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U.S. Department of Education Takes Actions to Address Religious Discrimination

Posted on 2016/7/25 20:35:32 ( 336 reads )


USA, July 25, 2016 (Ed.gov Press Release): As part of ongoing efforts to encourage respect for students of all faiths and beliefs, the U.S. Department of Education today shared a series of actions that confront discrimination and promote inclusive school environments. The steps include a new website on religious discrimination, an updated civil rights complaint form, an expanded survey of America's public schools on religious-based bullying, technical assistance for schools, and recent outreach on confronting religious harassment in education. "Students of all religions should feel safe, welcome and valued in our nation's schools," said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon. "We will continue to work with schools and communities to stop discrimination and harassment so that all students have an equal opportunity to participate in school no matter who they are, where they come from or which faith, if any, they subscribe to."

"Today's announcement underscores that we are concerned about the well being of students. On the prevention side, President Obama's Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, started in 2011, is another important resource," said the Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell, director of the Department's Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. "Our agency has had the privilege of coordinating the Challenge which provides college students from many religious traditions as well as nonbelievers to work together to tackle community problems. This higher education civic engagement allows students from religiously diverse backgrounds to build bridges of understanding across cultural and religious lines and helps prevent intolerance."

The Department's Office for Civil Rights launched a new page, Religious Discrimination, http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/religion.html, on its website with information about federal laws that protect students from discrimination involving their religion. The page links to OCR policy guidance, notable case resolutions, and resources in multiple languages and from other federal agencies.

For more, go to source

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/7/25 20:35:20 ( 261 reads )


Through meditation and by giving full attention to one thing at a time, we can learn to direct attention where we choose.
-- Eknath Easwaran

Tamil Nadu CM Thanks Harish Rawat for Promising to Install Valluvar Statue

Posted on 2016/7/24 19:19:55 ( 0 reads )


CHENNAI, INDIA, July 23, 2016 (Deccan Chronicle): Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Friday wrote to her Uttarakhand counterpart Harish Rawat thanking him for taking steps to install the Thiruvalluvar statue within the government Mela Bhavan in Haridwar. "I am grateful that you have responded speedily and positively to the outpouring of sentiments of the people of TN on this sensitive issue," she told Rawat, who had dispatched a senior Tamil IAS officer in Uttarkhand to identify a suitable spot for the statue's installation.

Ms. Jayalalithaa in her letter told Rawat that the Thiruvalluvar statue issue had caused "considerable disquiet" in TN. Several political leaders in TN had expressed concern over the statue of the poet-saint lying wrapped in a park in Haridwar after the efforts by BJP MP Tarun Vijay to install it on the banks of Ganga failed due to protest from local sadhus.

It appeared that the sadhus were against the Thiruvalluvar statue being erected in an area where only the statues of Hindu deities have been installed. According to R. Meenakshi Sundaram, vice-chairman of the Mussoorie-Dehradun Development Authority, a suitable spot inside the Mela Bhavan will be decided after consulting the Ganga Sabha and the Akhil Bharatiya Akahara Parishad representatives.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/7/24 19:19:44 ( 326 reads )


To say "through silence He is realized" is not correct, because Supreme Knowledge does not come "through" anything. Supreme Knowledge reveals Itself.
-- Anandamayi Ma

Jayalalithaa Asks Modi to Resolve Thiruvalluvar Statue Issue

Posted on 2016/7/22 18:43:47 ( 622 reads )


TAMIL NADU, INDIA, July 21, 2016 (The Hindu): Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Wednesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to urgently take up with the Uttarakhand government the issue of installation of a statue of Tamil sage poet Thiruvalluvar in Haridwar. "It is learnt that the Thiruvalluvar statue is now lying in the Dam Kothi Guest House, Haridwar, in an abandoned condition. The visuals beamed on television screens is causing outrage in Tamil Nadu," Ms. Jayalalithaa said.

Thiruvalluvar is a celebrated poet believed to have lived between 3rd Century BC and 1st Century BC. He wrote the most popular Tamil literary works Thirukkural, also known as the common creed. The verses are a moral guide for human beings and have been translated in several languages. "The object of the Thiruvalluvar Ganga Payanam is to show solidarity of the North with the Tamil saint poet Thiruvalluvar's message of equality and ending social discrimination in society," Ms. Jayalalithaa said.

According to her, due to the local protests, the installation of Thiruvalluvar statue at Har ki Pauri was prevented and was installed at Shankaracharya Chowk, Haridwar, on June 28. The statute was to be unveiled on June 29 by the Governor and Chief Minister of Uttarakhand.

Five Star Mayor of Turin to Create Italy's First Vegetarian City

Posted on 2016/7/22 18:43:36 ( 603 reads )


TURIN, ITALY, July 21, 2016 (The Guardian): From vitello tonnato - veal with tuna sauce - to beef braised in the Piedmont region's most famous red wine, brasato al Barolo, meat dishes have been central to the food tradition of northern Italy for centuries. But Chiara Appendino, the new mayor of Turin and a force in the populist Five Star Movement (M5S), could be about to change all that with her pledge this week to promote vegetarian and vegan diets as a "priority" in her administration.

According to M5S's 62-page manifesto - which also called for better urban planning and the protection of public land - Turin's new mayor said the endorsement of meat-free and even dairy-free living was fundamental to the protection of the environment, health, and the wellbeing of animals. While the specifics of the strategy have not been disclosed, the city is expected to set up educational projects in schools to teach students about animal welfare and nutrition.

The move is unprecedented in Italian municipal government, but is in keeping with the views of the eurosceptic M5S. The party espouses some progressive values, such as environmentalism, conservation and green energy, but is ambiguous on migration and did not support a recent extension of parental rights to LGBT Italians.

Be a California Textbook Reviewer

Posted on 2016/7/22 18:43:26 ( 594 reads )


SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA, July 21, 2016 (Hindu American Foundation): In order to ensure an accurate and balanced portrayal of Hinduism and ancient India, Hindu American community members in California are urged to apply to become reviewers for the state's textbook adoption process. This process, which concludes in 2017, selects new History-Social Science textbooks for grades K-8.

Between now and October 19, the California Department of Education is accepting applications for instructional materials reviewers. If selected, a reviewer would participate in the textbook adoption process next year.

Your feedback would be critical to shaping how Hinduism is viewed in California textbooks for up to the next two decades. Parents, community members, educators living in California are amongst those encouraged to apply.

To apply to become a reviewer, go to the California Department of Education Website:


which fully explains the duties and requirements.

To learn more about the textbook adoption process, contact the Hindu American Foundation at education@hafsite.org.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/7/22 18:43:16 ( 465 reads )


You may develop a thousand virtues and be reckoned as the greatest in the land. But the lotus of your heart will not blossom until you receive the grace of the Guru, the grace of God!
-- Dada Sadhu Vaswani

Years-Long Advocacy for Reform and Equity in California Textbooks for Hindu, Indian and South Asian History Concludes with the Approval of the New Framework

Posted on 2016/7/21 20:10:00 ( 870 reads )


SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA, July 21, 2016 (Diya TV): State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced Thursday that the State Board of Education approve the History-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools, which will update and upgrade history and social science instruction in California. Leaders of the Hindu American Foundation also announced Thursday that important progress had been made in the effort to ensure that Hinduism and India are presented equitably and accurately in the aforementioned framework.

"This is a big win for our students," Torlakson said in a statement. "This document will improve the teaching and learning of history and social science. It will give our students access to the latest historical research and help them learn about the diversity of our state and the contributions of people and groups who may not have received the appropriate recognition in the past." Approved after a nearly two-year long process, the framework, with the input from multiple Hindu American community groups, parents and schoolchildren, now incorporates prominent mention of Hinduism's pluralistic ethos, Hindu sages of diverse backgrounds, and the importance of the Bhakti movement.

Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom presented the Board with a letter on July 11, urging them to adopt a framework that would "accurately portray the unique contribution of California's diverse communities." Newsom applauded the Board's efforts to reinsert specific references to India in the framework, however, added that replacing references to Hinduism still left much to be desired.

Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, sent a letter to the Board as well. She applauded the efforts of the Instructional Quality Commission, just as Newsom had, but urged the Board to ensure the additional concerns of the Hindu-American community were addressed. "As the first and only serving Hindu American Member of Congress, I have worked actively throughout my many years of service to promote diversity, equality, and pluralism," she wrote. "I firmly believe in the significance of creating an education system and textbooks that uphold these important American values."

Hindu American Foundation's senior director and Human Rights Fellow Samir Kalra voiced public disappointment after the Board could not be swayed to hear those additional changes requested by Hindus. "The Board showed much sensitivity to activists representing Islam and Muslims, by adjusting the frameworks slightly to show the religion in a more positive light," Kalra said, adding however that the same sentiment was paid to the further discussion of additional changes for Hindus. "We only wish they had shown the same empathy when discussing further changes on the presentation of Hinduism," Kalra said.

Much more at "source" above including an excellent video interview.

Chinmaya Mission Set to Open Its First University in India

Posted on 2016/7/21 20:07:40 ( 818 reads )


INDIA, July 20, 2016 (Chinmaya University): We are delighted to announce that the Government of India has granted in-principle approval for the establishment of Chinmaya Mission's first university, Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth. The University will be a deemed University for Sanskrit and Indian Knowledge and Traditions, including Performing Arts, in the de novo category for preservation of our cultural heritage. The main campus is at Chinmaya International Foundation, Veliyanad, Kerala at the birth-home of Adi Sankaracharya and the constituent campus is at Chinmaya Naada Bindu, Kolwan, Maharashtra, at the Vision Centre for Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda.

To read more about this milestone achievement, please visit the website at "source".

Technology Saves 3 Temples from Demolition

Posted on 2016/7/21 20:07:29 ( 721 reads )


INDIA, July 21, 2016 (The Hindu): Each time a highway road is widened, anything in the way including temples, trees, homes, and school buildings are removed for the carriageway, with few exceptions. Recently, three temples situated adjacent to national highways have been physically lifted and moved from the roads. "We have shifted temples in Hosur, Kallakurichi and Ambur using technology. We strengthen the foundation of the temple when it is placed at a new location," says Gurdeep Kumar, Chief Executive Engineer, TDBD Engineering Works.

The company recently received a certificate from the Limca Book of Records for lifting and moving temples at Coimbatore and Kallakurichi. S. Ravi, one of the trustees of the Maha Mariamman Temple at Kattukottai in Yaamaper, said they had visited the Ambur temple before taking the decision. "The temple was on the road and the National Highways authorities said it had to be demolished. But we were sentimentally attached to it since it was constructed by our forefathers. So we approached this company that shifted it for us. We have also performed the kumbhabhishekam of the temple and it looks new now," he said.

Daily Inspiration

Posted on 2016/7/21 20:07:18 ( 598 reads )


"I went to the root of things, and found nothing but Him alone."
-- Mira Bai (1500-1550), princess of Rajasthan, Northwest India, a saint celebrated for her lyrical poetry dedicated to Krishna

Think Tank Calls for Repeal of UK's Caste Discrimination Clause

Posted on 2016/7/17 19:52:54 ( 1266 reads )


GREAT BRITAIN, June 2, 2016 (New Asian Post): The influential think tank, the Dharmic Ideas Policy Foundation, is urging Asian voluntary organizations to join it in calling for a repeal of the caste discrimination clause provision in the Equality Act 2010. The Foundation believes that voluntary organizations and community groups are unaware of the huge implications of its effect on their work at a local level.

"Given the persistence in recent months of the groups advocating the enactment of the caste provision in the Equality Act 2010, we have been compelled to re-circulate with some amendments a plea to support our campaign to ensure that MPs and members of the Dharmic communities are fully informed of the need to oppose the caste provision.

Dr. Prakash Shah, Director, Dharmic Ideas and Policy Foundation (DIPF) has prepared a briefing document for the Anti-Caste Legislation Committee (ACLC). "The Anti-Caste Legislation Committee is there to urge Ministers and Members of Parliament to repeal the current clause and start a full consultation exercise with Dharmic community groups so that we can have effective legislation that protects citizens and still allows the thousands of Dharmic charities and voluntary groups to continue their outstanding contribution to British society."

The Equality Act 2010 now makes caste discrimination unlawful (as part of race discrimination) and potentially opens up voluntary and community organisations to litigation concerning acts amounting to caste discrimination. Some of the risks identified by DIPF in relation to the caste discrimination clause are listed at "source" above.

Bottled Ganga Water Makes a Splash at India's Post Offices

Posted on 2016/7/17 19:52:44 ( 1012 reads )


CALCUTTA, INDIA, July 15, 2016 (Latin American Herald Tribune): Hindu devotees have rushed to post offices across India this week in hopes of snatching up the first deliveries of holy water from the Ganga. The new scheme, which was launched by the central government on Sunday, allows water from the Ganga river, known as Gangajal, to be put up for sale at the nation's post offices and even delivered to people's doorsteps. "If a postman can deliver mobile phones, saris, jewelery and apparel, then why not Ganges water?" the country's Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad asked in May.

Water from the river is considered sacred by Hindus - who make up around 80 percent of India's population - and it is believed that the closer to the source of the river it is collected, the purer it is. At the General Post Office (GPO) in India's eastern city of Calcutta on Wednesday, demand for the bottled holy water far outweighed supply. The water was collected from the northern city of Rishikesh, around 186 miles from the Ganges' origin. At just 15 Indian rupees ($0.22) for the 200-milliliter bottle and 22 Indian rupees ($0.33) for 500 milliliters, customers lauded the value of the purchase, which also saved them a trip to the river itself.

Residents Turn to Elephant God to End Jumbo Deaths

Posted on 2016/7/17 19:52:33 ( 956 reads )


COIMBATORE, INDIA, July 9, 2016 (The Hindu): When Vikas Muntot wanted to do something, agitated as he was over the frequent elephant deaths in Coimbatore, he looked to none other than the elephant-headed God for help. The 22-year-old businessman from Rajasthan, who has made the city his home, organized a Maha Ganapathy Yagam (special prayer to Lord Vinayaga) on Friday, seeking divine intervention to end the deaths of jumbos

Seven elephants died between June 20 and July 5 in and around Coimbatore, under different circumstances - ranging from train and bus accidents to illness. Five of them died in Coimbatore and two in The Nilgiris. It was not just young Mr. Muntot, but several others who saw the frequent death of elephants as a bad omen. They offered prayers hoping that the bad phase the elephants in the region were going through will end.

Forest and agriculture departments, farmers, non-governmental organisations and line departments are trying to come up with a method to prevent elephant deaths and human-animal conflicts along the vast stretch of agricultural lands and habitations bordering the forests. "On my part, I organized this Maha Ganapathy Yagam ," says Mr. Muntot told The Hindu . With pictures of elephants, the pooja was performed with 108 Mothagam Kozhukattai (sweets), a variety of fruits and sugarcane that the jumbos prefer.

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