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Lanka Airport Attack Puts Pilgrims and Industry in Trouble
Posted on 2001/8/22 23:48:02 ( 656 reads )


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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka Aug. 20,2001: Some 3,000 Sri Lankan Buddhist pilgrims in India cannot afford to fly home because airlines are demanding a $40 war-risk insurance surcharge. The pilgrims left the island before the LTTE attack, and were due to return this week. The pilgrims, who had saved to raise the money for the journey of a lifetime to visit Buddhist sites in India, were unable to pay the unexpected surcharge. The newspaper said the authorities were asking Indian Airlines to waive the surcharge for those who began their journey before 24 July. Airline fares have gone up by as much as 80 per cent since the attack.




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India Sets Up E-Post Offices
Posted on 2001/8/22 23:47:02 ( 658 reads )


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INDIA, August, 13, 2001: Under a new program launched by the Indian Postal Department, the country's villagers will be able to send and receive letters through email accounts set up in their name. The Postal Department has begun this novel scheme on an experimental basis in five southern and western Indian states. The department's secretary, BN Som, told journalists that the program has been launched to extend the benefits of the internet to semi-urban and rural areas. Currently only two percent of India's population has access to personal computers. Under the new plan, post offices will be wired up to computers and the internet. Mail received on the internet in the name of account holders will then be distributed by the local postman. More than 200 e-post centers have already been set up in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Goa, Maharashtra, and Gujarat.




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India Assures Nepal on Not Flooding Buddha Birthplace
Posted on 2001/8/22 23:46:02 ( 638 reads )


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KATHMANDU, NEPAL, Aug 21, 2001: India has assured Nepal that it will not build a dam that could flood the birthplace of the Buddha, Nepalese officials said on Sunday. Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh, who arrived in the Nepalese capital on Friday seeking closer trade ties, wants to soothe anger in this Himalayan nation over the dam that Nepal says could flood Lumbini. The Buddha was born there more than 26 centuries ago as Prince Siddhartha. UNESCO, the United Nations' cultural arm, has declared Lumbini as a World Heritage site. India had started building the Rassiyal-Khurda-Lautan dam across the Danav River, just 200 meters from the Nepal-India border, south of Lumbini, 270 km south-west of Kathmandu. The dam is meant to block and manage the flow of river water, mainly for irrigation, on the Indian side of the border. Construction of the dam, which started about four months ago, stopped this month after protests by Nepal.




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South-east Asia Becomes New Theatre of Muslim Terrorists Operations
Posted on 2001/8/22 23:45:02 ( 660 reads )


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SINGAPORE, Aug 20, 2001: South-east Asia has become the new theatre for terrorist operations by Muslim extremist groups, and experts warn this makes Singapore a possible target. They said that the number of supporters of Saudi billionaire-fugitive Osama bin Laden and his global terrorist network Al-Qaeda is growing in countries like the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. As the network strengthens, existing links with groups like the Abu Sayyaf separatists and infiltrates Muslim organizations, including unsuspecting charities, Singapore could be placed increasingly at risk because of the perception that the republic is pro-America.




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Christian Divorce Laws To Be Amended
Posted on 2001/8/22 23:44:02 ( 714 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, August 17, 2001: Divorce laws are about to change dramatically for Christian women. The Cabinet has accepted all recommendations of the Law Ministry on major changes in the Indian Divorce Act. The changes, which have been approved by the most prominent church groups, will be passed in Parliament next week. Under the new provisions, divorce by mutual consent would be allowed and Christian women would be entitled to greater alimony than before. So far, the law is loaded in favor of Christian men, and women from the community have been lobbying for years for these changes. India does not have a uniform civil code for all citizens, but rather has personal codes for members of each religion, allowing, for example, Muslims to have four wives, but not Christians or Hindus.




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Row Over Teaching of Hindu Culture
Posted on 2001/8/22 23:43:02 ( 621 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, Aug 22, 2001: Controversy has erupted in India over what opponents are calling the federal government's bid to change the secular nature of the education system by introducing new syllabi glorifying Hindu culture and leaders and emphasizing Sanskrit, Vedic studies and astrology. The move has upset intellectuals and liberal political parties, including some allies of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who say they will go to battle over the issue which has the potential to change the face of the country. Citing the fact that the secular nature of India's education system is defined in the Constitution, several BJP allies said on Monday they would oppose the introduction of new syllabi. But Hindu nationalists see nothing wrong in children being informed of India's ancient indigenous heritage and in putting right what they say are overly liberal and apologetic views of history. Thus, many schools across the country have over the past four years or so, or approximately the period the BJP has been consolidating its power, incorporated Hindu prayers in their morning assemblies and Hindu religious rituals on special occasions. Nearly all schools in India are supported by government funds. But Muslim and Christian schools have always taught religion, while Hindu and public schools have not.




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RSS Meets With Native American-Indian Groups
Posted on 2001/8/22 3:56:50 ( 659 reads )

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NEW DELHI, INDIA, August 20, 2001: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), is making efforts to forge close ties with native American-Indian groups, saying the two have "many things in common." RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan met with leaders of such groups during his recent visit to US and Canada at the invitation of the Center for World Indigenous studies, a United Nations initiative and the World Council of Elders of Ancient Traditions. "Hindu and native American cultures have many things in common and probably these two cultures originated from the same root. Both inherit the glory and wisdom of ancient traditions and respect mother earth and we all should work together to restore proper balance on earth." said Sudarshan. Sudarshan has been fascinated by the reports of fire worship by the Native Americans that seem

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Student Activists Revivify Rajasthan Desert
Posted on 2001/8/21 23:48:02 ( 666 reads )


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RAJASTHAN, INDIA, August 13, 2001: Tarun Bharat Sangh, a group of college activists, is committed to reclaiming regions the government had written off as "black zones" due to the severe water shortage. Lead by Rajendra Singh, the young activists got the villagers involved in making their own decisions about water, forests and other local resources. Previously, locals lacked the motivation and, crucially, the money to do it. The village undertook one-quarter of the total cost by contributing cash as well as labor. Singh has been named this year's winner of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Prize for Community Leadership. He says the surge of publicity that has accompanied the prize announcement may put pressure on government officials to adopt a more positive attitude toward community-based efforts. Starting with just one village in 1986, the Tarun Bharat Sangh has spread its success to more than 700 villages in Rajasthan.




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Greenpeace Questions Safety of Genetically Modified Soya
Posted on 2001/8/21 23:47:02 ( 637 reads )


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UNITED KINGDOM, August 15, 2001: A study recently conducted by Belgian scientists on Monsanto Roundup Ready Soya has Greenpeace up in arms. Apparently, the study revealed a fragment of DNA in the genetically modified soya that cannot be identified. Greenpeace has appealed to the UK government to stop the sale of this soya. "No-one knows what this extra gene sequence is, what it will produce in the soyabean and what its effects will be," reports Dr. Doug Parr, Greenpeace-U.K. chief scientific advisor. Representing over 50% of all GM soya crops world-wide, Monsanto grows crops in the U.S., Argentina, and Canada. Foods such as chocolate, baby-food, bread, pizzas, ice-cream and animal feed all contain soya. Monsanto submitted a " revised risk assessment" after the Belgian data appeared in the European Journal of Food Technology. An Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment, that works for the U.K government, concluded that, "the presence of the DNA does not appear to have any deleterious effects with respect to environmental safety and did not alter the conclusions of the original assessment." Greenpeace argues, "Despite Monsanto's optimistic reassurances, this research presents further evidence that genetic modification is an imprecise technology."




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National Commission for Children Soon in India
Posted on 2001/8/21 23:46:02 ( 704 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, August 19, 2001: A National Commission for Children (NCC) will soon become reality as the Center is said to be giving final touches to the Commission, which will look into all the problems faced by the children. A Supreme Court or High Court judge is likely to head the Commission, which will be set up on the pattern of India's National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). It will also have six members including an eminent educationist, child health specialist, experts on child care, juvenile justice and child labor and a child psychologist. The Commission will supervise implementation of the existing laws for children, apart from monitoring and evaluating the status of safeguards provided to children. It will also advise the Government on steps to be taken.




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Harappan Mound of Dead Suffers Neglect
Posted on 2001/8/21 23:45:02 ( 666 reads )


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LOTHAL, INDIA, August 19, 2001: The Harappan site of Lothal in Gujarat whose name means "mound of the dead" has conservationists worried. The ancient site is suffering the vagaries of weather and neglect by the institution that's meant to preserve it: the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The Harappan site was discovered by the ASI in 1954, 84 kms out of Ahmedabad. It boasts a warehouse, a wharf and a 37-meter long dockyard built of bricks. Now, salt water and prolonged exposure to the rain and sun are gradually eating away the remains of the site. The dockyard is living proof that the Lothal civilization that flourished here between 2400 bce and 1900 bce was an early exponent of maritime trade. Heavy rain in the region over the past few seasons has damaged the remains of the sun-dried mud brick constructions. And stagnant rain water has layered the brick and mud work with moss. Past conservation attempts by ASI have not been too successful due to lack of funds and weather conditions. "The site hadn't been cared for over the past four or five years. But this year, we are taking up some important conservation projects at Lothal," reports ASI Regional Director, R.N. Gehlot.




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Portrayal of Karunanidhi as Christ Condemned
Posted on 2001/8/21 23:44:02 ( 629 reads )


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CHENNAI, INDIA, August 20, 2001: Various Christian organizations in Tamil Nadu on Monday took out a procession here to condemn the DMK's action in putting up posters in several parts of the city, portraying the political party's leader, former Tamil Nadu chief minister, Karunanidhi, as Jesus Christ. Recently, Karunanidhi had told newsmen that he had ordered the posters to be removed as soon as he came to know about their appearance all over the city. The DMK party is officialy atheistic. When the present chief minister, Jayalalitha, was in power during 1991 to 1996, some of her party activists had put up posters describing her as Virgin Mary.




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Keeping Saivism Alive in South Africa
Posted on 2001/8/20 23:49:02 ( 661 reads )


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JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA, Aug. 17, 2001: It is because of the efforts of the Siva Gnana Sabay that Saivism thrives in the mainly Indian residential area of Lenasia, the township south of Johannesburg that was created under apartheid to forcibly resettle the Indians of the Greater Johannesburg area. Today the organization that started out in a small way in 1969 runs two temples, a nursery school and a pre-school, as well as facilities for weddings and social events. It runs a Tamil school on Saturdays that has growing enrollment, as parents want their children to learn about their roots. Music classes are conducted immediately after the Tamil classes, where children learn to play Indian musical instruments like the harmonium, tabla and mridingam. In the afternoon members of the women's wing of the Sabay get together to discuss charity projects.




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Trees Lock Angkor Temples in a Life-and-Death Embrace
Posted on 2001/8/20 23:48:02 ( 605 reads )


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SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA, August 19, 2001: This descriptive article details the challenges facing restorers at the massive temples of Angkor, one of the world's great cities between the 9th and 15th centuries, and one of history's architectural glories. Consecrated in 1191 by Jayavarman VII, Preah Khan served as a monastery and teaching complex, its walls carved with both Buddhist and Hindu images. For hundreds of years after the empire of Angkor collapsed, the temples lay buried in remote jungle. They were rediscovered by European explorers in the 19th century and some of the jungle was cleared away. But it is only in the last decade that large-scale efforts at restoration have begun. This has brought a quandary at some of the temples. The huge trees spread throughout the temple sites at Angkor are both protector and destroyer of the ruins. While their strength may be what holds parts of the structures together, other problems can be caused by spreading roots which undermine the walls and falling trees which damage fragile structures. The challenge of the project is to preserve the huge trees while minimizing damage to the temples.




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Hindu Leaders Plan Visits to U.S. Cities to Discuss Faith and Deflate Myths
Posted on 2001/8/20 23:47:02 ( 658 reads )


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WASHINGTON, USA, August 18, 2001: In a new survey of Americans' attitudes about Hindus, 666 people -- two-thirds of those surveyed -- said they have no familiarity with Hindu beliefs and practices. When asked if they wanted to learn more about the religion, 59 percent said no. Members of the Hindu Leaders Forum, a global network that commissioned the survey, are not surprised at Americans' limited knowledge of their faith, which with one billion adherents worldwide, is the third-largest religion after Christianity (1.9 billion) and Islam (1.2 billion). To further understanding by people of other faiths and foster pride among Hindus, the forum, a project of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad Overseas, has begun a 38-country, 47-city yatra, or pilgrimage, to spread the message that "the world is one family." This is the first international yatra in more than a century, organizers say, and it will bring spiritual leaders from India to have discourses with local Hindus. The guests will visit five major U.S. metropolitan areas: Events are scheduled Monday in Miami, Tuesday in Atlanta, Wednesday in Washington, Friday in Chicago and Saturday in Los Angeles. The program includes talks and discussions on such topics as the fundamentals of Hinduism, religious-related violence and the global environment. For details on the global tour, go to www.hindunet.org.




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