Hindu Press International


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Hindus and Sikhs Still Face Threats in Afghanistan

Posted on 2002/5/13 9:45:02 ( 800 reads )


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AFGHANISTAN, May 9, 2002: They no longer have to wear yellow badges like the Jews under Nazi rule, but little else has changed for Afghanistan's religious minorities, the Hindus and Sikhs. Four months ago, a new government took office, promising equal rights for all Afghans. Yet many Hindus and Sikhs say that life is no better -- and in some cases, is worse -- under the new Afghan flag. Despite the end of official discrimination and kind words from the new leaders in Kabul, Sikhs and Hindus have no schools for their children, no access to government jobs or university education, no seats on the commission that set rules for electing a new government, and no protection from warlords who have seized their lands and homes. ''During the Taliban, we were first put in jail and then forced to wear yellow turbans and brown skullcaps, but at least we had law and order,'' said Bajan Singh, 27, a Sikh. Because of their tiny numbers and related faiths, the Hindu and Sikh communities in Afghanistan have merged, sharing temples and residential compounds.




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India Court Throws Out Prosecution Over Inter-Caste Elopement

Posted on 2002/5/10 9:49:02 ( 794 reads )


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ALLAHABAD, INDIA, May 9, 2002: An Indian court has urged state authorities to prevent the persecution of couples from different communities. The Allahabad High Court dismissed a private prosecution for kidnapping brought by a father against the young man his daughter had eloped with. The young couple -- from different communities within India's caste system -- told the court that their parents had threatened to kill them if they did not seek a divorce. Describing the caste system as a great evil that was hindering the country's progress, the court said parents could not legally stop a person who was an adult from marrying someone from another caste or community. Indian law recognizes inter-caste marriages, but certain communities, especially in rural areas, considers them to be contrary to tradition.




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Skipping Stones Announces 2002 Book Awards

Posted on 2002/5/10 9:48:02 ( 758 reads )


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EUGENE, OREGON, May 9, 2002: Each year Skipping Stones, a multicultural children's magazine, recognizes outstanding books, teaching resources and educational videos from both large and small publishers and producers. Titles selected in the four different categories for the 2002 awards encourage close relationships with nature and/or promote respect and understanding of cultural diversity in our world. The four areas are ecology and nature, multicultural and international books, teaching resources and educational videos. Editor Arun Narayan Toke does an excellent job in finding diverse resource material which is very valuable for education of tomorrow's world citizens. Click "source" above for the complete list of books.




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Vivekananda Kendra Appeals for Funds for Arunachal Pradesh Project

Posted on 2002/5/10 9:47:02 ( 838 reads )


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KANYAKUMARI, INDIA, May 10, 2002: Vivekananda Kendra undertakes activities across India in the fields of education, rural development, socio-economic programs, personality development and management camps, yoga and publications. They have given high priority to Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland as these states in the northeast region are being culturally invaded by alien forces which destroy the very physical and emotional integration of the people and disconnect this area from the rest of the country. They have started a new project, Arun Jyoti, in Arunachal Pradesh state to developed effective contact among Arunachal tribals and to create an awareness that they belong to the great country of India and thereby develop in them a sense of pride in India's tradition and culture. They are seeking donations to fund a US$61,000 project engaging 35 full-time Kendra workers for various service activities including medical camps; publishing literature on local festivals, traditions and culture; translating Ramakrishna-Vivekananda literature into the local languages; youth activities, libraries and tours of India. For more information, contact A. Balakrishnan, vice-president, at "source" above, or write Vivekanandapuram, Kanyakumari, 629 702, India.




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South Africa Hanuman Temple Closed After Attack by Thugs

Posted on 2002/5/9 9:49:02 ( 782 reads )


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NATAL, SOUTH AFRICA, May 8, 2002: Indian farmers in KwaDukuza on the North Coast say they have become sitting ducks for criminals preying on remote farmsteads. Recent attacks on farmers and their workers in Doesburg and Nonoti, two communities outside the town, have prompted the local farm watch to beef up security in the area. Some owners say they may be forced to pack up and leave the farms on which they grew up if the crime spree continues. Police believe former farm laborers, released from prison after serving time for petty offenses, are behind the recent surge in crime in these semi-rural areas. Farmers were forced to abandon a Hanuman temple because of the escalating crime, moving the deities to a safe place. Naren Harikrishna, vice-chairman of the Darnall Farmers' Association, said criminals were targeting not only Indians but also African and white farmers. The KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union said farm attacks had increased throughout the province. Koos Marais, who mans the crime desk, said 30 attacks and four murders had been recorded since the beginning of the year.




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Hindu Students Break the Ice at Afrikaans Varsity

Posted on 2002/5/9 9:48:02 ( 840 reads )


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JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA, May 8, 2002: Deshanya Thambi has founded the first Hindu Student Society at Rand Afrikaans University, dispelling the perception that you need to be a white Afrikaner to feel at home on campus. The 22-year-old BCom student says Hindus have always wanted a society of their own, but complacently accepted that they were not legitimate enough to be recognized. "But there is such a need for such an organization," says Thambi. "It is not, as most people believe, restricted to Indian students or Hindus. Anyone can join. Our aims are to interact with other student communities and to keep students informed. As Hindus, it is important for us to maintain our identity and, in doing that, we also want to create a consciousness of striving towards solidarity, peace and tolerance. If we cannot live harmoniously with each other when we are essentially of the same religion, then we will not be able to live harmoniously with the rest of South Africans."




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India Losing Child-Labor Battle

Posted on 2002/5/9 9:47:02 ( 803 reads )


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DELHI, INDIA, May 7, 2002: Ten years after India ratified a UN convention pledging to protect children's rights, the country continues to be home to the world's largest number of child laborers. It is believed there are up to 100 million children working in homes, factories, shops, fields, brothels and on the streets of rural and urban India. Both government officials and activists agree that one of the root causes for the prevalence of child labor is excruciating poverty. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated that 40% of India's citizens were living in abject poverty in the mid-1990s and most believe that figure has not changed. Many aid agencies are critical of what they consider the government's overemphasis on the link between poverty and child labor and say it is, rather, an example of the lack of political will to implement a host of laws that are already in place to prevent and regulate the employment of children. India is a signatory to more than 120 ILO conventions, all of which seek to eliminate child labor. According to a leading non-governmental organization called Campaign Against Child Labor, current legislation suffers from too many loopholes. The group said the legislation's distinction between hazardous and non-hazardous occupations was arbitrary and the law overlooks up to 85% of child labor working in areas outside registered establishments. Many activists say that what is far more important than laws banning child labor is a political commitment to primary education. They say the solution lies in the government working closely with aid agencies in the field to help combat child labor with literacy programs.




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Over 240 Killed in Fresh Violence in Nepal

Posted on 2002/5/8 9:49:02 ( 845 reads )


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KATHMANDU, NEPAL, May 8, 2002: More than 240 police, soldiers and rebels have been killed in fresh violence in Nepal, as Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba said he had secured US support for his crackdown against the Maoist insurgency. Some 140 Nepalese police and soldiers were killed when guerrillas surrounded a joint army-police security post set up last month at Gama in Rolpa, 298 km west of Kathmandu. The Maoists torched the security station after a gunfight lasting hours. The defense ministry confirmed "a large number" of Maoists attacked the security post but did not give casualty figures. In other battles large numbers of Maoists have been killed by the army.




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Nepal Has Its Day at the White House

Posted on 2002/5/8 9:48:02 ( 818 reads )


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WASHINGTON, USA, May 8, 2002: The Bush White House fleetingly turned its attention to India's neighbor Nepal, where a Maoist insurgency that daily kills ten times as many victims as in the Middle-East goes largely unnoticed by the outside world. But the US administration is concerned by developments in the Himalayan kingdom and President Bush invited the country's Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba to the White House for talks. At the daily White House briefing the Nepal issue took just one question -- if Deuba's visit hadn't been overshadowed by that of more famous leaders, and if President Bush had been sufficiently well briefed on the problems in Nepal. Deuba is expected to meet Secretary of State Colin Powell to discuss aid issues.




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Children Perform Ramayana Play in Sanskrit

Posted on 2002/5/8 9:47:02 ( 954 reads )


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EDISON, NEW JERSEY, April 20, 2002: Children of Edison Balagokulam were challenged to come up with a Ramayama play to be held during the second anniversary celebration of a monthly Ramayana paat held in New Jersey. The event was seen as an opportunity for the children to become familiar with characters in the Ramayana and to use them as role models. After considering several languages for the dialogue, Sanskrit was chosen to expose the children to a language of science and wisdom that originated in India. The play was presented on April 20, a day before Raam Navami, at Durga Mandir in Kendall Park, New Jersey. The one-hour play included 31 children who shared 88 roles. Hundreds of words of Sanskrit dialogue were used in seven of the ten scenes and narration was provided in English. Displays created by parents added beauty to the play attended by over 300 people. Trophies and certificates were distributed to all participants following the performance. For pictures of the event, click on "source" above.




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Top Indian Designer JJ Shows Collection In South Africa

Posted on 2002/5/8 9:46:02 ( 814 reads )


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JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA, May 8, 2002: India's top fashion designer, Jagsharan Jit Singh Valaya, took center stage this week at an exclusive exhibition of bridal garments at the Sandton Convention Centre. Known in the industry as J J, the 35-year-old Rajasthan-born fashion guru opened the Weddings, Glamour and Beauty Expo on Friday night with a stunning collection of 15 garments from his spring-summer range. The House of Valaya is popular for its top workmanship, and Valaya has designed evening wear for a host of celebrities, including Bollywood stars Kareena Kapoor and Hrithik Roshan and Hollywood actress Kate Blanchett.




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Voice of India Releases New Book on Ayodhya

Posted on 2002/5/8 9:45:02 ( 835 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, April 8, 2002: The Voice of India has released "Ayodhya, The Case Against the Temple," by Belgium scholar Koenraad Elst. The book deals with the debate over whether or note a Hindu temple actually existed at the place known as Ramjanmabhoomi, or the birthplace of Lord Rama, in Ayodhya. Elst, who specializes in Hindu issues, argues that those who claim there was no temple are ignoring persuasive evidence to the contrary for political reasons. He states, "Future historians will include the no-temple argument of the 1990s as a remarkable case study in their surveys of academic fraud and politicized scholarship." The book is available from Voice of India, 2/18 Ansari Road, New Delhi, 110 002 or e-mail "source" above.




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Special Forces Sent to Gujarat to Quell On-Going Riots

Posted on 2002/5/7 9:49:02 ( 816 reads )


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GUJARAT, INDIA, May 7, 2002: A force of 1,000 specially-trained riot police is to be deployed in the troubled western Indian state of Gujarat. These men have been specifically trained to tackle the kind of situation that persists in Gujarat. A spokesman for the Gujarat Government told the BBC that 1,000 commandos from the northern state of Punjab are to be sent to Gujarat to assist the state's police force. The announcement was made as fresh violence in Gujarat on Tuesday left another nine people dead and more than 10 injured. The Gujarat spokesman, IK Jadeja, said that the decision to requisition the special force was made by the state's recently-appointed security adviser, KPS Gill. Mr. Gill told the BBC huge numbers of additional security forces were required to tackle the problem in Gujarat. "These men [from Punjab] have been specifically trained to tackle the kind of situation that persists in Gujarat," he said. He also indicated there would have to be a drastic change in security force tactics in order to control the violence. Mr. Gill gained fame during the late 1980s when as Punjab police chief he helped put down a Sikh separatist movement in the state. In fresh violence on Tuesday, police said a man riding a scooter was burnt to death by a mob in the state's commercial capital, Ahmedabad. In another attack a man was stabbed to death in the city.




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US Commission Report Criticizes India on Religious Freedom

Posted on 2002/5/7 9:48:02 ( 880 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, May 8, 2002: This front page report in the Times of India begins, "Expressing concern over the riots in Gujarat, a blue ribbon US panel that examines issues of religious freedom has urged the Bush administration to lean on the Indian government to resolve contentious domestic issues like the Ayodhya dispute. ... The Commission urged the US government 'to press Indian authorities to exercise their power to halt the atrocities and violence, bring perpetrators to justice, and do more to root out the causes of religious intolerance, especially by resolving the impasse over the Babri mosque in Ayodhya destroyed in 1992 by Hindu nationalists who are vowing to construct a Hindu temple on the site.' As it did last in its report last year, the Commission appeared to lay the blame on increased religious violence squarely on rising Hindu militancy, while praising the overall secular nature of the Indian republic. Following the carnage in Gujarat, India also had has the ignominy of being placed with Pakistan as countries that needed closer monitoring over issues of religious freedom despite the fundamental differences in the basis on which the two countries were founded." The Times reporting, however, exaggerates the prominence of India in the Commission's study (available at www.uscirf.gov/index.php3). India is just one of 22 nations and areas singled out for special mention, and the list includes France, Belgium and even Europe as a whole. India receives eight lines of comment, one of the shortest of all the nations. The Commission's report points out attacks on Christians, Muslims and Sikhs in India, and attacks on Hindus in the Northeast of India. Yet, the word "Kashmir" does not appear in the report, even though dozens of Hindus have been killed each month for years in the region in religious violence. The Times report also exaggerates the importance of the Commission itself. Indeed, part of the Commission's report (page 29) are complaints that the US State Department regularly ignores its recommendations. The Commission appears to have been created as a political gesture to the Christian right, and it consistently gives prominence to the freedom of Christians in foreign countries, especially for missionary work.




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Kerala's Religious Communities Start Own TV Stations

Posted on 2002/5/7 9:47:02 ( 830 reads )


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THIRUVANTHAPURAM, KERALA, INDIA, May 6, 2002: This southern state of India is about to get a Christian and a Muslim TV channel in a few months. It could be a difficult venture, the local Marxists have lost a great deal of money on their Kairali channel. "In Gujarat we are suffering from mixing politics with religion," a leading Marxist thinker pointed out. "Today they start channels in the name of religion and tomorrow there will be even caste-based TV. Such channels could vitiate the fragile communal fabric." But officials of Jeevan and India Vision dismiss such criticism, saying the new channels are "commercial organizations and not religious bodies." Though both swear that religion will not play any role in their channels, the intelligentsia sees it as an eyewash. The state is 57% Hindu, 23% Muslim and 19% Christian. The Christian and Muslim communities together own one-half of the State's educational institutions. There are no known plans for a Hindu station.




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