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Racism Conference Could Look at Caste
Posted on 2001/8/29 23:49:02 ( 508 reads )


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DELHI, INDIA, Aug. 28, 2001: The Indian National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said the forthcoming United Nations conference on racism would be an opportunity to discuss human rights issues, including the issue of caste. The Indian Government has said that the caste system cannot be compared to racism or apartheid. Speaking to the BBC, NHRC spokeswoman Maushumi Chakraborty said the World Conference against Racism, which begins in the South African city of Durban on Friday, August 31, provided an opportunity for the international community to deal with existing issues of inequality. The United States is refusing to send a high-level delegation because of calls by attending Arab states to condemn Israel for its treatment of Palestinians.




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Accident in State of Assam Colors Ganesha Festival
Posted on 2001/8/29 23:48:02 ( 581 reads )


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CHENNAI, INDIA, August 26, 2001: After ten days of elaborate and devoted pujas to celebrate Lord Ganesha's birthday, hundreds of murthis were ceremoniously immerged into the sea at the southern port city of Chennai. Politicians offered prayers to the Lord for success and the removal of obstacles. Meanwhile in the state of Assam, Lord Ganesha's festival was interrupted by a tragic accident. According to the article, "Two elephants were being herded across a bridge over the river Brahmaputra in Guwahati, the state capital, in the early hours of the morning when a speeding bus ran into them." Both pachyderms and the bus driver were killed. After being thrown into the river, the two mahouts, the keepers of the elephants, were safe.




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Tea and Four no More?
Posted on 2001/8/29 23:47:02 ( 594 reads )


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UNITED KINGDOM, August 27, 2001: The once huge domestic market for tea in India is shrinking. Indian tea producers have warned that they are heading for a crisis. With prices of tea at their lowest point for three years --one kilo costs just US$1.37 -- and soft drinks replacing tea as the domestic drink of choice, they say their profits are shrinking. Cheap imports from Indonesia, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and China are also threatening domestic production. The president of the Tea Association of India told the BBC that the real trouble stems from increased advertising spending by Coke and Pepsi. Also, it is difficult for India to compete with countries such as Kenya and Sri Lanka, where labor costs are lower. The two soft drink giants are reportedly planning to join forces with the Tea Board and the Commerce Ministry to promote tea.




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Christian Web Site Reports Violence Against Christians in India
Posted on 2001/8/29 23:46:02 ( 567 reads )


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USA, August 30, 2001: The evangelical web site, Persecution and Prayer Alert issued the following report. HPI has not received independent confirmation of the incidents mentioned here, but the site usually has a reliable source for its information. "Late Sunday night, as Christians were celebrating a festival, Hindu militants ransacked a church building in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. This is the fourth such incident in the state in the last month. In early August, a Pentecostal chapel was demolished in the Gopalpura village. In Indore, a group of Hindu students stormed the St. Paul's School, chanting slogans against the school management and threatening students."




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Tribals Unite Against Conversions In Tripura
Posted on 2001/8/29 23:45:02 ( 579 reads )


Source: Rediff on the Net





TRIPURA, INDIA, Aug, 29, 2001: Tribal Hindus in Tripura have formed vigilante groups to thwart attempts by separatist militants to convert people to Christianity at gunpoint, community leaders said. "It is a very serious threat to Hinduism with armed militants of the outlawed National Liberation Front of Tripura forcibly converting tribal villagers to Christianity," said Rampada Jamatia, a leader of the Jamatia tribe. "We believe up to 5,000 tribal villagers were converted to Christianity by the NLFT in the past two years," Jamatia said. Tribals constitute about 30 per cent of Tripura's population of 3.19 million. Christians form a meager 10 per cent of the total, while the majority are Hindus. Community chiefs and religious heads of 19 tribes have now formed the Tribal Culture Protection Committee to counter the threat posed by the NLFT. "The forum would discuss ways and means to tackle the threat to our religion and culture," Bikram Bahadu Jamatia, a tribal chieftain said.




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Two Hindu Monks Killed in Kashmir
Posted on 2001/8/27 23:49:02 ( 578 reads )


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JAMMU, KASHMIR, August 28, 2001: A curfew has been declared in the town of Poonch in Indian-administered Kashmir following the murder of two Hindu priests by suspected militants late on Monday, according to this BBC report. Police say a group of militants entered a temple dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali near Surankot in the mountainous district of Poonch. After waking the two priests from sleep, the militants allegedly beheaded them. Commentators say that while the number of Hindus murdered in Jammu has increased in recent months, this is the first incident in which Hindu priests have been murdered. The news of the killing of the priests sparked an angry reaction from Hindus living in the town of Poonch, who demonstrated on the streets in protest against the killings. Additional forces have been deployed in the town. Sources in nearby Rajouri say angry demonstrations have been held there too.




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Ganesha Chathurthi Celebrated
Posted on 2001/8/27 23:48:02 ( 577 reads )


Source: India Times





CHENNAI, INDIA, August 22, 2001: Vinayaka Chathurthi was celebrated with religious fervor and gaiety in the city today, with special pujas and functions being conducted at various temples on the occasion. Songs and hymns praising the elephant-headed Lord rent the air from the early hours of the morning. In colonies and apartment complexes, residents performed puja. Hundreds of idols of Lord Vinayaka were put up in various parts of the city. Among them is one in T Nagar, which is made up of 10,008 coconuts, 450 tender coconuts and 150 copra. The city police have banned taking out these idols in a procession for the usual immersion in the sea, citing the outbreak of violence during one such procession in 1992, when the procession passed through a street where a mosque was located. Elsewhere in the state also, the festival was celebrated with traditional fervor.




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Peta Campaign Impacts India's Leather Workers
Posted on 2001/8/27 23:47:02 ( 613 reads )


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MUMBAI, INDIA, August, 23, 2001: Indian leather exporters have suffered a major setback after four big US retail chains, Casual Corner, LL Bean, Timberland and Eddie Bauer, decided not to buy its goods in protest against the ill-treatment of animals following a sustained campaign by the Indian arm of the US-based animal rights group, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta). But Peta itself has been criticized by the head of an Indian animal welfare lobby for paying little regard to the impact its campaign is having on the welfare of humans. It is another blow for India's leather exporters after other global chains as Gap, Liz Claiborne, J.Crew and Marks & Spencer also recently decided against buying Indian leather goods. The ban will continue until the Indian government takes steps to change the way in which animals are slaughtered and transported, said Jason Baker, India's Peta representative.




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Actors Provide Emotional Outlets for Jaffna
Posted on 2001/8/27 23:46:02 ( 589 reads )


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JAFFNA, SRI LANKA, Aug, 23, 2001: Two decades of civil war in northern Sri Lanka have caused widespread psychological trauma to an estimated 40% of Tamil civilians of Jaffna by years of bombardment, displacement, disappearances and terror at the hands of both Tamil militants and the Sri Lankan army. In a conservative society where people traditionally don't show their emotions, drama can be a trigger for pent-up rage. Young professionals are being trained to use role-playing as a tool for therapy. They stand in a large circle imitating the sounds of a tropical rainstorm by clapping their hands and stamping their feet in a sort of group therapy, among other methods. One actor so successfully imitated a politician making empty promises that he was attacked by the crowd. The people of Jaffna are suffering from cumulative trauma, according to Professor of Psychiatry at Jaffna University, Daya Somasonderam. "Apart from the effects on individuals now we are realizing that the conflict has a very long-term devastating effect on society."




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India-U.S. Fight On Basmati Rice Is Mostly Settled
Posted on 2001/8/27 23:45:02 ( 541 reads )


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TEXAS, USA, Aug. 25, 2001: A Texas company's attempt to patent a type of basmati rice became a touchstone for anti-globalization protest in the 1990's. But the long-simmering issue was largely settled this week, when the United States granted a narrower patent to the company, Ricetec of Alvin, Texas. The United States originally granted the patent in 1997, touching a nerve in India, leading to a challenge by the Indian government. After this week's decision, the Indian government said it saw no reason for further dispute. The new patent is limited to a few variants of the rice and will not hamper export of its own basmati product, the government concluded.




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Ganesha's Birthday Brings Prosperity for Modaka and Murthi Makers
Posted on 2001/8/27 23:44:02 ( 709 reads )


Source: Afternoon Dispatch





MUMBAI, INDIA, August 23, 2001: Celebrating Ganesha's birthday with pomp and gaiety has always meant prosperity for merchants in the city. While this still holds true for those shopkeepers selling puja accessories such as flowers, incense sticks, coconuts, fruits, Ganesha murthis, and the ever popular modaka (a round sweet made from rice, coconut, and sugar), other merchants are suffering. Traditionally, Ganesha's auspicious days marked a time when families also purchased gold jewelry, saris and new clothes for the children. However in the last eight years, these sales have declined. The owner of J.D. Jewelers is quoted as saying, "For some years now people have stopped buying anything more than a small ring for Ganapati."




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Devotion to Job Despite Water Scarcity
Posted on 2001/8/26 23:49:02 ( 570 reads )


Source: The Hindu





VELLORE, INDIA, August 21, 2001: Even as an unprecedented water scarcity affected the business of moulding clay and making idols, the traditional potter families of Vellore carried on their job without any let-up on the eve of Vinayaka Chathurthi. The potter families spread over the Kuttaimedu, Salavanpet and Kosapet areas had to struggle to fetch water for their job as most of the open wells and borewells in their areas have dried up. While the affluent among them bought water from private suppliers, the poorer families who depended solely on pottery had to fetch water from borewells located at a distance. A businessman residing on Thennamaram Street allowed the potters in Vinayakar Koil Street to fetch water free of cost from the borewell in his house. In view of the scarcity, the potters commenced making idols three months ahead of Vinayaka Chathurthi in order to meet the demand.




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Prime Minister's Remarks has Catholic Community Up in Arms
Posted on 2001/8/26 23:48:02 ( 470 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, August 19, 2001: A statement last Saturday by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on the conversion motive of Christians has the Catholic community up in arms. "I am questioning the welfare activities being carried out by some Christian missionaries in the country's backward areas, and it was not proper though conversion was permissible under law," said the Prime Minister. The Chairman of the Northern Region Catholic Council, Vincent Concessao, fears that what he termed a "hate campaign" against Christian priests, nuns, and religious workers will be fueled by the Prime Minister's remarks. Reminding Vajpayee that his government's constitution guarantees religious freedom, Catholic leaders have appealed to the Prime Minister to uphold the law. These same leaders state that, "Christian doctrine always denounced fraudulent and forcible conversions." The article fails to mention the Pope's explicit statements to the Indian Catholics in Delhi a year ago that "evangelization must be your absolute priority," "Catholic schools play an important role in evangelization" and "I pray to the Lord to send many more committed laborers to reap the harvest of souls which I see as ready and plentiful [in Asia]."




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Mumbai's Municipal Corporation Sets Guidelines for Ganesha Visarjana
Posted on 2001/8/26 23:47:02 ( 510 reads )


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MUMBAI, INDIA, August 20, 2001: For safety reasons, Ganesha Visarjana devotees have been asked by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to move their celebrations from Dadar Chowpatty beach to nearby Mahim Chowpatty instead. An unusually high tide level and crowd management due to the beach's small size are contributing factors for the request. The BMC has also encouraged icon makers to stop using plaster of paris and toxic paints in their creations. According to the article, traditionally, the murthis were made from clay taken from a snake hill, the earth around the banyan tree, from the river bank/pond, the earth surrounding a well or the cowshed. However, BMC's guidelines are often ignored and insoluble plaster of paris, along with toxic paint, enter the bodies of water during the ceremonies resulting in more pollution.




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Asian Festival Opens at Sydney Opera House
Posted on 2001/8/26 23:46:02 ( 576 reads )


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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA, August 25, 2001: The Sydney Opera House is reverberating with the sounds of tablas, sarods, guqins, cymbals and other Asian musical instruments as the Asian Music and Arts Festival opened in this Australian city on Friday. A number of artistes are set to enthral the audience with their performances in Indian classical dance and music in the three-day festival that entered its sixth year. Leading the charge will be the Sydney-based Lingalayam Dance Company led by Annadavalli, one of the leading Indian classical dance artistes in Australia. Lingalayam will showcase their latest production, "Kuruntokai -- The Interior Landscape," based on an anthology of 400 Tamil love poems that date back to the fourth century ce. The opening day also held a free late night for followers of Eastern music as the music group Songket played Indian fusion sounds.




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