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Indian Women May Be Prosecuted for Seeking Sex-Determinate Tests

Posted on 2002/12/8 8:44:02 ( 1065 reads )

Source: Times of India

BANGALORE, INDIA, December 8, 2002: Women too will henceforth be punished with three years imprisonment and a fine of Rs 50,000 if they undergo sex-determination test, if the National Committee on Empowerment of Women have their say. In more than 98 per cent of the cases, pregnant women are forced by their families to terminate or abort the foetus if it is a girl child. Yet, the National Committee on Empowerment of Women has recommended that these women too be punished. How can the government punish the woman for no fault of hers, this article asks, when more often than not, she is forced by her family to undertake the sex-selection test. "The woman's marriage is at stake if she refuses," said Sabu George of the Center for Women Studies Development, Delhi. George said, "The government must prevent doctors from indulging in such unethical practices rather than punish hapless women." The organization has decided to take legal action against the committee. But Committee Chairperson Margaret Alva justified the punishment for women saying, "The mother is a collaborator in the entire process of eliminating the girl child. It is wrong to say that the majority of women who undergo sex-determination tests are illiterate and poor. It is the educated who undergo the test. A woman should have some kind of sensitivity. Punishing the woman will instill fear in her family, which will contribute towards ending the menace of female infanticide," she told the Sunday Times of India from Delhi.

Bengali Internet and Print Publications Announced

Posted on 2002/12/8 8:43:02 ( 1071 reads )


KOLKATA, INDIA, December 8, 2002: Since 1995 the first Bengali Internet Daily has been successfully online and published from India. The publishers announce a new publication of a print media Bengali magazine from Kolkata called "Sangbad Bichitra." Editor Dr. Subhra Bose invites Benaglis or others interested in Bengali news to visit their website to give their views, suggestions or to subscribe to Sangbad Bichitra. Additionally, Dr. Bose would like to communicate with other Bengali's residing outside India and invites them to contact him at "source" above. HPI asks readers to note they must be fluent in Bengali to read their website.

India Discovers Benefits From Bt. Cotton Not as Promised

Posted on 2002/12/8 8:42:02 ( 1072 reads )


HYDERABAD, INDIA, December 7, 2002: Mahyco-Monsanto's Bt. (biotechnology) cotton in Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh has failed on all three counts of ensuring higher yields, reducing pesticide usage and being economically rewarding for the farmer, according to an independent study commissioned by the Andhra Pradesh Coalition in Defense of Diversity. The study estimated that the farmers growing Bt. cotton would earn 40 percent less than non-Bt farmers. It found that the pesticide sprays have not come down and safety protocols have been ignored. "In view of these findings, we wonder if Bt. cotton is worth it at all, given the environmental and ecological costs," P. V. Satheesh, convener of the Coalition said, while demanding action against the multinational company for its "reckless promises and absolute lack of concern for safety aspects of Bt. farming." In economic terms, Bt. has proved a total failure, the study said. Bt. cotton farmers had spent $165 per acre while non-Bt ones spent $145 per acre. Yet the yields remained the same. In the local market Bt. cotton was fetching a price which was 10 per cent less than the price for non-Bt. cotton. The main reason for the lower price commanded by Bt. cotton was its smaller staple length and more seeds per boll than non-Bt. cotton. To beat the price difference between Bt. and non-Bt cotton, farmers started mixing both of them, to get a better price, oblivious of the disastrous effect it would have on bio-safety. When such mixed cotton seeds having Bt. come to the oil mills, there would be no segregation and the oil could be consumed by human beings and the feed by animals. This may pose unknown health hazards for both humans and animals.

Ramakrishna Mission Receives Honorary Mention from UNESCO

Posted on 2002/12/7 8:49:02 ( 1045 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, December 7, 2002: The Ramakrishna Mission has been selected for an honorary mention of the UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Prize for Promotion of Tolerance and Nonviolence 2002. The selection was unanimous, made by an international jury that met in Paris on October 3 and 4. UNESCO's communication sent to the Ramakrishna Mission states, "This honorary mention highlights UNESCO's recognition of your continuous activities to make peace and happiness prevail among the people, regardless of their caste or religious beliefs. We sincerely hope that the efforts of the Ramakrishna Mission will continue to flourish in the future to ensure the welfare of the people in India." The prize was instituted in 1995 by a foundation for Madanjeet Singh, an international civil servant who headed UNESCO. Earlier recipients of the honor include Gandhian worker Narayan Desai and South Africa's Bishop Desmond Tutu.

Temple Rights Writ Filed in Chennai High Court

Posted on 2002/12/7 8:48:02 ( 1082 reads )

Source: The Times of India

TIRUCHIRAPALLI, INDIA, December 4, 2002: A writ petition has been filed in the Chennai High Court seeking to revive the age-old practice of reciting Vedic hymns at the Srirangam Ranganthaswamy Temple during annual festivals. The petitioner, Vaishnava Sri A. Krishnamachari, editor of Paanjchanyam, a religious monthly, has requested that the court issue directions to the Hindu religious and charitable endowments commissioner and joint commissioner-cum-executive officer of the temple to revive the traditional practice of Vedic pundits chanting seven chapters of Krishna Yajur Veda and hymns of Achitram, a Sanskrit scripture, on the occasion of the Vaikunda Ekadasi festival in the temple. The petitioner stated that the traditional recitation of Vedic hymns had been in vogue for years and that it had been withdrawn by the department "for reasons best known to them."

Men Now Pay to Get Married in India

Posted on 2002/12/7 8:47:02 ( 1094 reads )


NEW DELHI, INDIA, Dec 4, 2002: Brides are becoming scarce in India because of a growing imbalance in the number of males and females being born here. The situation is so bad that some parents are not only dropping demands for wedding dowries, but are also offering a "bride price" when asking for a woman's hand in marriage for their sons. Nationwide, the number of girls under six declined from 945 for every 1,000 boys in 1991 to 927 last year. The problem is also growing in the capital, evidence that the theory which holds that a better educated and affluent population will cast away prejudices is incorrect. The main reason for the lopsided sex ratio ironically is modern technology. Indian cities are rife with illegal sex-determination clinics. In cities like New Delhi and states like Haryana, parents with better education and higher incomes pay for tests to determine the sex of their unborn child which, if a girl, would be aborted. India today tops the world in illegal abortions and female infanticide. The prevalence of sex-determination tests reflects a tradition that prefers boys.

India's Growing Population Imbalance

Posted on 2002/12/7 8:46:02 ( 1149 reads )

Michigan Sambodh Society Celebrates Bhoomi Puja

Posted on 2002/12/7 8:45:02 ( 1032 reads )


KALAMAZOO, U.S.A., December 7, 2002: In the forests of Michigan near Kalamazoo, The Sambodh Society, Inc., a nonprofit religious organization for the teaching of Vedanta and meditation, organized a Bhoomi Puja and Devata Homas on October 19, 2002, under the spiritual direction of Swami Bodhananda Saraswati, the founder of the Society. Bhoomi or Bhu Devi is Mother Earth, and under the open sky in a small clearing amidst a 32-acre woodland parcel of land belonging to the Society, members offered this puja to Mother Earth, seeking Her permission, forgiveness and benediction. The Bhoomi Puja day was festive, bringing together two of the world's most ancient spiritual traditions -- the Hindu and Native American -- in rituals dedicated to Mother Earth. In this rural setting The Sambodh Society plans to construct a center they have called "The Sambodh Center for Human Excellence." The Society plans to construct their facility in three phases, and they are currently seeking donations for Phase One. The Sambodh Society's objectives are to maintain a nondenominational facility for spiritual study, dialogue, practice and dissemination of spiritual knowledge. Any one wishing to help with this ambitious building project, or who would like to have more information about the Society, or who seeks to assist them in any way may contact Ruth Harring, Trustee and Program Coordinator at "source" above for further information.

Increasing Awareness of Domestic Violence in China

Posted on 2002/12/7 8:44:02 ( 1077 reads )


BEIJING, CHINA, December 4, 2002: With the help of a Canadian-based campaign, the United Nations and a ground breaking television serial, China is waking up to the problem of domestic violence. The series, "Don't Talk to Strangers," burst into Chinese living rooms depicting graphic scenes of violence, mostly done at home and against women. Director Zhang Jiandong wanted to reflect many real life situations in China, where women stay in a violent relationship for too long before seeking outside help. While domestic violence has received much attention in the West, China's ancient traditions make it difficult for social norms to change. Mr. Zhang's high-impact approach may well be the kind of wake-up call China needs to address the problem. He also challenges stereotypes associated with domestic violence, such as the belief that only the uneducated are violent at home. He learned that 25 percent of abusers are educated, so the main characters in the TV series are a doctor, a teacher and a policeman. In a short time, the show has raised much-needed awareness on domestic violence, which also includes women beating men and the abuse of children and the elderly.

Eighty-Six Claimed to Convert to Christianity and Buddhism in Tamil Nadu

Posted on 2002/12/6 8:49:02 ( 1049 reads )


CHENNAI, INDIA, December 6, 2002: Eighty-six people converted to Christianity and Buddhism in Chennai on Friday to protest against the Anti-Conversion Act of the Tamil Nadu government, organizers claimed. The All India SC and ST Federation, the main organizer of the program, had earlier said 2,000 dalits ("untouchables") would embrace Buddhism and another 1,000 Christianity. However, police did not allow most of the people to enter the venue of the program, S. Ranganathan, president of the Tamil Nadu Dalit Federation, one of the organizers, alleged. He said 56 people embraced Christianity and 30 became Buddhists at the program, but only two came on stage to announce that they had converted. The program, held at a church in suburban Seliyur, was organized as part of the observance of the death anniversary of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar.

Keeping Indian Heritage Alive in Tamil Nadu

Posted on 2002/12/6 8:48:02 ( 1162 reads )

Source: The Hindu

THANJAVUR, INDIA, December 1, 2002: People in Thanjavur affectionately call him "Maharaja," but S. Babaji Rajah Bhonsle Chattrapathy, Senior Prince of Thanjavur, is a civil engineer with a keen interest in preserving heritage structures. He is the hereditary trustee of the Thanjavur Palace Devasthanam, which comprises 88 temples, including the Brihadeeswara Temple. Chattrapathy is also the sixth descendant of the Thanjavur Maharaj King Raja Serfoji II, who lived in the 1800's. Speaking on various aspects of preserving ancient buildings and priceless traditions, Chattrapathy said, "Preserving the past requires a lot of social awareness and much care. People of those days were not self-centered. From the kind of heritage buildings they have left behind, it is clear that they did not think only about themselves." "The buildings are living monuments of culture, and should be given proper care. We should not be seen to be lagging behind," he added. Bhonsle Chattrapaty said foreigners had shown keen interest in the traditions of ancient India, and had visited the Thanjavur palace to study the unique paintings on the walls, and observe the process of writing palm leaf manuscripts. Highlighting the need for developing tourism, the senior prince said, "Our monuments in the South are much older, but we do not seem to be capitalizing on their potential. In Thanjavur, for example, agriculture is seeing hard days, and tourism can supplement the traditional income from the farms."

Chhattisgarh Police Will No Longer Use Caste Derivations in Records

Posted on 2002/12/6 8:47:02 ( 999 reads )


RAIPUR, INDIA, November 29, 2002: Names like Rajesh Sindhi, Salim Mussalman, Sudhir Bengali and Babulal Satnami will no longer figure in the records of Chhattisgarh Police. There will be only proper names and surnames. The state police have decided to completely do away with recording the caste of both the complainant and the suspect/accused from complaint registers, FIRs and even the daily status reports. State Director General of Police Ashok Darbaari has issued orders in this connection requesting all police stations in the state to strictly refrain the long tradition of asking and recording caste and religion of the complainants and suspects. They will no longer be displayed prominently in all written material, including the releases issued to the media.

Puri Priests Learn Martial Arts

Posted on 2002/12/6 8:46:02 ( 1174 reads )


BHUBANESWAR, INDIA, November 29, 2002: Servants of Puri's Lord Jagannath might soon have an added qualification on their resumes. Priests who have spent a lifetime fine-tuning ritual supplication will now learn the art of resistance. Wary of an Akshardham or a Raghunath temple-style attack, administrators of Puri's most famous landmark have decided to impart martial arts training to the temple's priests. The way temple administrators see it, should terrorists manage to breach the outer security cordon of gun-toting personnel, the priests with their newly acquired karate, judo or kung-fu skills will present a second line of defense. "We are now initiating efforts to revive the traditional security system keeping in view modern needs. Thousands of devotees visit the shrine daily for a darshan of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra. Entry and exit of so many people makes the shrine vulnerable to terrorists," temple administrator B. S. Panda said. The priests seemed enthusiastic saying, "It (physical training) will be very good," said R.C. Dasmohapatra, president of the Daitapati Nijog. The temple administrator did not explain how an unarmed priest, however skilled in martial arts, could successfully overcome a heavily armed terrorist.

England's King's College Students Hear Talk on Hinduism

Posted on 2002/12/6 8:45:02 ( 1345 reads )


LONDON, ENGLAND, December 2, 2002: With the lecture room packed to capacity a recent talk at King's College focused on relationship of Hinduism with findings of modern sciences, reports Jay Lakhani of the Vivekananda Center here. "One student asked about the importance of Hanuman and this topic brought into focus a serious flaw seen in the way Hinduism is portrayed to the Hindu youth in the West. I asked what is the main difference between say Superman and Hanuman? Both fly doing good to mankind, still there is a major difference. Hanuman should be the role model of every Hindu youth, because he stands for these three attributes: strength, intelligence and celibacy. One could see that this aspect of Hanuman has not been emphasized to the Hindu youth when someone remarked, "Then the Hindu youth will go away from religion! So be it, religion is not a fashion accessory! Without invoking this vital aspect the youth have missed out on the key feature of Hanuman. The reason Hanuman is greater than Superman is because if Louise Lane flutters her eyelashes at Superman he turns to jelly. If a beautiful lady flutters her eyelashes at Hanuman he would say, 'Mother, you have something in your eye ...let me clear it!' "

Thar Desert Fossil Hints At India's Saraswati River

Posted on 2002/12/6 8:44:02 ( 1108 reads )


JAIPUR, INDIA, December 2, 2002: Geologists in India say they have found an elephant fossil in the Thar desert of Rajasthan, supporting earlier theories that the vast desert was once a fertile area. They said the discovery also lent credence to the belief that a mighty river, named in the ancient Hindu Vedic texts as Saraswati, flowed through the region thousands of years ago. Senior geologist B.S. Paliwal said the elephant fossil was discovered in a village in Nagaur district, about 185 miles from the state capital of Jaipur, during gypsum mining. Professor Paliwal, who is the head of the geology department at the Jai Narain Vyas University, termed the find a "mammoth discovery for the scientific fraternity." The fossil dated back thousands of years, from the middle Holocene epoch. The remains were found embedded in a gypsum layer little more than 6 feet from the surface. Professor Paliwal said during the Pleistocene epoch, India touched Eurasia and there were indications that Asian elephants moved south due to the prevailing ice-age in the northern hemisphere. "It proves again that there were once rivers like Saraswati and civilizations were flourishing at their banks," Professor Paliwal said.

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