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Delhi Firm to Manage Prime Minister Modi's Yoga Show


Posted on 2016/5/25 19:42:01 ( 1225 reads )

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CHANDIGARH, INDIA May 23, 2016 (by Nitin Jain, Tribune News Service): A Delhi-based private firm will make the massive logistic arrangements for the mega show being held on International Yoga Day in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi will perform yoga along with 30,000 participants in the presence of 500-odd VVIP guests at the Capitol Complex in Chandigarh on June 21. The agency was selected after it made the lowest bid of US$430,000. The selected firm had also made arrangements for the maiden International Yoga Day event held in New Delhi last year. The private agency has to design, install and operationalize the sprawling venue, spread over 1.2 million sq ft, for mass yoga demonstrations and provide event management services in all respects. For the one-hour event to be held from 7 am to 8 am, the Chandigarh Administration has pulled all stops to ensure foolproof arrangements.



High Court: A Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe Ceases to be so After Conversion to Another Religion


Posted on 2016/5/25 19:41:51 ( 1292 reads )

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HYDERABAD, INDIA, May 23, 2016 (by R. Rajashekar Rao, News India): The Hyderabad High Court has made it clear that once a member of Schedule Caste or Scheduled Tribe converts to Christianity or some other religion, such a person ceases to be a member of SC or ST and is no longer covered under the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. Rao, his wife and their son moved the High Court seeking quashing of proceedings against them in a case before the second additional judicial first class magistrate, Anakapalli, Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh. The case was registered against them for offenses punishable under various sections of IPC and Section 3(1)(x) of SC/ST (POA) Act, basing on a complaint lodged by their neighbor (de facto complainant) Srinivas who claimed that he had been abused in the name of his caste. He said he belonged to the SC Mala community and was pastor at a church. Police said in their report after investigation that his wife and others categorically deposed that Srinivas was professing Christianity.

It is clear that they converted to Christianity and were running a church and Srinivas was serving as pastor by professing Christianity though he was basically a Hindu SC by caste. Further, the caste certificate issued in favor of Srinivas as 'SC Mala' had been cancelled, the police said. Rao and his family urged the High Court to quash the case against them pending before the lower court, saying that Srinivas had made false allegations to implicate them by abusing the SC/ST Act. After hearing both sides and perusing the material on record and various court judgments, justice B Siva Sankara Rao said, "The disabilities and handicaps do not continue after conversion. Thus, if a Scheduled Caste Hindu converts to another religion, except Sikh and Buddhist, that person ceases to be a member of the Scheduled Caste and cannot invoke the provisions of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989."



Daily Inspiration


Posted on 2016/5/25 19:41:40 ( 847 reads )

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It is far easier to conquer others than to conquer oneself, because the former can be attained by recourse to outside means, while the latter can be achieved only with one's own mind.
-- Mahatma Gandhi(1869-1948)



US Textbook Row: Victory for Indian-Americans as California Not to Replace "India" with "South Asia"


Posted on 2016/5/24 19:35:10 ( 1131 reads )

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WASHINGTON D.C., US., May 20, 2016 (First Post): A California commission -- mandated with recommendation and revision of school textbooks -- has rejected demands of replacing India with South Asia for pre-1947 references, which had become a major bone of contention from various academic groups in the US.

The California Department of Education's (CDE) Instructional Quality Commission (IQC), at its hearing on Thursday -- which was marked by presence of a large number of parents and students from both sides -- decided not to replace mentions of India with South Asia in the new framework for History Social Science textbooks in California. Over a hundred Indian-American children and parents testified at the public hearing at the CDE, opposing the proposal, and seeking restoration of the word India'.

Earlier this year, the Commission had proposed to replace instances of "India" by "South Asia" in its school textbooks at the behest of South Asia Faculty Group (SAFG), led by top academicians like professors Kamala Visweswaran of University of California at San Diego, Lawrence Cohen and Robert Goldman of University of California at Berkeley. The group had suggested that many mentions of "India" before 1947 had to be replaced with "South Asia."

The suggestions were opposed by another group of 41 academics led by professors Barbara McGraw of Saint Mary's College of California, and including Diana Eck of Harvard University who called the proposal "anachronistic" and "not historical." "Hinduism should be represented in California K-12 textbooks in a manner comparable to other religions "fairly, accurately and equitably," said McGraw.



India 'Survives' in California Textbooks


Posted on 2016/5/24 19:34:59 ( 1051 reads )

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WASHINGTION, D.C., US, May 21, 2016 (Times of India by Chidanand Rajghatta): India has survived in California school textbooks. Nothing calamitous was going happen to the country itself, but a pedagogical and academic battle over use of the term "India" over "South Asia" has been resolved to the satisfaction of overseas Indian nationalistic groups and Indophiles.

At the heart of the battle was a tussle between the nationalist groups and a few academics over using the term "South Asia" in place of India in certain contexts in school textbooks in California. Some leftist historians had petitioned for a change, maintaining among other views, that "India" was a post-colonial entity, and the term "South Asia" would be better suited while teaching ancient history of the region.

Eventually, many of the edits petitioned by the South Asia Faculty Group, including a demand to delete "Hinduism" and replace it with "religion of ancient India," were rejected. "For years, the American perception of Hinduism and India has been overly simplistic and inaccurate, in part due to the content of California textbooks," said Samir Kalra, senior director for the Hindu American Foundation, which joined nationalist groups in challenging efforts to "South Asianise" the region's history. "There are nearly a million Indian and Hindu Americans who call California home, so it's important for them to see their cultural and religious heritage represented with accuracy and parity."



Rare Discovery Pushes Back Iron Age in India


Posted on 2016/5/24 19:34:49 ( 1060 reads )

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HYDERABAD, INDIA, May 18, 2015 (Times of India): The Iron Age may have come into existence in Telangana much before the rest of the world. At least that's the conclusion reached by archaeologists excavating the University of Hyderabad campus who found iron artefacts dating back to roughly 2,200 BC.

The team of archaeologists, led by professor KP Rao, has found several artefacts, including small knives and blades besides earthen pots. "The implements that were found were tested at the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) using a method called Optically Simulated Luminescence (OSL). The metal objects were dated to anywhere between 1800 BC and 2,400 BC. So we are assuming they were made during 2200 BC," Prof KP Rao told TOI.

This, he said, predates the existing understanding about the advent of the Iron Age in the country. Worldwide, experts have put the dawn of the age around 1200 BC, marking the time when humans started exploiting metals to make basic tools.



Daily Inspiration


Posted on 2016/5/24 19:34:38 ( 975 reads )

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Eternal, pure, groundless, death-and-birth free, pervasive, ever immaculate, distant, near, enveloping effulgence of void, the support of all, the fullness of bliss, the consciousness-form beyond thought and speech, That which thus stood, the expanse vast that generates bliss, let us contemplate.
-- Tayumanavar (1706-1744), South Indian devotional poet



US scholars Decry Plan to Change "India" to "South Asia" in California Textbooks


Posted on 2016/5/17 9:51:53 ( 2704 reads )

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CALIFORNIA, May 17, 2016 (Press Trust of India): A group of 41 prominent scholars, including several Indian-Americans from across the US have written to the California Department of Education opposing proposals to change "India" to "South Asia" in the state text books.
Signed by distinguished academics such as Barbara McGraw of Saint Marys College of California, Diana Eck of Harvard University and Gerald James Larson of Indiana University, the letter called for a "representation of India and Hinduism that is consistent with the manner in which other cultures and religions are portrayed, and one which avoids Eurocentric biases." A copy of the letter accompanied a statement.

The group argued that the term "South Asia" is a post World War II geopolitical designation to account for the breakup of British India.

The academics pointed out that textbook narrative "refers to all other ancient geographical areas by their ancestral terms China, Japan, Egypt, Greece, etc." Only "India" is recommended for a change".

Earlier this year, the California Department of Educations (CDE) Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) had proposed to accept several changes to the textbook framework suggested by another group of academics named South Asia Faculty Group (SAFG), the statement said.
The suggestions included replacing references to India before 1947 with "South Asia" and "Hinduism" with "ancient Indian religions.
The group was led by academics Kamala Visweswaran of University of California, San Diego, and Robert Goldman of University of California, Berkeley, it added.

In its seven-page letter, SSRFG questioned these edits and said that SAFGs views did not constitute scholarly consensus as claimed by the latter.

The academics of SSRFG while welcoming "robust academic debate about the politics of India" in the academia cautioned that the debate is not "appropriately addressed in a K-12 textbook Framework narrative in California."

Calling into question the suggestion to replace the word "Hinduism" with "ancient Indian religions" the letter said "if anyone were to argue that Hinduism did not exist then as what we today refer to as "Hinduism", that would be an unfounded erasure of history on the grounds of semantics," said a statement issued on behalf of SSRFG.

Meanwhile, Harvard scholar Nathan Glazer has also called for using the term "India" for ancient Indian civilisation.

Writing as a response to the debate in New York Times he said, "for ancient India, as known to the classical Greeks and to Alexander, and to Greek and Roman geographers, to Portuguese adventurers, to 17th and 18th century British, French and Dutch merchants, to British imperialists, what other term, or some equivalent, would serve? They could not conceive of it as "South Asia".

"They knew it as a distinctive civilisation, stretching from the Indus to the Ganges, from the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean (and should we change that name, too?), with its own ancient languages, and classic texts, and religions descended from them," Glazer wrote.

The California Department of Education (CDE)'s Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) will be hearing the matter on May 19th where it would finalise its framework narrative for its school textbooks.

The narrative would be submitted to the State Board of Education (SBE) for its approval later this year, the press statement said.



Getting Religious Studies Right


Posted on 2016/5/16 19:28:20 ( 2479 reads )

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UNITED STATES, May 8, 2016 (The Chronicle of Higher Education by Prof. Arvind Sharma, McGill University): I should respond to Wendy Doniger's essay ("The Repression of Religious Studies," April 29, 2016, Chronicle of Higher Education, behind paywall) because I am the "Hindu" whose entry on Hinduism was substituted for her own by Microsoft Encarta in 2003. As it was put to me, some Hindus complained that they did not recognize themselves in Doniger's piece and therefore it was being replaced. My entry could have conceivably been written by a non-Hindu who presented Hinduism in such a way that followers of Hinduism could relate to it, as is sometimes the goal of the phenomenological method of studying religion.

There is a fundamental controversy in religious studies around the question: Is the ultimate nature of religion "religious" or not? According to reductive methods, the nature of religion is not "religious" but psychological, social, political, geographical, or something else. According to nonreductive methods, the nature of religion is "religious" -- the manifest assumption of theology.

There is, however, another method, known as the phenomenology of religion. A phenomenologist believes that believers believe, without necessarily believing what they believe. Perhaps what those Hindus who object to Doniger are trying to say is that they would prefer a phenomenological presentation of Hinduism, not necessarily a pious one. Such a view does not mean that only insiders can teach a religion, nor does it mean that the person presenting the believer's perspective shares that perspective.

Doniger's essay ends with a plea to defend academic freedom. I agree. The problem, however, arises when academic freedom degenerates into academic license, and academic license degenerates into academic licentiousness.

For the excellent well-reasoned full article by Dr. Sharma, click "source" above.



Hindu Students Council's 25th Annual Camp


Posted on 2016/5/16 19:28:09 ( 2377 reads )

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NEW YORK, USA, May 11, 2016 : Hindu Students Council (HSC), the largest Hindu youth organization in North America, will be hosting its 25th Annual Camp at the Shanti Mandir, in Walden, NY. HSC, which hosted a successful Global Dharma Conference featuring over 55 world renowned speakers and performers in September 2015, will conclude its Silver Jubilee celebrations at the Annual Camp, which has been a hallmark of college youth summer activities since 1990.

This year's camp program will be structured around the theme of "Goals of Life," based on the Hindu concept of the "Purusharthas." "We hope that the students will develop a holistic appreciation and deeper understanding for all that Hinduism has to offer them. Over 130,000 students and youth have participated in HSC activities since its inception in 1990.

For more information, please visit www.hindustudentscouncil.org or email at info@hindustudentscouncil.org or contact Nikund Trivedi (732) 599-1561



Daily Inspiration


Posted on 2016/5/16 19:27:59 ( 1963 reads )

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If you would walk the way of love, never feel hurt nor yield to anger, but accept pain as a part of life.
-- Dada J.P. Vaswani, spiritual head of Sadhu Vaswani Mission



Yoga, Meditation Improve Memory Better Than Brain Games, Study Finds


Posted on 2016/5/15 19:10:24 ( 2445 reads )

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ARIZONA, USA, May 12, 2016 (YogaDork): A recent study found that yoga, yes yoga, is better at keeping your memory sharp than all those puzzles and brain training apps you download to try and "exercise" the old noodle. In the "more good news" department, yoga was also found to relieve depression and anxiety in people who practiced regularly. The study was funded by the Alzheimer's Research and Prevention Foundation in Tuscon, Arizona. Through functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain scans the researchers saw changes in the way the brain cells connect with each other, they were only statistically significant in the people practicing yoga. Science seems to be catching up to what a lot of us have been experiencing anecdotally. "Historically and anecdotally, yoga has been thought to be beneficial in aging well, but this is the scientific demonstration of that benefit," said lead researcher Harris Eyre, of the University of Adelaide. "We're converting historical wisdom into the high level of evidence required for doctors to recommend therapy to their patients."

For participants of the study, this regular practice not only improved memory capabilities, it improved mood and helped them better cope with stress, depression and anxiety, which is important for the emotional components of aging, or managing symptoms of Alzheimer's. Professor Helen Lavretsky of the University of California at Los Angeles, a co-author of the study says,"If you or your relatives are trying to improve your memory or offset the risk for developing memory loss or dementia, a regular practice of yoga and meditation could be a simple, safe and low-cost solution to improving your brain fitness," Lavretsky said.



Bill to Remove "Oriental" from Federal Law Passes Senate


Posted on 2016/5/15 19:10:13 ( 1926 reads )

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WASHINGTON, USA, May 13, 2016 (by Emil Guillermo, NBC News): On May 9, the Senate unanimously passed a bill that would remove the word "Oriental" from the last known laws in the United States Code where it applies to a person. Now the bill is on its way to President Obama for final approval. The legislation changes two laws in Title 42 of the U.S. Code, striking all references of "a Negro, Puerto Rican, American Indian, Eskimo, Oriental, or Aleut or is a Spanish speaking individual of Spanish descent," inserting instead "an Asian American, Native Hawaiian, a Pacific Islander, African American, Hispanic, Puerto Rican, Native American, or an Alaska Native." It's origins are in the era of European colonization when the terms "Orient" and "Oriental" were used to describe Asia and Asian peoples as backward, inferior, exotic, and foreign in order to justify colonization and subjugation," says Erika Lee, director of the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota, and the author of, "The Making of Asian America: A History."

"In the U.S., the term "Oriental" has been used to reinforce the idea that Asians were/are forever foreign and could never become American. These ideas helped to justify immigration exclusion, racial discrimination and violence, political disfranchisement, and segregation." Lee said continued use of the term only "perpetuates inequality, disrespect, discrimination, and stereotypes towards Asian Americans, a group that remains largely underrepresented in American politics despite their status as the fastest growing group in the U.S."



Global Conference on World's Religions After 9/11 Meets in Montreal in September


Posted on 2016/5/15 19:10:03 ( 1952 reads )

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MONTREAL, CANADA, May 15, 2016 (invitation from the conference convenor, Dr. Arvind Sharma): Most people remember where they were and what they were doing when they first heard the news of the aerial assault on the Twin Towers in New York City on September 11, 2001. The ground may not have shifted under our feet at the moment but the very concept of religion underwent a paradigm shift for many of us. Instead of standing for virtue and piety, and peace and harmony, the word religion was launched on a semantic trajectory which would make it a byword for evil, aggression and terror.

But is there not more to religion than this? We invite you to explore the more positive possibilities of the religious dimension of life by attending the third Global Conference on World's Religions after September 11: From Faith to Interfaith, which will meet in Montreal on September 15, 2016. Its aim is to bring together the various religions of the world in an ecumenical spirit to address the many issues facing the world today and adopt a Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in the hope that this will help all of us become better human beings.

Arvind Sharma, Birks Professor of Comparative Religion, Faculty of Religious Studies, McGill University

Click "source" above for more information.



Daily Inspiration


Posted on 2016/5/15 19:09:52 ( 1856 reads )

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He cannot be seen by the eye, and words cannot reveal Him. He cannot be reached by the senses, or by austerity or sacred actions. By the grace of wisdom and purity of mind, He can be seen, indivisible, in the silence of contemplation. This invisible Atman can be seen by the mind wherein the five senses are resting.
-- Atharva Veda

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