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Hindu Students Break the Ice at Afrikaans Varsity
Posted on 2002/5/8 23:48:02 ( 691 reads )


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JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA, May 8, 2002: Deshanya Thambi has founded the first Hindu Student Society at Rand Afrikaans University, dispelling the perception that you need to be a white Afrikaner to feel at home on campus. The 22-year-old BCom student says Hindus have always wanted a society of their own, but complacently accepted that they were not legitimate enough to be recognized. "But there is such a need for such an organization," says Thambi. "It is not, as most people believe, restricted to Indian students or Hindus. Anyone can join. Our aims are to interact with other student communities and to keep students informed. As Hindus, it is important for us to maintain our identity and, in doing that, we also want to create a consciousness of striving towards solidarity, peace and tolerance. If we cannot live harmoniously with each other when we are essentially of the same religion, then we will not be able to live harmoniously with the rest of South Africans."




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India Losing Child-Labor Battle
Posted on 2002/5/8 23:47:02 ( 680 reads )


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DELHI, INDIA, May 7, 2002: Ten years after India ratified a UN convention pledging to protect children's rights, the country continues to be home to the world's largest number of child laborers. It is believed there are up to 100 million children working in homes, factories, shops, fields, brothels and on the streets of rural and urban India. Both government officials and activists agree that one of the root causes for the prevalence of child labor is excruciating poverty. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated that 40% of India's citizens were living in abject poverty in the mid-1990s and most believe that figure has not changed. Many aid agencies are critical of what they consider the government's overemphasis on the link between poverty and child labor and say it is, rather, an example of the lack of political will to implement a host of laws that are already in place to prevent and regulate the employment of children. India is a signatory to more than 120 ILO conventions, all of which seek to eliminate child labor. According to a leading non-governmental organization called Campaign Against Child Labor, current legislation suffers from too many loopholes. The group said the legislation's distinction between hazardous and non-hazardous occupations was arbitrary and the law overlooks up to 85% of child labor working in areas outside registered establishments. Many activists say that what is far more important than laws banning child labor is a political commitment to primary education. They say the solution lies in the government working closely with aid agencies in the field to help combat child labor with literacy programs.




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Over 240 Killed in Fresh Violence in Nepal
Posted on 2002/5/7 23:49:02 ( 712 reads )


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KATHMANDU, NEPAL, May 8, 2002: More than 240 police, soldiers and rebels have been killed in fresh violence in Nepal, as Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba said he had secured US support for his crackdown against the Maoist insurgency. Some 140 Nepalese police and soldiers were killed when guerrillas surrounded a joint army-police security post set up last month at Gama in Rolpa, 298 km west of Kathmandu. The Maoists torched the security station after a gunfight lasting hours. The defense ministry confirmed "a large number" of Maoists attacked the security post but did not give casualty figures. In other battles large numbers of Maoists have been killed by the army.




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Nepal Has Its Day at the White House
Posted on 2002/5/7 23:48:02 ( 676 reads )


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WASHINGTON, USA, May 8, 2002: The Bush White House fleetingly turned its attention to India's neighbor Nepal, where a Maoist insurgency that daily kills ten times as many victims as in the Middle-East goes largely unnoticed by the outside world. But the US administration is concerned by developments in the Himalayan kingdom and President Bush invited the country's Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba to the White House for talks. At the daily White House briefing the Nepal issue took just one question -- if Deuba's visit hadn't been overshadowed by that of more famous leaders, and if President Bush had been sufficiently well briefed on the problems in Nepal. Deuba is expected to meet Secretary of State Colin Powell to discuss aid issues.




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Children Perform Ramayana Play in Sanskrit
Posted on 2002/5/7 23:47:02 ( 784 reads )


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EDISON, NEW JERSEY, April 20, 2002: Children of Edison Balagokulam were challenged to come up with a Ramayama play to be held during the second anniversary celebration of a monthly Ramayana paat held in New Jersey. The event was seen as an opportunity for the children to become familiar with characters in the Ramayana and to use them as role models. After considering several languages for the dialogue, Sanskrit was chosen to expose the children to a language of science and wisdom that originated in India. The play was presented on April 20, a day before Raam Navami, at Durga Mandir in Kendall Park, New Jersey. The one-hour play included 31 children who shared 88 roles. Hundreds of words of Sanskrit dialogue were used in seven of the ten scenes and narration was provided in English. Displays created by parents added beauty to the play attended by over 300 people. Trophies and certificates were distributed to all participants following the performance. For pictures of the event, click on "source" above.




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Top Indian Designer JJ Shows Collection In South Africa
Posted on 2002/5/7 23:46:02 ( 693 reads )


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JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA, May 8, 2002: India's top fashion designer, Jagsharan Jit Singh Valaya, took center stage this week at an exclusive exhibition of bridal garments at the Sandton Convention Centre. Known in the industry as J J, the 35-year-old Rajasthan-born fashion guru opened the Weddings, Glamour and Beauty Expo on Friday night with a stunning collection of 15 garments from his spring-summer range. The House of Valaya is popular for its top workmanship, and Valaya has designed evening wear for a host of celebrities, including Bollywood stars Kareena Kapoor and Hrithik Roshan and Hollywood actress Kate Blanchett.




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Voice of India Releases New Book on Ayodhya
Posted on 2002/5/7 23:45:02 ( 703 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, April 8, 2002: The Voice of India has released "Ayodhya, The Case Against the Temple," by Belgium scholar Koenraad Elst. The book deals with the debate over whether or note a Hindu temple actually existed at the place known as Ramjanmabhoomi, or the birthplace of Lord Rama, in Ayodhya. Elst, who specializes in Hindu issues, argues that those who claim there was no temple are ignoring persuasive evidence to the contrary for political reasons. He states, "Future historians will include the no-temple argument of the 1990s as a remarkable case study in their surveys of academic fraud and politicized scholarship." The book is available from Voice of India, 2/18 Ansari Road, New Delhi, 110 002 or e-mail "source" above.




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Special Forces Sent to Gujarat to Quell On-Going Riots
Posted on 2002/5/6 23:49:02 ( 690 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 ( 730 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 ( 696 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 ( 809 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 ( 756 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 ( 788 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 ( 663 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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