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India's Government Contends Minorities Have no Absolute Rights to Run Education Institutions
Posted on 2002/7/18 1:44:02 ( 680 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, July 16, 2002: The Centre (e.g., the federal government of India) on Tuesday said the religious and linguistic minorities cannot enjoy "absolute rights" under the Constitution to establish and administer their educational institutions. Solicitor General Harish Salve representing the Centre told an eleven-judge bench of the Supreme Court that the minorities' constitutional rights should be subject to reasonable restrictions. Salve said the content of Article 30 conferring on minorities the right to establish and administer educational institutions was not so wide as to exclude the operation of other laws designed to protect secular objectives. For instance, Salve said if the provision is made absolute, the government cannot interfere with the affairs of a minority institution which teaches secession or armed revolution. He said the content of the right should not overlap other provisions in the public interest. The bench headed by Chief Justice B.N. Kirpal was hearing a bunch of petitions on the extent of the rights the religious and linguistic minorities can exercise in running their educational institutions. Under India's constitution, minority religions, including Christianity and Islam, can set up and run their own educational institutions with government funding, and can teach their religion in those institutions. Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikhs can set up educational institutions and receive government funding, but are subject to close government management and cannot teach religion in their schools.




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Ahimsa Can Destroy Terrorism
Posted on 2002/7/15 1:49:02 ( 836 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, July 14, 2002: Speaking at the celebration honoring the 83rd birthday of the Jain Saint Acharya Mahapragya, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Sushma Swaraj said, "If only we could all accept ahimsa (nonviolence), it will help in destroying terrorism from its very roots everywhere in the world." Referring to terrorist attacks in Jammu and Kashmir she said, "We have seen utmost efforts everywhere to put an end to the menace of terrorism, but everything would be solved only if we all adopt the concept of ahimsa as preached by our saints."




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Gujarat State Trys Spirituality to Reduce Addiction
Posted on 2002/7/15 1:48:02 ( 786 reads )


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MUMBAI, INDIA, July 10 2002: Having failed in its endeavor to reduce addiction to liquor and tobacco-related products through its various programs, the Prohibition Department of the Maharashtra government has now turned to spirituality. The minister concerned, Dr Dashrath Bhande, has directed the district collectors to seek the help of kirtankars and provachankars (those who deliver spiritual discourses through sermons or songs) to popularize de-addiction throughout the state. These de-addiction ambassadors will be given numerous benefits including free travel by the state transport buses for the said purpose. In addition, their efforts will be lauded through block, district and state-level annual awards which includes a citation and US$204 in cash. ''The state has spent a lot of money implementing numerous de-addiction programs but cannot create the right impact. In contrast, mere words uttered by them become an aadesh (order) for the addicts,'' said Dr Bhande. ''Their sabhas attract more people than our rallies. Today, all forms of addiction in the state stand at an estimated 70%. This is extremely alarming. After due thought I feel that state policy, however strict, will not help. Only spirituality will," admitted the minister.




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Gujarat Tense After Rath Yatra-Related Riots
Posted on 2002/7/15 1:47:02 ( 736 reads )


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KHEDA & PETLAD, INDIA, July 13, 2002: While peace prevailed in most of the state, it was central Gujarat that witnessed communal flare-ups on the day of the Jagannath Rath Yatra. Both Kheda and Petlad towns witnessed pitched battles between the Muslim and Hindu communities on Friday night and the situation was tense even on Saturday, as a curfew continued in Kheda. "There were several people who came out on the streets to see what was happening. Some irate youngsters participating in the procession might have used derogatory slogans or gestures that led to stone pelting," said Anand District Superintendent of police B.D.Vaghela.




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Uttar Pradesh State to Create Own Hardwar
Posted on 2002/7/15 1:46:02 ( 673 reads )


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LUCKNOW, INDIA, July 14, 2002: The historically rich Garh Mukteshwar may well turn out to be Uttar Pradesh's "Hardwar,'' which it lost to the new state of Uttaranchal, carved out of UP in 2000. Hardwar is one of the foremost pilgrimage destinations of India. The star attraction at both sites is the holy Ganga, which the UP government is all set to cash in on at Garh Mukteshwar in its ongoing drive to lure tourists. Situated 75 km from Ghaziabad, on the Delhi-Moradabad national highway, the Garh Mukteshwar Bridge Ghat has been a pilgrimage site every Kartik Purnima for well over 5,000 years. Today about 200,000 people congregate here on the occasion of the Kartik Purnima Mela. State's housing secretary, Jai Shankar Mishra, whose department is actively involved in the project says, "Our aim is on a focused development of the area. We have petitioned the Centre for US$10.2 million.''




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India's Likely Next President Visits Satya Sai Baba
Posted on 2002/7/14 1:49:02 ( 785 reads )


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PUTTAPARTHI, INDIA, July 14, 2002: India's missile man and National Democratic Alliance candidate for the presidential election A P J Abdul Kalam made a low-profile visit to Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh over the weekend to meet the religious leader, Satya Sai Baba. Kalam flew into Bangalore on Saturday afternoon without any fanfare and, in the evening, left by car for Puttaparthi for a private meeting Sai Baba. After being nominated as the presidential poll nominee, which he is expected to handily win, Kalam has been to several pilgrimage centers including the Ajmer Darga in Rajasthan, Kancheepuram in Tamil Nadu, where he met the Shankaracharya, and Kanyakumari near his hometown, Rameshwaram.




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Dalits and Women Training as Priests
Posted on 2002/7/14 1:48:02 ( 694 reads )


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LUCKNOW, INDIA, JULY 14, 2002: Recently the Union Human Resource Development Ministry felt that the standards of conducting Hindu rituals were declining. The answer, the "Karma Kand Kriya," a three-month training course for students aspiring to become priests conducted by the Uttar Pradesh Sanskrit Sansthan, opened to Hindus, including the Dalits ("outcastes). "I had 24 Dalit students in a class of 30," said Avdesh Kumar Shukla, an instructor in Unnao near Lucknow. "They were all deeply interested in the religion. If caste Hindu society moderates its attitude, conversions will not take place." Instructors from Banaras Hindu University and Sanskrit Vidyapeeth trained 2,500 aspirants-more than half of them Dalits and women-in 60 districts of Uttar Pradesh. "The Indian way of life has high regard for rituals and we wanted to preserve this in the spirit in which it was intended," said Dr Sachidanand Pathak, chairman of the Sanskrit Sansthan. "Nothing in the scriptures stops casteless from becoming priests. When we are born, all of us are casteless. According to the Vedas, only a person who dedicates himself to knowledge becomes a Brahmin."




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Fifteen Thousand Troops to Guard Amarnath Pilgrims
Posted on 2002/7/14 1:47:02 ( 708 reads )


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JAMMU, INDIA, July 14, 2002: 15,000 soldiers and 500 commandos will be deployed to protect pilgrims when they make their annual pilgrimage this month to the revered temple cave of Amarnath in Kashmir, officials said on Saturday. Security forces will guard the 320-km pilgrimage route from the start of the month-long religious event, when pilgrims make their way from Jammu to the hilltop temple in eastern Kashmir. Usually, it takes three days for a group of pilgrims to complete the journey as it involves two overnight stops at camps. Pilgrims walk the last 35 km to the cave. "Indian troops have taken positions on sensitive areas along the mountains so that Islamic militants can do no mischief," defense officials said. Dilbagh Singh, deputy inspector general of police in the Jammu region, said all the batches of pilgrims will be provided police escorts from Jammu. Sniffer dogs will also be used to detect any explosives that may have been planted by the militants. Two weeks ago, soldiers checking the mountain route were injured when explosive devices planted on the route by militants went off, police said. "Even though this year no Islamic militant outfit has banned the Hindu pilgrimage these tight security measures have been taken in the light of previous militants attack on the pilgrimage," Singh said. In 2001, militants opened fire on a camp of pilgrims in Sheshnag, 23 km from the temple cave, killing 10 people, including police as well as the visitors.




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Junior Pontiff of Aadheenam Arrested for Attempted Murder
Posted on 2002/7/14 1:46:02 ( 730 reads )


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TRANQUEBAR, TAMIL NADU, INDIA, July 13, 2002: The junior pontiff of Thiruvaduthruai Aadheenam, Kasiviswanatha Paramachraya, was arrested on Saturday in connection with the attempt on the life of the Aadheenam's chief guru Maha Sannidhanam Sri Sivaprakasa Paramacharya Swamigal on the night of July 7. A case has also been registered against him for attempting to commit suicide after the alleged conspiracy came to light, police said. The younger pontiff is alleged to have hired mercenaries to murder the pontiff by administering a poisonous injection. However, the alertness of a security man foiled the murder plan, police said. The police have arrested eight persons in connection with the murder attempt. Thiruvaduthrai Aadheenam is one of the affluent monastery-temple complexes in the state, owning property worth US$61 million. It owns land in various places including Banaras in Uttar Pradesh.




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Puri Chariot Festival Peaceful
Posted on 2002/7/14 1:45:02 ( 718 reads )


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BHUBANESWAR, ORISSA, INDIA, July 12, 2002: The Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath in the temple town of Puri was incident-free, but for the death of a 30-year-old man who fell from the temple while trying to have a glimpse of the yatra. More than 800,000 devotees participated in the day-long parade of giant chariots. The three chariots of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra were pulled by devotees from the Jagannath temple to the Gundicha temple. The English word "juggernaut," "An overwhelming, advancing force," is derived from this chariot festival. Some 4,000 police personnel were deployed on the Grand Road, the route of the Yatra.




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Travel to Exotic India -- and Have Your Teeth Drilled?
Posted on 2002/7/14 1:44:02 ( 691 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, July 14, 2002: Many foreign tourists are leaving Indian shores these days with a broader smile. Literally. Between seeing the Taj and sunbathing at Kovalam, a large number of Europeans, Americans and even Asian tourists are now spending time in the dentist's chair, getting that perfect and healthy set of teeth. All this for a much cheaper treatment and on a priority basis with state-of-the-art technology. A simple white filling can cost you a mere US$10.20, while an American dentist might charge $75.00 or more. Something as complex as jaw replacement costs $1,020. Private treatment for single tooth bonding in the US costs $500 as against just US$61 in India, says Delhi-based Dr Ekta Chadha who has seen a perceptible rise in the number of dental tourists consulting her. Some medical insurance firms in the UK are taking the initiative and are coming up with plans to sell India as a destination for pleasure and dental work -- two terms not often found in the same sentence -- by setting up small resorts/dental clinics.




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Twenty-Five Hindus Killed in Kashmir Attack
Posted on 2002/7/13 1:49:02 ( 612 reads )


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JAMMU, INDIA, July 13, 2002: Islamic guerrillas threw grenades and engaged security forces in a gun battle Saturday, killing 25 Hindus -- mostly women and children-- in a shantytown outside the winter capital of Jammu-Kashmir state, police and hospital officials said. More than 30 people were wounded, according to officials at the Government Medical College Hospital in Jammu. State police chief Ashok Suri said authorities suspect the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, the most feared of more than dozen Pakistan-based Islamic groups fighting to secure Kashmir's independence from India or merger with mostly Muslim Pakistan. He did not elaborate. No group has claimed responsibility for the incident, which is consistent with previous attacks in which many civilians were killed. Up to eight militants walked into the shantytown outside Jammu and set off three or four grenades before opening fire, the police control officer said, citing witness accounts. The victims were watching a final cricket match between India and Pakistan on television, he said. The attack was the biggest since a May 14 strike by Islamic militants against a military base near Jammu that killed 34 people -- mostly soldiers' wives and children -- and put India on a war footing with neighboring Pakistan. The Indian government did not immediately react to news of the assault. But it was almost certain to raise tensions with Pakistan. A pitched battle between police and the militants continues.




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Gujarat Chariot Festival Finishes Without Incident
Posted on 2002/7/13 1:48:02 ( 722 reads )


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AHMEDABAD, INDIA, JULY 12, 2002: The Jagannath Rath Yatra, an annual religious event in which a chariot is drawn for eight miles through the streets of Ahmedabad, has been conducted peacefully, despite fears that it might trigger a resurgence of religious violence that erupted there earlier this year. Thousands of troops and police had taken up positions along the route in case of trouble. Senior police officer, Satish Sharma, said police in Ahmedabad had recovered a large cache of weapons on the route of the procession, including rocket launchers and hand grenades, allegedly stockpiled by a Muslim man whose son was killed in the riots. However, the hard work had paid off and there were no reports of clashes, he said. Local Hindu officials also scaled down the march into order to avoid tensions with the city's Muslim community. Mahendra Jha, coordinator of the Jagannath Temple, reported only 35 trucks, instead of the usual 125, and 15 Hindu organizations, instead of the 31 seen in previous years, were taking part. While the procession did pass through some Muslim areas, most of the inhabitants were reported to have left their homes for relief camps, fearing violence.




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Iraivan Hindu Temple Featured in India Today
Posted on 2002/7/13 1:47:02 ( 670 reads )


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KAUAI, HAWAII, July 12, 2002: India Today's recent edition carries a fine article on the Iraivan Hindu Temple being built here at Kauai's Hindu Monastery, home of Hinduism Today and Hindu Press International. The hand-carved, white granite, Chola-style ornate temple will be the first all-stone temple in America. The author visited the temple carving site located outside Bangalore. He was very impressed with the extremely well-run operation and exquisite craftsmanship of the temple workers. The temple's architect is Sri Ganapati Sthapati, who built the colossal Saint Tiruvalluvar statue located in the sea at Cape Comorin, the southern tip of India. View the entire article (at the bottom of the page) at "source" above.




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Canada Zoo Gives Elephant Steel Tusks
Posted on 2002/7/13 1:46:02 ( 738 reads )


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CALGARY, CANADA July 6, 2002: A 20-year-old elephant called Spike at Calgary Zoo has had his tusks fitted with stainless steel caps. The elephant, had cracked his left tusk while playing with tires. About one third of the tusk broke off and there was a split almost up to the jawline. The Asian elephant would have been in great pain -- possibly even leading to death if the crack widened and got infected. Local organizations and businesses joined in to help the zoo protect Spike. The 31-pound, stainless steel tusk caps were designed using computer generated models at a donated cost estimated at around US$8,450. Vets sedated Spike and the caps were gently hammered onto tusks which had been filed down, and fixed with an adhesive.Though only the left tusk was damaged, his handlers decided both should be capped to keep the 12,000-pound mammal balanced.




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