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Row Over Teaching of Hindu Culture
Posted on 2001/8/22 23:43:02 ( 647 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 ( 686 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 ( 694 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 ( 661 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 ( 731 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 ( 693 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 ( 654 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 ( 685 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 ( 629 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 ( 683 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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Doctors to Get Training in Pranic Techniques
Posted on 2001/8/20 23:46:02 ( 713 reads )


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HYDERABAD, INDIA, Aug, 17, 2001: Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu announced that medical doctors and nurses would be trained in the system of Pranic healing to supplement the medicare system in the rural areas of the state. Grand Master Choa Kok Sui, an international expert, was asked by Naidu to start a Pranic healing centre at the Marri Chenna Reddy Human Resources Development institute. Naidu said that the government was spending about US$235 million on health sector every year -- without satisfaction, he added.




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Catholics Settle Another Sex Abuse Case
Posted on 2001/8/20 23:45:02 ( 727 reads )


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SANATA ANA, CALIFORNIA, August 21, 2001: Roman Catholic leaders in Orange and Los Angeles counties agreed to pay $5.2 million to settle a lawsuit accusing a once-popular priest of molestation. Church leaders also agreed to a code of conduct, which would be enforced by a judge, to crack down on Catholic clergymen who prey on children. The settlement, which still needs to be approved by a judge, stems from accusations that Monsignor Michael Harris, 56, molested a 17-year-old Catholic high school student, Ryan DiMaria, in 1991. "I'm very happy with what we got accomplished," DiMaria, now 28, told The Orange County Register. "I think it will protect a lot of victims in the future," DiMaria, said Monday. Harris, who declined to be interviewed, has always denied wrongdoing and never has been charged with a crime. However, he agreed to leave the priesthood and has been on inactive leave from the church since 1994. The settlement in DiMaria's suit against the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Diocese of Orange calls for a toll-free number and the creation of a Web site for reporting molestation, as well as for educational pamphlets to be distributed to Catholic churches and schools. It also requires that priests sign agreements not to molest, among other things. DiMaria, a former Santa Margarita Catholic High School student, brought the suit because he claimed that the dioceses turned their backs on the predatory behavior of Harris, who allegedly targeted young men in need of spiritual counseling. The Catholic Church has paid out hundreds of millions of dollars to settle similar lawsuits across the USA.




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Prime Minister Criticizes Conversion Motives
Posted on 2001/8/19 23:49:02 ( 661 reads )


Source: Press Trust of India





NEW DELHI, INDIA, August 19, 2001: Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on Saturday said there was a "conversion motive" behind the welfare activities being carried out by some Christian missionaries in the country's backward areas and that it was "not proper," though conversion was permissible under the law. Speaking at a function here to release a book on a prominent RSS activist, Vajpayee said Christian missionaries were engaged in laudable social work, "though some have a conversion motive, which is not proper." He, however, added that the Christians had a right to practice and preach their religion. Referring to abduction and recent killing of four RSS activists by insurgents in the Northeast, Vajpayee regretted that the media gave very little coverage to their "sacrifice." "The RSS activists had gone there to serve the people. I was sad to learn that their sacrifice went unnoticed. Had the news been about Christian missionaries, it would have been widely covered. The media's attitude should change," the Prime Minister said.




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Treatment of Hindus in Zimbabwe
Posted on 2001/8/19 23:48:02 ( 838 reads )


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ZIMBABWE, AFRICA, February, 24, 2001: Whites were not the only race coming under attack in the racially-motivated parliamentary election campaign currently ravaging Zimbabwe. Asians, in particular, are being targeted, through a hate-filled document sent to prominent businessmen in the community and believed to have originated from the offices of black economic empowerment organization, the Affirmative Action Group (AAG). The document, "Indigenization versus Indians" comes as a rude shock to many Asians who, as second or third generation Zimbabweans, considered themselves "indigenous." The contents of the document state that this is not how the propagators of affirmative action in Zimbabwe view them. "Black people did not die for this country so that Indians could go on oppressing them," states the document. The situation is the same as in many other countries where the Indian communities have lived, even for generations.




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Astrology in Universities
Posted on 2001/8/19 23:47:02 ( 720 reads )


Source: The Sunday Times





UNITED KINGDOM, June 17, 2001: Several British institutions are to make the study of astrology mainstream again. Southampton University has formed a research group for the critical study of astrology and three students are to investigate links between the planets and various aspects of human behavior. Researchers from universities in Manchester and Plymouth are testing data in other projects for astrological "truth." By the end of this year, two more British universities hope to start astrological research. Academic astrology is now available in the United States, too. According to Dr. Christopher French, who investigates the psychology of the paranormal at Goldsmiths College in London, about 75% of people read horoscopes. Nancy Reagan brought back the idea of a court consultant and is said to have rescheduled important meetings according to the stars. The late Princess Diana also had her own personal astrologer. Some big businesses, too, take astrology seriously enough to spend money on it, believing that astrology can be an invaluable guide to trends.




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