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Gandhi's Grandson to Lead Interfaith Alliance

Posted on 2003/2/11 8:47:02 ( 1037 reads )

Source: Religion News Service

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 11, 2003: The grandson of Mahatma Gandhi has been named chairman of the board of directors at the Interfaith Alliance. Arun Gandhi will lead the Washington-based group, which lobbies for religious freedom and interfaith understanding. Gandhi is the co-founder of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence in Memphis, Tenn., and a prolific author. "At this particular moment in history, when religion is often cited as the cause, rather than the solution, to conflict, Arun Gandhi's insightful and prophetic leadership is invaluable," said the Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance. Gandhi succeeds retired Episcopal Bishop Jane Holmes Dixon of Washington, who will remain on the board.

India's Bottled Water Contains High Levels of Pesticides

Posted on 2003/2/11 8:46:02 ( 954 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, February 6, 2003: Popular brands of bottled water sold in India contain pesticide residues that can cause cancer or disorders of the nervous system, a study has found. Seventeen brands in and around New Delhi were taken for testing by the city's non-government Center for Science and Environment (CSE). Using methods approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency for pesticide detection in drinking water, CSE found that all except one contained residues of chemicals such as lindane, DDT, chlorpyrifos and malathion. Many of these chemicals are banned in several countries, including India. Only Evian, imported from France, was clean. These popular brands exceed safety limits set by the EU by more than 100 times. According to the CSE report, the source of the pesticide residues is the polluted groundwater used to manufacture the bottled water. It said the water treatment processes used by the manufacturers are either ineffective or only a part of the raw water is processed. India's bottled water industry, worth US$209,511,800 and growing at 40 per cent a year, insists that it meets the quality norms set by India's Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) for drinking water. The federal government has ordered a high-level probe into the report and wants the investigating body to report its findings in three weeks.

Rajasthan May Ban Hindu Trident

Posted on 2003/2/10 8:49:02 ( 1113 reads )


RAJASTHAN, INDIA, February 10, 2003: The Indian state of Rajasthan plans to introduce a ban on Hindus carrying a traditional religious icon, the trident. The three-pointed spear, or trisula, appears in Hindu iconography and traditionally symbolizes the power of Lord Siva as three fundamental saktis or powers -- iccha (desire, will, love), kriya (action) and jnana (wisdom). Hindu activists say they have distributed more than 70,000 tridents in Rajasthan in recent months. A sharpened trident can serve as a weapon, though its relevance here is more as a symbol of aggressive Hinduism to be displayed in marches and at rallies. Rajasthan's Home Minister, Gulab Singh Shaktawat, told the BBC the trident could endanger the lives of peace-loving citizens. He said he expected the trident ban to be introduced this week.

Respected Indian Scientist Questions Claims of Oldest Human Settlement

Posted on 2003/2/10 8:48:02 ( 1118 reads )


HYDERABAD, INDIA, February 2, 2003: When the Department of Ocean Development scientists recently announced that they had discovered the world's oldest human settlement in the Gulf of Cambay off the coast of Gujarat, they attracted the attention of renowned marine biologist, S.R. Rao. Rao explains, "Such a flippant and premature announcement to the media prior to publishing the data in a peer-reviewed journal put credibility of Indian science at stake." The DOD have backed up their discovery with acoustic images and dating of the carbon in a piece of wood taken from the site. Rao argues that the wood could have come from anywhere and that the DOD did not send a diver down to the site, nor did they take pictures or consult an archaeologist. However DOD secretary Harsh Guta feels that Westerners are not willing to accept that modern civilization emerged from India. The journal of the Geological Society of India has agreed to publish a paper by DOD scientists provided that they temper their claims. S.R. Rao has written two books about sunken settlements and was instrumental in discovering the ancient Dwaraka settlement, talked about in the epic Mahabharata, off the coast of Gujarat.

India's Pilgrimage Centers Go High Tech

Posted on 2003/2/6 8:49:02 ( 1006 reads )


BANGALORE, INDIA, February 4, 2003 : Many Hindu pilgrimage sites are undergoing a high tech-makeover intended to offer a superior pilgrimage experience. The prominent ones which are sinking in tens of thousand of U.S. dollars in this e-transformation process include Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam (TTD), Shirdi Sai Baba Devasthanam and Khalsa Heritage, among others. Tirupati will use an integrated system for automation of its various departments. Once ready, the project will benefit pilgrims by giving them access to information about sevas, darshan times and will also help them make the necessary reservations and fee payments online. Shirdi Sai Baba Devasthanam has commissioned a networking project to automate its key departments. The Khalsa Heritage in Punjab and Nirankari Mission in New Delhi are setting up what they term "immersive multimedia theatres," which will offer devotees the latest in digital spiritual experience.

New York's Firefighters Fight Post 9/11 Stress with Yoga

Posted on 2003/2/6 8:48:02 ( 1141 reads )


NEW YORK, U.S.A., February 6, 2003: Told to shut his eyes and shake his body vigorously, Kevin Guy began to reconsider whether he should have signed up for the workshop. "Is this guy for real?" the strapping Bronx-born firefighter wondered as he began Dr. Jim Gordon's program of meditation, yoga and alternative therapies to help firefighters deal with the emotional stress of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. That one-time workshop was offered last summer, not long after the end of a nine-month cleanup of human remains and structural debris at the World Trade Center site. Now, Guy meditates and shakes stress away nearly every day and helped Gordon launch a regular program for city firefighters. The sessions began a week after Mount Sinai Medical Center released preliminary findings from a federal program that screened workers who responded to the terrorist attack and aided in its cleanup. Ten months after the attacks, 52 percent reported mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder, doctors said. The findings were based on a random sample of 250 people from the first 500 workers examined; 3,500 people have been screened in six months. Basic techniques include relaxation, meditation, yoga, visual imagery, self-hypnosis and group support. The center also works with cancer patients and people suffering from other chronic illnesses. The challenge was getting a firefighter to stretch out on a mat in a yoga pose, meditate to soft music or learn to do focused breathing -- practices initially deemed "ridiculous and crazy" by most first-timers, Gordon said. However, more than 40 people attended the new class. Guy wants to recruit more by convincing his tough-minded brethren that Gordon's program is a take-charge, independent type of therapy. "You're not on a psychiatrist's couch -- it's just basic things that you can do to help yourself. It really calms you down," Guy said.

The New Marriage Criteria for NRIs

Posted on 2003/2/6 8:47:02 ( 1016 reads )

Source: The Telegraph

NEW DELHI, INDIA, February 5, 2003: Apart from nostalgia and money to augment foreign exchange reserves, what is a major involvement with India and her nonresident Indians (NRIs)? The NRIs search for brides and bridegrooms assisted by parents in India and overseas is a top priority. There is an "A list" in India for prospective spouses, with NRIs topping the list, multinational executives, IAS and other central service officers, and then the others, with academics near the bottom. For most parents and their daughters, the well-off overseas boy of Indian origin tops the preferences.

Saints Protest Ganga Pollution

Posted on 2003/2/5 8:49:02 ( 1105 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, February 1, 2003 : Prominent sadhus and Dharamacharyas are protesting the government's failure to release additional water from Tehri Dam into River Ganga to enable millions of devotees to take a holy dip before Mauni Amavasya on Sunday. The religious leaders also protested the government's "apathetic attitude" towards the increasing pollution of Ganga and sought immediate steps to clean the river. Pandit N. K. Sharma, Chief Organizer of the Universal Association of Spiritual Awareness, said in a statement on Saturday that thousands of pilgrims had returned to their homes without taking bath during the Magh Mela of Prayag (Allahabad) due to the polluted water. He said the saints have also been demanding, since the beginning of the Magh Mela, a check on the effluents from the tanneries at Kanpur and the dirty drains of Fatehpur area. The Ganga river at Allahabad where the annual Magh Mela was held was highly polluted and the water was not fit for bathing.

Vaishno Devi Pilgrims Increase

Posted on 2003/2/5 8:48:02 ( 1078 reads )


Jammu, Kashmir, February 4, 2003: Over 100,750 pilgrims have visited the holy cave shrine of Vaishno Devi during January this year, an official spokesman said on Tuesday. At present 4,000 to 5,000 pilgrims are reaching the shrine daily and during the last two weeks of January over 75,000 devotees worshipped at the cave shrine. Extensive arrangements are in place for the devotees such as free accommodations at the shrine board in Adhkunwari and blankets.

Indian Government to Excavate Lost Cities

Posted on 2003/2/5 8:47:02 ( 1085 reads )


KURUKSHETRA, INDIA, February 4, 2003: Jagmohan, Union Minister for Tourism and Culture, announced on Tuesday that the Centre has launched a plan to unearth lost cities which once existed along the embankments of Saraswati River, and left a number of signposts of the Saraswati-Indus civilization from Adi Badri near Kurukshetra to Dhola Vira in Gujarat. Addressing the students of Kurukshetra University at the 25th convocation here, he said that "all these signposts are intended to be converted into new centers, all over the country, in which elements of culture, tourism and clean civic life are being synthesized." He added that Kurukshetra (of Mahabharata fame) is being given a top position in the list of such centers to make it a symbol of a resurgent and reawakened India.

Despite Prices, Indians Buy Gold for Weddings

Posted on 2003/2/5 8:46:02 ( 1041 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, January 29, 2003: India, the world's largest gold consumer, is in the grip of a wedding fever as fears of war in Iraq push the precious metal beyond the reach of many aspiring brides. Domestic prices shot to a record high of US$383.33 an ounce last week due to the war fears. "People with a wedding in the family are rushing to exchange their old gold," said D. Krishnamurthy of Chennai based Astro Matrimonial Services. The annual Hindu wedding market is estimated to be worth a staggering $6,284,038,523 with gold ornaments as gifts to brides. One internet matrimonial site said, "Only yesterday we successfully arranged 10 marriages. The Hindu wedding season is in full swing and will last until May, and in no way are the soaring prices affecting the nuptials because we Indians cannot think of a wedding without gold," said spokeswoman, Vandana Asija. "We registered 200 clients since our launch in December and all of them are in a hurry to marry because of soaring gold costs," said another online matrimonial site.

Correction on Hindu Sadhus Lead Protest Against Ganga Pollution

Posted on 2003/2/5 8:45:02 ( 1139 reads )

Source: Associate Press Worldstream

LUCKNOW, INDIA, January 17, 2003: Several readers have pointed out that the Ganga merges with the Yamuna River in Allahabad, not Lucknow, as written in yesterday's story.

India's Modern Diaspora

Posted on 2003/2/4 8:49:02 ( 1124 reads )

Source: Outlook India

NEW DELHI, INDIA, January 12, 2003: Man Mohan Jha, 52, a manager with a steel ropes manufacturer in Patna, is counting the days until July when he will migrate to the U.S. with his wife. Jha is part of the most recent and biggest wave of migrants leaving India. The migrants are mainly white-collar professionals, students, and diploma-holders and they are destined for Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the U.S. They will make up part of the 20,000,000 Indians living abroad. According to recent statistics, 246,000 Indians migrated to the U.S. in the last two years and 85,000 skilled computer professionals are leaving India every year, contributing to an annual resource loss of US$2 billion. New Zealand received 11,000 migrant Indians in the last three years, while 5,000 Indians migrated to Canada in 2002. Of the yearly IIT graduates, 50 percent leave India, while 20 percent of the medical school graduates do so. India ranks second among countries exporting people to the U.S. and first among countries exporting students to the U.S.; 90 percent of those students never return.

Hindu Sadhus Lead Protest Against Ganges Pollution

Posted on 2003/2/4 8:48:02 ( 1071 reads )

Source: Associate Press Worldstream

LUCKNOW, INDIA, January 17, 2003 : Hundreds of Hindu holy men and devotees observed a sit-in along the banks of the Ganges River to protest the increasing pollution of the waterway that is sacred to Hindus. Lucknow, a pilgrimage site for millions of Hindus, is located at the spot where the Ganges River merges with the Yamuna. The protesters demanded that more water be released from the Narora Dam upstream to flush out the pollution and raise the river level for tens of thousands of devotees who were expected to bathe in the Ganges near Allahabad. "Not only is the water polluted, it is not enough. How can millions of people take a dip in this water?" said Abhay Chaitanya, a Hindu priest organizing the protest.

Joint Families May Be More Environmentally Sound

Posted on 2003/2/4 8:47:02 ( 1127 reads )


LONDON, ENGLAND, January 14, 2003: Living with mom and dad, rather than venturing out on your own may actually contribute to saving the planet. A study, conducted by ecologist Jianguo Liu and his Michigan University team, targeted a biodiversity hotspot -- a region where large numbers of species are endangered or threatened by human activity. India took the honors as the hotspot chosen by the team. Liu said, "During 2000-2015, the average annual rate of growth in population size in India is projected to be 1.3%, while the rate of growth in household numbers is projected to be 2.4%." Liu predicts that the major reason for the increase in number of households will be divorce and that during that same fifteen-year period the average Indian household size will be reduced from 5.5 to about 4.8 persons. Liu based his predictions on the previous fifteen-year period before the year 2000 when the number of Indian households grew 30% faster than the population. From an environmental stance, as the number of households with one, two, or three occupants increase, proportionately so too will energy consumption, land and water use and construction materials. Other experts, such as sociologists, agree that more households means more energy use. However they are not convinced that extended families are the "greenest" on the planet. Liu calls the study a wake-up call.

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