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Short Profile of India's Proposed New President
Posted on 2002/6/11 23:49:02 ( 634 reads )


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DELHI, INDIA, June 11, 2002: In his first attempt, he failed the Indian Air Force pilot test. Today, he's all set to become supreme commander of all the armed forces. Dr A P J Abdul Kalam Azad, age 71, former principal scientific advisor to the prime minister, is a man of few words. His is an amazing story, which begins as a young boy selling newspapers at Rameshwaram station and is now likely to continue in the corridors of Rashtrapati Bhavan. India's missile man is a reluctant interviewee. When Bombay Times caught up with him a few months ago, his first reaction was: "Why me?" The 30-minute drive from the airport to his lecture venue went in persuading him to talk, after which he agreed. The nuclear man is a simple person -- he doesn't have TV at home, refuses to read newspapers and is only accessible via the net. He never fails to tell his host not to pay for his airfare since he can avail of free air travel, thanks to his Bharat Ratna status, a high state honor. The father of the Indian missile program, Kalam has been busy with his new passion -- teaching. "I want to ignite young minds, which are a powerful resource," he says. As a boy, Kalam was enthralled by the skies. "I will fly one day," he told his mother. He was not only the first boy from Rameshwaram to fly, he also took India's defense capability to new heights. "Dream, dream, dream. Dreams are important, dreams work," he told Mumbai students. This dream has surely come true.




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Fewer Hindus in Nepal's Latest Census
Posted on 2002/6/11 23:48:02 ( 674 reads )


Source: www.hindustantimes.com/nonfram/210502/detFOR07.asp





KATHMANDU, NEPAL, June 11, 2002: A six-percent drop in Nepal's Hindu population in the last decade has evoked a mixed reaction in the sole Hindu kingdom. The recently published census report for 2001 shows Hindus make up 80.6 per cent of the population as against 86.5 per cent in 1991. Compared to this, the number of Buddhists rose to 10.9 per cent from 7.8 per cent while that of Muslims went up to 4.2 per cent from 3.5 per cent over the same period. During enumeration, Buddhist and kirat (tribal) organizations had called upon their people not to classify themselves as Hindus, as in the past, despite the fact that differences between them and Hindus are indistinguishable as both have common temples and festivals. The population of Christians, who numbered about 100 five decades ago, is slightly over one 100,000 today, even though conversion is illegal.




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Popular Festival Hits Snag in California
Posted on 2002/6/11 23:47:02 ( 628 reads )


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FREMONT, CALIFORNIA, June 10, 2002: Some organizers of the annual Festival of India (India's independence day) celebration in Fremont suggested that the city's reluctance to grant a permit for this year's event may reflect a hint of racial discrimination. But when the dust settled, it was pretty clear to both sides that the festival's biggest problem was its own success. If the city approves the latest proposal, the Festival of India will be held again in the parking lot of Fremont's Hall of Justice this year, but with some drastic changes. The festival will run for only one day instead of two. The second day's events -- cultural dances, a banquet and an appearance by Indian film star Amitabh Bachchan -- will be held at the San Jose Convention Center, said festival sponsor Dr. Romesh Japra, president of the Federation of Indo-American Associations of the Bay Area. Since the August celebration began nine years ago, each festival has grown a little larger. But planning for the event, which attracts crowds as large as 70,000 people and is one of the largest Indian festivals in the United States, has not kept pace. The lack of a comprehensive plan loomed large on closing night last year when a poorly organized concert nearly caused a stampede. The concert fiasco was the last straw for many city officials, who had privately complained for years about the lack of planning for the increasingly popular festival. Organizers also didn't understand -- or honor -- their permit's requirement to close the festival by 9:00 p.m. Instead, much to the chagrin of nearby residents, they started the concert at 9:00 p.m. Despite the logistical problems and zero-tolerance policy adopted by the city, many Indian immigrants view Fremont as the center of life in the Bay Area's Indian community. And the festival is a key staple of Indian culture brought to America. While the Festival of India, which features ethnic cuisine, dance, art and cultural exhibits, will remain in Fremont this year, there is little chance the festival will be held in the city next year unless a larger venue is selected.




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Francois Gautier in Boston
Posted on 2002/6/11 23:46:02 ( 716 reads )


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BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, June 12, 2002: The Hindu Students Council and NetOHM- Boston announces that Francois Gautier will discuss "Misrepresentations of India by Indian and Western Media" at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, July 6. Francois Gautier, who has lived in India for 30 years, is a French journalist, the correspondent in South Asia for Le Figaro, France's largest circulated newspaper. He has published "Rewriting Indian History" and "Arise O India." For more information please contact "source" above.




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Nuclear Scientist Likely to be India's Next President
Posted on 2002/6/10 23:49:02 ( 580 reads )


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DELHI, INDIA, June 11, 2002: India's governing coalition, the National Democratic Alliance, has chosen a leading defense scientist and a Muslim, A P J Abdul Kalam, as its new presidential candidate. The selection of the man who headed India's guided missile program and nuclear weapons tests four years ago follows days of intense deliberations by coalition leaders. Analysts say that Mr. Kalam's nomination is an attempt by the NDA to ensure a presidential election free of bitter party rivalry. Mr Kalam would become India's third Muslim president, a largely ceremonial post, if elected in next month's poll. The voting is done by the several thousand legislators of all States and the Federal government.




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Heart Disease May Be More Prevalent in Hindus
Posted on 2002/6/10 23:48:02 ( 704 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, June 2, 2002: A recent study conducted by a team from the Department of Medicine at the Mahatma Gandhi National Institute of Medical Sciences would seem to indicate that Hindus are more likely to develop coronary heart disease than Muslims. Upon closer scrutiny of the subjects used to determine these results, it was determined that 1,415 males and 797 females participated in the study. The report said, "Among the males 1,092 were Hindus and 272 Muslims, while of the females, 685 were Hindus and 91 Muslims." Dr. Anoop Misra, a visiting faculty at the centre for Human Nutrition, University of Texas South Western Medical Centre said, " A proper sample size was needed and any conclusion could be drawn only by doing a case central study, say taking 200 each of Muslims and Hindus, and comparing them with another population." Dr. Misra further adds that a study published in the Journal of the Association of Physicians of India comparing CHD in 1000 adults indicated, "The prevalence per 1000 adults was 47.3 in Sikhs, lowest in Muslims at 22.8 and nearly identical in both Hindus and Christians at 31.8 and 31.2 respectively." The difference in CHD among the religious groups could not be explained.




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Badrinath Shrine Goes Green
Posted on 2002/6/10 23:47:02 ( 681 reads )


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DEHRADUN, INDIA, June 2, 2002: A pilgrim visiting the famous Badrinath shrine will now take prasad, blessed food, home in an environmentally friendly basket made of bamboo. The temple committee has ordered 5,000 baskets from the Rooria community. Anil Joshi, director of a NGO associated with the project said, "The idea behind this step is to create a souvenir for thousands of pilgrims visiting Badrinath, open a new source of income for the Rooria community, and revive traditional art skills." The bamboo baskets replace plastic bags that have proven harmful to the environment. Prevalent use of plastic has deprived the community of an income source.




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Gujarat Government Says No Funds To Be Provided for Rebuilding Religious Shrines
Posted on 2002/6/10 23:46:02 ( 598 reads )


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AHMEDABAD, INDIA, June 9, 2002: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, in a change of policy, has said that the government would provide no funds for rebuilding the shrines that were damaged in the post-Godhra riots. Contrary to his assurances to the Minorities Commission and Muslim leaders last month, the Chief Minister has now claimed that giving money for such a purpose was against India's constitution. Modi, who met about 100 representatives from the riot-hit areas of Naroda Patiya, Best Bakery and Panwad on Friday, was back to his earlier stand that nonpolitical organizations would be involved in raising funds for rebuilding damaged shrines, mostly Muslim places of worship and teaching.




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Fourth Annual National Gandhi Day of Service
Posted on 2002/6/10 23:45:02 ( 732 reads )


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USA, June 11, 2002: On October 5, 2002, your organization can join the Foruth Annual National Gandi Day of Service. To register send an email to "source" above. The goal of the day of service is for the prosperous South Asian Community in America to give back to their community, to integrate themselves into the community, to follow Mahatma K. Gandi's example of tireless service and to have fun. Past volunteers have planted trees, supported victims of domestic violence, cleaned parks and served at local soup kitchens.




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Amarnath Pilgrims to Get Insurance Coverage
Posted on 2002/6/7 23:49:02 ( 663 reads )


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SRINAGAR, INDIA, June 6, 2002: The state government is thinking of allowing those who want to undertake the Amarnath pilgrimage to register their names through any of the branches of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank spread all over the country. Besides registration, there is a move to insure pilgrims for US$1,042 against death or physical disability suffered during the course of the pilgrimage through Metlife of J&K Bank. There will be a one-time premium of $0.42 for this insurance cover. The proposal is to make this facility available at all the 80 branches of the bank spread all over the country In the past, people were required to report at Jammu for registration and permission to undertake the pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave. Even if a counter would be functioning at Kashmir House in Delhi, there would be a law and order problem at the registration counter in Jammu. According to district development commissioner (DDC) Abdul Hamid Allaqaband, the yatra would commence on July 22 and end on August 22 with the carrying of Chadi Mubarak from Srinagar to the holy cave on Raksha Bandhan. Most of the pilgrims are allowed by the government to take the Pahalgam route. The Baltal route terrain is difficult and only some of the pilgrims take the Baltal route in Sonmarg. The DDC said the Baltal route track would be barricaded and fenced by iron-chains this year. Besides, the pony track would be widened. He said the joint control room of the core group will start functioning from July 10 at Ganderbal, Manigam, Kangan and Sonmarg Baltal. Hamid said that the number of pilgrims who take the Baltal route may go up to 1,500 this year from 800 last year. The yatra officer will earmark space for langers (kitchens) so that there is no confusion in setting up kitchens along the route, said Hamid.




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Problem-Solving Leaders Keep the Faith
Posted on 2002/6/7 23:48:02 ( 614 reads )


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BANGKOK, June 8, 2002: Religious leaders from all major faiths will assemble in the Thai capital next week to shape a program of community initiatives aimed at solving some of the world's pressing problems. The agenda for this summit has already singled out three broad global themes that demand the attention of heads of faiths: conflict resolution, poverty alleviation and combating environmental degradation. They also expect the first of many pilot projects to work with the United Nations and governments to come out of the religious confab. "We are going to launch a process here," says Bawa Jain, who was the secretary general of the UN-backed Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders in August 2000. For Jain, the link with the United Nations is key to this religious mission. "Religious leaders feel that the UN is the only neutral platform to confront major social challenges," he explains. The Bangkok meet is expected to underscore a greater need for religious leaders to step up their efforts in solving the more earthly problems than harping on religious differences. "We are not in the inter-faith business," asserts Jain. "Religious leaders can play a role in Asia to address social challenges."




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Religion Playing More Prominent Role at United Nations
Posted on 2002/6/7 23:47:02 ( 592 reads )


Source: Religion News Service





NEW YORK, NEW YORK, June 5, 2002: A recent study by the group Religion Counts says religious organizations are becoming more prominent at the United Nations and will continue to have a "potent" role in shaping future international public policy. "Religion has been a critical part of the UN since its inception and continues to offer a distinct dimension and voice here that other entities do not bring to international issues," said Philip Boyle, chief operating officer of the Chicago-based Park Ridge Center for the Study of Health, Faith and Ethics. Boyle was one of the authors of the report, "Religion and Public Policy at the United Nations." Beginning with the UN's 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, Egypt -- at which the Vatican, joined by several Central American and Muslim nations, and advocates of family planning and birth control publicly clashed -- and continuing with the ongoing series of UN conferences since then, religious-linked issues such as population, development and AIDS have been at the forefront at international forums. And while UN leaders, such as Secretary General Kofi Annan, have praised religion's "transcendent, spiritual dimension," it is also clear there is not a consensus at the UN on what the "religious voice" means or what the "appropriate role" of religion ought to be, the report concluded. One of the report's findings is that conservative Christian religious groups that once shunned the international body are enjoying increased prominence, as are non-Christian groups, such as Buddhists. "The religious ecology of the UN is more diverse than ever," the report said.




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Sri Lanka to Lift Ban on LTTE
Posted on 2002/6/7 23:46:02 ( 607 reads )


Source: www.rediff.com/news/2002/jun/07ltte.htm





SRI LANKA, June 8, 2002: Sri Lanka announced it would lift the ban on the Liberation of Tigers of Tamil Eelam ten days before the exact date for beginning direct talks with the rebels and said setting up an interim regime for the northeast would be the focus of such talks, along with steps to ensure human rights under it. The legal framework for de-proscription will be taken up for discussion when Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe returns from India," Cabinet spokesman G L Peiris said. The government's announcement may clear one major hurdle that has delayed direct talks with the LTTE, but it remains to be seen if the rebel group accepts the link between lifting the ban and fixing a date for talks. Wickremesinghe leaves for India on Saturday on a four-day trip to apprise Indian leaders, including President K R Narayanan, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and leader of the opposition Sonia Gandhi, about the status of his peace initiative and to discuss trade-related matters. The parties were now working on preparing an agenda for the talks with the help of Norwegian peace facilitators.




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Fiftieth Birthday Celebration for H.H. Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji
Posted on 2002/6/7 23:45:02 ( 722 reads )


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RISHIKESH, INDIA, June 3, 2002: June 3rd was the 50th birthday of HH Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji Maharaj (Pujya Muniji),the President and Spiritual Head of Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh, India and also the founder/chairman of India Heritage Research Foundation, the international non-profit organization which is bringing out an Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A three-day Sadhana and Seva Camp was held from June 1-3 at Parmarth Niketan Rishikesh as part of the birthday celebrations. Among the many activities of the camp were, a special yoga and meditation class, Ganga puja, Ganga Seva clean up, planting of sacred trees, and a free Medical Health Camp for the local poor. For more information, e-mail "source" above.




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Three Hundred Lawsuits Filed Against Catholic Church in US Since January
Posted on 2002/6/7 23:44:02 ( 616 reads )


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US, June 8, 2002: At least 300 civil lawsuits alleging clerical sex abuse have been filed in 16 states since January, when the case of a pedophile priest in Boston spurred claims against Roman Catholic dioceses across America, a nationwide review by The Associated Press found. Lawyers say the rush of litigation is truly dramatic for such a short time, and that several hundred more cases are being informally mediated between dioceses and accusers. That ensures American bishops will remain under enormous legal and financial pressure from the scandal even after they overhaul their abuse policy in a meeting starting Thursday. "It's off the charts,'' said Pat Schiltz, a Minnesota attorney who has defended dioceses against hundreds of abuse claims. Chicago Cardinal Francis George may sell the mansion where the city's archbishops have lived for more than a century, acknowledging some of the proceeds could be used to pay legal fees in abuse cases. Almost 250 of the nation's more than 46,000 Roman Catholic priests have either been dismissed from their duties or resigned since the scandal began in January. Beyond the toll in loss of staff and credibility, the financial cost of these cases has never been fully calculated. Estimates of what the church has paid out since the first major scandals broke in the 1980s range from about $300 million to $1 billion.




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