frison is successful, the edible banana may offer sustenance for another 10,000 years to the half a billion people in Africa and Asia who depend on bananas as a staple food.

Indian-Americans Give Generously for India's Social Causes

Posted on 2003/2/3 8:44:02 ( 995 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, January 31, 2003: An average Indian-American contributes up to US$300 a year for social causes in India. If just half the Indian population in the US donated that much, India would receive more than $250 million for social causes every year, says a survey on the giving patterns of the Indian diaspora conducted by the Charities Aid Foundation India. According to R. Gopa Kumar, author of the study, more and more of the 1.7 million Indian Americans are keen to increase their charitable giving to 10 times of what they give now. Among all respondents, 7.3 percent donated more than $3,000 in the past two years and nearly 40 percent donated between $500 and $1,000. The donations came overwhelmingly during times of crises, such as the Kargil war of 1999, the Gujarat quake and other natural calamities. "The study shows that Indians are emerging as a powerful community in the US though they comprise only 0.6 per cent of the total American population."

Malaysia Hosts Third International Conference on Muruga Worship

Posted on 2003/2/3 8:43:02 ( 977 reads )


KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, January 21, 2003: The Third International Conference Seminar on Murugan-Skanda will be held in Malaysia, May 1-4, 2003. Scholars and devotees from around the world will be attending the conference as delegates and representatives of the Tamil diaspora from 45 countries are expected to participate. The inaugural function will take place at Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur. Academic sessions, multimedia and cultural programs, a valedictory function and other related events will take place at the University of Malaysia. For more information and registration forms contact "source" above.

Kerala Minister Urges State to Pass Forcible Conversion Law

Posted on 2003/2/3 8:42:02 ( 947 reads )


PATHANAMHTITTA, INDIA, February 2, 2003: Union Minister of State for Defense and Parliamentary Affairs, Mr. Rajagopal urged the Kerala government to pass legislation curbing forcible conversions and check what he termed the "onslaught" against Hinduism. Inaugurating the 91st Annual Hindu Matha Parishad at Cherukolpula on the banks of river Pamba here, he said the government was duty bound to protect and preserve the centuries old spiritual traditions. Referring to the recent attack and deportation of evangelist Mr. Joseph Cooper, Rajagopal said the missionary had no authority to preach religion by visiting the country on a tourist visa or cast a slur on Gods worshiped by the local people. India visa requirements state, "Those traveling to India on behalf of a church or for any missionary purpose must complete an additional application form for Missionaries. Processing time for applications is between two-four months." The Indian Penal Code, Section 1860, makes it a crime to outrage the religious feelings of any class of citizens, or to insult the religion or religious beliefs of any class.

Ayodhya Sadhu Stands for New Temple

Posted on 2003/2/3 8:41:02 ( 1018 reads )


LUCKNOW, INDIA, January 21, 2003: Standing on his feet for thirty days, Pagal Das, a sadhu under personal vows, has attracted huge crowds of pilgrims. Pagal decided to undertake these tapas in Ayodhya near the Sri Ram Janmabhhomi-babri Masjid site and has vowed to keep standing until the proposed Ram Temple has been constructed. Despite cold temperatures at night and sleeping while holding onto the branch of a Pakar tree for support, Pagal Das is unrelenting and calls his quest a peaceful agitation. President of the Sri Ram Janmabhhomi Nyas Trust, 90 year-old Mahant Ram Chandra Das Paramhans, fears that the sadhu may die because he cannot see the government relenting to the sadhu's demands to build the temple.

Tamil Nadu Celebrates Thai Pongal with Huge Kolam

Posted on 2003/2/2 8:49:02 ( 371 reads )


THANJAVUR, INDIA, January 30, 2003: Tiny Vayacheri village, near Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, celebrated Pongal (the season's first rice harvest) in a big way with a king-size 100-meter-long kolam (rangoli, designs drawn on the ground with colored powders) covering an entire street. Residents believed this may have been the longest kolam in the country. A group of 20 women, who started around midnight completed the intricately designed kolam at 7:00 a.m. the next day.

Kerala Debates Syllabus' Focus, Karl Marx or Gandhi?

Posted on 2003/2/2 8:48:02 ( 1107 reads )


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, INDIA, November 19, 2002: Politically-conscious Kerala is in the midst of a debate on who should get prominence in college courses, Gandhi or Marx. The controversy has been extended to the Kerala Assembly where Congress member Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan wondered how Gandhism could be relegated to the background to give prominence to Marxism in the revised syllabus of the MA (Political Science) course of the Kerala University. Education Minister Nalakath Soopy expressed the Government's displeasure at the prominence given to Marxism and said the Government viewed the issue seriously. The issue will be considered by a special meeting of the Board of Studies of the University and any changes in the curriculum would be done based on decisions made at the meeting. Kerala's communist party has long been prominent in the State.

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