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Peta Campaign Impacts India's Leather Workers
Posted on 2001/8/27 23:47:02 ( 680 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 ( 652 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 ( 613 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 ( 791 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 ( 645 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 ( 535 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 ( 570 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 ( 652 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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Calgary, Canada, Temple Seeks Priest
Posted on 2001/8/26 23:45:02 ( 688 reads )


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DELHI, INDIA, August 22, 2001: The Times of India today carried the following advertisement: "Calgary Hindu Temple Requires a Head Priest with impeccable academic credentials in Sanskrit, excellent communication skills in English and Hindi. Music ability preferable. Apply immediately at website 'source' or fax 1-403-547-0199 or phone 1-403-239-7764."




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Sri Lanka: War as Business
Posted on 2001/8/23 23:49:02 ( 616 reads )


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MADUGAHAWATTE, SRI LANKA, August 17, 2001: After almost 20 years of civil war with the loss of at least 62,000 lives, the fighting between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil rebels continues. Comprising 6.8% of economic spending in the year 2000 compared to 1% in the early 1980's, the military presence has become a way of life for many. Quoting a Western diplomat living in Colombo, "The war has become an institution. Rich people are making money on commissions, kickbacks, selling supplies to the army. The soldiers are fairly well paid too. Everybody seems to be making money. It's a highly democratic system." With over 215,000 serving in the military, many poor villager offspring join the Sinhalese army. Earning about $140 a month (two or three times the amount of wages offered in the garment business), soldiers are able to provide a good standard of living for their families. Lance Cpl Gamini Premaranthana who has served in the army for 11 years offers his input, "The children from the villages are fodder. None of the bigwig's children go. All the politicians shouting that we must have a military solution don't have sons in the war. Its only the village boys. The war would end sooner if the rich were dying too." Many in the Sinhalese south are removed from the fighting battlefields in the north and all the while the government seems determined to prevent the formation of a separate Tamil homeland in the north.




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Anthology Editors Bungle Facts On Tagore
Posted on 2001/8/23 23:48:02 ( 657 reads )


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KOLKATA, INDIA, August 1, 2001: Two American editors of an anthology of writings by some Nobel laureates are in the eye of a storm for churning out wrong facts on modern India's best known litterateur, Rabindranath Tagore. Leo Hamalian and Edmond L. Volpe, editors of the anthology Great Stories By Nobel Prize Winners, have irked lovers of Indian literature by not only providing wrong facts in the book's introduction to Tagore, but also by their selection of his work. Scholars and fans wonder why the book's editors had not even cared to check the accuracy of these details, including important dates, circumstances and geographical references of Tagore's life. His fans are outraged that a story like "Saved" which is not generally considered representative of Tagore, had been chosen for the anthology. Two explanations for inclusion: "The size of the story, only two printed pages, and the fact that it is one of the (few) translated versions available. Obviously, the editors didn't look beyond the published material (in English) on him," said Tapasi Dutta, an ardent Tagore reader.




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Idol Desecration Sparks Tension
Posted on 2001/8/23 23:47:02 ( 670 reads )


Source: The Hindu





JAIPUR, INDIA, August 19, 2001: Community tensions prevailing in Bhilwara district of Rajasthan took a serious turn today with the reported dismantling of an idol of a folk deity of the Mali community at a "chabutra" -- temporary festival platform -- in Subhash Nagar on the outskirts of Bhilwara city. The idol was found broken this morning while the platform was intact. The idol was that of "Jujhaarji," whom the Malis worship to invoke blessings for their ancestors. Malis refused to install a new idol at the platform, saying its consecration would be possible only at an auspicious time, which would take another two months to begin. Bhilwara district has experienced several similar communal incidents in the past month. Today's incident was the fifth in a row after the desecration of a mosque in Pander village last Monday.




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Royal Idol-Maker Carries Tradition Into 21st Century
Posted on 2001/8/23 23:46:02 ( 655 reads )


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VADODARA, INDIA, August 20, 2001: Following a wish Maharaja Sayajirao III made to shun violence and be totally religious, six decades ago, master craftsman Krishnarao Chavan, stopped making Ganeshas that showed the deity killing the "Sindrasur" demon. "The Maharajas of the Baroda state always worshipped Ganesha icon that showed the Elephant God vanquishing the evil "rakshas" with one of his tusks. When Pratapsinhrao became the Maharaja, he wanted to respect Sayajirao's sentiments and changed the idol," says Mansingh Chavan, who continues the family tradition of crafting the Ganesha idol for the Gaekwad royal family. Mansingh recalls how Pratapsinhrao invited Brahmins from Kashi in 1939 to decide on a new icon that would be "more solemn." The model designed by Mansingh's father caught the fancy of the Maharaja. "It marked a major change in the family tradition." says Mansingh, who makes icons along with his brothers -- Lalsingh and Pradip - at their studio in the Khanderao Market area.




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Students Protest Ganesha on Campus
Posted on 2001/8/23 23:45:02 ( 587 reads )


Source: The Deccan Herald





HYDERABAD, INDIA, August 23, 2001: The installation of Ganesh icons for Ganesha Chaturthi in the hostels on Osmania University campus, here by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, has evoked protest from the Progressive Democratic Students Union which is seeing it as a step towards including more of Hinduism in the academic atmosphere on campus. The ABVP state secretary, Sri K. Sudhakar, said the festival was aimed at promoting "unity and national integration among the students besides inculcating the feeling of equality of all religions".




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Rice Row Unites India And Pakistan
Posted on 2001/8/23 23:44:02 ( 561 reads )


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INDIA, August 23, 2001: Pakistani and Indian officials have pledged to work together in a growing battle with the US about rights to basmati rice. A decision in the US this week to grant patents to a US company for new strains of rice similar to basmati has provoked an angry reaction. Commerce ministers from the two countries emerged from a meeting in Delhi late on Wednesday, describing basmati as the queen of rice and vowing they would never let it belong to anyone else. The US patents office has granted patents to a US company, Rice Tech, for three new strains of rice, which they are now allowed to promote as similar to or superior to basmati. Long-grained basmati rice has been grown for centuries in the Himalayan foothills of north-west India and Pakistan and has become popular internationally. Ownership has become a deeply emotive issue in recent years.




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